Friday, June 29, 2007

Sea Turtles: You Never Know Where They'll Lay an Egg

When we think of sea turtles nesting, we usually think of a turtle crawling out of the surf onto a Gulf or Atlantic beach, digging a hole, and laying her eggs in the soft beach sand. But recently a loggerhead turtle nest was discovered on Bunche Beach, in the Fort Myers, Florida area.

Bunche Beach is actually a small sandy beach in innermost San Carlos Bay, across the way from the north end of Estero Island (aka Ft. Myers Beach). This beach is extremely popular with humans, mainly because you don't have to fight the traffic to get to the islands. It's also popular with kayakers because it's a great place to launch into a quiet bay.

A recent article in the News-Press gives the details about this significant discovery. It seems that Eve Haverfield of Turtle Time Inc. (a nonprofit that helps turtles), fought for years to prevent Bunche Beach from being open to dogs (dogs can disturb the nests). She insisted that this was indeed turtle nesting grounds. Opponents argued that a turtle nest had not been seen there in years. Well now Eve has been proven correct.

You see, loggerhead turtles don't reach egg-laying age until they have reached 10 to 30 years of age. Then they may return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs. This particular turtle might have hatched from a nest on Bunche Beach back in the 1970's!

Read the article about the Bunche Beach Turtle Nest.

Bunche Beach is located off Summerlin Road, on the way to Sanibel Island. Turn left at the traffic light at John Morris Road and drive south for about a mile. The road dead-ends at the bay and there is a narrow sandy beach. The water is shallow and the bottom is muddy. It's more of a place to hang out and do some sunbathing, fishing, or kayaking. It's not really a swimming beach. And there is definitely no surf there. Last time I visited there were no restroom facilities.

Pets are not allowed.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Holes in Beach Sand Deadlier than Sharks

In a recent article in USA Today, an important perspective was given on the relative dangers we face at the beach. We and our children play with abandon in the sand, but recoil in fear at the mere cry of "shark!"

Dr. Barry Maron, a Minnesota cardiologist and former lifeguard has been doing research on the deadly incidents of sand holes caving in on children and burying them alive. He began this research after witnessing such an event at the beach.

Just last week I was at Siesta Beach helping to film a beach safety video for a local multi-media company. While I was taking a break, sitting under the shade of the lifeguard tower, the camera crew went over to take some video of some teenagers burying themselves in the sand. This doesn't appear nearly as dangerous as digging a hole, since there is nothing to "collapse," but it highlighted the propensity of kids to dig in the sand for fun.

According to Maron, between 1990 and 2006 there were 16 deaths from sand holes or tunnels caving in, while during the same period there were only 12 deaths from shark attacks. These numbers represent deaths in the U.S.

The article is worth a read. Definitely read it if you have kids that play at the beach. Actually there are quite a few "cave-in" type deaths all over the country. So all children should be aware of the danger of playing in or around holes deeper than their waist.

Even more common is someone tripping in a hole dug by kids building sandcastles. Lots of people walk or run on the beach at night when they cannot see the holes. (I've seen it happen and it isn't pretty.)

So, parents, make sure your little beach munchkins cover up their holes at the end of the day. And for the rest of us, watch where you step!


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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Night photos of Pass-A-Grille, Florida

I thought I'd share a couple of interesting photos I took one evening in Pass-A-Grille, Florida, on St. Pete Beach.

The first one was taken just after sunset, looking north. You can see the bright pink Don Cesar Resort on the right. The Gulf of Mexico is quite calm.

The second photo is of the Merry Pier on a very breezy evening. The Merry Pier is on the east side of the island at about 8th Avenue.


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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Siesta Key Beach Summer Algae

Today I had to go to Siesta Key to help with a video shoot for a freelance multimedia web project I'm working on. We were going to shoot some video of me snorkeling at Point-of-Rocks. Normally the water there is clear, clean and beautiful, but today a fairly heavy load of algae was washing up on the beach.

The algae was especially heavy near the rocks and the smell was overpowering. A front-end loader had scraped up a lot of the algae from the beach and dump trucks were hauling it away. Many truckloads were being scraped up.

Surprisingly, the beach was packed with people, who just avoided the worst areas, and continued to enjoy their day at the beach. There were also more snorkelers in the water than I've ever seen. I was especially surprised at this, since bathers were warned away from the water yesterday after several large hammerhead sharks came into the swim area chasing fish. Some people got really scared, thinking the sharks were after them. No one was injured, the sharks left, and life returned to normal on this quiet Siesta Key beach.

We spoke to several people on the beach, all of whom were in love with Crescent Beach, and wouldn't think of vacationing anywhere else. I certainly don't blame them.

New Website about St. Pete Beach

St Pete Beach deserves to have a really good, comprehensive website covering all the St Pete Beaches and parks, and all the tours and activities that the visitors enjoy. I've been getting so many emails with questions about St Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille that I've finally decided to create a separate web site for it.

So if you'd like to check it out, there's a lot of great information on the new site already:

As continues to grow, I find it more and more difficult to keep it organized when adding new types of information. So was born. I think visitors will soon find it to be the best resource available on the web for planning a vacation or visit to St. Pete Beach, Florida.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Dr. Beach's Top Ten Beaches in the US in 2007

Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, has just announced his "Top Ten Beaches in the US" for 2007. In a repeat of the 2006 results, Florida beaches occupy the #2 position and the #10 position. This year, Lighthouse Point Park, Daytona Beach has appeared in the #9 spot, knocking a Hawaiian Beach out of that spot. So in 2007, Florida has 3 beaches on the list.

Caladesi Island has maintained its hold on the number 2 spot. Last year's number 10 pick was Bonita Beach, Florida, which has been bumped this year in favor of Siesta Key Beach, Florida.

Here is the Top 10 Beaches in the US List for 2007:

1. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina
2. Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin/Clearwater, Florida
3. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
4. Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
5. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
6. Hamoa Beach, Maui, Hawaii
7. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
8. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
9. Lighthouse Point Park, Daytona Beach, Florida
10. Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida

For those of us who live near the beach, our home town beach is usually our favorite.

I travel and visit all the beaches in Florida. Asking me to name the "best" beach is asking the impossible. Look for my upcoming list of the top 500 beaches in Florida for all time!


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