More Sarasota weirdness afoot, or a-beach
First, it was bare breasts on the beach.
Then it was bare butts.
Next was cigarette butts being banned on the beach.
Now, it appears, you’ll have to pay to miss out on all of the above on the beach in Sarasota County.
County commissioners representing our neighbors to the south of late are discussing and will probably enact what has always been a forbidden topic for public beaches: Paid parking for vehicles. At the beach.
Sarasota beaches, semi-historically
Back in the day, circa the 1970s, there was at least one beach in Sarasota County which had a “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” policy regarding women who wished to take their bathing suit tops off. It was at northern Lido Beach, and beachgoers enjoying the views were non-intrusive. It seemed to be one of Sarasota’s best-kept secrets, but it must have been included in the European tour books.
Morality police intervened, of course, and topless sunbathing was banned from the beach.
Next up was T-back bathing attire about a decade later. Sarasota City officials stepped up to the issue and decreed that thong bathing suits were inappropriate on the sand. The matter saw national TV attention before the T-back thing was over, the scanty attire outlawed and decorum on the shore reached.
Anna Maria beaches had a more quiet tone, but topless sunbathing was not uncommon at Bean Point and the T-back battle was waged here over the public beaches and the Palma Sola Causeway.
Next up for Sarasota were butts of another kind.
Cigarette smoking is in the process of being outlawed on beaches to our south.
The focus is litter and cleanup.
Whatever, smoking is in the process of being done away with altogether in Sarasota County’s beach zones, except for parking lots and some other spots which will probably be marked like some sort of demilitarized zones where the miscreants will be sequestered.
Sarasota County Commissioners last week voted to authorize staff to prepare a law to charge for parking at the beaches of its region.
Parking fees are still to be determined. Figure anything up to $30 a year for residents, an unknown amount for visitors, like Islanders or towners who wish to visit our southern neighbors and their sandy shores.
The motive behind the parking hit is cited as smoking on the beach, plus all the cuts the state is making on services to local government. It takes a bunch of money to pay for a bunch of people to clean the beach and parking lots of cigarette butts and other debris, it seems, and to charge for parking is a salve to the cost of cleanup.
Remember the old story of the camel and the tent? When the camel gets its nose in the tent, the rest of the camel is sure to proceed inside?
Beach parking fees could well be like the camel’s nose, from Sarasota to Manatee.
Yes, there is paid parking in Clearwater and St. Pete Beach, but not south of Tampa Bay.
Yes, there was talk of having paid parking on beaches in Manatee County, but it was quickly quashed.
Now, though, depending on how Sarasota officials flip or flop on the parking fee matter, the issue could loom again on Anna Maria Island’s horizon.
I am, quite frankly, torn on this whole deal.
I hate the idea of charging folks to park at our beaches. I also hate the expense that comes with keeping our clean beaches clean.
Take a stroll down Coquina Beach early one Monday morning to see all the crap left on the sand after the Sunday festivities. Dumpsters are filled with the stuff.
Will charging for parking alleviate the trash trouble? Of course not.
Will charging for parking alleviate the trash cleanup expense? Possibly.
But let’s let Sarasota County deal with its butts and fees for a while and see what happens.
Mercury levels in tuna have been a quandary for folks for years.
The levels determined by the federal government are too high, not-so-high, or just fine, depending on which study you pay attention to at the time. There are also those issues associated with pregnancy, how pregnant a woman may be, or if she wants to be pregnant sooner or later to factor into the equation the mercury-tuna levels.
The latest mercury study comes via a St. Petersburg Times’ report of a organization called Oceana, which sampled tuna from 23 stores and 24 restaurants in the United States last year.
Basically, the company found that mercury levels are much higher than what the feds are reporting. Like twice as high.
You may be spared the actual part-per-million counts of the fish/mercury levels, but some of the samples were taken from Florida markets.
Just don’t eat sushi every night and you should be all right, it would seem.
From the ‘duh’ files
According to the news source Reuters, “Cuba has banned the hunting of marine turtles endangered in the Caribbean by the illegal trade in shells used to make combs.” Thd gargeted sea turtle fishery is the hawksbill.
Cuba has had a legal fishery quota of 500 hawksbills a year to keep up its export of turtle shells, but has finally acted on the pleas of conservationists to delete that taking.
Another country finally coming to grips with the conservation needs of the world, eh?
… and from the goliath files
Talk about growing too big for your britches, or your ditches.
Goliath grouper, known until recently as jewfish, are a big, big fish that haunts the reefs off Florida. They can grow up to 800 pounds, and were pretty much a spearfisher’s dream back in the 1970s to such a level that they were nearly extinct and placed on an endangered federal list in 1990. Goliath grouper numbers have exploded of late, with local fishers complaining that sometimes they can’t bring any other fish to the boat without a Goliath taking a hunk out of it.
So while we’re speaking of expanding Goliaths comes this article from the St. Petersburg Times.
It seems that a Goliath grouper swam into a retention pond in mid-Pinellas County through a storm drain, started munching on the fish and other stuff in the pond and grew too fat to get back out.
A fisher caught the huge grouper last week, figured it was at least 300 pounds, and cut it loose.
There is some discussion before the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding de-listing Goliath grouper from the endangered list.
The Florida record of the fish is 680 pounds, but they are reported to grow to 800 pounds and 8 feet in length.