The last week of December makes people reflect on how the year has gone and what they look forward to in the new year to come. Community reporter Kaitie Meyer hit the beach and asked locals and tourists watching the golden Navarre sunset how they felt about 2020 coming to an end. Here’s their farewell to this challenging year.
If Navarre Beach had an official bird, brown pelicans would likely be in the running.
They fly in a graceful V-formation over the beach, dive straight down in the water to catch fish, and pester fishermen on the pier for a free meal.
They’re also frequently photographed, appearing almost to be posing for photos. But experts warn that they don’t care about us, just what we have to offer.
“They don’t want to be friends,” said Cody Nash, a biology research assistant and adjunct professor at the University of West Florida. “They just want food.”
Pelicans are social creatures, who are not only born and raised in groups of nests called rookeries, but fly together. They are also frequently seen in groups of a dozen or more.
On the Navarre Fishing Pier though, they are more commonly socially distanced at careful intervals. Nash speculated that they might have staked out territories for the free fish handouts they get from fishermen.
Many of the pelicans on the pier are juveniles who have recently fledged the nest and haven’t quite figured out how to support themselves. Juveniles are light brown with brown necks, while adult pelicans tend to be more colorful.
You’ll probably never see a baby pelican. They are raised in relative isolation in the rookeries, which are often on unpopulated islands.
“The babies, they look like little dinosaurs,” said Dr. Caroline Stahala, the Panhandle Shorebird Program Manager for Audubon in Florida. “They are really odd looking.”
Their pouch distinguishes them from most birds. They dive down, catch fish and then let the water run out. It’s kind of like a scoop, Stahala said.
In the air, pelicans are beauty and grace.
On land, not so much. That may be part of their appeal, Shahala said.
“They walk around – they kind of waddle,” she said. “They are charismatic, and they do come up to people. They do have this personality and that endears them to people.”
Deteriorated properties along canals in Santa Rosa County need to shape up if a new proposed ordinance is adopted.
County commissioners gave the thumbs-up to advertise a public hearing on a new canal ordinance. The proposed ordinance will require docks, piers, boathouses and seawalls along man-made canals in the county to be maintained so as not to be a hazard to the public or navigation and to not damage neighboring property.