Sunday, December 19, 2010

Florida wetlands

The Nature Coast of Florida continues to surprise me with its diversity and beauty. Being from the West Coast I tend to associate natural beauty with mountains and forests. In Florida I have not seen anything that approaches a hill and the forests I have seen, seem to be planted.

This last week I met some locals and they took me for a ride on a pontoon boat out into the wetlands. Huge amount of birds and even though the temperature has been abnormally low I did sight a manatee and an alligator.

View across the water to the power plant where I am currently employed.
 View from my room to Kings Bay
 The Crystal River at the archeology site
 The midden, exposed after the midden was opened for fill.
 Viewing platform above the midden.
 Downriver view of Crystal River
 Out to the wetlands!
We also went to an archeological site of the local aboriginal inhabitants. The local population had disappeared long before the Spanish arrived in the New World. They left behind middens and burial mounds.Last time I even heard the word midden was when in Australia. The State of Florida was donated the site decades ago shortly after it was discovered the midden was being dug up and used for fill! The multi acre site is now preserved and gives insight to the trading and travels of the original inhabitants.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Looking for Manatee

Today is the start of my night shift life so had the morning and afternoon to myself. I decided to drive the 7 miles to Homosassas Springs and find a manatee. There is a state park at the springs so figured a good place to start. As the weather is getting cold and water temperature is falling the manatees have to find water at least 68 degrees fahrenheit to rest in or they die of exposure. Last year in Florida it was the coldest winter on record and 600 manatees died of the cold. The springs here are 72 degrees so the park opens its gates to the gulf and the manatees congregate around the springs then go back out into the gulf to feed.

Here is a manatee. The West Indian version does not have the split tail like its cousin the Dugong.
After you pay $10 dollars there is a 20 minute boat ride to the sanctuary.

Great Blue Herons were along the shores during the ride.
Bunch of manatees getting warm
Alligators enjoying the sun.
This young male was hit by a car and had wing damage so he walks rather than flies.

The park is dedicated to Florida wildlife and most of the animals and raptors have been involved in vehicle accidents and are rehabilitated here.Originally the park was a wild animal park but when the state took it over 20 years ago they removed the lions and tigers and bears. The only original inhabitant is a hippo named Lou. Plan was to get rid of Lou the the people in the area protested and eventually the governor of Florida declared Lou a Florida native and he was allowed to stay. Lou is 50 years old.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Change of Plans

I arrived back in St Thomas ans was settling in for a comfortable time until my next adventure when I received a call from a past employer. They made an offer I could not refuse........So I am in Crystal River, Florida. Working at CR3. A nuclear plant on the Nature Coast of West Florida.

 I am living in Crystal River and am quite pleased with the environment. Took a walk around the bay today and as I was taking a picture a manatee surfaced at my feet. Sorry, I was too slow to get its picture but will try my best on my day off. I will be working 13 hours/ day six days a week on the night shift.
 The bay from the motel dock
 Tree with the Spanish Moss in the front yard by the swimming pool that is filled by the tide
 Another view of the swimming pool

The streets near the motel. All the trees are covered with the moss