Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Walk on Jensen Beach, Florida.

Dec. 25, 2013
I had notions of beginning this blog with an account of an edible weeds course taken on December 15th. That installment is coming!
Today, following a cold front late on Monday and an incursion of cooler drier air after some rain yesterday, the Trade winds (subtropical easterlies) re-established themselves, as the clouds pushed to the south. The Trades bring the warm humid weather, that characterizes south Florida, from Lake Okeechobee, south through the Florida Keys.
The stiff onshore breezes, and the relatively cooler temperatures made it an ideal afternoon to walk Jensen Beach in Martin County. I ventured out for a few hours at 1 PM, and managed a 4 mile (6.5 kms) round trip on the low tide. Low tide allows a beach walker to use the relatively harder sand surface reached by the high tide surf.
I hoped to see something my daughter, Ilana, observed on the same day a year ago:

The Shark that Ilana saw jumping on the beach a year ago was likely a Spinner Shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna) (a Florida State Parks Biologist told me it was a Torsion Shark, same idea, same fish).

The following text from Wikipedia:


Spinner sharks feed primarily on small bony fishes, including tenpounders, sardines, herring, anchovies, sea catfish, lizardfish, mullets, bluefish, tunas, bonito, croakers, jacks, mojarras, and tongue-soles. They have also been known to eat stingrays, cuttlefish, squid, and octopus. Groups of spinner sharks are often found pursuing schools of prey at high speed. Individual prey are seized and swallowed whole, as this shark lacks cutting dentition. This species employs an unusual tactic when feeding on schools of small fish: the shark charges vertically through the school, spinning on its axis with its mouth open and snapping all around it. The shark's momentum at the end of these spiraling runs often carries it into the air, giving it its common name The blacktip shark also performs this behavior, though not as often Off Madagascar, spinner sharks follow migrating schools of mackerel, tunas, and jacks. Like blacktip sharks, they congregate around shrimp trawlers to feed on the discarded bycatch, and may be incited into feeding frenzies.

Photo Credit

On March 8, 2013, news reports reported “thousands” of these and black tip sharks from Boca Raton to Jupiter, Florida. Beaches were closed, as a precaution.

Today however, nary a shark was seen.

I did find some of the South Atlantic's botanical travelers. I will follow up after an expert confirms the ID.

The next is one of the common travelers in tropical seas. If it lands on a lonely beach, a lovely coconut palm results.


I also saw several red Mangrove propagules. These are my favourites. They are a little “seedling” which, like the Coconut Palm, travels the worlds south seas and anchors itself along shorelines, forming dense shoreline vegetation, with characteristic prop roots.

Moving along the shore, this time of the year in South Florida, even with large numbers of sunbathers on the beach, you will see birds. Typically, Brown Pelicans, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, the comedic Sanderlings, and Ruddy Turnstones will be seen. Offshore, terns, especially Royal Terns, and Osprey hunt for fish. If you are a shore fisher, look for feeding terns, pelicans and osprey. That is where the fish will be.

Sanderlings, a small sandpiper which nests in the far north, spends the fall, winter and early spring along the Atlantic shore, feeding on small crustaceans and other small organisms in the surf.

Sunbathers love to watch their antics, as they rush away from oncoming waves, and rush back to feed in the receding surf.

The Ring-billed Gull, pictured above, is the common inland gull around the Great Lakes. Quite a few spend time on the beach begging for handouts from beach-goers, along with their Laughing Gull cousins.