Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

March 31, 2013

No Place to Call Home

The Florida Panther
 The beautiful Florida Panther

It was fun to watch a young exciting team from south Florida reach the heights that they did this week, as they became the darlings of the press and were written about and talked about all over the country, but there is one thing you may never hear about this school and that is the land where it was built.
You see, the land under this fairly new school, was supposed to be a Panther Refuge.
Land set aside for the Panther, has been a political Florida football for years, with few agreeing on just how much land or Habitat, they need to survive, but one thing is obvious, at the rate they are losing their places to just exist, the Panther will not survive.
Historically, few politicians and even fewer lobbyists here have considered saving wildlife an important enough reason to reject development, or construction, when there are such big donations attached to them for those who make it happen.
In this case, as in many others, money won and a critically Endangered animal lost.
The Florida Panther is undoubtedly, the most Endangered animal in the entire US, with fewer than 100 of them remaining and it is simply tragic that this school and its supporters could not find anywhere else to build it.
Panthers can neither vote, nor write checks, in fact they really hold little value at all, except to the wildlife watchers and protectors who as usual, have little control over the ugly things that are done to those
” with no voice. “
Connie Mack may have had his Karma served up by the voters in the last election, but the Panther is the biggest loser in this never-ending game of Florida Monopoly.
The ongoing sad saga for the most beleaguered mammal in America is here:

When Will We Find Courage?

Florida's Everglades National Park
The River of Grass, the Florida Everglades
        Photo credit: USGS/SOFIA

The EPA has recently declared that over half of the Rivers in this country are not fit for living things.
Does this really come as a surprise to anyone?
If you have spent anytime near a river, you could have watched the slow degradation in person.
No degree in science is necessary, to understand the impact that chemicals, namely fertilizers and pesticides, have had on everything that they touch.
The worst offenders are phosphorus and nitrogen, with of course some mercury and bacteria thrown in to complete the tainted brew.  
Remember Erin Brockovich?
It’s all about the water.
Most living things are completely interdependent on their environment, beginning with the water.
When we choose to look the other way, or do not stop those who poison and pollute our water, because we don’t want to get involved, we are telling them, either we don’t care, or we have no courage.
Either way, the polluters will continue unabated and the waters will eventually become an engorged toxic soup that can no longer sustain life.

Can You Hear them Now?

 Right Whale Mother and Calf
A Right Whale Mother and Calf in the Atlantic

As a matter of fact, yes, Mammals in all of the Earth’s bodies of water can hear us now and what they are hearing from military sonar testing and oil seismic testing, is affecting them all nearly the same way that loud concerts do our children.
It is giving them all permanent hearing loss.
These endless loud noises interfere with their food searches, as well as with their mating, birthing and just plain living activities.
Sea animals react to these noises in different ways, some try to get away from it by beaching themselves, others become disoriented and end up in wrong places, alone.
Regardless of their reactions, these Ocean  noises  are doing irreparable harm to all of our sea mammals and it must end where they live, most especially in their travel pathways as they migrate.

March 24, 2013

It's Turtle Time In Florida

A Loggerhead Hatchling 
                          A Loggerhead Hatchling
                                            Photo credit: NPS

Florida is home to many species of Wildlife, some are plentiful, some are Endangered.
Of the species that are Endangered, there are several varieties of Sea Turtles on the list.
Our resident Sea Turtles include the Green, Leatherback and Loggerheads and for those of us who love them, this is a time to revel in, from now until October 31, it is all about turtles in Florida.
This is the beginning of the ”lights out” time, for those lucky souls who live on the beaches of Florida Turtle nesting areas.
These observances are absolutely mandatory for the protection of the “little joys” to come.
Last year was a record-setting nesting season for the Loggerheads and we are hoping for a repeat this year.

March 22, 2013

Today Is World Water Day

 Alexander Springs, near my home in the Ocala Forest.
              Alexander Springs

After the air that we breathe, the next most vital component to all life on Earth, is water.
And today is World Water Day.
There is much to know, here are just two of the many places where you can learn more about water:

It's About Changing The Way We Live

A Florida Manatee
A Florida Manatee
Photo credit: USGS

Last week, we heard the news about how Red Tide is killing our Manatees, the story about this was posted earlier and now last night on our local news, we were sickened to hear of even more mass deaths on Florida's Atlantic Coast in the Indian River Lagoon.
It seems that the high numbers of deaths here, are being blamed on what farm fertilizer run off  is doing to the feeding areas of our beloved mammal.
This is not the first time that this subject has been made public, for years Alligators in Lake Apopka have been dealing the with the same situation which resulted in sexual "anomalies."
The farm culprit in South Florida is US Sugar and for the exact same reason, fertilizer run off.
The only problem is that in Southern Florida, when the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee are poisoned by fertilizers, it is more than just animals that are sickened, it is also millions of people.
Lake Okeechobee is one of their main water sources and they don't have an alternative water supply to choose from.
So, you ask what is the solution?
It is really very, very simple.
First, please understand that Florida's aquifer system is like a giant sieve, everything on the top seeps through to our underground water supplies, the good, the bad and the ugly, all of it.
So, we must all, yes all, stop buying and using products for our homes, public places and farming that have toxic chemicals like phosphorus in them.
There are alternative products that do not, and if we don't switch now to these safer products, Florida will not be the only place where you can't drink the water.
This is happening all over the Country, even the world, our water is being poisoned by chemicals, pollutants and toxins by those who refuse to change because they don't have to, people have been quite well paid off to allow them to continue this practice and they have already put the money in the bank.
In the end, however we will all run out of pure clean water to drink because you can't drink money.

March 20, 2013

Earth Hour Saturday March 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM, your time~

 Earth Hour

In just a few days, a special way to give back to the planet that has supported all life for over four Billion years, will take place hopefully, everywhere.
Earth Hour was first observed 7 years ago and was created by a dedicated group
who are very concerned with the health of our planet and believe that if we all share a common goal, a common hope, that we really can change the way things are being done.
The overconsumption of energy on the planet has caused damage to every aspect of our environment.
Earth Hour is intended to make us realize our errant ways and try to do better.
So, if you aren’t doing anything special this Saturday night, perhaps in Honor of our Mother Earth, you will choose to turn off your lights for just one, wee little hour and pause to think
about what you are doing, or could do, to reduce your “footprint” here.
You won’t believe how good it will make you feel, because when you care for things other than yourself, it gives you such a sense of peace~

March 17, 2013

Wildlife and Wildplaces Have New Champions

 Elephants in Kenya
A new program at the World Wildlife Organization is bringing together Spiritual Leaders from all over the world who are in agreement about the need to protect our wildplaces and wildlife.
This unexpected partnership could have a tremendous impact for one very good reason, who would be dumb enough to go against their spiritual leaders to poach animals or trample sacred places?
The group has already had a positive impact in Thailand, where Elephants being slaughtered for their ivory was rampant.
Recent activity on this issue in the Social Media has produced over 1.5 million opposing voices from countries all over the world who helped sway the opinions of the Leaders in Thailand.
Facebook, Online petitions, Twitter and the like, are working wonders putting the messages
out to a Global Audience who have overwhelmingly responded.
Please, don't ever believe that your voice, your actions, don't matter, it has just been proven, that they most certainly do, and we all need to keep doing it.

March 10, 2013

Red Tide Is Not A New Laundry Detergent

Manatee Mother and Calf
Photo credit: USGS

Red Tide or Algae Bloom is now out of control on Florida's Gulf Coast in the Tampa Bay area.
This may, according to Florida Wildlife officials, be the worst year ever for Manatees.
Previously the highest number of deaths was at 151 in 1996 and
the experts are projecting that it will be even worse this year.
We are at 149 right now.
It seems that Manatees just can't get a break, either they are hit and maimed
or killed outright by boats, or they die from extremely cold winters.
Now the threat for Red Tide threatens to be the worst enemy, other than Humans,
that the Manatee have ever encountered.

March 3, 2013

The Ghost Net And Other Assorted Trash

Marine Debris  
Marine Debris
Photo credit:  NOAA CCFHR

A thousand pound fishing net has recently been found on one of our Florida reefs
and it is killing our sea life and wreaking havoc on the reefs.
Is this the first time that this has happened, of course not, nor will it be the last,
the point is how do we stop this.
Unattended, lost or discarded fishing nets, crab traps and assorted other gear,
including lines, have caused the deaths of many sea creatures over the years and
now in addition to these, we are finding that the same things are happening to sea life
with a myriad of plastics that have been thrown into the oceans all over the world.
Their tragic story is here:   Victims Of Pacific Trash
What bothers me the most, is the callous disregard for animals lives that some humans display.
Walk across the parking lot of your local Wal Mart, you'll get the picture.
Take a stroll along the shore of any beach, it's the same.
Local parks, school yards, more of the same, litter, trash, garbage, it's everywhere.
The thing is this, we have become a race of careless, thoughtless dumpers.
Whenever we are through with something, we just toss it, wherever.
And its not just our trash, but also pets that people have tired of caring for and just thrown away.
The entire state of Florida is now reeling from the soaring numbers of these discarded pets.
It is alarming for those who care for both our wildlife and the environment and are sickened by the garbage found all around us on a daily basis.
This trash and garbage that so many toss so casually, is costing all of us, including our wildlife and we all need to start thinking before tossing.
What is that saying, " If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. "