|Florida mystery author Bob Truluck took time out from signing his newest novel, "Saw Red," to read The Islander. The book features Orlando-based private investigator Duncan Sloan in the search for a hooker's lost list of clients. Islander Photo: Paul Roat
First Island beach renourishment project; whale song-screams
We've reported for more than a decade about the Island's beach renourishment projects, the first in 1992-93, the second last year.
But thanks to a note from Marie Franklin enclosing an article in the Feb. 11, 1960 edition of The Islander, it seems that a big part of Holmes Beach received sand that year.
The article reads as follows:
"The stabilization project at the Manatee County Public Beach is now under way, with the three rock groins at the beach partially constructed and the artificial nourishment work having started a few days ago. Dredging fill from a location in the bay, off Sportsman's Harbor and just north of the Anna Maria Bridge, the sand is being pumped through an 8-inch pipe laid through Sportsman's Harbor, across the main highway through a culvert opposite the beach, and across the parking lot onto the beach.
"Work on the project is under the supervision of the Anna Maria Island Erosion Prevention District and it is estimated that the dredging will take about a month to complete, working around the clock through the week and not at all on weekends."
As Marie put it, "Guess this is the way of our Island É like parking and drainage?"
Sonar sounding death knell for whales?
A new study indicates that military sonar may be causing whales and other marine mammals to come down with the bends, prompting strandings and death.
According to the journal Nature, a mass stranding of beaked whales in the Canary Islands last year coincided with a U.S. Navy exercise in the area in which a new brand of low- and mid-frequency sonar was used by ships there. Most of the dead whales were found to have gas bubbles in their blood vessels and "vital organs," similar to the bends.
In humans, the bends occur when divers rocket to the surface too quickly, causing bubbles in the blood that can lodge in the heart or brain. Scientists are toying with the idea that the sonar signals spur the whales to rise to the surface too quickly, but figure that explanation is unlikely.
The frequency of the sonar signals, and the apparent frizzle of the whale's blood, seems to the more likely culprit, most biologists agree.
The low-frequency sound system is mainly used to locate other military vessels, like submarines. The U.S. Navy was stopped from using the special sonar in the world's oceans on environmental grounds by a California federal judge last August.
However, Congress is debating legislation that would allow the U.S. Defense Department to become exempt from the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Act, which would effectively allow the sonar to continue to be used.
By the way, sound carries something like five times greater distance under water than through air.
And the low-frequency sonar the Navy hopes to use is on the same frequency that the larger, and most endangered, whales use to communicate.
Reptile holiday shopping
Looking for exotic and dazzling gifts for the special people in your life this holiday season?" asked the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "Perhaps you should consider American alligator accessories and garments with their captivating beauty and exceptional versatility."
The release continued by stating that "giving a beautiful, authentic alligator belt, wallet or handbag to your special someone is similar to giving an original painting. No two alligator leather products are exactly alike because every alligator skin is unique."
Florida and Louisiana are the top states for producing the American alligator products, A. mississippiensi. Commercial wild harvests and farming operations contribute revenue to alligator management and conservation, and portions of the revenue collected from farmers, trappers and hunters for tag fees and licenses finance sustainable-use management programs.
You can go online at www.fl-alligator.com to find locations for gatorskin products. The nearest to us, I found, was in Palmetto, at Marcie and Charlie Tanner's Classic Alligator Products, 4829 Commonwealth Road, phone 722-2727.
If humpback whales can sing to each other across thousands of miles of ocean, wouldn't you think that the drone of the engines of super tankers, freighters, submarines and other vessels would drive them nuts, not even considering the sonar pings that probably sound like really, really loud underwater screams?