Saturday, December 29, 2007

Do Not Ask, For Whom The Mullet Jumps ... It Jumps For Thee

If you squint, tilt your head, and hold your mouth just right ... you might be able to make out the mullet leaping for joy in the picture above.
I don't know why mullet are so joyful since every marine predator from me on down tries to eat them. It starts at birth and never ends until ... it ends for the mullet.

They must be aware of this since most of their life is spent dashing from predators.
Actually, that may be the reason for their joy.
Perhaps the sheer joy of being alive for that second results in a happy leap.

I am not a fish whisperer so this is all conjecture of course.

But if it's true, most of us could take a lesson from the mullet.

I think it's quite possible that I had the huge Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge to myself yesterday afternoon. It's out of the way enough that most people don't know it exists. It's also far off the beaten path so if you go there, you meant to go there ... not one you stumble across on the way to Dismal World in Orlando.

The tidal creek above is Barnett Creek. This is a view upstream towards terra firma. The tide was almost high, but still gushing in when I was there.

Out in this marsh, the slightest upward change in elevation results in colonization by woody plants and especially cabbage palms. The forest is a classically beautiful original Florida mixed hammock, dense with mature palms.
I tromped around in it a little and will share some photos of the palm forest in another post.

The ride out to the marsh is through pine flatwoods and cypress swamps. It wasn't especially birdy, but I did see wood ducks and wood storks in the woods.

Then there was this USFWS sign ... in a tidal creek.


pablo said...

The mullet jumps not at the joy of escaping a predator but as a means of escaping a predator. (It's the same reason I slip away from my desk whenever I hear my boss coming.)

Smilin-buddha said...

Great looking landscape pictures. Always the best wild places pictures.

amarkonmywall said...

Darn, just when you find a spot you'd like to camp for the night. Dismal World! I've been there recently! Think I'd rather be doing the small world thing around Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. Great pictures. I haven't checked yet to see if the mullet are jumping down at the bayou- I'll walk down later today. Not to poke you or anything, but perhaps you have a need to nobelize these Mugil cephalus as they leap? There's a word for that, you know...have a great day, FC. It's looking warm and sunny from where I sit!

amarkonmywall said...

or nobleize. prize, anthropomorphize- something like that.

Laura said...

smoked mullet dip... Yummmmmm

Sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon. I'd much rather be out there right now than stuck here in suburbia!

Floridacracker said...

You don't have mullet in Kansas do you?
There are about 3 different mullet leaps:
1) The frantic, forward fast leap repeated ... like skipping a stone, only fishier. THIS is a definite predator escape leap full of desperation.

2) The "Oh Sh**!" surprised by a perceived predator leap. A bird shadow or noisy fishing partner may elicit this. It's one leap, maybe two accompanied by rapidly receding wake as the mullet swims away.

3) The third leap is lazy and usually occurs in threes. The mullet gets some hang time and lands (waters?) only a few feet away from take off. THIS is the joyful leap.

YOU have a boss?

Thanks. It's easy when the subject is doing all the work ;)

Touche. Poking deserved and received ... heehee.
I would not dish it out occasionally, if I couldn't take it.
And yes, the smooth brain of a mullet probably holds no joy neurons, yet still I persist.

Floridacracker said...

Mullet backbone, fried mullet, mullet gizzards ...
Poor delicous fish.

swamp4me said...

Uh, FC, I know your heart is in the right place when you call it "Dismal World," but surely you can understand why I wish you would choose another descriptor ;)
Nice pics!

Wren said...

I think vicki gets credit for "Dismal World" and she's entitled, even if it insults a perfectly good swamp.

I, on the other hand, believe I swallowed a few flies following FC's opening instructions.

Floridacracker said...

I DO understand and would never "Dis" Dismal Swamp with a comparison to DW.

It's been Dismal World since the early '70's when Walt ruined central Florida.
Sorry about those guidelines, but it's not the best fish jumping picture ever taken.

Rurality said...

I love watching those crazy fish jump, but didn't know they were mullets. (We have them in AL too ya know!)

Mrs Mecomber said...

Gosh. I tilted my head and squinted, but see no mullet.

Isn't a mullet an 80s hairstyle?

Sharon said...

I see it! I love to sit on the dock at my Dad's and watch the mullet jump. I tried to get a pic, but I keep missing them.

Floridacracker said...

Oh yes, Alabama is definite mullet country.
Mobile Bay?

Mrs. McC,
Yes, and it still exists down here.

The happy ones are easiest to photograph. After the first leap point and be ready ... they'll jump again.

threecollie said...

If the poor things jumped down in our Mohawk they would have to look up first to miss the icebergs...although it has been pretty warm.
Seriously, it looks like a serene and lovely place, thanks,

Floridacracker said...

Serene and iceberg free.

misti said...

I've always wanted to explore more of northern Florida. We had some time when we lived in Melbourne but now it takes several hours and I'd like to spend several days traipsing through the areas up there. I especially want to hit Payne's Prairie someday.

Floridacracker said...

Payne's is a neat place. I wish there was more access into the marsh.

Alan said...

Beautiful. I've always loved the marsh lands. That is true Florida to me - not the sandy beaches and palm trees, but the marshes, pines, and palmettos of the "country" where us Crackers grew up. :)

I'll have to stop by that refuge next time we're in the area, sounds nice.

life on the road said...

"The third leap is lazy and usually occurs in threes."

This is the reason my blog is named The Flying Mullet. I have swam in the ocean with many a mullet jumping over my head, especially at night. They always remind me of the playful wildness in nature.

Floridacracker said...

It's a great place and has access on both sides of the Suwannee River.

If you swim at night with mullet you might get to experience the playfullness of the bullshark.
But I suspect you know that.
Be careful oh adventurous one.