Monday, September 18, 2006

Crabs, Stingrays, and Rattlesnakes

I'm back from frolicking with the crabs down in Florida. I'm rather fond of the Ghost crabs, and Fiddler crabs and Blue (?) crabs (the crabs that liked to sit where the surf rushed in - that either tried to scare us away with their claws - or run and hide or bury themselves - depending on the crab).

We also enjoyed seeing the stingrays that tended to sit just off the shoreline in the early mornings at the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. They are quite lovely animals - this variety was pinkish/light brown - just about the colors of the sand early in the day. If you knew to look for them - they were easy to see - but they would also be easy to miss.

Sharks are the stingray's main predator - and I had seen one a few yards out one evening as I was walking down the beach. I expect the stingrays hang out a ways out later in the day - because I didn't notice them then. A little while after I saw the shark - I saw a group of people wrestling with something on the beach. It turned out to be a shark - probably the same one - caught on someone's fishing hook. The captors managed to free it and it swam off.

At night - we saw Bioluminescence in the waves as they rolled in. (More about that here). That is an interesting sight - seeing the whites of the waves - when there is no light to light them. It was not as plentiful everywhere - some areas of the beach the waves were more lit up than others. This affect was apparently from the light of dinoflagellates (more here). Some of them would still be lit up when they got to the shore line - quickly to fade out.

We also enjoyed the area of the Wakulla River. We kayaked up and back (2 hours to go up and one to go back). Saw things like a rattlesnake swimming across the river and alligators resting lazily along the edge, leaping mullets, many turtles on logs and one manatee. Lots of birds like Kingfishers and Osprey, Anhingas, Pelicans.

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge was another nice place to visit. Many egrets and herons of various varieties and several Roseate Spoonbills. Also - a lot of butterflies, monarchs, esp. that were there to get psyched up for their trip to Mexico.

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