Friday, April 27, 2007

A Few Scenes From Cedar Key

I wish I could show you the smiling faces of my students as they explored the Gulf near Cedar Key yesterday. I won't of course. My policy to always protect their privacy (they are a captive audience after all) prevents that. Still, I think we can slip this shot in, due to the distance. The scene above shows one of my groups exploring the east side of Atsenia Otie Key.

Our Marine Science field expedition went very well. Twenty kids went along. We split the group so that while one group is exploring the island, the other group is aboard the Ag Extension Agent's pontoon boat trawling the seagrass. Then, after a while, we flip-flop so everybody does both activities.

The day before, I took my classes out on the bus parking area at school and gave them a lesson on throwing a castnet. I watched them on the field trip and they did pretty good tossing the net with only one day of prior practice. I was proud of them.

Two amazing (there I go again) little crustaceans that came up in our nets. The little shrimpy guy above was not one I recognized off the top of my head (most of the stuff we pull up in the trawl is pretty familiar to me now). He was more armored than the typical brown shrimp and grass shrimps that we were hauling up. We invited him back to the classroom saltwater aquarium until school's out.
Hermit crabs are a dime a dozen in the seagrass, but most are small ones toting grape sized moon snail shells. This amazing (oops) fellow was much bigger than the average hermit. He's wearing a discarded crown conch shell for protection and can retract out of sight if frightened.. You might want to click on this pic just to see his face up close. Crustaceans have so many moving parts ... if they were manmade they would constantly be breaking down ... too many complicated pieces that have to fit just so.
He kept trying to drag me into his shell for a snack.
He was not successful and I am going back out there today.
The weather is not as cooperative unfortunately.
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Laura said...

Enlarged the hermit crab photo and once again I had the same thought that I get every time I see their eyes, I think they look like little creatures from outer space. Samantha used to spend every summer with Clearwater Marine,exploring the islands and sea life around here. Always a good experience for the kids.

I still remember my fifth grade field trip to Key Biscayne, and how many years ago was that? (ok, don't answer that one...). So I know these kids will probably remember this trip all their lives.

Hope the well is working by now! What a pain to come home to after spending a day out on the water and making the long drive home as well. Good luck!

vicki said...

Yes, those eye stalks (is that what they are) are simply...amazing! He found a first class home, too. What a fine experience for all of your students. I trust everyone is wearing their sunscreen.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

If there was one thing that might persuade me to relocate to Florida (oh no, not another one!), it would have to be the fact that one can readily wade into the ocean in April without the benefit of a wetsuit. Back in California waters, April was about the time I would switch from using a drysuit to a less cumbersome wetsuit.

Whether cold or warm water, however, I sure miss being near the ocean. Once it is in your blood, it never diminishes.

TUFFENUF said...

It looks like the students had a nice time! I often wish that I was in your class. Oh, and thanks for the info on oak galls. I find them in the yard and I have always wondered where they came from.

roger said...

i have beach envy. we take advantage of low tide here to poke along the shore, but there is no going in the water. we do have wetsuits (a legacy of boogie boarding in santa cruz) but have not yet used them here. no waves on puget sound.

lucky class. nice field trip.

Doug Taron said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful trip. The photos, especially the hermit crab, are awesome. The eyestalks on the crab remind me of a hammerhead fly

Floridacracker said...

120 dollars later ... water!
Some of these kids had never been to Cedar Key, so I hope the memories are lasting ones.

I preach the sunscreen, but the choice is theirs and you know how immortal teens are ...

You'd have liked it even though the water isn't 86 degrees yet. You're right about seawater in the blood.

You're welcome! This was the culminating event for my class.

Boogie boarding is a blast! Here there's no waves, but lots of warm water.

... and the hammerhead fly makes me think of the aliens in Pitch Black. Cool pic on your site.

Deb said...

lucky students...

scott said...

Should have brought the class by my house. I emptied the bag on the pool cleaner and there was a very healthy cray (or as we say in Alabama)craw fish. I will be surprised if he hasn't gotten back in the pool and been captured again by this afternoon.

rcwbiologist said...

Wow, that looks fun. The water temp is only 64 around here. A little too cold for my taste.

Floridacracker said...

Lucky me.

Sounds like you need to start a crawfish farm.

The second trip had 17 - 25 knot winds, so the boat was out, but the kids had a great time seining the beach areas.

vicki said...

We always argur the pros and cons of anthropomorphizing at the zoo, esp around the issue of naming animals, which somehow bestows a personality on them versus just numbering them as a few zoos are now doing. I think the upside of doing it, both with captive animals and creatures in the wild, is that we more closely identify with them and that leads, hopefully to empathy and compassion.

I am jealous of your owl sighting- owls are just way too cool. These photos are wonderful.

vicki said...


Floridacracker said...

Thanks! I like the idea of naming them for the reasons you cite.