Bad news, good news from down south - stinky, too
Notice to mariners: Be careful just south of the Ringling
Bridge in Sarasota.
a bit of a problem in the water a couple of hundred
feet south of the new bridge, pretty much where the
old Ringling Bridge used to be. Contractor PCL Civil
Engineering Inc., charged by the Florida Department
of Transportation with taking out the bridge three
years ago, apparently missed a few pilings.
a lot of finger-pointing involved in this controversy,
of course, but a buddy with Sarasota County went out
and did some diving and mapping and yep, there’s
some "obstructions" out there, pretty close
to the surface.
also pretty close to the Intracoastal Waterway, which
is supposed to be at least 9 feet deep. These "obstacles" are
about six feet down, which isn’t that big a deal
for small-boat owners, but a big deal for larger vessels,
especially during winter low tides and when you kick
the boat back up on plane.
To date, three
boaters have ripped out the lower units of their vessels,
one to the tune of about $25,000.
source told me over the weekend that the problem with
the obstructions could well be something called "scour
protection" around the old pilings of the former
bridge. As currents flow, he said, sediment around
the pilings gets undermined, so to maintain the integrity
of the structure, rubble or concrete or other heavy
stuff gets dumped around the piles to keep them from
In a sort of
guileless way, he said that greater minds than his
were looking at contracts between the DOT and PCL to
work out the matter. He also only grinned when the
question came up about the contractural demand to remove
the pilings to bottom-level for the old bridge - as
in, did anybody think to add some words such as "other
structures" beyond the pilings? Things like "scour
apparently are new buoys out there to alert boaters
of the underwater hazards until the greater minds work
out what to do about the matter, but regardless, be
careful if you’re zipping through the Ringling
Bridge heading south through Sarasota Bay.
New lights at Lido protect turtles when exotics are
On more Sarasota
news, a drive-through at South Lido Park the other
day revealed some pretty nifty new lights. Come to
find out, they are not only eco-friendly, but turtle-friendly
As my buddy Bob
Ardren from the Pelican Press newspaper found out,
the lights are trend setters, of sorts, and they look
really high tech.
As he put it, "Pretty
revolutionary new solar and wind-powered lights, especially
designed to not interfere with sea turtle nesting,
are proving very successful in their first real-world
test in Florida.
in the South Lido Park parking lot atop 12-foot-high
poles, the fixtures emit a red light from low-emission
diodes and, due to solar and wind power, are independent
of the power grid. They've also now passed their one-year
anniversary in the park, having survived the numerous
storms of 2005.
County coastal resources project scientist Kenya Leonard
explained that as exotic vegitation is removed from
the park, more and more light from nearby parking lots
was finding its way onto the beachs, disrupting turtle
nesting actitivies. Hatchling turtles crawl toward
the brightest light they see when they emerge from
the nest - which is supposed to be the surface
of the nearby water - instead are often drawn
to their death in nearby parking lots or roads as a
result of bright lights there.
Leonard said, the only problems they've had with the
solar/wind-powered design were a few birds attempting
to nest atop the solar panels.
added the test of the experimental lights is funded
entirely by the state's sea turtle license plate program."
Oh, and did I
mention that the lights emit a bright red light?
at least has had some problems with lights in its historic
old-town district around Bridge Street, and has been
looking for some new designs.
Maybe a new "red-light" district
could be established there? Seems like it could be
like old times, don’t you know ....
You can make
you own connections to the above and the below, but
some new studies seem to indicate that rats, and perhaps
other animals, smell in stereovision/stereosmellivision.
in India have been testing the smelling capabilities
of rats and have found that "rats can effectively
smell in 'stereo': their two nostrils work independently
in much the same way as our ears, with contrasting
signals to the brain creating a spatial understanding
of sensory information."
Seems that the
research team, as reported in the journal "Nature," found
that, "Such is the rodent's skill that, once
trained, they required just 50 milliseconds to decide
where the smell was coming from. The rats selected
the correct side with at least 80-percent accuracy,
regardless of the odor presented."
This is weird,
though: When they covered one nostril, "the rats
lost their ability, showing that they need both nostrils
to locate smells. This suggests that the two different
nasal passages send contrasting signals to the brain,
despite the fact that a rat's nostrils are a mere 3
weird is the fact that these guys are measuring rat
nostrils, but that’s probably not the point here.
The Indian scientists
liken the rat stereosmell to what we do with human
hearing, whereby we can differentiate from where a
probably not just in those rats, the team has said.
know what other animals have this effect. But given
the excellent odor-localization ability of dogs, they
seem likely to have some such ability," one researcher
Can you smell
me now, Spot?
According to one
of those Internet search engines, dogs can smell more
than 25 times better - not the doggie-stinky-smell,
but through-the-nose-smell - than humans.