Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kemp's ridley release

We received last minute notice of a Kemp's ridley release this morning.  A fisherman in Destin hooked him by accident, but did the right thing by contacting the Gulfarium.  The Gulfarium has facilities for sea turtle rehab, so they removed the hook and watched him for a few days to make sure he could eat ok.  Today he was able to be released. very quiet.
Pretty little thing.
 See that little nose?
 Trying to find the right place to release him so that he won't get stuck on a sandbar and think he's going the wrong way.  Don't want him to swim back to shore!
Getting his photo taken with folks from the Gulfarium.
 And away he goes!  Unfortunately a wave swept up and quickly took him away, so there was no time to catch a photo of his departure.

Good luck, little buddy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Turtle time!

Tropical Storm Debby may have knocked me out of a sea turtle patrol and put a kink in our plans, but we still found a way to be productive...and involve sea turtles. :-)

Peace, dude!
My helper and resident artist/colorist, Mariah.
Our peaceful sea turtles!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Impact of Tropical Storm Debby

Waves building.

Driving into the Santa Rosa area of GINS, you can see the water levels are creeping higher.

Wading across to check on a nest. Doesn't look good.

Nests can handle occasional wash-overs, but this amount of water will probably not allow it time to drain. It doesn't look good for SR 6151.

Note the extra sand accumulating on top of the nest.

The water is pooling around the nest, but you can still see a bit of elevation in the marked off area. 

Around 8:15 a.m. there was just barely enough room to squeeze by in the westbound lane without getting into the salt water, but Bowden Way (Hwy 399) was officially closed about half an hour later.

Reckless Behavior

This is a clear example of reckless behavior.  Red flags are flying and signs are posted to stay out of the surf today, yet people choose to disregard the warnings.  Even worse, their actions put our young lifeguards at risk.  It's very upsetting.


Tropical Storm Debby

Tropical Storm Debby is already causing problems for Pensacola Beach and our sea turtle nests. :-(

Tropical Storm Debby

Even though Tropical Storm Debby may not be coming ashore near us, she's already causing  problems for our nests. 

The Ft. Pickens campgrounds were evacuated last night due to high surf/flooding.  I arrived at the gate around 4:40 this morning, earlier than usual, so I could get my patrol in and exit the Park before the rain hit us.  But Park Rangers were already at the gate to make sure no one entered, informing me that salt water was already covering portions of the road.  They had made their last run at midnight and barely got out before the Gulf water started washing across in some areas.

I was bummed that I couldn't do my patrol - the second time in two weeks - but much more so because this almost certainly means the nest of "Mama Mia", the sea turtle I video-taped last week, will be washed out by the time Tropical Storm Debby is finished.  Nest FP 6171 (Mama Mia's nest) was only 40' from the water, although it was on a bit of an elevation.  It's surely in jeopardy.

Maybe it's a reminder than sea turtles know more than we do.  This time last year, Ft. Pickens area of GINS had ten nests; to date this year we only have four.  There's a similar situation with Perdido Key.  This time last year Perdido Key already had fifteen nests; to date this year they have had seven.
By contrast, at Santa Rosa this time last year they had eleven nests; to date this year, Santa Rosa GINS has 19.   Pensacola Beach has two more nests to date than they had this time last year. 

Keep your fingers crossed for this to move past quickly and cause minimum damage.  I'll keep you updated as I learn more.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

View from the pier

What a gorgeous day!

In Paradise!

"Barefoot in the snow white sand, a bag of seashells in her hand, She finally found a paradise it seems..."

~~ On the Coast of Somewhere Beautiful,  by Kenny Chesney

Friday, June 22, 2012


Last Sunday I discovered one nest and two false crawls on my patrol.  It was awesome to actually see and video-tape a sea turtle as she finished nesting. 

There were a couple of other interesting photos I took that day.  One of the false crawls rambled around and then she exited the beach over an escarpment that was almost 2 feet high.  Look at her slide marks!

 Rambling tracks.
A photo of her approach from the Gulf onto the shore. Notice that she crawled right over a soft drink or beer plastic ring holder.  Thank goodness she didn't get one of her flippers tangled in it.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer is here!

Yesterday was the first day of summer and where better to celebrate it?

"Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time."

~~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mama Mia heads home

One of my i-friends in California was lamenting the fact that she didn't get to see Mama Mia, the nesting loggerhead sea turtle, actually disappear into the surf in the earlier video. What a great set-up she gave me. I stopped video-taping in order to get a couple of still photos, then I resumed. The following clip is just a few seconds long, but it is fun to watch her disappear into the waves.

Poor Mama Mia, she needs a good backscrubbing. Did you notice? {{How rude of me to point that out!}}}

Stone crab

I was a bit surprised to see this fella on the beach. I was going to pick him up and look at him more closely, then I realized he was still alive! Yikes! I would have been finger food! I'm pretty sure he's a Stone crab, but I'm not a crab expert.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


What an amazing day this has been!  During this morning's patrol at Ft. Pickens, I noticed a disturbance ahead of me which appeared to be a sea turtle crawl.  As I got nearer, I suddenly saw movement.  My first thought was that a loon had crawled up on the beach to rest, but then I realized it was a sea turtle nesting and she had thrown sand over her back! 

I immediately stopped my vehicle and sat quietly while she finished...with my camera running!  As you can see in the video, she looked right at me as she was heading back toward the Gulf.  I think we shared a moment! Ha!  You can come up with your own caption.

It is rare for any of our patrollers to see a sea turtle nesting since loggerheads generally come ashore at night.  Luckily, even though this was before dawn, it was light enough to capture on video!  I'm walking on clouds! 

Please click to enlarge to full screen to really appreciate the video.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday night fireworks

Portofino kicked off their weekly firework displays during the Memorial Day Weekend.   Every Tuesday night around 9 p.m. throughout the summer you can enjoy them if you staying at the resort or happen to be on the beach nearby.  I have a pretty good seat myself since we live just a few houses down the beach, but my poor little pooch isn't a fan!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lest we forget

Fifteen inches of rain is a bummer, but we already see light on the horizon.  For those of you who will be visiting soon, don't worry.  Here is a snippet of video from Thursday afternoon to remind how glorious it can be in our little paradise!

Flooding at Ft. Pickens

I was unable to do my sea turtle patrol at Ft. Pickens today due to flooding. Ft. Pickens Road remains closed because of the weather system which dumped 13 inches of rain on us yesterday. It seemed to come out of nowhere and campers at Ft. Pickens were asked to evacuate the Park on Saturday, unless they had enough food to stay put for three days.

But when I drove into the Park this morning to see if I could possibly get through (I couldn't), I noticed that flooding conditions east of the entrance station did not seem to be as bad as recent years. Sea oats are really looking good now and making a comeback following the destruction of this part of the island by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and Hurricane Dennis in 2005. Their spreading root systems are helping our sand dunes stabilize and grow, and it appears to be helping the flooding situation somewhat. I'm hopeful we see the problem continue to diminish!

You'll notice there is fogging on the photo. I jumped out of my vehicle long enough to take a quick photo and it only took seconds for the humidity to fog up my lens.


A few seconds of video which show how fast the rain was falling yesterday afternoon.  We were getting over an inch per hour at times.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

My new wading pool

OK, so it's actually the shared driveway in our cul-de-sac.  I'm standing in our garage, facing south toward my neighbors' homes.  It's very unusual for us to have this type of flooding on the island unless we are having tropical storm/hurricane conditions.  Today it was just a matter of heavy rain, falling faster than an inch per hour at times.  Pensacola Regional Airport had measured 13 inches of rain by the 6 p.m. news.  It was a good day to be living in a house on pilings.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Mystery lady

Who is that mysterious lady looking out to sea? That would be my mother, visiting from Tennessee and enjoying the beautiful watershow which the Gulf of Mexico was putting on yesterday. Bellagio in Las Vegas has nothing on Pensacola Beach when the surf is crashing and splashing high. My only regret is that I could't capture one of the impressive splash-backs as it occured.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Special Day!

What a special day! Subbing for another patroller at Santa Rosa, I discovered not one, but two sea turtle nests! Just look at the size of the body pit and nest area!

The first nest I discovered belonged to a green sea turtle with a 42" crawl width.

As you can see, she did a bit of crawling around to find the right spot, but unfortunately nested much too close to the water and the nest had to be relocated.

The fun part was discovering that she laid 145 eggs!

The second nest was a loggerhead. Her nest was around 35 feet from the water, but it was in an area with higher elevation to it, so it remained where it was laid.

There was a very high tide today which was causing one nest to get washed over, as was as some areas of bird colonies, but hopefully the water will drain quickly and cause no lasting problems for either the sea turtles or birds.
My sign at the second nest.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The purpose of life...

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)