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Lars Andersen's Blog (9)

Florida's Springs: Our Dying Canaries

It’s a tribute to cave divers like the late Wes Skiles that photos of people swimming in the Floridan Aquifer have become common-place. In places like the amazing Blue Path exhibit now showing in the Florida Museum of Natural History, we see pictures of divers swimming through the most serene settings imaginable—suspended in dream worlds of icy-blue water and cream-colored limestone; moving through grand, underwater passages; illuminated by…

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Added by Lars Andersen on July 3, 2013 at 3:54pm — No Comments

Finding Sanctuary in Water

I’m not sure what I expected to see in the heron’s eye; maybe some sign of its soul. The Calusa said the eyes are windows to the soul. If there was ever a moment this bird’s soul would be shining from its jet black “windows,” it was now, standing knee-deep in the float-glass waters of Newnans Lake and gazing, with the tranquility of a monk, into a smoldering burnt orange sunset. I wanted to believe that the shining black well held the knowledge of the Universe—the knowledge shamen and monks…

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Added by Lars Andersen on December 21, 2012 at 6:25pm — No Comments

Listening to Water

 

Of all Leonardo Da Vinci’s great ideas, one of my favorites is one of his simplest. No diagrams, no assembly required, just a simple re-purposing of an everyday item—the canoe paddle. He suggested if we put its blade into water and then pressed our ear against its shaft, we could hear the sounds of aquatic life. Once again, Leonardo was way ahead of it’s time. Not only did this idea pre-date sonar, it predated the belief that the sea was worth listening to.

 

In a…

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Added by Lars Andersen on February 3, 2012 at 11:51pm — 1 Comment

Close Encounters of the Turd Kind

 

Hiking in Ichetucknee Forest this morning, I was reminded that nature observation requires a few basic skills. Spontaneity is high on the list. When you spot a pair of slugs slowly sliding over each other, you must be willing to forego all plans and stop to watch them. You may never again see two slugs interacting. Next, you must have the patience to sit quietly for hours watching your slimy subjects for any hint of interesting behavior. Being observant also helps. Make mental notes…

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Added by Lars Andersen on February 10, 2011 at 9:04pm — 1 Comment

Florida's Story Told Through Her Springs

I think future historians will tell Florida’s story in terms of springs. There’s no overstating the role springs have played in the lives of Floridians, dating back to the very first Floridians who arrived nearly 14,000 years ago on the heels of the great Ice Age herds and extending through every culture and time period to the present.

 

For those first Paleo-Indians, springs were oases in a much cooler, drier Florida than we know today. For later cultures, they were invaluable…

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Added by Lars Andersen on February 1, 2011 at 7:22pm — 1 Comment

Un-Natural Selection

Hiking on Paynes Prairie yesterday, we watched a large flock of turkeys strutting among the dog fennel and salt bush plants. But we were also a bit horrified. Here it is only a few days before Thanksgiving and they're wandering around without a care in the world. After centuries of being the main attraction on the traditional Thanksgiving table, you’d think they would have developed some instinctive aversion to all things human at this hungry season. They should feel uneasy and have an… Continue

Added by Lars Andersen on November 25, 2009 at 10:19am — 6 Comments

The Changing Face of Paradise

Florida has often been referred to as a paradise, partly because its abundance of beautiful palms. In fact, palms are a key element of classical versions of paradise like Atlantis and the Garden of Eden. Likewise, most of Florida's most iconic scenes include palms—holding the ends of a hammock on a sunny beach, being violently whipped by hurricane winds, silhouetted against a pastel sky as a smoldering orange sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico. But, as anyone who’s paddled Florida’s Gulf coast… Continue

Added by Lars Andersen on August 20, 2009 at 10:43pm — 1 Comment

The Trouble With Turtles

(photo by Michael Levin)

Mother Nature has saddled Florida's freshwater turtles with an unfortunate trait - deliciousness. For as long as humans have lived in Florida they've dined on turtles. The archaeological record, including those culinary treasure troves we call middens, are loaded with…

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Added by Lars Andersen on December 14, 2008 at 10:00pm — 2 Comments

The Gum Swamp

I once mentioned to my young niece, Allie, that we were going to a “gum” swamp and her face lit up as though we were headed for the circus. It took me a moment to realize she was visualizing some kind of candy cane forest where honey dripped from the trees. I’ve never felt so reluctant to educate a young mind as I was at that moment. Under my breath I sheepishly muttered that the “gum” in this case was a kind of tree.







In Florida, we have two kinds of trees commonly called… Continue

Added by Lars Andersen on December 7, 2008 at 8:52pm — 1 Comment

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