January 16, 2005

The Trip to Florida: Part IV

Today was another beautiful, sunny day, high of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course I’ve been following the weather up home, and I know its warmed up considerably since I left Lancaster County. However, it feels tropical here, and I know its cold and damp, and probably cloudy up home. I visited the Mote Marine Laboratory this morning. I never expected it to be so large. The aquarium handles over 450,000 visitors a year. It is a teaching / scientific study facility affiliated with 3 of Florida’s universities, and conducts ongoing research projects on the Florida sea life, coral reefs, and gulf, and Atlantic sea and ocean waters. The most fascinating parts for me were the manatee exhibit, and the turtle hospital. The aquarium houses 2 Florida manatees, Hugh and Buffett in a 70,000-gallon tank. You can watch and hear the manatees. Hugh is a pretty busy guy while buffett is more laid back and doesn’t move around the tank much. Together the two huge mammals weigh in at about 3000 pounds.


The laboratory specializes in rescue and rehabilitation of whales dolphins, and sea turtles. I visited the hospitals for all three, but found The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital the most fascination. The hospital staff removes sick turtles from the wild and treats them with medication, and often surgery, in order to return them to the wild if at all possible. Some, unfortunately, are too damaged by man and / or disease to be returned to the wild. Current patients include Gillligan, Lido, and Mystic. Gilligan is an immature Loggerhead turtle who was rescued from the surf at Longboat key, last June 2004. He had to have air removed from under his shell to allow him to submerge, and he has had surgery to remove an abscess, and he is on antibiotics. His illness is typical of the Loggerheads that are treated at the Mote Turtle Hospital. Though the causes are not completely understood, more and more turtles are dying of disease similar to Gilligan’s.

Of course, you can also visit other areas, and tanks that contain exotic tropical fish, sharks, and dolphins, and I did all of these. I also spent some time in the Aquarium Gift Shop, and I bought Ruth a plastic shark in one of those glob things filled with liquid, since that seemed the most appropriate item for her. If you shake the globe, the shark and little tropical fish float around in it. It’s kind of goofy, but that’s appropriate too.

I was planning to go to “The Palms of Mannasota,” a gay and lesbian retirement community in the afternoon, but I was just too exhausted. Instead, I’m sitting on my porch in the warm late afternoon sun, feeling like an old fart,” and I mean that both literally and figuratively. The older I get, the more flatulent I become. In any event, I guess “The Palms of Mannisota” will happen tomorrow.


The death toll continues to mount and is expected to top 180,000 when all is said and done. It appears that the public is exhibiting a tremendous amount of concern over the tragedy. Hopefully that will translate into the billions of dollars necessary to rescue children and reunite them with relatives or provide foster families. Clean water, food, and temporary shelter for millions of people will have to be provided. Doctors, nurses, and other medical people will have to be brought in, hospitals and other medical facilities rebuilt and or refurbished, not to mention repair and replace damaged and destroyed infrastructure. Additionally I would hope that our fickle public is able to maintain concern long enough to provide the funding and services over the long haul because this is a task that will not be complete for several years.
Everyone shoulld consider donating. I have chosen to divide my donation between American Friends Service Committee, and UNICEF, since UNICEF will be directly concerned with care for the children orphaned by the giant waves. I explained in my last entry the reason for choosing “The Friends,” that choice primarily because the Quakers represent the best of Christian virtues and values as opposed to the evangelicals representing the worst of Christian Values.

What are those Christian Values?

I will devote a future entry to the comparison of all aspects of the two religious groups. However, the primary difference is exclusivity. Evangelicals believe that they alone are saved, they alone know God and they alone know what God wants. The other 5 billion people on Earth know nothing of God and will all go to hell. On the other hand, the Friends believe that God is not the exclusive property of any one person or group. Rather he is present in each of us and we have only to search within to find him. Of course these are broad generalizations, and it would be necessary to make a much more exhaustive investigation into both in order to have a more thorough understanding of the religious practices of each.

* “Sea Turtle Nesting Data,” Mote Marine Laboratory, http://www.mote.org/~jerris/turtles/sea_turtle_rrc.phtml, painting by Sam Whiting, 60 x 60 inches, sold in October auction, posters available from the Mote Aquarium Gift Shop. Visited Sunday, January 9, 2005, 11:31 AM EST.

E-mail me at ZacSfuts@aol.com

Visit my homepage at AOL Hometown.


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