2014 Florida Volunteer Updates

As the North Atlantic right whales migrate to the South Georgia/Northern Florida coast each winter volunteers help watch for and capture critical details related to this endangered species. This information helps scientists track the fate of the species and acts as a first alert system to pilots in the shipping lanes to avoid accidental killings. This blog shares the findings, photos and other pertinent information gathered from the Palm Coast Sector Volunteer Team while helping to connect and communicate the many ways we can protect the right whales and sustain our wonderful ocean life.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Survey Season Kicks Off January 3!

The endangered right whale utilizes the Atlantic Coast off Georgia and Florida as calving grounds. Volunteer spotters, living in high rise condos beachside report right whale sightings to track the whales' movement and behavior patterns along the Atlantic Coast in an effort to determine migration characteristics of these highly endangered marine mammals. The 2011 survey year starts Monday, January 3rd. Reminder to all volunteers, both new and returning - the team orientation / refresher course will be held Sunday, January 2nd from 3 to 5pm at the Center for Marine Studies, Whitney Lab at Marineland. 

Our mission statement:

- To be the eyes, ears and voice of the northern right whale in its only known calving ground off the Florida Atlantic coast.
- To cooperate with scientists and resource managers and report whale sightings to alert ships at sea in order to reduce ship collisions, the greatest know cause of death of northern right whales.
- To gather scientific data regarding right whale occurrence, movement patterns and behavioral characteristics in the southeast critical habitat.

* REPORT SIGHTINGS TOLL FREE TO 1-888-979-4253 / 1-888-97-WHALE

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Original Lobster Float Rope Door Mats

Ok. Update on the float rope door mats. The first person to come up with the idea for this product AND continues to help the Maine lobster fishermen and the North Atlantic right whale population is David Bird and his company is called Custom Cordage. 
Buying these mats helps to safeguard the right whales, support lobstermen and protect the environment and keep the employees of Custom Cordage working all year round. So far 500,000 pounds of rope destined for landfills has been rescued by Mr. Bird’s company and they’ve reused more than 100,000 pounds in these doormats. 
You can purchase these beautiful, durable, original, hand-made door mats made from reclaimed Maine lobster fishermen's float rope at the following online retailers - one even has a sale going on this weekend!  I think I'm getting the YELLOW and green one! I mean, tis the season, right?
Yours in the ocean life. CS
Where to buy the original door mats....


More on how these Door Mats came to be....
And don't forget - the Right Whale Festival is today at Jacksonville Beach. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Whale of a Solution You Can Stand On...

    David Bird - founder / owner of Custom Cordage

I'm sitting here watching a pod of dolphin roll up and over the ocean's sparkling surface reminding me that our whale watch season is just beyond the next wave. In fact, this Saturday, November 20 I'll be heading up to Jacksonville for the Northern Right Whale Festival not only to help officially kick off the season but also to check out a cool product - the amazingly beautiful and durable door mats made from the float-rope once used by Maine's lobster fishermen! That's right. Door mats hand made by the folks at Custom Cordage. 

There was a problem related to our whales up in New England. Lobstermen were using a type of rope called a float-rope to string together many traps along the ocean floor and up to the buoys. The problem was that the whales often became entangled in the ropes which led to a number of injuries and sometimes deaths. Then the state of Maine mandated the lobstermen stop using the float-rope and start using a new and safer rope called a sink-rope. But how would they convince the lobstermen to turn in their expensive rope and how would they dispose of the thousands of pounds of old rope? That's when David Bird stepped in and came up with a creative solution to reuse the rope. 

Of course there are others involved like the local government that helps motivate the lobstermen to turn in their expensive rope with a buy-back program and David's company collects and recycles the rope and turns it into beautiful and virtually indestructible...hand made door mats! So if you're heading up to Jacksonville for the festival this Saturday check out their booth and pick up a door mat or two. They make great gifts!

Yours in the ocean life, CS.
Saturday, November 20 / 10 AM - 4 PM
Jacksonville Beach, Seawalk Pavilion

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Message for My Whale Buds

A friend just shared this story with me and I am passing it along to my whale watching friends... enjoy!

...The Whale... If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco 
Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had
become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was 
weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to 
struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope
wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her
mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands 
(outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for 
help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined 
that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and
untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives and 
eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in 
what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and 
every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently 
around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most 
incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the 
rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole 
time, and he will never be the same. May you, and all those you 
love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who 
will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. 
And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.
I pass this on to you, my friends, in the same spirit.

P.S. Just learned that this iS a true story that took place in December 2005.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Calving Season is Just Around the Corner!

Mark November 20th down in your calendars now so you won't miss the 2nd Annual Right Whale Festival at Sea Walk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach, FL.

This fun, family oriented event celebrates the right whales' return to our local waters - the only known calving area in the Southeast U.S. - as well as bring attention to the many ways we can help protect these critically endangered whales from extinction.

The festival takes place from 10 - 4pm and includes live music, plenty of food, arts and crafts and vendor booths as well as a live auction. Kids activities range from a beach obstacle course to learning to play steel drums.  It's sure to be a great way to kick off the season!

For more information on the event, sponsorships and the silent auction check out the official website at www.rightwhalefestival.org

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy World Sea Turtle Day

Who knew sea turtles had their day but thanks to the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC), a 501(c) (3) membership organization based in Gainesville, FL that has been helping to conserve sea turtles for more than 50 years, you can make it a reason to party today (if you needed one on a Wednesday). 

The CCC has wrapped themselves around this day by offering a free house party tool kit to make it easy to have a few friends over this evening and "talk turtles" over wine and cheese. Or...you can do what I did and simply donate $25 or more and adopt your very own sea turtle.

See below for links to pages on their site and I especially enjoyed looking at their satellite-tracked turtles - find out where LuLu is at this very moment!

I know our ocean hearts and thoughts are focused on the plight of the BP/Gulf Oil spill but we can still find a reason to party on a Wednesday and clink a glass or two with friends in honor of our sea turtles, right?  Enjoy!

Yours in the ocean life,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy World Oceans Day 2010!

One of the privileges of living on or near the ocean is the ability to witness the various cycles of our unique wildlife. Here is a photo essay, taken yesterday by a neighbor, of a loggerhead turtle coming ashore to lay her eggs. I've added information about the loggerheads. What a great way to celebrate World Oceans Day especially in the midst of the devastating BP Oil spill. Enjoy! 

Once loggerhead turtles reach breeding age, approximately 9 - 10 
years old they come back to the same beach where they were born !
The nesting period ranges from May to August with incubation 
times varying between 45 and 90 days and the average for Florida 
around 60 days.
Once they lay the eggs, usually fairly close to our dunes, 
volunteers drive the beach in a small beach jeep (like a golf 
cart with beach tires) each morning to locate, mark and check 
on the nests. These dedicated folks are called "The Turtle Patrol"
Heading back to the water is a slow process and will be the 
same path the baby turtles will take when they are born, usually 
at night and approximately 60 days from now.
They use their flippers not only to swim but to bury the 
approximately 100 eggs. Nests are often lost to predators such 
as raccoons, dogs and ghost crabs as well as shoreline erosion. 
Loggerheads are the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world 
and grow to about 200 lbs with a approx life span of 30 yrs. 
Loggerheads are known to nest between 1 and 4 times per 
season at intervals of approximately 14 days.
Florida loggerheads’ migratory path follows an enormous 
circular current system known as the North Atlantic gyre. 
Water in the gyre is relatively warm, and food is abundant. 
But outside the gyre, conditions are less favorable, and 
turtles that stray from the route often die from the cold.
Working in Florida, scientists have found what they 
believe is the strongest evidence yet that baby loggerhead 
turtles "read" the Earth’s magnetic field to help them navigate 
the massive clockwise current that sweeps the northern 
Atlantic Ocean.
Loggerheads feed on mollusks, crustaceans, fish and other 
marine animals.
A slow swimmer compared to other sea turtles, the loggerhead 
occasionally falls prey to sharks, and individuals missing flippers 
or chunks of their shell are not an uncommon sight.
However the loggerhead compensates for its lack of speed 
with stamina - for example a loggerhead that had been tagged 
at Melbourne Beach, FL was captured off the coast of Cuba 
"To me, one of the great wonders of the world is that baby 
sea turtles enter the ocean and then swim across the Atlantic 
and back all by themselves," said Dr. Kenneth J. Lohmann, associate 
professor of biology at UNC at Chapel Hill.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

BP / Gulf Oil Disaster - Information & Ways We Can Help

This is such a sad and disgraceful situation and we all need to pull together and find ways to help. Here are a few lists of weblinks with information on the current situation and how we can help. Please email me with information you may have and I will share it with others.  cs

Oil Spill Status / News / Charts / Articles
Daily updates on the location of the oil slick which is currently schedules to hit our shores June 6...just two days shy of “World Oceans Day” :(
Daily updates on the status of topping off and locating the slick, weather and biological response service information
The official site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command with news and updated announcements related to the situation and fishing areas.
Want to Volunteer? Here’s a few ways you can help
National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association - For those with at least 6 months experience with oil spills and at least 4 hours of Hasmat training and those that wish to learn how to be trained. 
All Other Volunteers - By State & Hotlines
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, please call the Deepwater Horizon Response Volunteer Request Line at 1-866-448-5816 or visit the Web sites below.

State specific volunteer opportunities:
Volunteer Hotlines:   
  • Report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information:
  • Submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system:
    (281) 366-5511
Beach Status - Website page with links to state beaches for information on the condition or status of a beach.
Bird Rescue Operations
The oil spill involves a ruptured drilling platform approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded on April 20, 2010 and sank in 5,000 feet of water. More than 100 workers scrambled off the burning rig in lifeboats. 11 workers died.
At least 40 million gallons of crude has been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico and harmed fragile breeding grounds for Brown Pelicans and other shorebirds. Six weeks after the blow out, BP has yet to significantly stem the flow in the nation's worst oil disaster. Here are a few more links to sites on the status of the bird rescue operations. 
Daily report released each day at noon on the status of birds effected by the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. To report injured or dead wildlife in the impact area call 1-866-557-1401
news, views and photos from IBRRC’s work with oiled, sick and injured acquatic birds
National Wildlife Federation - Text “WILDLIFE” to 20222 to donate $10 to support Gulf Wildlife
Wildlife and wild places are facing the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history. Dolphins, manatees, countless fish species--as well as nesting birds and sea turtles--all are at risk in the Gulf due to the oil spill.
For many of these precious creatures, the threat is deadly.
Help support National Wildlife Federation's on-the-ground volunteer and restoration efforts by donating to our Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund.
Millions of birds are nesting and breeding in the path of what may well become America's worst environmental catastrophe. Oil continues to stream uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico from the site of a destroyed drilling platform.
The deadly and growing slick has already reached sensitive coastal areas of Louisiana. Globally significant Important Bird Areas - essential to survival of already-imperiled species - are at risk from Louisiana to Florida's Gulf Coast. The danger is real for all kinds of birds. For more info here
Events / Fund Raisers / Great Websites - As of June 2010
KICK THE SLICK - Information on July 25th Benefit Spectacular in Jacksonville, FL
KICK THE SLICK - The men who died, the impact on our waters, the impact on the wildlife

Our Gulf Waterkeepers are the first line of defense during this ongoing disaster. Their incredible knowledge of the marshes, wetlands, beaches, and inner-coastal waters make them invaluable first responders. Their commitment makes them critical and effective community leaders. And their dedication to a full recovery is unmatched. Please help now: Your donations will provide everything Waterkeepers need, from clean-up supplies and protective gear to emergency office space and food for volunteers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Let's Help Kick The Slick!

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." 
Dr. Sueus

June 8th is World Oceans Day. It's the undersea version of Earth Day and has been growing over the past few years and for 2010 the celebratory plans took it up a notch as The Ocean Project joined forces with Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss? Well it just so happens that June 8th is also the 50th anniversary of the Dr. Seuss children's classic, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish so they got together and developed fun family educational events that are taking place this weekend.

And who would have ever fathomed that this would be overshadowed by the world's worst oil spill in history. I'm certainly having a hard time celebrating as I sit here stunned at the news and photos while BP Oil continues to gush into the Gulf.  But then again, maybe it's a good thing. I mean it is by far the largest wake up call to date so what better time for us to learn what we can do to help as well as how we can help our oceans in general be it along the shores of our own beaches or how we interact with and impact all waters on land and sea. 

I perused the World Oceans Day events list and found many fun family events taking place today and throughout the weekend. They range from celebrity book readings at bookstores in California, to large family oriented events in Boston at the wharf to educational presentations about our oceans ecosystems and even training for the Great Annual Fish Count. Then I noticed a few events surfacing in Florida that are focused on the BP Oil spill and what we can do to help. Here are two examples: 

Plan for the Worst - Expect the Best! 
Join together with Palm Beach County Florida residents at Boynton Beach Inlet Park on June 22nd to learn what you can do to help Florida's coastal communities and species prepare for the impact of the BP Oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

July 25, 2010 - Jacksonville, FL - meeting to organize "Kick the Slick" = A 12-hour benefit spectacular with live music and a silent auction of original art and other treasures with all proceeds going to benefit the most urgent needs arising from the tragic Gulf Coast oil slick.

Isn't it amazing how in the midst of tragedy it is in our very nature to pull together and find some good. Even as reports today confirmed the oil slick will reach the Pensacola beaches any day now I have a feeling that most if not all of the local events in our country will go on as planned with some changes and in some form or fashion will now include discussions about and information on ways we can all help.

So how can we help? It starts with you and me. Information. Education and pulling together. Take a look at the links below as well as in your local event listings for events taking place near you and then tell a friend or better yet bring a friend. And if you don't have one think about organizing your own "Kick The Slick" event. 

Oh, and as to the Dr. Seuss 50th anniversary - if you don't have your own copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to read on June 8th head out to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of the special Random House 50th anniversary edition. It's sure to be a collectors item. 

Yours in the ocean and yellowfish life.

Relevant Weblinks:

"The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
Howard Zinn (1922-2010)