Nature Niche: It’s the Year of the Men-Of-War

Nature Niche pic-3-1-12

Special to the Parade

Scarlet Colley

Scarlet Colley

Lots of excitement around the beaches and bay this week as Mother Nature works her wonders.

First of all, the little globby orange things being found on the beach, when you find one, dig a little hole in the sand and fill it with salt water, or a cup of salt water or even in your cupped hands. Place the orange glob in the water and presto, watch it come to life as a gorgeous sargasso nudibranch.

Look it up, it’s a wonderful creature, but it doesn’t look like much out of water. But in water it’s awesome. I would not recommend playing with the sargasso seaweed right now to see what wonderful creatures come ashore with it, as it is filled with tentacles of the Portuguese men-of-war.

Currents and winds just right to concentrate huge amounts of wandering men-of-war have brought them to the shores of this part of the gulf. This is the end of their life cycle but their sting keeps on stinging even while they are dying beached.

Vast numbers of this stinging vagabond of the ocean slid into the bay with the incoming tides. I have been on the bay waters now for almost two decades, and it is a first for me to see so many enter the Laguna. Even the dolphins were agitated about the whole affair as they had to swim through them all. They stayed down under as long as they could, but you could see them thrash as the long tentacles would catch on their faces or backs.

They were not happy about this, and neither were the diving ducks and grebes or cormorants. It is definitely the year of the men-of-war. This is a good time to look for that gorgeous purple shell that feeds on the men-of-war. There should be lots of them from the size of pinheads to as big as a thumbnail. They are very fragile and delicate.

I have been watching the man o wars in the bay for a unique fish that lives in and around the long tentacles. The men-of-war are silver and metallic blue and are immune to the stings much like a clown fish to this anemone. There were so many men-of-war in the bay that I even worried about Rozzi, if he should fall in he would have surely been stung by some as he swam back to the boat. I wondered how dogs being walked on the beach avoid getting stung. It is a wallop of a sting.

And of course the best thing for us dolphin lovers this week is Mohawk, and her girl group is back from wherever they went for a few months. She looks wonderful and was so happy to see one of her best friends who did not leave with her, Dink. Wow, did they play with us, happy to see us too.

There are lots of good photos on my Facebook, Scarlet Colley, Dolphinwhisper, and to top it off a Glaucous Gull showed up.

Here is my photo of it.

It is a second winter bird, pink legs, pink bill with a black tip, larger than our wintering Herring Gull and hope it stays around for a while so everyone who needs that bird on their list can get it. It’s gorgeous. Gotta love it.

Call for your nature tour with Dolphinwhisper at (956) 299-1957 or visit Lovin’ our nature niche.

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