Tread softly…

Tread softly is not just a warning about this plant that when touched will cause a burning rash. This plant too was on the restored dune area of the Lauderdale by the Sea beach. The pretty white flowers betray it’s named warning; Tread softly (Cnidoscolus stimulosus). I would suggest tread away from any patches of this plant; another reason to stay on established pathways.

Macro photo of the pretty little white Tread Softly flower. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

The prickly bristles are evident here; strongly suggesting I avoid touching. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Not an area to walk in. Note the dangerous Tread Softly with clusters of even sharper Beach Star plants. Not all the danger is found in the ocean’s waters. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Barefooters beware…

One of my favorite beach areas is the established dunes in north Lauderdale by the Sea. Previous posts have shown some of the diversity of plants thriving in this small area. However, if you are barefoot on your walk when you reach this area I strongly suggest you put your sandals or flip-flops on to walk through this vegatation. My first time there I thought I could see where to safely step without pricking my feet on the Beach Star (Cyperus pedunculatus)’s spikey leaves. However, new sprouts are very tiny and easily hidden with blown sand; but when stepped upon it’s prick is quite obvious. This tiny plant packs a painful warning; stay on the paths and wear your shoes so you help protect the dunes.

Natural dune protector. Beach Star plants of various sizes, each packing a painful punch when stepped upon. This one, like most are mostly hidden from blown sand. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Some among many. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Some of the Beach Star are large enough to be seen and avoided. But if you look carefully there are many tiny new plants acting as guardians of the Dune. Happy Earth Day. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Reverential fear…

Stay safe everyone in Irma’s path. Midwesterners are credited with strong health and stamina because they deal with multiple seasons and weather events. But those that live on a sea coast are the most determined to be resilient against nature’s energetic presence. Prayers for wisdom and calm as you deal with Irma’s invasion.

These images share the subtle beauty along Florida’s seashore.

Hunker down in a secure location fellow Floridians. God be with you. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

The beauty of the coast shall return. Nature is healing as well. Copyright 2017, Pamela Breitberg

Power and brilliance. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg


Just chillin’…

New public lessons for Lincoln Park Zoo’s polar bears. Makes them look harmless except for audience instructions to stay quiet and behind the rope. Very cool; pun intended!

They practice being touched, opening their mouth and doing different poses so that vets can check their health. They are behind a grid-like gate, but are able to touch the trainer.

Eat a fish for being cooperative. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

HUGE paw of polar bear. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Open wide! Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Gimme paw sweet cool guy. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Positive trait becomes liability…

Nature’s camouflage protection method almost put this toad in danger as I walked through drizzle from the parking lot to the visitor’s center at the Chicago Botanic Garden a few weeks ago. Fortunately there was enough of a difference in the patterns of the walk and the toad that I noticed it. At first I thought it a rock which should be avoided; luckily for him/her I did not choose to kick it to the side.

Wet  toad camouflaged  on wet path. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Wet toad camouflaged on wet path. Copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Man or Jelly…

Downward reconnaissance is strongly encouraged if bare feet is the m.o. for a morning beach stroll. What one sees in the sand foreshadows what one may encounter if they add an ocean plunge to their morning. Simply said, watch out for things that STING. On Florida’s Atlantic Ocean beaches there are two contrastingly named creatures of woe that one may come upon.

The Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis) has a name worthy of its terror while the Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)’s name suggests an delightful storybook character. Sighting either of these creatures will cause pause and caution with each future step; being stung by either, even when they lie dead on the beach, is not fun! Their presence in the sand is a warning that others may also be found in nearby ocean waters. Wait to swim until a later time.

I had only seen the Man-of-War on prior visits. Assuming their jelly like bodies qualified them to be Jellyfish. Beach goers soon educated me that they were Man-of-War. Learning their name my respect for their powers increased dramatically. I was “lucky” enough to encounter BOTH species this past New Year; both the seriously named as well as the playfully named dreaded creatures. The Jellyfish fascinated me with their simplicity. I am equally fascinated by the un-animal appearance of the Man-of-War too. I kept my distance and stayed out of the water.

Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis) is so named from its resemblance to an 18th century armed sailing ship in full sail; it is a smaller model of course. Wikipedia says: “Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a common jellyfish but a siphonophore, which is not actually a single multicellular organism, but a colony of specialized minute individuals called zooids.[1] These zooids are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival.”

Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) has a name describes it well, helping you know you are observing. Many of the Jellyfish I saw were actually just partial, the “mesoglea” or jelly, which is the last part of the fish to decompose. I have seen numerous Man-of-War on a morning beach; but the Jellyfish were greatly larger in number as they are known to arrive, adding to their intrigue and my fearful respect. Adding to my interest was a pinkish/yellowish “thing” inside  which I learned are the gonads (male are pink, female are yellow).

Nature never ceases to amaze and entertain and educate me. Yet I still question such contrasting names for such similar looking and acting species. Guess the name is in the brain of the discoverer? Or the name is the perspective of the discoverer?

Two STINGY creatures of the beach and sea, the blue rimmed Man-of-War and the Moon Jellyfish.    copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Two STINGY creatures of the beach and sea, the blue rimmed Man-of-War and the Moon Jellyfish. copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Moon Jellyfish, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Moon Jellyfish, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg