Thursday, April 28, 2011

Emerald Water and a Jelly Blob

The Gulf of Mexico off Ft. Walton is an incredibly beautiful emerald green. And the dunes have a lovely, sweet fragrance. I was not expecting either when I stepped onto the beach on Santa Rosa Island. I had an hour before the start of an Easter Sunday marine debris program at Ft. Walton Yacht Club and wanted to see a beach, check out the water and see what kind of trash there might be (the usual beach visit, really).

Luckily, first came the delightful flowery smell and then the green water and then the fine, white sand... and then the trash.
In this case I walked around 75 yards along the high tide line and back. There was too much to carry so I have to say it was handy that my finds included a shrimper basket. It was ALL plastic: a hard hat, several water bottles, beach toys and some plastic wrappers.

After a nice trash walk along the beach (is that an oxymoron?), I loaded the basket intothe rental car and headed to the yacht club. Ft. Walton YC is on a pretty spit of land with water on 3 sides, a big dining room and patio, lots of boats (more sail than power) and some lovely people psyched to see what was lurking under their docks. Thanks to George and Dave, we had a tent, power and everything we needed and launched the ROV into some of the clearest water in which I have had the pleasure to pilot.

The theme of the trash at the bottom of the basin was by far BEER. Maybe some other beverages as well but mostly beer cans and beer cups. There were several areas withbunches of cups and cans. Apart from that, the bottom was relatively clean and we removed a bunch of cups as well as a piece of PVC tube.

The most interesting find was... I am not sure. It must be a jelly fish but we could not find tentacles or see the internal organs. It looks like a balloon but was definitely organic and had mud stuck to it. We are looking for an identification... any ideas out there?

We spent some time with the participants having a go flying the ROV on the surface and found some naturals among the sailors (kids and adults). Lots of smooth flying and no collisions! When we wrapped up, I was especially psyched that local sailor, Robin and her husband took the plastic I brought back from the beach home to be recycled.

Overall, it was a great afternoon. I am looking forward to identifying the jelly blob and hopefully going back some day for more underwater trash hunting and this time maybe a swim in those gorgeous green waters and a sail in the bay.

Stay tuned for next week's adventure in the mid-west: Wayzata Community Sailing and Lake Minnetonka. The evening program is open to the public, check out the
Rozalia Project Facebook page for details.

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