Nature Notes for May 22, 2010

I am so proud of the work my friend Michelle, along with some other bird lovers, have done in Siesta Key to protect the endangered snowy plover.  You can read about it by following this link: http://pelicanpress.org/content/2115_1.php.  She emailed me today that there are 3 hatchlings now.  Oh, how I’m praying they survive.  So far they haven’t on Lido this year; they didn’t on either Key last year.  I’ll be sure to give an update. 

Oil has now reached Bayou La Batre AL, lapping at it’s shores.  That’s way too close to home, although anywhere along the Gulf Coast is too close to home for oil to be coming ashore.  Follow this link to Gulf Shores.com which provides daily updates on the oil slick:  http://www.gulfshores.com/issues/

I don’t even have the words to express my sadness over this.  Here’s some information I found about cleaning the wetlands, or rather, not cleaning them:  http://blog.al.com/live/2010/05/cleaning_oil-soaked_wetlands_m.html

The love bugs and dragonflies are in full force here in Sarasota on Lido Key.  I noticed the dragonflies were thick in the air early in the morning and then after sunset.  I hope they’re eating the love bugs; they’re a huge nusiance.  Here’s an article from Floridatoday.com about the invasion: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100522/NEWS01/5220311/1006/Love+bug+invasion+leaves+a+mess.  Check out what I’ve written previously about them: https://lifealongthegulfcoast.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/love-bugs-and-damsel-flies/

This afternoon a fish crow, one of many scoping out the little birds around the condo, attacked a juvenile dove and pulled it’s tail feathers out.  The little dove hid under the bushes by our patio door and slowly walked along the building to a thicker group of bushes.  I lost sight of him there.  I think the crows did, too.  Hope it survives.

Awesome sunset:

Lido Key Sunset

Fun Things You Can Do With Seaweed

We went to Gulf Shores this past weekend for some vitamin D and hydrotherapy.  After I picked up a ziplock bag full of seaweed from the waterline to feed my sea urchins and crabs at home, I sat down to enjoy the sun.  All my boys were in the water.  Yes, there were some jellies, but also lots more seaweed which they had a blast flinging at each other.  So I began to ponder: what else is seaweed good for?  Here’s my list:

Ice cream is sometimes made with kelp and sushi is sometimes wrapped in it.  You can also purchase strips of dried, pressed seaweed to munch on for a snack.  My boys loved it as toddlers.  Then my source of the stuff, a baseball-related friend from California, moved back home and I couldn’t find it in town.  My boys went back to eating crackers and pretzels.  There is also a type of seaweed that, if you were starving, you can boil up, season with salt and eat.  My favorite dish is seaweed salad.  But there is plenty of other ways to prepare it or use it in a recipe.

A friend of mine in FL took a class with her children.  They went on a boat trip, collected seaweed and learned how to prepare it to eat.  You know, if you get stranded on an island or stuck near your hurricane-destroyed beach-front house and need something to eat, she told me that knowing the right kind of seaweed to eat would help you survive.  So you can eat seaweed.

Cosmetics, hair products, toothpaste and other related items can have kelp in them.  Therefore, you can use it for hygiene.

Seaweed is good for sea critters to eat.  I collect it (or have friends collect it when I can’t make it to the beach for a long stretch) and feed it to my sea urchins and crabs that I keep in my fish tank.  When my urchins eat it they look like alien jellies or space creatures.  Imagine the urchin clinging sideways to the side of the fish tank with sea weed hanging from its mouth (which is on the underside of the creature).

You can name things after it: a website, a horse, a boat, a book, a pet, a rock band, a store, etc., etc.

I read about a car company in Asia somewhere that’s making a car using kelp in the plastic.  I don’t know why.  I’m not sure I’d even want to drive it except maybe on the golf course. 

You can use it for crafts although make sure its really dried out because of the smell.  Dried seaweed can be incorporated for a seaside door wreath.  Arrange it on a round plate with a hurricane candle in the center.  Just don’t let it burn.  Glue a piece or two to a poster board and when the glue dries, paint or draw an underwater scene surrounding the seaweed. 

Make a Halloween costume with seaweed.  One year we went to New Orleans Jazz Fest at the Zoo and there was this wood cut-out of a person with a hole for the face.  It was covered in moss from the trees.  You stand behind it with your face sticking through the hole for a Kodak moment.  Well, moss is rich with chiggers so that turned out to be a bad idea for my husband.  We spent the afternoon looking for a pharmacy for chigger rid.  Anyway, seaweed has other micro-critters in it and they don’t itch, at least I don’t think they do.  A costume covered or decorated with dried seaweed would be too cool.  Take a picture and send it to me.

Seaweed adds a nice touch to a sand sculpture or sand castle.

You can, like my boys found, have a great time flinging seaweed at each other.