One of my Florida missions was to see the fluorescent algae that blooms on certain lagoons in June. Patrick O’Donnell, Environmental Specialist in Fisheries, showed me where to watch for the occasional greenish flashes from bioluminescent creatures that were disturbed by the passage of our boat. Comb jellies made saucer-sized flashes when bumped. That was as good as it got that night because Steve and I had opted for May’s less sultry temps. When the fluorescent algae blooms, it leaves a shimmering wake behind the boat, or even a paddle stroke. Patrick once watched night rain transform a bay into a psychedelic dance floor, every drop bringing shine […]
A dolphin named Tanner whistled wheezy squeals as Emily Guarino, Administrative Director of Research, explained the research games we would ask him to play. Maybe because the sound came from his blowhole instead of his mouth, I couldn’t be sure where it came from. Emily said that the sound is associated with high levels of dopamine, meaning Tanner was indisputably HAPPY. He was excited to play research games with me. Imagine my dopamine level. Many thanks to the dedicated staff at Dolphin Research Center who engineered that joy-fest.
Both of the dolphinariums I visited last week host a couple sea lions amid their extensive dolphin collections. There’s obviously a far greater demand for dolphin time than sea lion. I asked Mary Stella, Director of Media and Marketing at Florida’s Dolphin Research Center what it is about sea lions that makes them less appealing than dolphins. She called that “an invalid question.” Sea lions, she assured me, are charming and so smart that DRC’s Kilo responds to over 150 different requests from his handlers. The only explanation Mary could offer for the disparity in popularity is that no sea lion rock star like Flipper has come forward to inspire mass adoration. I hope you won’t judge me when I admit that […]
Our GPS leads us out of the darkness so unfailingly that when our friend Pat suggested the name Faith, we embraced it. Since then Steve began calling on Faith’s ways of finding reasonable rooms for the night whenever we grow weary. Our March road trip to New Orleans tested Faith on several evenings when pickings were slim, but between our Faith and Pat’s Siri, we found comfortable vacancies. One evening Siri’s Trip Advisor ratings insisted on an inn a good way off our beaten path. Without Faith the complicated cross-town zigzags would have been overwhelming, we didn’t despair. Over a late supper, we plotted our final leg, […]
The name ‘Iberia’ came up a number of times in the planning of our New Orleans road trip and always made me wonder if it was the New Iberia I’ve come to know and love through the writings of James Lee Burke. Sure enough, when we walked into the small town visitor’s center, there was a poster inviting aspiring novelists to a workshop. New Iberia, it seems, is a mystery lovers’ mecca. That’s how good Burke is. If you love books with such a strong sense of place that you feel you’ve lived there, give Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series a try. The Neon Rain kicks it […]
When Mom was two or three, she told her mother something that sounded like “yammer yada blaa boo” to my busy grandmother. Mom put on her mother’s high heels, packed up the cat and a little rocking chair and set off to visit her grandfather who lived three-quarters of a mile or so up the road. But Mom didn’t take the road, she dragged the chair and cat cross-country through ditches and fences, gulches and cactus. Her mother enjoyed the quiet for a while then realized what was missing and panicked. Mom’s father had no trouble following the high-heeled […]