Tunicates….What is that orange blob?

So yesterday I spent part of the day off the beaches of Siesta Key. Forever on the hunt for new treasures I was beach combing thru the seaweed

Trunicate found. In Siesta Key

Trunicate found. In Siesta Key

on the shoreline.  Some broken sand dollars and lots of little seeds. While wading angle deep, I spotted a small orange blob.  Initially I thought it could be an old nurf bullet or a foam ball.  I bent over, got a little closer and touched it gently.  Slimy but hard.  Next thought was perhaps an egg sack or a piece of slimy fruit.  Went to pick it up and have to be honest, freaked out a little and dropped it immediately.  My protector Rich was out on the sandbar so nobody to be the brave one but me.  I pulled up my big girl panties and flicked it carefully up to the beach.  It was slimy but solid and had small pineapple looking pits almost.  It was a pale mango pineapply color.  Approx 3.5 inches by 1.5 in diameter.  It had a small dark area on what I thought may have been a base of some type that attached it to a plant, rock or something.  A few tiny shells and sand were stuck to it.  Really perplexed. I left it on the shoreline and walked away.

Rich came back from his sandbar stroll.  Nobody strolling by on beach seemed very interested in my blob.  I decided to take a picture.  When I picked it up again, the part laying on the sand had flattened. About an hour after my first contact with it.

Colonial tunicate found by Sunset Beach

Colonial tunicate found by Sunset Beach

So after hours of blindly searching online I had found a tunicate.  I think my find was a colonial tunicate.  This is a colony of creatures called commonly known as sea squirt or Sea Pork, because when it dies, it bleaches a greyish white, and looks like salt pork.

Now intriqued, I had to find out everything bout this weird yet interesting orange blob. This fascinating sea squirt, sea pork, tunicate or whatever you want to call it, is one of the only animals in the world that can produce Cellulose.  Cellulose is what many plant materials like wood are made of.  The colonies form tough, rubbery forms that measure more than an inch in height.  The zooids found inside are arranged in circular groups, hence the pineappely looking pits.  Colonies can spread more than 12 inches.  Because of the cellulose production abilities it is currently being tested as a biofuel.  It has no known predators so can be harvested as scientists speculate it wont upset ecosystem balance.  (Another post all together) 

Another fascinating sea fact is though they do not look anything like fish, they are chordates, part of the sane phyllum as fish.

Also, the tunicates go through a metamorphosis from little larvae that swim to settle into a stationary colony of adult sea squirts. They actually eat and digest thier brain when they mature.  I thought kind of like coral larvae floating until they landed to start a new colony.
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These creatures can be found from Maine to Florida on the Atlantic Coast and around up into the Gulf of Mexico.  I have also seen reports of them being found off coast of California from the Pacific.

For the past few decades these Creatures have been invading certain coastal waters.  George’s bank in the Northeast atlantic has a carpet tunicate that has covered 6.5 sq miles.  It covers not only stones, and other stationary objects but it is covering mollusks. Interesting as i commented that I was finding lots of shells that had tiny holes and bored markings.

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Apparently Japan grows and harvests them for consumption. Perhaps next time, I should slice it up for dinner later on.

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Petoskey Stones – fossilized coral

While in Michigan, Rich and I have discovered rock hunting.  I never realized how many ocean fossils have turned into rocks.  I am hooked and Richard is a friend for the big ones.  One of his favorites is the Petoskey stone.

A Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil, often pebble-shaped, that is composed of a fossilized rugose coral.  These stones were formed as a result of glaciation, in which sheets of ice plucked stones from the bedrock, grinding off their rough edges and depositing them in the northwestern (and some in the northeastern) portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. In those same areas of Michigan, complete fossilized coral colony heads can be found in the source rocks for the Petoskey stones.  We call these mushrooms and Rich has some enormous worth over $500 Each.

The Petoskey stone is Michigan’s s state stone.  It is named after chief Petosega of the Ottawa Indian Tribe.  The stone are not very amazing when dry unless they have been polished.


When you sand them down and polish them up, they are gorgeous.

10615957_693768544050912_7416231852299096766_nHexagonaria Percinata is tightly formed six sided, corallites.  These are the skeletal remains of the coral polyps.  The center if each polyp was the mouth that had little tentacles that were always searching for food.  This is a picture of what it looked similar to when alive millions of years ago.


Petoskey stones are found in the Gravel Point Formation of the Traverse Group. They are fragments of a coral reef that was originally deposited during the Devonian period.   We have found them on land and in the water.  The smaller stones are easier to spot if they have been tumbled over other rocks.  You can notice the markings more.

I will post more on how to find them.  How to clean them and what to do with them.

Some slab petoskey stones a friend of ours uses in mirrors and frames.10624971_558907867569059_1187709491858387045_n

Richard cle‌aning rocks


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Back in Florida

I will be arriving back in Florida later today from a summer in Michigan.  This weekend you can catch me at the Venice Sun Fiesta Friday thru Sunday with all of our Organic jewelry from Gypsy Rise Studios.  We do jewelry from real flowers, plants, nuts, seeds, horn and anything sustainable. Time to play.


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HP Steel Worthington tanks for sale

I have some like new Worthington HP STEEL tanks for sale.

Two HP 100 STEEL XS SCUBA $275 EACH or $500 for both

all din/yoke valve

All eith red/green tank on off indicator


$295 EACH or $550 for both. 

Take all four for $1000

Email me at gypsyrosewraps@gmail.com or call me at 3217958060

Great deal…great tanks.ImageImageImage

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Where is Danielle????

I have been in the weird working world for the last 9 months.  Came back from Michigan to a full art show circuit in Florida.  Now will be heading to Michigan again for summer show circuit.  I will hopefully get some dives in shortly.

Drugs suck my friends.  I have had some family issues with my son who is hopefully on the way to being a better person.  My dive equipment was stolen and pawned at least 4 times.  My laptop taken as well. Thankfully I have all the dive stuff back.  Well most of it.  No dive lights, no camera. No wetsuits. 

So, I apologize for the lack of posts.  I hope we are on to better times.  Look for some sites I want to check out.  I will be diving in Michigan for stones. Petsokey, Leeland Blue and even agate.  Kind of a new thing for me.   

Diving frees me.  From life, from the poop that happens in life, and from myself.  Heres to some free time.  fingers crossed.



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Update on lemon sharks.

I have been in Michigan for most of the summer working…no diving.  I came back to loads of comments and queries.  here is an update on the Lemon Shark situtaion.  If you feel strongly about protecting them, please read.

Hey there Danielle – I came across your blog in my research on the lemon shark fishery. Just in case you haven’t heard, NOAA is planning to move the open season on lemon sharks to Jan 1 — right as the aggregation begins. NOAA is taking comments on this ruling, so if you feel moved, please tell NOAA to keep the opening date in July – when the sharks are not reproducing and are not all grouped in one geographic area. SharkSavers, who you mention in your blog, is very active in this campaign.

See some info from SharkSavers, with data, here:

Please protect our sharks!


New lionfish trap may help to keep numbers down – no diver needed

On my obsessive lionfish knowledge quest, I came across a new lion fish trap that is working in the Bahamas.  Frank Cooney Jr. from Bimini Sands Resort & Marina in the Bahamas has hosted two successful diving derbies targeting the voracious exotic predators, but they still appear on wrecks and reefs in alarming numbers, devouring their weight in native species.  He is experienced to say the least in dealing with this sea intruder.

He decided to try to develop a trap that would target the Indo-Pacific invaders specifically without harming native tropicals and other reef fish. With two engineer friends, Cooney came up with a prototype that has trapped as many as 37 lionfish in a deployment while sparing the natives. Now, his invention has drawn the attention of Vanessa McDonough, fisheries biologist at Biscayne National Park, who is looking for ways to knock down the population of the venomous, candy-striped exotics in park waters.

Cooney is expected to deliver one of his traps to McDonough and colleagues shortly for a possible scientific trial. Fish traps generally are illegal in Florida waters, but authorities may grant exemptions for research purposes.

McDonough said she would like to find out if Cooney’s trap is more successful and cost-efficient than using divers to spear lionfish. She also wants to make sure it doesn’t harm native species.

“We could determine how effective they are versus divers in the water, especially in light of sequestration,” McDonough said. “It costs money to put divers in the water every day.”

Cooney’s prototype is octagonal, roughly 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide and lined with lead weights on the bottom to ensure it sits upright in the sand. Made of net mesh and PVC pipes, it weighs no more than 20 pounds.

A clear plastic cylinder in the center of the trap holds small baitfish, which are made to look larger by a magnifying strip across the cylinder. This device is designed to lure lionfish into the trap through an entry passage made of wire material that is wide at the mouth, but narrows toward the inside.

Lionfish attack prey by first sucking in water and expelling it forcefully, creating a pressure wave aimed at stunning the smaller fish, which they then inhale. Cooney says once the lionfish fan out their pectoral fins for the kill, they get caught in the trap’s netting and can’t get out. Meanwhile, the decoy baitfish hover unharmed in the cylinder.

If scientific trials prove it effective, Cooney’s trap could help solve lionfish problems for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

What do you think?  I would love to know the costs associated with this trap and how long it would last?

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Should I eat Lionfish? Beware of Ciguatera poisoning!

lionfishAs you all know I saw my first humungous lionfish a few weeks ago in the 2nd reef line off Lauderdale by the sea.  Enormous and at least 6-9 inch body.

This is how my thoughts go.  I see lionfish, do more research, look up recipes, look at spears and poles to stab them with for purchase, look for Lionfish Derbies and so on…The brain never stops.

Many of my friends have a lot of fun to going out and shooting lionfish and then cooking them up.  Every diver that I talk to tell’s themselves and anyone listening that they are doing something good to keep back the invasion of the reef dwelling alien fish. But now people have to come and tell us–for our own good–that eating lionfish might be unhealthy! Very unhealthy. Ciguatera is a nasty disorder that you definitely do not want to get.  I checked and didn;t find any reposted cases as of yet but, I have heard of cases from people who’ve eaten grouper taken from Florida reefs.  Now I wonder how that goes with grouper foraging on lionfish meat?

What is Ciguatera poisoning?  It is caused by naturally occurring toxins, called ciguatoxins, which are produced by microscopic plants – gambierdiscus toxicus – that live on seaweed and other surfaces within coral reef communities. When fish eat seaweed or algae they consume the organisms and the ciguatoxins build up in the fish’s flesh. The toxin is stored in the fishes’ body and not excreted – so it builds up as it goes up the food chain. The bigger fish eat the little fish and the toxin gets passed on until it is consumed by humans. Predators at the top of the food chain – like barracuda and lionfish – can end up with large amounts of the toxin in their flesh.   Think like mercury in Tuna.  No test can be done to determine if the fish is poisoned and cooking and preparation have no affect on the toxin. The toxin is unrelated to the venom found in the spines of the Lionfish.
Ciguatoxin is the same toxin which is present in the flesh of Barracudas, large Jacks and large Snapper, which are traditionally also not eaten if caught in our waters.

Reef fish can acquire a buildup of ciguatoxins through their natural diet. If consumed by humans, they can have toxic effects such as nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, slowed heart rate, itching, burning, numbness and tingling, weakness and muscle or joint pain. Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning can appear from within hours to even a few days after consuming fish. Should you experience symptoms that might indicate ciguatera after consuming lionfish, seek a medical evaluation.

The University of Florida/IFAS St. Lucie County Cooperative Extension has received an update from Florida Sea Grant that shows that lionfish harvested in Florida’s waterways might contain toxins which cause ciguatera.The Sea Grant statement to Extension Agents says:

the finding of the FDA is that ‘of 194 fish tested, 42 percent showed detectable levels of ciguatoxin and 26 percent were above the FDA’s illness threshold of 0.1 parts per billion.’

Despite the fact that NOAA has an ongoing program to teach people how to catch and cook lionfish, given this new information, under no circumstances should any person affiliated with Florida Sea Grant advocate consuming these fish, regardless of the location from which they are taken.

If someone tells you it is OK to eat lionfish, tell them that the latest FDA science indicates that there is a significant risk, and it is recommended that they DO NOT eat them.

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FWC to waive license needed to bag LIONFISH – no limits!

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on April 17 at its meeting near Tallahassee discussed waiving the commercial and recreational bag limit and the recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish using certain gear.

In August 2012, the FWC put a temporary rule in place that waived the recreational fishing license requirement when targeting lionfish with a hand-held net, pole spear, Hawaiian sling or any other spearing device designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish. This temporary rule change also removed any bag limits when recreationally or commercially harvesting lionfish. Prior to the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without being required to have a commercial license.
The temporary rule change expires Aug. 3.

The Commissioners will finalize the license waiver and the bag limit removal at their June meeting in Lakeland.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: MyFWC.com

Lionfish are a nonnative, invasive species that negatively impact Florida’s native saltwater fish and wildlife. Currently, the most effective method of removing lionfish from Florida waters is by spearing or using a hand-held net. Removing the license requirements and bag limits will increase lionfish harvest opportunities.

For more on the pr¬oposal presented to Commissioners, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.”

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2nd Annual Lauderdale by the Sea BUGFEST

bugThe Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s second annual BugFest-By-The-Sea features events for divers and lobster lovers! In addition to lobster hunting contests, an underwater photo contest, beach diving clinics, a lobster hunting seminar and a wreck dive on the SS Copenhagen, BugFest will hold a Friday night beachfront lobster cookout and Master Lobster Chef Cooking competition on the second day of Florida’s lobster mini-season. Divers can win hundreds in cash and prizes. For more info, call 954-640-4209.

This was crazy fun last year and as I will be in Michigan for the next 7 weeks for art shows(look for the dives I am going to do there)  I come back this week just in time for Bugfest!

As always, hit up Gold Coast Scuba for sign up.  The $20 is worth the Tshirt, hat and other freebies given out.  Tell Steve and Brian I sent you.

Some new rules changes.  Broward, Palm Beach or Miami Dade county caught lobsters only. 

Divers can win hundreds in cash and prizes, including $500 for the biggest lobster caught on a beach dive off Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.  YEAHHH they listened!!!

For more information, call 954-640-4209 or go to Bugfest-by-the-Sea

Anyway…I have talked with Santa Barbara and they will honor a 10% discount.  I will chat with her further to see if we can do a full hotel book.

Bugfest Events

  • Free Beach Diving Clinics!
  • Lobster Hunting Seminar!
  • ‘Full Face Mask’ Demonstration!
  • Florida Mini-Season Kickoff Party!
  • Great Florida Bug Hunt Contest!
  • Beachfront Lobster Cookout! Live Calypso Music!
  • Master Lobster Chef Cooking Competition!
  • Free Photograph & Video Contests!
  • SS Copenhagen Beach Dive!
  • Fish ID & Biorock Reef Presentations!

Sunday, July 21

Free Beach Diving Clinic

Sunday, July 21, 2013 / 8AM & 1PM

On the beach at the Datura Avenue Beach Portal.

Monday, July 22


July 22, 2013 at 7:00pm

Jarvis Hall, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Fla.

Tuesday, July 23

Free Beach Diving Clinic

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 10:00am

Datura Avenue Beach Portal

To sign-up, call 954-566-6344.


Kick Off Your Fins Florida Mini-Season Kickoff Party

Tuesday, July 23 at 7-10PM

Kick Off Your Fins Florida Mini-Season Kickoff Party Music! Beer! Free admission! El Prado Park (on the beach across from Town Hall)

Scuba School ‘Full Face Mask’ Demonstration

Tuesday, July 23, at 10:00am

(Try it out yourself for free in the water!)

10AM, Datura Avenue Beach Portal

Wednesday, July 24

Great Florida Bug Hunt Contest

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 12:00am

Contest starts 12:01AM July 24 and ends 4PM July 25.
To sign-up, call 954-616-5909.

Great Florida Bug Hunt Weigh-In Checkpoint

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 5:00pm

Great Florida Bug Hunt Weigh-In Checkpoint
El Prado Park

The second annual Great Florida Bug Hunt

July 24 & 25, 2013 12:01am

The second annual Great Florida Bug Hunt will be held during Florida’s annual lobster mini-season on July 24 & 25, 2013. You must be a certified scuba diver and over 18 to participate. The deadline to register is midnight on July 23. 
Please see the Official BugFest Contest Rules!

Thursday, July 25

Bugfest Photo & Video Contests

Friday, July 25, 2013

4:30-6PM at
Jarvis Hall

Bugfest-By-The-Sea Master Lobster Chef Competition

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 6:00pm

Master Lobster Chef Competition with Lenore Nolan-Ryan
6-8PM El Prado Park

Great Florida Bug Hunt Final Weigh-In Checkpoint

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Great Florida Bug Hunt Final Weigh-In Checkpoint
El Prado Park

Great Florida Bug Hunt Winners Announced

Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 8:00PM

Winers will be announced at 8PM
in El Prado Park.
To sign-up, call 954-566-6344.

The second annual Great Florida Bug Hunt

July 24 & 25, 2013 12:01am

The second annual Great Florida Bug Hunt will be held during Florida’s annual lobster mini-season on July 24 & 25, 2013. You must be a certified scuba diver and over 18 to participate. The deadline to register is midnight on July 23. 
Please see the Official BugFest Contest Rules!

Friday, July 26

Biorock Artificial Reef Presentation

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 6:00pm

Biorock Artificial Reef Presentation 6-7PM Jarvis Hall


Friday, July 26, 2013 at 7:00pm to 9:00pm at El Prado Park

BugFest Lobster Cookout with live Calypso Music!!

Fish Identification PowerPoint Seminar

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:00pm

Fish Identification PowerPoint Seminar 3-4:30PM Jarvis Hall

Saturday, July 27

Copenhagen Beach Dive!

Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 9:00am

BugFest-By-The-Sea 2013 ends with a free beach dive (well, you still need to buy air) on SS Copenhagen, a 19th Century cargo steamer listed on the National Register of Historic Places! The ship was featured on ScubaNation TV in May!

Post-Copenhagen Lunch

Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 1:00pm

Post-Copenhagen Lunch 1PM Sea Watch Restaurant

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