Pensacola Beach Blogger

Pictures, News, Reviews, and Info on Pensacola Beach

Archive for the 'Nature' Category

Blue buttons on Pensacola Beach

Usually when a purple flag is flying over Pensacola Beach, it means one thing: the Jellyfish have arrived! We get a number of species out here, some dangerous, some not, but this one I found very interesting. This is a Blue Button. This isn’t actually a jellyfish, but a Chondrophore that we found and put in a pot from the kitchen just long enough to take pictures of. What you’re looking at isn’t a single animal, rather a colony of small polyps, each performing a different role in the colony.

Although these are quite harmless, they may cause slight skin irritation if touched. Here’s what the top looks like:


The Swans of Pensacola Beach

There are several large swans that hang around in the ponds over on the east side of Pensacola Beach. Most of the time, they can be found right out my back door! Judging by the orange and black bill, and white plumage I would guess that these are Mute Swans. They had babies this spring (the babies are called cygnets), but I haven’t seen them in months. I’m thinking they either left the island or were removed from it.

Feeding these swans is risky business. Right up until they were eating, they were hissing and grunting at us:

In this picture, you can clearly see the projection above the bill, characteristic of Mute Swans:

Now they are just getting greedy:

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Gustav is coming

Here on Pensacola Beach, we are starting to see signs of Hurricane Gustav. Although it is scheduled to slam New Orleans to our west, we will still see some impressive weather here on the beach, along with a formidable storm surge. We are currently under a tropical storm warning.

Not the sunniest day on Pensacola Beach:

You can see these strange, low, gray clouds whipping across the island from the north-east:

Hurricane shutters are still going up:

This guy has a quite a challenge ahead of him:

He might have the best view on the island to watch Gustav come in:

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Another walk in Paradise

Every cloud in paradise has a silver lining:

Looks like I’m not the only one out for a walk on the beach:

The rough surf from a few days ago washed up all kinds of shells:

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Great Blue Heron

A few nights ago, before Tropical Storm Fay moved in, i captured this huge bird in my backyard during sunset. This picture is a little blurry. I really need a tripod:

After getting too close he moved up here:

A few minutes later, the heron was gone, and I was left alone with a beautiful Pensacola Beach sunset:

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A bird’s eye view

He’s watching over the Santa Rosa Sound.

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Ghost Crabs

Found this little ghost crab on my walk on the beach the other day.

If you’re gonna try ghost crab hunting, you have to be quick! These guys run at speeds of 10 mph! They also will hide in their holes when they get too close:

Some other fun facts about ghost crabs:

  • They can see 360 degrees with their eyes that stick out from their head, but they can not see directly up. They burrow and hide in the sand during the day to protect themselves from birds.
  • Ghost crab tunnels are about four feet deep!
  • When the sun begins to set, these crabs run to the water to have the water flow over their gills.
  • Ghost crabs hibernate in the winter, and store enough oxygen in sacs near their gills to be able to sleep for six months.

Sea Oats

Keep off the dunes! You’ve probably seen that sign a few places around Pensacola Beach. The dunes protect residents and visitors from storm surges, and most of all, from drifting sand. The sea oats planted all over the dunes help fight erosion, and walking on the dunes doesn’t help this cause. The root structures (more accurately, rhizomes), help hold the dunes together, and walking on them could uproot or damage the plants.

So please remember the ecological reason for these plants and mostly man-made dunes, and use the walkways when visiting the beach.

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Beach Bug [what IS this?]

Found this strange little bug crawling on my back porch today. I spent about an hour online trying to identify it but I’m giving up. The best guess I have is that it is some kind of termite. Click the image for a larger version. If anyone knows better, please leave a comment!

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