Saturday, October 20, 2007

Point-of-Rocks, Siesta Key -- Video Clips

As promised I've published a couple of video clips of my recent trip to Point-of-Rocks on Siesta Key.

If you've never been and are curious about how to get there and what to expect, you'll definitely want to see the clips. The first clip starts where I've just come off the Stickney Point Road bridge and onto Siesta Key. In one of the clips I managed to film a dolphin going after a fish.

I've also created a Google map of the Point-of-Rocks area showing exactly where to park and where the rocks are. If you click on the link in the previous sentence, just scroll down the page and you'll see the map.


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Everybody Learn Drownproofing!

Did you know that the biggest danger to your life at the beach isn't sharks, or jellyfish, or stingrays? It's drowning.

What if you could learn a simple technique, and teach it to your children, that could help prevent drowning? Wouldn't you want to learn it?

Well there is a very simple technique that I learned years ago in a swimming class. You don't even have to be a good swimmer to use this technique. Heck, you don't even have to be able to swim at all. You can practice it in chest deep water in a swimming pool.

If you'd like to know more, Mike Kearney has a very informative website on drownproofing. He's just published on his website an excellent sequence of drownproofing photos with explanations showing exactly how to perform this simple life-saving technique.

Although this technique has been around for years, it is not widely known (unfortunately, because it really works!).

Do yourself a favor and visit Mike's website for more info. There is nothing to buy or sign up for. Just information that could save your life.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Point of Rocks Snorkeling Update

Today I took a trip down to Siesta Key just to see what's going on. Last time I visited Point of Rocks was back in June. The water in June was full of algae and so was the beach. It wasn't too pleasant. Recently there have been media reports of heavy algae, high concentrations of bacteria, and a foul smell in the water at Siesta beach. On this trip, conditions were much improved. I found no seaweed piled up on the beach, and the water smelled ok, just a little murky.

I'll be putting up some video of my trip in the next week or so. It will be very helpful to anyone who has never been to Point of Rocks and is thinking about coming here for some snorkeling. I'll make a blog post announcing it when the video is up.

The closest parking to Point of Rocks is access #12. It's a narrow alley at the end of Old Stickney Point Road, pictured below:

When I stepped out onto the beach the first thing I noticed is that the water close to shore seemed a bit discolored and slightly murky, but the deeper water looked much clearer. Looking south toward Point of Rocks you can see the seawall that sticks out into the Gulf where the rocks are:

The water around the rocks was somewhat murky but there were a lot of fish in the water, a dolphin was playing in the area, and there was a group of fishermen further up the beach. I saw a few people snorkeling, so I decided to go in as well. The water is still about 82 degrees, so it is very comfortable. Here is where I went in:

Visibility underwater was about 3 or 4 feet. There was plenty of microscopic algae in the water, which significantly affected the clarity. Still, I saw lots of baitfish, a school of young permit fish, quite a few small snappers, and plenty of healthy seaweeds of all kinds growing on the rocks. There was also a lot of bright red boring sponge on the rocks, which looks and feels like red coral. Very pretty. Despite the limited visibility, I had fun and promised myself that I'd come back again as soon as the water clears up.

After leaving Point of Rocks I drove south to Turtle Beach. I found the water here MUCH clearer and I went right in. Although there aren't any rocks here, I enjoyed snorkeling in the clean water where visibility was about 10 feet. The sand here is different too, much coarser and darker, with lots of crushed shell. It is very soft to walk in when you are in the water.

The beach is steeper at Turtle Beach than at beaches north of Point of Rocks. Twenty feet from dry sand I'm already in waist to chest deep water. Further north I'd still only be ankle deep. After the initial drop off though, it levels off.

Below photo was taken about 25 feet from shore at Turtle Beach:

After I left Turtle Beach I drove back north to Siesta Beach and parked at access #7, about halfway between the public beach and the Village. I just wanted to check the water conditions. The water was much cleaner here than at Point of Rocks, but there were still patches of ruddy, discolored water here and there. No unusual amounts of seaweed on the beach. In the photo below you can see a patch of slightly brownish/reddish colored water surrounded by clearer, cleaner water. Looks like patches of microscopic algal bloom seem to be hugging the coast.

No one knows why the algae is blooming so heavily this year, but some speculate thats that heavy rains after a dry spell send heavy nutrients into the waters, feeding the bloom. I think it is more complex than that. One thing for sure is that it is nature's way of trying to get back in balance.
More Florida Beaches

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Monday, October 08, 2007

BeachHunter takes #2 position on Google for "Florida Beaches"

Now it's easier than ever to find BeachHunter on Google. Anyone searching for "Florida Beaches" will see in the number two spot on Google (soon to be #1).

How did you find BeachHunter?

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It's Still Summer in Florida

It's getting to be a habit. Six o'clock in the evening rolls around and I'm ready to wind down the workday and head for the beach to catch the sunset. But I go for more than just the sunset. There is a sense of peace at the beach at day's end that really helps bring the day to a close in just the right way: fresh salt air; a nice breeze; terns and gulls floating in the air and diving for dinner; people picking up shells; and the ever-present sound of the Gulf, surging and lapping at the shore.

The water temperature is still well above 80 degrees, and the humid air is about 84 degrees at sunset, and it doesn't cool off much after that. October is the time we look for that first "cold front" to sweep through, bringing a bit of dryness to the air and a dip into the low 70's at night. We are still above 90 degrees for a high now.

Tonight, as every night, the Hubbard Marina sunset cruise went by with a fairly small group on-board. Photo below:

The sunset was small tonight. A dark gray stratocumulus obscured the pink ball until it was almost touching the water. For a few minutes the top of the sun was blocked by the cloud while the bottom was submerged under the watery horizon. Here it is:

There were lots of birds on the beach--always are on Treasure Island. Large flocks of terns swirled in the air, calling and splashing in the water as far up the beach as I could see.

And the sanderlings, with the fastest legs on the planet, run up and down the beach, expertly dodging the surging wash from the waves.

I took a walk up the wide beach after the sun went down, just enjoying the warm east wind and the sparsely populated beach. I was at the Treasure Island beach access just south of the Bilmar Hotel Resort. I like it because the parking is free, and it's the closest beach access to my house--about 10 minutes away.


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