Fun things at the zoo


Sick manatees recouping at the manatee hospital.  A red tide algae bloom farther south than Tampa has killed over 500 manatees this year by the end of April. The zoo as well as other manatee rehab facilities have been filled to capacity trying to save sick manatees. The algae bloom gets into their lungs and they can’t breathe or float to get air. The lucky ones here will be released at some point once they recover.


You can see them up close.


Turtle basking in the sun. What a cute face!


I saw only a few grasshoppers. Soon the zoo will be covered in them for the summer. This one is leaving a nice trail.


Butterflies are everywhere at the zoo.


Interesting bloom. It almost looks like little candy corns.


Hibiscus in the sun.


I’ve been inspired by Deanna’s blog with her beautiful textures so I’m trying to be a little more creative.

Just a few things I saw on my trip to the zoo to check on the spoonbill babies.



Just keep swimming


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.


More pelicans and other stuff at Safety Harbor


My first common loon of the season. He was floating all alone far off the fishing pier.


I was surprised to see manatees at the fishing pier. Usually this time of year they all head over to the electricity plant to swim in the warm water around the plant. Since the weather here has still been warm, I guess they are hanging around longer. There were at least 6 manatees at the fishing pier.


The trees around the parking lot were full of starlings. They were very loud.


More pelican fun. They have such amazing color on their faces. With that pink and blue around the eyes and bright orange beaks.


He looked happy with his fish part.


This one is a juvenile. Maybe not a year old and hasn’t got his color yet.


Another one enjoying his prize.



Just a few more things I saw at the Safety Harbor fishing pier.


Fort Desoto birds and a manatee nose

Sanderlings running around. Soon they’ll be almost all white once they lose those breeding feathers.

Waiting to grab some bait fish.

This gull grabbed a fish off of a fishing line. The guy who owned the line was not happy. It was too big for the gull to carry.

Another gull goes for it but couldn’t fly off with it. Finally, an osprey flew down and grabbed it so fast I didn’t even get a shot of it.

The same guy cut up a squid into three pieces to use for bait. He left it on the post and  turned his back for a few minutes and three gulls took off with it. I caught the last gull grabbing the last piece. I wanted to ask him if it was his first time on a fishing pier. He sure acted like it. You don’t leave bait uncovered around here.

Juvenile laughing gull still begging for food. I would think at this stage he should be getting his own fish.

I briefly saw a manatee swimming away from the pier. There’s been a lot of manatees hanging around the gulf fishing pier at Fort Desoto this summer.

Just a few shots from a hot walk on the fishing pier.

Camera Critters

Swimming things behind the house – Skywatch Friday

Hubby was leaving for work one morning and yelled out “There are manatees swimming in front of our dock.” I was only half ready for work so I threw on some shorts and a t-shirt and ran outside to get some pictures. Of course, it started sprinkling when I walked out. The clouds were getting dark and I was running late so the above two shots are all I got of the manatees before they headed down the channel.

When I got home from work, I peeked out the sliding doors and saw a ripple in the water. I grabbed my camera and ran outside hoping to see the manatees again. All I got was a big school of fish swimming on the surface. I don’t know what kind of fish these are. I don’t think they are mullet. We have a lot of mullet that jump in the water but these weren’t jumping. They had pretty blue around the eyes and pale pink around the lips. At least the rain had stopped and sun had come out. Below is the view from the dock.

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Safety Harbor fishing pier – Skywatch Friday

Hardly anyone on the pier. It was such a beautiful day. Where was everyone?

The day started out cloudy. But then the sun started peeking out.

Such a perfect view!

Surprise! A rare horned grebe floats up to the pier.

The manatees are back early this year. They usually don't show up at this pier until late March. In the summer, you can always see manatees around the pier.

Hey lady, gimmi a kiss!
Safety Harbor, a small little part of the Tampa bay area, is one of my favorite pit stops. Actually, the fishing pier is. The town sits on the water in  the upper Tampa bay, north of all 3 bridges (Gandy, Howard Franklin and Courtney Campbell) that cross the bay from Pinellas County to Hillsborough County. Unless there is an event going on at the little marina, I can always find a good parking spot and it’s free. Most of the time there are pelicans and shorebirds flying around or digging around in the sand. In the warm months you can always see manatees swimming around the pier.  When the time changes and it’s light outside after work, I sometimes stop by for a quick walk along the pier just to de-stress.  Usually just to take a deep breath before heading to do battle at the grocery store. On a recent Saturday morning I stopped there on the way home from checking on the baby owls. It turned out to be a perfect morning.
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Manatees at Homosassa Springs Park

My attempt at manatee art.

Manatee swimming towards me.

Upclose. You can see the scars on his back.

Mom and a baby swimming by.

One of the Manatee Watch volunteers keeping an eye on the tourists.

Not a manatee! This is Lulu, the resident hippo, getting a drink of water. She’s bigger than a manatee.
You can always see manatees at Homosassa Springs Park. But, if you go there in the winter, you can see tons of manatees. The warm water springs brings in the manatees from across the area. They were huddled together the same way they were at the electric plant in Tampa. You can also swim with the manatees just outside of the park with a tour guide but it’s just too cold to be in that water when you can see them so clear on the boardwalk. The best part is standing in a group of people who are seeing them for the first time. Their excitement and expressions are fun to watch. They are usually amazed at how big they really are. And how slow and gentle they seem. In the picture with the kayaker, all of the big dots in the upper left corner are manatees.  The team of volunteers make sure that if the manatee swims into a no-people zone that the tourists don’t follow them in there. That way the manatees can get a break if they want to be alone.
For several years now, I’ve been seeing manatees everywhere. I usually pass one or two when I’m kayaking around the channels in my neighborhood. Last summer, one went swimming right by us when we were swimming out to the sand bar at Fort Desoto. I still get so excited every time I see one.