On Friday, March 11, the Cedar Key Historical Society thanked its docents and many hard workers with a beautiful afternoon at Seahorse Key. Some twenty folks hopped aboard the University of Florida Research Vessel Discovery, captained by Kenny McCain, at the UF dock at Hungry Bend. The day could not have ben finer: wispy clouds, 70ish degrees, and open blue water.
Captain McCain’s sage advice upon leaving the dock was not to fall overboard as the boat is a powerful one and could do a soul damage. He added, “If you do end up in the water in the channel, just swim a few yards and then stand up; I’ll get you,” referencing the very shallow water. Both pieces of good advice.
Lunch was a hearty Ada Blue pulled pork sandwich, chips, a very fine cookie, and water or a soda. While eating, the group had the opportunity to pose questions to the two experts: Dr. John Andrews, President of the Cedar Key Historical Society and Dr. Mari Sgambati, Seahorse Key Marine Lab Education and Outreach Coordinator. Andrews was able to recount much Seahorse Key history, including a relative buried in the cemetery on the island. Sgambati responded to questions about the recent nest abandonment, horseshoe crab projects, and larger biological diversity issues on Seahorse. Under her direction the Seahorse Key Marine Lab has increased its outreach programs from thirty to 110 in the past two years.
Some of the docent group met Artist-in-Residence Carroll Swayze. The Artist in Residence program is sponsored by the Marine Lab, the Cedar Key Arts Center, and the Cedar Keys Wildlife Refuge. Swayze, spent two years in the Fine Arts Department of York University in Toronto, Ontario, and continued her studies at the Ringling School of Art and Design, in Sarasota, Florida. She describes herself as a painter and a printmaker. You can find more about Swayze at http://carrollswayze.com. Her resulting art work from the Artist-in-Residence four-day stay on Seahorse will be featured at the Cedar Key Arts Center soon.
Individuals who have not been to the island for a while noticed many fine changes: the bunk bed area has new mattresses and looks much tidier; the walk down the hill to the beach is minimally gentler, but gentler, indeed; the steps dock at the foot of the hill down to the beach are now in place so that one need not leap onto the sand. The entire area is as beautiful and natural as it was, but now it appears consummately well cared for and appreciated.
The Historical Society could not have chosen a finer day nor a finer place to celebrate its docents.