Indian River Lagoon

Indian River Lagoon as seen from Canaveral National Seashore early December 2015

Sunsets on the Indian River Lagoon south of New Smyrna Beach in Canaveral National Seashore. Every sunset is unique and stunning. In the image below a dolphin surfaces near the center of the image.

A dolphin surfacing in Indian River Lagoon at sunset as seen from Canaveral National Seashore, early December 2015

Looking south toward the Ghost Town Eldora ancient pier pilings become visible as the sun rides low in the winter sky.

Warm December 2015 looking south over the Indian River Lagoon toward the Eldora Ghost Town

Winter on the Indian River is idyllic and perhaps a little like what drew settlers to this place in the 1800s, without the speed boats, crowds, and noise of summer.

Canaveral National Seashore, Indian River Lagoon

The 24-mile long Canaveral National Seashore beach is the longest undeveloped beach on the east coast of Florida. The park is home to more than 1,000 plant species and 310 species of birds. Winter afternoons finds the beaches mostly deserted.

Atlantic Ocean at Canaveral National Seashore, Florida, December 2015

Eldora Ghost Town

Founded in 1877 in what today is a part of Apollo Beach (Canaveral National Seashore) south of New Smyrna Beach, Eldora was named after two of its pioneer residents, sisters Ellen and Dora Pitzer. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Mosquito Lagoon, the town was in the heart of the water route that took many settlers south. It thrived in the roadless era.

Eldora Ghost Town, Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

Eldora's soil was rich and fertile, bearing bountiful crops, and its forest was full of animals and fowl that were hunted for food. The lagoon provided clams, oysters and plenty of fish, not to mention a means of transportation and trade.

The town boomed. Although early tax records show 50 to 75 people lived there, tales from early settlers push it to more than 200. The main industry was citrus and an unusual business of collecting and drying saw palmetto berries, which were then bagged and sent to New York. There, they were made into a medicine called Salmetto, supposedly good for what ailed you.

Buried under palmetto thicket, the foundations of some of the early pioneers' modest homes remain today, faint evidence of a town that was once a popular stopover by boat on the way to Miami.

One home, "The State House," has been partially restored (below).

Eldora State House, Eldora Ghost Town, Canaveral National Seashore, December 2015

Wading among rattlesnakes, mosquitoes, and the sharp-edged leaves of dense-growing saw palmetto to bring in the annual September harvest of berries was dirty, hot, dangerous labor. The men in this photo, taken near the drying yards north of Eldora, wear heavy woolen clothing to protect them from the harsh environment of their work.

Harvesting saw palmetto berries late 19th century, Eldora Ghost Town, Canaveral National Seashore

A charmed moment captured by a member of the Wells family while visiting an island in Mosquito Lagoon. The photo hints at the values that are today held in trust for visitors to Canaveral National Seashore.

A charmed moment captured by a member of the Eldora Ghost Town (Florida) Wells family while visiting an island in Mosquito Lagoon, late 19th century.  Today Canaveral National Seashore.

An early sunset and low winter sun capture the spooky mood of this place (below).

Spooky Ghost Town, Eldora, Canaveral National Seashore, December 2015

Hottest Year Ever

Pelicans in a late afternoon purple sky, December 2015, Canaveral National Seashore

November continues incredibly hot and dry across most of Central Florida. The promised cool and rains of El Niño have not yet materialized.

Earth’s surface temperature has surged high into uncharted territory, thanks to a record-strength El Niño event combined with the long-term rise in temperatures due to human-caused global warming: October 2015 was Earth’s warmest month on record by a huge margin, according to data released by NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). October 2015 was the second consecutive month with a new all-time warmest month record: September 2015 previously held the record for the largest positive departure of temperature from average of any month among all 1630 months in the historical record that began in January 1880.

Pelicans, Canaveral National Seashore, December 2015

October 2015's 0.98°C (1.76°F) departure from the 20th Century average beat the next ten runners-up by an unusually large margin, underscoring the unusual and extreme surge in global temperatures this year.

NASA also rated October 2015 as the warmest month in the historical record by a large margin, again defined as the largest positive departure from average.

Sargassum and Shells, Canaveral National Seashore

October 2015's warmth makes the year-to-date period (January - October) the warmest such period on record, according to both NOAA and NASA. October 2015 was the sixth consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set in NOAA's database, and the eighth month of the ten months so far in 2015.

Mexico Deploys Its Navy to Deal With Sargassum Invasion

Monster seaweed takes over Mexico's Caribbean beaches.

Deserted beach at Canaveral National Seashore, December 2015

The potent El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific that crossed the threshold into the "strong" category in early July continued to intensify into mid-November. Strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C. This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it virtually certain that 2015 will be Earth's second consecutive warmest year on record. The lingering warmth from El Niño is likely to make 2016 a good bet to exceed even 2015's warmth.

A marauding raccoon at Canaveral National Seashore.  He was making quite a mess as he had figured out how to open these trash bins.  A few days later the National Park Service had replaced the bins with coon-proof receptables.

This marauding raccoon had figured out how to open these trash bins and was making quite the mess.

A week later the National Park Service had replaced the bins with

coon-proof receptacles. Poor raccoon.

I always feel bad for the native wildlife as their habitat

is being squeezed in every direction.