Florida has been getting a lot of rain lately in the form of thunderstorms. On the weather radio they say that the rain is abating the drought that we’ve had for the past few years, so I expect to see blue crab landings increase this year. Blue crabs spend much of their live cycle in lower salinity waters of estuaries. Population abundance (and, subsequently, numbers of crabs harvested) varies with water inflow/salinity, and is highest in wet years when the estuaries have plenty of freshwater inflow, which lowers the salinity.
But the populations of some less-loved invertebrates also increase with rainfall, and we’ve been plagued by mosquitoes for several days. Unlike our first couple of weeks out, winds have been relatively low this past week as we travelled up the Keys. Combine these two factors and you get lots of bugs coming in the hatches at night. We overnighted about ½ mile off of the beach just north of Ceasar Creek at Elliot Key, with little to no breeze. There were storm clouds all around, which provided for a beautiful sunset, as you can see in the panoramic picture above. When we came up from below after dark to look at the sky, we heard an odd buzzing, kind of like electronics, in the cockpit, but not outside of it. Ahhhh! Mosquitoes!! We don’t know how many it takes to make that loud a sound, but they were everywhere. We closed up the boat and only left open hatches and ports with screens. The next morning, an early squall was coming through, so we had to go up on deck and leave the hatch open, which allowed them free access to the cabin. Consequently, all day we were being attacked by mosquitoes—in the cockpit, in the salon, in the aft cabin, everywhere! So we went on a killing rampage, arming ourselves with small towels for swatting the suckers. Every time you went below, you killed four or five. The boat was littered with their vile little corpses, and I’m sure we were each down a pint or two of blood.