Salt Life

The taste of sea salt on my lips. The squawk of seagulls as they swoop over the beach. Waves crashing on the shore, washing up taupe and white seashells. These are the sights and sounds of the salt life. Life rights itself strolling along the salty shoreline searching for the perfect shell. Time stands still. It heals the broken parts of me and centers my soul.

Humans that are attracted to water are referred to as “blue mind” people. This term was first coined by Dr. Wallace Nichols, a marine biologist and writer. People with a blue mind feel a sense of peace around the water. Roaring waves lapping up on the beach, the trickle of a creak flowing over pebbles, or the gentle ripples on a quiet lake; it doesn’t matter as long as it is near water. Being by the water gives us the opportunity to escape our busy, hyper-connected lives and revel in solitude. It provides our brains with a sense of rest from over simulation. People that are drawn to water seek knowledge and understanding. When we are near this blue space, we close down the extraneous stimuli and give way to a meditative state of mind.

I am in my happy place when I am outdoors. I love the mountains, trees, and desert, but nothing heals my soul quite like being by the water. I suspect there are a lot of us “blue minded” people out there.

” When you see water, when you hear water, it triggers a response in your brain that you’re in the right place.”

Dr. Wallace Nichols

Salt water sea life

We live in the chilly Pacific Northwest. We get deer, turkey, and even the occasional moose roaming through our yard on a regular basis. That is our normal. The salt water provides a whole different type of animal life here in Florida. One of my goals on this trip was to see a manatee, so we made a point to visit a couple manatee observation areas.

The first was the Manatee Observation & Education Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. There were only about four manatees hanging out there, but we got to look over the edge and see them up close. Such prehistoric looking creatures, these gentle giants of the ocean. According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, one of the biggest dangers to manatees are watercrafts. One in every four adult manatees have evidence of 10 or more watercraft strikes. Sadly, 20-25% of manatees are killed by boats every year.

The other place to view manatees is at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center at Apollo Beach. The water coming off of the electric company warms the salt water near it and the manatees come there to hang out in the warmer water in the winter. There were probably fifty of them just floating along, relaxing in the warm water. Smart animals.

I would really like to see the large tortoises that crawl up on the beach to lay their eggs at night. Unfortunately, it is the wrong time of year for that, so I had to settle for a smaller version. Honeymoon Island State Park is home to over 200 gopher tortoises, so we headed up there to walk the park. We were fortunate to see one lumbering along and then slide into his burrow. Gopher tortoises dig burrows that are 10-30 feet deep and have a large turn around spot at the end of them. They kindly share their burrows (both current and abandoned) with up to 250 other animal species. The snakes that share burrows with some of the tortoises actually help to protect them.

Salt water play

As I mentioned in my previous post, Living Like the Locals, we are staying at a marina while we are visiting Florida for a month. The marina has several kayaks available for residents to use and they invited us to use them during our stay… for free. I jumped at the opportunity. Kayaking through the estuaries was on my list of things I wanted to do while we were here. When you quietly paddle through the salt water, you get to see the mangroves and water life up close and personal.

One of my favorite ocean water activities is, what I have dubbed, “wave bobbing.” I jump into the waves and let the buoyant saltwater bob me around. It probably looks pretty funny for a lady in her 60’s out there bobbing in the waves like a ten-year-old, but fortunately, not worrying so much about what others think is a side benefit of aging. Joy overrides concern for other people’s opinions of us. I just hope they don’t mistake me for a manatee!

Some people can walk, or even jog along the beach unencumbered. And then there are those of us that are shell seekers. We can’t stop ourselves. I tell myself that I have enough shells, my pockets are full and yet… I can’t stop from looking down and gathering just a few more. Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida is an exceptionally good beach for finding seashells and sharks’ teeth. As a matter of fact, this beach is considered the shark tooth capital of the world. Yep, hunting for shark’s teeth is a hobby here. The converging currents at this particular beach bring in sediment that have a lot of fossilized shark teeth in them. You just have to dig through the sand and shells to find them. People purchase fancy metal sand sifting tools to hunt for shark’s teeth. You wade into the water, scoop up a bucket of sand and let it wash through the sieve. Then you are left with larger shells and hopefully, a shark’s tooth. These fossilized teeth are typically black and have three points.

Mr. U was captivated by it. However, he was too cheap did not want to purchase an expensive tool to use for only a couple of days. Instead, he bought a white plastic colander at the dollar store. The thing actually worked. We found over 45 small shark’s teeth with it. I am sure that we were quite a sight, me bobbing in the waves and Mr. U hunting for shark’s teeth with his dollar store reading glasses and colander. Oh well, what do we care – we are retired and on vacation.

After a full day at the beach gathering shells and shark’s teeth, we “rewarded” ourselves with a cold drink and some grouper bites at Sharkey’s beach restaurant by the pier. Retirement life is good.

8 comments on “Salt Life

  1. Ahhh, I feel more relaxed just reading about your adventures!
    Thanks for taking us along. Miss you 🧑

    1. Hi Lori –

      I thought of you when I was collecting shells…the “shell seekers.” Looking forward to seeing you and everyone back home soon.

    1. Hi Janis –

      It is funny how we don’t visit the best places in our hometown like we would if we were a tourist. I did not take the time to see the renowned rose gardens in Portland until we were getting ready to move from there.

      The shells are definitely more abundant here than the west coast, but the waves are not as magnificent. Sounds like you just might be a blue mind person too!

  2. I’m sooo jealous! Hunting for shells is one of my favorite things to do! Glad you’re having such a good time.

    PS I love when you poke fun at Mr U”! Lol!

    1. Hi Melissa –

      There are so many beautiful shells here, especially compared to what we see on the west coast. (Mr. U is a good sport about providing fodder for the blog.)

  3. What fun! Sounds like the perfect way to spend one’s retirement life.
    I agree that nature certainly does have a way of soothing the soul.🌊🐚

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