Pleasant Surprises in Season 2014

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Certain things we see nearly every tour, but sometimes, we will be surprised by an animal I don’t get to see every day. This is a reason why my job will never get old.

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Bald Eagle Pair on Shell Island
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Juvenile Bald Eagle

 

I took this picture one of the fist times I saw this pair of Bald Eagles. I have since seen them fairly often. This pair has a nest on shell island. I have also seen the fledgling quite a bit.

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Endangered Green Sea Turtle

Most of the sea turtles we see here are call the Loggerhead Sea Turtles. It was surprising to see this fellow in the area, especially so close too us. This Green Sea turtle came out of no where as the boat was at anchor, as half of us were enjoying snorkeling a local reef and the rest of us were taking photos and learning about local wildlife nearby.

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Horse Conch found by Captain Lorraine

A good find in our bay! This is a huge predatory Snail. It is the largest mollusk in Florida and it is the State Shell. It has been known to weigh 11 lbs!

 

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Sea Horse found snorkeling. Held out of the water for quick picture only. Released unharmed.

This is called the Lined Sea horse, the one above is the largest one I have found yet.

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Captain Lorraine with dead coral.

During our interactive snorkeling program I found these big chunks of dead coral. I decided to leave them in the bay since I noticed that there were tiny crabs living in them.

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Rare Blue Tang fish (type of surgeon fish)

The beautiful Blue Tang is a poisonous fish (to eat). It can change its color from a light blue to purple. We see a lot of colorful fish in the warmer months. Tropical fish like these are brought up to North Florida from the Gulf Stream and travel South in the winter.

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Electric Ray

All living creatures create electricity, even you and me. The animal above, the electric ray, has special organs that can store electricity like a battery. These organs can deliver a shock as a means of self defense of up to 37 volts. This animal is not aggressive and is of little danger to humans.

It is closely related to stingrays and sharks.

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Manatee

Although increasingly more common in North Florida, this is still not something you see here every day. This highly intelligent animal is very vulnerable to boat strikes. If you are boating in Florida, and are lucky enough to see a Manatee, please be careful and respectful to these creatures.

It may surprise you that these marine mammals are closely related to Elephants. They are also vegetarians, who graze on sea grasses.

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Hammerhead shark off of the coast of Shell Island

I hope this picture doesn’t scare anyone away! We do see sharks on our tours. Normally they are not quite this big though, normally, on calm days, I can find cute little guys which aren’t scary looking at all. This shark above however, was 10 plus feet long, and didn’t seem to mind us at all.

 


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