Sunday, November 27, 2011

Can't-miss December events - starting now!

The year may be winding down, but Nature keeps her own time even when the days grow shorter. In December we welcome some of our favorite visitors as North Atlantic right whales travel to warmer southern waters for their calving season. Right whale aerial surveys begin this week on December 1, weather permitting, under the leadership of Tom Pitchford and his team. If you should happen to spot a Right Whale, be sure to call the FWC number (1.888.979.4253). There are less than 500 of these majestic animals on the whole planet. Your observation and report will help support their continued survival. Learn more at the GTM Research Reserve's Environmental Education Center (EEC), where you can see a right whale replica and learn about the St. Augustine/Ponte Vedra-based observation of these amazing mammals.

Other big news: The State of The Reserve takes place this coming Friday, December 2, from 1 until 6 pm ET. You'll enjoy an afternoon of presentations highlighting this past year's accomplishments in research, stewarship and education, followed by a locally-provided wine and appetizer reception and poster session. Register online by Tuesday, Nov. 29, or call The Reserve at 904.823.4500 for info.

While you're at the EEC, stop by The Nature Store. Benefitting The Friends of the Reserve, the Nature Store is delighted to offer a 25% holiday discount to members of The Friends through December 30, 2011. Your membership in the Friends (and proceeds from the sales of The Nature Store) help ensure educational activities, preservation and stewardship.

On December 11 and 18, from 8 until 11 am ET, Craig O'Neal, GTM volunteer and master naturalist, and Joe Hunt, whose photos are often featured in the Jacksonville Times-Union, will offer a photo safari through the Reserve's richly varied natural environs. Designed for advanced beginner and intermediate photographers, Craig and Joe will share details about the techniques they use to capture nature at its best, including camera settings, composition, macro- and landscape photography, HDP imagery and more. Cost for the event is $69 per person, with a portion of proceeds benefitting the Friends of the Reserve (there's also a $3 parking fee). Register and pre-pay for this event online, and visit for more info.

Finally, if you're reading this, please share it. Your voice is one of the best and most powerful tools we have for increasing awareness of this pristine, beautiful resource in our local community. So be the voice of the whales, the turtles, the sea grasses, the water. Post a link. And thanks for being the voice.