Grace's Mosaic Moments

Monday, January 14, 2013


 A change from the promised topic, but the January 7, 2013, issue of The Orlando Sentinel provided me with enough material for a complete blog in one thin edition. Florida is truly unique, a long, skinny peninsula which seems to be trying to detach itself from the rest of the country. And frequently acts that way.

* * *

Many people come to Florida as retirees. I came here thirty years ago while my children were still in school. So I've had plenty of time to learn that Florida can be a very strange place. Overbuilt coastlines with hundreds of miles of wilderness in between. Beaches, theme parks, car racing, horse racing, more golf courses than anyone can count. Cracker shacks, mansions, acres of cattle ranches. Orange groves, watermelons, tomatoes, strawberries, to name but a few of our crops. Enough guns to arm every last one of us right down to the babies . . .

But no more rants for a while. Here are excerpts from The Orlando Sentinal, January 7, 2013:

"Hunt will put a squeeze on Everglades pythons
   Nearly 400* people have signed up to enter the Everglades and do battle with Burmese pythons, the giant constrictors that have emerged as the latest and weirdest threat to South Florida's wildlife. The 2013 Python Challenge, which begins Saturday, has attracted participants and media interest from across the United States for a month-long event that will feature prizes of $1000 for catching the longest snakes, and $1500 for catching the most.
   Participants do not need hunting licenses unless they're younger than 18. The only required training can be done online. Given those slender requirements, some have questioned the wisdom of encouraging amateurs with firearms, particularly nonhunters, to take on pythons in the wild."

*On the day the hunt started, the actual number of hunters was close to 800!

The article continues with comments about the dangers to be found in the Everglades, including rattlesnakes and cottonmouths (not to mention other eager hunters), and shows a picture of a python that had been found and killed after it ate an entire deer and was too sluggish to move.

Tried to find color original - but b&w from newspaper will have to do.

For those unfamiliar with the rationale behind this hunt - over the years python owners, when they discovered their "pet" has grown to a dangerous size, abandoned them in the Everglades. The snakes thrived and multiplied to the point where they are endangering the ecological balance by eating every native species in sight. The Python Challenge is merely an attempt to modify a problem with no real solution in sight. Website for Python Challenge

Summarized from The Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, Jan.13, 2012:

On the day the hunt began, arms varied. One landscaper carried only a six-shooter and a 28-inch machete. But another man and his friend from Naples brought a .380-caliber pistol, a .40-caliber pistol, a 12-gauge pump shotgun, a .22-caliber rifle, a 20-inch machete, a hunting knife, fish grabbers, a fish spear, & bicycles "to cover as much ground" as possible. 

On the first three days of the hunt - not a single python. From TV video Sunday night, however, it looked liked the hunt was picking up.

Update:   As of Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, the python count was 50.  
The number of hunters who submitted applications is c. 1000, including Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

"Wintering vultures have appetite for cars, trucks
   During the past few years, staff members at Everglades National Park have experimented with ways to scare off flocks of vandals that lurk in parking lots every winter, sporadically defacing cars, trucks and boat trailers. They've tried yelling at them, squirting them with water, even dangling dead ones upside down in trees.
  But nothing has curbed the curious appetite that migrating vultures have developed for windshield wipers, sunroof seals and other rubber and vinyl vehicle parts. So this winter, the park . . . [is providing] at the most trouble-prone sites loaner "anti-vulture kits" consisting of blue plastic tarps and bungee cords."

The article goes on to say that no one understands why the vultures have taken to this pastime, for they are eating very little of what they rip off the vehicles.

But, of course, the above headlines are out of South Florida, probably produced with glee by local news writers here in Central Florida. As if to prove our superiority, the same edition of the paper also heralded:

"Orlando expects to remain No. 1 in travel destination
  Orlando's primary tourism rival in the U.S. - New York City - said last week it attracted a record 52 million visitors in 2012, falling short of Orlando's expected tally for last year."

The article goes on to say that the Orlando visitor count is expected to be 56.4 million, although the official number won't come out until later in the year. The two cities have been "tourist" rivals for years, with Orlando coming out on top for several years now. Hm-mm, so I'm not exaggerating when I tell people, "Orlando is the resort capital of the world." At least I don't think we have any international rivals, as yet. 

A few years ago, when a fellow author was coming to Orlando for a Romance Writers convention, she asked if taxis would be available at the airport at midnight. I told her, quite truthfully, that the only problem getting a taxi at OIA in the wee hours of the morning would be the length of the line.

Added: Jan. 15, 2013, 12:20 p.m.

Knowing I am a kite-lover, both my son and daughter sent me this YouTube video, which my son believes was shot on Treasure Island, near Tampa, right here in Florida. A lovely way to show that at times Florida can truly shine.
Astonishing Kite Acrobatics  

Added: Jan. 20, 2013, 9:50 a.m.

 From today's Orlando Sentinel:
A Florida Atlantic professor has been studying the migratory habits of black-tip sharks. It seems they follow schools of mullet from the Carolinas to Florida every winter, with the most sharks off Florida during December, January, and February. This year he video-taped the sharks from an airplane, and reports that on the strip of ocean he studies - running from shore to about two football fields out - he counted 15,000 sharks on a single trip. Black-tip sharks can reach 6 feet and account for 20 percent of the unprovoked shark attacks in Florida. It's believed most attacks are the result of a shark mistaking a hand or foot for a fish. To quote Prof. Kajiura:

"They are very close to shore. They're sometimes 30 feet from shore. . . . If you're sitting in the water, you have an average of one shark within 60 feet of you."

Anybody for a day at the beach?
~ * ~

 That's all, folks. Just a few more tidbits from one of the strangest places on earth. No wonder people want to visit here. Anyone for joining the great Python hunt?

Thanks for stopping by. I expect we'll get to "Branding - bah, humbug" one of these days.

Click here for Grace's books as Blair Bancroft 

Grace Note: This blog almost didn't make it. The all-powerful gods at AT&T decided to fiddle with my area's Broadband, leaving me with no Internet for a full 48 hours. When that blinking red light turned green this morning, I practically kissed my modem. I suppose there's no hope we get a rebate on our bills??



No comments:

Post a Comment