It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Some experiences require more than words summed up in a photo to express the true impact of that place, that moment, or that memory.
My bike ride on the Shark Valley loop is one of those experiences. I love documenting my travels, and I planned to document this adventure like any other. However, it turns out that I need to work on my shooting-while-bike-riding skills, so many of the photos (as you will see) have a hint of blur to them.
For the second half of this bike ride, I put my camera away and just let the moment consume me. I allowed myself to be fully present, and while I may not have photos to show for it, the beauty I witnessed that day will forever be etched in my mind.
So what is Shark Valley?
Shark Valley is located in Everglades National Park in South Florida. The access point for this loop is where the Shark Valley visitor’s center is. Here, you can rent bicycles for the fifteen-mile paved path, or you can go on a leisurely tram tour that takes you through the Everglades. From mid-December to April, tram tours leave on the hour, every hour from 9am to 4pm, and from May to mid-December tram tours leave at 9:30 am, 11:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm.
My Shark Valley Experience
I had long lost cell service, when my fiancé and I arrived at the Shark Valley loop off of the Tamiami Trail. We arrived just after 6pm to find the gates to the main park closed, as expected. Outside of the gates, there is room for about four to six cars to comfortably park so bicyclists can bike in before or after the park hours.
We went late because we didn’t want to contend with the tram tours on the path, and we looked forward to a sunset ride through the Everglades.
We brought our own bikes. I have a cruiser, which was perfectly fine for this ride because the path is paved, wide, and smooth.
My fiancé and I have made it a life goal to visit each of the US National Parks together. This is the first one we crossed off the list!
Tip: If you are considering biking this path after park hours, I recommend doing this ride with a buddy. It is a long ride and there is no cell reception. Once you are seven miles out in the middle of the Everglades, you are out there with no safety net. Make sure you are prepared.
To the Observation Tower
The Shark Valley trail is a fifteen-mile loop. Each mile is painted in the middle of the path, allowing you to know how far you have gone. Half-way through the loop, is the observation tower, and we were on our way.
Right out of the gates, we were greeted by one of the local residents.
Yes, that black spot in the center of this picture is an alligator! It was about four to six feet long, and completely ambivalent to our presence. Just to be safe, we stayed as far left on the path as possible, and left it alone.
This was the closest that we got to an alligator the whole ride, but seeing this gator at the beginning of the journey was a stark reminder to always be aware of my surroundings. In Florida, it is always wise to assume that there is a gator in any type of fresh water, whether it is a retention pond, a canal, a lake, or of course, the Everglades.
We saw many more gators throughout the rest of the trip. We saw little baby gators and a some huge mamas and papas.
There are a few benches along the loop, but after seeing so many gators, I thought it best to keep the wheels of my bike moving until we got to higher ground.
There were dragonflies everywhere. The gentle zip of their wings hummed across the grasslands. The curious ones would fly parallel to my bike to check me out. Others rested with effortless balance atop their own stalk of grass, awaiting the sunset show.
You can barely see it, but this is the first glimpse of the observation tower way off in the distance. At this point, we had been biking for almost an hour non-stop, so it was a welcome sight.
We saw a handful of wading birds during this whole trip which I found surprising because I expected to see a lot more. We did see a lot of large ravens, especially near the observation tower. They seemed out of place yet to belong.
Watch the above time-lapse video to see the first half of my bike ride on the Shark Valley Loop trail. This video covers about seven miles of trail, and ends atop the observation tower with a special surprise in store.
I filmed the video with my iPhone attached to a selfie stick wrapped to my bike with a hair tie, so while it may not be the best quality, it still captures the spirit of Shark Valley. Enjoy!
At the Observation Tower
This is the observation tower. It is forty-five feet high, and was designed by famed architect Edward M. Ghezzi. I think it looks like something you would find at Tomorrowland in Disney World. (Sorry for the awful picture, but you can’t write about the Shark Valley Loop without showing the observation tower!)
We reached the observation tower just before sunset, and the views of the watercolor sky over the Everglades are unforgettable.
Recently, I went on a beach walk and did a one-hour beach cleanup. I started at the northernmost entrance to Spanish River Park, where there is limited street parking on Spanish River Road. I walked north towards Highland Beach.
Overall, the beach was relatively clean, though there were a few concentrations of trash, and plenty of disturbing finds.
Though it was overcast, it was an eerily beautiful beach day.
The gray sky bled into the gray sea, and without the help of a sailboat I wouldn’t have been able to tell where the horizon was.
The sea was also silent, a rare sight on the east coast of Florida.
Scary Findings (Or Reasons Why You Should Keep Your Shoes On at the Beach!)
In suburban West Delray, there is a hidden oasis that will truly delight any bird- or nature-lover. Wakodahatchee Wetlands is a tranquil, man-made wetland that has naturally become a sanctuary for over 140 species of birds, as well as a variety of amphibious and reptilian species.
The first time I arrived at Wakodahatchee Wetlands, I was awe-struck by the cacophony of bird calls, and the diversity of birds all in one location. I have never been to any other natural setting where there were so many different types of birds that I could easily observe in their natural environment. There were birds nesting, floating, and soaring in every direction! It was a cinematic moment.
Using over 50 acres of utilities land, the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Southern Regional Water Reclamation pumps nearly two million gallons of highly treated wastewater into the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. Instead of this land just being a nasty wastewater pond, or the wastewater instead being harmfully pumped into the ocean or injected into the ground, Palm Beach County (PBC) has found a way to harmonize with the natural environment. Instead of causing greater destruction, PBC has instead enhanced the lives of many birds who have lost their homes to the suburbs and development of the area.
Wakodahatchee Wetlands is a great example of how modern society can coexist with the natural world, and I think it is a place that other municipalities throughout the state of Florida and the US should tour to see how this man-made ecosystem is thriving.
Directions: The Wakodahatchee Wetlands are located on the east side of Jog Road between Woolbright Road and Atlantic Avenue (Exit Route 95 onto Atlantic Avenue West; continue to Jog Road; turn right; park is on the right) The site is on the southeast side of Palm Beach County Water Utility Department’s Southern Region Operations Center at 13026 Jog Road, Delray Beach.
*Tip*Go early in the morning when the birds are waking up and becoming active, and before the sun gets too hot. There are covered pavilions with sitting areas along the 3/4 mile boardwalk just in case.
What to bring: Bring a hat, sunscreen if you have sensitive skin, and definitely a bottle of water in a reusable container. There are covered seating areas if you need a respite from the sun on the walk, but most of the boardwalk is exposed. There is not really a place for picnicking, and it is best to bring as little with you as possible to reduce litter in this beautiful habitat.
Let’s have a moment of silence for the 295 bears that were killed in less than 48 hours this past weekend.
Each bear was taken by surprise, a victim in an unfair fight. We want to tell ourselves that we were relieved of these nuisance bears, that a threat to the fragile human species has been curbed for now.
But I think that we, humans, are the real threat. The answer is not bullets or arrows in the name of “conservation”, the answer is coexistence. But in true human form, the powers that be decided on what they would probably call a “quick fix” to the increased sightings of bears in neighborhoods. This bear hunt is setting an unsettling precedent that we will resort to extermination and further destruction instead of developing and building with the long term in mind for all species involved. Continue reading In Memory of the 295 Florida Black Bears→
Right now, South Florida is waiting in suspense to see what Tropical Storm Erika is going to do. While it is still too early to say exactly where she will go, it is never too early to begin preparing for a potential storm.
As someone who experienced the intense hurricane season of 2004, I know it is better to be safe than sorry. Strong storms, like most of nature, are unpredictable. Most people will wait until the last minute to get supplies, and in situations such as this, waiting until just before the storm comes is often too late. Stores will run out of water and gas stations will run out of gas, and deliveries to areas that are either under evacuation or faced with a major storm threat will be suspended.
So beat the rush and make sure your family and home are ready just in case!
What To Do As Soon as Possible
Check to see what supplies you already have
Gather any flashlights, candles, and batteries you have in case the power goes out. Check the pantry to see what non-perishable food items you already have, such as canned food, chips, nuts, or fruit. Also see if you have bottles of water or other drinks that will be ok to drink unrefrigerated. Make sure you have a first-aid kit, and if you are taking medication, make sure you have a full supply or refill just in case you can’t get to the pharmacy for a week or longer. Don’t forget about your pets; make sure they have enough food and water to last too!
Shop for what you don’t have
Whenever you are in the “cone of concern,” it is a good idea to head to your local store ASAP and get what you need. It is unbelievable how fast places can sell out of important things such as water, and the place you want to be is in one of these stores when everyone else who waited is fighting over the last pack of batteries.
Fill up your car with gas
Filling up your car with gas is absolutely imperative. If the power is out, there is no gas. If an area is under storm warning, gas tankers will suspend their normal routes. If you have a gas grill, it is also a good idea to refill your propane tank if needed, so you will have a way to cook or boil water if the power goes out.
If you have a lot of windows, sliding glass doors, etc. and strong winds are predicted, purchase plywood from your local home improvement store and board up any windows. Do this whether you are staying in your home, or seeking shelter elsewhere. Don’t wait until the very last minute to do this, because it can take more time than you might think to do it right. If you are lucky enough to have storm shutters, put those babies down and batten down the hatches! Not only will boarding up protect you during the storm, it will also protect you after the storm, when unfortunately sometimes looting can become an issue.
Just Before the Storm
Charge your electronics
Make sure phones, computers, and tablets are charged. Though cell towers and WiFi may be impacted during the storm, charging them just before the storm hits is a good idea. At least throughout the storm you may have music and games available, and there’s always a chance the cell towers may be working so you can let loved ones know you’re ok.
Bring in anything that is not bolted down
Wind is a powerful force, and something that should not be tempted. Bring in any patio furniture, grills, garden gnomes, or anything else that can become a projectile object in tropical storm or hurricane force winds. Don’t take any chances!
Fill up your tub with water
Sometimes before a storm, a city will turn off the electricity or water systems for safety reasons. Before this happens, or before the storm takes these services out, fill up your tub or tubs with water. This will come in handy for bathing or washing things if necessary.
Prepare a “Hurricane Party” Room
For the brunt of the storm it is best to go in the center of your home that is on the first floor and has no windows. A laundry room or closet usually works best. Before the storm happens, make it comfy! Bring in a spare mattress or some bean bag chairs, put candles, flashlights, and water in there. Make yourself as comfy as possible to ride out the storm!
Preparing for the storm is key to maximize the safety of both you and your family. If you are ordered to evacuate, evacuate. If you live in a flood zone, maybe go to a shelter or to a hotel. Whatever you do, don’t take any chances, and don’t panic either! Also, don’t try and drive during a tropical storm or hurricane. Prepare a bag in case you need to leave suddenly, and put any prized possessions in a sealed plastic container or waterproof safe to protect them.
Be safe and smart!
For more information on storm prep, check out Ready.gov.
For most of the US, summer is winding down. Soon, the kids will be back at school and the heat and waves of summer 2015 will be a precious memory.
But for those of you who are still planning beach vacations, who are venturing south for the winter, or who are lucky to live near the beach full time, here are six reasons why you should participate in a beach cleanup before summer is officially over (or really whenever you can)!
Help protect sea turtle hatchlings and other marine life
Sea turtle season doesn’t end until October, so there are still plenty of hatchlings waiting to emerge and find their way to the ocean. We know that their journey is already hard enough, so let’s make sure that their path to the ocean is as easy as possible. Despite sea turtle nests being marked off and protected, I always find a lot of trash around the nests. Not only does this litter pose a threat to the hatchlings, but it also threatens any shore birds that search the sand for their food. The tide brings in a lot of garbage, let’s make sure it doesn’t go back out!
Make great friends and memories
Whether you get a group of your friends together to go cleanup your favorite beach spot, or join one of the many great organizations that coordinates beach cleanups each month, you can make positive memories with friends old and new. If protecting the ocean and the environment is something you are passionate about, get outside of your comfort zone and join a group cleanup. It is a great way to meet other people who share your passions. I have met some of the nicest and friendliest people attending cleanups. People are always stoked to meet someone else who actively shares their passion for the environment!
Beach cleanups are great exercise
Carrying buckets of garbage in the sand is an excellent workout that is sure to get your heart pumping and your body sweating. If you don’t have a grabber, which I highly recommend if you plan on frequently doing beach cleanups, you will be doing a lot of squats to pick up garbage. Most organized beach cleanups last about two hours, a great amount of time for a workout out in the fresh, salty air. It’s a fantastic way to start the day!
You can be the change
It’s easy to get caught up in our busy lives and get stuck behind our computer’s keyboard. If you want to see a difference in the world, be the difference. It’s as simple as that. Participating in a beach cleanup is a rewarding experience, and if you have never done one, I am sure you will be shocked by the amount of garbage you will find.
Beach cleanups are a great time for introspection
Whether you are cleaning up the beach on your own or with a group, a beach cleanup is a great time to analyze your own choices when it comes to both consumption and disposal. When you actually see first hand the amount of garbage carelessly left behind, it may lead you to reexamine your own choices. Being conscious of our own consumption, and what happens to our own garbage can lead us to make changes that lower our own footprint.
You can raise awareness
Raising awareness about the plight of the fragile shore ecosystems is important. Many people thoughtlessly extinguish their cigarette butts in the sand, and leave them behind, probably thinking it’s just me, no biggie. But when many people adopt this mentality, that is when the beaches become, for lack of a better word, gross. I think it’s a great idea to photograph garbage as you cleanup. Take pictures of the amount of cigarette butts you find, or the weirdest item you find. Then share, share, share! Share across all your social media platforms! People by nature are very visual creatures, so actually showing instead of telling is a fantastic way to raise awareness to the issue of beach litter. Maybe, just maybe, someone will think twice before leaving behind a styrofoam cup, or not disposing of fishing line properly because of an image or experience you share.
Beach cleanups are a ton of fun, and even though summer is almost over, many groups organize beach cleanups year round. Whenever you get the opportunity, I strongly urge you to spend a morning or afternoon doing a beach cleanup!
Check out some of these South Florida organizations to see when they are doing their next beach cleanup:
Yesterday, the Florida House approved HB 1205, which approves the continuation of fracking in Florida. The purpose of the bill is to provide regulations on fracking, and there will be a moratorium until tests and agencies have instituted rules.
Another bill up for a vote is HB 1209. If this bill is approved, then frackers will not have to publicly disclose which hazardous chemicals are being used in the process.
What is fracking?
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process where one drills deep down into the earth, and then the earth is injected with harsh chemicals and other liquids at a high pressure in order to extract the natural gas through a well.
Fracking involves drilling many, many holes into the earth, injecting the earth with poison, and then having receptacles to hold the toxic waste water. In order to access these sites, pipelines and roads will have to be constructed.
Risks of fracking include compromising drinking water and causing earthquakes.
Where is this happening?
In Florida, right here, right now. In the Western Everglades, one oil company- Collier Resources- owns 800,000 acres, monopolizing the industry in Florida. According to the South Florida Wildlands Association, not only does Collier Resources own the oil rights to their private land, but also rights in such places as Big Cypress National Preserve, Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area and the Picayune Strand State Forest. While offshore drilling is still off-limits in Florida, Collier Resources also owns sizeable oil rights under the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge – should that prohibition ever get lifted.
What does this have to do with me?
Fracking in the fragile ecosystems of Florida is dangerous to anyone who drinks water. Florida has a very porous geology, and it is not clearly known what the longterm impacts of pumping harsh chemicals could be, or how quickly these chemicals will be saturated, or if they can be contained once they are released. There are over 600 chemicals used in fracking, including known carcinogens, many of which need to be properly disposed at a hazmat site. Are there hazmat sites in the Everglades? Should we build one in a fragile and already jeopardized environment? NO.
Generally, it takes 2-8 million gallons of water to frack a single well, if not more. Where is this water coming from? The Everglades itself? California, another fracking state, used 70 million gallons of water in 2014 alone for fracking. They are currently going through one of their worst droughts in history.
Fracking goes beneath the aquifers. In Florida, we are lucky to have fresh water resources like our natural springs. These springs provide some of the clearest and purest water in the world. Why put this water at risk? When we are already dealing with sea water levels rising that may impact our fresh water supply, why also jeopardize our water from below too?
If fracking is bad, why do people still do this?
As quoted by the Tallahassee Democrat, “I like the outdoors,” said Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City. “I like conservation. But let me tell you another thing — I like electricity. I like lights and air-conditioning and television. I like gasoline to put in my truck to come up here to visit with all my friends, all of you in here.”
Yes, everyone likes electricity and modern transportation. But when we have cleaner options now readily available and increasingly more affordable, why are we sinking our money and our mentality into tech that puts us at risk? Why are we not building solar fields, or passing bills regarding other renewable, sustainable energy sources?
The answer, as you have probably guessed is big. oil. money. Oil money in a lot of ways built this country, and it has been a wealth long sought after by many, an attainable form of the American dream. But this American dream has long since turned into an American nightmare.
But when does physical money begin to trump environmental costs? Does the human factor not even deter these companies?
Just so everyone is clear- life on earth cannot exist without water.
Thinking that oil is the only way to power this country is an antiquated way of thinking. We know better, and we as the people, and we, as the elected officials who are supposed to represent the people- they are us- need to stop pretending like we don’t know better.
How is a country supposed to grow, when we continue to act immature, when we continue to put our fingers in our ears and go “la la la” while the facts are speaking loudly and clearly.
What can I do?
You can contact your local official TODAY, right here, right now, and let them know what you think about fracking. These people were elected into their position, and are public servants. They wanted to connect with their communities, and they fought to represent you, so let them!
Find your State Senator here and make the call now:
You can also contact these key swing votes on the fracking issue:
Senator Jeremy Ring (850) 487-5029 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Anitere Flores (850) 487-5037 email@example.com
Senator Geraldine F. Thompson (850) 487-501 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Joseph Abruzzo (850) 487-5025 email@example.com
Senator Jeff Brandes (850) 487-5022 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (850) 487-5040 email@example.com
Senator Tom Lee (850) 487-5024 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator David Simmons (850) 487-5010 email@example.com
Also, please share this post with anyone you think will want to get involved!
Let’s protect our future. Let’s protect our home. Let’s protect our children, and tell those motherfrackers to frack off!
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is your quintessential beach town. Its quaint shops, casual restaurants, dive bars, and boutique hotels create a charming small-town atmosphere. Nestled 33 miles south of Palm Beach and 30 miles north of Miami, LBTS offers a low-key and laid-back experience in the coastal heart of South Florida.
The Shore-t Story
Parking: There are many different options for parking in LBTS. Recommended parking for the beach is in El Prado Parking lot and the grass lot next to it, located just north of Commercial Boulevard. Here it is $1.50 per hour, or $10 for all day. Other options included metered parallel parking, restaurant valet, parking lots on the west side of A1A, or the parking lot near the pier.
Refreshments: There are many restaurants within walking distance if you get hungry, but if you are just beaching it, it is recommended to bring your own refreshments.
Picnicking/Grilling: There are no picnic tables or grill spots near the LBTS beach. There are two covered gazebos or the grassy area at El Prado Park, but most picnicking here will be done on the actual beach.
Restrooms: The public restrooms are located behind Town Hall, which is a decent walk from the beach. This could prove problematic for anyone with small children or a bathroom emergency.
Fishing: Anglin’s Fishing Pier open 24 hours
Snorkeling/Diving: Excellent spot; the SS Copenhagen is a popular dive spot near the Sea Watch Restaurant, as is the BioRock Reef south of the pier
The entire town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea is situated on a barrier island, meaning that on one side of the town is bordered by the intracoastal waterway, and the other side is the ocean.
Towards the end of the 2013-2014 season, aesthetic renovations to the town center were completed. Many people may have stopped going to LBTS because of the inconveniences of the construction, but worry not, because they are done and they have created many fun spots throughout the town where you can relax with family.
Murals and sculptures of sea life can be found throughout the town, every utility box is colorfully painted, and no bike rack is an eye sore. These details found throughout the town add to the charm that can only be found in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
Seasonal flags are found on all street lights. Some announce town events, like their local farmer’s market.
This pavilion near the town center grants shaded access to a stunning view of the beach and pier. All of the benches are repurposed boats!
Extending from the pavilion, this paved area is lined with colorful Adirondack chairs, and umbrellas. Beachgoers utilized the space to play bags and giant Jenga.
The town center meets at El Mar Drive and Commercial Boulevard. For any holiday, LBTS is very festive.
This is the round-about of LBTS. On any corner of the round-about, you will find shops and dining.
A zoom in on the pelican sculpture that is situated in the middle of the roundabout. A group of real pelicans flies by in the distance.
A tropically painted utility box in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.
This is a fishy bicycle rack!
Tip: All of the hotel accommodations in LBTS are boutique hotels, which are perfect for large groups to rent out. They might not satisfy those looking for glitz and glamour, but will be a comfortable fit for those looking for a low-key vacation.
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s beach provides ample room for any beach activity. It is a wide beach, so unless it is a super busy day, there is usually enough room to spread out and not crowd onto someone else’s beach blanket.
Just north and south of the pier will usually be the largest concentration of people, even though you are supposed to stay at least 300 feet away from the actual pier when you are in the water. Go south of the pier if you want to snorkel the BioRock Reef; go just north of the pier if you are looking for a fun atmosphere near the town center.
From El Prado Park access point looking south. The beach is nice and wide.
Beautiful shore and water.
Looking from the pier north to Lighthouse Point.
Looking from the pier south to Fort Lauderdale beach.
As you continue north on the beach away from the town center, the upbeat tempo of reggae beats from a restaurant’s musician will fade away, and you will be left with the sound of the ocean waves and the faint chatter of the beach crowd.
Even in this area north of the pier where there is not a reef, you can still snorkel and see many different fish just offshore. Snorkeling directly offshore LBTS is great for beginners.
The other area that becomes concentrated with people is the access point at El Prado park. Across from El Prado park are two decent sized parking lots for daytrippers. El Prado Park is a nice grassy area good for picnicking or playing frisbee, and it is framed by colorful adirondack chairs and umbrellas. There are two gazebos that offer shade and some excellent people watching.
View of El Prado Park from the El Prado Parking Lot, just north of the town center.
El Prado Park features two gazebos, a bike rack, and many Adirondack chairs and umbrellas for relaxing. The lawn is a nice spot for picnics or yoga.
If you exit the beach from this access point, follow the sidewalk through the El Prado lot, and then cross A1A, you will find the LBTS public restrooms.
Showers can be found at this access point and at the beach entrance near the pier and beach pavilion.
Colorful Adirondack chairs underneath the gazebo are an excellent place to watch the sunrise.
A seating area with recycling.
Looking at El Prado park.
The inviting beach entrance to LBTS.
This beach does not have lifeguards. They do have life rings available just in case, but everyone here is swimming at their own risk.
Would we classify this beach as being family friendly? Yes and no. Yes, if you are on vacation and have your own hotel room, with an accessible toilet and air conditioning. No, if you are a daytripper, because there are no lifeguards and no public restrooms in a comfortable vicinity. We would recommend Pompano Beach, just north of LBTS, that features a playground, bathrooms, lifeguards, and refreshments, for daytrippers with small children.
The pier in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Anglin’s Fishing Pier, is open 24 hours so no matter your work or vacation schedule is you can get your fishing fix. It costs $7 per adult fisher. Common catches include snook, snapper, mackerel, bluefish, and more. With the reef being just south of the pier, in the deepwater part of the pier you are able to catch a variety of fish.
If you are not a fisherman or fisherwoman, the LBTS pier offers great views of the Lighthouse Point lighthouse, Fort Lauderdale beach, and plenty of wildlife. It is a $2 fee for sightseers. Bring a camera!
Remember to stay at least 300 feet away from the pier when you are swimming!
Everyone enjoys the view!
At the end of the pier, the ocean blue begins.
Tip: We recommend this local secret for down-to-earth beach destination weddings, couples, and older family get-togethers.
The Diving and Snorkeling
There are two main spots to dive in “The Shore Diving Capital of the World.” Shore diving means that the reefs are a short swim from the shore, and boats are not needed to access them.
The BioRock Reef
Lauderdale-By-The-Sea features the first of its kind fisheries restoration project that utilizes a technology called BioRock. In a nutshell, the BioRock technology speeds up the growth of a coral reef by mimicking reefs natural growth in order to replenish dying reefs and marine life populations. Steel structures are installed and charged by solar energy that attracts and propels the growth of limestone over them.
The BioRock Reef is excellent for all levels of snorkelers and divers, and this pilot project provides a great opportunity to see a variety of fish and marine life. Being a strong swimmer is highly recommended, as the maximum depth is around 12 feet. Often times people will dive/snorkel off of a kayak or paddle board.
This reef attracts a lot of fish and marine life, and offshore in any part of LBTS you will at the very least see a few different species of fish if the visibility is good.
The SS Copenhagen Shipwreck
In 1900, the steam-ship schooner SS Copenhagen hit a reef and became stranded carrying almost 5000 tons of coal. The crew attempted to salvage the cargo, but the ship ended up being left behind. The ship remained visible above water until World War II, when it was used for target practice, ultimately causing it to sink. Most of the machinery was salvaged, but the features of the ship are still visible. The bow now sits separate from the ship after an excavation attempt gone awry.
The SS Copenhagen is a protected state underwater archeological preserve.
Throughout Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, we found a variety of recycling receptacles! Unfortunately, they were not always in use. LBTS sometimes has a lot of leftover trash from weekend revelers. If you don’t pick it up, no one else is going to, except maybe a hungry bird.
Pier goers also have to make an effort to secure their trash, especially plastic bags, that can easily be blown away and into the ocean by the breeze.
We appreciate LBTS taking the steps to attempt to promote recycling, but it takes the beach goers to make this plan came to fruition.
If you had the pleasure of enjoying the beach, let the next person have the pleasure of enjoying the beach without your trash.
No matter which public access beach in Florida you go to, the beach warning flag system will be the same.
In 2005, an amendment to Section 380.276, F.S., required all public beaches to display only the flag system that was developed by the Florida Coastal Management Program, the Florida Beach Patrol Chiefs Association, the United States Lifesaving Association, and the International Life Saving Federation.
Prior to this change, beaches had their own color or pattern system to signal ocean conditions to beach goers, which led to confusion and misinterpretation if another beach used a similar color to denote a different condition.
If you learn what each flag means prior to your beach trip, you will be able to assess the conditions of the water and any hazards there may be.
These flags will usually fly at the entrances to the beach access, or they may be flown on the actual lifeguard stand. Each beach is different in their presentation, but the meaning of the flags remains the same.
Double Red Flag- Water Closed to Public
This will be flown if there is impending weather or extreme rip currents. Lifeguards will also put this in areas near jetties or piers that are “no swim zones.”
Solid Single Red Flag- High Hazard
If there are big waves, a storm coming, or strong currents, this flag will be flown. It is usually best to exercise extreme caution when this flag is flown, and if you are a weak swimmer or not experienced in the ocean, it is probably best just spend your beach trip on the sand.
Solid Yellow Flag- Medium Hazard
This flag means there is moderate surf and/or currents. The water may be choppy, with larger than average waves. It is best to exercise caution, especially if you have an elderly person or a child with you.
Solid Green Flag- Low Hazard
Green means go! The green flag flying is the most ideal flag to fly over your beach trip. The ocean conditions are favorable and calm. It’s time to relax, but still be cautious!
Solid Purple Flag- Dangerous Marine Life
Often times, this flag will be flown with one of the other flags. For example, you will see a green flag flying, which means water conditions are favorable, but the purple flag is also flying just beneath it, because the lifeguard has spotted man-o-war. You can still enter the water, but be aware of what is swimming around you. Be particularly wary of clumps of seaweed, where jellyfish may be. The lifeguard will usually write on the lifeguard communications board what specific dangerous marine life is in the water.
Dangerous marine life does not necessarily mean that a Great White Shark is lurking in the waters. The absence of a purple flag does not mean you are “alone” either. It is always best to be aware of what is around you. The magic of the ocean is that you may be underwater, looking out into the clear water, and there is nothing in front of you. You continue to look out longer, and suddenly things will appear before you that you wonder how you could not have seen. It’s awe-inspiring.
Sharks have a bad rep, because they will usually leave you alone. It is common to run into a nurse shark, especially if you are near a reef, but they will not bother you.
The one time I did run into a shark that could have posed a potential threat, a lifeguard on a four-wheeler followed it down the coast. When he approached our beach camp, he calmly said, “Hey, there is a shark cruising this way, very, very close to shore. You should probably stay out of the water, and let them know what is going on.” I signaled to my companions, and they returned to shore, and the three of us watched as the large, dark shadow passed through where they had just been swimming.
We returned to the water when it was further down the coastline, treated to an amazing close encounter with a truly majestic creature.
Always pay attention to the warning flags. Ask a lifeguard for more information about why they are flying a certain flag that day if you have questions.
This lifeguard communication board displays the warning flags, and other pertinent information about the beach conditions.
This South Beach lifeguard stand flies a green, low hazard flag. The flag key is displayed on the back of the stand.
This board at Red Reef Park shows the flag key and the rip currents chart for beach goers reference.
This sign is at the entrance to the boardwalk of Atlantic Dunes Park in Delray.
This sign and flag flies at near the boardwalk entrance of John D. MacArthur State Park.
It’s a life or death journey that only one out of every thousand survive. It’s the moment to sink, or to swim. This is the trek of the hatchling.
To humans, it is not a great distance from the edge of the sand to the ocean surf. To a baby sea turtle, this is the longest, most significant journey of their lives.
Sea turtles lay their eggs, and then leave them behind forever, never knowing how many, if any, of their next-gen will make it to the sea. After incubating underneath the sand, the babies will hatch, and crawl just beneath the surface in unison. When the sand temperature is just right, the hatchlings will emerge from the sand, looking for visual clues to make their way to the sea.
Meanwhile, natural predators standby waiting to feast on the disoriented hatchlings, picking off a significant portion of the hopeful swimmers.
Hatchlings use clues such as the white caps of the waves and the natural light of the horizon line to adjust their course in the right direction. This is why human lights can be so detrimental to the hatchlings trying to find the ocean; streetlights, houselights, carlights, or flashlights can distract a hatchling from its natural path.
Another issue for hatchlings is debris in their path. When a mother turtle dropped off her eggs, she probably chose a spot that was clear. Overtime with the changing tides, many different things, from seaweed to human litter, can wash up and ruin the hatchlings’ course.
Below are some images that present different angles around a single protected sea turtle’s nest. It begs the question of how these tiny hatchlings will be able to make their way to the ocean against these physical obstacles.
Think about where your trash goes. Don’t be the reason why 999 baby hatchlings won’t make it to the ocean.