Saturday, September 22, 2012

Soak it in... a little break

I'm taking a little break to do some traveling.  Not long,and no place exotic; I'll be back before you even know it.  However, I thought I'd mention it because my internet access will be very limited. The other happy vegan will be holding down the fort at home. He's not a fan of writing, so he won't fill in the blanks on the blog and facebook. Can't blame him about that. I'm pretty much unplugged, but if I do happen upon an internet cafe, maybe I'll step inside to an update here and there, but don't expect much, ok?
Now, onto other stuff.  Last night we were at that Save a Turtle fundraiser.  It was also a fundraiser for the Marathon Wild Bird Center.  I met two raptors at the event, one a red shouldered hawk, the other a kestrel.  The red shouldered hawk had one wing.  Turns out when the hawk was about 9 months old, he was electrocuted and suffered massive injuries to one wing.  Actually, the injury was the "hand", but infection set in, so eventually the one entire wing was amputated.  What a beautiful raptor.  It was sad to hear that this beautiful bird tries every day to fly.  Every day. He is very well cared for, I do believe there must be some dismay within that little soul not being able to soar high in the sky though.
The other bird was a kestrel. That bird was actually captive raised in Cuba. Not really sure the circumstances of the Wild Bird Center coming upon this bird, but basically since this little bird has the captivity history, she has lost her instinct to hunt.  She would not survive if let go.  Mostly these birds are used for education.  I don't really think that's exploitation, and the work the Wild Bird Center does is extremely important. Their main goals are rescue, rehab and release; they certainly do a lot of that. If you haven't been to the Wild Bird Center in Marathon, you really should make a point of it next time you're in the Keys.
While I'm away, I'm going to have a full schedule for most of the time.  I expect to have some things to report when I return, and I also expect that I should have some nice pictures to share.  While I'm away I will also be attending a vegan festival, admittedly I'm very excited about that.  I hope to meet some of my "idols," expect to eat some amazing food, see some of the friends I've made through the years at Deer Run who also have vegan businesses around the country who will have booths at the festival, shop, attend some presentations, and listen to some great live music. It's been several years since I've been to a festival like this, and I'm looking forward to it.
I hope you don't forget me while I'm gone, and that you enjoy some of my old blog posts in my absence.  I'll be calling home frequently, and also checking in on Good Hope who is still recovering at the Turtle Hospital. I hope you all have a great few days.

Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup 2012 and other goings on

When more than a week passes with a post from me, you can trust that I am busy.  I'm going to post about our participation in last week's annual International Coastal Cleanup, but first I'd like to just bring you up to date on what's new... since you've asked.

Good Hope is still with us!  She is making slow progress, but it is still forward progress.  She has laid not quite 60 of her eggs so far.  She is still far from being out of the woods, but paraphrasing what Dr. Mader told me "Good Hope is reminding us what turtle time is, and how to be patient."  Basically he is saying that Good Hope is on her own schedule, slow, yes... but patience and optimism are key words with Good Hope.  You can continue to follow along with her updates at the Turtle Hospital website

We had a media shoot here this week.  It was a big one.  Many time the words "get the cat!" "can someone please remove the cat?!" "there's the cat.... move him!"  "CAT!" were uttered by the crew. Peri was of course wondering what the heck was going on in his airspace and he wouldn't let a moment go by without patrolling and/or approving the action.  I think it was amusing, I'm not sure what those who were here working thought of it all considering "time is money" is a photo shoot mantra.  No worries in Peri's world = no worries in my world.

We popped up to Cabana Breezes in Marathon tonight for a fundraiser to benefit Save a Turtle of the Florida Keys and the Marathon Wild Bird Center.  For your information, since the heavy seas and high winds of July blew through, we've had no turtle action on our beach at all.  Not one flipper has come ashore.  While Isaac was merely a tropical storm when darkening our beaches here, the storm caused great erosion on several beaches.  Although the beaches are still being patrolled, we are not expecting any more nesting.  Unless things change, this year will be the poorest year to my knowledge for nesting activity on our beach.  1 crawl and 1 nest. No hatches.  None.  We are very sad by this.  Although nesting numbers in the Keys appear to be down, I've heard that the numbers are very good on the mainland.  Also, we cannot become completely despondent, there IS still hope for a nest.  Never give up.

Last Saturday we participated in the annual Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup.  This was our 7th year participating.  Although we constantly do beach cleaning in various areas, the ICC event is important because the trash collected is counted, sorted and the data sent to the Ocean Conservancy for analysis and research.

We're far from perfect... we use plastic too.  There's pretty much no escaping it.  However, we reduce our use as much as possible.  And, we always always ALWAYS dispose of trash responsibly. We study the packaging before we buy it (can we recycle it? do we REALLY need that item?) We recycle.  We compost.  And, we reuse/re purpose objects.

Here's how things rolled, in photos:

Dug this out of the wrack with a pitchfork.  TV/VCR combo.
I do believe the lettering was in French.
Plastic, Plastic, Plastic!

Since I've got boots, I head out through the sea grass, over the flats, through the muck and mud...
some areas are very difficult to access.
But, I get it done.


Lure w/monofilament attached.
Deadly to marine mammals and shore birds.

Balloons should be illegal. They do NOT biodegrade.
What goes up, must come down....
and be eaten by wildlife that die.

Another freakin' balloon.... same release, I'm sure.
Same color ribbon.
Never ending rope and line entangled around mangrove roots.
Me, boots and a knife and it's a done deal.... with some elbow grease.

More rope and line.
It never ends. 

Screw You Toby Keith.... and use a glass thank you very much!

The tide was up during our cleanup.
This is what parts of where we were looked like.
Plastic bags, sheeting, balloons, etc... it all ends up wrapped around mangroves,
in drains, in the ocean, inside an animals gut.
Do your part to reduce your plastic use,
and make sure you always dispose of what you do use responsibly!

It's a small world after all...
It's a small, small world.
1 minute on the lips, forever in the mangroves.

This was the largest item hauled in. I crawled across the flats to retrieve this...
not sure what it is; underneath it has a metal frame.
It was solid wood, and waterlogged. Weight: approx 50 lbs.
Trash 0 - Me 1
Here's some of the stuff stacked at the street waiting for collection.

This is what I love to see... NOT a red solo cup, thank you very much.
(Toby, pul-ease!!!! enough already!!! give it up!)

Oh  yes, the beautiful sea lavender on the dunes!

Monarch butterfly at work on the dune!

Beautiful black coral.  Hello Kevin, we miss you.

Some of the sea beans I found during the clean up, hooray!

I love these tube sponges!

Although there's been great erosion from Isaac at this beach site shown,
as well as thick sea grass waiting to be washed out with the tides... we've gotten all the trash!
All that remains are sponges, driftwood and other natural stuff.
What a beautiful sight!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 - We Remember

Words fail me, so here's a video.

We will never forget.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Good Hope - A Turtle Story

An entire week has passed since I posted; that almost never happens.  Over the course of the last week, we've been exceptionally busy, although I'm not sure doing what.  Most of you can probably understand that though, right?  Happens to the best of us!  I'd like to tell you a story about something going on with a special turtle at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon right now.

Tropical Storm Isaac brought some havoc to animal life through the Caribbean.  One of those victims is an endangered hawksbill sea turtle.  It seems an adult egg-laden female was found on a beach, gravely injured, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  She has myriad problems, not the least of which is two very bad wounds to her shoulders. Although no one can know for sure what happened, suspicions are that she became entangled in fishing gear, and then was gaffed repeatedly so the gear could be retrieved.  After gaffing (if you don't know what that means, look it up, its horrible) she was likely tossed back to the sea as an afterthought to die.  Eventually this turtle took a beating through Isaac, and ultimately washed up on a beach in the Virgin Islands.  She was found and treatment attempted there, but her injuries were beyond what could be handled locally. Through a fortuitous set of circumstances, the Turtle Hospital in Marathon was contacted; the turtle was flown from the Virgin Islands to Miami, and then the transported via turtle ambulance to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida Keys.  She is there now.  She has been named "Good Hope."

So, Good Hope is in Marathon being treated.  Her condition is very critical, although she has managed to survive the first few days here, which many thought would not happen.  Hawksbill turtles are endangered.  This particular turtle is full of eggs that she didn't get a chance to lay.  Hopes are the eggs are fertile, but there's no way to know that for sure.  So, what is happening is through the expert care of Dr. Doug Mader (who is volunteering his time once again for the Turtle Hospital) a rehab team is caring for Good Hope.  I've had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Mader a couple times about the status of Good Hope (Dr. Mader is also the veterinarian we use for our own companion animals; he and his wife, Dr. Geraldine Diethelm are among the top vets I've ever known).  He explained that her condition is grave indeed, but absolutely any and all efforts are being made to save her.  He wondered aloud to me whether she'd survive the first 48-72 hours, but quickly followed that up with his feelings that hope should never be lost.  Good Hope has been ultra sounded, and there are around 80-100 eggs inside.  She has laid 25 eggs since becoming a patient at The Turtle Hospital.  A special drug was ordered and just arrived that may be used to help induce the rest of her eggs.  Not only is it important to get the rest of the eggs laid and incubated for their own hopes of hatching, but as well as Good Hope.  She needs as much energy as possible to aid in her own recovery, so inducing will be good for her as well.  All eggs will be incubated, and hopefully hatch.

You can follow along with updates about Good Hope at the Turtle Hospital's website (  I cannot get Good Hope out of my mind.  She's a beautiful turtle, and certainly didn't deserve the fate fallen upon her with her injuries.  The flip side of that is she's one of the luckier turtles when it comes to injuries. Most turtles who have things like this happen to them suffer alone and for a long time before finally succumbing to their injuries far away in the sea.  She could not have ended up in care of anyone finer than Dr. Doug Mader.  He's kind of an enigma to me, but that's a story for another day.  Dr. Mader is an excellent doctor with a creative and visionary mind. He is able to innovate on the spot, a talent that is especially needed when dealing with animals who have injuries that most would never imagine, let alone see in their practice.  We are immensely grateful to Dr. Mader, The Turtle Hospital, and everyone else who is volunteering the time and donating money/services to help Good Hope.  She has touched many people with her plight, and the courage within her to survive obviously runs deep.  This is a turtle who is not ready to die, and we hope everyone will keep good thoughts for Good Hope and her caregivers.