Still Waters

It was a mid-day visit yesterday at Circle B and while we knew that the temperature wouldn’t be ideal, I needed to escape work and do something enjoyable.

Yes, a couple of the trails were still closed because of aggressive alligator mating season, but the upside was that on a Friday around lunch time there would be almost no one else there.

As it turned out we saw less than five other people along the way and the temperature wasn’t too bad either.

We took the trail down to Lake Hancock and spotted a number of the usual suspects; Osprey, Herons, Egrets, Alligators, and even a Red Shouldered Hawk.

The surprising aspect was that when we reached the lake and particularly when we went out the small pier, we noticed how still the waters were. There seemed to be no movement at all and in some instances, a small layer of scum seemed to hug the waters as they approached the shoreline.

On the way back to the car we encountered lots of Butterflies, most of which were impossible for me to shoot as they kept moving. And on a picnic table spotted a fabulous Grasshopper who seemed very aware of me and so I took my shots quickly so as not to disturb him. The surface that he was on, made for a great setting.

I have loaded a number of the shots at the end of this blog and I hope you enjoy.

“Still waters run deep” was the initial thought that I left Circle B with, although clearly some of those fish would argue that it didn’t run deep enough.

But the thought stuck with me this past 24 hours and led to my thoughts for today’s blog.

You see, sometimes we look at people that keep to themselves and say nothing as “deeper” than the rest of us. “It’s the quiet ones that you have to watch” was something I heard a lot in Ireland growing up.

But the truth is that there is nothing admirable in being a still water. Sometimes it is simply because these people don’t have any thoughts worth sharing anyway. Similarly for the quiet ones that we are watching.

“Say nothing ’till you hear more” was often an advice given to people around me in an attempt to stifle their opinions until they were better informed.

But the truth is that quick opinions, gut reactions, and immediate responses, form the cornerstone of forward movement in our lives. People that deploy such concepts are generally the ones that make things happen, bring about change, and influence others.

Those who hold onto their opinion until all others have spoken are rarely heard and very often dismissed. This is because those engaging with or listening to the first voices, have already been influenced and are beginning to make their minds up. Some (the sheep) will have even already made their mind up on the very first input from those being vocal.

“Choosing your moment to speak” is advised as if it is a wisdom but it is wiser to make yourself heard and possibly be wrong that not being heard at all, even when you are right.

So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that if you have an opinion or a position on anything, it is important for you to get that opinion or position out there. Yes, there is always the possibility that you will be wrong. Maybe you will even be laughed at. But even this is part of life’s learning process.

Don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts as soon as you have them. Imagine the regret of the first mate on the Titanic who thought it might not be entirely prudent to race headlong into the dark waters, knowing that there were icebergs nearby, but said nothing.

Our biggest regrets in life are rarely about the things we have done but rather those we have not.

… just a thought!

Tiny Joys

I was in the middle of weeding yesterday. The yard has been quite wild forever and while I am really happy to have ferns growing all over the place, these last few months have seen them overtaken with an assortment of nasty vines and tall grasses.

So for the last few days I have spent a couple hours each day doing manual labor (which I hate) and begrudging most of it along the way.

My Dad used to love gardening and the property at Rosmadda was impeccable. It was a testament to his love for taking care of it.

Similarly, mine is also a testament. A testament to someone who avoids going into his yard at all costs.

In any event, as I am pulling and sweating and generally hating life, I spotted a tiny little frog clinging to one of the vines and obviously wishing I was back inside, ignoring the yard again.

She wasn’t any bigger than my finger-nail and I took a few pictures and have them at the end of this blog for you to check him out. I hope you find her as cute as I do.

Hope you enjoy.

The fact that I paused in the middle of something that I found miserable, and managed to find something so peaceful and sweet, made me realize that in so much of this life, peace and joy is where you find it.

It is easy to get lost in the weeds of life, pulling and pushing and consumed in each misery that grabs us.

But sometimes, we have to stop with the misery and look around us. We need to find that little something that we can recognize as being a good part of our moment and focus on it until it restores a little balance in our lives.

Even in the hardest of times, there is always something. We just need to stop struggling long enough to find it.

And it doesn’t need to be something huge and important. It doesn’t need to fully counterbalance the shit we are going through.

Its role is not to overcome the hardship that we find ourselves in. Maybe it won’t even turn our day around.

But at the end of the day when we rest our head on the pillow, we can cast our mind back to that one little joy that made life worth living today.

I called her “Joy” and she was my little moment . Such a sweetheart.

… just a thought!


Just one image in today’s blog; A scenic view of Lettuce Lake.

For differing reasons, we needed to escape on Sunday morning and found ourselves at Lettuce Lake just after they opened.

There was not a creature in sight for most of the visit and in truth it was the shortest time I ever spent there. I lie. High up in distant branches of a tree were a couple of small birds that flitted by so fast we barely saw them.

Adding insult to injury, it was uncomfortably hot and humid with the only saving grace being that most of the walking we did was in the shade of trees that overhang the boardwalk.

We only found the one moment that even remotely made the trip there worthwhile and this was the view from atop the structure that towers over the lake and provides some sense of the beauty that surrounds you there.

Here it is and I hope you enjoy!

This is the same place that I sprinkled some of my Dad’s ashes several years ago and so it has a meaning for me that perhaps others don’t feel.

So it did give me that one moment of solitude that I yearned for after weeks of losing battles and serious stresses.

Being able to find a moment of solitude can be instrumental in turning around the chaos in life and I hope it will be so in my case.

There are many times in our lives when all around us crumble and we seem to be facing defeat in every aspect that is important to us. If you are like me, you look for a single win to help turn the tide. Something that you can cling on to and begin a descriptive of what is happening with the phrase “at least” attached to the win.

In the absence of a win, giving yourself some respite can be a real godsend. We can’t always just cope with setbacks and defeats. There has to be a rainbow. Something that makes life worth the effort.

And if the natural rainbow of a win doesn’t come along, it is up to us to create one.

But don’t get me wrong. The rainbow doesn’t need to be a win. Simply the absence of a loss can be enough when all we are experiencing is loss after loss.

Therefore a simple moment of solitude, a small meditation, a minor comfort, can provide the color range from which we can assemble our rainbow. Looking at that picture from Lettuce Lake provided me that moment this week. It didn’t hand me a win. It didn’t create an “at least” opportunity. But it did give me enough space to just step back and regroup for the next onslaught.

And sometimes, that is all we need.

… just a thought!


It may have been a hot and humid start to the day but undeterred, by 7:30 we found ourselves driving in the entrance of Circle B. It was already 80 degrees and within a few minutes of walking, the outer body of my camera lens had condensed water from the air like you wouldn’t believe.

It was actually dripping on my hand.

Adding insult to injury, they had closed two of the trails that we normally take because it was mating season and the alligators presented too much danger to Joe Public.

But we didn’t care. The half trail that was open down as far as Lake Hancock had more than enough attraction for us and every chance of seeing several of the creatures that we always watch out for on such adventures.

There was a plethora of osprey, several egrets, and a handful of herons not to mention the sparkling gator forms that broke the surface of the warm lake waters in a gentle reminder that this was not a lake for swimming in.

We had a great time and though slightly muted in number, still managed to get some decent pics which I have attached at the end of this blog.

By the time we made it back to the car, we resembled a couple of melted wax figures and were glad of the air conditioning when the car kicked it into circulation.

It did make me pause for a moment and reflect on how anyone in their sane mind could have lived in Florida a couple of hundred years ago, or almost anywhere in the US during the summer months, for that matter.

But the more significant thought was how happy I was to be living here in this day and age and the purpose it has given my life.

Truth be told, I have several purposes in life but when you are taking a beating and feel really low in how life is roughing you up, finding purpose in the natural world that Florida places on my doorstep is revitalizing and restoring.

And therein lies the thought for today’s blog.

You see, we often lose track of what is important to us, what value we bring, and what our lives are all about. We take such a beating with issues to where we forget what the “good” parts of our lives are about. It is all-consuming to get lost in dealing with life’s issues and they cloud our view on the rest of our lives.

For my part, when life plays its little games with me, I put the camera to one side and let the trails go cold, all while I chase a solution to whatever ills me at that moment.

But it is important and I would argue important at all times, to remind ourselves what is important to us in our lives and make sure we are recognizing it as such. Recognizing the importance allows us to prioritize it and make sure that regardless of what else is happening, that it does not fall entirely by the wayside.

Yes, there are times when “all hands to the pumps” requires us to do what needs to be done rather than what we want to do. This is just a fact of life. But when we find ourselves doing only that which needs to be done and doing so for a sustained period of time,  our lives can lose their purpose.

Whatever life’s purpose turns out to be for each of us, this is where we count the final score in how we have lived our lives. The rest is just a distraction and certainly not what we value in our final tabulation of the life we have led.

I know that I often refer to end of life, lying in our deathbed, or drawing our terminal breath. And I don’t do so from a morbid perspective, only trying to show that there is a finite line in our life and the most accurate measure of our life occurs at that moment when we cross the line.

To have crossed that line having fulfilled our purpose is a huge bonus as regrets don’t translate well once we reach that final destination.

… just a thought!


There are no happy nature pictures in this blog. Only four pictures that I took early morning yesterday on a shopping center in Miami.

I got there just after sunrise and while the first homeless guy had already left for the day, the place was rife with signs of those who slept rough there the night before.

Firstly. the irony of this moment wasn’t lost on me as the sleeping conditions of some poor soul sat in stark comparison to the luxury just inside the window beside him.

As sad as this made me, things got sadder when I rounded a corner on the building later and there was a poor guy still sleeping while the center opened up for business.

Forget about the number of holes in his sock. Forget about the shirt being used as a make-shift pillow on a concrete sidewalk. Forget about the abject filth of his pants. And before you wonder “what he is hooked on” think back to when he was a baby. Somebody’s baby.

Then think back further to when he was in the womb and brought into a world where red politicians insist on “protecting the unborn” and damning all those that believe otherwise.

Where are those same people in protecting those that are actually born. Fuck the unborn. How about the poor and indigent? Are these not living beings? Or is it that once you drop out of your mother’s vagina that you are on your own?

America is the best country in the world to be rich in. Your freedoms are un shackled and the world is your oyster. If you aren’t rich, understand that there will be some challenges ahead and if you can’t deal with them, tough luck. Jesus only cares about you before you travel the alimentary canal.

Why should there be even one person living rough in the richest country in the world?

Why is the country’s greatest wealth owned by a tiny few while hundreds of thousands across the country haven’t even got a roof over their head?

Did you know that Florida has approximately 26,000 homeless people? And almost 12,000 of those are described by the state as “unsheltered” … meaning they sleep rough on the streets like this poor guy.

“Go out and get a job”

“Quit your addictions”

“Become a useful member of society”

How many righteous people do you know who will adopt one of those positions when you hit them with these numbers. Of course they understand that not everyone is capable of functioning “properly” as we call it. But they still don’t tolerate it or help reverse it.

“Why should some of my tax dollars be spent on these misfits? My money needs to go to the armaments manufacturers and defense contractors.”

They see a logic in their thoughts that I don’t and yet they will fight tooth and nail if you suggest that a ten year old in Ohio should be allowed to have an abortion because she was raped by her uncle. “Save the babies for jesus”

My sadness yesterday was compounded with the more and more remnants of overnight beds that were spread around the back of the shopping center but it turned into anger when I came around the far side of the property.

There were a number of stores that were for lease and you could tell the community was suffering and unable to support many of the small businesses that once occupied the stores. And there outside the empty stores was a stunning pontiac solstice convertible. It is worth at least $65,000 and maybe $85,000 depending on what year it was. Its owner?

The guy who owns the pawn store. Wonder where he got that money from. You don’t think it had anything to do with fleecing the poor natives, do you?

Sickened, I drove home after a few hours on the property. I got to sign a petition that some lady was pushing about telling DeSantis to keep his hands off women’s bodies. At least something good came of the day.

I wish that people were just a little more kind. I am tired of the bad guys always doing well.

… just a thought.

He Ain’t Heavy

For a bird-person, the trip to Circle B was like heaven. There were so many of our feathered friends there that it was impossible to shoot them all or to even take in what was happening all about you.

We needed 360 degree vision to even attempt to witness all the activities and though we tried our best, I am sure we missed a huge portion of what was on display.

There were sounds everywhere too. Chirps, croaks, growls; mostly hidden perpetrators that just wanted to make noise but not willing to be seen.

We got lost in the heron souffle that erupted all along Marsh Rabbit Run, in particular. There were great blues, little blues, green, tricolor and night herons and egrets (yes they are cousins to the herons) and my camera shutter would have repeatedly broken the silence if there had been any.

Yes, there was a whole range of creatures from gators to rabbits. But our mind was awashed with repeated heron encounters. So, by the time we came across the great blue heron nest we already felt saturated. But we needn’t have been. At that stage we witnessed something neither of us had seen before.

You see, there had been two siblings there for a while and we had seen them on the last visit and wondered when they would be strong enough to leave the nest.

I got a bunch of stills and broke for a few seconds of video (which is posted here on youtube. )

When you have shot as many herons as I have, you get to the point that you mistakenly feel you have seen it all. But you never have. I even saw one do a one-legged hand-stand lol

Anyway the images are the end of the blog and I hope you enjoy!

It was just after the sibling scene that the thought for today’s blog hit me. I walked away humming the tune to The Hollies hit, “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother” and it brought into focus a trait in humanity that is waning and fading into obscurity.

Empathy and sympathy for our fellow man was never a strong-suit of humanity. For millennia we have been quick to isolate ourselves from each other by sex, race, creed, and nationality. And this isolation has allowed us to view others as “them” and therefore not one of “us”.

Once we do that, we can take it to the extreme of hatred and discrimination. Just look at what the Klan, right-wing nationalists, and the supreme court do and you’ll see what I mean.

But my main point is one the other end of the scale. The end where passive indifference lives happily behind its white-picket fence and just changes the channel when it sees something that makes it uncomfortable.

There are some that still think that the opposite of love is hate but the true opposite is apathy and when we allow apathy into our lives in a single regard, it creeps throughout our conscience and mutes our sensitivities to the pain of others.

The others here can be simply someone we don’t like or agree with, but quickly extends to our fellow man, and ultimately to all living creatures.

We become the silent majority. A majority that becomes blindly indifferent to what is going on about them. A majority that becomes inwardly focused and allows poverty, pain, and destruction to thrive at the behest of those actively causing it for whatever their own purpose is. Their greed, wants, demands, become driving forces that shape our policies, our lives, our environment and though we may initially be aggrieved, we just change the channel and amuse ourselves with something less bothersome.

I could direct this thought at how we allow discrimination and intolerance to dominate humanity, as indeed it does. But, in truth, it is our apathetic view to environment and the creatures that we share the world with, that really bothers me most.

Voices on the far left decry our treatment of the planet and the destruction of environments but the majority of us pretend not to see it. We drive by roadkill and other than trying to avoid getting any of it caught in our tires, we give it little thought. We never ask about the depleted environment that makes these poor creatures take their lives in their hands and cross a traffic-laden road.

No, we drive home and if we do think about the squished turtle or crushed possum that we saw, it is only softened by the excuse that “at least it wasn’t me that killed him.”

Why is it unusual that I habitually put out food every day for visiting creatures? Why isn’t that the norm? When I say that to people, I often hear “you are wonderful for doing that!” But “wonderful” isn’t me at all. I am barely a decent person. What about all of you who are decent people? Why aren’t you stepping up and taking care of the little bit of the natural world that you come into contact with?

That this isn’t the norm is a clear statement of how far our norm has drifted away from where it should be.

We are not responsible for every creature on the planet. But we certainly have some responsibility to those that are impacted by our activities.

While some of us narrow our definition of the word “brother” to someone who accidentally fell out of our mother’s vagina beside us, we would be better served to understand that all living creatures are our brothers and regardless of how inconvenient it may be to help take care of him, he is never too heavy to do so. Even great blue herons know that one!

… just a thought.

(P.S. brother is a euphemism for everyone, regardless of sex .. before anyone thinks this blog is only for the boys!)

Memories and Shark’s Teeth

We went for an overnight to Vel’s beach home down at Englewood and (as always) had a fabulous time.

The weather obliged (as it almost always does in Florida) and the surreal surroundings provided a well-needed respite from the hectic work week we had both just escaped from.

We watched the birds in the trees around the house sing their melody to the evening winds while we sank a few Coronas in the company of one of my very best friends.

The conversation was only silenced when we broke away and went looking for shark’s teeth on the beach and then continued into the final golden rays of the evening as the sun sank below its watery horizon.

It was indeed a gilt-edged visit that will rest in our memory bank for quite a while. We found out that birds (or at least lady cardinals) peel the nuts before eating them. Inna found lots of fossilized shark’s teeth and I found that silhouetted selfies can help hide the years for an old fart like me.

I have included a number of shots at the end of the blog and I hope you find something to enjoy, I edited in a close up of Inna with a shark’s tooth, in case you are unsure what they look like.

But it was really the journey home where the thought for this blog arose.

You see, so much of our life is spent doing things that we oftentimes forget to make memories. We certainly did, in this visit. But much of our normal days these past few months has become a blur of progress and achievement.

We have knocked so many things off our must-do list but very little in our want-to-do list. Such is life in a high pressure existence. We can become very efficient at dealing with all the complexities of modern day living and, excluding disasters, seem to be to get to the bottom of whatever needs to be done in order to continue with forward progress.

But it is a rare person that lies on his/her deathbed and reflects on how competent they were in dealing with the challenges that they faced throughout life. More likely than not our thoughts become consumed with things we haven’t yet done, love we haven’t yet shared, and worries of those that we leave behind.

No matter how prepared we are for that final breath, there will be some of those thoughts that we leave behind in that final exhale. But, it is really important that our want-to-do list is given real life during our lives and we don’t end up short-changing ourselves because we were too busy or focused on the afterlife.

I am not going to rail against religions and their role in the latter, but really what I am trying to say is that with the former, being too busy is a fools errand.

Sometimes we consume ourselves with the thoughts that certain things have to be done today. Or that we are the only ones that can do them. We pad our thoughts with ample reasons as to why we need to be so busy in dealing with life’s urgencies.

And I am not saying that these reasons are invalid.

I am only saying that most things will get done somehow, by someone, at some time. We are not indispensable to life’s process, though we might like to think that we are.

But one thing is for certain. If we devote no time to our want-to-do list, then we will never do what we want.

Making time to smile with your loved ones, create some memories, and experience the true joy of being alive, will help add real meaning into our existence and help avoid merely becoming a blackened fossil washed up on a distant shore.

… just a thought!

Smiles and Growls

When we went to the marsh rabbit run trail at Circle B, we knew the blue skies overhead would likely produce some memorable moments that are photo-worthy.

That time of the morning, is always a creature-rich part of the day as nocturnal creatures have relinquished control of the trails and daylight-animals and birds are out looking for their first meal of the day.

Fish, eels, lizards, and others at the bottom of the food chain unwittingly begin the day’s cycle of life as nature’s breakfast-serving to their predatory (and hungry) neighbors.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If it turns out that I am wrong about reincarnation and I become some wide-eyed fish, please let it not be one in the waters around Lake Hancock.

I mean, I love Osprey. I really do. But I have seen so many eating their sushi-style breakfast in the trees above the trail that the thought of having my face eaten off me by one has become a theme for some miserable day-dreams.

In any event, we wandered the trail, Inna with her binoculars as the spotter and me with the 600 mm lens as the image-taker, and we weren’t short changed. Activity was all around us and we rarely took more than a few steps before something or someone made us stop and observe.

This time of the year, with the arrival of afternoon rains, the thicket either-side of the trails that we walk are greener and more lush than the dry season and much of our experience was listening to sounds that were near us. Audible doesn’t always translate to visible on trails like Circle B and sometimes you just have to be satisfied with hearing something rather than catching it front and center in a bright light.

There were several moments when we were surrounded by growls that we couldn’t see. For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, Alligator growls are an amazing primal moment. They can hit you in the pit of your stomach, well-beyond what your ears can tell you.

You know you are only feet away from whoever is growling and yet you can see nothing. They were to the left of us, the right of us, ahead of us, and behind us.

It was genuinely awesome in the true meaning of the word.

I have put a quick ten second clip on youtube here from our trail. Nothing to see, but do turn up the audio.

Anyway, I have added some images at the end of the blog. My favorite is the alligator with gaping mouth to where you can see the water drops on his teeth.

Hope you enjoy.

So, the thought that sprung to mind when pulling these images together today was how the smiles and growls of the trail were absolutely misleading and how they can take us in a certain direction to where we make poor decisions. You see, the growls while undoubtedly worrying, were not intended for us. They were territorial and competing alligators were trying to ward off others in the area and attract a female. The deeper the growl, the bigger the alligator and apparently in the female alligator mind, size really does matter.

I have encountered a fifteen foot alligator once, just five feet away from me as he rose out of the water and told me I was too close for his comfort with a growl that I can still feel in the pit of my stomach while writing. The presence of a growl in an alligator encounter therefore doesn’t mean we are about to be attacked.

Similarly, when resting, alligators’ mouths curve into a wonderful smile. They always look so happy and as there is nothing else on their face to give us an expression to understand, we (and others) can easily arrive at the wrong conclusion that all is right in a certain moment. In the animal kingdom, they quite possibly have the most misleading smiles of all.

When it comes to the world we live in, these thoughts translate into our reality inasmuch as not everyone who growls at us is an enemy and not everyone who smiles at us is a friend.

Over the years I can recall some who growled at me in days past that turned out to be good people and one or two that are currently friends. Similarly I can recall many who smiled to my face while plunging a knife into my back.

Our ability to recognize a true growl or real smile is part of the growing experience that we take with us through life’s journey. We invariably discard some of each and look to the motive behind them.

Some growls might be an expression of love; for example a parent chastising a child for a behavioral issue that the child needs to improve. Smiles might be a simple way of disarming you while you are being taken advantage of or abused.

It is people’s actions and particularly the actions beneath the surface that really count in how we gather or discard them within our lives. Knowing your friends is every bit as important as knowing your enemies. The damage done by misinterpreting a smile or growl can sidetrack or even derail the best of life’s journeys.

And as we only get one journey, it is important to read the signs correctly along the way.

… just a thought.

The Whole Picture

We took the trail by the lake last weekend at Circle B and watched once again as life and death struggles played out in front of us.

It is the real benefit of going early in the morning inasmuch as creatures are by far their most active as they begin their day with a search for food. Yes, the weather is also more pleasant at that time of the morning but it is really the witnessing of activity on the creature-stage that takes me there at that time.

We encountered all the usual suspects and it was hard to see everything because there was so much happening in all directions around us at the same time.

Armed with my trusty 600 mm lens, I did my best to capture some of it and I have attached thirty-plus images at the tail end of the blog.

But first I want to present 6 quick images (crops actually) the whole pictures of which are at the end among the others.

You see, it dawned on my as I went through the images, how deceiving or incomplete only seeing a certain portion of the image is. See if you can figure out all six before you go to the end.

In any event, it was this “part-of-the-picture” idea that captured my imagination and led me to today’s blog.

We can completely misunderstand or incorrectly identify things in life when we don’t take the time to see the whole picture.

Over the years I have seen many people jump to conclusions about someone or something when the wiser approach is to show more patience and wait for a clearer picture.

The world has molded us into early responders and converted much of our input into sounds bites that can shape our minds to believe what they want us to.

The political world is full of this on all sides, and in dominating the news cycle with 30-second summaries, it has fashioned our minds into thinking that all of life should work in the same way.

I’ve seen it watching sports games, where pundits will quickly tell us why certain teams have unraveled and will lose. I have seen it in movies where we leap to a quick decision on who the bad guy is and what will happen in the storyline.

In these instances, it doesn’t matter when they or we are proved wrong. Sporting losses and wins are largely irrelevant and movies are made to entertain us for just a moment of watching; not to leave a lasting impression.

But there is a real cost to being incorrect in assessing a real life situation or person that can be extraordinarily damaging.

People get married to someone they don’t really know, tell secrets to a BFF they only just met, profess hate of another based on something they just heard.

They take up jobs without knowing what it entails, decide to live someplace because they visited there once, and buy a new car because they like the color.

We all make decisions and not all of them are right. Even armed with the best of information, we can all make a mistake. But making a mistake because you didn’t bother to do the right homework is a poor excuse.

We learn from each mistake, or at least we should. But when outside pressures are continually honing our skills in instant decision-making rather than good decision-making, there is very little time for deciding, let alone learning.

Take your time, absorb as much information as you can about whatever is in front of you. And if you still get it wrong, then so be it. At least you tried.

… just a thought.


In the list of the world’s biggest aquaria, the Florida aquarium in Tampa doesn’t really figure. It took us between an hour and an hour and a half yesterday to see all we needed and that was pretty generous. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in diversity and the aquarium delivered some beautiful species of fish and animals that we would never normally have a chance to see.

The environments are quite eye-catching and in the main, the creatures there have a mostly decent life.

No big surprise then that I got some decent shots and have attached them at the end of this blog.

I hope you enjoy.

In general, I object to zoos and lump aquaria into the same category. For smaller creatures it can be argued that they provide a decent environment for those that live there, but I wholeheartedly object to any large creatures having to live out their lives on display and in (oftentimes) settings that are miniscule compared to their natural habitat.

There was a large alligator there (which I chose not to photograph) and he looked so sad, imprisoned in a tiny pool to the amusement of loud children screaming and tapping on the glass inches away from him. Four penguins stood in a melancholy display, clearly in distress or at the very least depressed at what this life had served up for them.

The sharks that swam in the larger tanks were impressive but again their range in such a tank is probably .001% of what life in the wild would afford them.

All these creatures were imprisoned for no crime and handed out life sentences that we would shudder at receiving, even if we had murdered someone.

Now, as aquaria go, I am sure that the people there in Tampa try their best to care for and provide comfort to the creatures that are imprisoned there. I even hear the argument that some of these creatures are rehabbed and possibly not even suitable for the wild.

But I don’t buy it. I think that is subtle propaganda that justifies us imprisoning them.

When zoos and aquaria were invented, the public had no access to ever see such creatures and though now we are inundated with video of almost all of the natural world’s most elusive creatures at the touch of our remote, our desire to put creatures on display for us has not abated.

Living creatures have a right to life and their right supersedes our desire to gawp and be entertained.

Florida has the most wonderful natural environment of any I have ever been privileged to witness and just this weekend we spent hours on the trails at Circle B watching creatures live out their lives without the shackles that humanity has placed on their less fortunate cousins.

Yes, there was life AND death on display as those at the bottom of the food chain sustained those nearer the top. But even they had a life BEFORE their death.

Humans have decreed for themselves a role of dominance over animals to the point where we wrote in our bibles that god decided that they were there for our needs. Apparently we can eat them, clothe ourselves in their skins, plus anything else that we deem a “need”.

Industries have flourished off the backs of these poor creatures and not happy enough with the written word that encouraged us to hunt and kill any creature we encounter in the wild, we then raise them for our purposes to where they never exist in the wild at all.

As a footnote, it is worth pointing out that humans weren’t even meant to be carnivores. If you look our teeth and digestive systems, they were meant for eating and chewing grains and vegetables and such. We only added meat to our diet because it gave purpose to our desire to kill.

But whoever the god we worship, the result is always the same. Creatures suffer and we thrive.

There are over 8 billion of us on the planet now. It took over 200,000 years for us to populate to a level of 1 billion and only another 200 years to climb to 8 billion. Meanwhile through mass hunting, extermination, and environmental theft and destruction, we have forced the numbers of non-human creatures in the opposite direction, making many of them extinct or near-extinct through our efforts.

How on earth does this sound right to anyone?

Yet the right wing and religious radicals continue to push for population growth through lack of contraception, anti-abortion, and reproduction encouragement programs.

“More babies! More babies!” they scream all the while consuming and enslaving those creatures unfortunate enough to be caught up in our growth.

Those that aren’t eaten or exterminated become pets as our entertainment and companionship is apparently a godly need also. So we breed creatures to fulfill those roles too.

Is it any wonder then, that classes of noisy school-children parade through the corridors of aquaria and zoos all around the world screaming and confusing those poor little creatures gathered in display for their amusement?

Where is the sentiment of respect and honor for all creatures of the planet? Where is the concern shown or the care given to any creature, when we educate the unaborted young that we are supposed to flourish in absurd numbers while all around us other creatures pay the price and go extinct?

But it’s OK. We will always have video to look at or those bred for display should we need them. I mean they are only a collection of bright colors and interesting shapes after all. Creatures don’t have souls like us humans. Ours is the kingdom of heaven.

… just a thought.