It Flies! It Walks! It Croaks!

Sea Robin, Treasure Island, Florida June 2022

Meet the Sea Robin aka Gurnard (Prionotus carolinus), a bottom-dwelling fish. The first common name honors their wing-like pectoral fins. These special fins not only help them “fly’ through the water but the three modified fin-rays (visible in the photo above) help them “walk” along the sea floor. The second moniker mimics the croaking sound the fish makes during mating season (or when it is pulled from the water).

The three inch long fish in my photo is a juvenile while adults can reach about 17 inches. Long considered a trash fish or unwanted bycatch, this mild tasting, light, flaky fish is now gaining in popularity in the kitchen. Maybe someday I’ll get to try one.

Welcome to Summer

I have a joke for you on this wonderful summer solstice:

“What’s Irish and comes out in the summer?

Paddy O’Furniture!”

Yeah, I know, I won’t quit my day job. Weather-wise, the first day of summer means nothing to me since I live in Florida. It’s been hot and sunny for months now, the only difference is that hurricane season has officially begun. It kicked off earlier this month with Tropical Storm Alex, which thankfully passed well south of me.

I’ve collected a few memes for you that may help explain summer in Florida:

Upside Down?

Went fishing at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton earlier this week. The fish weren’t playing but we were entertained by some interesting creatures, including this Upside-down Jellyfish (Cassiopea xamachana). It was my first encounter with this species of sea jelly and it was fascinating to watch it “swim”.

As best I can tell, this sea jelly was actually upside down as it pulsated by (or is that right side up). Unlike most sea jellies, this species lives life tentacles up, using their bell to secure them to the sea floor.

Yesterday, I posted my video of a juvenile Horseshoe Crab that swam by upside down, I’m sensing a trend here…

Little Swimmer

Robinson Preserve, Bradenton, Florida June 2022

This was the first time I’ve seen an Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) swimming and this little “saucepan” was cruising! This is not the normal way they swim. Not sure how but apparently, this one had been turned over. Or maybe he’s just a unique creature that likes doing things differently.

I do know that being upside down on land can be fatal, there’s even an outreach program in Delaware that asks people to flip them over (complete with a catchy theme song).

Seaside Decor

File this one under things I didn’t know I needed. Last week at a thrift store, the shell-filled handle of the plunger on the left caught my eye. I picked it up just to laugh at it, then I saw the price tag (under a dollar) and I knew I had to bring it home.

I mean, it’s quite fitting for my little house by the beach. I’m a big fan of functional art and as far as I know, it’s one of a kind. Of course, the more I think about this the more questions I have.

Who came up with this concept? Someone was just sitting on the toilet one day and thought, “You know what this world needs? Decorative plungers!” Is this product sold as-is or can you choose what to put in the handle? (Clearly, I have way too much time on my hands.)

You can see it for yourself when you come visit…if you’re lucky, I might even let you use it!

After Hours Fishing

Went out to the jetty at John’s Pass for a bit of fresh air after a long day at work on Monday. I was curious to see what effects the recent passing of Alex, our first tropical storm of the season, had on my favorite beach.

Thankfully, the brunt of it had passed well south of us, and we enjoyed a lovely weekend. Regardless, this type of disturbance tends to stir up the water in the gulf, which results in interesting detritus on our beaches.

Alex brought in lots of Sargassum (a floating, brown seaweed) and there were a number of fishermen out scooping up the clumps, looking for crabs, octopodes*, and other invertebrates. It’s easier to find them at night since their eyes have a reflective layer that produces “eyeshine” when exposed to light.

*And yes, this is the correct plural form of octopus. Even though octopi is commonly used, you can’t “Latinize” a Greek word.

Sticker Shock

I walked by this display last week and was completely taken aback by the prices. I thought to myself, there’s no way I’d pay that amount of money (not that I smoke or am even considering smoking). The moment reminded me of my Aunt Coralie.

As I recall the story, she used to smoke cigarettes back in the early 1960s. At the time she was working on a base in Berlin, Germany and she paid around 40 cents per pack at the PX. When she moved back to the states a few years later she discovered the price per pack was over a dollar. And that’s the day she quit smoking, cold turkey. Just like that.

She was definitely a strong-willed woman. I may not be the most frugal person in the world but I am careful with my money. Some of the credit for that goes to my aunt. Thanks Coralie!

Four O’clocks

My very generous neighbor recently gave me a couple of these small bushes, Four O’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa). She’s lived in this neighborhood for 27 years and as a fellow plant geek, her garden is now out of control. In exchange for me doing some light yard work she sends me home with plants. Talk about a win-win!

During the heat of the day, the flowers close but as the common name suggests, in the late afternoon they burst open. And not only are they stunningly bright but the scent is amazing. Almost as fragrant as a gardenia. They are now my third favorite floral scent, after citrus and gardenia (sorry jasmine, you’ve dropped down to fourth).

The first part of the binomial is Latin for wonderful, which is really quite fitting. I wasn’t previously familiar with this plant but I’m so happy to have it in my yard!