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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Green Guide Class: Critters in the Air, Sea and Land

Despite a 6 a.m. wake up call, today was awesome. Finally, the temperature has cooled down and the humidity has dropped making being outside enjoyable.

My day began at Mashes Sands Park on Hwy. 98 past Panacea. We met up with George for some early morning bird watching. (Stupid me, I forgot my binoculars, but honestly, I have no idea where they are. Well, I know which room they're in, just not which box).

I also learned something new about horseshoe crabs - usually the shells found washed up on beaches is just that, a shell. The crab inside most likely shed it for a new one. Pretty cool!

Next was lunch at Posey's - grouper sandwich, yum!

Then, Jack Rudlow, founder of Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratories gave us a tour. I have to say, this place is pretty cool. There were several touch tanks to feel all sorts of sea critters, from starfish to scallops and sea urchins to seaweed. There are also non-touchable tanks to observe and watch the sea life, such as sea turtles, sharks and fiddler crabs.

While there, a fisherman had hooked a Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle and brought it in to have the hook removed. The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab is the only authorized turtle rehap center in the area. I've enclosed a photo of the turtle and circled the hook. Luckily, the hook was easily removed and the turtle will soon be released.

We were also at the lab during feeding time, which was fun to see the reactions of the sea critters. Enjoy the video below of the spider crabs feeding. They really are ugly creatures but fun to watch. Over on my QuirkyKitschGirl site, check out the video on the remora (suckerfish) feeding. These are the fish which attach themselves to the bottom of sharks, manatees and turtles.

Since I was already in Panacea, I decided to head over to the Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola. I love that town! Indulged in gumbo and oyster stew, saw a crab race and enjoyed great music. A band was even playing on a boat! (Not in the boat below, I just liked this boat.)

Got to tour the newest hotel in Apalachicola, Water Street Hotel & Marina. It only has 30 rooms but they're huge and very comfortable. It's not in the downtown area but an easy walk to the action. Nice property, I'd definitely stay there sometime.

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