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.
Aquarium creatures in the manatee exhibit building.
Turtles swimming around in the manatee exhibit.
Watching pelicans being fed from behind the glass at the under water viewing area at the manatee hospital. It was strange watching from this perspective. Their little feet were going a mile a minute.
It’s not often you get to see a hooded merganser this close. He was swimming close to the window of the under water viewing window.
The Lowry Park Zoo is getting a new water filtration system for the manatee hospital so there are currently no manatees at the zoo. Any injured manatees are now being sent to other manatee rehabbers until their new system is in. Normally you can go underneath and see the injured manatees that are being cared for at the hospital which is part of the zoo.. It’s unfortunate that any people visiting the area are not able to see these big guys up close but the zoo really needed to update its water system. And, it unfortunate that soon it will be installed and there will be new injured manatees swimming around there again. You can read about the hospital here.
One of the permanently injured resident loggerhead turtles at Mote Marine laboratory in Sarasota. He kept coming up for air and looking at me. I think we had a connection.
One of the resident manatees eating a snack.
A pantropical spotted dolphin that was stranded off the keys years ago is now a permanent resident. Luckily there were no other sick dolphins there while we visited.
Creepy eel looking at me.
Cute little puffer.
Fish that were in the shark tank.
It wouldn’t be an aquarium without Nemo.
New Year’s day was sunny and warm. Hubby and I decided to play tourists and drive down to Sarasota for the day which is a little over an hour from our house. Our first stop was Mote Marine laboratory. They have two buildings, one for fish and sharks and the other for manatees, dolphins and turtles. The manatees, dolphins and turtles that are permanent residents are all permanently injured and cannot be released back into the wild. They also rehabilitate and release injured animals. The laboratory does a lot of work and study on red tide and how it affects the bay and gulf. It’s a little bit of old Florida and we spent a little less than two hours there.
Next stop was Save Our Seabirds. More on that later.