Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for WFSU-TV, covering environment and the outdoors. Rob is in the process of completing Roaming the Red Hills, an exploration of north Florida/ south Georgia ecology funded by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy. Rob’s previous ecology projects include EcoShakespeare, which was funded by PBS member station WNET and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and In the Grass, On the Reef, a collaboration with the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab funded by the National Science Foundation. Rob’s EcoAdventure segments air on WFSU’s Local Routes and can be found on the WFSU Ecology Blog.
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The Tallahassee Museum’s red wolf pups are shy, and especially early on, few people were able to see them. Luckily, they became accustomed to our cameras, and so we’ve been able to watch them grow. Below is a documentary on their first year.
Some days, the red wolves are more obviously “wild” than others. One day, for instance, I got footage of two pups fighting over a bone. Just as soon as the short tailed alpha puppy asserted that it was his rib, he became alert. I could hear a police siren faintly in the distance. Soon, all eight of the Tallahassee Museum wolves were howling. It sounded more monkey than wolf-like to me, a combination of longer howls and strange whoops. It was everything I could ask for out of a shoot day. Continue reading →
We’re walking on exposed lake bed. The ground is spongey and springy, not a place used to feet pressing down on it. The west edge of Lake Miccosukee is usually kind of a cypress swamp, and in the winter coots issue out of it to forage among the grasses in the open water alongside. Right now, though, the open water looks grassier, and I’m walking in that swamp. Miccosukee’s water is going down a hole. Continue reading →
The art and iconography of Muscogee shell carving is a window into Native cultures, their beliefs, and connection to nature. Thanks to Lynn Ivory for her photos of events at Fred George Basin Greenway and Park.
Chris Thompson is practicing an ancient art form, but with a power tool. “Used to, you would carve with a stone, or another shell that was harder,” Chris says. “Those take a lot longer to carve with. That’s mainly why we use the Dremel.” Artistically, the speed of the Dremel’s engraving tip lets Chris carve deeper into the shell surface, so that modern shell carvings have greater relief than those made by Muscogee carvers of old. Continue reading →
When we get to the mouth of Chaires Creek, the tide has gone out enough to see the tops of some oysters. It’s a little after 1 pm- high tide was 10:16 am, and low tide is 4:02 pm. If we stay too much longer, the mouth of the creek will be choked by oyster bars, and sand bars will make the kayak back to Tucker Lake slow going.
When I get to the enclosure, three red wolves of similar size are out. At first it looks like three adults, one more than I know should be here. The father wolf has always been easy to pick out; he’s a good bit bigger than the mother. I take a close look at the other two wolves, and it’s the skinny legs that give away the pup. In the almost three months since I last visited the Tallahassee Museum, these puppies have done a bit of growing. Continue reading →
Some of my favorite butterfly shots in this video came from an unrelated shoot. We were at Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy on the day of the eclipse. Did red cockaded woodpeckers get fooled into acting like it was sunset? No, it never got that dark in Tallahassee. But, on the way out, we found our way blocked by the hundred-plus butterflies you see in the opening shots. Continue reading →
In a steephead ravine, we enter a landscape as Appalachian as it is Floridian- perhaps a glimpse at the Apalachicola River of the ice ages. In part 3 of our salamander adventure, Bruce Means climbs down in search of the Apalachicola dusky, an animal he discovered here over 50 years ago.
“We’re standing at one of the places I most love in this world,” Bruce Means tells the camera. “There’s a big surprise right behind me.”
Dr. Means stands in an open field, a row of oak trees a short distance away. When we get to the tree line, we look down. Up here, all we see are the tops of trees and a slope that descends into shadows. At the bottoms of those trees, however, lies the promise of rare plants and animals, a few of which aren’t found anywhere but the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines region. This is a steephead ravine. Continue reading →
The Bradwell Bay Wilderness is dark and mysterious- and full of life. In part 2 of our salamander adventure, Bruce Means searches the swamp for the southern dusky, a critter that has disappeared from almost everywhere else.
Is there something you love doing enough to do it for over fifty years? Some do, and that’s why I’m here today. I’m following Bruce Means into a titi swamp in the Bradwell Bay Wilderness. He’d scour this place as a Florida State University graduate student in the 1960s, and today we’re on the same mission.
After about an hour of searching for salamanders, Bruce Means stops to grab a drink. It’s a hot summer day, and about time for some cool refreshment. He gets down on his hands and knees and presses his lips against the muck on the slope. There, cool, clean water is seeping from an underground lake, creating the ecosystem favored by the subject of our search. Continue reading →
Special thanks to Shawn Joy, Morgan Smith, and Matt Vinzant of Karst Underwater Research for letting us use their underwater footage. Morgan’s research is sponsored by the Felburn Foundation, Center for the Study of the First Americans, Texas A&M University, and the PaleoWest Foundation. He would like to thank the Silver River State Park, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
In the video above, we visit three archeological sites on two rivers. When you watch footage from each sites, one sticks out as the most visually striking. It’s an underwater cavern at the head spring of the Silver River, and it’s full of mammoth bones. It looks like a cool place to explore. But it’s also the site with the least scientific value. Continue reading →