Treasure Coast Essay

When the weather turns sultry, we see and hear references to the “heat index’”  For example, this was the forecast on the Treasure Coast for Sunday, June 30th:  “Showers and thunderstorms after 11 a.m. High near 92. Heat index values as high as 101.”  What the heck is the heat index?  The heat index combines air temperature and relative humidity in a formula to determine how hot it feels to us.  Heat is removed from the body through evaporation – that is, perspiring.

Finding gold coins

Jul 29, 2013

I was never interested in walking the beach and sweeping a metal detector back and forth in search of something valuable.  But I had second thoughts when I learned about the discovery of 48 cold coins in just six feet of water and a mere 50 yards off Wabasso Beach in Indian River County.  The coins are worth as much as $250,000.  The state is entitled to a share of them.  At first, diver Greg Bounds, a subcontractor for a salvage company called 1715 Treasure Fleet Queen’s Jewels, came across some beer cans.   Probing with a metal detector, he found a couple of gold coins in rock crevices, t

I never heard or saw Vero Beach referred to as “Velcro Beach” until a few weeks ago.  And it was in Connecticut, of all places.  I was talking with an experienced big-boat sailor named Scott and told him about living in Vero Beach.  “Oh, yes, Velcro Beach,” he said with a smile.  “Velcro Beach?”  I responded.  “What does that mean?”  It’s a compliment, he assured me, and means you get stuck on it.  Velcro, of course, is the fabric fastener made of tiny hooks and loops.  Scott explained that boaters who cruise the Intracoastal Waterway call Vero Beach “Velcro Beach” because they feel attache


Jul 15, 2013

When Dan Bakkedahl was a student at Martin County High School, an exasperated biology teacher told him, “Go be an actor.”  And he did.  He’s no hunk.  He’s balding.  But he’s very successful.   You can see him on the big screen as a DEA agent in “The Heat,” a law-enforcement comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  You could also see him on the small screen as a sharp-tongued congressman in “Veep” on HBO and as the best buddy in “Legit” on FX.  Both comedy series have been renewed for next season.  Dan, 43, was born in Rochester, Minnesota, and grew up in Stuart.  He and his wi

“Killing Zone”

Jul 8, 2013

It’s worse than I thought.  Back in April, I commented on the alarming number of manatees found dead of shock in the Indian River Lagoon, mostly in Brevard County just above the Treasure Coast.  Now we know that dolphins and brown pelicans are also dying prematurely in the lagoon.  According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, from the start of the year to the middle of June, this is the grim toll: 111 manatees, at least 250 brown pelicans and 46 bottlenose dolphins.  Usually, the dead creatures look under-nourished – sometimes emaciated.  Some naturalists call the nor

On July 4th, 1776, 13 British colonies on the Atlantic Coast (of North America) declared their independence.  But to the south, two other colonies remained loyal to King George III.  They were East Florida and West Florida.  What is now Florida did not join the American Revolution and, in fact, became a haven for loyalists from rebel colonies.  Great Britain had acquired Florida from Spain in 1763 at the conclusion of the French and Indian War.  Florida then stretched from the Atlantic to the Mississippi.  The British divided it into East Florida and West Florida, separated by the Apalachic

This year is shaping up to be a good one for sea turtle nesting on the Treasure Coast – not great, but good.  The season began March 1 and lasts until the fall.  Erik Martin, scientific director at Ecological Associates of Jensen Beach, which counts nests in portions of Indian River, St.

Honoring a shark-attack hero

Jun 17, 2013

Recently, Vero Beach lifeguard Erik Toomsoo received the Medal of Valor from the United States Lifesaving Association.  It was hung around his neck in a ceremony at Vero Beach City Hall.  The audience in the packed chamber gave him a standing ovation.  The tribute was richly deserved.  At about 11 a.m.

(Singing) “Don’t go near the water.” That tune by the Beach Boys in the early 1970s comes to my mind when I read and hear about the rip currents along Florida’s Atlantic shoreline, including the Treasure Coast.  We need not follow the Beach Boys’ advice literally.  But we should be careful.  In Florida, rip currents kill more people than thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornados, according to the National Weather Service.  A rip current is a channel of water rushing away from the shore.  Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when going to the beach.  Swim where lifeguards are on duty.  If

The elephants are here!

Jun 3, 2013

The new National Elephant Center north of Fellsmere in Indian River County recently welcomed its first residents – a family of four African pachyderms.   The group consists of 10-year-old Tufani, his 5-year-old brother Tsavo, their mother Moyo and their Aunt Thandi, the matriarch.  They were sent from Disney’s Animal Kingdom near Orlando because Tufani is entering adolescence.  Like any typical adolescent male, he may become rambunctious, in which case he will have to be separated from the rest of the family.  But he can remain at the center and need not be moved to another facility.  The f

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts Saturday, June 1st, and continues through November 30th.  Are we ready?  Or have we become complacent?  A direct hurricane hit on Florida has not occurred since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.   This season, forecasters at Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project.

At the Florida State University College of Medicine graduation Saturday, 17 of the students spent their third and fourth years on or near the Treasure Coast.  They served at the side of experienced physicians, treating real patients.  Maybe one of them helped to treat YOU.  The FSU College of Medicine’s philosophy is: hands-on, patient-centered and community-based.  The students spend their first two years at the main campus in Tallahassee.  For years three and four, they are based at one of six regional campuses.  One is at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce.  The Fort Pierce progra

This is getting boring.  I’m just kidding, of course.  Far from boring, it’s exciting that the Vero Beach High School girls lacrosse team won its eighth consecutive state final.  The Indians clobbered St.

The new movie “42” tells the story of how Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.  The number 42 was on his Brooklyn Dodgers uniform.  The movie ends before the conversion of a naval air station in Vero Beach into Dodgertown – the team’s spring training camp for 60 years.  In the exhibition game played at Dodgertown’s dedication in 1948, Robinson hit a home run.  Then the future Hall of Famer trained here until he retired in 1956.  When Dodgertown opened, segregation was the rule in Florida and throughout the South.  Vero Beach, with a population of about 3,000, was vi

In the Indian River Lagoon, manatees are dying prematurely.  Maybe because they are not getting enough sea grass to eat.  Maybe sea grass acreage is down because brown algae is blocking sunlight.  Maybe the brown algae can be blamed on us.  Let me explain.  From last July until April 1, some 80 manatees were found dead of shock in the lagoon, mostly in Brevard County.  Manatees on the Treasure Coast may also be at risk.  Up to four or five thousand manatees spend time each year on Florida’s two coasts.  About three or four hundred stay along the Treasure Coast all year long.  The big, gentl