Diving cormorant

A Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocoracidae: Phalacrocorax auritus) quickly swam by a few times while we were snorkeling at Three Sisters Springs.

While in a different family (Anhingidae), Anhinga appear similar and are behaviorally similar to cormorants, and the easiest means to telling the two apart, in my experience, is to look for the more robust, curved bill in the cormorant.

Red-breasted Sunfish

Lepomis auritus (Centrachidae) in Crystal River and Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida.

It was surprising to see abundant sunfish in the brackish, tidally influenced, portion of Crystal River, and I was excited to see that I didn’t know which species it was on-sight. I think these are red-breasted sunfish, a species that may be found in Ohio, but relatively rarely, especially compared to bluegill (L. macrochirus) and green sunfish (L. cyanellus). In fact, the collection of Ohio fish that was used in Vertebrate Zoology at Kent State didn’t include this species.

Manatee calf

A West Indian Manatee calf (Trichechus manatus), probably nearing 2 m in length, casually swims by and circles back towards its mother. In some of the images, the long sensory hairs that uniformly cover the animal’s body are visible.

Adult West Indian Manatee

A few resting adult West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) from Crystal River area, including Three Sisters Springs.

The IUCN first classified T. manatus as vulnerable in 1982, where it has remained since; however, there are two subspecies reported: T. m. latirostris (the Florida manatee) and T. m. manatus (the Antillean manatee) that are both classified as Endangered. In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to reclassify and downlist the manatee as threatened from its status under the Endangered Species Act as endangered, but it is still afforded many protections against harassment and habitat loss under the ESA.

Sphagnum moss

Sphagnum moss grows along the edges of a cool spring at George L. Smith II State Park. The moss is partly characterized by a capitum—a bunch of early branchings at the tip of the moss—and is most common in northern latitudes. It was interesting to see it in Georgia, and Amos was certainly happy to enjoy the cool water.

Another trip to George L. Smith State Park

In September, I spent a night at primitive campsite #2 in George L. Smith II State Park—a site I’ve kayaked to with some friends a couple of years past and with the dogs on another occasion. This trip was hot and buggy, and the water of the reservoir was the lowest I’ve seen.

Nonsense.