15 May 2010

Back from the wilds

Gene and Melody reliving scenes from The African Queen

What a perfect morning into afternoon. It was great to see the always good company Melody and Gene and it was even better to see them and share a slog through the wetlands.

While we didn't see my favorite spider, Nephila clavipes, there were plenty of other sightings to make up for it. It was good to be away if only for a few hours and it's nothing short of amazing that I can be completely surrounded by a mangrove wetland yet still be less than three miles from home.

A mangrove tree crab (Aratus pisonii) on a barnacle-encrusted mangrove root.

Mangrove trees are a vitally important buffer between water and land in the tropical regions of the world. They grow at the water line and their interlocking roots form a barrier to tidal and hurricane surges. Those same interlocking roots serve a nursery for many of the commercially important fish and crustaceans that keep afloat the economies of the maritime tropics. It's pretty simple, with no mangroves, the land washes away and there are no crabs, shrimp or fish like snapper. Keeping mangrove wetlands intact and healthy is a matter of  life and death frankly.

The oil spill in the Gulf right now threatens all of this in a very immediate way and I hope with every fiber of my being that that spill doesn't lead down a path where it very well may. As great as being out in the wetlands was today I can't shake the feeling that the sword of Damocles hangs over all of us.

8 comments:

  1. Enjoyable post that shows yet another facet of an amazing person and the importance of the interrelated ecosystem that we all need and share.

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  2. Thanks Bill! Nothing exists in a vacuum and I mean nothing. It's good to spend some time in a place that illustrates that truth so clearly and eloquently.

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  3. Oh Paul. You had me at "back."

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  4. Also, a most excellent spider. Note the photo of the spider next to the beer can for size perspective.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephila_clavipes

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  5. What a great day. It was definitely the highlight of our trip here, even though we didn't see too many animals. Actually being in the mangroves and seeing them from that vantage point gave me a whole new perspective on that type of ecosystem.
    Readers, Paul left out the fact that I flipped my kayak, no doubt to spare me any embarrassment, but the story needs to be told. I am probably the only person dumb enough to flip a kayak in completely still water. We were making our way through a narrow canal in the mangroves and my paddle got hung up in the roots. Little did I know, that the slightest tipping of those things means you're getting dumped. Fortunately, there were no bull sharks in the vicinity and I was able to climb up on a mangrove and get back in.

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  6. Melody, I'd have taken that story to my grave.

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  7. Again, thanks Paul for the great posting! Been planning a visit to the ol stomping grounds of tampa to visit friends, & this is the perfect lure for my hesitant husband! Your site is da best!

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  8. Thanks and make sure you go to Weedon if you find yourself back in these parts.

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