Tag Archives: environment

Great Blue Heron vs. Snake

A few days ago, I took my camera to one of my favorite nature and bird hotspots in South Florida, Wakodahatchee Wetlands in West Delray Beach, Florida.

The Wakodahatchee Wetlands teemed with freshly-hatched and adult herons, egrets, common moorhens, gators, and more of the usual suspects.

It was a magical photo journey, and one of the highlights of this trip was an amazing fight between a Great Blue Heron and a snake. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

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This Great Blue Heron walks through the grass. Unbeknownst to me, it was on the hunt.
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Snipe! Quicker than a blink of an eye, this heron snagged a snake right out of the grass!
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At this point, the snake is still alive. The heron walks towards the water’s edge.
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Dunk! The heron begins dunking the snake underwater.
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The heron pulls the snake from the water. It is still alive.
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If you look closely, the snake’s mouth is wide open. It is not happy.
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The heron completely submerges the snake again.
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Is the snake still alive?
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The snake is still alive and is not going to be eaten without a fight! The snake begins to wrap itself around the heron’s beak.
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The snake is wrapped around the heron’s beak!
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The heron had to completely submerge its beak in order to get the snake to release its grip. Now, the snake is limp.
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The heron begins to gulp the snake down the hatch.
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A piece of the tale hangs from the heron’s beak.
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Almost gone!

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The snake lost its battle, and the heron was fed. This was a circle of life moment of nature unfiltered, and I was lucky to be there to capture this epic fight at Wakodahatchee Wetlands!

Resolution #2 Action Plan

Resolution 2: Donate time, money, or skills to raise awareness and help the environment

Action Plan: Donating your time to a cause you care about is one of the greatest gifts you can give to both yourself and the world. Spending time cleaning up a beach or volunteering at a local nature center will allow you to spread your passion and inspire others.

There are many different ways to help the ocean and environment, even if you are busy with a job or with a family.

If you are financially able to donate, there are many great organizations that would welcome your financial support. Most environmental organizations are non-profits, and the success of their programs relies heavily on fundraising.

Sometimes potential donors are apprehensive about donating to organizations and not knowing how the money will be spent. It’s always important to do your research, and there are websites like Charity Navigator that rate charities and provide in-depth reports as to how the funds are allocated so you can make sure your money is going to a reputable organization.

You can also search Amazon wish lists to see if your favorite organization has one. Organizations compile lists of items they are in need of, and you can purchase the item and have it sent directly to the organization of your choosing. (Check out Save-the-Manatee Club’s Amazon Wish List or the Whitney Lab’s Sea Turtle Hospital’s Amazon Wish List.)

Donating your skills is a great way give back while also building your portfolio. Maybe you are a fresh-out-of-college web designer or social media manager. A lot of smaller non-profits don’t have the time or the resources to keep their websites updated. Volunteer your services! You can help an organization, while getting a great piece for your portfolio. If you have a skill, volunteer it.

There are many different ways to make this resolution a reality in 2016. What will you do?

New Year’s Resolution #1 Action Plan

Resolution 1: Reduce personal consumption and output of plastics

Action plan: In our modern lives, it is hard to go a day without touching plastic, especially if you are an on-the-go person. This year, a viral video of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose heartbreakingly showed us that our everyday choices are not without repercussions.  Continue reading New Year’s Resolution #1 Action Plan

What the Frack!?! Fracking in Florida to Continue, Possibly Grow

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:

https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators

You can also contact these key swing votes on the fracking issue:

Senator Jeremy Ring (850) 487-5029 ring.jeremy.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Anitere Flores (850) 487-5037 flores.anitere.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Geraldine F. Thompson (850) 487-501 thompson.geraldine.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Joseph Abruzzo (850) 487-5025 abruzzo.joseph.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Jeff Brandes (850) 487-5022 brandes.jeff.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (850) 487-5040 portilla.miguel.web@flsenate.gov
Senator Tom Lee (850) 487-5024 lee.tom.web@flsenate.gov
Senator David Simmons (850) 487-5010 simmons.david.web@flsenate.gov

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!

See other places that have banned fracking.

Protect Florida: Vote Yes on Amendment 1

On November 4th, 2014, Florida voters will head to the polls to cast their votes in order to decide the future of the state. Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, is an important initiative voters will decide on. If you like clean water, then we recommend voting yes.

Amendment 1 is our last chance to protect Florida’s fragile ecosystems. With climate change becoming more of a threat with each passing day, and the recent revelation that vertebrate populations have declined by more than 50% in just the last forty years, saving our planet and its plants and animals is something we can no longer wait for someone else to do. We the people must stand together, and by simply marking a ballot, we can choose to allocate more than $10 billion dollars to environmental conservation and water protection over the next 20 years, without any increase in taxes. Doing otherwise would be an irreparable act of negligence.

Since 2009, the Legislature has cut funding for land and water protection by 95%! Because our government seemingly does not find clean water all that important, citizens took matters into their own hands to get Amendment 1 on the ballot. Florida’s Water and Land Legacy was established, and within a year and a half, they received more than 700,000 certified signatures that allowed Amendment 1 to be placed on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

So what exactly will this Amendment do? According to the FAQS on the Amendment’s website, the Amendment will guarantee the following:

  • Restore, manage, and acquire lands necessary to protect Florida’s drinking water sources and protect the water quality in our rivers, lakes and streams;
  • Protect our beaches and shores;
  • Protect and restore the Everglades and other degraded natural systems and waterways;
  • Manage fish and wildlife habitat, protect forests and wetlands, and restore conservation lands that are an important part of Florida’s economy and quality of life;
  • Provide funding to manage existing state and local natural areas, parks, and trails for water supply, habitat and recreation.

The money that will allow this to happen will come from Florida’s excise tax on documents, or documentary stamp tax. This is an already established tax generated by documents necessary during the sale of real estate, and Amendment 1 will see to it that 33% of the funds raised by this tax will be used only for conservation purposes. This money will help Florida’s fragile ecosystems, and will combat both land and water pollution, helping to ensure clean and plentiful drinking water for this generation and those to come.

If this Amendment does not pass, the future of Florida and its inhabitants will be at stake. The future of clean drinking water, of our beaches, and of tourism will be uncertain. Will our children know the beauty of the Everglades, will they know of manatees and Key deer, will they be able to traverse trails and play in parks? Let’s answer these questions ourselves, with action, with our voices.

We can no longer rely on our legislators or representatives to do right by us and by the environment. We must do the checking and balancing.

It is up to us to protect our state, our ecosystem, and all of the inhabitants within it, whether they walk on two legs, four legs, or none. We must take action, and the easiest way to do that is to Vote Yes on Amendment 1 on November 4th, 2014.

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Read the Amendment in its entirety below: Continue reading Protect Florida: Vote Yes on Amendment 1

What is Responsible Tourism?

Responsible tourism is about visiting a wonderful location and its local population without impacting it in a negative way.

It is about leaving only footprints in the sand behind, and taking away only memories.

Also known as “sustainable tourism” or “ecotourism,” some people believe that this concept is unattainable, that this is an oxymoron. How can you promote travel and economy that will undoubtedly impact the local environment, while also protecting the environment?

In order for responsible tourism to work, it has to be a collective effort by both the visitors and the locals. Even the smallest consideration, such as picking up your own trash, not leaving cigarette butts in the sand, or even wearing the right suntan lotion can help the environment’s future.

Local businesses and hotels  take measures to be  environmentally friendly as well. Some have implemented green programs, such as putting water-saving fixtures in the bathroom, or asking their guests to ask for new towels only if absolutely  necessary. The Beach Review will seek out these establishments so you can know the eco-conscious hotels and resorts to stay at.

A little bit of environmental consciousness can go a long way. It is also contagious.

The leading scientists all believe that we must act now if we want to  stop global warming. Those of us who have the deeply engrained desire to travel appreciate the world around us, and want our future generations to enjoy the same beauty.

Go green. Travel green. Practice responsible tourism.