It’s not often you get this close to a shark. Above are some of the bigger things under water at MOTE Aquarium in Sarasota.
The Aquarium rehabilitates and houses permanently injured turtles, manatees and dolphins. The turtle above was missing an eye.
We don’t have crocodiles in the Tampa Bay area, at least not yet. They can be found in areas much farther south including the Everglades. I’ve never seen one out in wild. They look very comical, almost like a cartoon.
Pretty flowers in the water at aquarium.
Terns, willets and laughing gulls out on the beach.
A lone prairie warbler on the trail.
Someone caught a creepy crab while fishing on the pier.
A common sight around the fishing pier, a snowy egret hitching a ride.
The morning started off cloudy, looking like it was going to rain but the sun came out before noon.
Why would anyone go hang out next to a power plant? Because they use the water in the bay to cool the towers. The warm water comes out in the channel and keeps the manatees warm during the winter. Hundreds of manatees spend their winters in this channel. The power plant built a dock for people to stand on and watch the manatees come up for air.
One of the manatees near the dock.
For extra enjoyment, they hire sharks to jump out of the water and entertain us. (Just kidding, this was the first time we had seen this here before).
Little fiddler crabs and willets hang out on the shoreline under the dock.
Overhead, an osprey was gathering sticks for a nest.
We made our annual winter trip to the Tampa Electric Plant to see the manatees in late February. Even thought it’s been a warm winter, the water in the bay has been cold enough for the manatees to congregate in the warmer waters next to the plant. There were tons of manatees in the water but I think this time there were more people than manatees.
We had a big storm come through the area on Friday and then next morning I headed out to Fort Desoto. It was low tide and the beach was full of things we don’t see that often. Lots of live shells. We mostly see broken ones.
I think this crab took over this empty conch shell.
This starfish was missing a few limbs.
The beach was full of these. They were all empty though.
Horseshoe crabs were on the beach.
Another critter taking up residence in an empty shell.
The beach was full of the above. Some kind of sea plant? Looks like corn on the cob husks to me.
A beautiful cool morning at Fort Desoto Park.
When I first got to the park I had a beautiful view of the moon.
This is a butterfly I don’t see very often.
Backside of a fiddler crab. You can really see the colors on his back.
I saw a big tortoise on the side of the trail.
He didn’t move when I walked by so I stopped and got a front view. Is he smiling?
View from behind the nature center. It was a quiet morning on my weekend walk down the nature trail.
I was standing on the beach taking pictures of a ruddy turnstone when the long-billed curlew flew right in front of me.
I never get this lucky. He was looking at me like “I’m ready for my photo shoot.”
He already had sand all the way up his beak so he’s been feeding.
I sat down on the sand and watched him dig.
Success. A little sandy crab came out of the hole.
After swallowing that one, he continued to dig.
This one he flipped up in the air like popcorn shrimp.
Still digging. What a pig!
He seemed to want to show me this one up close. He started walking toward me with it in his beak.
He flipped it up to swallow it. After this crab, he started wandering off down the beach so I left him to his feeding.
This ruddy turnstone wanted to get in on the crab action as well. He walked right in front of me showing off his prize.
Another Saturday morning on Fort Desoto beach.
What is this? Looks like brains stuck to a clam shell.
The beach was littered with these orange masses. Most were stuck to shells.
The beach was also covered with these shells. They were all empty.
A live one! I didn’t notice the tiny crab turned upside down below the shell until I cropped the picture later.
It was a beautiful night before the blue moon came up. I walked the entire north beach at Fort Desoto. The tide was extremely low and the beach was full of shells and crabs and interesting critters. It’s rare to be there when there are not a lot of people on the beach. It was a perfect walk. Although, there weren’t many birds around either.