Anna Maria Island’s Most Beautiful Visitors: White Pelicans

White Pelicans try to take a Brown Pelican's fish

White Pelicans try to take a Brown Pelican’s fish.

For my first few years living on Anna Maria Island, I had only heard of white pelicans, but never had seen them. Eventually, my curiosity prompted me to go look for them. I had heard there were some at the south part of the island in Anna Maria Sound. At first, I thought I’d found them. They looked white, but they were in many ways similar to the more common local Brown Pelicans. Soon I learned Brown Pelicans have white heads and necks when they are adults, but not breeding. This is all I had seen.

Later I learned the best place to see the American White Pelican in this area was Cortez fishing village, and this is where I found them. On the occasion of my first American White Pelican spotting, there was no question about what it was. It was gigantic compared to the local browns. The wingspan of the white is 9 feet, compared to 7 feet for the brown. The white pelican also looks completely white when it floats in the water. The black primary and secondary flight feathers on the wings are only obvious during flight.

Other than size and color, the most obvious difference between Brown Pelicans and American White Pelicans is their feeding behavior. Brown Pelicans glide in the air, then do apparently awkward dives, splashing loudly into the water with a strange twist, but usually recovering with a pouch full of fish. White pelicans do not dive; instead they forage for fish in a methodical way. Sometimes they even swim as a group in a formation, moving the fish toward the shore or into narrow areas where they can be more easily caught.

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Anna Maria Island Lighted Boat Parade

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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Review

2014 Atlantic Storm tracks

2014 Atlantic Storm tracks

Summary:

  • Below average activity with fewest named storms since 1997
  • No effects on Anna Maria Island
  • No landfalls on Florida
  • 1 Gulf of Mexico storm (TS Dolly)
  • 1 US mainland landfall (Arthur)
  • 2 major hurricanes (Cat 3 Edouard and Cat 4 Gonzalo)
  • The US broke a record of 9 years without a major hurricane landfall. The last major hurricane to make US landfall was Wilma (2005). The previous record of eight years was from 1861-1868.
  • Florida broke a record of 9 years without a hurricane impact (since 1851). The previous record of five years was from 1980-1984.
Atlantic Hurricane Season  June 2014 forecast  2014 Actual
Named storms (>35mph)  10  8
Hurricanes (>72mph)  4  6
Major hurricanes (>111mph)  1  2
US landfall likelihood  40%  12%
Gulf Coast landfall  23%  12%

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Sailing Anna Maria Island And Tampa Bay

Sailing out of Anna Maria Island waterfront properties could not be easier. Anything north of Manatee Ave Highway 64 has direct access to Tampa Bay without passing under a bridge. The channel between Anna Maria City and Key Royale, Holmes Beach, is maintained to allow access by large yachts to Galati marina, and the sheltered canals and most boat slips lining Bimini Bay offer depths of at least six feet.

Once out into Tampa Bay, a large body of water is accessible to all keelboats, with only a few shallow spots or dredge spoil banks to beware. To the east, under the Skyway Bridge, the bay stretches up to Saint Petersburg and Tampa. To the west, leaving Tampa Bay for the Gulf of Mexico is right around the corner of Bean Point, or via the deep shipping channel north of Egmont Key.

The Intracoastal Waterway tracks south inside the barrier islands, but can be too narrow to maintain sailing angles, and is interrupted by several scheduled bridge openings. To the north the ICW continues at Pass-A-Grille.

Down the coast, the next large sailing area is Charlotte Harbor, then Florida Keys.

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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast

The 2014 hurricane season has arrived and the extended range summer analysis forecasts below-average activity and landfall strike possibility.

“We continue to foresee a below-average 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. The tropical Atlantic remains slightly cooler than normal, while El Niño is in the process of developing. However, the transition to El Niño has slowed some in recent weeks, and the tropical Atlantic has anomalously warmed, causing us to increase our forecast slightly. We are still calling for a below-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall.”

Drs Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, Colorado State University, June 2, 2014

Atlantic Hurricane Season  June 2014 forecast Average
Named storms (>35mph winds)  10
12
Hurricanes (>72mph winds)   4  6.5
Major hurricanes (>111mph winds)   1   2
US landfall likelihood 40% 52%
Gulf Coast landfall probability 23% 30%
Manatee County hurricane landfall probability 0.5% 0.7%
Manatee County tropical storm probability 12.3% 17.1%
Manatee County >75mph wind gusts probability 3.5% 5.0%

Information obtained through May 2014 indicates that the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will have less activity than the median 1981-2010 season. The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 80 percent of the long-period average. An anticipated below-average Atlantic basin hurricane season is due to the likelihood of El Niño development along with a slighter cooler than normal tropical Atlantic.

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