Thursday, July 31, 2008

While nest-sitting

Some people wonder what you do while you're nest-sitting, thinking that perhaps you get bored!

Bored? Not me! I love everything about life on the beach. But in answer to the question, I...

People watch...

Photograph, then move their sandals to higher ground when they go on walks and the tide comes in...

Bird watch, and laugh at their unique arabesques...

Talk to the ranger and passers-by.

Pray that not too many people forget to close their shades at night and disorient our nesting turtles or hatchlings.

And after the sun goes down, I watch the sky and try to learn the constellations, count shooting stars, and get lost the rhythm of white caps as they sweep to shore.

No, life is never dull when you're nest-sitting!

Birth Announcement!

(file photo)

It is with great pleasure I announce the arrival of 82 Loggerhead hatchlings on July 30, 2008 between 10:50 - 11:05 p.m. at Nest 527-1 - SS on the Calle Hermosa neighborhood section of Pensacola Beach, Florida.

The first hatchling to emerge was given the fitting and proper name of 'Scout' Loggerhead. Scout weighed approximately one ounce and was two inches in length. He/she presented as a lovely dark gray specimen with an adorable light-colored tummy. Quickly following Scout were 81 equally adorable hatchlings.

In attendance were 15 - 20 fabulous people who were instructed throughout the event by Ms. Kirsten Dahlen of the National Parks Service, Gulf Islands National Seashore. Immediately after the emergence, Ms. Dahlen directed the group as they carefully supervised the hatchlings march into the Gulf of Mexico.

Sadly, the evening was not without incident as more than half of the hatchlings attempted to head east toward the lights of occupied units at Portofino, but the efforts of the attendants prevailed and all 82 hatchlings eventually found their way into the Gulf of Mexico.

In lieu of gifts, please contribute by shutting off or shielding all lights (including balcony lights) that are visible from the beach and close your drapes or blinds after dark!

These majestic creatures are being moved from the threatened to the endangered list due to a significant drop in the number of nests in recent years. Over ninety percent of all Loggerheads in the United States nest in Florida, and Florida beaches account for one-third of the Loggerhead population world-wide. Their fate is in our hands.

Research and learn more about Loggerhead turtles in the Panhandle, visit Traveling Turtle Girl's blog, pick up trash on the beach, or become a volunteer. You can even do something simple and easy, but extremely important by extinguishing as many lights as you can to make our beach turtle-friendly as we head into the height of our nesting season on Pensacola Beach.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quietwater Beach

The Bandshell (Clam shell!) at Quietwater Beach is a nice setting for free concerts during the weekend.

A little wider view of the boardwalk - it's a great place to grab a pizza or perhaps an ice cream on a hot day like today. Or maybe dinner at Cabo Grill tomorrow night.

Are they here yet?

Kirsten Dahlen, our Traveling Turtle Girl, attends a nest on Pensacola Beach.

Kirsten listens for sounds of the tiny hatchlings working their way to the surface.

Although I've witnessed two other hatchlings in as many years, this is the first year I've stayed so long at the nest and listened as they work their way up. It's a startling experience the first time you hear hatchlings scratching beneath the surface.

It turned out to be another beautiful night on Pensacola Beach, though when I left shortly before midnight, no hatchlings had emerged. Tomorrow night for sure! Or maybe they will be gone by tomorrow morning! It's SO exciting!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pensacola Beach Marina

It was such a beautiful morning that I decided to swing by The Market on the Island after our Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce meeting. I spent a few minutes enjoying the view from the second floor which looks out over the Pensacola Beach Marina. Clouds were tall and billowing over Little Sabine Bay as I took a few photos.

It has been a little less than a year since I joined the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce. Generally speaking, I'm not much of a 'joiner', but friends, Lila and Sandi, encouraged me to give it a try. The members were great, so friendly, positive, outgoing, and focused on doing everything they could to make Pensacola Beach a better place to live and visit. I joined at the conclusion of my first meeting and I don't think I've missed one since.

As a reminder, individuals can join the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce and are heartily welcomed. You don't have to be a business owner to join. If you would be interested, please let me know.

There are a lot of fun events coming up this fall that I think you will enjoy:

September 20 & 21, A Taste of the Beach Seafood Festival. Beach restaurants will be set up to showcase their signature dishes at Casino Beach. You absolutely need to put this date on your calendar!

On Saturday of that same weekend you can enjoy the sleek styling of corvettes at the Life's a 'Vette on the Beach car show, also on Casino Beach.

October 4 & 5 we will have our first Art & Wine Weekend on Pensacola Beach. Many local businesses will have a featured artist showing in front of their location and yours truly will have a tent set up with lots of my favorite photos. As you can imagine, I am really excited and hope to meet a lot of you there! Please stop by and say hello. I'll have more information regarding my location as we get closer to the event.

So much to see and do here on the beach and things are looking more beautiful than ever out here. Keep up with the events by checking the Pensacola Beach website, and clicking on 'What's Happening'!

Monday, July 28, 2008


When they bring the screen out, the hatchlings are soon to emerge. Will we see them tonight?

The screen is set aside during the day, as shown above. But at night it is put in place to make sure predators can't get to the tiny hatchlings should they emerge while no one is in attendance. Park rangers and volunteers monitor the nests carefully, however.

Did you know we have FORTY sea turtle nests so far this year! And the season isn't over yet!

Be sure to check out Traveling Turtle Girl for all the latest news on our sea turtles.

Pampas plumes

The plumes of my next-door neighbor's pampas grass are feathery and lush. They are especially striking when a breeze ruffles through them.

Barrier Island Girl

Yes, I am!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jam or jelly?

I'm pretty certain the fruit on this palm tree is inedible, but if you know for sure, please comment below. I could probably make some fine jam or jelly with all this fruit!

The wind and sun

"If you wish to know the divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand."

~~ Eido Tai Shimano Roshi

Clear blue!

We have our beautiful clear blue water back again! During the last couple of weeks the Gulf of Mexico was a bit murky at times, most likely in part to Hurricane Dolly.

Even better news is that I saw very few jellyfish today!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Loggerhead hatchling release

I was thrilled when Kirsten (our Traveling Turtle Girl) invited me to see fifteen tiny Loggerhead hatchlings released into the Gulf of Mexico tonight. You may read more about the reason for the delay in their release on Kirsten's blog.

Look at their tiny flippers! And note the dark color variation between the hatchling on the upper left and the others.

If you click on the photo above, you can actually see the claws on its back flipper. Aren't they magnificent creatures?

He/she is ready to say goodbye to us for several years, but hopefully will return safely to Pensacola Beach someday.

Adorable little Zander is a fantastic public relations man for the "Turtle Friendly Beach Program"! He handed out brochures and switch stickers to the folks that gathered around, reminding us to turn out the lights for turtles. You tell 'em, Zander!

The first five hatchlings begin moving toward the water.

Look at the surf the little turtles (who weigh about one ounce) must get past tonight. Hurricane Dolly still has the Gulf of Mexico stirred up, though not as bad as last night. Godspeed to the tiny loggerhead hatchlings!

Please check out Traveling Turtle Girl's site for more info on our turtles, how to help them, and life within our area of the Gulf Islands National Park.

Waiting out the rain

Hiding out under the pier, covering my camera, and waiting for a light shower to move inland. Oops, I left my sandals in the shot.

Tighter shot, sandals gone, water rushes in and reflects light around the pilings. Still, I like the first one better.

Bands on the Beach

Though we got a bit damp from passing showers, most of us stuck it out to hear The Reunion Band, a local favorite.

Are they dancing or playing Twister?

No generation gap here! We love to dance at Bands on the Beach.

This is either a strange new fad or someone has been eating a blue raspberry ice from Tiffany's.

When the silver fox trots...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Red flag

Thanks to (now) Hurricane Dolly, the red flag flies over Pensacola Beach. Incredibly, a few people still had to be convinced to get out of the high surf this afternoon.

The purple flag also flies due to our current plague of jellyfish. The good news is that the high surf seems to be pushing them all ashore, so perhaps the Gulf water will see some relief!

Begone, bad jellies!

Hello, Dolly!

This morning we were beginning to see the effects of Tropical Storm Dolly, which now looks to make landfall around Brownsville, Texas. Waves were around 5 feet at 7:30 a.m.

The surf was also pushing in hundreds of jellyfish (sea nettles), as you can see from the photo above. You may click on the pictures to enlarge.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Calling all angels!

In the overnight hours an ATV belonging to the Gulf Islands National Seashore park was stolen from a locked POD at Park East. Areas around surrounding sand dunes were searched in hope someone had taken it for a joy ride, but it now appears the vehicle was loaded up and removed from the area.

The 2006 green Honda ATV, as shown below, has the letter 'Q' on it, near the gas tank. While it may already be off-island, we can still keep our eyes and ears open for any information which may possibly lead to its return. Whoever took it may keep it for their own use in a rural area, repaint it and try to sell it, or even go for bragging rights of the theft, but your help is needed.

The loss of this ATV, worth approximately $5,000, could hardly have come at a worse time. Sea turtle hatchlings are beginning to emerge and these ATV are used to patrol our beaches to make sure each nest is attended when that happens. Marine biologist Kirsten Dahlen says she and park rangers also search for disoriented nesting turtles who sometimes get caught in the heat of the day and work to get them back in the gulf waters.

Having to patrol on foot now could mean the loss of many hatchlings to sea birds, ghost crabs, heat, or traffic so not only the park but our tiny turtles need your help!

Like me, many people try to be optimistic and look for the good in people. We are sometimes sadly disappointed when situations like this occur. Put out the word and ask everyone in the area to join in.

If you have any information, please contact Gulf Breeze dispatch at 850-916-3010.

"Calling all angels, I need you near to the ground."

~~ Lenny Kravitz

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Can you dig it?

Seven year-old Sami discovers a way to measure how far she stands above sea level. She's standing at 8 inches AMSL! Smart girl!


"It is only with one's heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I am so appreciative that our 'Traveling Turtle Girl' (marine biologist, Kirsten Dahlen) shared these photos with me. You can see first-hand one of the magnificent creatures we try so hard to protect.

This beautiful loggerhead turtle was disoriented when Dr. LiMarie Rodriguez discovered her wandering in the Opal Beach area a couple of days ago. Thankfully, she and Kirsten found volunteers to help hoist the tired turtle back to gulf waters. You may read more about the adventure in Kirsten's blog.

Happily, this loggerhead lives to see another day, another nest. Seeing her return to the sea we understand the impact we can have on them/their environment. This is why we try so hard to raise awareness, reduce lights on the beach, pick up our trash, fill in holes dug in the sand, reduce recreational equipment on the beach overnight, eliminate plastic bags/Styrofoam/balloons on the beach.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday at the beach

More company arrived in time to catch the Blue Angel show. On Sunday we stayed on the east end of Pensacola Beach. Above, Fat Albert banked around the towers at Portofino.

The kids were thrilled to watch the Blue Angels soar overhead.

I love Pensacola Beach!

I love skimboarding!


While the Blue Angels were gearing up, another show began farther east on the island. This dark shape began swimming around our area. I finally snapped a quick photo as it broke the surface at one point.

One man diving under for shells thought there was seaweed in front of him and reached out to push it aside, only to make contact with the creature.

I didn't realize manatees venture into the Gulf of Mexico, but the swimming pattern/shape seemed to confirm what it was.

Of course it also was apparent by the man shouting, "It's a manatee. I touched a manatee! It's a #!@& manatee, man!"

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Blue Angel airshow cancelled

Due to severe thunderstorms, today's Blue Angel performance was cancelled. Three people were said to have been struck by lightning on the beach and one person who was in a boat. Their condition has not yet been released.

At this time the media says the show may be rescheduled for tomorrow. You may check for announcements on WEAR-TV or Pensacola News Journal websites. Links to both are provided on this blog.

Blue Angels - Dress Rehearsal

These marines didn't mind at all when two bikini-clad girls tried a few chin-ups in a very unique way.

Everyone appreciated getting hosed down when the temperature climbed higher.

Festive flags, banners and umbrellas covered the beach.

Announcers asked swimmers to begin clearing the water so the show could begin. Looks like one little fellow down there is having to be pulled out of the water by mommy.

The Escambia County Sheriff's Office helicopter scans the beach before giving the go-ahead.

Julian MacQueen starts the show with his vintage plane, a Grumman Widgeon G-44.

The U.S. Coast Guard presented a Search & Rescue demonstration with their HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Vortex Aerobatic gave an incredible performance. I loved it!

Swooping in over the pier in a Pitt Eagle hybrid.

Awesome maneuvers!

It was practically impossible to get a shot of Gary Ward in his MX2. The term 'greased lightning' came to mind as he went from one roll to another. I was getting dizzy just trying to follow him with my camera.

You may click HERE to see a video of Gary and his plane on YouTube.

Here comes the AeroShell Aerobatic team!

The AT-6 'Texan', a trainer for the U.S. Army Air Corp, first appeared in 1938.

It's frightening to watch them loop back and disappear into smoke trails.

Here comes Fat Albert! This C-130 Hercules can carry 25,000 lbs of cargo and up to 45,000 lbs of fuel. Tell me again how he stays up there...

Fat Albert is the only Marine Corps aircraft permanently assigned to the Navy. He flies approximately 140,000 miles during a show season.

Coming across center point, the crowd is thrilled by Fat Albert.

Look at the Blue Angels tight formation.

Darn, I couldn't get that special moment I was shooting for! Only off by, say, 1/1000th of a second.
The beach was packed!

Two up, two under.

So tight they look connected!

The Blue Angels fly past the Hilton. Another great day, full of thrilling performances.