Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wait! Still spring, after all

Apparently that dose of summer we had was nature's foreshadowing of the plot: we relax, bask in the warmth of the mid-70s sunshine, step into the water, open all our windows and maybe even wrap ourselves in sweaters in the evenings. And then one day BOOM! - we have to turn on the A/C. But foreshadowing means it's not real, at least not yet. Take the afternoon off. Go fishing, go surfing, or just take your kids out, and make a small but perfect memory.

Watch the waves for porpoises, and keep an eye on the dunes for gopher turtles. Don't miss the red knots and other sae birds, busily raising new families. Wait for the turtles, who will be nesting soon. Mostly, just let yourself breathe, and remember how lucky we are to have this simple site of peace and surf and wildlife and sunshine, right here in our own backyard.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Summer at the Reserve...already?

At about 90 degrees on the beach this afternoon, it sure FELT like summer, though some of those crisp blue April days may still be ahead of us. The surf was relatively flat today but the ever-optimistic surfers waited for the occasional gift the ocean and wind might combine to deliver...and there were a few.

On Friday afternoon, we watched a big gopher tortoise sunning herself (himself?) just to the north of the North Lot walkover. Today, Sunday, we watched an unusually large crowd of beachgoers and perhaps even a few porpoises, catching waves with the surfers. The North Atlantic Right Whale season is coming to an end and the Reserve prepares for the nesting season of several amazing kinds of sea turtles, who generally begin to arrive in May.
As we all get ready for the turtle season, visitors are reminded to fill in any holes they dig. We make sand castles and walls of sand and dig into the coquina for shark teeth and metal, and it's FUN. But the holes we leave behind may not be evenly filled in by the changing tides, and when they're not they may become obstacles or even death traps for turtles, especially babies, on their hard-wired, hazardous and determined trip from sand to sea. Something to keep in mind.

Couple of other things:
GTM Resarch Reserve and Anastastia Mosquito Control are conducting an interactive program about Florida mosquitos: life cycles, habitats, diseases and methods of control and protection, on April 30, from 9 am to 1 pm at the Reserve's Education Center. For more info, contact the Reserve at 904.823.4500.

And one more note about Turtle Season: an opportunity to make a real difference for these precious local denizens: GTM Research Reserve is having a beach clean-up as a welcome home party. This is also scheduled for April 30 from 8 - 11 am, and registration is requested. For more info, please call the Reserve's Environmental Education Center at 904.823.4500.

Ready, everybody?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GTM Research Reserve: Day 1 of a whole new way to welcome visitors

You may have always thought of this place as "Guana", especially if you grew up in St. Augustine or Ponte Vedra. You may have wondered about it, as you passed through, driving up or down the coast on A1A. In fairness, you may not have considered it at all. But because some of us believe it's one of the rare gifts of beauty in what is admittedly a generally beautiful state, it seemed worthy of its own blog and regular communications for those of you who want to learn more.

Coming soon are Facebook pages and a Twitter account, which will be great fun and will, we hope, open whole new doors of communication. We'll be featuring news from the Friends of GTML Reserve newsletter, updates on activities, and discussions with dedicated volunteers. As some of you know, March is the quiet month between the time the North Atlantic Right Whales leave our waters, where they have given birth to their calves in the quiet winter, and the time the sea turtles begin to return to our beaches to lay their eggs.

We'll be learning, sharing and growing here, with a focus on the intriguing estuarine ecosystem we hold delicately balanced in our backyards. We'd love to know what YOU want to know. Are you wondering what the heck that fossilized bone-looking thing you found on the beach might be? Interested in learning about all the flora and fauna at home in The Reserve? Want to learn more about pre- and post-Columbian peoples and their presence and influence here? We'll have all that and so much more. There's so much going on here, from photo tours to fossil identification classes to archaeological discoveries of pre-Columbian artifacts, to simple observation of a breathtaking array of species as diverse as tiny beach mice and delicate sea oats, and North Atlantic Right Whales and the few extant varieties of sea turtles nesting in the shelter of the dunes.

Please share questions and comments with us. You can do this by following the blog (which has space for this dialogue) or you can email us directly at GTMResearchReserve@gmail.com. If you post questions or comments to the blog, we'll try to get to those within 24 hours. Please follow the blog for regular updates or follow us on Twitter @GTMReserve.  So: welcome! Share your stories, your photos, your questions and insights. It's a fine day for a walk at Guana Tolomato Matanzas Marine Estuarine Research Reserve. You can call us The Reserve. :)

--posted by Angela Christensen