I had some time today and decided to go explore Pass-a-Grille, at the south end of this barrier island where I live and only about 8 miles from home. It didn’t take too long to fall in love with the place. The history of the town says that Europeans first landed at Pass-a-Grille in 1528 when Spanish Explorer, Panfilo de Narvaez anchored his ship just off Pass-A-Grille pass. Later, the island became a camp area for fisherman to obtain fresh water and to grill their catch. According to the stories, Pass-A-Grille derives it’s name from the French Passe aux Grilleurs.
I liked it not only because it is located where the intracoastal waterway meets the Gulf of Mexico at the end of this island, but it has also, for the most part, escaped the pseudo-mediterranean mansion invasions that seem to be everywhere else in coastal Florida. Instead, there are older, weathered, and very quaint beach bungalows and Key West type houses with lots of charm and character. There’s a small fishing dock and pier where a charter boat was just returning from the morning trip. Red snappers seemed to be the catch of the day.
The usual collection of pelicans were waiting on the poles. Fish brought in from these trips are filleted on the dock, and the seabirds quickly learn where and when the boats are coming in.
Fishermen are advised not to throw heads and bones into the water for the waiting birds, but unfortunately, many of them do it anyway. There’s a great risk to the birds when this happens. Pelicans and other seabirds are supposed to swallow whole fish, not a skeleton. Exposed fish bones turn into spears that can puncture internal organs. It’s like feeding the bird a handful of needles.
Pelicans aren’t particularly bright, but they aren’t stupid either. Notice the left leg of the peli above. It has a band on its leg, as does the one in this photo. That means both of these birds were former patients in the seabird hospital where I work, and were admitted in the past for some type of injury or illness. Chances are we’ll be seeing some of these again, as they apparently have not learned their lessons about what happens when you hang around fishing piers and boats. I guess that’s why we call some of them “pier rats.”