Saturday, July 05, 2008

Part I, Day 9: 080617

We spent too much time in and around the city of Sebring, Florida, between last night and this morning. But, we did visit some good collecting sites, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Travelling East first, we visited Lake Istokpoga, then North to a boat ramp on the Peace River that yielded amphipods and lots of other fun things.

Along the way, we visted the small, urban Crystal Lake. Though we found no suitable sampling habitats, we did see our first alligator warning sign.

This sign at Crystal Lake warns local visitors not to taunt the large, ancient, predatory archosaurs they share their state with.

Lake Pasadena is a smallish lake further North that appears to be fully surrounded by private property. We found the boat ramp indicated on the map, and discovered it too is private property, under new management by Barry. Barry wandered over from his home across the street in the trailer park, and was happy to let us wander around on his dock, despite the “keep off” signs, and pull bugs out of his water.

Barry was another elderly gentleman, but was pretty much the polar opposite of Orlando’s crazy old man. Barry had previously lived in upstate New York, and was quite familiar with southern Ontario. He was both curious about our work, and informative about the local aquatic wildlife. His ‘gator stories were much more believable (and lucid) than others we’ve heard. While I was talking with him, a very large grass carp swam by in the shallow, muddy water. Barry refers to these as “tripiloids”, which is close enough to a description of their karytypes for me. Basically, waterways of central and southern Florida are periodically stocked with sterile, triploid (3n) grass carp, to control aquatic vegetation. In some places, it is legal to fish for them, though I don’t know what one would use for bait on a hook. Despite being sterile, grass carp will construct nests and lay eggs, which are quite prominent and visible when water levels are very low, as in a drought year.

Barry's boat ramp, and somebody's trailer, at his place on Lake Pasadena. There was some serious mud on the wet side of the reeds in the right of this picture, and some lovely snail- and amphipod-rich green slime near the dock.

We continued on in the intense heat of a Florida summer, putting some serious miles behind us along with another collecting site, and stayed in Ocala.

Tomorrow, we need to keep moving North, and visit some sites on the Gulf coast of Florida

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