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Posts Tagged ‘Gulf of Mexico’

Our good blogging pal and author extraordinaire, Betsy, over at the “Parenting Is Funny” blog, spotted this big bird on the beach in my last post and asked about the great blue heron.

This majestic and graceful bird frequents the shores of most coastal waterways in the United States and, thanks to tourists and generous fishermen, they come to be quite used to humans, guardedly looking for handouts. I’ve yet to have one eat out of my hand, but they will politely stand nearby so as not to intrude.

I was promised some authentic Pennsylvania bologna earlier this year which fell through, but discovered a nearby hole in the wall peninsula deli carried a reasonable facsimile, beach picnic’s on!

(They also carried my favorite smoked gouda cheese, something dear Daddy got me hooked on in the 60s, a delicacy then)

Perhaps it is their long beak which doubles as a handy fishing tool that makes their stare-down a bit edgy. And if you stare back, they look away quickly, as if their mother had taught them it was impolite to stare and beg.

For such a tall and seemingly imposing bird, they weigh only 5-6 pounds on average because their bones are hollow, just like the pelican….both have great wingspans and navigate gusts of coastal wind better than any pilot.

We are blessed to share our beaches here with such magnificent wildlife, which we try to protect at all costs. The motto tourists often see when visiting, is “Leave only your footprints.” The heron leaves impressive footprints on the sand!

Here, a laughing gull was not laughing as the heron beat him to the treats every time. Too slow, Joe! Check out those big piggies…need a big foot sprawl to support those lanky legs and tall stature. I estimated my friend here was about 3.5-4′ tall.

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill set us all back in myriad ways (understatement). We did what we could to protect the wildlife – this heron was pulled from the oil spill, given a bath in Dawn dish detergent (I once dated the chemical engineer responsible for the invention of Dawn) and lived to tell about it. Er, I mean the heron lived to tell about it – he got all washed off and released. So did the chemical engineer 🙂

Courtesy of The Guardian

Thank You, God, for all things great and small – You, Lord God, made them all! Thank You for all the creatures You made to keep our earth in balance, that we may live in harmony with Your great creation.

~In memoriam of Elizabeth, former member of the Audubon Society, on this All Saints Day~

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Sometimes we ask, “How does this end?”

But does it really ever end? Or are endings really new beginnings?

Here are some of my favorite “endings” that actually opened the most amazing doors to new beginnings:

The first evening of my mother’s “running away” from dementia, that helped her feel both at home and free from home, all at once.
Soiled toes after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. We thought our beaches would never be the same, but God was gracious to restore in due time, as He always does.
What sea stars do when they free themselves from their captors out of children’s beach pails and escape back to the sea, alive and free again!
The end of a rum runner schooner from 2 centuries ago…nobody has the $ to rescue it, so it just keeps eroding on a remote beach, a treasure to the few who frequent the far reaches of the peninsula, a legend to those from afar…

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The end of a virtual fantasy and the beginning of an indestructible, eternal bff-ship.
The end of life as we knew it pre-Katrina…once the grief passed, the rebuilding was mostly emotional, projected onto the current landscape should you visit NOL.
The end of David’s life, 6 weeks in a coma and no hope…but the doctors had us sign papers to authorize unorthodox treatments and I stood glued to the wall praying as they applied said treatments in the form of laughing gas and yelling at him to hang in there and stay with us….and he did, and turned 19 last month.
Hurricane Ivan’s destruction, 2004, year before Katrina – rocking my baby in my lap singing hymns as our ears popped when the winds hit 130 and we could no longer hear trees falling around us, but had to trust totally in the Lord..our kids remember that night and our faith and serve God with gratitude to this day.
The ending of a century-old era, my Cubbies losing. Oh, ye of little faith! God delivers if You sit tight and see what He has in store!
Elizabeth died some days after this 93rd birthday…but her death was the beginning of a new legacy of strength, courage and untold creativity….Just open your heart to what lies ahead.
Death of hips – yeah, finished the marathon in David’s honor, but was sidelined early in life with titanium and polyurethane shortly thereafter….pace thyself!

The end of anonymity – red flag hair day unexpectedly revealed last Sunday. God reigns in all things!

Thank You, God, for endings, which usher in brand new opportunities and beginnings. You are the Omega and the Alpha, and everything in between. You’ve got this! May we all embrace endings as we would beginnings….both bring new life and growth.

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Besides the path of subtropical storm Alberto in my sea right now, I had a little fun finding some twisted in my world…

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Eggshell Tower

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Surfing in Alberto

Hey, God, thanks for all the twists and turns You allow in ouR lives…for ups and downs, ins and outs, zigs and zags and for the calms and storms as well.

In all these twists life takes us on, it’s nice to hang on to You for dear life! Thank You, God, for making life so interesting.

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By default of this blog’s theme, I couldn’t NOT participate in this weekly photo challenge.

But since this blog is already chock full of sea photos, this week’s challenge was a bit more, um, challenging. What could I possibly publish that was different not only from my own blog, but from the other entries?

So I did what I always do and took my camera with me yesterday and hoped for something unique to capture.

We stumbled upon some photographically interesting things such as a wedding party, a single mother trying to relax with her misbehaving children, a lonely man in his 60s and a bikini-clad girl with a message on her hindquarters.

However, I didn’t have any photography releases on my person for the subjects to sign to waive me from liability, so I had to focus on my own subjects.

A few posts ago, the subject came up about gigging sting rays. Since that post, my son had created and built his own spear gun and decided to try it out yesterday.

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The mighty nautical hunter…

For you do-it-yourself-ers, he used a PVC pipe, 18 inches of surgical tubing, a pipe clamp, a slingshot frame, some wire, a filed-down steel bar and a hollow, aluminum arrow. And some fishing line.

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It’s like a combination slingshot, bow & arrow and rifle. But tailor-made for the sea.

To test it out, he waded to the edge of a sand bar before a good little drop, and went to work:

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Because sting rays have been something of a nuisance this season, it didn’t take him long to locate several through his snorkel mask before he was able to zero in on his catch.

If you’re wondering how he didn’t get stung, he knows that sting rays are naturally skittish. Shuffling your feet along the sandy bottom, where they hide, causes them to swim away.

If you don’t shuffle your feet, you may step on one. This startles them and they instinctively whip their serrated tail, which causes several cuts into your skin into which it’s venom is released simultaneously. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle!

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About 100 yards away swam sting rays that were six feet wide, visible from a large, long pier. I was very happy that my son encountered one that was merely a fraction of the giants nearby.

This is an Atlantic Stingray, one of several species of stingrays in the Gulf of Mexico.

Back at the homestead, our catch is now on the operating table where we carefully examine his barb.

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What tadoo with a stingray, once caught?

Since my son is part Eskimo, he makes full use of the entire animal. He filleted the meat and used the carcass to feed the local armadillos and nutria.

And what of the barb? He conducted an experiment to see if the industrious fire ants in the front yard might enjoy dining on it. No, they did not, nor did their colonies, and, voilà! A new fire ant deterrent was discovered this weekend. Evidently, fire ants DO NOT like stingray venom.

Turning now to stingray cuisine, we focus now on making supper.

The not-so-secret ingredients to one of the most awesome coatings: Kentucky Kernel seasoned flour along with Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. Famous for famous Southern fried chicken, these ingredients can turn anything into heaven.

Eager to try out his catch of the day, my son forgot the cardinal rule of Southern cooking: use the cast iron pan instead (mama gently bawled him out after this shot was taken).

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It turned out delicious, anyway. Unlike alligator and many other unusual dishes which can be described as “tasting like chicken” or some other common culinary frame of reference, there was no way to describe how sting ray tasted. As he put it, “It tasted like, er, sting ray – or like a few different salt water fish-types, combined.”

Thanks, God, for giving us the incredible seas which have and give life – interdependent, without which we could not be. And bless each of the talented bloggers who glorify You in their portrayals of the sea.

 

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Photos do no justice to the brilliance of the white sand here…

 

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The closer you get to the water, the more the eyes (both yours and that of the camera) take measures to protect themselves from the bright sun illuminated on the squeaky-hot sand. Shuffle your feet to get the squeak!

 

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After kneeling in the sand…it’s so fine, it just sort of…sticks.
Like sugar-biscuits.

 

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Paddlers & snorkelers behind me, favorite iPod tunes getting action in my ears, blue skies & seas…how do I get so far away in my head when this is precisely where I want/need to be?!

Hey, God…thank you for squeaky-white sands and r&r at the end of the road. Thanks for friends joining me here…

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A couple posts ago I highlighted a lovely Winter Walk on the beach.

It is only fair to come “clean” with the dirty truth of my beach, as it exists, thanks to the unknown and ongoing effects of the Deepwater Horizon tanker explosion. Thirty-four months later. Long after the contracted cleanup dudes have “done their part” to make a good-faith show that they cared about a place they weren’t from.

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Granted, I have no shots of pelicans covered in oil. The major gunk is under control, so we are told.

They supposedly scooped up all the tarballs that washed up, back in 2011:

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But here is how my winter walk wound up, for real:

Nice, clear tidepool. But can you spot the the tarball, now in 2013?

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No cleanup crews around, and we noticed in the parking lot that the hazmat bin that was there since the explosion was notably absent this time.

More parking spaces.

But no place to deposit the new tarballs.

Pardon my unpainted piggies. I give them a rest Nov-Jan. But BP gave them a new coat.

Shall we call it “Radioactive Red?” or perhaps “Precancerous Pink?” “Petroleum Piggies?”

Or….“Glamorous Gunk?”

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Feet are fairly gross to begin with. And, as the commentaries followed the last post about jelly fish, two peas in a pod here:

(Ick)

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What I notice, however, is how the petroleum clung to my feet and the jellyfish appeared immune to the effects. My body was prone to the Klingon effect, the jelly fish was by default unable to absorb the intruding chemicals.

I am perplexed how many of the local research entities are split between the effects of the oil spill: some of the most nature-friendly groups have sided with BP, and some of the most “nah, no-big-deal” groups have unearthed some disastrous effects. Some are out-of-state, some are local, some are international. It’s mind-boggling to sort out who has what financial hooks in which group. I got tired of trying to keep track.

It is what it is….

Nevertheless, a fractured scallop shell makes for the most efficient means of scraping errant petroleum off one’s sole:

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Am I gonna die?

When will my beach get right?

Is there any place free of the threat of peril?

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Moon Jellies

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Dour-looking lionfish. This non-native species has invaded the Gulf:

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(Photo not available: Didn’t have nerve to photograph music stars/entourage from Nashville visiting island…just act normal/nonchalant, you know – they appeared to be cherishing their anonymous privacy)

Underside of a male horseshoe crab:

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Um, not sure what to title this…any ideas?

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Colorful sunset over a newly mown hay field:

Sunset over hayfield

(Photo not available: this I saw in an amusing, evidently unedited email alert):

“Beachy Middle and Beachy High School delayed releasing students by about six minutes this afternoon while Beachy Police checked out a report of a student with a firearm at a residence near the two campuses. Beachy Police say it turned out that the firearm was a BB gun and the kid was minding his own business in a backyard.”

And the crowning sight of all sights…

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Aftermath of first day of summer vacation (or the latest I Spy Challenge at our house):  Tonka truck, upside-down ambulance, Mardi Gras beads, sock under couch, misplaced shoes, mostly-naked Mr. Potato Head, Thomas the Train train wash, grounded airplane, rubber dragonfly, Star Wars DS game chip box (empty), hand bell (middle C), screwed up plastic slinky, upended keyboard, broken craft/mask, Pixar Cars pillow, extended light saber, random assortment of Matchbox cars, John Deere tractor and pull-back school bus with stop sign that used to come out but is now broken off and long-lost.

Sigh.

Hey, God…thank You for distracting me from life’s challenges, with all things beautiful and busy. I figured You brought me back into the field because You needed something else done, but I didn’t expect a mess-o-crap to hit the fan within the same week as receiving that piece of paper. Dang, Lord! I barely had time to celebrate before there came the threat to my livelihood…and no sooner had I begun to wring my hands over that, then came the (unrelated) threat to my life. Thank You for equipping me to do what You need done. Protect and reassure. Thank You for lawyers and doctors and policemen, and all those You use to bring about Your will. Use us all as You see fit. Let us stand tall and be blessed through both good and evil. Let us understand it is You that we serve.

And thank You for my new motto carrying me through these new, fiery trials:  Fear Never Conquered.

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