Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Education Center Construction update - event cancelled

As you may know, the GTM NERR Environmental Education Center is undergoing some construction. While this is great for all of us in the long run, now and then we have to adjust course a bit to accommodate the change. We've had to cancel a planned brown bag lunch that was scheduled for Friday, August 5. Stay tuned for details about a new date, and as always you can call the Education Center for information at 904.823.4500. Details about the event are below. In the meantime, be sure to get out to the Reserve for the sun, the wildlife, the surf, the trails...well, you know what we mean. Don't forget to find us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter @GTMReserve.

BROWN BAG LUNCH LECTURE AT THE GTM RESEARCH RESERVE-CANCELLED --Natural Aesthetics: Conservation Outreach through Visual Art-- The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve) will host its August brown bag lunch lecture at noon on Friday, August 5th at the GTM Research Reserve Environmental Education Center (EEC). Our presenter will be International Artist David Montgomery whose work is inspired by nature. He focuses in on the smallest details to display seemingly common elements of nature in an entirely new way, revealing its intimate detail and beauty. His animations have been recognized internationally at film festivals, projected onto buildings, used for music videos and live shows, and featured in a planetarium. Most recently his work has been on display locally at the Cummer Museum and is currently on display at MOSH in Jacksonville. Underlying all of his process is a deeply embedded passion for natural world, and especially the amazing flora and fauna found in our own backyards of NE Florida. He will discuss his inspirations, process, discoveries, and hope that his work can influence others to protect and conserve the environment.

Photo credit: Angela Christensen
Artist unknown but much appreciated

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beach art today, Beach Walk coming up

Senator Bill Nelson tweeted yesterday about the high temps in other regions of the U.S., and said he'd never have expected to hear people talking about coming to Florida in the summer to cool off. And yet...as the temperatures in places like Philly and South Dakota touch triple digits, it was in the 90s at the beaches of St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra today, moderated by a strong breeze from the southeast. Plenty of people were out, and some of them were touched by the muse, as you can see in the photos. And the sea turtles would seem to be undisturbed by the heat, as we noted "N96" - the 96th nest in the northern section of the Reserve.
Anecdotal forecasts expect local sea turtle nesting to fall somewhere between levels set last year and the year before, and we're all paying close attention: volunteers and vistors, biologists and interested observers. Walking the beaches and noting the comings and goings of sea turtles - without actually *seeing* sea turtles - is one of the delights shared by beachcombers everywhere. Locally, we have the opportunity to learn (and maybe DO) more.

GTM offers Beach Walks to everyone. Come on out, learn more about your local natural resources and be part of the loose but dedicated community working to protect those resources.
GUANA BEACH WALK--Discover the importance of the beach habitats. The GTM Research Reserve will host a beach walk from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 30th at the Guana South Beach lot location. Join GTM Research Reserve Volunteers Rick and Roz Edwards for this “Beaches 101” experience; an informative and fun walk and learn about the sand, the importance of the dunes, and the animals that call the beach their home. Reservations are required. Please call (904) 823-4500 to reserve your spot. Meet at the Guana South Beach parking lot approximately two miles north of the Environmental Education Center which is located at 505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach. Be sure to dress for the weather and bring water. Regular parking fees apply, $3.00 per vehicle, annual GTM pass holders FREE.

Learning more is good for all of us. A close look at this photo shows the unmistakable path of a sea turtle, bound by geographic fidelity to lay her eggs close to place of her own birth. If the whole beach were visible, you would also see that she came up, went down, and did not nest. The moon? The tide? Too much light? Who knows?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Elementary School Teacher Workshop - "Teaching on the Estuary"

A quick note of thanks to our friends at @Neds Kitchen for their #FF (Friday Follows) of @GTMReserve on Twitter. If you haven't eaten there yet,
treat yourself to a great meal at Ned's Southside Kitchen. If you have, of course, you sure don't need us to remind you.

MPORTANT Calendar Note
There are a year's worth of wonderful events at the GTM Education Center, but some of the most special are those related to kids and teachers. Here's a great opportunity tailored specifically for elementary school teachers, so be sure to pass this along to the teachers you know.
--Teaching on the Estuary--

PONTE VEDRA BEACH-The GTM Research Reserve is offering a FREE Teacher Workshop for Elementary School Teachers from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on August 9th. This workshop is for teachers who would like to bring school groups to the GTM Research Reserve for a field trip or teachers who would like to gain more knowledge and materials to lead estuarine and marine based hands on activities in the classroom. This training is REQUIRED for all elementary teachers of non Second or Fourth Grade levels who are interested in a field trip experience to the GTM Research Reserve. Each instructor will have the opportunity to choose a hands on activity to use in their classroom. All materials & curriculum will be provided! The workshop will be held at the reserve’s Environmental Education Center located at 505 Guana River Road, Ponte Vedra Beach FL 32082. Registration is required. Please RSVP to diana.eissing@dep.state.fl.us by July 29th. Space is limited. For further information please call (904) 823-4500. This event will take place on 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.August 9, 2011 at:
GTM Research Reserve Environmental Education Center
505 Guana River Road
Ponte Vedra Beach FL 32082
(904) 823-4500

A full calendar of events is always available at Friends of the GTM Reserve. There's somethin for everybody. See you at the beach!

Top: Morning glory, GTM North Lot near Sea Turtle nest N83
Center: Gopher tortoise crossing the walkover path, GMT North Lot

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blog followers: eyes only!

Dear Friends Who Have Been Kind Enough to Follow the GMT Research Reserve's Blog,

There's something you can do to help. And guess what? You'll love this part: it won't cost you any money. That's not to say you can't donate, of course, since you already know you can, and you already know we'll gently remind you of those opportunities now and again. But in this case, what you can do is simply share this link with your own personal circles of friends. If you know people who value the breathtaking blessing of the natural resource that is the GTM MERR, please share this link with them. And please let them know they can follow us on Twitter @GTMReserve. Because the more we grow the circle of awareness, the more we can do together to preserve what we have and expand opportunities for research to preserve what we have yet to even understand.

See? It's free, it's easy, and it's something you can do to touch the future.

Happy Fourth, and thank you so much for your kind support.

A new moon at The Reserve: bringing out the turtle in all of us

A new moon is a time for new beginnings. This is a fine thing when one is recuperating from a technological perfect storm and renewing one's communications with the rest of the world, and so the GTM blog begins anew today.

The new beginning was kicked off perfectly by a brown bag lunch and learn session with Scott Eastman, The Reserve's biologist with specific expertise in sea turtles. Scott's presentation focused chiefly on green turtles, and the question of whether or not they have an established presence in local estuarine waters. He shared an up-close-and-personal look at the process of data collection, observation and scientific process around the topic so even the kids in the room could understand. And some of the detail was quite close to home for those of us who live in St. Augustine, as one factor in his research was the presence of several green turtles who surprised everyone by turning up thriving and healthy in a pond near the Mission of Nombre de Dios, just a short walk from downtown St. Augustine. The audience ranged from experienced volunteer sea turtle patrol members to little kids to those who've seen photos of Dori, the green turtle who's been the subject of much of this research, in the St. Augustine Record or at seaturtle.org. Regardless of background or age, we were all fascinated. Great job, Scott! And it was no surprise to learn that one of the biggest obstacles to the expansion of this research and all it might reveal to us about our own local green turtle populations is funding. There are issues of permitting to ensure protection of endangered and threatened species, and the team has the expertise to work through those challenges. No team, however expert, can work without the funds. If this is a place you can lend a hand, let us know or step on over to the Friends of the GTM Reserve, where a disciplined non-profit board can lend a reliable hand.

A new moon also means some astronomically dramatic high and low tides, so a walk on the beach was called for after Scott's talk. It was perfectly beautiful, the blue sky's bank of clouds held back over the St. Johns by light east winds. The walk was punctuated by an unexpected guest who'd been the subject of some conversation at the Brown Bag session. Last weekend, members of the Sea Turtle Patrol were asked by a beachgoer to check on the welfare of a turtle who'd been spotted in the dunes, not far from the boardwalk at the North Lot. When they investigated, they found no lost or injured sea turtle; in fact, they found no turtle at all. When we talked about it with them, we laughed because we've often seen a large gopher tortoise, a land turtle, foraging and sunning in this area. And as we left the beach today, who should quite literally cross our path at the foot of the boardwalk but this local denizen?
The perspective isn't great in the photo, and you can't see how quickly she's moving (but she is MOVING, believe me!) but she is easily half-again the size of a dinner plate. Lots of photos were taken before she disappeared into the grasses on the north side of the walk over. And with that, The Reserve kicked off another great weekend - and new beginning - for those who were able to enjoy it. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend, and don't miss the chance to boat, kayak, surf, trail-walk or simply soak up the sun. See you at The Reserve!