A Letter to the Boys Who Found the Bottle
First of all, Happy Birthday to Josh, who’s birthday it was when the bottle was found at Bayside Park on December 14th. It was the bottle I tossed into the Miami River, and even though it didn’t go too far, I am surprised it even got found. There is indeed a lot of boat traffic on the river and a fair amount of garbage floating around.
I am very happy that kids found the bottle. Young people know so much more about animals and the environment than they did when I was young. There is so much more on TV about wildlife, and seemingly more attention paid in school to the environment. But a lot of this “Shark Week” type of stuff doesn’t get beyond a flashy surface. You should look further and deeper. And closer to home.
South Florida is an incredible place. This limestone slab jutting out from the North American continent is a driftnet for the tropics. And so many interesting animals live there. Know where you live. Know the different birds. Know which ones have come from the Arctic for the winter. Know which ones have journeyed up from Argentina for the summer. Know the fish. EAT the fish. Know how to eat the RIGHT fish so that you may always have fish to eat.
The more you know about something, the more you care about it. And the more you ENJOY it. Places that seem polluted are still worth investigation. Sometimes even more so than a place that seems more “clean”. Get off the beaten track and explore. The day before you found the bottle I found this on Virginia Key in an area not too picked over. It was amongst the wrack with pieces of Styrofoam and coconuts and bottle caps and seaweed. It’s a paper nautilus. A very rare find indeed.
I love that you guys were so enthusiastic about finding the bottle. I think SEVEN of you called me to say you had found it. That was awesome. You guys sounded like you were having a blast. When you said you smashed the bottle to get the drawing I was picturing you all like The Lord of the Flies, but you were actually more like the Goonies, and if you don’t know that movie, when I was your age I thought it was pretty much the best movie ever. And although one of the characters loses their glasses, no one gets killed.
Keep your enthusiasm. There are not many kids in America that live in such a unique place, with panthers and manatees, and sharks and sea turtles, paper nautiluses, crocodiles, bobcats, raccoons, and all manner of birds. Even your pigeons are interesting because some of them are actually doves from the Bahamas. So keep exploring. And start eating all those pythons and lionfish instead of the groupers.
All the best,
P.S. Thanks to Elvia, mother of Josh, for the pictures!