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MarshBunny Notes
The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
Mosquito Island, Revisited

"The only thing constant is change." This saying is particularly true in the marsh. Water levels rise and fall, trees grow and die, and islands appear and disappear. Sometimes the changes are brought about by storms or fires, sometimes by human intervention... and sometimes by causes that cannot readily be seen at all.

The Australian Pines at the tip of Mosquito Island have been a familiar landmark for a very long time, but suddenly began changing.

Seven or eight years ago we had a freeze in this area that killed off all the Australian Pines in our locale. They eventually regrew, as things have a way of doing, but in the last few months we have been noticing that the pines on Mosquito Island are dying out - with no freezes to account for it.

Mosquito Island across Little Sawgrass lake.
The change in the landscape is noticeable from a distance.

Mosquito Island with dead trees.
As you pull into the Mosquito Island lagoon the dead trees are stark
against the healthy greens and blues of the normal marsh colors.

Mosquito Island with dead trees.
Pine needles make a thick carpet on the ground.

Pine needles are very good tinder. A stray campfire spark or a lightning strike will cause these woods to flare up into a brief, hot fire, clearing the way for new growth. Cabbage Palms and the big Oak tree on the island are totally unaffected by whatever has destroyed the Australian Pines.

Mosquito Island
Fresh new greenery on Cabbage Palms and water plants show up brightly against the dead Australian Pines.
Mosquito Island
Walking into the pine woods is spooky - dead branches creak in the breeze and dry pine needles crunch thickly underfoot.

Mosquito Island with dead trees.
Looking from Mosquito Island towards the river.

On Mosquito IslandI love the contrasts on the river. The blue of the water and sky and the green of the plants and trees look even more vibrant when seen next to the dead brown of the pines.

It may seem tragic, but it's hard to feel too sad over death on the river. When an animal dies, it feeds another animal - even if it's only a buzzard (they need to eat too, don't they?!). When a plant or tree dies it makes room for new growth, sometimes it's own child, sometimes a different species altogether.

We mourn the passing of what we are familiar with, but life does, indeed, go on. Eventually we forget what "was" and learn to appreciate and love what has grown in it's place.

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