Beach Dunes

April 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Nature, Perspective | Comments Off on Beach Dunes
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I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent walking on beaches, but I have to believe it must be in the thousands. Yes, thousands. You see, I’ve lived near or on the ocean for all but six years of my life, and that means I’ve trekked beaches in New England, Middle Atlantic states, the Southeast and the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, there’s all those hours visiting exotic places in Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia when I was either on business or vacation, and could always find time for a little beach walk. Oh, and then there’s those cool beaches of California, Oregon and Washington. So, in a very informal and non-academic way, I am kind of a dune expert.

I love beach dunes, especially Florida beach dunes. So, I want everyone to know what dunes are and how important it is to protect them. Listen up.

Beach dunes one time may have been part of the ocean floor when the oceans covered the land. Others are created by wind and storms depositing sand high up on the beaches. In this sand are organic matter (read plant life) which embeds in the sand and begins to grow. Plants sprout and capture more sand and more organic matter in an ongoing process which results in a larger and healthier dune. While Nature can take away what it has made, it also can replenish through its cycle of strong winds and onshore storms which dump large amounts of sand and organisms.

Man, however, is another impact force on dunes, and we can be better stewards of what has been provided us.

By staying off the dunes and not picking or destroying dune vegetation, we can protect the dunes. By planting approved dune plants we can enhance the dune vegetation, which will attract more organisms from the wind-blown sand. By convincing local and state officials to protect the dunes, we can assure that government offices are doing their part.

If you love the dunes, or the beach, or the ocean, or Nature at large, do your part. Get involved and take action. Maybe we’ll cross paths!


2010-2011 Right Whale Results

April 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 2010-2011 Right Whale Results
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The 2010-2011 North Atlantic right whale season in northeast Florida/southeast Georgia has ended, so I want to provide an update about the whales that have come to this area every year at this time, and has done so since before humans could say ocean.

Because they spend lots of time at the surface, move slowly, and float when dead, early American whalers dubbed them the “right whale” to kill. One time numbering over 10,000, there are an estimated 450 right whales left today. With hunting of the animal illegal since 1935, their primary cause of mortality (over 50%) now is human impact, specifically ship strike (~40%) and commercial fishing gear entanglement(~10%).

From January to mid-March right whales can be seen from shore at vantage points along the Atlantic coast, but especially in St. johns, Flagler and Volusia Counties. Right whales come close to shore and can be seen with the naked eye within 1000 feet of the coast. Remember, though, federal law requires humans to stay 500 yards from these whales. This protects the whales and inquiring humans who can easily be injured by a protective adult or playful adolescent whale.

The 2010-2011 season, largely created by the need for pregnant females to give birth to calves in a temporate and relatively shallow ocean, also saw a variety of juveniles, non-pregnant adult females and a few adult males. Twenty calves were born this year, plus there were about 120 additional right whales observed by aerial, land-based and boat crews.

While not a banner year for births like the 2008-2009 season, and despite some unfortunate deaths of both adults and calves, this year still helped the species with a net plus gain.

If you have topics you’d like to know more about, let me know and I’ll work up something for a future blog.

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