When the video above aired on dimensions, several individuals in our community took note of a statement made by George Weymouth. He was explaining how hydrilla, an invasive plant species overtaking rivers in our state, had led to Limpkins entirely abandoning the Wakulla River (which has its source at Wakulla Springs). He said that herbicides used to control the plant led to a die off of apple snails, the limpkin’s main food source.
The reaction to this statement started me on a quest, with the several aforementioned individuals guiding me closer, and at times seemingly further, from an answer to what happened to the limpkins at Wakulla Springs.
Wednesday, January 18 at 7:30 PM/ ET, watch WFSU’s latest EcoAdventure on dimensions, as Green Guides George Weymouth, Jim Dulock, and Cynthia Paulson guide us down the Wacissa River. Birds, springs, and art- you can read more about that below, and enjoy this video looking at how George- a well known painter and sculptor in our area- creates his hyper-realistic works.
Rob Diaz de VillegasWFSU-TV
In the interest of being intensely accurate, George's painting area is surrounded by field guides and nature magazines.
George Weymouth is telling me how he is going to paint the ripples caused by a black-necked stilt’s (Himantopus mexicanus) wading in a river, and how the the avian subjects of his painting reflect over the disturbed water. When he’s done getting the shape of the bird’s body, and the general coloration, he’ll add various feathers- primaries, secondaries, and tercials; all located at the anatomically appropriate places on its body. Something occurred to me as I edited this footage into the above video: when I had accompanied George down the Wacissa River the week before, he was looking at whole different world than I was. A man who can accurately paint every feather on a bird is likely to have a unique perspective.
What’s not to love about oysters? They clean the water, they’re delicious, and they have surprising economic value. Members of the Kimbro Lab found this unique oyster, which itself seems very loving, on one of their study sites. “Now I’ve seen a lot of weird-shaped oysters,” says lab tech Tanya Rogers,” but never one quite this perfect. I took it on a photoshoot this evening for some nice background and lighting.”
St. Joe Bay is really jumping in the summer. People are everywhere; scalloping, fishing, kayaking and snorkeling. The people are mostly gone in the autumn, as they head back to work and school, and the weather is a little cooler. With less people to scare them off, you see more blue crabs, stingrays, and sharks swimming closer to the shore. It’s my favorite time of year to get footage there. When winter rolls around, the only people out on the water either have to be because they’re working (like Randall and her crew), or they’re just hardcore ecowarriors. It can make for difficult paddling in the winter (though this December is much milder than last year, when we shot this footage).
Super-low tide in St. Joe Bay.
The difficulty doesn’t so much stem from the cold, though it can get cold (especially for a native Floridian who thinks Massachusetts beach water is too chilly in July). The real challenge is the wind and the tides. It makes for a surreal landscape. It’s mostly devoid of living animals, at least on the surface, but that north wind does push some interesting seagrass bed denizens onto the marsh with the seagrass wrack.
As I noted earlier, it has been milder this year. Hopefully that holds for our next few EcoAdventure shoots, which include trips down the Wacissa and St. Marks rivers. And I’ve already started planning some of next year’s shoots as well, so stay tuned!
If you missed it on Dimensions, here is our video on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. This segment runs from Port Saint Joe to the Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge. There are several camping options along the way; Doug Alderson (Of FDEP’s Office of Greenways and Trails) takes us to St. George Island State Park to look at some sites.