Friday, January 29, 2010

Bahia Honda State Park

“Welcome to Bahia Honda State Park

Henry Flagler's railroad to Key West turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination. Today, the island is home to one of Florida's southernmost state parks, known for beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets, and excellent snorkeling. Visitors can picnic on the beach and take a swim, or simply relax and enjoy the balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. Anglers can fish from shore or bring a boat and launch at the boat ramp. The park's concession rents kayaks and snorkeling gear and offers boat trips to the reef for snorkeling excursions. Bahia Honda is an excellent place to see wading birds and shorebirds. The nature center can introduce nature lovers to the island's unique plants and animals. Full-facility campsites and vacation cabins are available. Located 12 miles south of Marathon.”


Today we went to the Bahia Honda State Park. This is the only accessible Florida key with true sand beaches.  It is an excellent place to see birds and relax in the “balmy sea breezes that caress the shores”.



In 1935 there was a tropical storm that hit the keys hard. The railway was extensively damaged. It was decided not to rebuild the railway but instead use to old rail bridges to build a highway. This portion of the old road the rail superstructure was above the rails and was too narrow for the roadbed. So, they built the highway on top of the superstructure.


The new bridge is on the right. the old rail line is on the bottom of the steel and the old highway was built on the top. The lanes are only 10 feet wide and accidents were common. The old rails are used as the guard rails.


Looking back at the park at the Atlantic Ocean.


Looking back at the park with the Gulf of Mexico in the foreground and the Atlantic Ocean in the background.


The Old Bridge.


Very large burs.


The campground in this State park.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dolphin Research Center, Gassy Key, Florida

Mission of the Dolphin Research Center

The Dolphin Research Center (DRC) is a not-for-profit education and research facility, home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. Over half of our family was born at the Center, while the other members either have come to us from other facilities, or were collected long ago by other management.

In addition to maintaining the best possible environment for the dolphins and sea lions at the Center, we also dedicate ourselves to assisting marine mammals in distress in the surrounding waters of the Keys. For decades, DRC operated as the Southernmost member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We rescued and rehabilitated whales and dolphins, providing expert medical attention to help ease the way for our marine friends from the wild. The rescue and rehabilitation procedures provided us with invaluable opportunities for critical research and data collection. DRC extended its rescue commitment to include the endangered manatee and is currently the only facility in the Florida Keys licensed by the Federal Government to assist manatees in distress.

Today we walked ( yes walked) to the Dolphin Research Center. Very interesting place with a show every hour and a movie the half-hour.

This is also the place where “One of the dolphins, Mitzi, starred in the Flipper movie.”


some of the reptile life



Mom with baby.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Turtle Hospital, Marathon

The Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital was opened in 1986 with four main goals: 1) rehab injured sea turtles and return them to the wild, 2) educate the public through outreach programs to local schools, 3) conduct and assist with research which aids the sea turtles (in conjunction with state universities), and 4) work toward environmental legislation which makes the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles.

The Turtle Hospital (Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation. The Hidden Harbor Motel provides the space and buildings needed to house and care for the sea turtles. The Turtle Hospital offers Guided Educational Experiences to public daily 7 days a week. Please call 305-743-2552 for further information and reservations.

The Turtle Hospital contains up-to-date equipment needed to perform a variety of surgeries on different species and sizes of sea turtles. More than half of this equipment has been donated by local hospitals and doctors, and some equipment has been donated by environmentally- friendly organizations and individuals.

Today we did the tour of the Turtle Hospital.  Here are some photos:



leatherback on the left and green turtle on the right.


Operating room


Ex-ray area with a hook they removed from a turtle.


Turtle patient


In the cold snap in first 2 weeks in January this ambulance was in our park 4 times.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Flight in a Bi-plane

This morning I helped clean the 90 fish that we took home from the fishing trip yesterday. The will use these fish for a park fish fry. At 1 PM I went on a bi-plane ride around Marathon . Teri again would not join me on this flight. There was some aerobatics.


The pilot with his fake teeth and his two passengers.


We were the first flight of the day. When the pilot started the plane the carburetor iced up and we spent the first 15 minutes deicing the carburetor.








Marathon harbour on the right.


7 mile bridge



Coco Plum beach.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fishing trip in the Atlantic.

Today I went on a fishing trip with about 20 of us from the park.

We Left a 9:30 AM and returned about 3:30 PM with 100’s of fish.



Dolphin at the bow racing the ship.




Sombrero beach at Marathon.


Marathon Harbor.


This photo is from the ship at harbour. The bar/restaurant is on the right. This place cooked up some of our catch for $4.00 per person. The food was excellent.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Birds on the dock

The birds at the park get well fed by fisherman cleaning fish at the park.



The swimming area.


Trip to Key Largo

Today we went to Key Largo to go to a flea and look around.

We stopped for lunch at mile marker 88.

Map picture


The small beach beside the restaurant we ate at.


The view from our table.


Flowers everywhere.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crane Point Museum and Nature Center

Today we went to Key Vaca part of the Marathon group of islands just 5 miles south of the camp.

From Wikipedia:

Crane Point Museum, Nature Center and Historic Site is a non-profit natural history museum and nature center located in Key Vaca, Florida, in the heart of the Florida Keys. Created in 1976, the Florida Keys Land & Sea Trust purchased the land and saved the area from being developed into private homes and shopping malls.

Crane Point features several facilities:

  • Florida Keys Children's Museum - features two saltwater lagoons and many marine touch tanks which contain native Keys invertebrates and fish, including a nurse shark, as well as an interactive pirate play area.
  • George Adderley House - a historic house museum that was built by George Adderley, a Bahamian pioneer, in 1903 that still stands on Crane Point's property. The exterior of the house was constructed with Tabby, a concrete-like material made of burned conch and other shells and sand.
  • Marathon Wild Bird Center - a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned wild birds. Opened in 1998, the center also offers education programs and research projects. Some recovering birds can be viewed in the outdoor flight cage.
  • Nature trails




Dug out canoe from the Indian past


George Adderley House


Trail signs OLD


Trail signs NEW


the bees are busy.

It was a beautiful day with little wind and temperatures in to low 20C. ( 70’sF.). This evening we walked the 100 yards down to the sea wall in the campground for the sunset.