Monday, September 19, 2011

Find Florida Vacation Rentals

Find Florida Vacation RentalsBy Olga Angelo

Florida Vacation Home Rental

Florida vacation rentals make visiting Florida more fun, from the top of the state to the southernmost of the Keys. You can enjoy all the comforts of home while visiting Florida, by staying in fully furnished vacation rentals. Choose a luxury villa, beach house, vacation condo, or home rental near pristine sunny beaches or in the action of areas like Miami, or South Beach. There are exciting destinations for the whole family to enjoy everywhere you go in Florida, from the top down.

St. Augustine, New Smyrna Beach, Northern Atlantic Coast Beach summer Vacation rentals
Begin your visit on the Atlantic Coast North. Stretching south from the Georgia border to Cape Canaveral, this area has prime tourist attractions. You can watch a launch of one of the space shuttles or review NASA history at Kennedy Space Center, on Merritt Island. Take photos of natural fauna such as alligators, the reclusive manatee, or bald eagles when you tour the neighboring National Wildlife Refuge or Canaveral National Seashore Park.

White sands, safe swimming, and fishing are close when you pick summer rentals or a home rental vacation in the New Smyrna Beach area. Enjoy intracoastal waterfront rentals at family oriented Ormond Beach, north of Daytona. Palm Coast is another fast growing canal community. Vacation homes, condo rentals, and cottage rentals here put you right in the swing of things with some of the top golf courses to be found in Florida.

For a leisurely look at history, choose Florida vacations and Florida rentals in historic St. Augustine. There are over 144 blocks of historic sites and buildings to see, and by choosing a local vacation rental you will be able to truly enjoy living history.

Orlando, Disney World and Central Florida Vacation Resort Rentals

Another very popular area for vacation rental homes, condos, and owner rentals is the exciting Disney/Orlando/Central Florida region. Orlando and Walt Disney World top the list for fun and family vacation adventure in everyone's book. The largest city in Florida, Orlando, is nearby to the world's best known family theme park and resort, Walt Disney World, and the educational adventures at Sea World, and Universal Studios. This is one place for family fun, and when you have house rentals, villas, and other rental property galore to choose from, it makes your vacation most affordable and easier to handle because of the home-like atmosphere and conveniences of home that you have at your disposal.

Panama City, Fort Walton Beach Florida Panhandle Vacation Rentals

The Panhandle Region of Florida offers much to see and do in this northwestern stretch of land along the top of the Gulf of Mexico. Tour the state capital of Tallahassee, and drive on the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway that is part of I-10 east-west from Jacksonville, FL to Santa Monica, CA. There are several major military bases in the Panhandle Region, including the Naval Air Station at Pensacola. Other popular and famous vacation and winter destinations in this area are Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City. These towns have quartz sand beaches that are extremely white, and not found elsewhere. This is an ideal place to find vacation home rentals, beach rentals, home rentals, or short term condo or luxury rentals during your Florida vacation stay.

Tampa, Tampa Bay and Florida Gulf Coast Central Beach Vacation rentals

Head for the Tampa/Gulf Coast Central region to enjoy the subtropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida shoreline. Major cities to visit include Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Cape Coral and Cape Myers. Relax and enjoy your Florida vacation in a Florida beach rental along the Gulf Coast. Or, choose Siesta Key island vacation rentals, beach houses, FL condo and vacation villas near to tourists destinations like Busch Gardens in Tampa, and barrier island beaches.

Naples, Southwest Florida vacation condo and beach house rentals

Southwest Florida is the place for some unique outdoor fun, with airboat rides, excursions and hiking through the Everglades National Park, the Naples Zoo, bird watching, charter boat sport fishing, and world class beaches. Florida beach rentals, island rentals, villa rentals, and luxury vacation home rentals put you in the center of action while remaining independent of others. Set up a beach Florida vacation, or condo rental now for your upcoming Florida vacation rental to have home comforts while you are sightseeing.
Miami condos, South Beach beach villas, Fort Lauderdale apartment rental

Exciting nightlife, fashion, and passion sum up South Florida/Miami/South Beach. Dance the night away at Latin clubs, and work on your tan all day at endless beaches. Collect seashells for souvenirs, go sailing, fishing, or jet skiing, surf and build sand castles. This is the life of the rich and famous, made affordable by using your beach house rental, vacation house, Florida condo, or rental house in town. Settle in and hit the town for world class shopping, entertainment, or just beautiful people watching.

Florida Central Atlantic Coast beach villas rental

The next area to consider is Florida's Atlantic Coast Central. There are beach vacation rentals, Florida condos, and vacation rentals by owner to be found that will exceed your best expectations. Visit famous sunny vacation cities of Cocoa Beach, Titusville, Jensen Beach, Daytona Beach, Port St. Lucie, and other fun locations. Kissimmee, Melbourne, Vero Beach and all the way south to West Palm Beach are towns where you will want to spend much more than a day. The region is crisscrossed with hiking trails inland for the outdoors enthusiast, and white sand beaches for sunning along the coastal waters of the Atlantic.

Florida Keys, Key West Beach condo and summertime holiday villa rentals

Be sure that your Florida vacation includes a stay in the amazing Florida Keys. Take the unique Overseas Highway across the water to paradise. Swim in the Atlantic, or the Gulf of Mexico, along the way to Key Largo, Key West, and see in person the legendary country that Hemmingway found to be inspiring. Enjoy the Gulf Coast Florida offers, and wander pleasant Key beaches. Go fishing on a charter boat to catch the big ones you can tell stories about, the marlin, and sailfish.

Settle into your vacation paradise on a Florida beach, in your rental house. Enjoy a Florida rental for a sun filled, fun filled vacation. Stay in a rental house, beach house rentals, or villas Florida, and make it your home away from home. Who knows, you may decide that you want to retire here someday!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

50 Offbeat Florida Attractions

50 Offbeat Florida Attractions

Author: Ryan Wiseman

An ancient Spanish monastery, spiritualist camp, castle made entirely of coral, undersea lodge, bat tower, seven mile bridge, Navy SEAL museum and other unique curiosities can all be found in the Sunshine State for those travelers who like to stray off the beaten path. Below are 50 of the most offbeat attractions in Florida:

African Queen - Key Largo, Florida

The marina at the Holiday Inn Key Largo (Mile Marker 100) is home to the original boat used in the classic 1951 movie, The African Queen, which was directed by legendary director John Huston and starred Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Huston and Robert Morley.
Ancient Spanish Monastery - North Miami Beach, Florida

Built in Segovia, Spain, in 1141, the Spanish Monastery is the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere. Newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, had the entire monastery dismantled and sent to the United States in the 1920s where it serves today as St. Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church.

Big Cat Rescue - Tampa, Florida

The world's largest big cat rescue and sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue is home to lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, bobcats, ocelots, servals, lynx, caracals and other exotic cats. Guided educational tours of Big Cat Rescue are available.

Blue Hole - Big Pine Key, Florida

The largest body of fresh water in the Florida Keys, the Blue Hole is an old rock quarry created during the construction of the Florida East Coast Railway, according to legend. Today, the Blue Hole is home to alligators, turtles, fish, ducks and a variety of wading birds. The Blue Hole is located at Mile Marker 30.5 (bayside).
Burt Reynolds; Friends Museum - Jupiter, Florida

A monument to actor Burt Reynolds' massive ego, the Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum contains a collection of awards and memorabilia from his movie and TV career.

Butterfly World - Coconut Creek, Florida

One of South Florida's top tourist destinations, Butterfly World is the world's largest butterfly aviary - home to more than 80 butterfly species and 5,000 butterflies.

Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp - Cassadaga, Florida

A Historic Spiritualist Camp founded in 1894, Cassadaga is the oldest active religious community in the Southeastern United States and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Christ of the Deep - Key Largo, Florida

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, "America's First Undersea Park," is home to the famous nine-foot-tall bronze "Christ of the Deep" statue, which lies 25 feet beneath the ocean in the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

Citrus Tower - Clermont, Florida

Although these days you will definitely view more subdivisions than citrus trees, you can still ride the elevator to an observation deck 226 feet above the rolling hills of Clermont for a spectacular glimpse of the surrounding area.

Coral Castle - Homestead, Florida

How did one individual endeavor to procure and sculpt more than 1,100 tons of coral rock into a “fantasy world carved out of stone” using only homemade tools? The secrets still lie within Coral Castle, "America's Stonehenge," the bizarre masterpiece of obsessive genius Ed Leedskalnin, which was built over a 28-year period.

Creations Pop Culture Museum - Delray Beach, Florida

A variety of incredible exhibits await you at Creations Pop Culture Museum, which features tons of Hollywood movie and TV memorabilia.

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park - Gainesville, Florida

A National Natural Landmark, Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park boasts a 120-foot-deep sinkhole that is accessible from a stairway leading to a lush, "miniature rain forest." The premises include a visitors center and hiking trails.

Dinosaur World - Plant City, Florida

A unique outdoor museum, Dinosaur World is billed as the "world's largest dinosaur attraction." Highlights include life-size dinosaur replicas, caves, hands-on activities, fossil dig area, educational exhibits, gift shop and more.

Dry Tortugas National Park - Key West, Florida

About 70 miles West of Key West lies Dry Tortugas National Park, which is home to historic Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park is accessible only by boat, ferry or seaplane.
Flipper's Grave - Grassy Key, Florida

Grassy Key in the Florida Keys is home to the Dolphin Research Center, which also serves as the final resting place for the original "Flipper" (real name: Mitzi), the most famous dolphin in film and TV history. Mitzi is buried in the Center's courtyard.

Gatorland - Orlando, Florida

Billed as the "Alligator Capital of the World," Gatorland features such lively shows as the world-famous Gator Jumparoo, Jungle Crocs of the World, Gator Wrestlin' Show and Up Close Animal Encounters, as well as the Gator Gully Splash Park, petting zoo, aviary, train ride and more.

Holy Land Experience - Orlando, Florida

A "living, biblical history museum," Holy Land Experience allows visitors to meet interesting biblical characters in authentic costumes, view a fascinating collection of antiquities and expore the ancient architecture of biblical Jerusalem.

Jackie Gleason's Mausoleum - Miami, Florida
An immense outdoor mauseoleum at the Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery in Miami serves as the final resting place for Jackie Gleason, who will always be remembered for his role as Ralph Kramden in "The Honeymooners." The only inscription on the mausoleum is Gleason's signature parting lines: "And Away We Go."

Jesus Film Project - Orlando, Florida

The two-hour docudrama, Jesus, has been viewed by approximately 5 billion people around the world since making its debut in 1979. Learn all about the "most widely viewed film in history" at the Jesus Film Project's master studio, which is located at the World Headquarters of Campus Crusade for Christ.

Jules' Undersea Lodge - Key Largo, Florida

The only underwater hotel in the United States, Jules' Undersea Lodge lies approximately 30 feet beneath the sea and guests have to scuba dive to reach the two-bedroom habitat.

Jungle Adventures - Christmas, Florida

A 20-acre wildlife sanctuary, Jungle Adventures is home to alligators, bears, deer, bobcats, panthers, crocodiles, monkeys, snakes and turtles. View alligator feedings and wildlife shows, take a jungle cruise and visit a Native American Village.

Key West Cemetery - Key West, Florida

Opened in 1847, the historic Key West Cemetery is home to a monument for sailors who died during the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in 1898, as well as a number of quirky inscriptions such as "I Told You I Was Sick" and "Devoted Fan of Julio Iglesias."

Monkey Jungle - Miami, Florida
Visit Monkey Jungle - "Where Humans are Caged and Monkeys Run Wild!" One of the few protected habitats for endangered primates in the country, Monkey Jungle is home to more than 400 primates that run free on a 30-acre reserve. A total of 30 primate species are represented here such as spider monkeys, colobus, gibbons and guenons.

Monument to the States - Kissimmee, Florida

Begun in 1942, the 50-foot-tall Monument to the States lies in downtown Kissimmee and consists of more than 1,500 fossils and rocks from every state, as well as more than 20 countries.

Mulberry Phosphate Museum - Mulberry, Florida

Mulberry is known as the "Phosphate Capital of the World" and the Mulberry Phosphate Museum features an incredible colleciton of fossils and exhibits that document the town's role in the phosphate industry.

National Key Deer Refuge - Big Pine Key, Florida

A 8,542-acre National Wildlife Refuge that lies on Big Pine Key and No Name Key in the Florida Keys, the National Key Deer Refuge serves as the home of the endangered Key Deer, as well as nearly two dozen other threatened and endangered plant and animal species.

Navy SEAL Museum - Fort Pierce, Florida

The Navy SEAL Museum is the world's only museum dedicated exclusively to "the elite warriors of Naval Special Warfare."

Old Jail - St. Augustine, Florida

The entire family will enjoy a guided tour through this 1891 jail, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse - St. Augustine, Florida

Built in the early 1700s and located near the famous St. Augustine City Gates, the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse contains a variety of unique artifacts and displays.

Perky's Bat Tower - Sugarloaf Key, Florida

Built in 1929 by Florida Keys entrepreneur, Richter Perky, as a way to attract mosquito-eating bats, Perky's Bat Tower never attracted any bats but today it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Potter's Wax Museum - St. Augustine, Florida

Billed as "America's first and finest wax museum," Potter's wax museum is nestled in historic St. Augustine and features more than 160 wax figures of such celebrities and historical figures as Albert Einstein, Julius Caesar, Tiger Woods, Princess Diana, Michael Jordan, Johnny Depp and even a bald Britney Spears!

Reptile World Serpentarium - St. Cloud, Florida

The Reptile World Serpentarium houses more than 50 species of snakes from all over the world such as the Australian taipan, king cobra and East African green mamba. Venom shows take place twice daily.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! - Orlando, Florida

View such oddities as a Rolls Royce made from a million matchsticks, two-headed calf, shrunken head, four-eyed man, cannibal dinosaur, Mona Lisa made out of toast, Egyptian mummy, Van Gogh portrait made from 3,000 postcards and a piece of the Berlin Wall at the Orlando Odditorium, which appears like it is being slowly devoured by an immense sinkhole!

Ron Jon Surf Shop - Cocoa Beach, Florida

Open 24 hours a day, Ron Jon Surf Shop is a massive 52,000-square-foot, multilevel specialty store that features surfboards, clothing and surf-related souvenirs, as well as live music, demonstrations and autograph sessions.

Salvador Dali Museum - St. Petersburg, Florida

Nestled in downtown St. Petersburg (of all places!), the Salvador Dali Museum boasts the most comprehensive collection of permanent works by the famous surrealist painter such as "The Hallucinogenic Toreador" and "The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus."

Seven Mile Bridge - Marathon Key, Florida

A masterpiece of engineering, the Seven Mile Bridge was constructed between 1979 and 1982 on the Overseas Highway and serves to connect the Middle Keys (Marathon Key) to the Lower Keys (Little Duck Key). For the record, the actual length of the Seven Mile Bridge is 6.79 miles.

Solomon's Castle - Ona, Florida

Internationally known sculptor, Howard Solomon, created this unique medieval-style fortress to house his extensive artwork. Guided tours of Solomon's Castle are available. The premises also include the Boat in the Moat Restaurant.

Southernmost Point - Key West, Florida

A huge buoy-like structure at the corner of Whitehead and South streets in Key West supposedly marks the "Southernmost Point in the United States," which is only 90 miles North of Cuba.

Spook Hill - Lake Wales, Florida

Park your car at the bottom of this "gravity-defying hill" in Lake Wales and it will appear to roll up the hill. Is it an optical illusion or some kind of mystical occurrence?

St. Augustine Alligator Farm - St. Augustine, Florida

View Maximo the Giant Crocodile (15 feet and 3 inches long, 1,250 pounds) at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, which also features wildlife shows, nature habitats, albino alligators and much more.

Titanic: The Experience - Orlando, Florida

The world's first permanent Titanic exhibition features a full-scale re-creation of the Titanic's Grand Staircase and incredible stories of the passengers and crew who survived the tragedy, as well as more than 250 Titanic artifacts and memorabilia from the 1997 Oscar-winning movie, Titanic.

Venetian Pool - Coral Gables, Florida

Surrounded by Venetian-style architecture and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Venetian Pool is a 820,000-gallon pool that was carved out of a coral rock quarry in 1923. It features a variety of waterfalls, caves, grottos and a diving platform.

Water Ski Hall of Fame & Museum - Polk City, Florida

View the first pair of water skis and other rare artifacts and memorabilia that document the history of waterskiing at the Water Ski Hall of Fame & Museum, which also contains a resource center and audiovisual library.

Weeki Wachee Springs - Weeki Wachee, Florida

Established in 1947, Weeki Wachee Springs still features its ever-popular live mermaid shows, as well as a state-of-the-art waterpark called Buccaneer Bay and sightseeing boat tours.

WonderWorks - Orlando, Florida

Experience an earthquake, lie on a bed of nails, design your own roller coaster and immerse yourself in virtual reality fun at WonderWorks - "Orlando's only upside-down attraction!"

World Chess Hall of Fame - Miami, Florida

Learn about some of the most famous chess players in history such as Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky at the World Chess Hall of Fame, which also features fascinating chess exhibits and artifacts.

World Erotic Art Museum - Miami Beach, Florida

The World Erotic Art Museum boasts an extensive collection of more than 4,000 artifacts that comprehensively document the history of eroticism from 200 B.C. until today.

World's Largest Drive-In - Sunrise, Florida

Open since 1963, the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop boasts the largest drive-in movie theater and daily flea market in the world.

World's Largest McDonald's - Orlando, Florida

In addition to offering a unique menu that includes gourmet sandwiches and desserts, this two-story McDonald's offers a 25,000-square-foot play area, as well as more than 60 arcade games. It is located just off world-famous International Drive.

World's Smallest Police Station - Carrabelle

Basically a phone booth, the World's Smallest Police Station was built in the early '60s to accommodate the one police office in Carrabelle, population 1,800. It's worth the photo opportunity if you ever find yourself driving aimlessly through Florida's panhandle.

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Florida Fishing-the Treasure Coast

Florida Fishing-the Treasure Coast

Author: Rick Noble

The treasure Coast is on the the east coast of Florida.Roughly south to Stuart and North to Vero Beach. The intercoastal waterway,Wich includes all of the Indian River Lagoon,runs north from Stuart Florida,approximately 150 miles.Hutchison Island is the barrier island that separates The ocean from the intercoastal waterway. The Fort Pierce Inlet divides the Island into north and south.
Some of the best fishing sites in Florida are on the treasure coast. The reason is that there are so many types of Fishing you can enjoy here. Because of the barrier islands,it"s unique ecosystem makes the Indian River Lagoon the most ecological diverse waterway in all of North America. No where else can you find more spcies of fish,crustations,mammals,and plant life than on Floridas Treasure Coast.

Enjoy the following types of fishing at any given time.

1.Offshore-Stuart is the Sailfish capitol of the world.If you like big game fish this is the place. also dolphin,king fish,wahoo,and barracuda,the list goes on and on for great offshore sport fishing.

2.Inshore fishing-The Indian River Lagoon-Known for it"s wide variety of fish. You will want to target just one or two,depending on the time of day and season.I can"t list them all but here"s a few. Snook,mangrove snapper,jacks,sea trout,sea bass,flounder,pompano,sheepshead,redfish,that should be enough to make you hungry!

3.Bottom Fishing-party boats offer a great value for reef fishing.The six and 8 mile reefs off the treasure coast are the most visited.grouper,snapper,sea bass and a variety of others make for a great meal from these bottom feeders.

4. Surf Fishing-Miles of uncrowded beaches make for fishermans paradise.Fish the first drop off only a few feet from the beach to catch whiting and the like or,go large and rig up for some shark fishing or,anything in between. Anything goes at the beaches.

5.Fresh Water Fishing-Fresh water is everywhere on the treasure coast. Pull of the side of the road and fish a small canal our lake or pond.large and smallmouth bass are exceptional here.Drive 30 miles west to lake okeechobee and you will find some of the best freshwater fishing in the country.

6.Spear Fishing-want even more excitement? Then gear up for a spear fishing charter from one of the three inlets along the treasure coast.(St. Lucie,Fort Pierce,and Sebastion)You must be certified to scuba dive of course.

This list doesn"t even come close to all the choices for florida fishing on the Treasure coast.This area is still a great place to plan a fishing trip.Why do I recommend The treasure coast? Well, maybe it"s because sometines You are the only one on the beach fishing,or the only voice you can hear is your own.Might be the great Surises over the water. Or it could be that I live here and want to share this wonderful place. Fishing in Florida has never been better.

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Take a Dive to See Florida History

Take a Dive to See Florida History

Author: santoo

Are you stressed out in your life? Are you over worked? Don't you even have sufficient time for eating or sleeping? Want to spend some quality time with your family? Need to get rejuvenated? There is only one solution to all of the above mentioned problems. Vacation is the only answer which rings our bells within our minds. Most people work 24x7 all through the week and throughout the year. They are put through a lot of work related complications which makes stress as their sole friend. Many people have even broken ties with their families because of the same reason and lack of quality time to nourish one's family. Also the way people work, will easily wear them out and affect their health both physically and mentally. If this is the case, it will also start showing signs in your work performance as it will inevitably fall way below par. You need to get rejuvenated to keep up with your performance and perform much better in the future. For all these, vacations only serve as an answer. It helps you to take off your mind, find happy moments and peace and gets you rejuvenated at the end of the trip.

Having problems with where to go for your vacation? Not a problem. Here is an option for you. Come to Florida. Florida is one of the most happening states of US. It is known for many things. It has many things to offer for its tourists and you will never go back empty hearted for certain. Florida villas are rated so high that they stand out to be one among the best villas around our world. It is the best place for your stay in Florida. It gives you a wonderful staying experience filled with joy, happiness and peaceful moments. The best part is that you can get to stay in these villas as a group not book separate rooms for the whole family consisting of many members.

When it comes to Florida, one thing you shouldn't miss is scuba diving. If not for the coral reef located in Florida Keys, US would have nothing to offer when it comes to scuba diving. Apart from the living coral reef which has already lasted for about 35 years, numerous dive able wrecks have been scattered throughout waters creating breathtaking and exquisite artificial reef habitats.

Some of the artificial coral reef habitats you can visit while you visit Florida are
  • Benwood: It is one of the oldest scuba diving wrecks around the region. WWII ship was sunk in 1942. It has a wide array of marine life. You can find pork fish, grunts, lobsters, moray eels, glassy sweepers etc.
  • Cayman Salvage Master: This wreck is a Cuban refugee vessel which was confiscated by the US government. She sank after the mishap to about 90 feet underwater and now after hurricane Katrina righted the ship the divers can swim along the hull and deck.
  • Duane: You ought to visit this wreck also. US Coast Guard Cutter was intentionally sunk in 1987. Only experienced and advanced divers are allowed to dive in this wreck area due to strong currents.
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Florida is not famous for wrecks alone. With theme parks, clubs etc it's a traveller's dream destination. You can party hard in Florida for your vacation, What you are waiting for? Get your group of friends and choose one of the amazing Florida villas. Your Florida villa will make your vacation more beautiful. Book a Florida holiday rental for your Orlando, Florida tour .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Marketing Your Vacation Rental Home Part Two - Online Marketing

Marketing Your Vacation Rental Home Part Two - Online Marketing

By Fraser Hannah

This article, part two of a series, will help vacation rental home owners learn more about marketing a rental property online. It is important to understand that people who are looking for a vacation rental home are generally looking for more than they can get with a brand-name hotel. They typically want space, privacy, laundry facilities and - almost always - a cheaper rate than if they stayed in a hotel.

The one major difference between booking a private vacation rental home and a branded hotel chain is that you know ahead of time what you will be getting when you book with a hotel chain. Plus, if things are not quite right, you always have the manager on hand to sort things out for you. On the other hand, vacation rental homes are almost always privately owned and operated, and in the past you never could be sure just what you would be getting.

The Internet has changed everything about marketing a rental property. Now, prospective renters can visit a website to view pictures and read information about a vacation rental home before making a final decision - which means that online marketing of a rental property should be a major priority.

The Benefits of Marketing a Rental Property Online

By marketing your rental property online, you have the perfect low-cost way of showing that vacation rental home to the world. Online marketing can put you on an even footing with the big hotel chains; in fact, it actually gives you an advantage. While their sites will be practical and informative, you can take time and TLC to make your site warm and welcoming while reassuring prospective renters that your vacation rental home will more than fill their requirements.

Plus, establishing a website for your vacation rental home gives you a global presence. While the vacation rental market in the United States may still be in its infancy, it is the norm in many other countries for families to stay in vacation rental homes rather than hotels. Marketing a rental property on the Internet can help an owner in the U.S. reach families from abroad and draw them to the home.

Putting Your Vacation Rental Home Online

There are several ways in which you can use the Internet for marketing your rental property:
  • Create your own website
  • List your vacation rental home with a property rental agent or manager
  • List your vacation home on one of the many vacation rental sites
While all three options for marketing a rental property have their place, creating your own Internet site is essential. Having your own site gives you complete control of how your vacation rental home is displayed to potential renters. If someone contacts you wanting to rent your home, do you really want to send them to a site that contains other homes similar to your own? Remember, there are always other owners out there who are also involved in using the Internet for marketing their rental property and who will undercut you just to get the rental. Listing sites can help you reach more people, but in the end you want a renter to see your individual site.

Creating Your Own Site for Your Vacation Rental Home

Your website should consist of the following standard pages, which are all important for optimally marketing your rental property:
  • Home Page
  • Property Description
  • Photo Gallery
  • Visitor Information
  • Rates
  • Contact Information

The Home Page

The Home page is probably the most important part of your strategy for marketing your rental property, as this is a visitor's first point of contact with your home. Make sure the design of your home page is simple, clean and uncluttered. Consider adding two pictures instead of just one to make your site stand out from the competition. One picture can be the traditional front-of-the-home shot, while the other image can be of something that sets the rental property apart - a great view, a beautiful sunrise, a scene by the pool, and so on. You can also consider taking a picture of the house lit up at night, which will certainly make the image memorable.

The Text

You will also need to write text that helps you with marketing your rental property. This step does not have to be difficult, but you should take time and give some thought as to what you want to say. You want to sell your home, not just state the facts. The text should help prospective renters imagine kicking back by your pool with a cool drink while watching the kids splash around. Set the scene first, rather than starting with a list of the best things about your vacation rental home. Be descriptive and use your imagination so that you are marketing your rental property in a way that will make the reader want to find out more.
In order to get some ideas of what to focus on in the text, ask yourself the following questions:
  • What do you your family and friends love about the vacation rental home?
  • What do you enjoy doing when you are there?
  • Is there something you have found that you love but is not generally known about on or near your vacation rental home?
  • What special features does your home offer?
  • What would you want to know if you were going to rent this property?

General Picture Ideas

The use of good quality pictures of your home's exterior and interior cannot be overstated for successful marketing of a rental property. In a highly competitive area such as Florida, pictures could make the difference between securing a booking or missing out. Sometimes a potential guest will be considering several properties with the same features and at the same cost. In this case, guests will undoubtedly choose the vacation rental home they like the look of. This means that quality pictures are critical for successful marketing of your rental property. Common faults are images that are badly lit, that are taken from strange angles, that feature pool decks and porches devoid of furniture, or that have inappropriate things in view (wet towels, piles of papers, and so on).

Some additional things you may want to consider when marketing your rental property with photos are:
  • Consider using flowers. A fresh vase of flowers can be welcoming, but don't go overboard, and don't be tempted to move one vase of flowers around as you take pictures - it will look silly if the same vase keeps turning up in different rooms.
  • Set the tables. In the formal dining area, open a bottle of wine, fill wine glasses, light candles and use napkins. In the kitchen dining area, set it for dinner with the family, with more casual place settings, a pitcher of lemonade, and so on.
  • Make sure the kitchen of your vacation rental home sparkles. It should be spotless, with a bowl of fruit on the counter. Basically, you will want to make the home looked lived in and like you are just waiting for guests to arrive.
  • Make the bedrooms welcoming by turning down the sheets, fluffing up the pillows, and placing magazines and books on night tables.
  • Photograph the bathroom in the evening. Fill the tub, add lots of bubbles, light candles, have fluffy towels and perhaps a glass of red wine on hand to create an atmosphere.
  • Use a digital camera so that you can take hundreds of pictures of your vacation rental home. Even if you are not a photographer, you are sure to get some good ones that you can use for marketing your rental property.
Marketing a rental property with your own website can be a part of a strategy that uses many other techniques, from print ads to online listings on real estate marketing sites, allowing you to attract more renters to your property. Future articles in this series will explore additional avenues for marketing your vacation rental home and their benefits to you.

Fraser Hannah spent eight years working as a freelance television production manager and researcher before leaving to join his family's business working with the elderly.

He founded in 2003 after purchasing his own vacation home in Florida and being frustrated by the lack of vision shown by many of the existing vacation rental sites., an online Florida vacation guide, now connects thousands of travelers directly with the owners of high-quality vacation rentals in Florida, from Orlando to the Florida Keys.

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Historical Places in Florida - History and Culture in the Sunshine State

Historical Places in Florida - History and Culture in the Sunshine State

By Fraser Hannah

Most tourists seem to gravitate towards the crowded, expensive theme parks or the teeming hot beaches, but if you're looking to get off the beaten path when traveling to Florida, history and some of the more cultural offerings of the Sunshine State should be considered. From northern Florida with the Southern hospitality of the Panhandle to the exciting cultural influences at the bottom tip of the state, a vacation in Florida offers endless possibilities of unusual places to visit.

Each coast, in fact, from the Atlantic to the Pacific with the Gulf Coast included, exudes history relating not only to America, but globally as well. From the Keys to Tallahassee, the importance of the dynamic story of Florida and the history of the state is immediately evident and the locals hope to share its countless cultural assets with you.

Where to Go and What to Do During Your Vacation in Florida:

Tropical Treasures in the Keys

Key West, slightly off the coast of Florida and connected by a bridge, is a continuously sunny destination that has entranced everyone from President Harry Truman and Tennessee Williams to Ernest Hemingway and the U. S. Navy. The famed author Hemingway, after a vacation to Florida, subsequently decided to live in Key West, and his home has now been turned into a museum with the descendants of his polydactyl cat still roaming the grounds.

With the close proximity of the ocean, the locals and tourists alike enjoy activities that incorporate the blue water of the sea, including ship salvaging and diving for ancient sunken treasures. Many U. S. presidents, including Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt, bolstered local lore and Florida history by calling Key West home in the winter months at the Southernmost House Grand Hotel and Museum.

Early Industrialists in Fort Myers

Both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford decided to call Fort Myers home in the winter months after taking a vacation to Florida. Edison's home, called "Seminole Lodge," has been accurately renovated to reflect the time period in which it was built and resided in, and includes one of the first modern swimming pools in Florida history and his laboratory much as he would have had it, remaining a fine example of one of the best historical places in Florida.
Located adjacent to Edison's graciously designed house is "The Mangoes," Henry Ford's recently refurbished winter home. After a vacation to Florida, Ford decided that Fort Myers would be better than the Michigan cold. A garage full of restored antique Ford automobiles rounds out the serene atmosphere. Both historical homes have lush gardens along the Caloosahatchee River.

The Contrasts of Palm Beach

From industrial influences to charming gardens, Palm Beach is a sun-lit city of contrasts. Henry Flagler linked the cities of Florida after realizing that a sophisticated system of transportation could help revitalize the state and bring more tourists to vacation in Florida. Starting in the late 1880s, Flagler began purchasing railroads, combining the routes, and installing more tracks up and down the coastlines and eventually well in between. The Henry Flagler Museum, located in his grand winter home called "Whitehall," heralds his accomplishments and his idea of bringing the first vacationers to the state for profit, a first in Florida history.
Located outside of the city limits in Delray Beach, the sweeping and serene Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens brings Japan to the coast of Florida. Exhibits include galleries highlighting ancient and modern Japanese art and culture, tea ceremonies, festival celebrations, tasting events, and special displays in the gardens. While on your vacation in Florida, the Morikami is a must see.

Family Fun in Sunny Sarasota

Sarasota is another hotbed of historical places in Florida. The city has a detailed cultural history complete with Native American and Spanish influences. Historic Spanish Point, highlighting 5,000 years of Florida history, features prehistoric Indian mounds, living history performances, archaeological tours, a butterfly garden, and pioneer-era buildings. Cruises in historically inspired vessels sail Sarasota Bay for an entertaining finale to your vacation in Florida.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Ringling Museum of the American Circus are centered on the home of the museum's namesakes who designed their sprawling mansion to mimic European architecture, a fine example of one of the more elaborate historical places in Florida. Ca d'Zan, completed in 1926, saw the biggest and most expensive parties of the early 20th century in Sarasota. The art museum, from the Ringling's collection, displays both old and new American, European, and Asian works of art. The circus museum, which was opened to the public in 1948 and has since become a popular stop during a vacation to Florida, has a large collection of handbills, posters, costumes, and props from the early days of the circus. Also on the grounds is a miniature circus constructed by Howard Tibbals, who was integral to designing the tiny circus set that is now a part of Florida history.

Military Origins in Pensacola

Home of the Blue Angels, Pensacola, a must see on a vacation to Florida, is proud to be the home of naval aviation. More than 150 restored aircraft from the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation where visitors can experience the flight simulator or learn more about naval aviation in Florida history and the rest of world in the Memorial Theatre. In addition, the museum features an IMAX screen, a tour of the restoration hangar, cockpit trainers, and Blue Angels events on select days.

Located nearby is historic Fort Pickens, which was constructed in 1834 and used well into the 1940s. The Fort, significant in Florida history, had been influential during the Civil War, and in the mid-1880s, the famous Apache warrior, Geronimo, was incarcerated at the Fort, where he became a sideshow for the tourists on vacation in Florida. A Visitor Center showcases memorabilia, art, and books enhancing the history of the Fort.

The Panhandle's Gorgeous Gulf

Surprisingly, Apalachicola, the secluded, charming town on the Gulf Coast that is mired in Florida history, offers many options of things to see and do. The Camp Gordon Johnston Museum provides a glimpse into the life of World War II soldiers and their intensive training. Opened in 1942, the camp, a permanent reminder of the military's impact on Florida history, trained America's amphibious soldiers before they left for war, and remnants of the training grounds and camp still survive. Exhibits include photographs, articles, and knickknacks from the camp's heyday.

In the town's center, the historic old district features over 900 buildings, constructed as far back as the early 1800s, that are listed on the National Register. Walking tours allow visitors to explore each location in depth and include an old cotton warehouse, three parks, and rows of live oak trees and magnolias. A Visitors Center provides maps, ideas, and directions for experiencing Apalachicola's historic downtown while on your vacation in Florida.

History from Coast to Coast

When on a vacation in Florida, the Sunshine State offers much more than just beautiful beaches and warm weather. From coast to coast, Florida and the history of its people and culture still influence its society and lifestyle. You shouldn't be worried about the endless choices on where to go or what to do - if you're looking for history of any kind, Florida has it!

Fraser Hannah spent eight years working as a freelance television production manager and researcher before leaving to join his family's business working with the elderly.

He founded in 2003 after purchasing his own vacation home in Florida and being frustrated by the lack of vision shown by many of the existing vacation rental sites. now connects thousands of travelers directly with the owners of high-quality vacation rentals in Florida, from Orlando to the Florida Keys.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Wildfire expands in the Everglades near West Miami-Dade

A raging wildfire was expanding at the edge of the Everglades and West Miami-Dade Friday morning.
At about 6 a.m., the flames were extending west of Krome Avenue near Southwest Eighth Street. Smoke reduced visibility along sections of Tamiami Trail.
The fire could be seen from the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center on Krome Avenue. Gusty conditions -- with east winds at 18 to 23 knots with gusts to around 35 knots -- were fueling the fire. According to forestry officials, at least 50 acres had been damaged by 6:30 a.m., WSVN-7 reported.
Firefighters have been battling wildfires in Brevard and Volusia counties this week. According to forestry officials about 16,715 acres have been damaged in Brevard and Volusia, Florida Today reported.
Meteorologist Robert Molleda said earlier this week that this fire season "could shape up to be a pretty bad" one.
A key index watched closely by the Florida Division of Forestry — soil moisture — has swung into the red danger zone across much of the landscape south of Lake Okeechobee, including the Everglades. A broader assessment that gauges humidity levels and fuel conditions ranked Broward County as the only county in the state at a “very high’’ risk for wildfire.
Fire season in Florida typically heats up in March and April, the last two months of the dry season. But an ongoing drought, which grew worse in February, has driven up the risk factors.
The National Weather Service recorded less than one-tenth of an inch of rain for the entire month in Miami-Dade and Broward. The South Florida Water Management District reported that average rainfall amounted to a third of an inch across a region stretching from south of Orlando to Key West.
Another factor heightens concerns. Freezes back in December killed or damaged cold-sensitive native plants that provide fire plenty of tinder, said Scott Peterich, wildfire mitigation specialist for the Everglades district of the forestry division.
“There are a lot of dead palm fronds out there to burn,’’ he said.

Wildfire expands in the Everglades near West Miami-Dade - Miami-Dade Breaking News -

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rick Scott rejects high-speed rail

TALLAHASSEE — Republican Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal stimulus money to build a high-speed train between Orlando and Tampa Wednesday, baffling supporters who already had spent $66 million getting ready for the project.

Scott made the announcement in a hastily called news conference at which he denounced President Barack Obama's proposed federal budget.

"You don't have to be an economic expert to know when you spend more money than you take in, you will fail," Scott said.

Scott's decision likely means those dollars will be rerouted to California and other states investing in a high-speed rail network that Obama has likened to the national highway system. Washington state, in fact, sent out a press release asking for the money.

Scott had previously said he didn't want the state spending any money on the rail line, which required $280 million in matching funds. But backers of the project have said that the consortiums of companies set to bid on the line had indicated a willingness to put up their own money in return for a contract.

News of Scott's decision quickly rippled through Washington and Tallahassee, where lawmakers had approved the project during a special session in late 2009. Some lawmakers grumbled that Scott couldn't unilaterally overturn their decision.

In his brief press conference, Scott went into little detail about how he made his decision, referring only generally to his conclusions about the current and future cost of the train. The state has spent about $66 million on engineering for the 84-mile system and was about to issue contracts for another $170 million.
"My concern with this is if you look at ridership studies, I don't see any way anyone is going to get a return. And so I'm very concerned about the Florida taxpayers," Scott said.

The governor had said repeatedly he would await a ridership study being conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation before making a final decision on the project. Scott spokesman Brian Hughes said afterward that the study has not been completed but that Scott, before making his decision, received a telephone briefing on its findings.

Previous state studies of the train projected annual ridership of 1.9 million to 2.2 million passengers. That didn't include tourists who would ride it to Walt Disney World, which would have hosted a station, possibly near its Wide World of Sports attractions.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Scott said the federal dollars "are better invested in higher yield projects" such as widening Interstate 4 in Central Florida and I-95 through Martin, St. Lucie, Brevard and Volusia counties, and port-dredging projects in Jacksonville and Miami intended to accommodate larger container ships.

However, the federal dollars Florida would be forfeiting are designated specifically for rail projects, and "there is overwhelming demand for high-speed rail in other states that are enthusiastic to receive Florida's funding and the economic benefits it can deliver," LaHood said Wednesday.

Scott also said he was still reviewing the SunRail commuter train project linking downtown Orlando with Seminole, Volusia and Osceola counties later this decade, even though money has been set aside in the state budget he proposed last week.

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, was among many upset by Scott derailing the train.
"I am deeply disappointed in the decision to not move forward with the Orlando to Tampa passenger rail project," Mica said in a statement. "This is a huge setback for the state of Florida, our transportation, economic development, and important tourism industry.''

He said he had already asked the governor to reconsider. His colleague on the House Transportation Committee, U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville, called the decision "a nightmare."
And U.S .Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday he was exploring whether the federal government could press on with the project without the state's involvement.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he had talked with LaHood and asked him not to reallocate the money, at least until train backers had a chance to ask Scott to reconsider. "This is a century-type decision that needs to be vetted. I don't think it was given a fair hearing," said Dyer, a Democrat.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said she was taken by surprise. "It's a decision based on ideology," said Iorio, a Democrat. "It's not a decision based on facts."

Among the most dismayed was C.C. "Doc" Dockery, the retired Lakeland insurance magnate who has spent 30 years trying to get a high-speed train in Florida.

He congratulated California because he figures LaHood will move much of the money there, just as he previously sent additional funds to Florida after Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio pulled out of high-speed endeavors. California wants to build a train that eventually would link Los Angeles with San Francisco.

Dockery also questioned whether Scott really understood the way the train was supposed to operate in Florida. The company chosen to build the train would have been contractually bound to cover any cost overruns in construction, as well as any operating deficits for up to 20 years.

In all, eight consortiums made up of international companies representing 11 countries had lined up to bid on the train that would have run from Orlando International Airport to downtown Tampa, with stops at the Orange County Convention Center, Walt Disney World and Lakeland.

""The governor is saying to these teams that they must be lying when they agree to accept cost overruns and ridership risks," said Dockery, a longtime Republican fundraiser and husband of state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland.
Other legislators expressed dismay that Scott didn't wait for the private consortiums to offer their bids, and questioned why the governor would turn down thousands of jobs the project would create after campaigning on a "jobs agenda."

Lawmakers appropriated $300 million for the project last year, and Scott cannot constitutionally scuttle that spending without legislative authority, said Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander.

Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said he was told about the decision via a text message minutes before Scott's press conference. But even though lawmakers approved the project last year, there were mixed feeling about it given the tea party-fueled outrage over federal spending.

If lawmakers were to simply continue funding the project, he would expect Scott to veto the move in the budget, and, "I don't believe there'd be the support to override the veto."

But Scott's seeming disregard for the Legislature's appropriating power – whether it's selling a state plane or killing rail projects – is alarming.

Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, said he planned to lobby lawmakers to fight the governor's move and didn't believe Scott could unilaterally kill the project.

"I disagree with what the governor has said, and I do hope this is not an irrevocable situation," Simmons said.
Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, was more critical, saying the decision was "tragic" and that Scott should not have prevented the private market from setting a value for high-speed rail.

"We haven't even received proposals. There's no benefit at all at this point in the game to say we won't fund it. Without letting the private sector come to the table, we really don't know how viable it is," he said.
"There's no rational reason at all not to allow that to happen -- unless you're afraid of what you might here. We might hear that this thing will work."

Scott did find support from Robert Poole, a member of his transition team and a rail expert employed by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank.

Poole said he was skeptical that a business would be willing to cover possible construction overruns or operating deficits, meaning the state could have been forced to bear those expenses. "I think this is a responsible decision," Poole said.

Rick Scott rejects high-speed rail: Gov. Rick Scott says he's rejecting federal high-speed rail money -

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's opening day for the Florida State Fair

It's opening day for the Florida State Fair

TAMPA — Grab your kids and perhaps your antacids. This city's brightly colored, goat-bleating, fried-dough-tempting, music-cranking extravaganza has arrived.
The Florida State Fair.

Beginning today at 10 a.m., the annual fair will offer oodles of rides, games, concerts and so-bad-it's-good grub for between $5 and $12 admission, depending on your age and the day you visit.

Rides, food and some shows cost extra.
It all ends Feb. 21, but there's plenty to do until then.

• Friday night is the big Corndogs and Country concert at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre, featuring five headliners. Tickets, available at, are $20 and include fair admission.

• The High School Jazz Festival will take place all day at the special events center.

• Cheer and dance competitions happen all day Saturday and Sunday.

• There is a talent show Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Country Gold concerts, featuring Leroy Van Dyke, Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, Moe Bandy, Joe Stampley and Bobby Bare, are at noon and 4 p.m. Feb. 16 in the entertainment hall.

• Nock Helicopter Trapeze shows fly over the fairgrounds on weekdays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

• Fireworks start at 8:30 p.m. each Friday and Saturday.

• Other daily shows include: the Welde Bear Show, the Hollywood Racing Pigs, the Giraffe Exotic Menagerie, the Sea Lion Splash and the Kachunga Alligator show and a Blues Brothers tribute show.

It's opening day for the Florida State Fair

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

South Florida Housing is still sliding down the scale.

South Florida Housing is still sliding down the scale.
By:   Tom Johnson

As reported in several publications all over Florida housing prices are still on the fall. Some say that the values have fallen 55 percent in the past four years. Source-Zillow

With all the foreclosures on the market and with the economy still in a blunder sources are saying that there are still some 43 percent of home owners that are still in deep trouble with their mortgages.  In the fourth quarter of 2010, foreclosures slowed considerably, as banks struggled to deal with newfound irregularities in their document filing process and allegations of “robo-signing.”

Short sales (where the home is sold for less that the outstanding mortgage) is still holding around 46.7 percent of South Florida sellers. Short sales are seen to be a preferable way to get out from under a home versus foreclosures but my resources say that it is not as easy as it seems.

The value of homes in South Florida seems to be back to where they were back in 2002. This is a drastic change from just a few years ago when I was in the Real Estate business.  We can only hope that the economy does a swing and bring back the market value of homes to this region.

Beachgoers take beached squid back to ocean in Delray Beach

The man-of-war on Delray’s beach had to make some room Tuesday morning when a 3-foot squid, squirting ink by the cupful, washed ashore. 

Squid rescue: Beachgoers take beached squid back to ocean in Delray Beach

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fishing Report for the last of January

As I reported a couple weeks ago that we were going to head out to the gulf to do some fishing even though it was cold. We went out in Crystal River and tried several of our hot spots but no luck. The water temperature was down and so the fishing was dead. We even tried several areas in shallow water hoping to get something to bite but again no luck. We were using shrimp for bait and after awhile on no bites I tried several lures in my box but still no hits.
After the tide started to come in we went back in around Shell Island and tried a couple spots that we always have good luck at but still no success. Then after several hours on the water we decided to head in and grab a nice dinner somewhere.
We came around the corner by the coast guard head quarters and I decided why not go and see if we can find a few manatees and see what they are up too. We came through Kings Bay and headed toward Three Sisters Springs where the manatees like to hand out and to our amazement we saw hundreds of them hanging out at the warm water of the springs. The warm water at the springs draws the manatees each year to come and cuddle at the mouth of the springs. Article by ABC News

Fishing was terrible but the day was not a total loss. It was such an amazing site to see these huge adorable sea creatures just gently swimming around in the nice warm water for the winter.

After we the left the manatee zone we went back up the river out of Kings Bay and anchored again and threw a couple lines out where we saw a bunch of pin fish hanging out. We had a couple of hits but they were so light that we could not get anything hooked.

Maybe we will give it another shot this weekend since the temperatures are starting to rise again and the water temperatures are also starting to come back up and hopefully the fish will start getting their appetite back.

Government getting involved with manatees

Top brass gets down and dirty with manatees

D.C. official in town to get look at operations

When you’re a higher-up on the ladder at the Department of the Interior, interacting with wildlife should be second nature.

But there was Deanna Archuleta on Tuesday morning, gazing at a group of manatees at Three Sisters Springs like a regular tourist.

Archuleta is far from that. She is deputy assistant secretary of water and science, overseeing, among other things, the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS.

So she played more than giddy visitor Tuesday. Archuleta joined officials and college student volunteers in the capture and health assessment of about a half-dozen manatees from King’s Bay.

“This is incredible!” Archuleta exclaimed as she poured water on a hyperactive manatee’s snout to help its breathing while other workers conducted their testing. “It’s in really good health. It’s young, which explains why it’s kind of frisky.”

She and other USGS officials were in Citrus County for a research site visit to Homosassa and Crystal River. Tuesday morning, two or three dozen workers, volunteers and veterinary students from the University of Florida gathered at King’s Bay Drive peninsula as part of a regular manatee health assessment.
Earlier, Archuleta met with Michael Lusk, manager of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, and received a boat tour of King’s Bay sanctuaries.

Archuleta, a former county commissioner in New Mexico, has worked for the Interior Department for two years. She is the department’s top scientist, overseeing agencies that conduct research on wildlife and the environment.

This is the fourth year the USGS has conducted the wild manatee study in Crystal River, and it does the assessment three times a year. The random testing is to receive a baseline of manatee health, USGS spokeswoman Rachel Pawlitz said.

Teamwork was essential. Volunteers captured manatees with nets; the manatees were transferred to stretchers on other boats where “capture team” workers, including Archuleta, hoisted them gingerly to padded mats under the cover of a tent.

Once there, veterinarians and their assessment teams conducted complete medical exams. The procedure takes about an hour; less if the weather is cold.

John Peterlin, a director with the Friends of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, said the health assessments are vital to the manatee population.

“They use that data to make good, balanced decisions,” Peterlin said. “That’s what we’re doing here today — collecting data.”

Tour boat operator Traci Wood, owner of Nature’s Vacation in Crystal River, also helped out Tuesday.
“It’s a great way to make sure the manatees have the proper health,” she said. “They’re checking the overall health of the animals.”

Archuleta said she returns to Washington, D.C with an up-close understanding of manatees.
“The sheer number of people involved is amazing,” she said, adding with a smile: “I guess it takes a village to raise a manatee!”


Monday, February 7, 2011

Officials tour manatee sites

Officials tour manatee sites

Argument's on both sides of the debate sure seem logical.

The idea of touching an endangered species in the wild is odd. After all, most people don’t pet a caribou.

Yet on many days, especially winter, that’s exactly what happens in Three Sisters Springs. Snorkelers, swimmers and kayakers get up close encounters with manatees that huddle in the warm 72-degree water.

On the other hand, if manatees are bothered by the attention, why don’t they just swim away?

Michael Lusk, manager of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex, is tasked with developing a plan for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that could limit access to the springs or interaction between humans and manatees.

“We need to make some very hard decisions in gray areas,” Lusk acknowledged.

That’s where people like Deanna Archuleta and Bob Bonde come in.

Both are scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, and it is their studies of manatees that could sway Lusk’s decisions on rules one way or another.

“We very much need the science because what we do is affecting real people and real people’s lives,” Lusk said.

Archuleta oversees the USGS as deputy assistant secretary of water and science for the Department of the Interior. Bonde heads the USGS Florida Integrated Science Center in Gainesville.

They were in Crystal River last week for a research site visit and to participate in a manatee capture and health assessment. Bonde oversaw the manatee exercise that included experts and volunteers from the USGS and University of Florida.

Lusk accompanied Archuleta on a site visit to the Three Sisters Springs property, now owned by the city of Crystal River and managed by wildlife service. They then went by boat throughout King’s Bay, with Lusk pointing out manatee sanctuary sites.

Archuleta, who had never seen a manatee, was enthralled.

Lusk explained the delicate balance he faces at Three Sisters: Developing a rule that protects manatees from harassment while also giving the public access to the unique encounter that only Crystal River offers.

Archuleta said she could appreciate that, which made the USGS’s studies of manatees that more important.

“We have to find the triggers that are risks to the species,” she said. “We have trained scientists with amazing backgrounds. They have such depth of knowledge.”

Archuleta said her scientists take no sides in the manatee-interaction debate while conducting research.
“They’re independent,” she said. “We make sure we have a divide between science and management.”
Expert: Keep it simple for manatees
It was quite the scene Tuesday morning.

Researchers in manatee science and veterinary students from the University of Florida, plus other volunteers, converged on a peninsula off King’s Bay Drive. Their goal was to capture a half-dozen manatees — one at a time — and bring them ashore for a thorough checkup before being released.
They worked quickly and efficiently, with the goal of keeping each manatee on land no more than an hour.

Robert K. Bonde, a research biologist for the USGS who has studied manatees for 32 years, oversaw the operation.
“It’s like a MASH unit,” he said.
He said these manatee health assessments occur three times a year at Crystal River so that researchers can compare baseline data from year to year and spot change patterns.
Bonde has learned over the years to profile manatees and he especially loves the research obtained in Crystal River.

“This is a jewel. It’s a prime place for manatees,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than here.”
During an interview, he provided two significant observations
One is that older manatees, those with boat-propeller scars on their backs for example, tend to stay in the protected sanctuaries.

Younger generations of manatees, who do not have the same history with humans as their elders, are more likely to veer from the sanctuaries to interact with swimmers.
The other is that data is inconclusive whether human interaction is hazardous to manatees or not.
“Manatees choose to come out and interact,” he said.

Manatees that avoid cold water for the warm springs in winter have learned that human interaction is part of the lifestyle. They do not flee because they know there is nowhere else to go.
“They’re like puppy dogs. They like the attention,” he said.

However, swimmers who try the same thing during the summer, when manatees are in the Gulf of Mexico, will find a much different reaction. Manatees are not the same cuddly critters when they know they’re not limited to a small area of warm water, he said.
“They don’t expect you to get in the water out in their world, but they will here,” Bonde said.
Bonde acknowledged, however, that the issue is stickier when large numbers of manatees and swimmers gather at the same time in a cramped space, such as Three Sisters Springs.
“That’s the 64 million dollar question,” he said.

“They are a creature of habit,” Bonde added. “They don’t like change. You keep it mundane for them, they’re happy.”

Article By Mike Wright

Manatees Florida: Survey shows Florida manatee population up from past years


Manatees Florida: Survey shows Florida manatee population up from past years

Injured manatee rescued in Boynton Beach is pregnant

Injured manatee rescued in Boynton Beach is pregnant

— An injured manatee rescued Thursday in the Inter-coastal Waterway is pregnant.
Staff at the Miami Sea Aquarium, where the manatee was taken for treatment, discovered the pregnancy during a medical examination.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission team captured the manatee in a side canal about a quarter mile south of the cove at the city's Boat Club Park.
The animal was in obvious distress. Two long gashes on her body were nearly an inch deep.
Fish and Wildlife officials believe she was injured by a boat propeller.
The precarious nature of Florida's manatee population, and the high threat from boaters, is well documented. Last week, the commission reported it had counted 4,840 animals statewide, which actually is up from last year.
The agency credited warmer January weather this year, compared to the catastrophic freezes of January 2010, which killed many manatees.

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Eliot Kleinberg

Injured manatee rescued in Boynton Beach is pregnant

Scott unveiling Fla. budget plan at tea party bash

Scott unveiling Fla. budget plan at tea party bash

The Associated Press

Gov. Rick Scott will be breaking with usual practice in a couple ways when he unveils his first budget recommendations to the Legislature.

The Republican governor will present a two-year plan Monday rather than the annual version required by the Florida Constitution.

And, he'll do it first at a tea party rally in Eustis before flying nearly 200 miles back to Tallahassee for a traditional news conference at the Florida Capitol.

GOP-leaning tea party activists are expected to give a more favorable response to his proposals for slashing spending by $5 billion and cutting business and property taxes by more than $2 billion.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature say they don't see how the cash-strapped state can afford tax cuts.

Read more

Scott unveiling Fla. budget plan at tea party bash

Alternate Energy Technologies: A success story in Jacksonville Read more at Jacksonville

Jacksonville residents driving past the Westside campus of industrial offices that house Alternate Energy Technologies LLC probably don't notice that one of the world's leading manufacturers of thermal solar collectors is there, quietly making panels for myriad international vendors.

"We're not a walk-in business," said Billy Byrom, company founder, president and managing partner. "We're strictly a manufacturer for wholesale distributors. We lead a lot of tours, though - we want people to see what we do."

The company does not purchase anything from foreign suppliers, Byrom says. Its 60 workers bring in raw materials and manufacture everything in its 67,000-square-foot facility. Byrom said that makes AET one-of-a-kind in the United States, because other U.S. solar manufacturers are really just assembly operations that put together components fabricated in foreign factories.

"Everything is American-made. We're very proud of that," he said. "We are the only complete manufacturer in the United States."

AET has been leasing space at that location since 1987 when it started with 18,000 square feet, he said. But with the return of a federal tax credit for consumers in 2006, business has been booming.

The growing company will move to a new facility in Green Cove Springs in May.

Byrom, 63, went to work for AET predecessor U.S. Solar in 1979 as the company's director of operations. Prior to that, he worked with an Alabama company that manufactured mobile homes. He was educated at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Ala. and moved to Jacksonville to work with a friend in the solar industry, he said.

Alternate Energy Technologies: A success story in Jacksonville