2012 April 01, Sunday
Today was our third day of searching for basking sharks off the coast of Florida, between Pensacola and Panama City.
We were fairly certain we had seen one near shore last Thursday, and quite certain that we had seen some mako sharks. So when the fog finally lifted and gave us calm seas, we went out with high hopes. But today brought more questions than answers.
Hundreds of dolphins were hanging out very near the beaches, relatively stationary around the second sandbar. Farther from people but still in the shallows were several schools of cobia and some large "bait balls" of small fish. Farther offshore but still within about five miles of shore, we saw manta rays and sea turtles (mostly leatherbacks). But nowhere today did we see a single shark of any size. The water visibility was good and we were flying "low and slow," so if they had been there, we would have spotted them. Unfortunately, the offshore fog was too dense for us to fly much more than about five miles offshore. Next weekend we'll search again, this time along a strategic route follows the ridge that surrounds DeSoto canyon, starting about 20 miles off shore.
NOTE: Unless noted, no photos or video provided by On Wings Of Care are "photoshopped" or otherwise altered in any way that could degrade accurate interpretation of what we observed.
Finding sharks, even the large plankton-eating basking and whale sharks, is among the most challenging aerial spotting tasks. They don't need to surface to breathe, so there is no predictable breaking of the surface with fins or tails. And if the light is too flat or the sun angle too low or the water too rough, we can't see deeply enough into the water to pick up the telltale shadow of even the largest of these animals. And when we do spot one, all our heads and eyes are straining to keep the position in sight as we maneuver the plane directly over the animal's position and as low and slow as we safely can. Each kind of airplane has its own "footprint" over the water, and different animals react differently to it. For example, experience has shown us that we can orbit a sea turtle at 600' and get good footage without alarming the animal; but descend to lower than about 500', and the turtle will dive. Whale sharks don't seem to be so shy; but since we've only ever seen a few basking sharks, and those not in the Gulf of Mexico, we will proceed cautiously to be sure we can get some good photographs before we risk their diving out of sight.
Here are some photos, first of the animals we saw, and then some of the scenes of the coastline and beachfronts. One of the manta rays appeared to be floating almost upside down, showing his (or her?) shiny light-colored underside. There were many adult-calf dolphin pairs near the beach today. Enjoy these, and we hope that our next article on the search for basking sharks has more success to report! Photos with numbers below 300 are courtesy of Mike Fitzsimmons, and those with numbers 600 and above are courtesy of John Cross. Enthusiastic and outstanding spotters, both of them!
As always, our flight log with lat/lons and times and what animals we saw is transcribed below. We have no gps flight track file for this flight because we used a different GPS that was not compatible with the Garmin BaseCamp program.
On Wings Of Care Flight Log for 20120401, Sunday
Basking Shark Search near Destin and Panama City, FL
All waypoint numbers below refer to waypoint numbers on the map shown above.
Times are given in CDT.
Lat/lons are given in degrees and decimal minutes.
Aircraft: N4784E. Pilot Bonny Schumaker with John Cross and Mike Fitzsimmons as spotters.
05. 01-APR-12 12:42 N30 23.394 W86 35.061
5 dolphins, manta ray
06. 01-APR-12 12:44 N30 22.681 W86 30.876
10 dolphins, several pairs of mother & calf
07. 01-APR-12 12:46 N30 22.725 W86 29.067
Large bait ball (small fish)
08. 01-APR-12 12:49 N30 22.498 W86 25.136
Many dolphins, 40-50, very near shore
09. 01-APR-12 12:51 N30 22.412 W86 23.669
2 dolphin (bottlenose)
10. 01-APR-12 12:53 N30 21.730 W86 18.989
Large school of cobia
11. 01-APR-12 12:55 N30 21.301 W86 17.281
12. 01-APR-12 12:56 N30 21.185 W86 16.582
Two groups of dolphin, approx 15-20 total.
Group of 5 almost stationary, two almost on their side.
13. 01-APR-12 12:58 N30 20.828 W86 15.265
14. 01-APR-12 12:59 N30 20.398 W86 13.842
Large school of cobia, plus a bait ball (small fish)
15. 01-APR-12 13:00 N30 20.210 W86 13.249
Mother-calf pair of dolphin, large bait ball
16. 01-APR-12 13:05 N30 17.707 W86 04.082
17. 01-APR-12 13:08 N30 16.555 W86 01.678
Huge pod of dolpnin, more than 50. Spotted? (think so)
18. 01-APR-12 13:10 N30 15.420 W85 58.849
Extra-large bait ball
19. 01-APR-12 13:12 N30 14.207 W85 55.977
20. 01-APR-12 13:18 N30 11.413 W85 50.571
21. 01-APR-12 13:23 N30 06.712 W85 43.614
Dolphin - mother and calf, next to a large yellow tourist boat
22. 01-APR-12 13:26 N30 05.039 W85 40.944
23. 01-APR-12 13:28 N30 03.150 W85 36.791
School of cobia
24. 01-APR-12 13:35 N30 04.338 W85 41.644
Large Manta Ray
25. 01-APR-12 13:41 N30 08.207 W85 48.264
26. 01-APR-12 13:47 N30 12.273 W85 54.921
Large Manta Ray
27. 01-APR-12 13:50 N30 12.909 W85 55.382
28. 01-APR-12 13:54 N30 14.459 W85 59.918
29. 01-APR-12 13:56 N30 15.707 W86 02.416
30. 01-APR-12 13:59 N30 16.520 W86 05.170
31. 01-APR-12 14:03 N30 18.382 W86 09.219
Turtle (no photo of this one)
32. 01-APR-12 14:04 N30 19.386 W86 11.996
Two turtles (photo only of one)
33. 01-APR-12 14:11 N30 21.058 W86 21.867
Ray - partly shiny, upside down?
34. 01-APR-12 14:21 N30 19.757 W86 26.331
35. 01-APR-12 14:24 N30 20.279 W86 21.041
36. 01-APR-12 14:27 N30 20.697 W86 15.366
37. 01-APR-12 14:40 N30 15.111 W85 57.886
38. 01-APR-12 14:56 N30 16.718 W86 21.172
Large pod of dolphin - bottlenose
39. 01-APR-12 14:59 N30 14.786 W86 19.985
40. 01-APR-12 15:05 N30 18.515 W86 27.850
Patches of sargassum
"The Story of Pellie Lou - a Pelican who survived the Gulf of Mexico oil spill"
by Bonny L. Schumaker, Ph.D.
With 46 photos from the Gulf of Mexico.
ALL proceeds go to benefit Gulf wildlife!
Order your autographed hard copies or an electronic copy here!
Read about our rescues under Rescue Tails!
Here are some samples:
A Dog Named Pepper Doesn't Give up Easily on Life!
20130428 - This 15-yr-old deaf, blind, arthritic senior held out in a hot, dry, desert parking lot until love finally found him!
CHAZ - No Ordinary Extraordinary Cur!
20130422 - Left to die but instead, this super-intelligent deep-hearted dog discovered love, family, and even fun -- from the most unlikely mentors!
Turbulent Trails for Tails from TX-20130413
Six rescue dogs from east Texas find forever homes in Nevada and California!
Who was rescued, and who was the rescuer? Anyone who has known this kind of bond has felt something so deep, so real, so ancient, that it cannot be described with words. These bonds ground us and free us from pettiness in our lives. Thank you Sheba. Rest in peace.
A Letter From Your Admirers! 20121231
This was a last-minute challenge that seemed beyond even our own grandest heroic imaginings. But it turned out not to be beyond the devoted hearts and energies of about 30 rescuers, shelter staff, volunteers, and families working together. Forty-three (yes, 43!) dogs in one day, from dead-ends in a Porterville shelter to homes and real lives with real humans who love and want them. Rescuers ROCK!
Orphaned very young, left alone and hungry til her fur fell out and her skin was covered with mange. Thanks to some big-hearted Texas rescuers, not only did she recover, she found the family who wanted to love her forever. How glad we were to be able to give this little pup with the big paws the ride to the rest of her life!
20121205-Blackie Goes Home at Last, and Taylor Turns Texan!
Four long months since Blackie's lifelong human companion and partner Tammy suffered a serious injury from a passing truck and disappeared from his life. Suddenly Blackie was in a shelter kennel, and Tammy fought for her life as she dreamed of her beloved dog. Thanks to many people, both of these souls survived to find each other again! This was a rescue and a reunion we'll never forget.
The same rains that made us work "On WHEELS Of Care" this week kept us grounded for this trip, which serendipitously combined the transport of Skip northward and the joyful and miraculous reunion of Miss T'Chen, who had been rescued and taken to Illinois after Hurricane Isaac, with her family in Baton Rouge!
This flight went almost as planned, and our plane was filled to over-flowing on every leg. And we met some wonderful new cat and dog rescues in Idaho and Oregon!
20 Lucky rescued dogs flown to homes in Canada!
2012 Sep 22
It turned out to a journey full of unexpected challenges, but these 20 lucky lovable canines who had been through the worst of times in California were just the best through it all, and now they are warming the hearts and laps and lives of some very lucky Canadian families!
Spindletop Scandal and the Search for Scarlett
2012 July 17 - present
With pitbull-like tenacity, we wouldn't take "NO" for an answer. Out of 21 dogs we sought, we have closure on all but two. Alas, one of those two is our Scarlett.
Tale of seven cities, six cats, and five goats!
2012 July 16
Who knows if the pleas for help brought the plane, or vice-versa.
But when serendipity puts this much together, there's no saying no!
Homeless Mom and Pups no More!
2012 July 08
Sometimes rescuers find the IDEAL person to adopt that animal in need ...
themselves! And in the process, a hole gets filled for the entire family.
This lucky mom now lives with Bear, Sheba, and Dave!
From Empty Nest to Love Fest!
2012 May 11
That last urgent plea came for the five orphaned pups ...
but what about the two large senior boys who would probably never get adopted?
Some people are just angels, meant to be who they are and where they are.
Check out these two and their new happy pack!
JEREMIAH has come home to us!
UPDATE 2012 July 7!
2012 January 13
His adopter called to say she had become ill, and could we care for Jeremiah? You bet we could. We rented a plane and flew to Arizona and retrieved him immediately. Jeremiah was indeed a true friend, and we aim to be his true friends, too. He has been eating like crazy and slept his stress away for the first few days, and now he's acting like a young dog again. Read more here!
CHAMP found at the airport!
2012 January 01
A sad, scared but dignified young Champ quickly won the hearts of everyone who met him at the New Orleans airport, and within two days we had permission from his original breeders to give him to a young couple with a younger female boxer mix, all of whom fell totally in love with him at first sight! Champ and Miss Princess are leading the good life now, and Champ's new dad finally has the fishing buddy he wanted! They tell us we made their dreams come true. We think they made Champ's come true, too.
Abby & Dinozo -- Two of a Kind!
2011 September--2012 January
Orphaned brother and sister, rescued and adored until calamity struck and they lost their family. Orphaned again, these gentle gems and perfect canine citizens found love and adventure with us until we found them their true forever home! Abby & Dinozo came with us to Washington January 7, and they were welcomed warmly and immediately into a home. Read more here!
Yo! Get a Load of Yolo!
2011 November--2012 January
Left in the cold, high in the mountains of southern California, life was over before it had barely begun for this orphan teenager.
Little did he know, his adventures had only begun! As of January 7, it's back to snow but this time with a family who adores him, and lots of fun and play in the Pacific Northwest!
Saving Scarlett -- Love Forever at Last!
Found on the streets, teats full but puppies absent, a battle-torn very hungry pitbull.
Hardly that sought-after doggie in the window.
But after we brought Miss Scarlett home to love and food, warmth and stuffed animals,
we discovered a warm heart and sweet spirit that changed us forever.
2011 July--September 29, A Joyful Reunion At Last!
Here they are during their flight with four other dogs Sep 29 (New Orleans to Oakland, CA, fuel stop in Roswell, NM).
And here's a photo from the happiest reunion ever!
More photos and updated videos here!
Sheba-Cosette - this lovely lady waited a lifetime!
Jeremiah - a true friend finds a new lease on life!
Two Giant Dogs & three cats reunited with their family on Whidbey Island, WA
Chihuahuas "Betty" & "JellyBean" fly to their rescue in Bremerton, WA!
New Year's Rescue: 33 dogs & cats are flown to rescue in the Pacific Northwest!
Hounds fending for themselves for years in Alabama fly to rescue in Arizona!
Romo & Stanley are flown to safe havens in Arizona!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2013
2013 Apr 12 - Mayflower, AR Pipeline Spill
2013 Apr 02 - Bayou Corne #6
2013 Mar 23 - IMMS Marine Mammals
2013 Mar 19 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#5
2013 Feb 15 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#4
2013 Jan 26 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#3
2012 Dec 24 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#2
2012 Nov 08 - Tar Sands and Texas
2012 Aug 30 - Hurricane Isaac Conquered
2012 Aug 28 - Hurricane Isaac Arrives!
2012 Aug 13 - Sinkhole in Bayou Corne, LA
2012 Jun 13-Dispersant Spraying Exercise off LA
2012 April - Chronicles of the Endeavor
2012 Dec 10 - How Dilute is Dilute Enough?
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2012
Sat Nov 17 - Platform Explosion
Wed Nov 14 - Barrier Islands 1
Sat Nov 10 - OIL
Fri Nov 09 - OIL
Sat Oct 06 - Whale Sharks
Fri Oct 05 - OIL
Fri Sep 14 - OIL
Sun Sep 09 - Hurricane Isaac
Sun Aug 12 - Whale Sharks
Wed Jul 11 - Whales & More
Fri Jun 29 - Whale Sharks & More
Dominica - The Nature Island!
On Wings Of Care flies to the Eastern Caribbean for whales and sea turtles!
Read more here!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2011
Sperm Whales & Whale Sharks:
Cape Cod, MA
Our Gift for YOU for 2011!
Click Here to Smile
from your heart, out!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf, 2010
Galapagos Veterinary Support
Galapagos vets do much with little,
thanks to true friends who shipped a TON of supplies and meds from the U.S. in June, 2011.
“Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”