Flying for Manta Rays

June 20, 2009 at 8:59 am | Posted in Nature, Perspective | Comments Off on Flying for Manta Rays
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I recently had an opportunity to fly along the northeast Florida coast to to do surveys of manta rays. The aircraft flown, an AirCam, is a rather unique bird designed originally for Nat Geo to do herd counts in Africa. It’s a twin-engine, high wing, tandem seat lightweight aircraft that takes off and lands on postage stamps and can cruise at 50-70 knots.

Flying east from our grass strip home base, the view of the coast line was spectacular, with Matanzas Inlet, residences, Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic all in sight at once.  Then we were out over the ocean and banking north a half mile offshore.

Immediately I could see cownose rays below as they moved around as singles or groups of 10 or more. But no mantas. Then I saw an occasional sea turtle, lending hope that this nesting season would improve from the low nest numbers I knew were being repported by the Turtle Patrol.

At the entrance to St. Augustine’s harbor we banked right and headed back south, this time toward our southern end of the survey plot, Flagler Beach Pier. As we approached Matanzas Inlet I spotted the first manta rays of the flight. Three mantas were headed north, right under our right side, on our course line a half mile offshore.

Then, it was as if a gate had been left open and there were manta rays everywhere. We saw singles, threes and fours, and larger groups. We marked their locations on the GPS and recorded them by size and number so we would could submit a report of our findings. As we approached Flagler Beach the mantas gave way to large numbers of cownose again.

Heading back from Flagler Pier, this time one mile offshore, we encountered less cownose and a fair number of mantas, especially as we neared Matanzas Inlet. North of the inlet we did not see any mantas and only a few cownose, with an occasional sea turtle. We turned south at St. Augustine channel and flew direct to Matanzas Inlet at 1.5 miles offshore.

With the weather building to the south, we decided to close out the survey and return to base. One thing I didn’t explain is that this aircraft is an open cockpit, no canopy. While this makes for fantastic photography, it isn’t fun when the weather turns wet or cold.

Just another fun day in this adventurer’s life on the coast.


BookExpo America 2009

June 1, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Book Publishing, Perspective | Comments Off on BookExpo America 2009
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Well, once again I proved that I can’t be everywhere and do everything at once. BookExpo America (BEA) proved that, after all, I am human.

I had planned to blog every day at BEA so we would have a running commentary about my activities, but a hundred different interruptions, mostly in the form of human beings, changed all that good intention stuff. Reality was that I had so much to do and so little time that I hardly had a chance to eat and go to the bathroom. In fact, the first two days of BEA I didn’t do either of those things until the show was over for the day!

Here’s my typical day during BEA: out of the hotel room at 6:30, breakfast by 7:00, work on office stuff until 8:00 when associates from IBPA arrive, depart for BEA by shuttle at 8:30, work the IBPA membership booth or members’ book display all day until 5:00 (My role was primarily to enlist new members and assist people to find and consider books in our display.), dinner with associates, work til 11:00, crash.

I had very little time for my own planned activities of seeking out potential sponsors for my radio show about publishing and visiting with distribution types to increase Ocean Publishing’s national exposure. Only on Sunday, the third and final day, did I have the opportunity to move around the floor a little.

Overall, BEA was pretty good for IBPA and me. We took in a bunch of  new members and I met with a distributor with whom I likely will sign on. I visited the Arabian Pavilion and was impressed by the size and sophistication of some of their booths. I met with representatives from the Arab Publishers Association, which I think should be considered as an affiliate candiate of IBPA, and with spokespersons from Sharjah, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. With publishers from around the world wanting access to the US markets, IBPA could be of assistance, and those worldwide interests might help US publishers gain access overseas in new markets. An interesting possibility.

One of the best benefits of being at BEA is the opportunity to visit with friends from around the country. I had a chance to meet up with Rudy Shur (Square One), Victoria Sutherland (ForeWord Magazine), Lloyd Jassin (, Norman Goldfind (Basic Health) and a plethora of other folks too numerous to name.

One more person I visited with was Kathleen Go, a former intern who now works for a NYC publisher as an editor. She worked with me for over four months two years ago and it was so enjoyable to link up, even for a few minutes.

Now, it’s back to the realities of business: dealines, meetings, telephone calls, emails, yada, yada, yada. There’s always next year, though!

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