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Atlantis - on the last shuttle mission STS-135 - launched as scheduled on July 8, 2011, despite the overcast skies that allowed only a brief glimpse of the ascending shuttle from Volusia County. Since the weather conditions prevented me from recording a video as I had intended, the featured photo to commemorate the last shuttle launch is from another Atlantis mission, STS-117.

A side view of the spacecraft ascending on June 8, 2007 as viewed from the Banana River Causeway about 8 miles from launch pad 39A. Mission STS-117 delivered the starboard truss segment and solar panels to the International Space Station.

A video montage created from some of my photographs that day can be viewed below:

That is Venus at the end of the video with the exhaust plume swirls in the sunset light.
Shuttle photography by Paul Rebmann:
STS-102 Discovery - scanned from film print.
STS-117 Atlantis - more photos from causeway at Cape Canaveral.
STS-119 Discovery launch over Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.
STS-124 Discovery - viewed from Ormond by the Sea beach.
STS-125 Atlantis returning to KSC piggybacked on a 747.
STS-130 Endeavour night launch.
STS-131 Discovery pre-dawn launch & ISS flyover.
STS-132 Atlantis launch viewed from Mosquito Lagoon.
STS-133 Discovery - viewed from Marineland beach.
STS-134 Endeavour - viewed from Granada Blvd. bridge, Ormond.
Purchase Atlantis Engines Blazing by Paul Rebmann


Asclepias curtissii is a rare milkweed growing only in Florida in the leached white sand of scrub, sand pine scrub and scrubby flatwoods habitats.

The photo shown here is the main photo for July in the Florida Native Plant Society Magnolia Chapter 2011 calendar "Notes from the Field - Botanical Explorers of Florida and the South-Eastern U.S." Featured is Allen Hiram Curtiss, a professional collector living in Jacksonville from 1875 until his death in 1907. The USDA employed him to obtain specimens of trees from the southern states for the Centennial exposition in 1876 and he collected extensively in Florida, his descriptive writings providing records of the areas he explored. At least twelve species or subspecies are named after Curtiss, including this milkweed.
The range of Curtiss' milkweed is mostly through the central peninsula, with a northern extent in Clay County, and a also in the south Florida counties of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Collier and Lee.
Asclepias curtissii is a long-lived deciduous perennial that annually dies back to its rootstock. The single stem is minutely pubescent with opposite broadly ovate to oblong leaves, 3-5 cm (1-1/8 - 2 in.) long, glabrous or nearly glabrous, and with short petioles. The flowers have the appearance typical of many milkweeds, growing in umbels. In Curtiss' milkweed, the corolla lobes are greenish-white, 5-6 mm long and reflexed. The 4-4.5 mm long hoods are lanceolate and white with purple lines.
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These are one of the shorebird species that struggle because they nest in areas that humans impact for recreation and development - beaches.

A resident of beaches, sandbars, mud flats and shellfish beds in most of the coastal counties of the peninsula, less common in southeast Florida and accidental in the keys, also in Wakulla, Franklin and Gulf Counties of the panhandle. The range includes much of the tropical and temperate coastlines of the Americas.
A large and heavy shorebird with a bright red bill and pink legs. The head, chest and back are black, the underside is white. White in the wing forms a conspicuous diagonal white stripe the length of each wing while in flight.
Oystercatchers live up to their name, feeding on oysters, calms and mussels.
Haematopus palliatus need large expanses of suitable habitat for successful nesting - sparsely vegetated sandy areas are preferred, but will also utilize beach wrack and marsh grasses. Nesting can suffer from repeated disturbance by pedestrians, dogs, boats and other recreational vehicles.


This close-up shows the fused stamens of a male okeechobee gourd flower.

Cucurbita okeechobeensis is an endangered vine of floodplain forests, once locally abundant in the pond apple forests around Lake Okeechobee, now found in only scattered locations there and along the St. Johns River in central Florida. This Florida endemic species that occurs only in Galdes, Palm Beach, Lake, Volusia and Seminole Counties is closely related to the more common Martinez gourd of Mexico, which is now considered a subspecies of the Okeechobee gourd.
This slender stemmed vine grows over the ground and other vegetation, climbing high up into trees. Long twisting tendrils are paired with the alternate broadly heart-shaped leaves that are rough-hairy, slightly to deeply 5 to 7 lobed, with serrated margins. The flowers are bell-shaped, with a long ribbed tube, five rounded yellowish lobes and a cream-colored center. Flowers open early in the morning, closing by mid to late morning and appear mostly from late spring to early summer but continuing into mid-fall. One of the identifying features of this species - along with the light inside - is a dense pubescence on the hypanthium of male flowers and the ovary of the female flowers. The fruit is a globular or slightly oblong light green gourd with 10 pale indistinct stripes when mature and up to 8cm (3") in diameter.
Specific pollinators have not been identified.


Purple gallinules are tropical marsh birds that are year-round residents of peninsular Florida. Their relatively large feet and long toes allow this bird to walk on top of lily pads and other water vegetation.

Porphyrio martinica has a dark purple head, neck and underside and green back. Undertail coverts are white. The chicken-like bill is red, tipped with yellow, with a light blue forehead shield.
The downy chicks start out black. Juveniles are tan instead of purple, with a greenish back, dull bill, dull blue shield and yellow legs. Similar to moorhen, except that the moorhen forehead shield is red and the purple gallinule lacks a white stripe on the side. Coots have only a small white mark on the tail and have a white bill.
A short video of purple gallinules on youTube
Purple gallinules are also present year-round in Brazil, northern areas of South America, and parts of Mexico. The summer range expands along the southeast United States coast from South Carolina to Mississippi, most of Louisiana and eastern Texas. They winter throughout much of Central America.

View online purchase options for Purple Gallinule Bigfoot by Paul Rebmann


A field of pitcherplants in the Apalachicola National Forest during a Florida Native Plant Society(FNPS) 2010 conference field trip.
This photo - titled "O Sarracenia" - earned a Merit Award in the Photography category of the 2011 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Art Competition held in conjunction with the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville, FL.

A frequent perennial of bogs, acid swamps and flatwoods through the panhandle and a few north Florida counties. The range extends through the southeastern coastal plain from Alabama through Virginia, plus New Jersey.
The leaves of this species are formed into a tall trumpet-shaped tube with an elevated hood that extends over the opening. This tube contains nectar to attract insects, and downward pointing hairs to hinder escape. The plant obtains nutrition from these trapped insects to compensate for the nutrient-poor soils of their typical habitat.
Sarracenia flava has tubes that are yellow inside and most frequently light green on the outside. There are many tube and vein color variations, often with varying amounts of reddish-brown to purple. The species of the Sarracenia genus often hybridize with each other.
The solitary, drooping flowers appear in the spring on long leafless stalks. Five strap-like yellow petals hang down over the upside-down umbrella-shaped style.

O Sarracenia by Paul Rebmann