Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Two Day Trips

We had been wanting to take our grandson Nathan to an aquarium.  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium may not have been the best choice, as it is more of a working marine rescue operation than aquarium.  A big attraction at the aquarium is Winter, the wild bottlenose dolphin rescued in 20006 by the center and featured in the movie Dolphin Tale in 2011. 
Winter needed help to survive after loosing her tail,  and at the center she received a prosthetic one.  At the time we saw her she did not have it on and noticed that her tail curves downward without the dorsal fin  A staff member informed us that it is too heavy for her to have it on all the time.   In 2013 the aquarium initiated a photo-identification program to study wild bottlenose dolphins in the Clearwater Bay.  They discovered that individual dolphins can be identified by photographs of their dorsal fin.  About 62 wild dolphins have been identified, given names, and studied to learn about their population's social behavior, biology, health, communication, and habitat use.  Recently they identified Troy, a dolphin rescued and rehabilitated in 2006.  If you saw Dolphin Tale 2 his release was featured in that movie.
At the aquarium we were encouraged to touch the stingrays, one is pictured above.
Yesterday, Monday, John and I rode the Pinellas bike trail through St. Petersburg.  The trail is 40 miles long, of which we rode only a small portion.  There was a fairly strong wind yesterday and we wore out quickly when riding against it.  Our drive took us on a bridge over a small inlet of the bay where we stopped to watch an oyster catcher searching for food.
You may need to enlarge the above picture, or get a magnifying glass to see the two gray willets in the picture above.  One thing you can see in the foreground of the picture are the stilt-type roots of a red mangrove tree.  The walking tree grows in saline coastal waters and is a habitat for oysters.  We saw willets and oyster catchers feeding near these trees.
That is a little egret sitting in the bed of a truck.  I at first thought he was sitting there because of the presence of wood in the truck.  Then the door of a nearby sub shop opened and the bird flew to it.  Unfortunately someone in the past has fed him bread crumbs and now the egret has expectations of a daily hand-out.  That is most unfortunate, such practice by humans has led to the demise of many wildlife!
One last item here.  Returning to our car I noticed a hawk on the ground tussling with some critter he had just caught.  A man standing nearby informed me that the hawk had just pounced on a snake and had to subdue it before swallowing it.  He commented to us that he frequently walks the trail and usually is fortunate to see a lot of wildlife around him.   Hopefully we can get out on the trail again at some later time.


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