The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has more than just rescued dolphins. They also take in other injured animals from all over. You are greated by these white pelicans when you first come into the aquarium. They have a lot of character but the glare on the glass is a challenge.
After walking around for a while, we realized we could see them from the other side as well. They had moved over to the inside of the exhibit and I think I bonded over this one for a second.
Up close with some crabs.
You can also see stingrays up close.
All of the turtles here have some type of injury. The top one had lost his back flippers and the bottom one lost his front flippers. There are all types of injuries, most of them here are man made. Boat strikes, getting flippers tangled in fishing line or crab trap lines. The aquarium also rehabilitates a lot of turtles when red tide (algea bloom) is bad but any of those that recover are released.
Walking out on the beach this past Saturday morning seemed like any other Saturday morning. There wasn’t a smell (since the wind was coming from the east or other side of the park). At first glance the beach seemed clean but weirdly void of any people. As I got closer to the water, that’s when I saw the signs of red tide. Red tide is a naturally occurring thing that happens in the gulf when the algae blooms and releases toxins that kill the sea life. The last big red tide event happened here in 2005. It was devastating to the sea life that year. Beaches south of us in Sarasota and Fort Myers have had red tide issues since early this year. It just reached my beach in the last few weeks. I had heard mixed reviews on how bad the dead fish were at the beach so I headed out to see what was going on. The day before, the park rangers had cleaned up 6 miles of beaches full of dead fish but fish keep coming flowing back on the beach with the waves.
Here is some scientific information on red tide.
This was the first time I had seen so many different crabs on the beach along the water. These camouflage crabs will eventually make their way back into the water. The ranger told me that crabs in general are not as affected by the red tide but it was weird to see them on the beach.
Lots of different ones on the beach including this crab that had a barnacle living on it.
While our beach has had a mild case of red tide so far, many of the beaches south of us had record numbers of dead dolphins and manatees turning up this summer.