Flip Flop Dragonflies

Deep Time

380 recycled flip flops were used by Ocean Sole Africa Project artists to create these seahorse sculptures from a 2020 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Adult dragonfly lifespan of a few days to 5 weeks contrasts with the wide distribution, variety with over 3,000 species and deep longevity of the infraorder, Anisoptera, especially compared to our genus, Homo: Hundreds of millions of years, compared to 2 million.

An insect, dragonflies live on every continent except Antarctica, from sea level up to the mountains.

I have experienced hundreds of dragonflies swooping and hovering around Peaked Mountain of the Adirondacks.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Flip Flop Manta Rays

“Devil Fish”

110 recycled flip flops were used by Ocean Sole Africa Project artists to create these seahorse sculptures from a 2020 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Manta Rays are large, flat-bodied fish having a width ranging from 18-23 feet (5-7 meters) wide. Mantas gracefully swoop during feeding, scooping up large quantities of plankton, 60 pounds (27 kilograms) per day, with the flat fins on either side of their head.

Here is the flowing movement of the manta

Mantas are known as “devilfish” because of their horn-shaped cephalic fins, which are imagined to give them an “evil” appearance. The movement of pectoral fins drive them through water, like birds flying through air.

All mantas are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Anthropogenic threats include pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and direct harvesting of their gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine. Their slow reproductive rate exacerbates these threats. They are protected in international waters by the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, but are more vulnerable closer to shore. Areas where mantas congregate are popular with tourists. Only a few public aquariums are large enough to house Mantas.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Flip Flop Seahorses

Evolutionary Success Story

Up to 150 recycled flip flops were used by Ocean Sole Africa Project artists to create these seahorse sculptures from a 2020 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

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Seahorses are tiny fish with heads that look like…horses! Their curved flexible tail is used to grasp objects, mostly anchoring the seahorse to plants.

Their genus, Hippocampus, includes 46 species indicating evolutionary success for their body shape and adaptations. Just hatched seahorses cling together in groups, hook by their tails. Excellent at camouflage, a seahorse hides from predators while waiting to ambush dinner.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Flip Flop Manatee

Happy “Profitable Friday” 2022

Up to 400 recycled flip flops were used by Ocean Sole Africa Project artists to create this Manatee sculpture from a 2020 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Manatee with fans

Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Today, the range-wide population is estimated to be at least 13,000 manatees, with more than 6,500 in the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico.

Florida has cherished the Sea Cow with the population increasing 25% from 1991, going from 1,267 to more than 6,300.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Flip Flop Crab

Eyes on stalks and an exoskeleton composed of chitin

Up to 400 recycled flip flops were used by Ocean Sole Africa Project artists to create each sea turtle sculpture from a 2019 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Blue land crabs inhabit McKee Gardens, only resembling these specimens, made from as many as 400 discarded flip flops, in having ten legs for which the Order Decapoda is named. The front two legs are specialized chelae (claws) for grabbing and eating whatever is in front of them (omnivorous). Two other characteristics are eyes on stalks and an exoskeleton composed of chitin. From an exhibit of creations by the Ocean Sole Africa project, McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Blue land crabs inhabit McKee Gardens, only resembling these specimens, made from as many as 400 discarded flip flops, in having ten legs for which the Order Decapoda is named.

The front two legs are specialized chelae (claws) for grabbing and eating whatever is in front of them (omnivorous). Two other characteristics are eyes on stalks and an exoskeleton composed of chitin.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Flip Flop Sea Turtle

Light pollution from beach development is a threat to baby sea turtles; the glow from city sources can cause them to head into traffic instead of the ocean.

450 recycled flip flops were used by Ocean Sole Africa Project artists to create each sea turtle sculpture from a 2019 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Sea turtles (superfamily Chelonioidea), sometimes called marine turtles, are reptiles of the order Testudines and of the suborder Cryptodira. Sea turtles can be found in all oceans except for the polar regions. Sea turtles are generally found in the waters over continental shelves.

During the first three to five years of life, sea turtles spend most of their time in the pelagic zone floating in seaweed mats. Once the sea turtle has reached adulthood it moves closer to the shore. Females will come ashore to lay their eggs on sandy beaches during the nesting season. Sea turtles migrate to reach their spawning beaches, which are limited in numbers. Living in the ocean therefore means they usually migrate over large distances.

All sea turtles have large body sizes, which is helpful for moving large distances. Large body sizes also offer good protection against the large predators (notably sharks) found in the ocean. Light pollution from beach development is a threat to baby sea turtles; the glow from city sources can cause them to head into traffic instead of the ocean. There has been some movement to protect these areas. On the east coast of Florida, parts of the beach known to harbor sea turtle nests are protected by fences.

This Sea Turtle sculpture graces the entrance of McKee Gardens as a permanent exhibit.

Conservationists have monitored hatchings, relocating lost baby sea turtles to the beach. Hatchlings find their way to the ocean by crawling towards the brightest horizon and can become disoriented along the coastline. Lighting restrictions can prevent lights from shining on the beach and confusing hatchlings. Sea turtle-safe lighting uses red or amber LED light, invisible to sea turtles, in place of white light.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Flip Flop Octopus

890 recycled flip flops were used in this sculpture

This common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) specimen was created by artists of Ocean Sole Africa. 890 recycled flip flops were used in this sculpture. from a 2019 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Octopuses are adaptable and intelligent 8-limbed creatures known live in and around ocean reefs, deep ocean and intertidal zones. Invertebrate, without a skeleton an octopus can hide in tight spaces. Maneuvering and hunting, each tentacle is lined with suckers that grab rocks and prey. Existing solely on meat, these carnivores prey on crabs and shellfish, finding them with sharp binocular eyesight and devouring with a sharp parrot-like beak. Their defenses include camouflage, changing skin color to made surroundings, ejection of thick black ink to distract a predator and escape. A last line of defense is sacrificing an arm that can grow back over time. These blue-blooded aristocrats have three hearts!

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Wonder

Cornell Botanical Gardens

“Cornell Botanic Gardens is a living museum with a mature botanic garden and arboretum—part of what makes Cornell one of the most beautiful campuses anywhere. We steward over 3,600 acres of biologically diverse landscapes that represent the full range of ecological communities found in the Finger Lakes region.” — from their web site

Pam and I need venture no farther than across the valley, from West to East Hill, for an experience of autumn in all its glory. These IPhone 7 photographs and videos are from a recent visit.

We took in the artistry of the railing, the stone steps, gentle curves.

I marveled at the absence of Gypsy Moth egg masses on the Oak trunks, in spite of evident though modest leaf damage.

Houston Pond is visible in several of the “Buena Vista” images…..

Houston Pond reflections from the pavilion

Another version of reflections from Houston Pond taken from pavilion

“No Place Like Home” — Back on West Hill, our Japanese Maple was waiting for us.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Very Old, Very New

Lima is home to 10 million Peruvians and over 1000 historical sites.

View of Clinica Delgado (hospital) from Lima Peru’s Elias Aguirre (street), Huaca Pucllana filling the foreground. Huacas are commonly located in nearly all regions of Peru outside the deepest parts of the Amazon basin in correlation with the regions populated by the pre-Inca and Inca early civilizations. They can be found in downtown Lima today in almost every district, the city having been built around them. Huaca Pucllana, located in Miraflores district, is an adobe and clay pyramid built from seven staggered platforms. It served as an important ceremonial and administrative center for the advancement of the Lima Culture, a society which developed in the Peruvian Central Coast between the years of 200 AD and 700 AD. 

This is the New York Times article that inspired me to remember visiting Huaca Pucllana during our February 2016 tour of Lima, Peru. “3,000 Years of History Are Literally Just Beneath Our Feet.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Signs

a deadly quest

The Dutchman trail curves around this rocky outcrop on the east side of O’Grady Canyon, on the left are two hoodoos, on the right side a vandal has defaced the rock. Prickly Pear Cactus in foreground. Malpais Mountain (Spanish “Bad Country”) in distance.

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Signs and wonders, such as this mysterious “S”, lure people into the Superstitions. Two years after our expedition, July 2010, three men set out from First Water trailhead on a quest for Superstition Gold, never to be seen again. Unprepared for the summer heat, the skeletons of two found January 2011 on the slopes of Yellow Peak, a straight-line mile from this location.


Click me for a story of three men lost in the Superstition Wilderness

Click me for the Final Word on Men Lost in Superstition Wilderness –CURTIS MERWORTH

Click me for the Final Word on Men Lost in Superstition Wilderness — ARDEAN CURTIS CHARLES

Click me for the Final Word on Men Lost in Superstition Wilderness — MALCOM MEEKS

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved