OLLI-USF Outdoors Eco Tour April 29, 2023

Photo by Mike Hayes

From a tiny Ghost shrimp to baby birds and Petunia the dolphin, the OLLI Outdoors SIG went on the “floating classroom” Eco Tour with Tampa Bay Watch. The science-based tour was packed in a diversity of species to study up close.

Our crew on the private chartered boat tour was biologist Dakoeta, intern Rebecca, and Captain Mo. Our missions were to record marine life in area 6, identify dolphins, and visit the birds nesting on Bird Island. Arriving at our first stop, Dakoaeta and Rebecca cast a fisheries trawl net and carefully went through the haul, identifying species from the spot marked as area 6. One of our members volunteered to record the species, along with conditions – temperature, salinity, and wind speed. Citizen science in action!

Click photo for video of net haul by Mike Hayes

While cruising Tampa Bay, we learned how dolphins are identified by their dorsal fin and were shown photos from the dolphin database. We were able to see the one they named Petunia, and a dolphin and baby who were not in their database.

Photo by Mike Hayes

The last stop was Bird Island. Here, birds are protected by the mangrove island and can breed and raise their chicks. A highlight was seeing the baby birds and the just hatched Brown Pelican chicks who are white when born. Birds are amazing!

Photo by Nancy Shivers

While returning to dock at the St. Petersburg marina, we were treated with an up close and personal “show and tell” talk about the local marine life of Tampa Bay.

What a day it was! Enjoy these photos of the adventure, marine life, birds, and more with this slide show.

click photo to navigate to slide show

OLLI-Outdoors SIG members agree that Tampa Bay Watch’s eco tours would be a unique adventure to take visiting friends and family! While you are there, visit the related exhibitions at the Discovery Center located on the St Pete Pier.

All proceeds support Tampa Bay Watch’s mission to foster a healthy Tampa Bay watershed through community-driven restoration projects, education programs, and outreach initiatives.

All proceeds support Tampa Bay Watch’s mission to foster a healthy Tampa Bay watershed through community-driven restoration projects, education programs, and outreach initiatives. To learn more and to visit the Tampa Bay Watch Discover Center, here is their website. https://www.tbwdiscoverycenter.org/

Photos: Mike Hayes, Nancy Shivers, Diane White, Penny Noriega, Ann Sofia, Grizelle Aldea

We salute Diane and the members of the OLLI Outdoors SIG for sharing this story with us. We enjoy everything we publish, but it’s a special treat when a group of OLLI members experience an adventure together and then share it with us. If you’re part of this SIG, “Thank you!” And whether you’re a member of this SIG, another SIG, or no SIG at all, we’d like to hear and share your story. — Editors

Diane White, MA, PMP, earned advanced degrees in information technologies from George Washington University and education from USF.  She has been managing projects for over 25 years in the information technology and telecommunications industries.  She joined OLLI-USF in 2008 and has taken OLLI courses in art, art appreciation, architecture, music, great books, science, nature, literature, and leadership.  She is a member of OLI’s Tech Squad, teaches a variety of technology courses, an OLLI Roll of Honor instructor and is OLLI Connects’ technology contributor and consultant. Diane is co-leader of the USF-OLLI Outdoors SIG and is a certified Florida Master Naturalist, UF-ISFS.

5 Replies to “OLLI-USF Outdoors Eco Tour April 29, 2023”

    1. Thanks Bobbie. It was a super experience I thought others might like to see. If you have guests this summer it’s worth a trip to the Pier and marina to check it out!

  1. Thanks to the editors for doing an amazing job with my story, photos and slide show. Tampa Bay Watch does amazing projects and research. The eco tour and discovery center at the Pier are both worthwhile destinations! Plus you can follow Tampa Bay Watch to find out about their events and volunteer opportunities.

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