This interesting fellow is a spiny lobster. He’s probably the largest lobster I’ve ever seen.
There are a couple things that set a spiny lobster apart from true lobsters. First, they spiny lobsters have very long antennae- this lobster’s antennae were probably two feet across. The antennae are sometimes used as a defense. The lobster rubs the antennae against a hard surface to create a rasping sound which apparently sounds like Air Supply because the predators can’t stand the sound.
Another difference between spiny lobsters and true lobsters is that spiny lobsters don’t have the large claws associated with true lobsters. In fact, they don’t usually have claws at all. Despite not having the large, and tasty, claws associated with true lobsters, spiny lobsters are still a popular food source. The spiny lobster industry in Vietnam is a major source of revenue and spiny lobster are the largest food export of the Bahamas.
We recently paid a visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. It’s a nice aquarium with a focus on animals that inhabit the North Carolina coastal region but they do have a few non-native species.
This photo is of a moray eel doing what moray eels do- lying in wait to ambush a passing fish. Morays have very small eyes and cannot see well, so they depend on their sense of smell to tell them when a potential meal is approaching.
One interesting thing about moray eels is they sometimes team with roving coral groupers to help them hunt. The eels can flush small prey from niches and crevices where the larger groupers can’t go.
After a long winter we had a lot of cleanup to do in the woods. The trees had shed a lot of branches and one of the first jobs of Spring is to gather up the fallen wood and burn them. This was our first bonfire of the year.
This photo was taken at sunset on a beautiful Spring evening. We got the fire started just before the sun went down and we were able to sit and enjoy a cold drink and a wonderful sunset. I like the way the flames of the fire tie in with the sunset through the trees and the colors of the clouds.
As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot to make us happy.
Dogwoods are among the first things to celebrate the arrival of Spring. Farmers believed that it wasn’t safe to plant their crops until the dogwoods bloomed, so they welcomed the sight of the beautiful white flowers each year.
There’s an old Christian tale that the cross that Jesus was crucified on was made of dogwood. At the time the dogwood was one of the largest and strongest trees around Jerusalem. After Jesus’s crucifixion, God changed the dogwood to a smaller tree with twisted branches to ensure that the wood could never be used to make crosses again. The four petals of the blooms signify the cross and the rust colored indentation on each petal represent the indentation of the nails that held Jesus to the cross.
I’m not particularly religious but I think that we can all agree that the dogwood blooms are a welcome indication that the cold days of Winter have come to an end.
Springtime weather changes sometimes bring foggy mornings. The dog and I love our early morning walks and a fog adds to the peace and beauty of the land. Since we live in the country we don’t have the noise associated with the hustle and bustle of urban areas. So we take our time and enjoy the quiet beauty of the nature around us.
When we moved to North Carolina twenty three years ago, there were three young Yoshino cherry trees in the yard. We lost one early on in a Summer thunderstorm. The two surviving trees have grown to around 25 feet tall and every Spring they give us a few days of beautiful blooms.
This year we weren’t sure they had survived the Winter. We were quite surprised and pleased when they bloomed. A few days after the trees bloom, they begin to leaf out. This is when I love them most. The combination of the pink blooms and the new green leaves are lovely.
An interesting aspect of the blooming trees is they seem to buzz. If you sit or stand under the tree at this time of year, you’ll hear a quiet buzzing coming from the hundreds of bees who visit the blooms. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll see a few dozen monarch butterflies as well.
This photo was taken while sitting on the porch and enjoying a late afternoon beverage. I love the way the sunlight filters through the top of the tree. Life is good.
There are advantages to living in the country. If you get up early enough you find you have the world to yourself. It’s quiet and peaceful and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a beautiful sunrise. This photo was taken just a few feet from our back door on an early morning dog walk.
One of the things I like about Carolina Beach is that it’s not nice and shiny like a new penny. What I mean is that in a lot of beach areas there has been a tendency to raze all of the older structures to make way for giant resort hotels and chain restaurants. Not here.
The Fat Pelican is a wonderfully funky place that is proud to call itself a dive bar. So proud, in fact, that they want everyone to know that they were voted the best dive bar in North Carolina and among the top 25 dive bars in the United States.
I love the giant octopus on the roof and what may be the only moose at any beach in America. There’s also a sign that says hippies must use the side door.
The Fat Pelican has been a popular watering hole in Carolina Beach for more than 30 years. I hope it lasts many more.
We had the opportunity to spend a couple days at Carolina Beach. It’s been a few years since we’d been to the beach and, despite living in North Carolina for more than twenty years, we had never been to Carolina Beach. The main attraction, for us, was the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, just a few miles away.
Carolina Beach is a lovely little town with a beautiful beach and boardwalk. Unlike many popular beach towns, where older buildings are razed to make way for high-rise hotels and chain restaurants, Carolina Beach still has many older buildings and a lot of character. We took advantage of our off season visit to enjoy fresh seafood and a couple strolls down the boardwalk. A great time was had by all.
There are two things that the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher does well. The first is educate people about the various kinds of animals- land, sea and air- that inhabit North Carolina’s coastal region. The second thing they do well is educate people about the effects of pollution, especially trash and chemicals, on the wildlife.
Meet Plastic Maverick. This sculpture, by teen volunteer Adilene Trujillo Garcia, is made entirely out of trash found on the local beach during beach sweeps and cleanups. The feathers are made of discarded plastic water bottles and cigarette butts. Plastic Maverick is also entangled in plastic twine and is surrounded by trash.
There’s been a lot of news lately about plastic found in the stomachs of whales and about animals who have become entangled in discarded trash. The stories and videos are quite heartbreaking but usually end well, with a passing human saving the animal. Here’s the deal, though. For each of these videos or stories that end well, there are many more where the animal isn’t so lucky.
We can help by NOT discarding of our trash on the beach, the river or the woods, but holding onto it until we have access to trash can. Also, you can opt for paper bags rather than plastic or, even better, you can use a reusable cloth bag.
When I was a child, the Bald Eagle was virtually extinct. Conservation efforts have brought this magnificent bird back from the brink and we now have the opportunity to see the bird outside of zoos. I’ve seen several in North Carolina and Virginia over the last few years and it’s always a thrill. I would urge you to help in the conservation and protection of all wildlife by not polluting their environment.
Now, for those interested, here’s the real Maverick. He was found injured alongside a Wisconsin road in 2013. Despite medical attention and rehabilitation, Maverick’s wing was too badly damaged and he would never fly again. He found a permanent home at the aquarium and is a great ambassador for wildlife conservation. He’s about six years old.
Quite handsome, isn’t he?