ST. AUGUSTINE

Yay!  The bridge that has been under repair since Methuselah was a pup is finally ready to let us out!  Goodbye, Jacksonville.

We have seen the Bridge of Lions in Saint Augustine for a number of years - the last time we were here, the bridge was closed and the towers were being reconstructed.

This bright and shiny bunch are in the minority down here - these are white pelicans.  Interestingly, the don't mingle with their brown cousins.

Marineland!  What a find!  This little marina was donated to the Town of Marineland, and they have been busily improving it ever since.  New, free laundry, pristine bathrooms, floating docks, and all for only $1/ft/night.  Of course, there's no shopping or restaurants nearby, but that's the beauty of it!

All decked out for Christmas - we are the official Christmas decoration of Marineland!

Once the site of Hollywood's underwater footage, including Sea Hunt, with Lloyd Bridges, Marineland fell into neglect and disrepair.  It was recently purchased by the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta to serve as a dolphin study laboratory.  You can buy a ticket to see the dolphins, but they do not perform.  Rather, you are able to watch the scientists and students work with them and read informative signs regarding their habits and environment.

This baby was 5 mpnths old when we visited.

The oldest dolphin in captivity was born in the early days of Marineland and she is now 53 years old!

On our side of A1A, there is a holding pond intended to shelter sick or injured dolphins until they can be transported to rehabilitative laboratories.  Enjoying the filtered water and relatively safe environment are sheepshead and enormous groupers, as well as smaller fish.

And enjoying the smaller fish are some smart cookies who have figured out that the pond is a pelican's all-you-can-eat buffet!

Back across A1A, the surf pounds while avocets, plovers, and  stilts dart between the waves, looking for choice morsels.

Speaking of choice morsels............

On the nature trails, coneflowers compete with.......

..........blanket flowers to catch the eye.

One of the loveliest sights is the sunset over the Matanzas River.  We stopped at Marineland for a night, and stayed for a week - it was time to move on to Merritt Island.

 
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