Plant Fest 2008!
Plant Fest 2008
July 19th and end July 25th
There are two very different and very fun parts:
Freshwater and the Marine equivalent. Cost is 75$ per 3 day event
Hotel cost are very low in Florida(49.99 for Motel 6, there are other motel/hotels nearby as well, but you will not stay there for long, most of the time will be out in the field). The rates are much less if you pair up or better yet, bring a friend. I have found a good place to stay on the Florida Keys for very low cost (22$ per night) but it’s a dorm style (you can opt to stay at a high priced place on Islamorada or any other resort you wish. Food is easy to come by and quite cheap.
These guys are always fun to watch, lots nicer than the similar sized snapping turtles in freshwater!
Tampa Airport(better if you plan on the Marine fest as well)
Motel 6 in Gainesville:
Motel 6 - Gainesville - Univ. of Florida - Gainesville, FL Motel
Quality Inn has the same rates
Split with one other person, it comes to about 30$ per night with tax or 60$ total for the 2 nights. Food and such will be relatively cheap, but budget about 20-30$ per day. 15$ for park entry, rentals etc. Snorkel gear at Walmart is cheap and pretty good. It’s pretty much like heading out to most state parks if you know where to go and what to do and bring.
So with airfare, this is not a pricy event. It’s not meant to be either!
Freshwater plant Fest, July 19th- July 21th(Sat-Mon)
Day 1 (Sat 07/19)
• Meet at Motel 6 parking lot near I-75 exit at 8 am
• Load up and head out to Ichetucknee Spring’s State park. Inner tubing down 6 miles of beautiful lush submersed planted springs, loads of fish, snails (some rare and endangered). Bring snorkel gear and water proof camera/video. Leisurely pace. 3 hours estimated time traveling down stream. You will be pretty tired at the end.
• Load up, head back, BBQ lunch/dinunch
• Tom’s Driftwood if we have time in Waldo, FL(He’s closed on Sundays, 8-5pm Mon-Sat).
• Meet up at Hotel parking lot at 8 am
• Head to Rainbow Springs State Par
• Hike to Bubbling springs restricted area to view invasive Crypts (if they have not eradicated them yet!)
• Canoe through park or head to county park(cheaper rates and more canoes) 16$ per person canoe rates
• Load up, head out to lower Suwannee Wildlife refuge(about 1 hour drive time)
• View many species in blackwater pools, see classic delta swamplands
• Excellent Seafood restaurant in Cedar Key for dinner
• Head back to Gainesville
• Pass out into coma like sleep
• Meet up at Hotel parking lot at 8 am
• Load up and head out to IFAS for 1 hour. Meet with Staff, discuss some aquatic weed issues, education library
• Canoe trip down Blackwater Santa Fe River (3 hours)
• Search for Olive Nerites, FW sole, many fish species, including the rare only true pipe fish, Madtom Catfish(these little guys only get 3” long), Water scorpions, Gar, otter, Gator, Swords
• See Hygrophila, Hydrilla, Vals, Moss, Hairgrass, Ludwigia, milfoils, sags
• Pack up, head home or head to the Marine plant fest!
• Hopefully there will be low water at this time of year (you can see more weeds!)
One full day between to travel, go to Disney World, etc
Rainbow springs before canoeing
Marine plant fest(July 23-25th) Wed-Fri:
An entirely different habitats, perspectives, ecosystems, trip.
They are nothing like each other in every respect.
Day 1(Wed 07/23):
• Meet at Long Key Marine Lab 8 am
• Load up and head out on boat to snorkel Key Largo area (must know how to swim 100 yards!) Boats are about 150$ per ½ day, so split amongst several folks, it’s a pretty good deal
• Look for Caulpera paspeloides
• Head to Reef
• Head back through the Largo Cut to snorkel the Mangrove roots(as fun as a reef)
• Come back and identify what we found for the day
• Relax by the beach
The “giant” Caulpera
• Sample macro algae from the various islands
• Go to Bahia Honda State park- nice beach and soft sediment species
• Head to Key West for food, entertainment, drinks
• Head back to the lab
• Collect any final samples
• Stop off any final locations
• Folks can stay and scuba at various locations, head to Miami, Disney World, Tampa, head back home
Comments, disclaimers, other issues:
Myself and another couple have long come on these trips every year dating back to 2003. They are fun not just for aquatic plant folks, but for those that enjoy active fun things and good times and friends. It’s interesting learning about a new habitat and the underwater world. This goes far beyond the hobby and gets you out of the little glass box, we are the critters in these systems!
There is inherent danger involved with boating, water and while no one has ever hurt themselves, there is a risk. So common sense, safety are everyone’s responsibility. I will cancel any event and reroute things if there’s any threats (gators, lighting, folks that cannot swim etc) to the best of my abilities. I do not assume any liability. Spring water is about 72F, which is cold if you are in there for long periods. Marine systems can have waves which beat you up pretty good, you can get tired doing this type of activity. Generally the Marine waters are 76- 79F
Wet suits aid in buoyancy and warmth, and you do not get sunburned and no jellyfish stings! So they might be a wise item to use. Food, entry fees and lodging cost are incurred by the participants. Travel cost are generally shared (2 vans/SUV typically can carry the group). I rent one Van and carry as many folks and equipment as I can. Cameras: try and get water proof cameras, it can and does rain here a lot during this time of year, generally in the afternoon for an hour or two. It’s spotty so it’s hard to plan around this. Good news is that it will cool things off!
Pics of past year's events:
P palustris in it's native habitat:
Folks think it's a hard plant grow!
Ben thinks he's Super Fish
This could be you after that red ludwigia:
And this is me and my 2 brothers:
This is at the start of the Santa Fe river trip
My tank I had in Florida:
Hairgrass growing in it's natural state: