Flip Flop Reef Fish

Various reef fish set up “cleaning stations” where turtles and other fish come to have parasites nibbled off.

50 recycled flip flops were used by Ocean Sole Africa Project artists to create each Reef Fish sculpture from a 2019/2020 exhibit hosted by McKee Botanical Gardens, Vero Beach, Indian River County, Florida.

Coral reef fish live among or in close relation to coral reefs. Coral reefs form complex ecosystems with tremendous biodiversity. Among the myriad inhabitants, the fish stand out as colorful and interesting to watch. Hundreds of species can exist in a small area of a healthy reef, many of them hidden or well camouflaged.

Reef fish have developed many ingenious specializations adapted to survival on the reefs. Safe habitats, many different species of fish inhabit coral reefs where they are protected from predators and find food. In turn, reef fish eat algae, preventing overgrowth and smothering of the coral animals. Common fish in Caribbean reefs have interesting names: parrot, angel, puffer, surgeon and clown.

Coral reefs occupy less than 1% of the surface area of the world oceans but provide a home for 25% of all marine fish species. Reef habitats are a sharp contrast to the open water habitats that make up the other 99% of the world oceans. Loss and degradation of coral reef habitat, increasing pollution, and overfishing including the use of destructive fishing practices, are threatening the survival of the coral reefs and the associated reef fish.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Rusty Box

a LARGE rusty box

From a November 2021 article by James Sparvero of ClickOrlando(dot com). “Recent storms may have pushed a big part of a ship onto a secluded Central Florida beach. The Canaveral National Seashore said the metal object washed ashore at boardwalk No. 7 of Playalinda Beach. It is about 8 feet tall and 20 feet long.

Pam provides a sense of scale

“Seashore’s resource manager Kristen Kneifl said it might be a ballast tank from a ship, which is a compartment on a floating structure that holds water to help stabilize the vessel. “

Still a mystery

’That’s our best guess at this point,’’ Kneifl said.

As far as removing the giant box, the Seashore said it could be difficult. Meaning it will probably stay on the beach for a while until it gets figured out.

‘’Unlike maybe some boats or other things that wash up, where we can kind of chain saw it apart and get it over one of our boardwalks, it doesn’t look like it can be cut up,’’ Kneifl said. ‘’So, it’s going to have to be removed from the water, from the oceanside.”

Kneifl said, chances are, the strange object will be removed on a barge and transported elsewhere by sea.

Here is a photo for a sense of place.

Artistic macros of the rusty surface.

Cape Canaveral National Seashore, Titusville, Brevard County, Florida

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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

Sunset Visions of Kite Surfing

One day before the 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse a full moon rose 4:25 pm above the Atlantic Ocean off Cocoa Beach, the “Space Coast” of Florida. We saw a power kite to the south, with the southerly winds there was time before he was on us. I took the following photographs with what was at hand, an iPhone 8.

Risen Full Moon and Surf Boarder at Sunset

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At 50 minutes post moonrise, I included the orb in this frame as the rider tacked, rising a water crest.

Risen Full Moon and Surf Boarder at Sunset
Risen Full Moon and Surf Boarder at Sunset

A flick of the fingers to zoom in, the moon and rider are together as he rides toward shore.

Risen Full Moon and Surf Boarder at Sunset with cruise ship
Risen Full Moon and Surf Boarder at Sunset with cruise ship

This time of, Saturdays, the cruise ships depart Cape Canaveral Port. The kite is above the distant ship. It is amazing the kite allows sailing into the wind, his heading is southwest. The shore limits his progress, forcing a tack towards a southeast heading.

Kite Surfer coming to shore at sunset.
Kite Surfer coming to shore at sunset.

Or not, it seems he plans to tack to the northeast, continuing progress north up the coast. I have to wonder how he will return to the starting point?

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills