Saturday, April 30, 2011

Animal Rescue-palooza

Wow, what a week for the critters!!  After catching 6 sawfish in the field this week, I was quite enjoying my quiet day in the lab.  It was not to be.  The powers of work and animal rescue united!!  We found 3 less-than-a-week-old kittens.  They were pretty stinking cute.  They were cold and hungry, so me and my co-worker Amy warmed them up and drove over to Petco to get some KMR.  Once we got them warm and got some food in their tummies (and some poop OUT), they perked up and started meowing!  So cute.  My office became a kitten feeding station.  Lots of phone calls were made, and we ended up finding someone from E.A.R.S. (an animal rescue organization) to foster the litter.  Whew!  I don't really have any experience with cats, and neither does Amy (we're both allergic!), so it was a relief to hand them off to someone who really knew what they were doing!  I'm not a cat person, but they were darn cute.  We named the orange one Mercury...for the Mercury boat engines they were found under!

So after a day full of kitten rescue, I had a day full of bunny rescue!  A bunch of rescue people have been trying to save a terrified little bunny who is currently residing at the Tampa SPCA.  She's been abused and neglected, and has some health issues.  She's not doing well in a shelter environment.  Luckily, an SPCA volunteer has offered to foster little Bun Bun for 4 weeks, after which it looks like she will be traveling to a foster home in South Carolina.  Now we just have to figure out transport!
So after working on Bun Bun's situation this morning, I called a potential bunny home for our Ramona (they sadly never showed up), called a family who is being forced to give up a bunny they adopted from us due to tough economic times, and headed over to the Port Charlotte Petco.

I felt terrible - I've had an insane work week and haven't been in to Petco for a week.  Hershey was SO excited to have some exercise pen time!!  (Anyone want to help volunteer at the Port Charlotte Petco??)  I certainly enjoyed watching him binky around and nom his veggies.

Judd (the bunny being returned) showed up a short time later.  I felt terrible for his family.  They were in tears when they left - they clearly love him to pieces.  We are keeping Judd (well, now he is called Jinxie) on "hold" status for a bit to see if his family can get back on their feet - they want to take him back if they can.  What a heartbreaking situation :(

I loaded Thor up into the carrier to bring him up to the Sarasota Petco to meet his potential lady friend.  We braved the lovebugs and horrible traffic, and made it to Sarasota.  Thor and Amelia seemed to hit it off!  There was a bit of humping and chasing, but that's pretty typical.  Their new family, a nice young couple, came by (all the way from Sun City Center!) to come meet their new family members!  They are so excited about their new buns, and can't wait to take them home!  We will make sure they are bonded by the time they go home, but by the time I left Petco, Thor and Amelia were happily snuggling in a carrier.
Another volunteer, Amber, took the pair up to St. Pete, where they will be fostered until they go to their forever home.  Yay!

Monday, April 18, 2011

We're gonna need a bigger boat...

So today we went longlining.  Our ultimate goal is to capture larger sawfish to put satellite tags on.  Our day started at the lab at 6:30 a.m.  We were soon on the road, and headed down to launch at Punta Rassa, which is very near Sanibel.  We passed under the Sanibel Causeway and made our way to our first spot, which was in sight of the Sanibel Pier.  Our next two samples sites were off of Knapps Point (known for its larger sharks!)  The photo below is off of Knapps Point.  That's one of the floats for the longline - the line itself is 2500' long.

It's a rarity to capture a sawfish on our longline, but when we're off the coast of Sanibel, we're almost guaranteed to see some big sharks!  We set the line, and wait an hour for it to soak.  After an hour, the fun begins!  The first big shark of the day was a gorgeous 7-8 foot lemon!  We measure the sharks, take a quick genetics sample, and let them go on their way.  After the excitement of the lemon, we caught a good-size hammerhead and a couple big nurse sharks!  We also caught a handful of smaller sharks, such as blacktips and sharpnose.  Apparently there were a few other LARGE sharks down there.  We pulled up this poor guy, and were reminded that there's always a bigger fish:

In the end, we didn't capture what we were after, but we still got some good science done!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ah, the glory days of (almost) summer

I've spent the last three days of work out in the field, and the weather was gorgeous for 2 out of 3 days.  Guess I can't complain, although I was the lucky person who got to drive the boat on the super windy day.  NOAA predicted the winds to be west @ 10 kts yesterday.  Uh, no.  The winds were south-southwest at 15 kts all day!  It was a bit snotty in the middle of the harbor, so I definitely got my daily intake of salt water.

We weren't doing anything quite as exciting as catching sawfish this week, but it was nice to have a break with something more low-key.  Monday was a regular fisheries sampling trip, and Tuesday & Wednesday were spent catching water samples.  Oh yes, the ever elusive water sample...

I did quite enjoy being on the water today.  I got a break from being the driver, so it was nice being able to take catnaps between sample sites!  We stopped for lunch on a nice sandy beach in the Myakka River, then finished our day of water sampling.

Some good news on the bunny (and guinea pig) front this week too!!  Someone has inquired about my foster guinea pig boys.  Here's hoping it pans out into a good home for these deserving little piggies!  Squirrel has been waiting for a home since January, and I just picked Chipmunk up from Suncoast Humane Society last week.  I would love to see them in a wonderful adoptive home.  Of course, being their foster mom, I won't adopt them to just anyone!
The other guy I picked up at Suncoast has been quite popular this week!  Thor has had quite a few inquiries, so hopefully he will have a home very soon.  It's hard to resist the little guy.  He's pretty freaking cute.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review of Hop: As a bunny person and bunny RESCUE person

I went to go see "Hop" tonight.  It's pretty rare that I actually shell out the 10 bucks to see a movie in the theater these days, but it had to be done with this one!  I was super excited to see a movie about a bunny, but at the same time I'm worried that it will cause people to go buy a pet bunny on impulse - the "101 Dalmations Phenomenon".  I am happy that Universal Pictures put this message on the Hop website:
Now, I don't precisely agree with the statement that "rabbits don't make good family pets", but hopefully this will deter people from buying their kids an Easter bunny.  Buns can certainly make good family pets - in the right situation with proper care.  Of course, an impulse Easter bunny for a 3 year-old that ends up exiled to an outdoor hutch is NOT the right situation.

As a bunny person, I internally squealed (okay, maybe out loud a few times) at all the cute, fluffy little bunnies.  Yup, the movie was adorable.  I'm a sucker for those little wiggle noses and big cotton tails!  I thought the story was cute & clever.  This is a movie I will have to own!  The animators did a great job of creating talking rabbits that still looked fairly realistic!  They hopped like bunnies, wiggled their noses like yeah, I loved it!

What did I think as a bunny rescue person?  Well, honestly I felt that kids would be more drawn to buying action figures from the movie than real bunnies, which is a good thing.  Apparently there are Hop toys available at Wal-mart, which seems to be a good thing to me!  I'm fine with the kiddos playing with bunny action figures!

I grew concerned at a scene where Fred, the main human character, became fed up with E.B.'s antics, and tried to "release him into the wild".  My immediate thought was, "Oh no no no...please don't show him dump E.B. to get rid of him!".  Well, my fears were allayed!  When Fred tried to dump E.B., they cut to closeups of rattlesnakes, hawks. and big dogs.  E.B. made a comment that "there's a lot of carnivores out here!"  I hope this scene will make people think twice before releasing a domestic rabbit into the wild.  Kudos to the studio for making that point!

I do rather wish they hadn't shown E.B. eating candy and whole carrots...I guess we can't win them all.  They did throw in a correct fact about rabbits, however.  I nearly fell over laughing when E.B. told Fred that "for a while, the sight of a colored egg made me want to vomit.  And rabbits can't physically vomit!!"  That's a 100% correct fact, folks!

All in all, I thought it was a really cute movie.  I truly hope that it won't be the cause of any impulse purchases of Easter rabbits that will later be dumped.  As I said, I think the movie is more geared to action figures and such, but you never know.  It's up to the discretion of parents.  I hope they will make the right decision.  Please, if you are considering a rabbit for a pet, research the proper care of these wonderful creatures before bringing one into your home.  Visit the House Rabbit Society website for great care information.  And please, if you do decide to bring a pet rabbit into your life, think adoption!!  Make Mine Chocolate!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A day full of bunny

Today was a bunny day.  I volunteer at 4 Lil Pigs n Buns guinea pig & rabbit rescue.  My day started with a trip to Suncoast Humane Society to pick up some bunnies.  Well, 3 bunnies turned into 1 bunny, since two of them were not yet neutered.  I did take this handsome harlequin boy...

He is just gorgeous - and he is a love too.  He's super friendly, and is easy to handle.  He is a BIG boy though!  Apparently he had been at Suncoast for quite a while - his size was probably working against him.  I adore the big bunnehs :)  Hopefully we'll find him a good home soon.  As for the other 2 still at Suncoast, I'll pick them up once they're neutered.

After picking up Harley, I drove up to the Sarasota Petco to meet everyone there.  The rescue works with several Petco stores around the region, and the Sarasota store was having a "Grand Re-opening" today.  I brought my foster piggy Squirrel and the new bun.  We had some other adoptables there too - a couple buns, some pigs, and even some mice.  Another volunteer brought the freaking cutest rabbit ever - she was from Sarasota Animal Services.  Here she is all flopped out:

My poor Squirrel piggy was a trooper through the whole day.  He's such a great pig.  He chilled out in his cozy most of the day.  Goodness, he was sure happy to get home though!  I can't say that I blame him!
It was quite a day - overall it was pretty successful.  We actually got some decent donations, and found a few people that seemed genuinely interested.  Of course, for every one "good" person, there are 50 who have "sad bunny stories" to tell.  And why on earth do people think we WANT a "free" bunny.  This lady came up to us today and asked, "Do you want a free bunny?" - like she was doing us a favor.  Ugh.  Lady, what I would LIKE you to do is spay/neuter your bunny, have him live in a nice indoor location, feed him a proper diet, and give him a decent life with LOVE.  *Sigh*  Lady, it's because of people like you that our organization exists.  Well, we will keep doing what we're doing.  There's a lot of other people out there at other rabbit rescues, volunteers at humane societies, foster homes...all these people come together to help out all these little critters who don't have a voice.  I'm glad to be a part of it!!