Sunday, November 27, 2016

So A Sand Dollar Walks Into a (Sand)Bar...

In late summer 2016 we were swimming off Treasure Island's beach near The Shack and we came across a colossal bed of sand dollars.  Or, as I was later to learn, an urban dwelling of sand dollars that may have stretched for miles (yes miles!) across the sandy ocean floor.

I've had a lot of encounters with sand dollars over the years, but this was the first time I had encountered such a huge variety of sand dollar sizes.  Some were half the size of my hand while others were barely as large as the nail on my pinky finger.

This led to a burning desire to know more about how sand dollars live and reproduce.  And that led to putting together this blog post with links to several places where you can learn even more fun facts!

The Basics:

1. Sand dollars are echinoderms and closely related to sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

2. They are found in the low intertidal zone to as deep as 30 feet and there are many species living around the world.  Other names in other countries include sea cookie and sand cake.

3. When sand dollars are found on the beach they are most often already deceased and what you are looking at is their exoskeleton, also called a "test".

4. The shape of a sand dollar makes them excellent at burrowing in the sand.  The butt end stays above the sand's surface to catch food.

5. Live sand dollars look very different from their "tests" and they are often green, purple, blue or black with tiny spines and tiny tube feet that they use to get the food to their mouths.

6. Sand dollars mainly reproduce by spawning, but they can also clone themselves by breaking off pieces if they think it is necessary.  Females release eggs and males release sperm into the water during the spring, which is one reason you find so many sand dollars living together.  (It helps with dating and reproduction...)

7. Male and female sand dollars are indistinguishable.  (And even they don't really need to know.)

8. Sand dollars have a surprising number of predators, including sea gulls, starfish, crabs, otters, snails and octopi.  I'd add beachgoers to the list, but I wouldn't know where to rank them.

9. I find them absolutely adorable.

For further reading:

Facts about Sand Dollars -

What Animals Eat Sand Dollars?

Ocean Wild Things - 7 Swinging Sand Dollar Facts

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Gulfport Gets a Boat Show

Straight from The Gabber November 2nd:

Council approved an application to hold a three-day boat show and Formula One boat race on Boca Ciega Bay to benefit the Michael J. Yakes Foundation and PARC. The event will be held Friday April 28 through Sunday April 30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event will be free and open to the public, and only food vendors from Gulfport will be allowed.
The largest event of its kind ever held in the city, it will require the closing of parts of Shore Boulevard and 31st Avenue S. and is expected to draw around 30,000 people over the three-day period. The 17-foot boats will race in a roughly circular track off Gulfport Beach.

In response to questions from the council, the applicants, Tim Seebold and William Joule, said all measures would be taken to protect manatees and sea grasses.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Successful first Chef's Table Event in Gulfport, Florida benefits CASA

On October 10th Gulfport hosted the first Gulfport Chefs Table charity fine dining event.  Eight local restaurants participated, culminating in the organizer's presenting CASA with a check representing part of the total donation amount, which was $8,569.75.  The donation will be matched by the Sonia Raymund Foundation.  The proceeds will be used for CASA's new 100-bed domestic violence shelter that serves southern Pinellas County.

The 2016 event took place in the middle of Beach Boulevard, and was delayed for a week due to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew.

Next year's event is being planned for November in an effort to avoid late-season storms. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Beach Parking Re-Opens Sunday, November 6

The new beach parking area at Gulfport Beach has finally re-opened after being blocked off for most of the summer. 

Red pavers and cement have replaced the former pot-holed asphalt. Individual parking spaces are now clearly marked with white paint.  A new sidewalk has also been installed with seating, a wall and landscaping.  Lighting and crosswalks were also upgraded.

Very fancy and very beautiful!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

It's that time again! 4th of July Celebrations in Gulfport Florida!

Last (but perhaps foremost!) are the Fireworks on Gulfport Beach.  9 pm on Monday, July 4th.  You'll also be able to view fireworks going on across the bay at other communities.

4th of July celebrations also include a fishing derby, the ever-popular Family Sand Sculpture Contest, a parade, live music and arts and crafts vendors in the Downtown Waterfront District.

See the flyer below!  And for more info visit