Beach Dunes

April 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Nature, Perspective | Comments Off on Beach Dunes
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Glorious

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!

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

September 11, 2009 at 6:12 am | Posted in Nature, Perspective | Comments Off on The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
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An incredibly large garbage dump has formed in the northern Pacific Ocean at what is called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a clockwise movement of ocean currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents. Millions of pounds of trash, most of it plastic, floats around and around, forming perhaps the largest dump in the world, estimated to total 100 million tons of human-made and human-disposed trash.

Actually, there are two separate but connected trash dumps known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, sometimes collectively called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Eastern Garbage Patch, estimated to be twice the size of Texas, floats between Hawaii and California. The Western Garbage Patch is found east of Japan and west of Hawaii. Each swirling mass of refuse is massive and collects trash from all over the world. The patches are connected by a thin 6,000-mile long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone, which also has large amounts of trash within it. 

Plastic makes up most of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is understandable when one considers that plastic makes up some 90% of all floating trash in the world’s oceans. In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton in the oceans by a ratio of six to one. About 10% of the world’s plastic production ends up in the oceans, with the majority of it sinking to the ocean floor, and some making it to coastal beaches. And, as we all know by now, plastic does not biodegrade, but it does photodegrade. This means that a piece of plastic willl be broken apart into many smaller pieces, which will remain in the ocean for years, each one breaking down into smaller pieces. These small bits of plastic end up inside marine life and birds, resulting in death and injury to thousands each year.

To learn more about this huge problem and what is being done about it, visit:

 http://www.oceanfutures.org/of_blog.asp

http://sio.ucsd.edu/Expeditions/Seaplex/

http://www.projectkaisei.org/

Guest on “Starstyle – Be the Star You Are!”

August 25, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Nature, Radio Show | Comments Off on Guest on “Starstyle – Be the Star You Are!”
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On Thursday, August 27th, Cynthia Brian, known as the “Oprah of the Airwaves,” will interview me on her national radio show “Starstyle – Be The Star You Are!” on www.starstyleradio.com.

I will talk about my role as a research assistant in the Marineland Right Whale Project, why my publishing company focuses on niche marketing, and an incredible surprise announcement!

I hope you tune in. It will be exciting and fun.

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.

Nor’easter Becomes Sou’easter

May 22, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Nature, Perspective | Comments Off on Nor’easter Becomes Sou’easter
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What a week! What started as a nor’easter has turned into what I’m now calling a sou’easter. The winds shifted out of the northeast around to the southeast, and more storm cells of heavy rain and lightning keep heading on shore, all coming up the Atlantic coast from south Florida.

I’ve lived along the coast for a long time and I’ve seen lots of weird weather, but this week’s events are among the most unusual, even for Florida. Rainfall amounts have been from just over 15 inches along the coast to 28 inches inland. What was a high fire season has turned into a high flood season.

This is the fifth day of rain and wind. Business owners were complaining that business was terrible before the storm, blaming everyone from the President to Congress to Wall Street and beyond. Now, after five days of torrential rain and 25-35 knot winds, they simply have folded up and gone home until the famed Florida sun decides to re-appear.

Just when I thought I could stop work on the ark I started Tuesday, more bands of driving rain washed across the dunes. I just might go back to figuring out what a cubit means in inches so I make sure the ark is built to historical proportions.

Nor’easter in Town

May 20, 2009 at 7:18 am | Posted in Nature | Comments Off on Nor’easter in Town
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Today is day three of a powerful Nor’easter, that swirling, windy, rainy kind of storm that comes in off the ocean and lasts for three days, sometimes four. I live on the coast of a barrier island and experiencing a nor’easter from my home is a fascinating opportunity.

So far 8 inches of rain but no wind damage that I’ve seen along the coast. Waves driven high up on the beach are taking their usual toll of moving tons of sand and re-arranging some of the dunes. I’m wondering about the new sea turtle nests and their likely survival.

Weather forecasts show continuing 6-10 foot seas and steady winds of 20-25 mph, gusting higher. Thunderstorms are offshore, with slight movement toward the coast today. So, it’s going to be pretty much another day of inside activities and catching up on administrative tasks.

Just another beautiful day in paradise — without the sun. But, the good news is the drought conditions that prevailed earlier are now only a note in history.

Right Whale Update

May 14, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Nature | Comments Off on Right Whale Update
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Yesterday I attended a meeting of scientists and other interested stakehoders in the North Atlantic right whale community. This all-day semi-annual meeting is a great information sharing and educational event for federal, state and private parties involved in the preservation and protection of one of the world’s most endangered large marine mammals, the right whale.

Although I am not a scientist, I am able to attend the meetings, and even present information and ask questions, because of my nine-year involvement in a whale research project in Florida. Given the talent around me at these meetings, I am excited to be a small part of the activity.

Acronym-based organizations such as NOAA, NMFS, GDNR, FWC, NEAq, USN, USCG, ASWH and others, share the most current information about the winter calving season nummbers (a record 39 calves born this year), bioacoustic  testing, mortalities, ship strikes, gear entanglements and disentanglements, and much more.

From these meetings I learn a great deal about the right whale species and the efforts of governmental and private organizations to save them. Importantly, I further develop the big picture view that is important for me as a publisher of books about marine life, environment and conservation. I already look forward to the October meeting.

Earth Day 2009

April 22, 2009 at 9:22 am | Posted in Nature | Comments Off on Earth Day 2009
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As a publisher dedicated to producing factual, accessible, and educational books about marine life, environmnet, and conservation, Ocean Publishing wants everyone to take a moment today to celebrate Earth Day. I’m not suggesting any particular activity, nor am I saying that everything the green movement has conjured up is right on.

What I’d like you to do is to stop what you’re doing, step outside, look around, and take a good, deep look at the nature that you see. Even in our largest cities there is plenty to behold, it just might take a little more effort.

Think about what you see. Think about how you feel about it. Do you enjoy the colors, the fragrances, the breeze, the soil, and all the other ingredients that make up our world? In this quiet time, can you imagine your life without the nature that is around you? What if it no longer existed?

In my mind, Earth Day is every day. Native Americans know this, and celebrate this every day. So, for me, today is no more special than every other day, except for the greater emphasis supplied by various organizations and the media, all with a stake in one position or another.

How about we make a simple pledge? I pledge today to make “earth day” every day for the rest of my life, and that means that I will respect nature and do whatever I believe is reaonable and right to help preserve and protect it.

Simple, right? Now, let’s go live it. The proof is in the doing.

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