Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spiny Purple Sea Urchins in Sea Isle City, New Jersey

I have the pleasure of being beside the waters of the Intercoastal Waterway throughout much of the summer and some brief stretches during the winter. This is a great place to really appreciate the Sea isle City bay wildlife and learn a thing or two about nature.

One of a number of interesting species I see along the Sea Isle City (SIC), New Jersey bay are sea urchins. They are usually suspended just above or just below the water surface as they hang onto the sides of a dock or bulkhead.

I am not an oceanographer so you may need to give me a little leeway here (lol) but after some rudimentary research it seems that I am looking at the purple sea urchin. I has one to two inch long spines and purple color. I’ve heard people refer to it as a sea anomie but I think they are more poisonous and not the ones I (may or may not) have identified here. Regardless don’t step on or tough these these as the points are meant for protection and will stick you.

Apparently, the purple sea urchin is comfortable resting on these docks as they mainly eat decaying matter. Old kelp, algae, decaying ocean life, plant matter, they eat all of this.

Good to know something helping to keep the bay water clean.

Sea Otters Sighted In Sea Isle City New Jersey?

On March 17, 2012 Sea Isle City hosted its annual St Patrick’s day parade and celebration. The weather was unseasonably warm (mid sixties). While the St. Pat revelry was going on in downtown Sea Isle, I was getting reports of sea otters swimming in the bay (Intercoastal Waterway) in the vicninity of 44th street just across from Larson’s boat rentals.

I was about 10 blocks away on foot so by the time I got over there the sea otters were gone. I’m not sure if anyone reading this has ever seen a sea otter in sea isle? I am not an oceanographer but I wonder if they could have been possibly river otters as my rudimentary research seems to indicate these otters are common to New Jersey?

I wish I saw it. I have heard rare reports of seals sunning themselves on people’s docks along the bay but maybe these claims are incorrect? Maybe they were otters (sea or river) instead?

Sea Isle certainly supports prey that otters enjoy such as clams, crabs, and mussels. Another prey they enjoy very much are sea urchins. I did notice in the area of the otter sighting that there were plenty of purple sea urchins hanging on the bulkheads. Perhaps this abundance of prey enticed the otters?

I wish someone was able to snap a picture. Maybe this is just another bigfoot sighting just on a smaller scale

2012 Saint Patricks in SIC NJ Review

I’ve been attending the Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in Sea Isle City, New Jersey for years now. As a Pennsylvania resident it is nice to shake off the winter cabin fever and head to Sea Isle City for a nice weekend away from town. The 2012 celebration was held on Saturday, March 17th.

St Pats is much easier than other huge events like Polar Bear Plunge to find rental housing for a comfortable place to stay. We were fortunate to rent a place that we have used in the past and it felt like coming home again.

The weather was very, very warm for a March day at the shore. Weather was in the comfortable 60’s during the day and I felt most comfortable walking around in a sweatshirt.

What made this St. Pats different from other years in SIC is that I did not visit the parade and post parade party up at the south-end of the island (63rd street). Instead, for the first time I focused my entire time further north in the central, downtown section of Sea Isle up around JFK plaza.

All of the local establishments were open and fully committed to a St Patricks day theme. The OD, La Costa and Pour House were decked out in St Pats regalia and had the usual great offering of food and drink.

The crowd was very friendly and mostly stayed inside instead of reveling on the street. The only outdoor event was the parade up around 63rd, afterward most people went into the more comfortable St Pats parties inside. That said, there were still plenty of people enjoying the ocean breeze strolling on the promenade and I did notice a few boaters on the back bay taking advantage of the nice weather.

On a side note, there were reports of sea otter sightings on 44th and the bay though by the time I got there they had left. I hope those otters make this a St. Pats tradition so I can see them next year.

The warm weather, friendly crowd and fun Irish themes made SIC St Pats as fun as any I’ve been to before. I was glad I went and I’m looking forward to next year.

St Pats in Sea Isle City New Jersey

Sea Isle City, New Jersey offers a number of winter time events that help folks to forget their winter blues and to give local business a chance to cash in on much needed off-season business.

Saint Patrick’s day in Sea Isle City (SIC) is a popular event. The crowds are not as massive as the epic Polar Bear Plunge but it is still a good time and a chance to catch up with friends.

Typically the party in Sea Isle is located toward the north, central end of the island in the region of JFK plaza. This is where the local restaurants and watering holes are occasionally open in the off-season for special events. What makes St. Pats different from other SIC events is that much of the fun is concentrate at the south end of the Island. Much of the festivities occur near Kixx-McNutley on 63rd street. The SIC St Patrick’s parade begins on 93rd street and works its way north. The parade is far from spectacular but if you feel part of Sea Isle it is a fun way to spend the middle, late afternoon. The parade features local police and firefighters, bag pipes and local politicians and personalities.

The parade ends at 63rd street but the fun keeps going. The party is just beginning as revelers head into Kixx McNutley on 63rd to imbibe in warm refreshments and food. One Kixx tradition I love is when the bag pipe band finishes the parade they usually march inside and continue to play to the delight of the crowd.

For those who do not want to stroll all the way up to 63rd, there are plenty of places with food and drink open near the center of town close to JFK. All the establishments host some sort of St. Patrick’s day fun. The OD, LaCosta, and Pour House all deck out in St Pats themes and stay open for the weekend.

I enjoy this event every year. It is a nice alternative to the big crowds of Philadelphia. SIC holds a nice festive event that I hope continues for years to come.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Sea Isle City SIC Polar Bear Plunge Review

The 2012 Sea Isle City Polar Bear plunge was yet another hit. This annual event reached its 18th consecutive season on February 18, 2012.

The plunge featured the usual thousands of bathers running into the very cold Atlantic Ocean waters. This follows a terrific costume contest. It is estimated that 50,000 other souls came out to support the event by watching the swimmers and participating in the numerous events surrounding the 2012 Polar Bear Plunge.

All in all I thought the plunge was again another big hit in Sea Isle City (SIC). The plungers ran into and out of the ocean to everyone’s delight. It hurts me (who never goes into the winter water) to watch these folks do this but they seem to love it. They all went in bravely and came out laughing, shivering and with skin as pink as a baby girl's bedroom.

The events surrounding the 2012 Polar Bear were as solid as usual. There were plenty of local and regional vendors selling various goods and food. There were plenty of police on hand who seemed to do a great job keeping things from getting out of hand without spoiling any of the fun.

The entire LaCosta campus was under a giant tent to accommodate thousands of people. Revelers swarmed there to watch the great bands, embrace the festivity and imbibe for a while.