We took reporter Charles Gray and photographer Ricardo Thomas from WTOC-TV (CBS) and reporter Chuck Mobley and photographer John Carrington from the Savannah Morning News to see the island first hand and to do stories on the sensor network that is still in its infancy (See my earlier posting on the network.)
Our intrepid small-boat captain, Jay Frip, drove us down the Intracoastal Waterway in the new 28 Parker research boat. Professor Herb Windom and Chuck Mobley’s son, Cooper, also came along.
The weather cooperated beautifully. Temperatures ranging from the 50′s when we left the dock to mid 70′s by the afternoon. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.
The on-island coordinator, Jim Bitler, met us at the dock and was a fantastic host/guide for the day. He and Herb did a great job explaining the sensor network concept to the reporters. Then he took us on a lengthy tour of the island.
There were a few unique twists to Ossabaw. While Cumberland Island has its wild horses, Ossabaw has its small herd of “wild” donkeys. It seems that several years ago, the state decided to remove the island’s band of feral donkeys, but several of them could not be moved to the mainland because they didn’t pass the health inspection. Allegedly, the few remaining on the island were sterilized, but that must not have worked, because now there are 8 or 9 of them. Jim Bitler says they live off the land. They don’t appear too wary of humans, as you can tell from the photo.
On the way to the beach, we ran across several very large alligators. One was sunning on the bank of a pond (left). The other two were lying by the side of the road, on a small causeway across some marsh area. They moved out of the way when we came up in the pick up truck. I’m glad we weren’t on foot.
Currently, only a relatively small number of people are able to visit Ossabaw. When Sandy West and her family sold the island to the State of Georgia, they specified the island useage be restricted to “natural, scientific and cultural study, research and education, and environmentally sound preservation, conservation and manaagement of the Island’s ecosystem.”
Soon the sensor network will be up and running, and students, teachers, researchers and others will be able to experience some of what Ossabaw has to offer, without ever setting foot there. Should be interesting.