Friday, January 27, 2012

Endangered Fishes in Our Own Backyard

The roundtail chub (Gila robusta), a vulnerable species, in spawning coloration.  I was fortunate enough to see these beautiful fish when I worked in Wyoming.
      It seems to me that the average person I talk to knows what an endangered species is.  Most are familiar with the classic endangered species (e.g. tigers, gorillas, etc.).  However, some people seem a little bewildered when I speak about the endangered or threatened species that I have encountered in the U.S.  In reality, endangered species are not restricted to tropical rainforests and developing countries.  In fact, there are many here in America and especially the southeast, including plants, invertebrates, amphibians and of course, fish.  One of the most important aspects of conservation is awareness.  So, here is a list of the "Desperate Dozen," twelve species that the Southeastern Fishes Council has determined the most likely (of the southeastern fishes) to go extinct.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tribute to Rhysling

      Our complete tribute to Rhysling!  We didn't have a drummer tonight, and we need to work on keeping tempo, but it is coming along.  Enjoy!  Also, note how Jonathan gets really excited and looses his pick.

Lyrics by Robert A Heinlein, taken from his short story "The Green Hills of Earth."  Music by Chris and Jonathan.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Green Hills of Earth

      I am writing this at the risk of sounding like the nerdiest person in the world.  Jonathan and I have been goofing around on our instruments, and we ended up putting chords and a melody to a song from one of Robert Heinlein's short stories, "The Green Hills of Earth."  In the story, a jetman, named Rhysling, loses his sight to radiation while working in the engine room of a spacecraft.  Afterwards, he is no longer useful as a jetman (or so people think) so he becomes a space bard, and wanders the solar system with his accordion musically chronicling the people and places he sees. (*SPOILER ALERT-Skip the rest of this paragraph if you ever plan on reading the story.)  Rhysling travels for years and then finally decides to return to "the green hills of Earth."  He bums a ride on a transport and the engine malfunctions causing radioactive material to fill the room.  The jetman on duty dies leaving Rhysling to dump the radioactive material.  As he completes what he knows will be his last task, he describes the solar system in verses, and sings one last revised chorus.

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth
Let us rest our eyes on fleecy skies
And the cool green hills of Earth!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Netting Mullet from a Canoe

Jonathan shows one of the mullet we captured a few days ago.  This fish actually jumped out of the water to dodge my net and landed on the shore.  Note the jacket, it was very cold.
      I went out to catch a few mullet (Mugil cephalus) with my friend Jonathan Bollhoefer.  Although many of the fish have left to spawn, you can always find a few in some of the brackish tidal creeks of the area.  This is especially true when really cold temperatures concentrate the fish in these creeks.  The creeks may only be a couple of degrees warmer than the bay or sound, but the creeks also tend to have less temperature fluctuations.  Anyway, with the mullet in these creeks, they are pretty easy to catch.  Jonathan paddled the canoe upstream, while I casted my net off the bow of my canoe ( didn't flip.  Canoes are perfectly stable watercraft that are capable of quite a lot, if you understand them.)  It was night, but we had the boat rigged with lights, so we could see the fish running up ahead of us.  After a short time we had "herded" a bunch of fish into a shallow pool.  They started jumping everywhere, and I tossed the net.  I quickly captured 3, while two other mullet that tried to leap to safety jumped right into the black needlerush.  We just picked them up and put them in our boat.  We ended the night with 6 mullet.  We also saw a lonely flounder (probably about 16 inches) who apparently forgot to swim out to the gulf to spawn.  We tried to gig it, but I couldn't get the fish in the boat.  Anyway, the flounder escaped but at least we have some mullet to smoke.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Muscadine Mead

Muscadine Pymet bottled in January 2010.  The label was drawn by Thomas Matechik.
      I recently opened a bottle of my 2010 muscadine pymet.  For those of you who don't know, a muscadine is a southern species of wild grape (Vitis rotundifolia) that is sweeter than normal table grapes with a slight "musty" (though not unpleassent) flavor.  There are many different wild varieties and domestic cultivars, including large and small bronze, green, or purple grapes.  I used to find the most prized variety, the wild scuppernong, all over in and around Tallahassee.  It seemed that almost every rural roadside or city fence had muscadines growing on them.  Also for those of you who don't already know, a pymet is a mead with added grapes (or grape juice).  It is sort of a mead and wine hybrid.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hand-gathered Herbal Tea

Sharing some fresh herbal tea with fellow adventurers, Jon and John.
      Sorry for not posting much the past few days.  I have been busy writing grad school application material and I have also been pretty sick.  Anyway, my fellow adventurer, Jonathan Bollhoefer, arrived in town and wanted to make some tea.  Since I have been sick, I figured it might soothe my sore throat.  He and John went down the street and collected some yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) leaves while I picked out some dried leaves and flowers from my wild herb collection.  The brew tasted pretty good, and it did soothe my throat, but I don't get too caught up in all the healing herb frenzy.  I'm sure the herbs do have medicinal properties, but they were probably overshadowed by all the cough medication I had earlier in the day.  To see how to make the tea for yourself, check out Jonathan's instructions.