Bluff Cove Lagoon

The muted wintry landscape sped by, shaded a weird blue hue by the vans tinted windows carrying us across the island to Bluff Cove. The browns of the tall withered grasses and deep greens of the heather lying close to the ground were broken up by weird rivers of broken rocks. This “stone run” landscape is unique to the Falkland Islands, caused by the erosion, thawing and freezing of the last ice age.

the landscape was so blue looking through the windows
this is more like it really looked

Bluff Cove Lagoon lies on the opposite side of the island from Stanley, about a half hour drive. Final approach to the farm passes over low rolling hills on a rutted dirt track to a wide spot where we traded in our vans for a fleet of 4 x 4’s (jeeps).

Speeding along in our jeeps, bouncing across sheep-shorn green grass and grinding through deep muddy ruts, we’re dropped off with a short speech at the rookeries near the beach. A flock of about 1000 gentoo penguins along with another 20 pairs of the kings we’d come to see were nesting there. Squeaking and preening, poaching rocks and tending eggs, they paid us no mind as we stood at the marked boundary and hustled for photos.

Along the edge of the lagoon, another 10-15 kings and their chicks- looking like fluffy brown puff balls- huddled in the steady cold wind. They paid no attention to us, but threatened the occasional goose that wandered to close to their chicks with their long sharp beaks.

It was wonderful to get so close to these wild birds. We were told not to approach closer than 5 m, but the birds apparently never got the memo. 🙂

It was a beautiful sunny day, but the wind was strong and it got so it was hard to hold my camera steady. With hundreds of penguin photos, I was ready for a hot drink. Picking my way through the fields littered with pellets of goose poop, I stopped at the top of the rise to take in the gorgeous seascape before me.

impossible to avoid the poop

The ocean was a dark teal color, with breakers shining electric blue as they rolled onto the blindingly white beach, the wind blowing streamers of spray and sand upon the few brave birds searching for food along the shore.

The Sea Cabbage Cafe beckoned with the smell of hot chocolate and baked goodies in the air. The small kitchen bustled with friendly chefs, all ready to suggest their favorites among the many options to choose from: lemon drizzle cake, Hattie’s famous carrot cake, scones with local diddle-dee jam and farm fresh cream, chocolate chip, peanut butter and coconut lace cookies, chocolate cake and even gluten free varieties. Yum!

Maybe I should’ve spent less time with my cameras and more with the cookies? I didn’t even have a chance to check out the gift shop before it was time to head back to the vans. Next time, for sure. 🙂

B & W Challenge: Cold

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Here’s my entry for Cee’s B&W Photo Challenge: Hot or Cold Things. I was very lucky this year to have gone on a trip to Antarctica. I’ve been dreaming of a trip like this for decades. Had a fantastic cruise on the MS Roald Amundsen with Hurtigruten cruises. Here are a few photos. It was definitely COLD! 😉

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Glacier at Orne Harbor
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Penguin colony- Cuverville Island, Antarctica
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We were very lucky with the weather so far. It was very changeable, but most of the time so far was pretty nice. Sunny without much wind. This was our first real meeting with “authentic Antarctic weather” according to our captain.

The weather eventually got better and it was more enjoyable to hang around and watch these funny little guys. More on that later…

 

Orne Harbor to Lemaire Channel

After a beautiful day at Orne Harbor, we woke up to a more ‘typical’ day for Antarctica. So far, we’d been lucky finding nice weather most of the time. It changed quickly tho. We picked up our hearty campers who’d spent the night ashore, then headed on to our next planned stop at Neko Harbor (Andvord Bay).

Campers got to spend the night at Orne Harbor
we can just barely see the campers from the ship (far right in the photo)
The end of the red line is Orne Harbor. Around the corner to the South is Neko Harbor at the bottom of Andvord Bay. At the bottom left corner is Port Lockroy.

On arrival, we were met with high winds, rough seas, snow and freezing cold. There was a lot of ice in the water and it kept moving around. The zodiacs would have a hard time shuttling us back and forth to shore. After checking it out, the captain decided that the weather was not going to allow us to go ashore as planned.

too much ice for the zodiacs!

Expedition cruising, even more than normal cruising, is dependent on weather and other local conditions. You need to be flexible. It’s best to have the attitude of looking forward to whatever the day may bring and forget about being upset about what you might’ve missed.

We sailed on towards Damoy Point and Port Lockroy where we were scheduled to go ashore to the historic site run by the British. It has a museum and the only post office on the continent of Antarctica.

you can just barely see Port Lockroy middle left of the photo, we could just barely see their people waving with the binoculars
seals on the ice, taken from my cabin- I’m not sure if they’re weddel or crabeater seals

Sadly, the weather was still too bad for us to go ashore. I would’ve liked to send some postcards home with an Antarctica stamp. We did drive by and we all waved at each other. Brave people, to stand around outside in that kind of weather to wave at our ship.

On we went, to cruise through the Lemaire Channel. The weather was still pretty nasty for a little while. Howling winds, snow and cold! It felt like about 20 below, but I don’t think it was actually below 0 F. It was the wind that really made it feel cold.

The scenery was spectacular. We made our way through the channel filled with pancake ice, the sharp tips of the mountains peaking out of their coats of snow, glaciers calving off large chunks of ice into the passage alongside our ship.

The passage narrowed as the day went on. The wind died down, the snow stopped and the sun came out. I sat in the lounge with it’s wrap around floor to ceiling windows and just watched the world go by. Towards sunset (around 9 pm- it didn’t get dark until about 11), we passed through the narrows- only 1600 meters wide. The sound of the ice scraping along the hull of the ship was loud enough to be heard everywhere onboard.

In my room, I fell asleep to the low pitched background sound of the sea slushing along the side of the ship and occasional bang of a berg as we came out the South end of the Lemaire Channel to find our next adventure in the morning.

the mark on the Google map shows Lemaire Channel

 

 

Drake Shake or Drake Lake for the MS Roald Amundsen?

Anticipation was high, people were concerned. We were crossing the Drake Passage- the area where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet- between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands. It’s notorious for bad weather. 

Winds and currents circle the entire globe, swells have thousands of miles of open ocean to build so they can grow to enormous heights. The Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties refer to these latitudes. Dozens of ships have been lost in the area. How would we fare onboard the MS Roald Amundsen?

Turns out we had nothing to worry about. We enjoyed crossing the Drake Lake. The winds were only about 20-25 knots and the seas 2-3 meters. It was lovely for this area and the season. I was actually hoping to see something of the famous nasty weather, but a few people were complaining of mal de mer so I guess we were lucky. I wouldn’t want to spend a couple of days with a shipload of seasick passengers.

view from my cabin

The ship’s crew had plenty of things prepared to keep us occupied for the time we would be at sea with no landings to look forward to. They always had interesting lectures and workshops for us to choose from. There was a nice stock of games and puzzles to play with. Or you could always choose to visit the sauna, the spa, the pool and jacuzzi, or chill out in a comfortable chair with a drink while watching the scenery pass by.

Some of the members of the expedition team were also scientists and encouraged us to participate in their studies. There was one that collected information about the clouds and weather, to compare with what was picked up by the satellites (observer.globe.gov). Another was gathering data on the birds we saw (www.ebird.org). 

They had presentations in the ships science center where we could look through the microscopes (one was projected onto a large screen) to see the details of different kinds of ice, plants, krill, feathers, etc.

Krill

I enjoyed a couple of arts & crafts workshops. Watercolor painting one day and clay modeling another time.

My emperor penguin model

I joined a rotating group of ladies working on jigsaw puzzles in the Explorer lounge on the 10th deck where we always had a wonderful view out the starboard side. We had snacks and piano music there in the afternoons.

Our crossing was altogether uneventful. We had a couple of relaxing days to look forward to arriving in Antarctica and our first landing at Half Moon Island. 

FOTD: Bearded Iris

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Here’s another of Cee’s photography challenges to join. This one is for the Flower of the Day- May 26th- Bearded Iris.

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I just took this photo the other day. Couldn’t help pulling out my i-Pod at the grocery store and snapping shots of all the gorgeous colorful flowers. 😉

TPC: Crawl

I found a new photo challenge in my reader tonight. It’s hosted by Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo. This week the topic is ‘crawl‘.

I have a few that will fit the challenge…

I took this photo a while ago at Moody Gardens in Galveston. I used to have a membership and so went fairly often. I gave that up a couple of years ago when I got laid off….

I took this one at the Houston Zoo. They have a ‘bug house’ with a couple of dozen terrariums with different kinds of insects. I believe this one is called a ‘blue death feigning beetle’ which is native to Texas (though I haven’t seen any wild ones around here).

I took this one at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It’s a tarantula. Bigger than my hand (I’m estimating, I didn’t pick it up). I go there and to the zoo a lot when I get up to Houston. I have memberships to both so it doesn’t cost me anything. Both the museum and the zoo always have something new and interesting to see.

I went again last Friday night, hoping to spend a little while looking around the museum before the event I was going to (Biophilia). Sadly, they had the entire place blocked off so I just had to wait around, bored, for 45 minutes until they let us in to the exhibit. It was worth the wait.

The amazing creativity of the artist was incredible. The museum did a great job. They had a few tables set up where we could make our own art magnets, check out some of the insects they keep around downstairs, and talk to some of the docents. I got to pet the tarantula, it was silky soft. 🙂

They also had free food (pulled pork sliders, chips, pecan breaded chicken skewers and cookies). Drinks were available too.

There was a pretty decent crowd, the tables were full of people eating before or after looking through all the beautiful artwork. I loved the bright colors and fantastic designs. I never would’ve thought to make something so beautiful out of a bunch of bugs. Even tho when you look at almost anything in nature close enough you can find beauty.

They’re having another event at the museum tomorrow, but even if you can’t make it the exhibit will be on display for a while. Don’t think you have to go only if you can go with someone from the museum. It’s definitely worth going if you like anything to do with art, nature, design.

HMNS: Biophilia

I’m taking a break tomorrow. It’s not that I’ve been working (I wish that I was), but I’ve been busy catching up on all kinds of things around the house that I’ve been putting off for ages. It hasn’t been much fun, but I have slowly been getting a few things accomplished. Tomorrow I’m going to spend the day in Houston. First at the zoo and later at a members only event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Here’s how the museum describes the event…

Spend an evening with HMNS and artist Christopher Marley for a look into Biophilia: A Dialogue with Art, Nature, and Science. Enjoy themed crafts, lite bites and cash bar and then dive into Marley’s world of nature and art with this multimedia and sensory experience in this exclusive meet and greet only for members. Reservations required, limited space available.

I’m usually interested in science and art and this sounds very interesting to me. I googled Christopher Marley and I have to say, I really liked what I saw! He combines natural items like bugs, shells, rocks, with design to make gorgeous colorful images. I’m amazed at how he shows off the beauty in so many of the common things we see around us every day. Like these bugs, for instance.

Isn’t that just gorgeous? It’s just a bunch of beetles! If I had a bunch of extra cash and some spare room on my walls, I would definitely go on a shopping spree!

Tomorrow night is for members only but next Wednesday (Feb 13) at 1830, the museum will have a lecture and tour where the director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center Erin Mills will introduce you to these inspiring works of art and the amazing animals that comprise and showcase their beautiful, yet functional, features. After the presentation you can check out the special exhibition. There will be ‘special guests’ from the butterfly center and insect zoo too. 🙂

If you get your tickets before Feb 6, they’re $16, after that they’ll be $20 (members get $6 off).

If you’re anywhere around the Houston area and you’re interested in art, it’s probably worth taking a look. The museum is worth spending some time there anyway.


LAPC: Landscapes

I found another cool photography challenge in my WordPress reader. This one is by the Lens-Artists. They have a challenge every Saturday. The topic for this week is Landscapes.

I don’t usually take a whole lot of ‘landscape’ photos. If anything I take ‘seascapes’. I take more photos of ‘things’. Like animals, or plants, or flowers, or boats, or even people (tho I’m not real comfortable taking photos of people yet).

I recently took a long trip overseas. Part of it was a week long photo safari in Tanzania. The animals were amazing, but I have to admit I was equally impressed by the landscape. It was just so wide open. Miles and miles of nothing but the tall grass waving in the wind. Maybe a lone tree on the horizon. Or a herd of buffalo slowly making their way across a river.

I loved how everything seemed so wide open. There were so many miles of space with no sign of mankind (even tho of course we did see towns and villages full of people while passing through). The landscapes sometimes seemed empty, but if you looked harder there was always some sign of life. Maybe an ostrich popped up from under that lone tree. Or a lioness wandering by a herd of wildebeest, or a bird hiding in the grass or basking in a far off lake.

I don’t get to see so many wide open and interesting spaces around here. Even tho Texas probably has more of them than most. My neighborhood is on the wide coastal plains but full of homes and businesses (mostly chemical plants).

I do have some wildlife around my house: raccoons, opossums, owls, squirrels, bats, rats, etc. We even see an occasional coyote around the beach. Somehow it’s not the same. Compared to the African landscape, the one around here is pretty boring. 😉

Michael Missed Us

I was a little concerned about joining the ship last week. Hurricane Michael had just gone ashore while I was on the way to the heliport to fly out to work. I had been checking in with Marine Traffic on the internet to see where the ship was and how close it would be to the hurricane.

From what I saw when I checked Monday night after I got a call to go back to work, it looked like the hurricane would pass right over the top of the ship. I checked again Tuesday and it looked the same.

I find it hard to believe any ship would choose to sit still and let a hurricane pass right over the top of them but that was what it was telling me on the internet (and I knew they were supposed to be drilling a well).

So, I was wondering what I would be dealing with when I was flying out to work. It wasn’t until the pilots mentioned right before landing that the ship was underway, that I knew for sure that the ship had moved out of the way of the storm and was on the way back to her work location.

Turns out they ran about 100 miles to the West and only had about 50-60 mph winds and 20-25 foot seas. No worse than a bad Norther we usually get a few times every winter.

We’ve been back on location for a couple of days now and have just this morning moved back over the well head. We should be back on track in a couple of days. I’m hoping to be out here for another 2 weeks. I should know something for sure by tomorrow morning. 🙂

In the Wake of Michael

I’m interested to see what will happen in the morning. I (finally) got a call to go back to work on Monday. I flew out this afternoon after rushing around yesterday and this morning to get everything done I needed to do before leaving town. I’ve pretty much been on call for the last couple of years, so stay as ready as I can. Half way packed all the time, but  I can never seem to get the groceries right and always wind up having to throw out a bunch of good food. I hate that!

Right now I’m at the hotel in New Orleans, waiting for the crew change van which will pick us up at 0400. The alarm is set for 0300. We’re supposed to be at the heliport at 0500 to fly out to the rig at 0600.

I can never sleep the night before crew change. It doesn’t matter how tired I am. I try to get some sleep and just toss and turn until about 1/2 hour before I have to get up.  It doesn’t help that my usual bedtime when I’m home is midnight or later. It’s the same when I’m coming home from the ship. Can’t sleep until I get home and then I don’t want to do anything but sleep for 2-3 days!

I checked the location of the rig out of curiosity on Monday. While I was doing that, I checked the weather, just to see. Looks like the rig was pretty much directly in the path of hurricane Michael.

I’ve been checking up on both since then. Position of rig. Position of hurricane. Looks to me like the eye passed pretty damn close to the rig. I bet the DPOs had some pretty stressful watches for the last couple of days.

I’m really curious to hear how the ship rode it out. What kind of winds and seas were there on their location? What kind of footprint did they have? I’m assuming they were latched up since last time I was on there, they were going to start a new contract the first part of September. Normally, we don’t like to move more than a couple of meters. I’m wondering how much they moved around in the storm.

I was a little surprised they didn’t move out of the way of the storm’s predicted track. Then again, I think Michael came up fairly quickly. Might not have been enough time for them to shut everything down, unlatch from the well and move far enough away to make a difference. It looked to me like the worst of the storm passed a little to the East of them, good thing the storm followed along the expected track.

Michael has moved inland now, so weather offshore should be calming down. I drove up the beach to Galveston today (for a job fair at Texas A&M). Tide was very high and the waves were decent sized. All the surfers were out having a blast. That’s about the only time we get ‘decent’ surf- when there’s a hurricane in the Gulf.

I’ll be out for at least a week. Maybe longer (I hope so). I may or may not have enough internet access to blog, so if you don’t hear from me for a while that’s why.

JusJoJan: Octopi

Todays Just Jot It January prompt is: words that start with “oc”. I always found octopi to be extremely interesting creatures. I like to watch them at the zoo. They’re super smart and curious. There is a large variety around the world (about 300 species), from tiny little ones the size of your thumb to the giant pacific octopus, where one was measured at 30 ft across it’s arms!

Check out the video for a quick introduction to the octopi. 😉

A Photo A Week Challenge: Crowd

I found a new photography challenge tonight (thanks to Cee for leading me to it). Nancy Merrill’s Photography blog is running the Photo a Week challenge. This week the challenge is to come up with a post using ‘crowd‘.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each week, I’ll come up with a theme and post a photo that I think fits. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Thursday, when the next photo theme will be announced.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “A Photo a Week Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.
  3. Come back here and post a link to your image in the comments for this challenge.
  4. Follow nancy merrill photography so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements.

OK. So here goes…

A ‘dazzle’ of zebras. I was very lucky to travel to Tanzania on a photography safari last year. The scenery, the amazing animals and the beautiful people we met made the trip unforgettable.

I wish I could go back. I’m doing what I can to save up for another trip to Africa. I don’t know when I’ll be able to go, but hoping by the end of the year.

Have you ever been to Africa? On a safari?

SoCS: Ecocide

It’s the first Stream of Consciousness Saturday and continuing on with Just Jot it January.

Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “eco.” Find a word that starts with “eco” or has “eco” in it, and base your post on that word. Have fun!

I chose the word ‘ecocide’. It means the destruction of the natural environment (by human agency). With all the news about global warming- or climate change- lately, of course I’ve been thinking of it.

It’s always been in the back of my mind ever since I first became aware of it when I was just a little kid. Maybe 3rd-4th grade? Back then, the official scientific consensus was that we’d all be frozen into icebergs by now. They’ve changed their minds to the ‘global warming’ scenario now.

There has always been some debate between the optimists- who think human ingenuity will be able to solve all the problems brought upon ourselves by our insistence on breeding to the point of total destruction of the planet, and pessimists (like me) who think we will not.

It’s 40+ years later and I am still listening to the same basic arguments. The only difference is: now it’s global warming instead of global cooling. Or climate change to cover all the bases.

And, just to say it now… I am not a ‘climate change denier’. Of course the climate changes . It always has, it always will. I’m even willing to say that mankind most probably has had something to do with it. My problem with the ongoing debates at the moment has to do with the proposed solutions to the problems.

Of course, the ecocide has only progressed over those 40+ years. More pollution, more clear cutting, more soil erosion, more pollution in the air helping cause climate change, more ocean acidification, more habitat destruction for farms and houses, loss of biodiversity, and on and on and on.

Our leaders want to convince all of us to give up our high standard of living (which we get through the use of things like oil, chemicals, etc.), and bring about a ‘carbon neutral’ economy. Or even to reduce our use of energy so that we can ‘save the planet’.

I’m not totally sure what to say about that. I think there’s a much better solution than what ‘our leaders’ have come up with.

Of course I don’t want to see the destruction of planet Earth (even if I would love to see us out there exploring space and making ourselves a backup plan). I would love to see each and every person on this planet have the ability to live a good life!

Not one mired in poverty. Not one where they have to struggle every single day just to scrape up the bare necessities to exist, but a good life. One where they can work at what they enjoy, where they have plenty to eat and drink, one where they have time to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

I also want to see a planet where every other living thing has the ability to live without the threat of humanity’s greed destroying the habitat needed for survival. I want to see a planet with plenty of free space for nature. Room for all the plants, animals and humans to enjoy the natural world.

Not just for the fact that it’s healthy and good for people to be out in nature, not just for the possibility of all the things we’ve not yet discovered in the natural world that will help us live better, not just for the fact that the Earth is a cohesive, interconnected organism and we have no idea what we’re screwing up beyond repair with our human activities, but also because it’s morally, spiritually and even economically wrong to destroy so much of the world around us.

Why? Because we are so greedy.

I am NOT using that word in the way most people would. I see nothing wrong with people trying to live the best lives they possibly can. My issue is with the fact that so many people choose to have so many children (or don’t even consider not having them). Birth control? WTF? It’s like their only purpose in life is to breed. 😦

I’m scolded for being a ‘selfish American’. One who was lucky enough to be born in the USA and so afforded a higher standard of living than most people around the world. I’m very lucky I don’t have to work my ass off for $1-2/day like so many do. But, where you’re born is mostly a matter of luck. I know I personally had nothing to do with where I was born!

What I ask people who ‘dis’ me for my ‘selfishness’ is: “and how many children do you have?” (or plan to have)?

Consider. Even if you only have one child, that child may chose to have only one, or they may have dozens. And each of those children may chose to have one, or dozens more. You have absolutely NO control over anyone but yourself in this matter.

And so, by my choosing to never have any children, I have already done more than my share in ‘saving the world’. I will spend the rest of my life being ‘selfish’ and enjoying the things I’ve earned the right to enjoy.

Don’t tell me not to use my air conditioner, or my car, or anything else! No, you don’t have a right to say diddly-squat about it until YOU stop having kids!

My solution to the problem of ‘climate change’ (and all the other problems) is to simply stop having so many kids!

Not forcibly, like China, but voluntarily. Spend some of the resources going on about global warming on convincing women around the world on the benefits of only having 1-2 children. Start promoting THAT as a way to save the planet instead of trying to convince everyone to give up on their hopes to live a decent life!

The optimists insist we can put up everyone on Earth in Alaska! That may be true, I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where 7 billion + people are living in Alaska! I do know that I don’t want to live in a world where we continue to commit ecocide simply so that we can fill it up with more and more people.

I can’t even understand WHY so many people think that’s the way to go. It saddens me, that we have so much beauty in this world and we are throwing it away. Why? Because we need to fill up the world with another few billion people? Why?

Thursday Treat- Turtles!

I had a real treat yesterday! I got to go to NOAAs research facility in Galveston and learn all about what they’re doing with the sea turtles there.

I only found out about this whole thing last week. I happened to Google ‘things to do in Galveston” and one of the things listed was a sea turtle tour. I had known about the turtles in the back of my mind, since I’ve known about the turtle patrol and the efforts to protect the turtles along our beaches.

When I heard of this tour, I thought it would be interesting, so I called and signed up.

They only have the tours on Thursdays, and you have to make an appointment beforehand. It’s free. 🙂

Apparently I got there a little late (tho not by my watch). The room was full and they were already discussing all sorts of things about the program. Tip: Arrive early!

The tours are put on by volunteers. Thursday’s presentation was led by the team of John and Lynn Wright- “master naturalists”. They did a great job of explaining the situation with sea turtles today and what NOAA is doing with them in Galveston.

They started with a slide show explaining the facts that there are 7 total species of sea turtles and 5 of them can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. Those include (from smallest to largest): Kemp’s ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback.

They showed us how to tell what kind of turtle we see (if they have 4 ‘scutes’ they’re either green or hawksbill, if they have 5 they’re either Kemp’s ridley or loggerhead- leatherback doesn’t have any).

They described turtle life cycles and what kind of food they liked to eat. They showed some amazing movies of the arribada from the late 1950’s. Thousands of female sea turtles arriving on the Texas beaches.

Then they showed a slide telling the sad story of their decline since we’ve become more ‘advanced’. Decimating all 7 of the turtle species, by eating their eggs, catching them in nets while fishing for other species, killing them with our pollution (especially plastic), destroying their habitat…

They also mentioned a few things we can do to help protect the turtles. Mainly- reduce your use of resources, especially plastic. Dispose of trash properly. Reuse and recycle. Help clean up the beaches and waterways. Take care with your fishing gear. If you see a sea turtle, its tracks or nest on the beach call 1-866-TURTLE-5 

I learned yesterday that the Kemp’s ridley has been designated the official state sea turtle of Texas. The Wrights informed us that in 1985 there were 400 nests after a large drop in numbers, in 2017 there were 353. They found 3 right here in Surfside (and 1 on Quintana)! They said there’s been some recovery. I hope so.

After the slide show, the Wrights led us over to the turtle barn where we could see all the little turtles. First, we got a chance to see how a TED (turtle excluder device) works. The kids were happy to run through the net and escape- acting as surrogate sea turtles. 😉

NOAA has kind of a conflict of interest here. They are supposed to help the fishermen, and they are supposed to help the sea turtles. They are doing a lot of studies to try and come up with answers to solve many issues surrounding our ocean resources.

One of those studies is to do with testing TEDs. The objective is to find a way to increase the survival rates of any sea turtles (and other by catch) that get caught up in a shrimp boats net. The turtles in the turtle barn are all about 1.5 years old. They’re raised in Galveston til they get to be about 2. Then they are sent over to Florida for the tests.

They’re placed in larger tanks and allowed a few weeks/months to acclimatize themselves. Then they’re taken out to sea and working with a team of shrimpers, divers, and scientists the turtles are run through the nets, out the TEDs and collected again afterwards. After the turtle finishes its run through the TED, it’s released to the wild. The scientists will use the data to refine the TEDs and other fishing gear.

The barn was full of turtles (hawksbills), at least a few dozen, all about 1-2 ft long. They swam around in small plastic containers set inside larger tanks of filtered seawater. We were warned not to touch the turtles or put our hands in the water (it’s a ‘federal offense’). If something fell in the water, they would have to drain the whole tank and replace the water due to concerns about contamination. 😦

I felt kind of sad for all those little turtles, swimming around in their tiny little tanks, but they told us that if they were all allowed to swim together they would fight and/or eat each other. They said the turtles didn’t notice or care that they were stuck in such small containers, they would circle around forever and never know the difference. I suppose, but I still felt bad for them. 😦

I also wondered why they weren’t raising more turtles- in a breeding program. Like they did with the whooping cranes down in Port Aransas. I’d hate to see the turtles go extinct. With only 353 nests (of Kemp’s ridleys) on the Texas beaches last year it wouldn’t take much to wipe them out. I asked John about it. He said in Texas the focus was on finding nests and moving them to Padre Island which was safer for them and where they’d be released to return later. There were other programs around the world that raised the turtles for a higher survival rate on release.

I recommend the turtle tour for anyone interested in marine science or sea turtles. The Wrights were very knowledgeable and great with answering any and all questions. Hopefully the research done there at NOAA will help more sea turtles survive (and also help the fishermen with better results and less bycatch). I’d love to see more turtles out at sea and maybe even find a nest on the beach one day. It would be fantastic to see an arribada like the one in the film they showed us. Let’s hope we can make that happen. 🙂

This looks like the video they showed, but there was no sound and they said the video was taken in Texas. This video is from Mexico it might be a different one. I found it on youtube.

PS- This is my Just Jot it January post for today. 😉 Today’s prompt is: memories. Well, they’re only a day or so old, but I think they count. 🙂

I Can’t Believe…

…It snowed here yesterday! WOW! I had the air conditioner on the other day, since the temperatures were up in the 80’s. Yesterday I woke up to snow.

It hardly ever snows here. I think the last time was in 2004. I got up fairly late this morning, around 1100 and was surprised to see snow all over my hedges outside my front windows. It was all over my windshield too. I had to brush it off when I left for Houston yesterday.

I did learn not to throw hot water on it the first time I had to deal with ice and snow here in Texas. I cracked the hell out of the windshield of my old el camino. What a waste of a beautiful car. I couldn’t afford to replace the windshield, so couldn’t get it to pass inspection, so eventually wound up buying this F-150 I have now.

That was in 1997. So, looks like we get snow here about every 10 years average (3 times in 30 years).

We’re not used to this kind of cold weather here. I know I’m not and I’m more cold- blooded than most people I know here. I will have to get used to it quick tho, I am supposed to ship out next week. Heading across the Atlantic Ocean to Northern Europe. I’m sure it’s going to be much colder for much longer than it will be here.

Aye-yi-yi! I’m looking for warm clothes now. 😉

 

DP-Sparkle

Here’s one for the Daily Prompt- Sparkle.

I went for a picnic at Louisianas’ Fontainebleau State Park yesterday. I had to stop and take a few pictures of the sun making sparkles over Lake Pontchartrain. 🙂

 

Flower of the Day- Azalea

More flowers for Cee. Today’s flower is azalea. Join in and post your flower photos and let’s make a beautiful online garden. It’s cooler but very dreary weather here, so nice to look at everyone’s pretty flowers.

I took these photos at the Houston zoo the last time I went. They were blooming like crazy. So beautiful. 🙂 

Flower of the Day- Orange Ginger

I’m not really sure what kind of flower this is. All I know is I really like the photo. 😉

Cee has another floral photo challenge to join in on. This time she’s looking for orange ones. Here’s what she has to say…

I decided for the month of October I’m going to be posting flowers that have some sort of orange in them.  Remember you don’t have to have an orange flower to join in the fun.

So, let me know what you think of my flower. Be sure to comment if you know what kind it is. I’m guessing some kind of ginger. Why not join in and post some flowers of your own. Just click the link to Cee’s blog.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: C

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is to post something using a word that starts with ‘C’ that is at least 4 letters long. My entry is: chameleon.

I’ve always loved watching these little guys creep around. They move with such purpose, their eyes swiveling around in different directions. All the sudden they whip out their long sticky tongue . If they’re lucky, they’ve caught a nice big bug for a snack. Quite the little hunters, these chameleons.

They’re also quite the change artist. The colors they can recreate are amazing. They can match pretty much any color you put them on and they’ll do it quick too. They’re really entertaining little lizards. 🙂

Maritime Monday for August 7th 2017: Chips Ahoy

Another weeks worth of maritime matters, courtesy of Monkey Fist and gCaptain. The story of the North Sea Sat divers was really interesting. I thought so, maybe because I work fairly often with those guys (sat divers). I just got off a job a couple of weeks ago with a bunch of them.

Interesting thoughts on snacking. I’m not a fan of oysters (too ‘slimy’ for me). I don’t think I would like the jellyfish chips either (tho I bet my Korean crews from the tuna boat would love them). 😉

I’d be more in favor of the bags of Doritos, beer and whiskey. That’s much more my style.

And I really wish I had known about this (Denizler Kitabevi Bookshop in Istanbul) bookstore when I would’ve been able to check it out! I probably walked right by it. 😦

Hope you enjoy this weeks collection…

Pioneer North Sea Divers: In the 1970s, deep sea divers were at the sharp end of the North Sea oil boom. Alex Last has been speaking to the former diver David Beckett, who wrote The Loonliness of a Deep Sea Diver, about his dangerous life working under the waves.  More on BBC World Service Brewing […]

Source: Maritime Monday for August 7th, 2017: Chips Ahoy – gCaptain