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!

Glory Be!

Last fall I collected a handful of seeds from a field of Cutleaf Morning Glory (Merremia dissecta) vines and planted them in my yard. So far, two have sprouted and the larger of them just bloomed.

Unlike their common name, these tend to flower in the middle of the day, adding a cheery pop during the heat. I’m hopeful that these groundcover vines will continue to spread along the outside of my fence. Especially since they are native and won’t require any attention from me.

Orange Dog

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly larva, St Petersburg, Florida May 2022

Discovered another welcome addition to my growing pollinator habitat this week. I was about to trim a branch off my Meyer Lemon tree but once I noticed this caterpillar (cleverly disguised as bird poop) I changed my mind. My little tree will remain lopsided until after my “orange dog” completes metamorphosis.

It will be worth the wait, the aptly-named Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) is the largest on our continent!

Paddling My Hood

One of the many reasons to appreciate our long* summer days, there’s plenty of time to go for a quick paddle after work. And yes, I know, it isn’t technically summer yet – it just feels like it down here.

I’m fortunate that I can drop in right across the street from my house. I’m looking forward to more outings soon!

*Lucky me, the 13+ hours of daylight started earlier this month and will continue through the end of August.

Deceptively Calm

I love spending time at the beach near me and even though the Gulf of Mexico is much less dangerous than the (poorly-named) Pacific Ocean I still have a healthy respect for it.

Sadly, one of a group of swimmers who went out last evening remains unaccounted for. I spotted five rescue boats still searching for the man when I went for my sunset walk today, a full twenty four hours later.

Though it’s unlikely, I’m hoping for a positive outcome.