26 December 2012 at 5:30 pm
The Florida Aquarium in Tampa has a neat mangrove exhibit. They’ve got this big greenhouse type of space, and on one side they’ve got a patch of mangroves with redfish, sheepshead, and some MONSTER snook behind waist-high glass.
Crudely Wrott says
26 December 2012 at 7:51 pm
I had a special treat one time while snorkeling around some mangroves. It was in Sarasota Bay back in the seventies. The water was much shallower than in the picture posted above so I kept my old fishin’ sneakers on and pulled myself along the bottom by hand, keeping a sharp eye out for nasty old crabs.
Drawing close to some entangled roots by the flash of small fish seeking refuge from my approach, I was distracted by the algae and grasses that mingled with the mangroves. For a few peaceful moments I paused to reflect on the entanglement of plants before me and how they provide for the nurturing environment of a shallow bay, creating what is essentially a nursery. There are so many watery denizens that depend on the benign environment found there.
/cue Mike Nelson voice/
And then, I saw it.
There was some tiny little things moving among the sea grass stalks and smaller mangrove roots. Clinging closely to them and seeming to undulate with the waves passing over my head. It took a few moments to understand what I was seeing and then a moment more realize how lucky I was.
Clinging to fine strands of flora by their tails were dozens and dozens of baby sea horses! They were, I’d guess, only a half inch long but that estimate is difficult since they had part of their lengths wrapped around hold fasts. Their profiles were unmistakeable and I recall their serene, almost contemplative regard of me. They did not flee but maintained their imitation of swaying plant stuff, giving the impression of fearlessness and confidence. I did’t linger very long for the thought of other gravid daddy sea horses urgently seeking the maternity ward. Though I certainly had a great smile on my face as I paddled away.
Among my most treasured memories of being an ardent amateur observer of nature, this one stands among the most unexpected and joyful. Thanks for evoking it, PZ.