Low Tide on Longboat Key

By mid morning, the subtropical sun had baked away a dense, overnight fog and a low tide produced extensive shallows along the edge of Sarasota Bay.  American white pelicans floated through the thinning mist while a wide variety of waders (herons and egrets) stalked the expanding mudflats.

Fish, dominated by mullets, were now confined to the deeper waters, attracting a bottle-nosed dolphin that cruised up and down our boat channel.  Brown pelicans, royal terns and ospreys also took advantage of the concentrated prey, diving to snare a mid-morning meal; they were joined by double-crested cormorants and red-breasted mergansers that dove for fish from the surface.

Over on the beach, nervous flocks of sanderlings raced ahead of the incoming waves, laughing gulls lounged in the morning sun and sandwich terns dropped like rocks into the restless Gulf, always emerging with a small fish.  Though I scanned the horizon for northern gannets, they did not appear on this warm, December morning but I expect to see them before our visit ends.