Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Turtle Walk & Shelling at Blind Pass

The first thing I noticed was the moon, as I walked out onto the beach this morning at 6:15, to go on our 6th turtle walk of this season.

There was a huge cloud, straight in front of me.

This was the view to my left and toward the Sanibel Lighthouse, that always gives me a welcoming blink, when I arrive.

Right away, I was surprised at the size of the piles of manatee grass.

As the sun was coming up, the clouds gradually began changing color. That's one of my favorite parts of the sunrise.

There was a deep row of manatee grass at one of the high tide lines. It was as much as 1 to 2 feet deep in places.

The deep manatee grass was not pleasant to walk in and someone had made a path through this pile of it.

Those scattered clumps along the high-tide line actually have a name - beach wrack - and are an important part of the beach ecosystem. Today there was a lot of beach wrack. There were some curiosities that came in along with the sea grasses.

These things had come in with the newer clumps of sea grasses and were still alive.

I thought this was a piece of some kind of sea grass at first, then I saw it move. Another one of these was swimming in a tidal pool. I saw around 30 or 40 of these. I've been searching, but haven't found a name for this yet.

The two treasures found today. A teeny tiny Turkey Wing and a pretty hibiscus bloom laying on the beach. I'm just not going to discuss the bad things like a nasty pamper floating in a tidal pool and the two full bags of trash that we carried away. These two things made up for that. :-)

Most of the walk was very pleasant today. At first it was cool enough, but about 10 minutes before leaving the beach, it had begun to warm up quickly. We had some rain during the night, so the noseeums were bad at first; but after using the bug spray, they stayed away.

There were no new turtle tracks today. The only tracks were raccoon tracks over the top of the one sea turtle nest in our zone. Thank goodness, it had done no digging into the nest. If all goes well, our nest should hatch around July 10. We got to see the little Plovers again this morning, and I always love watching them and counting to see if they are all still there. I'm not sure, but I think one chick was missing in the second family. Maybe it had just wandered further away from the parents.

Best viewed in HD on YouTube by clicking on the screen below.

This video of the Plover chicks is so cute! I think they will soon be a little too big to squeeze under their Mommy's wings.

Late afternoon we went out to Blind Pass, where we met some friends by the outflow pipe. This is where all the material from the dredging operation ends. We've been hearing reports of some very nice shells being found there. I thought the Grand Daughters would enjoy seeing this. You can see how much sand this operation has been accumulating to re-nourish the beach.

When we first arrived, the outflow pipe was shut down for about an hour. When it restarted it was flowing a little slow, but soon it picked up and the shells started rolling past us. But, seriously we didn't find more than a few of nice quality shells. If you were desperate to get shells, you could have picked up quite a few that had chips out of them, broken edges, etc. We were there about an hour while the water was flowing and I brought home only a few. Now, that doesn't mean that a great shell didn't go floating by someone else. :-)

After we were there for about a half hour, a guy on a Bobcat came and raised the pipe. Although we ended up with only a few treasures today, it was a fun time with the girls.


Pam said...

Fantastic photos, Tootie! I'm pretty sure I can identify the creatures you saw on the beach, although it's kind of hard to tell for sure from the photos. The animal that looks like a beige deflated balloon is a sea anenome. The dark brown lump is probably a sea hare and the puffball-looking animal may be a sea biscuit, and is related to sea urchins and sanddollars. The little orange guy might be a nudibranch. Let me know if I'm wrong or right once you have a chance to do some research.

gpc said...

wow, I woul never have guessed that was what an unearthed anenome . . . I love learning this stuff, I just wish I could remember what I'd learned the next time I see something! can't wait to see what you have to add to Pam's insights, Tootie!

Karan said...

those Plovers are the cutest little things! I've been lucky enough to see them while on the island, but thank you so much for posting your video of them. That was great!

Jim and Linda Graves Arnold said...

Thanks Tootie... I am a lurker but follow your journal sporadically. We own a home in Ft Myers and got married 6 years ago under the lighthouse. Unfortunately, we still live in St. Louis full time so we are beaching vicariously through you. We try to get down 4-5 times per year and we are overdue. We were last there the first of April. We are both so ready to come back. If we could just clear our schedules... It is so fun to see pictures and video of areas that we know so well. It is almost like being there. Thanks for being our eyes!!!

Jim and Linda Graves Arnold said...

We hope you get some turtle video. I have never seem them in person!!

Tootie said...

Pam, you may be right about the first one, if they can pull their tentacles inside. There were none showing, that's why I wasn't sure about it. There were no syphons showing either it was perfectly smooth on the outside and obviously siphons water through itself somehow.

The dark brown one, isn't a sea hare, I have seen those and this isn't similar to that. It is actually black and about the same as the white blob. Both are rubbery and I really think they are both a kind of sea pork or something like that.

The white blob isn't a sea biscuit. I have seen those. This is rubbery. You can enlarge the photos and I think see them a little better, although still not good enough, I know.

The orange guy doesn't look like a nudibranch to me. It was very thin and transparent.

I just won't say what something is on my blog, unless I'm positive. Don't want to lead anyone astray. :-) I'm still searching, but I'm a little slow because of Grand Daughters to play with right now. :-)

Thanks for trying to help me out.

George said...

You got some fascinating pictures today. I really like your photo of the moon and the clouds in your second picture. I also enjoyed your videos. I'm glad the turtle nest had not been dug up by the raccoon.

Tootie said...

Pam, that orange guy has the ruffled edges like some of the nudibranchs I've looked at online. I can't find any that look just like it, but maybe that's what it is. I can't find anything else it might be. ??? So, I'm leaning toward that idenity. Hmmm, glad I didn't try to pick it up to look at it closer. :-) That's the good thing about research, it does teach you about that type of thing. Years ago, I picked up jelly fish and let them run between my fingers. Luckily I didn't get stung. Now I don't touch anything.

Linda said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful blog! You live a life style many of us envy...We will be wandering the beach around Casa Ybel June 24-27, so if you see someone wearing a Trip Advisor cap, say Hi!!

Linda said...

Thanks for your wondeful blog! You live a lifestyle many of us envy! We will be wandering on the beach by Casa Ybel June 24-26, so if you see someone wearing a Trip Advisor cap, say Hi!!

Mara said...

Thanks for sharing the island with us. My heart skips a beat every time I see your photos. We have a long time until we can retire there!!