fbpx

A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

IMG_7571 A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

This Jewel of Jackson County has been providing Stewardship, Research, Education, and Training about our unique coastal estuaries for 19 years now.  The Grand Bay Estuarine Research Reserve plays an important role by partnering with local industry, schools, and professional science and research venues to gather important data and research to help us preserve the coastal environment we all enjoy here.  Established in 1999 under the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) as part of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR), it is 18,000 acres of pure coastal beauty.

IMG_7571 A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

The savannas, salt marshes/pannes, bays, and bayous here along the Pascagoula and Escatawpa River deltas are among some of the most beautiful and unique anywhere on the planet.  The Grand Bay NERR had its humble beginnings with a few modular commercial trailers and dedicated staff in 1999.  It has now grown into its own sporting a ground breaking 20,000 square foot Coastal Resources Center.  The building was the state’s first government owned LEED Gold Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).  Inside you’ll find meeting space, classrooms, interactive exhibits, dorms and private rooms for visiting researchers along with administrative offices.  Basically, the Grand Bay NERR put its building money where its heart is; environmental stewardship, energy savings, ecology, and low impact footprint.  The sustainable design strategy can be seen throughout the facility.  But, the GBNERR is much more than a wonderful building.

Look past the Coastal Research Center and you’ll find boardwalks, birding trails, blueways for paddling, and yes, even hunting by permit.  If you’re looking for wildlife sightings, well, you will find it.  Check this link for a list of typical sightings, stories, and photographs.  You will also enjoy the many family friendly and community oriented events the GBNERR offers throughout the year.  There are programs for all ages that educate and stimulate.

IMG_7571 A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

You can check out their Facebook page @GrandBayNERR and their website, grandbaynerr.org, for details on all the events and educational opportunities offered there.  The professional, knowledgeable staff also will come and speak to your group/organization OR you can plan to bring your group to their large meeting room for a change of scenery and pace.

The Grand Bay NERR is a true jewel in our community with so much to offer and they would like you to celebrate their 19th year with them!  On June 15th, from 10AM-2PM, they are having a birthday party with a special look at Bewildering Bugs that are unique to the reserve area.  Sandra Huynh, Director’s Assistant at Grand Bay NERR says, “There will be family friendly games, crafts, trail tours, & more…Be sure to pack your lunch for a picnic!”  Are you busy on June 15th?  Maybe bugs aren’t your thing?  Well, no worries!  June 16th they will host a Rain Barrel Workshop from 9 AM – 11 AM.  Learn more about how to “collect and store water during storms that can be used for: watering your lawn or plants in your garden, washing your pets, and cleaning your car. They are a great way to save money on your water bill while helping reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff.”  Then, you get to build your very own rain barrel!  Please contact Dennis McGrury to register (228-523-4190 or dennis.mcgrury@dmr.ms.gov). Cost is $35 per barrel constructed.

HAPPY 19TH BIRTHDAY GRAND BAY NERR!  Jackson County is fortunate to have you!

 

Learn more »
Comments Off on A Jackson County Jewel Turns 19

Jackson County’s Turtles are on the Move

2017-03-27-14.18.44 Jackson County's Turtles are on the Move
2017-03-27-14.18.44 Jackson County's Turtles are on the Move

Did you know that Mississippi is home to more than 35 species of turtle? We have sea turtles visiting our Gulf barrier islands and beaches, box turtles in our backyards, and a variety of aquatic turtles basking in our waterways. 

Late spring and early summer is peak egg-laying season for turtles from Loggerhead Sea Turtles on the front beaches to Common Snapping Turtles in your garden. Even turtles that spend the majority of their lives happily buried in the soft bottoms of our lakes and lagoons are lumbering out to lay their eggs on land.  If you have observed an increase in the numbers and diversity of turtles, they are probably heading to or from their preferred egg laying site. 

2017-03-27-14.18.44 Jackson County's Turtles are on the Move

Turtles lay soft, leathery eggs like other reptiles and may lay as few as 4 or 5 in the case of our Gulf Coast Box Turtles to more than 100 with large Sea Turtles. Mother turtles do not nurture their young, after egg-laying, they head back to the water or burrow. Turtle eggs and hatchling turtles are a favorite snack of many species from opossums to raccoons to several species of snakes, and even ghost crabs down on the shore.

Baby turtles that do make it will chip their way out of their egg with a special egg tooth that later falls off, and make their way toward shelter where they’ll eat, try to avoid predators and cars, and slowly grow larger. 

If you see a turtle on the road, and it is safe for you to do so, you can help move them in the direction they were heading. Be careful of your fingers, as turtles can snap, and do not lift turtles by their tails. 

It is NOT a good idea to remove turtles from the wild as they are quite tied to the place where they hatched, often spending their entire life within a one-acre area. Turtles can spread illness such as Salmonella to humans and humans can unwittingly spread disease to captive turtles. Aquatic turtles, in particular, do not make good pets as they require natural sunlight to process some of the nutrients in their food and require a great deal of tank cleaning due to the messes they make while eating and excreting! Several of Mississippi’s turtles are threatened or endangered, and should be enjoyed with photographs and returned immediately to where they were found. 

To learn more about our indigenous Jackson County wildlife, go to http://pascagoulariver.audubon.org

Learn more »
Comments Off on Jackson County’s Turtles are on the Move
Comments Off on Business of the Week: Eco-Tours South Mississippi

Take a Boat Ride During Gautier’s Earth Day Event Saturday

The City of Gautier will host its annual Earth Day Celebration this Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at George Martin City Park.

Eco-Tours of South Mississippi will be providing free boat rides on the Pascagoula River during the City of Gautier Earth Day event at George Martin City Park on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During the event, Captain Kathy Wilkinson, owner of Eco-Tours of South Mississippi, will offer free 30-minute rides up the Mary Walker Bayou. They have been part of the event since opening Eco-Tours in 2006. The boat rides are popular during the Earth Day event and give families that may not have the opportunity to get out on the water a chance to do so.

“We do not charge for the event as it is our way of giving a little something back to our community,” Wilkinson said. “We enjoy the opportunity to take locals out, as most of our guests on our tours are from out-of-town.”

The tours during the event are shortened versions of the tours Wilkinson regularly gives. According to Wilkinson, they tell guests about the flora and fauna they see, the ecosystems, local history and culture, wetlands and conservation, and stewardship and volunteerism while enjoying the views along the way.

“While it is educational, it is also fun, and we see some pretty cool things out on the river,” she said. “We started the business because we are passionate about the river and thought people might be interested in learning about the Pascagoula River. We have taken out visitors from all over the world, in addition to locals.”

For more information, you can visit www.ecotoursofsouthmississippi.com or visit the Eco-Tours of South Mississippi Facebook page.

 

 

Learn more »
Comments Off on Take a Boat Ride During Gautier’s Earth Day Event Saturday

Spring Migration in Full Swing Along the Coast

library-bluebird-babies-april-18-2018 Spring Migration in Full Swing Along the Coast

Click the image above to view larger.

Have you noticed an influx of bright blue birds at your bird feeders over the last week? Is your seed disappearing at a faster rate than usual? Does a chorus of bird song wake you early in the morning?

Spring migration is upon us, and birds such as the Indigo Bunting, Rose Breasted Grosbeak, and a wide variety of vividly-colored warblers are arriving from their winter homes in the tropical regions of Central and South America. Most of them will stay a few days to refuel after traveling across the Gulf; consuming seeds, fruit, insects, and anything that they can find before continuing north to their summer breeding territories in the northern United States and Canada.

 

This year has had weather conditions conducive to a “fall out” where exhausted and hungry migrating birds hit bad weather and drop onto the nearest land that they encounter, frequently barrier islands or coastal shorelines. If you see tiny songbirds resting on the sand or boardwalks, you can guess that they just finished a long distance flight across the Gulf and are simply too tired to move.

Over the next few weeks, birds will continue arrive with southern winds, heading to all points north. The Pascagoula River Basin is home to more than 320 species of birds during the year, many of whom only visit for a few critical weeks during their spring and fall long distance journeys.

Our resident birds, birds that spend the year along the Gulf, are already well into their breeding season. You may see osprey and eagles carrying nest material or food, fuzzy Great Horned Owl chicks practicing their first flights, or have a brood of Eastern Bluebirds or Carolina Wrens chirping inside a bird box.

To attract and enjoy more backyard birds, there are a few simple things that you can do.

  1. Create a feeding station with seed feeders that contain black oil seed (sunflower or safflower seed) and thistle or niger seed
  2. Scatter mixed seed (with millet and other seeds) on the ground beneath feeders
  3. Add hummingbird feeders with sugar water (4 parts water, 1 part sugar, no food coloring added)
  4. Give them a shallow bird bath for water and for them to clean their feathers after their long flights
  5. Plant native flowers, shrubs, trees, and vines that provide both food and shelter
  6. Reduce the potential for collision with your windows by adding bird tape, streamers, or partially closing blinds to break up the impression of open space to birds in flight
  7. Keep cats indoors or (at  a minimum) add bells to their collars
  8. Add a nest box with a predator guard installed to help cavity nesting birds
  9. Enjoy watching your colorful feathered visitors and appreciate your ability to observe one of nature’s most fascinating phenomena – spring migration!
Learn more »
Comments Off on Spring Migration in Full Swing Along the Coast

The University of Southern Mississippi Opens Marine Education Center

The Marine Education Center (MEC) at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Cedar Point teaching site in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, serves as the education and outreach arm of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

Situated on 100 acres, the new facility provides an immersion experience for participants in a unique, coastal setting. Included in the new facility are public exhibits, laboratories and meeting spaces, as well as outdoor learning experiences featuring trails, outdoor and floating classrooms, and a pedestrian suspension bridge. Through its broad array of programs, the MEC offers both students and the public an understanding of how the Gulf of Mexico affects daily life and provides a science-based understanding of ecosystem health. School groups in Coastal Science Camps, students seeking research experience, teachers pursuing professional development, and community volunteers and citizen-scientists will all benefit from the facility.

The MEC replaces the J. L. Scott Marine Education Center in Biloxi, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and is wind- and flood-resilient and energy-efficient, serving as an example of sustainable and effective coastal building techniques in harmony with its coastal environment.

This $16.1 million comp lex was constructed primarily with funding from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, administered by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. Outdoor trails were made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Nature Heritage Area; the outdoor kitchen was made possible by Blossman Gas. The MEC was designed by Lake Flato Architects and constructed by Starks Contracting Co., Inc.

Learn more at http://gcrl.usm.edu/mec/

Learn more »
Comments Off on The University of Southern Mississippi Opens Marine Education Center

Under the Sea Super Saturday Set This Weekend

Under-the-Sea-page-001 Under the Sea Super Saturday Set This Weekend

Click the image above to view larger.

The Pascagoula-Gautier School District will host its Under the Sea Super Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 14, 2018 at the Aaron Jones Family Interactive Center. The event is open free to the public, rain or shine. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Featured exhibitors will be the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, USM Marine Education Center, Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, Mississippi Coast Fly Fisher, The Nature Conservancy, Pascagoula Recreation Center, Girl Scouts and Excel by 5.

All of the themed rooms will be open for play including Wetland Animals, Pirate Ship, Main Street, Toddler Town, block room, virtual reality, flight simulator room, planetarium, iMac lab, miniature golf and the playground.

The center is located at 1415 Skip St., Pascagoula. For more information, call Kelli McCorkle, at 228-938-6418.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Under the Sea Super Saturday Set This Weekend

Spring Arts Festival: Herb, Garden & Art

The annual Spring Arts Festival in downtown Ocean Springs celebrated its 25th year last weekend. Over 150 vendors participated and, while the numbers are still being calculated, it is estimated to have had around 15,000 visitors. The event is looked forward to each year by festival-goers from near and far as well as the local gardening and art communities.

“We are so proud of the amazing turnout of 150 vendors and Nearly 15,000 visitors this year.  The turnout numbers are still being calculated. The weather was amazing and our community and visitors alike were able to get out and find unique arts, crafts and get their green thumb ready for Spring! -We were excited to introduce new vendors and a variety of demonstrations.” ~ Cynthia Dobbs Sutton, Ocean Springs Chamber – Mainstreet – Tourism Bureau

Learn more »
Comments Off on Spring Arts Festival: Herb, Garden & Art

Pay It Forward Friday: Wild at Heart Rescue

Wild at Heart Rescue is a non-profit wildlife rescue right here in Jackson County. Through rescue and rehabilitation they help injured, sick, or orphaned animals native to Mississippi. When possible, the animals are returned to their natural habitat once they become healthy enough.

When an animal cannot be returned to the wild, whether for legal reasons or for the benefit of the animal, Wild at Heart takes care of that animal for the rest of its life. For example, they have pigeons that have been with them for twenty years because legally, they are not native to Mississippi. 

Wild at Heart Rescue welcomes all animals in need, no matter the species. They care for all types of mammals, birds, and reptiles. 

They became famous for a viral photo of an owl hugging a man. When her caregiver went out of town for a few days, it was obvious that GiGi the owl missed him. When he returned, she spread her wings to give him a hug! 

The rescuers work tirelessly to help all of their residents, and they get more rescues every day. Their daily routine includes cleaning out the pens and making sure everyone is fed properly. For some animals, this can be very expensive. For example, buying rats to feed the owls is quite costly. Medical care for the animals comes at a high price as well. In addition to the care they provide each day, they stay on call to rescue animals whenever and wherever the need arises.

To continue the selfless work they do for animals in need, Wild at Heart depends on donations from caring people like you. Support their mission by donating at www.paypal.me/WildatHeartRescueInc.

Learn more »
Comments Off on Pay It Forward Friday: Wild at Heart Rescue
Comments Off on Chevron Employees Volunteer at Pascagoula River Audubon Center