Oh what a night!

ThThunder

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Oh what a night is an understatement.

I wasn’t much up for Thursday Thunder last night, I will admit. I don’t do cold weather and neither does the Queen. When we saw it would be 82, our spirits were lifted. But March Madness is in full swing and Thursday is game night (RIP to our Indiana Hoosiers). So I was torn. Glad I tore on the side of the beach.

I suggested Lighthouse Beach or Gulfside City Park, since I knew that the Spring Breakers would probably have over-shelled the place and there’d be nothing left for us. I should have known better, as with the dredging going on, the water levels, speed and direction constantly changes the landscape – literally before your eyes.

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I don’t think it was 82 when we got to Blind Pass. But it was very sunny and good shelling weather. The water felt a little warmer than usual and a decent wind was blowing, so it got a bit nippy. The Queen grabbed her bucket and 99 cent scooper and started picking through the shells while I raked and scooped in the flowing water.

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I was in the water really finding nothing but Fighting Conchs, which I was passing along to a couple of little girls who were watching intently from the shore. They gave us a good chuckle. We’d scoop some shells and dump them on the shore. If there were intact Fighting Conchs, we’d toss them up in the sand, as we have way too many! It was cute to watch as the piles kept disappearing. Making those little girls happy made us smile.

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So the Queen kept digging and finding, digging and finding. I was only finding Rough Scallops (which I ain’t complaining about) as she was finding Banded Tulips and Lightning Whelks by the handful.

I heard her squealing on the shore line as she uncovered a few real nice keepers. She found a few minis – some thick lipped drills and bubbles, a near perfect Shark’s Eye and an absolutely beautiful Gaudy Nautica.  I mean, she’s killin it. As she continued to dig, she was able to unearth a fantastic Lightning Whelk and an Alphabet Cone!

Cutest sheller I’ve seen in these parts.

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So she says, “Now find me a Junonia.”

HA! Like it’s that easy! Come on Queenie. Let’s get real.

I say, “Well, if you’re gonna find one, it’s gonna be right here.”

So the light bulb went off and we began pulling back sections at the shore where she found her Alphabet Cone. We kept digging and pulling up some really nice Lightning Whelks. Big, dark colored ones.

And then, as luck would have it. it happened.

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And my response was this, verbatim – “Oh, you gotta be kiddin me.”

But yep, there it was, buried under a good 4 or 5 inches of sand. No way anyone would have found it. It was buried and was gonna stay there for a while.

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Another shot of the Gaudy Nautica, a really cool looking Rough Scallop, one of the many Lightning Whelks we found and what appears to be a spine bone.

So an uber-successful Thursday Thunder! Wow!

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photo 5

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A day at the Aquarium

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IMG_1700wmAfter our slightly disappointing visit to Treasure Island this past weekend (due to the weather), Queenie mentioned that she’d always wanted to visit the Florida Aquarium. So away we went!

If you enjoy marine life and haven’t visited the Florida Aquarium, it’s a must. The $21.95 price tag for admission is just slightly steep, but the exhibits are really cool and worth seeing.

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The journey begins upstairs, where the exhibits consist of various fish found in the Florida gulf waters and creatures that inhabit the wetlands. You’ll find common fish like Snook , Redfish and Stingrays as well as local snakes like Rat Snakes and two 14 foot Burmese Pythons. The Queen wouldn’t approach the glass.

Read more about the new Pythons here:
Florida Aquarium adds invasive pythons to wetlands exhibit (tbo.com)

There’s an otter exhibit, ducks that you can reach out and pet and a couple of tanks with these scary looking Gar Fish:

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This guy sat at the surface of the open exhibit. Had I dipped my fingers in the water, I surely would have lost one.

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The Coral Reef exhibit is one of the best, with fish I’d never seen before . They have a Goliath Grouper that is easily 300 pounds.

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Don’t forget to stop by the shark tank, where you’ll find Sand Tiger sharks, Blacktips and Bonnethead Sharks.

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Ol’ Crush sat in the corner looking sad. I don’t think he wanted to be bothered.

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We moved to a section called “Ocean Commotion”, where Sea Horses frolicked. Such cool creatures.

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And we must have stood there for ten minutes watching this Leafy Sea Dragon float peacefully through the water.

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and we spent another ten minutes in sheer awe at this Bait Ball. A 4 foot Blacktip Shark circled around it, waiting for the perfect time to speed through and grab a meal. Unfortunately for him, the fish were just too quick.

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So yes, take the time and visit the Florida Aquarium. You should be able to run through it in a couple of hours. Certainly worth the stop, and a great place to get an education about the stuff in our local waters and wetlands.