Lido

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This was my first time ever being that far down south on lido beach. Ive only been to normal lido beach once and that was at night so i didnt really get the full experience. But this trip was very nice even with all the sand in my shoes. There was a lot more people than i expected but less human impact such as garbage than indian beach. though this beach did have a lot of trash cans so maybe that helps. also our little raccoon friend was nice. the garbage i did see was mostly some food wrappers. i did find a hook and a needle though so that can be dangerous to everyone. there was lots of interesting stuff coming up with the water where we walked. lots of sea shells and sea grass? i found a star fish that was missing a limb. I also thought the mangrove trail we took was amazing. i just loved the way it looked i would love to go back when its not as overcast. Still unsure about the bees we saw and stuff but that was neat too and so were the little bridges and streams. i wonder how the man made bridges has affected the wildlife in the area. we also saw an alive horse shoe crab as opposed to indian beach where we just saw the exoskeleton. and it was really interesting to see how the move and that theyre like little vacuums. overall it was very interesting and a very nice trip.

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Remember that horseshoe crab?

Remember that horseshoe crab?

You guys remember that horseshoe crab we saw while walking through the mangroves? What if I told you that crab has been keeping mankind alive for decades and we didn’t even know it? 

I was floored by this article. I’ve never heard of a scientific use for this animal, thinking they were just a really cool, prehistoric looking creature with a neato shell. I never expected that they would have blue blood that saves us from harmful bacteria in practically everything.

Indian Beach Trip

It wasn’t my first treasure hunt on Indian beach. Years ago when I was still a freshmen, I was taking a walk by myself at a summer afternoon, hot and humid, I was excited to find such a location with cozy sea breeze, but instead of stopping my pace, I put my eyes on the shore. I still keep the rocks I gather from Indian beach 4 years ago; that was my first treasure hunt on the Indian beach. I didn’t came from a place near the sea, going to the beach was clearly a luxury, and never have I ever imagine I would be in a college where the ocean is only 5 minutes away.  For the pass 2 years, it has become my way to school everyday. For a while I’ll away just pass it by, I’ve been there so many times, as if I have seen it all. I was sure that I’ve forgotten how it felt like seeing it for the first time, but this class trip took me back to the day I found it. I had a lot of fun flipping rocks in shallow water, by observing the micro-ecosystem underneath it, I was able to detect some small fishes and sand crabs; there were vegetation and tiny little mussels growing along the surface of rocks. It’s not hard to tell that some of the mussels are simply just shells; when some of the organism died off, new organisms gather the nutrition from the old. There were also a few horseshoe crab laying on the sides, but if we could came by after a summer storm, we might be surprise to see just how many horseshoe crab remnants could this little place gather, I would say no less than 300 with all sizes on the shore. However, today we were still lucky enough to see some sea urchins at the near water.

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About the same time last year, this beach area was closed for renovation, I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I vaguely remember just before they cleaned it up, there were time when the beach was full of garbage and dead marine animals, flies and mosquitos plied up along the shore. Whenever I ride by Indian beach I could even smell feces and urine. I was really glad someone had made a change, After all, we are but part of this ecosystem.

Indian Beach

I really enjoyed going to Indian beach last week. Even though I’d been there before, I didn’t know what to expect as we were going for an academic study. Turned out to be as relaxing and enjoyable as any of the other times I had visited there. I waded through the water for most of the time trying to look for something interesting like a shark tooth. I didn’t really find much like some of the others but I did find a chunk of coral sponge which looked something like this, but with a lot of algae build up.

Image                 Guess it was fitting that I found something I read about earlier for my previous post. 

I found what the others found more intriguing, like the sea squirt and sea urchins. It was fascinating how no one realized there were a ton of tiny black snails all over the rocks in one area of the beach until someone pointed it out. Goes to show how some small live forms can go unnoticed.

 

Indian Beach Trip

I for one felt like a 10 year-old again.  Running around in the water and curious about everything.  I enjoyed walking along the beach and I remembered how much I miss the sea.  I live right next to it but I have not time what so ever to enjoy it.  I looked for starfish but I was not able to find any.  I don’t think I would manage to find any because the sun was up so high up, I know they usually like to come out around dusk or dawn.  I was looking at the different layers of vegetation present in the water.  At first the shore is very rocky covered with mossy pebbles and then there is a patch of sandy terrain shaped by the currents and after that some sea grass is present.  That was as far as I could see although i think that the sea grass continued and was joined by more different maybe bigger types of vegetation and other sea weed species.

Indian Beach

Of all the Florida beaches I have visited I find Indian Beach in particular to be quite fascinating. Upon arrival one immediately notices the thick layer of natural flotsam and remnants of ocean life along the shoreline. One could even say that the surface of the shoreline is made almost entirely out of shell fragments and other forms of natural detritus from the ocean. With each visit to this beach I manage to come across more and more horseshoe crab remnants. These crab remains range in size vastly, the smallest I’ve seen being no bigger than my thumb whereas the largest were about the size of my hand. I have always been interested in the intricate underside of these creatures. I’m also fascinated by the concave dish shape that is their outer carapace. There’s something about their overall shape and anatomy that seems prehistoric, as if they were living fossils. I have read that the blood of these creatures, which is blue, has medicinal elements. I plan to visit Indian Beach more often and continue to observe the various artifacts that can be found along the shore.

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Indian Beach – my mystery friend

I enjoyed visiting Indian Beach. I’d been a couple of times before, but never for very long, and had not explored it in depth.

I didn’t have much of a game plan going in, so I kind of wandered all over, taking in as much as I could. I had planned ahead enough to wear my rubber rain boots, so I got to wade in the water a little bit. There was a distressing amount of trash — bits of eyeglasses, cast-off socks, chunks of insulation foam, cans, broken glass, the list goes on. But there were also many interesting plants and animals. I got to touch a lot of things I probably should have left alone — the sea squirt, the weird lump of jelly, snails, long strands of algae growing from the rocks. (That algae is very soft and cuddly.)

For me, one encounter stands out most vividly — my mystery friend.

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Photo courtesy of Molly. Thanks, Molly!

This little fellow was sitting inside some kind of big shell, minding his own business, when I came in and grabbed him. Understandably frightened, he curled into a tight ball to defend himself. He soon calmed down, uncurled, and began a resolute exploration of my hand and sleeve. I held him for a few minutes, admiring his funky butt pincers and his cute face with its very visible black eyes. When I went to put him down, he clung hard to the fabric of my sleeve, and it was quite a task to detach him.

Our encounter was brief, but I will never forget my little buddy.

I may also never know exactly what he was. When I got home, I googled “sand flea,” a term several of my classmates had tossed around on the scene. I found a couple of critters that look similar to my friend, but no exact match.

Sand-Flea

 

These thingies from the family Talitridae are what’s commonly called a sand flea. As you can clearly see, they bear very little resemblance to what I found. Their bodies are thinner and longer, and they look much more like the standard bugs you would find on land. In fact, some species in this family do live on land. And the ocean-dwelling ones apparently dry out and die very quickly if they get too far from water, whereas my critter seemed to do just fine in the open air.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Photo from Wikipedia.

These guys from the genus Emerita, known as sand crabs, have a few similar features (see the overall shape and the fin-like things on the butt.) They don’t, however, look like they can roll up. Wikipedia does say that some species have much smaller males that cling to the females for protection. So it is possible that the critter I found was a male or juvenile sand crab.

Maybe at some point I will post the photo that Molly took somewhere online, and ask for the help of Florida residents more experienced with our local marine arthropods. For now, I am enjoying the mystery.

Anyways, it’s sort of refreshing to consider a place like Indian Beach as an ecosystem. I feel that in the standard mindset, a natural ecosystem is something grander and more pristine, and Indian Beach is just, well, Indian Beach. In fact, it is very important to consider these small areas that are strongly affected by our presence. It’s sort of an underdog beach, this little pocket of nature besieged on all sides by human development. So while it’s not as pretty or popular as the other beaches in Sarasota, it still deserves recognition.

Elephants have feelings too!

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With the hunting of the African elephant on the rise, scientists proved a new characteristic of elephants with a series of experiments  Each year, thousands of elephants getting, shot, poisoned, speared for one thing everybody desperately wants: ivory.  Elephant poaching for ivory has gotten so bad that the African elephant is under serious danger. Earlier this month, we learned that the West African country of Gabon has lost more than half its elephants—11,000—in the last ten years alone.  The elephants cannot fight against us, they are doomed to lose this battle.

That is why these new characteristics that are observed througouht all the elephant species is really important.  In Kenya, researchers have watched mother elephants and other adult females help baby elephants climb up muddy banks and out of holes, find a safe path into a swamp, or break through electrified fences.

Scientists have spotted elephants assisting others that are injured, plucking out tranquilizing darts from their fellows, and spraying dust on others’ wounds.

Source:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140221-elephants-poaching-empathy-grief-extinction-science/

Myakka River State Park – a (badly photographed) photo essay

On Saturday I went to Myakka River State Park with a small group of students and two kind Student Life employees. We saw some interesting things, and I thought it might be nice to write about them as well as the Indian Beach trip.

Click under the cut for birds, reptiles, amphibians, and everyone’s favorite mammal (spoiler: it’s a dog.)

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