Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pelican Rescue on the Skyway Fishing Pier

Monday, August 25, 2008

BeachHunter's New Blog

This is just a happy reminder to everyone who has subscribed to this blog, that this blog is being retired. My new blog is located at .

Why have I done this?

This is a Google Blogger blog. This Google Blog platform is unreliable, unpredictable, inflexible, unsupported by Google, and is driving me crazy.

I've moved to a Wordpress solution and it is working out quite well! It will be much easier to find older posts, since all posts are in categories.

So be sure to check out my new blog, and subscribe to the RSS feed.

Recent posts include:
Beach sand photos
Litter problem on Upham Beach
Tropical Storm Fay Update
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Point Park
Snorkeling Sebastian Inlet

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cocoa Beach - photos and reviews

Last month I made a trip over to Cocoa Beach. I hadn't been in a long, long time. I spent several days and visited most of the main beach accesses. Cocoa beach is an important beach because it is one of the closest beaches to the Orlando theme parks.

I made some interesting discoveries while I was there and re-familiarized myself with an old friend. My buddy Alex and I used to drive over to Cocoa Beach back in the mid-1970's (high school years) to go surfing. What a blast!

I've put up a couple of pages with my photos and reviews of Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral:

Cocoa Beach overview

Cocoa Beach Pier
Jetty Park beaches
Alan Shepard Park
Lori Wilson Park

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Caladesi Island Beaches

Caladesi Island State Park has one of the best beaches in the state. The Island has no roads, no cars, no buildings other than a few service buildings for the park rangers, and no one lives on the island. There is no bridge to Caladesi, so the only way to get to it is by boat. This keeps the crowds down to a minimum.

Fortunately for those of us without boats, a ferry to Caladesi leaves regularly from Honeymoon Island State Park, just a 20 minute boat ride from Caladesi.

Chosen by Dr. Beach as the number 2 beach in the nation in 2007, Caladesi has a lot to offer those of us who like to get away from the crowds and commerce and just enjoy a nice quiet beach and see some nature.

The beach on Caladesi is not raked and manicured like most other beaches in the area, so whatever washes up remains for curious beachcombers to sift through in search of shells and other gifts from the sea.

After you've walked the 3 miles of completely undeveloped beaches on the island, and snorkeled in the shallow Gulf waters, you might like to have a look around the island via the loop trail that leads through a beautiful maritime forest of native pines, cabbage palms, oaks, and cedars. There are plenty of birds and wildlife to keep your attention.

I've just added several pages of photos to Why not check them out? I even have a cute video of one of my favorite animals, the armadillo, sniffing around for a grub.

Caladesi beaches
Caladesi Island Nature and Shells
How to get to Caladesi Island

What NOT To Do On the Beach During a Lightning Storm

I was really sad last summer when a lightning strike killed and injured several people on Clearwater Beach. People just don't understand that you just can't hang out on the beach when there is lightning in the area. To illustrate what must be the ultimate foolhardiness, I ask you to watch the following very short video clip of several people weathering a thunderstorm on Caladesi Island under their beach umbrella, a near perfect lightning rod. The video says it all.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

21st Annual Sandsculpting Championship Festival - Ft. Myers Beach

Early last year I attended the 21st Annual Sandsculpting Championship Festival in Fort Myers Beach. I met the video crew from VISITFLORIDA there and we made this little video clip of the event. Check out our interviews with the master sculptors and you'll pick up some tips on building a better sandcastle. Actually the sculptures go WAY beyond sandcastles. You have to see it to believe it.

Here is a higher quality version of the same sandsculpting video.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Blog The Beach - BeachHunter Launches New Blog

Greetings beach lovers! BeachHunter is launching a new blog called Blog The Beach.

New Blog about Florida Beaches
Why a new blog, you ask? Well, I've been having technical problems with Blogger, which is the platform I use for this blog. Sometimes I am unable to post for several weeks at a time. I hope that this will eventually be resolved, but I'm not confident it will be soon.

I have some major blogging projects coming up that will require a blog platform that actually works. So I've switched to WordPress.

Additionally, WordPress has many features that will make it easier to find information via the use of categories and tags, and offers features too numerous to mention here.

Upcoming Beach Trips
What do I have planned? Just to give you a hint, I'll be making some extended beach hunting trips this summer and will be blogging about where I go and what I see and do, as well as posting my photos, and probably some video each day. I'll be covering A LOT of beaches, some of which I haven't been to in a while. I'll make more announcements later in the summer. You won't want to miss it.

I do not intend to completely discontinue this blog, but will gradually, probably over several years, post less to this blog and more to

So if you don't want to miss any beach info, be sure to visit my new blog about Florida Beaches,

Photo of Terns on the Beach

Terns on the beach at Port Canaveral's Jetty Park.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

BeachHunter's New Camera: Sample Photos

After using my $1,000 Nikon Coolpix 5000 for 5 years to take all the Florida beach photos for, I decided to "upgrade" to a $300 Canon Powershot S5 IS camera.

It is amazing how many improvements have been made in the last 5 years and how far the prices have dropped. Now I'm shooting at 8 megapixels instead of 5, and I have a 12X zoom instead of 4X (BIG DIFFERENCE, as you will see).

I thought about getting a Canon Rebel, but considering the necessary dollar investment in lenses and with the thought of lugging around a big camera weighing in on the decision, I decided to go with the Powershot.

I've used the camera on two occasions, both at Fort Desoto Park. So far I've just used it straight out of the box--haven't read the users manual and haven't monkeyed around with any features--just point & shoot on automatic. I am completely thrilled by the 12X zoom, which is going to contribute immensely toward making my photographs much more interesting.

Both photos above were shot at full zoom. Neither of them would have been possible with the Coolpix 5000's 4X zoom.

The lifeguard tower in front of the setting sun was taken at North Beach, and the American Egret photo was taken on the Bay Pier. A tripod was not used. The optical image stabilization feature of the S5 works wonderfully.

After reading all the reviews of the Powershot, many of which complained about "noise" in the pictures at high ISO settings, I was concerned a bit, but so far I'm very happy with the results. After a few weeks of using the camera I'll post a more detailed review, and more photos of course.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wherefore Art Thou, Loggerhead?

What do the above 2 animals have in common? Bird and reptile. It's all in the name--and the head.

The bird is a Loggerhead shrike, infamous for impaling its prey (mostly insects)on the thorns of trees, which practice has earned it the nickname "butcher-bird." Nice.

The reptile is a Loggerhead turtle.

So what, exactly, is a "loggerhead" and why do these two unrelated creatures bear the name? To find out, I Googled "loggerhead," and scanned the definition.

It is the fourth entry in the definition that catches my eye:

4. Informal:

1. A blockhead; a dolt.
2. A disproportionately large head.

A disproportionately large head is what these two animals have in common that has earned them the name of "loggerhead." It's pretty easy to see that Mr. Turtle has a large head, but I seem to have misplaced my micrometer and average-bird-head sizing chart, so I'll have to rely on the description of the shrike on, which is, in part:

"Big-headed, slim-tailed; gray, black, and white, with a black mask."

I have to admit, Loggerhead turtle sounds better, if less obvious a description, than "big-headed turtle."

I learn something new every day.

Note: If you are wondering why there is a human hand on the turtle's back, it is because this turtle is one that was rescued and rehabilitated by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and is being readied for release. I'm happy to report that this turtle is now swimming in the wild again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Daytona Beach Surfing Surf Report, Website:

Daytona Beach Surf

Keeping up-to-the-minute on surf conditions is getting easier every day. If you are interested in surf conditions, tides, surfing news and forecasts in the Daytona Beach area, a new website, is up and running to provide you with the latest info.

The geographical area covered by DBSurf includes Flagler, Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Wilbur-By-The-Sea, and Ponce Inlet.
DBSurf offers:

Kudos to the site designer, Munz, who made a site that is useful, easy to navigate, and is easy on the eye.

Best wishes for total success to!


Monday, March 31, 2008

Man-of-War Jellyfish Video Clip & Photos

Thanks to the generosity of one of's visitors, I now have some great video of a Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish floating in the water and washing up on the beach at Bathtub Reef Park in Stuart, Florida. is building quite a nice collection of Florida jellyfish stories and photos. Jellyfish come in all shapes and sizes. Some sting and some don't. So if you're curious come check out the jellyfish info on


Friday, March 21, 2008

Ray Flies Out of Water, Collides with and Kills Unlucky Woman on Boat

Here is an incredibly sad story from the Florida Keys about a woman who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. According to the article in the Naples News, a woman was pleasure-boating with her family in the Keys, cruising along in their small boat, when a 75 pound spotted eagle ray jumped out of the water and collided with her. Depending on which news account you read, the boat was traveling somewhere between 25 and 40 miles per hour. Apparently the force of the collision killed both the woman and the ray.

Rays are not known for doing a lot of jumping, but they can leap clear of the water, and obviously they sometimes do. Please understand that the ray did not "attack" the woman, as some dramatically overstated and irresponsible initial newspaper headlines have stated. The ray was, I'm sure, just as surprised by the woman as she by it.

Reports of large marine animals leaping out of the water and killing or injuring a person on a boat are heard every year. Unusual, yes; unheard of, no.

Barracuda and other fish are known to have jumped out of the water and collided with fishermen. This is sometimes attributed to the fish being attracted to a lantern or other light on the boat.

On freshwater rivers and lakes in Florida, the sturgeon (a very large and armored fish)is known to leap out of the water during certain times of the year and sometimes collides with people. Just last year I read of a woman on a jet-ski who was hit head-on by a large sturgeon while zooming along on her jet-ski.

Jumping sturgeon news report.

I took the photo above while standing on the boardwalk at Clam Pass Park in Naples, Florida. The spotted eagle ray was swimming about two feet under the surface of the tannin-stained backwater. It swam right under the boardwalk. They are very beautiful and graceful creatures.

If you have a little patience and don't mind waiting 20 seconds for the page to load, MSNBC has a good video report on rays and interviewed an expert at the Miami Seaquarium.

Note: If you click the heading, or the link in this blog post to read the Naples News story, may I suggest that you read the comments below the article as well. There are a few goofy ones, but also some helpful and interesting comments as well. And those are even rarer than jumping rays.

Florida Beaches Information


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Grayton Beach State Park

Last August I made a very memorable trip to the Florida Panhandle beaches (Northwest Florida, as the State tourism promotion people refer to it). I've been remiss in putting up my photos and writing about several of the places I enjoyed. I've finally published some photos of Grayton Beach State Park, which is near the town of Seaside.

It was an EXTREMELY hot and humid day when I was there (over 100 degrees)so I did not explore the park as much as I'd have liked to. But I did hang out on the beach, and wow is this a great beach. I was particularly taken by the quality of the sand. It is really pure and white. The water is clear and emerald green, but on the day I visited, there was enough surf to make it just a bit rough. There was a sandbar visible and that was taking the brunt of the waves.

Nice tall white dunes, few people, fantastic beach. Check out my photos of beautiful Grayton Beach.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another Giant Florida Hammerhead Shark Killed

Lately (last few years) it seems like a lot of "record" sized hammerhead sharks have been killed by shark fishermen in search of a trophy sized shark. This time it was off Singer Island in Palm Beach County on the Atlantic coast. A 1,000 pound, 13 foot long hammerhead was caught. According to the news article, the fisherman said he didn't mean to kill the shark, it just died during the struggle.

Two years or so ago a 1,280 pound, 14 foot 3 inch hammerhead shark was caught in Boca Grande Pass on the Gulf coast by another record-seeking shark fisherman. It pulled the fisherman's boat 12 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico during the struggle.

Imagine the power and stamina of a shark that size to be able to pull a boat for 12 miles.

Lots of hammerhead sharks feed in Boca Grande Pass, especially from May through July, when one of their favorite food sources, Tarpon, is there. Unfortunately the human Tarpon sport fishermen are also there competing with the hammerheads and other sharks for the Tarpon. Often the sharks will attack a Tarpon that has been hooked by a sports fishermen and eat it before the Tarpon can be pulled into the boat.

I like to fish, and I'm no far-left tree-hugger, but at some point we all have to realize that there are just too many people fishing now to be continuing to kill off the dwindling population of large sharks, just for "sport". What kind of sport is that?

It reminds me of when I'm around other fishermen on the piers, and someone lands a catfish, a ladyfish, a stingray, or some other fish that they don't want. They often just leave it flopping on the hot concrete of the pier until it dies, then they kick the lifeless body back into the water. It's just a "trash fish" they say. Fortunately the people that do this are not as numerous as they used to be, but they are still around.

Below is a photo of a stingray someone left on Fort Desoto's Gulf Pier to die. They could have easily just nudged it into the water. Instead, the tore off the tail spine and left it baking in the sun to die. Some would say that the stingray has no useful purpose, but as it so happens, the stingray is one of the hammerhead shark's favorite foods.

I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to see the graceful beauty of the giant hammerheads. For those who might quote the Bible and say that man has dominion over the earth, I don't challenge that at all. But with that honored place of holding dominion comes the responsibility of stewardship.

Below is a youtube video of a large hammerhead shark in Boca Grande pass eating a tarpon that the fisherman has hooked. If you listen carefully, you'll hear a woman on one of the boats remark how "sad" it is that the tarpon is being attacked. Amazing. The shark is killing to survive. How is that sad? The tarpon might well have died from the struggle with the fisherman anyway, even though it might have been released "unharmed." Many "catch-and-release" fish die anyway, despite the best efforts of the fishermen to return them unharmed to the water. A struggling fish attracts sharks. Upon release, the fish is exhausted and is an easy catch for any sharks that have been attracted by the struggle. I am not against catch-and-release fishing, but I am not comfortable with the deliberate targeting of large sharks, whose population is in decline.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sweetwater Kayaks: First Saturday Kayak Demos

Sweetwater Kayaks is a full-service kayak shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. The first Saturday of most months they bring a bunch of kayaks to the beach on the St. Petersburg side of the Gandy Bridge causeway for people to try out. I've been meaning to check them out for at least a year. I'm getting more serious about buying a kayak now, and the weather was absolutely perfect for kayaking today--high in the upper 70's and no wind--so I decided that TODAY was the day.

I pulled together my usual BeachHunter gear--Tilley Hat, dark glasses, water, sunblock, various cameras, towel, sun-protective clothing, etc--and drove to the demo location. I wasn't the first one there. They had a nice setup and plenty of signage, so there were 4 or 5 kayaks already in the water.

They have many different kinds of kayaks, from plastic molded sit-on-tops to state-of-the-art sleek touring kayaks.

I signed a waiver and they gave me a paddle, a personal flotation device (life-jacket), and a brief orientation. Kayak testers are allowed to paddle a few hundred yards up the beach toward a marina and then turn around and come back to try a different boat.

I started with a short inexpensive boat, then moved up to a 12 footer, then a 14 footer. With each increase in kayak length the boats became easier to keep moving in a straight line and the larger boats moved much faster than the smaller ones.

I also climbed into one of the sleek-looking carbonlite "Eddyline" brand kayaks. It was harder to balance in, but was really fast. And it tended to keep moving even after I stopped paddling.

One of the things I noticed right away is that the most important part of the kayak is the seat! Some of them felt great. Others were really uncomfortable. I was happy to learn that I can have whatever seat I like installed in my kayak (when I buy one).

Sweetwater Kayaks offers all kinds of classes and kayak trips. In fact, after looking over their literature and their website, it looks like a person could make kayaking a full-time hobby and never run out of places to go and things to see by kayak.

My main interest isn't really to buy a kayak. I just need a way to reach some of the islands and beaches that don't have bridges from the mainland. If you don't have a boat, some of the islands are tough to explore. Plus I'd like to see the beaches and islands from another perspective. A kayak can take me places that my feet can't.

If you live in the Tampa Bay area and would like the chance to try various kinds of kayaks, check out Sweetwater Kayaks first Saturday demo. There is absolutely no pressure for you to buy anything. Just go and try as many kayaks as you please.

Sweetwater Kayaks website.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Family Travel in Florida: Expert Tips

Above is a great video with some awesome tips by family travel expert Jennifer Michaels. Jennifer has lots of incredible tips and advice on how to take some of the stress out of traveling with kids and family. In addition to having her own website with great tips on family travel, she is the Family Travel Expert for and writes a weekly blog about here experiences traveling around Florida with her family.

I'll give you a head's up that in the near future you may be seeing a new ebook on Family Travel Expert tips and advice by Jennifer right here on You won't want to miss that! I'll keep you posted.

See you at the beach!

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Florida Beaches: Not Every Ray is a Stingray

On many Florida beaches there are signs posted warning swimmers and waders to "do the stingray shuffle," to scare away any stingrays that might be in your path. But stingrays are not the only rays that you'll see in the shallow waters around Florida's beaches.

A visitor to has just sent me a great photo of a cownose ray that his wife took on St. Augustine beach. That's the photo you see here. Cownose rays are graceful creatures that often travel in schools. They don't rest on the bottom like stingrays do, and their tail spike is very close to their body. Both of these characteristics greatly reduce the chance of a human being spiked by a cownose ray.

Visit to see more photos of stingrays and cownose rays.

For a lot more information on rays, be sure to download BeachHunter's free ebook on beach safety.

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