Have you watched Ocean Frontiers yet?

Ocean Frontiers is a movie you cannot miss the opportunity to watch. If not because you are genuinely interested in a film that outlines the transition of thought from the “the outlook is grim for the future of the ocean” to “there is a light at the end of the tunnel for our ocean“, then watch it because it’s always a pleasure to view any work of art that is clearly a labor of love as this obviously was for producers Ralf and Karen Meyer.

The movie takes you across the country (Washington State, New England, the Gulf of Mexico) and shares stories of the movement of scientists, farmers, fishermen, government agencies, and businesses as they come together for long-term solutions with the understanding that there is prosperity through preservation. Now that “jellyfish are often the catch of the day”, “many of the largest fish have been caught”, and “most of the world’s coral reefs are bleached and dying” there is recognition that the “sea is not boundless”.

Below is a clip from the movie illustrating how the Florida Keys were transformed and revitalized through this attitude of cooperation and that the mentality that the long-term outlook is best for all. How I loved watched this part as it reminded me of my days in Florida for graduate school!

What they’re into … with Brittany Biber (Sea turtle trainer)

I am sure you know by now, but this is a series I have been featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peek at the different personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions to some folks I know and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. Here you get a glimpse into what one of my old co-workers who is lucky enough to interact with sea turtles everyday is into, introducing Brittany Hascup Biber.

Brittany works at Florida Oceanographic Society’s Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island in the Aquarium and Life Support Department. Her responsibilities include food preparation, quarantine treatments, and medication dispersal for all the marine life property. The animals on site range from estuarine species such as snook and red drum to sharks, rays, and smaller reef species. In addition to the gilled animals, she also cares for three non-releasable sea turtles, two green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and one loggerhead (Caretta caretta). All of the sea turtles on site have been deemed non-releasable due to buoyancy issues. Lily, the 140lb loggerhead, was struck by a boat and has deep scars on her carapace that serve as a good reminder to why obeying boating rules and regulations is so important. Turt, the 90lb green turtle pictured right, has a spastic intestine and must be administered medication every other day to allow him to swim through the water column with ease. Hank the smallest is still a juvenile and weighs around 50lbs. He has carapace deformities that probably led to his floatation problems. Because these turtles will never be released back into the wild they must get accustomed to interactions with their caretakers so that they are calm and receptive when they need to be fed, weighed, or cleaned. She have been in charge of the training and care of the turtles on site since they each arrived here. Each turtle has its own colored “target” that they have been trained to respond to. When the target is placed in the water the corresponding turtle swims over and receives its food and medicine if needed. The training is done every day for all the turtles and it allows her to have daily interactions and alone time with each turtle away from the other animals housed in the 750,000 gallon lagoon they call home. Training the turtles is always the best part of her day, and she says she may be tooting her own horn but she think it is the turtles’ favorite time of day as well (probably since she’s feeding them). When she graduated from college she hoped to work in the animal husbandry field and she is proud to be doing just that. So even though most days she smell like fish and squid she get a chance to interact with species most people rarely get to see and she says she learns something new about them everyday and it makes all the stinky stuff worth it. Brittany has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Central Florida. You can reach Brittany at bbiber@floridaocean.org.

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
An overpriced bikini.

 What is your favorite fruit flavor?
It’s a tie between watermelon and pineapple.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Night owl, I love sleeping and my bed always seems super comfy when I have to get up for work.

What is your favorite room in your home?
My back porch that overlooks the river, I love watching the wading birds like the Eastern oystercatcher and great blue heron feed on the shore. 

What is your favorite scent?
Coconut, because it makes you smell like you’ve been at the beach all day.

What is your favorite pastime?
Going on the boat with my husband; it’s nice just being with each other away from the responsibilities that wait for us on land.

Thank you for participating, Brittany! It was a honor to read about your interesting day at work.

Don’t forget to read the rest of the “What they’re into …” series.

Two eggs and a side of glasswort, please

Salicornia virginica

Image by stonebird via Flickr

While I was trolling the aisles of Whole Foods the other day, I stumbled upon a familiar salt marsh plant known as glasswort (Salicornia virginica). When I would lead early morning nature walks along the beaches in Florida this marsh herb was a plant I enjoyed finding! Here’s the interesting anecdote I’d share with my sunrise hikers.

Glasswort, also known as poorman’s asparagus or marsh samphire, can be eaten boiled or pickled in vinegar. Early settlers in Florida cooked and pickled glasswort because of its high salt content. The salty stems are the edible part of this plant.

For centuries, glassworts was collected and burned to create an ash rich in soda (impure sodium carbonate). The ash was then baked and fused with sand to make crude glass, consequently, provided reason for the glassworts main common name.

Another reason this plant got its most popular common name, glasswort, is that when someone steps on a bed of this plant, it sounds like they’re walking on broken glass.

Glasswort is common along beach dunes and salt march flats on the east and west coasts of the U.S. It is easily recognizable with its cactuslike bright green stem, tiny red flowers, scale-like leaves. It is particularly well suited to live along the coast because it has a thick waxy skin that protects itself from the salt water spray. Another glasswort adaptation to help in this rather harsh climate is the addition of vacuoles within their root cells that lock up to prevent salt from being absorbed through its roots. Glasswort is usually only 4-12 inches long and has a horizontal main stem with lateral branches. Be careful you don’t trip on this matted down plant!
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‘I’m a Manatee’ by John Lithgow

Save the Manatee Club

Image via Wikipedia

Back in 2003 Janice Nearing, Media Relations Coordinator with Save the Manatee, interviewed John Lithgow about his new book I’m a Manatee. Here is an excerpt (click here for the full interview).

Q: Your new book, I’m a Manatee, has a Seuss-ian feel to it, with rhyming verses and fun illustrations. Does your playful side make it easy for you to write children’s’ stories?

A: I think everybody has a playful side, but kids especially. My book writing grew out of entertaining kids, the best audience an actor could hope for. They bring the playful side out in me.

Q: As you know, manatees are an endangered species. Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?

A: I’m very concerned for the future of the earth and its amazing creatures. We’ve got to be careful and make sure we don’t foul our own nest. But I also have a lot of faith in people.

Q: Your book portrays the manatee as a noble creature in the face of countless human-created dangers.

A: The manatee is such a wonderful animal, gentle, graceful, a little comical. It’s important for everyone to know all about them.

Q: If you were a manatee, what message would you have for humanity?

A: Take care, be kind, be considerate of other people and other species, and be loving.


Yes, this is the same man that won an Emmy for his portrayal as the ‘Trinity Killer’ on Dexter.

Related link:

10 facts about manatees

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