Thursday Treat- Turtles!

I had a real treat yesterday! I got to go to NOAAs research facility in Galveston and learn all about what they’re doing with the sea turtles there.

I only found out about this whole thing last week. I happened to Google ‘things to do in Galveston” and one of the things listed was a sea turtle tour. I had known about the turtles in the back of my mind, since I’ve known about the turtle patrol and the efforts to protect the turtles along our beaches.

When I heard of this tour, I thought it would be interesting, so I called and signed up.

They only have the tours on Thursdays, and you have to make an appointment beforehand. It’s free. πŸ™‚

Apparently I got there a little late (tho not by my watch). The room was full and they were already discussing all sorts of things about the program. Tip: Arrive early!

The tours are put on by volunteers. Thursday’s presentation was led by the team of John and Lynn Wright- “master naturalists”. They did a great job of explaining the situation with sea turtles today and what NOAA is doing with them in Galveston.

They started with a slide show explaining the facts that there are 7 total species of sea turtles and 5 of them can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. Those include (from smallest to largest): Kemp’s ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback.

They showed us how to tell what kind of turtle we see (if they have 4 ‘scutes’ they’re either green or hawksbill, if they have 5 they’re either Kemp’s ridley or loggerhead- leatherback doesn’t have any).

They described turtle life cycles and what kind of food they liked to eat. They showed some amazing movies of the arribada from the late 1950’s. Thousands of female sea turtles arriving on the Texas beaches.

Then they showed a slide telling the sad story of their decline since we’ve become more ‘advanced’. Decimating all 7 of the turtle species, by eating their eggs, catching them in nets while fishing for other species, killing them with our pollution (especially plastic), destroying their habitat…

They also mentioned a few things we can do to help protect the turtles. Mainly- reduce your use of resources, especially plastic. Dispose of trash properly. Reuse and recycle. Help clean up the beaches and waterways. Take care with your fishing gear. If you see a sea turtle, its tracks or nest on the beach call 1-866-TURTLE-5Β 

I learned yesterday that the Kemp’s ridley has been designated the official state sea turtle of Texas. The Wrights informed us that in 1985 there were 400 nests after a large drop in numbers, in 2017 there were 353. They found 3 right here in Surfside (and 1 on Quintana)! They said there’s been some recovery. I hope so.

After the slide show, the Wrights led us over to the turtle barn where we could see all the little turtles. First, we got a chance to see how a TED (turtle excluder device) works. The kids were happy to run through the net and escape- acting as surrogate sea turtles. πŸ˜‰

NOAA has kind of a conflict of interest here. They are supposed to help the fishermen, and they are supposed to help the sea turtles. They are doing a lot of studies to try and come up with answers to solve many issues surrounding our ocean resources.

One of those studies is to do with testing TEDs. The objective is to find a way to increase the survival rates of any sea turtles (and other by catch) that get caught up in a shrimp boats net. The turtles in the turtle barn are all about 1.5 years old. They’re raised in Galveston til they get to be about 2. Then they are sent over to Florida for the tests.

They’re placed in larger tanks and allowed a few weeks/months to acclimatize themselves. Then they’re taken out to sea and working with a team of shrimpers, divers, and scientists the turtles are run through the nets, out the TEDs and collected again afterwards. After the turtle finishes its run through the TED, it’s released to the wild. The scientists will use the data to refine the TEDs and other fishing gear.

The barn was full of turtles (hawksbills), at least a few dozen, all about 1-2 ft long. They swam around in small plastic containers set inside larger tanks of filtered seawater. We were warned not to touch the turtles or put our hands in the water (it’s a ‘federal offense’). If something fell in the water, they would have to drain the whole tank and replace the water due to concerns about contamination. πŸ™

I felt kind of sad for all those little turtles, swimming around in their tiny little tanks, but they told us that if they were all allowed to swim together they would fight and/or eat each other. They said the turtles didn’t notice or care that they were stuck in such small containers, they would circle around forever and never know the difference. I suppose, but I still felt bad for them. πŸ™

I also wondered why they weren’t raising more turtles- in a breeding program. Like they did with the whooping cranes down in Port Aransas. I’d hate to see the turtles go extinct. With only 353 nests (of Kemp’s ridleys) on the Texas beaches last year it wouldn’t take much to wipe them out. I asked John about it. He said in Texas the focus was on finding nests and moving them to Padre Island which was safer for them and where they’d be released to return later. There were other programs around the world that raised the turtles for a higher survival rate on release.

I recommend the turtle tour for anyone interested in marine science or sea turtles. The Wrights were very knowledgeable and great with answering any and all questions. Hopefully the research done there at NOAA will help more sea turtles survive (and also help the fishermen with better results and less bycatch). I’d love to see more turtles out at sea and maybe even find a nest on the beach one day. It would be fantastic to see an arribada like the one in the film they showed us. Let’s hope we can make that happen. πŸ™‚

This looks like the video they showed, but there was no sound and they said the video was taken in Texas. This video is from Mexico it might be a different one. I found it on youtube.

PS- This is my Just Jot it January post for today. πŸ˜‰ Today’s prompt is: memories. Well, they’re only a day or so old, but I think they count. πŸ™‚

Arts & Antiques in Galveston

My friend D called the other day and invited me on a trip up to Galveston for the day. We decided to leave around 1000 so we wouldn’t get there ‘too early’ or stay ‘too late’. Our friend B, the artist, wanted to check out a place she had heard about to show some of her art.

I was all for that. I have been working on some arty stuff myself lately. I found a couple of places to show some of my work a couple of months ago. I was curious to see if there had been any interest (at all) in my work.

It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot yet when we left. We got stuck in some of the cruise ship traffic on the way in, but found our regular parking place near the Strand (only $10/day). There are a lot of interesting shops in that area of town so we checked out a few.

Lots of really touristy stuff right on the Strand, but wander off it a little and there are more small businesses with local people trying some cool projects. One of those is the place I have some of my paintings and photos- From the Heart Gallery. They show all different kinds of work from at least 20 different artists. They also play good music and have classes for kids. πŸ™‚

While we were there, S told us about a new place -Metamorphosis- just opened across the street. We wandered over to take a look and had a nice conversation with Liz who is really excited about getting her shop up and running. Looks like both B and I will have another place to work with. πŸ™‚

We were getting hungry and since we were right there, we decided to give the Star Drug Store a try. They had a really interesting window display with all the old ads, pills, and elixirs from way back when. It claims to be the oldest drug store in Texas. It feels like an old fashioned soda fountain inside. Looking over their menus, I can see why it’s so popular.

We showed up right at the end of lunch hour, but it was still packed. We sat at the bar since there were no open tables. D had already ordered and B wasn’t hungry. I ordered a cheeseburger (my favorite meal) with a chocolate float. πŸ™‚ The cheeseburger would have been 10 times better if they had grilled the bun. Considering how long it took to get it, I didn’t want to ask them to take it back. I ate most of it anyway. πŸ™‚

Their ice cream sundays, floats and cakes really got my stomach growling, but since I already had a chocolate shake I passed on dessert. Diets suck!

I love this sign!

After fortifying ourselves, we started making our way over to the place B wanted to see, on Broadway and 22nd St. D and me were taking pictures of everything. I especially like all the really cool architecture. Lots of different building styles, from classical to island bungalow.

Along the way, we stopped in to check out a few art and antique shops. Lots of really neat stuff! If I was rich…

But I’m broke. So. I had to adhere to my budget and not buy anything but ice cream. πŸ™‚

B bought a cute little statue of a meerkat. D bought a couple of small mementos in one of the antique shops. My taste is too expensive, I would have bought a beautiful ruby ring (if I had still been working).

I think we were all kind of disappointed in how quiet it was. It just seemed dead. I know a lot of people haven’t returned to Galveston after the devastation of hurricane Ike, but it’s been almost 10 years now. I would’ve thought more people would have shown up by now. For a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon, the whole place seemed deserted.

these plaques all around the Strand refer to the 1900 Great Storm- not Ike

We’re planning to go back up there in a week or so. I need to change out some of my art at the From the Heart Gallery and maybe I’ll be able to put some across the street at Metamorphosis too. B is hoping to get a shot at making a sign for them too. πŸ™‚

I was really hoping to hear some good news, that something of mine had sold. But nothing yet. The area around the Strand is becoming known as an arty kind of place. They have ‘art walks’ every 6 weeks. Those can bring in some crowds. We are going to try to make the next one.

G is for Galveston- #AtoZChallenge

G” is for Galveston. It’s the closest city of any size to me. I consider the Houston/Galveston/Freeport area my stomping grounds now a days.

When I first moved to Texas (almost 40 years ago), I used to really enjoy just wandering around. I moved here to go to college, so I had a bunch of friends I met in class to hang out with. We were all in the Ocean Marine Technology program (except a couple of outlier art students). So we all had an interest in boats.

We used to go up to Galveston all the time. For SCUBA class, for RADAR class, to the US Coast Guard office there. We always used to enjoy trying out new bars and restaurants on the way home.

I don’t get around anywhere near as much as I used to. Last time I went up to Galveston was with those 2 old artist friends from school. πŸ™‚ We wanted to check out the art galleries and take a look around the Strand.

We found a couple of really neat artists, had a nice lunch, checked out all the interesting shops on the Strand, and avoided spending a fortune on some of the really cool nautical ‘junk’ I saw (or even more beautiful art- of which I already have a house full of).

Funny, but with all the changes around here, Galveston and especially the Strand still seems pretty much the same as it was when I first saw it.

Saw Them- Barely

Went to see the turtles today (see here). Got to see them- barely. Too tired to give full report today.

Check back tomorrow.

See Sea Turtles on Thursday!

I just got this email from the Houston Zoo (I’m a member). They’ve been helping to save sea turtles with other organizations around the world. This Thursday (May 26th), they’re turning some loose on the beach in Galveston. πŸ™‚

If you’re anywhere around the area, it would be a real treat to come out and watch. Here’s the announcement I got…

Watch Sea Turtles Return to WildΒ 

Thanks to a rewarding partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), nine injured sea turtles have been rehabilitated and are ready to be returned to the wild. The release will take placeΒ Thursday, May 26Β promptly at 2:00 p.m.Β atΒ Stewart Beach Park, 201 Seawall Blvd. The public is invited to come out and witness this exciting release.
I’m going to put it on my calendar and take another drive up to Galveston. That is, IF the weather is better than the last time I was up there! πŸ˜‰
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I went to see the turtles when I was in Nicaragua too, but it was too dark to see much. I hope the weather holds and I can really see them this time.

Icicle Races

I went to the Sail La Vie meetup last week hoping to sign up to go sailing on Saturday. I haven’t had the time to go out for quite a while and was really looking forward to taking a leisurely cruise around the bay.

I was really disappointed when I found out that they didn’t have enough people signed up to charter a boat for the group. Luckily, one of the members had a boat entered in the upcoming Icicle Race and offered a spot onboard to me and the 2 others who had been looking to go out on Saturday.

I had never been in a race and was a little apprehensive about it all. I wasn’t really enthused about the idea of rushing around, tweaking the sails for every tiny little advantage we could get out of the boat. I’m MUCH more into just relaxing and enjoying a day on the water. Listening to the soft sound of the waves passing by and the calls of the seagulls following for scraps as we drink some wine and dispose of our uneaten chips. πŸ™‚

I think we must have got lucky. The wind was very light to start, only about 4-6 kts and then for a while it dropped off to nothing. The whole fleet was becalmed. I’ve never been in that situation, a couple of dozen boats all drifting together, so close you could reach across to share a beer.

The wind picked up a little bit just as we were coming up to the first mark. We slid around on the inside of a big bunch of boats and managed to skip ahead of the crowd. It was pretty exciting there for a few minutes. πŸ˜‰

The crowd thinned out as we made for the next mark, but as we closed in on it, the boats bunched up again. Everyone was trying to cut it as close as possible. We heard a loud bang and CRUNCH ahead of us and watched as a couple of boats tried to get their fenders in place, but it was too late. I’m not sure how much damage was done, but ANY work done on a boat is expensive!

We made that turn on the inside of another big bunch of boats and then made for the finish line. The wind was shifting so we had to tack a few times. It was a challenge to try and figure out how far to go on a tack before coming back to the course for the finish line. I think we made some time up with good estimates on that part of the race too.

As we were coming in to the finish line (between markers 1-2 to Kemah), we were cut off by another boat. They cut right in front of our bow and I don’t know how we managed not to have a collision. I don’t know what they were thinking on that boat, but as we were yelling at them, they called back to us that WE were supposed to stay out of their way. Huh????

Overtaking vessel is ALWAYS the give way vessel!

After that last shot of adrenaline, we took in the jib and headed back in to the marina. We made it home in one piece, without any damage, and I think we did pretty damn good! Capt Vic said we did better then ever before (in this race) and I know we still had a pretty big bunch of boats still out there behind us when we hit the finish line. πŸ™‚

Getting Moody

I’ve only been home a few days so far. I’ve been really busy trying to catch up with everything that’s been needing to get done while I was at work over the last few weeks. Especially my TAXES (UGH)!! πŸ™

I decided I needed a break. I got free tickets to “SHARKS After Hours” at Moody Gardens. I’m going. πŸ™‚

Moody Gardens is in Galveston and the show is from 7-10 pm. I know I’m not going to feel like driving all the way home at that hour, so I got a hotel for the night. I figure I can hang out for a while before I head home and then stop and see my friends at Surfside on the way home.

I hope to get some more decent pictures while I’m up there, (these are from last time I went).

Moody Gardens has a bunch of cool stuff to see. They have a ‘rain forest pyramid’, an ‘aquarium pyramid’, another one that has special exhibits (last time I went it was about pirates), a water park with nice white sandy beach, zip lines, a paddle boat, etc.

I don’t have any kids but apparently it’s a great place to take them. I always see lots of families. They all look like they’re having a good time. πŸ™‚

green sea anemone

green sea anemone

underbelly of a sea star

underbelly of a sea star

sea dragon

sea dragon

pot bellied sea horse

pot bellied sea horse

puffer fish

puffer fish

sea turtle

sea turtle

chameleon

chameleon

penguins

penguins

orchids DSC04855