Monday, October 22, 2012

Southern Foodways Alliance Goes Whole Hog

Last week we had the distinct pleasure of attending the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi. This group of passionate Southern foodies documents and celebrates the foodways and people that make the South such a unique dining destination. And, they know how to pass a good time! This year's Symposium focused on BBQ and included everything from The History of the Pig to renowned writers espousing on their favorite BBQ joints. Of course, there was also plenty of great food and drink: whole hog cookouts, grilled smoked oysters, greens, beans and more! Kudos to the Southern Foodways Alliance for assembling such a terrific agenda of speakers, chefs and presenters - and for serving up some serious Southern hospitality. Such a delicious event!

Learn more about the Southern Foodways Alliance here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Adventurous "Fake Crawl"

On Wednesday, June 27, we set out for another day of turtle nest hunting with volunteers Jan and Ken Taylor. When we arrived, Jan informed us that the team members from the U.S. Geological Survey had departed after completing their turtle tracking duties over the past month here in Gulf Shores. Since the beginning of the turtle nesting season on May 1, USGS team members have been scouting the beaches during the early morning hours, flagging off any turtle nests that are located. With their departure, it is now completely up to volunteers to locate the nests during their walking shifts each morning. "This is when the fun really starts for us," said Jan. "Since the tracking team is gone, we now get to walk the beaches and be the first to discover the nests."

During the course of our walk, Jan received a text message stating that two crawls had been located along Laguna Key. After completing our designated section, we rode with the Taylors to the first crawl location.

Once we passed over the dunes, it became quite apparent that this was one adventurous turtle based upon the tracks left behind. The turtle left a large U shaped crawl beginning at the water and not changing directions until the dunes. "During the entire time we have been involved, we have never seen a crawl that reached this far back," said Jan. After some thorough observations of both crawl sites, they concluded that no nestings had occurred; what volunteers like to call a "fake crawl".

The current nests are still under observation, and we will keep you updated on the status of newly discovered nests as we receive information!

Compass Turtle Adventures: Dodging the Storm

On Friday, June 22, 2012, we headed back to the beach for our second turtle adventure. This time, we were greeted by volunteers who shared two common elements: a passion for saving turtles and the name Debbie. 

Debbie Kline and Debbie Willis have been involved with the Turtle Walk program for four years. We walked a four-mile stretch known as Laguna Key, which is broken down into several sections monitored by designated volunteers throughout the week. With Tropical Depression Debby brewing in the Gulf, many were concerned that high winds could raise the tide line and potentially wreak havoc over turtle nesting. A storm will push water in and potentially affect the turtle nests, said volunteer Debbie Willis.  When the tide line rises, the crawl of the turtle is washed away, making it challenging for volunteers to locate nests. However, the biggest fear is the safety of the eggs themselves. As the tide line rises, the risk of water entering the nest and drowning the hatchlings during the incubation period is increased. Debby (the storm, not the volunteer) veered east, sparing the turtles this time.

But, given the added challenges of our Gulf hurricane season, volunteers remain vigilant scouting for turtle nests and doing everything they can to prepare these little guys, and girls, for their big arrival here along the gulf coast.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Compass Media Aides in Sea Turtle Conservation - Day 1

On June 14, 2012, we were ecstatic about beginning our time volunteering with the local Turtle Walk. We arrived on the beach around 6:00 a.m. and were greeted by two veteran volunteers by the names of Jan and Ken Taylor. After a brief introduction, we soon discovered that these two individuals have been involved with the walk for five years now and are quite knowledgeable about the turtle nesting. We then found out even better news; a nest had been located in the early morning hours and was to be moved that very day! 

We were both thrilled to be able to experience this type of action on our first day on the job.  Jan led us down the beach to the site of the nesting, which was flagged off and guarded with caution tape to protect the unborn turtles. From the nest to the water, you could make out a flattened line that looked as though someone had been dragging a boogie board down to the gulf for a quick dip. However, we learned that no child had left that line, but were the prints of a mother turtle crawling to shore to safely leave her eggs. “Once the turtle comes to shore, volunteers from the tag team tag the turtle for tracking, take a blood sample, and generally take a sample of the turtle’s shell,” said volunteer Jan Taylor. 

Once more volunteers arrived to the nesting site to help move the eggs to a safer location farther from the shore, we discovered that the turtle had been named Randi. Randi was about 300 to 400 pounds and based on the crawl width, about 42 inches wide. After about five minutes of digging, volunteers reached the jack pot; the nest of eggs that we had long been anticipating. After strategically placing the eggs into a bucket, it was confirmed that Randi left behind approximately 116 eggs! Now we just have to wait for the 50 to 60 day incubation period to be complete and the baby turtles to hatch. Waiting is tough but well worth it! Needless to say, we had an excellent first day and can’t wait to return this Friday!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Compass Media Launches New Website for Dolphin Cruises, Inc.

Compass Media is pleased to announce the launch of a new website for Dolphin Cruises, Inc. of Orange Beach, Alabama. The site features a bright, beautiful design that perfectly showcases the spectacular experience of dolphin-watching aboard the Cold Mil Fleet of Dolphin Cruises, Inc. 

“We developed this site perfectly to the client’s wishes and it is a huge improvement over their previous design,” said Scott Crider, Compass Media’s V.P. of Interactive Media & Technology. “This was a large collaborative effort by the Compass Media team, and the result is a site that really reflects the quality of the dolphin-watching experience their customers get, which is spectacular.”

Morgan Robinson and Rebecca Chapman, both of Compass Media’s Interactive Team, served as Project Manager and Programmer, respectively.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Compass Media's J. Gary Ellis Receives Victor Profis Memorial Travel Award

J. Gary Ellis
Compass Media of Gulf Shores Honored by Louisiana Travel Promotion Association

Victor Profis award recognizes media who go the extra mile

Gulf Shores, Ala. -- January 27, 2012 -- The Louisiana Travel Promotion Association (LTPA) has honored J. Gary Ellis and his company, Gulf Shores, Alabama-based Compass Media, with its 2012 ‘Victor Profis Memorial Travel Media Award.’ This award, one of the annual "Louey Tourism Awards," is given to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the travel industry and have created ‘innovative, results-producing strategies/programs for attracting visitors to Louisiana.’ 

Compass Media President and Owner J. Gary Ellis accepted the award at the "Louey" Tourism Awards Luncheon Thursday, January 26 during the 2012 Louisiana Travel and Tourism Summit in Shreveport. "Promoting Southeast tourism is the single most important passion at Compass Media," said Ellis when accepting the award. "It is an honor and it is gratifying to be recognized by a highly respected organization such as LTPA for doing something we so love."

Now in its third year, the "Louey Tourism Awards" recognizes individuals and organizations in 11 categories for their outstanding contributions to the tourism industry. The ‘Victor Profis Memorial Travel Media Award’ was created and named in honor of Southern Living magazine’s Travel and Tourism Director who lost his courageous battle with cancer. 

Compass Media, recipient of numerous rewards over its 26 years in business, connects the unique culture and experience of Southern U.S. destinations directly to targeted leisure travelers. Powered by creativity, engaging content, and technology innovation, Compass Media creates engaging marketing programs that connect places with people. 

In a recent re-branding, a sea turtle was chosen to represent Compass Media. “Sea turtles are master navigators,” says J. Gary Ellis. Their instincts allow hatchlings to navigate across the sand to the water, and adult females to migrate across thousands of miles to return to the exact beach they were born on to lay their eggs. “It’s like a built-in compass,” Ellis says. Likewise, Compass Media's business is helping clients navigate their way through the currents of challenging waters of tourism marketing. But the sea turtle represents a much bigger picture of Compass Media's philosophy and practices and is iconic of the company's passion for sustainable business and tourism. Says Ellis, "Sustainability is and always will be a work in progress, and we are proud to be a part of those efforts here in Coastal Alabama."

See for more information.