The Web Pages of Dr. Floyd Sandford

Professor Emeritus of Biology

Faculty Box #16 Gage Union, Coe College
1220 First Avenue, NE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

(Work) (319)-399-8576
(Fax) (313)-399-8748
Email Address:

Professor of Biology, 1986 Ph.D.,1971 University of Oklahoma. Prior to Sept 2001, I taught Diversity of Life, Introduction to Environmental Studies, Organic Evolution, Animal Behavior, General Genetics, Anatomy and Physiology, and Biology of the Seashore, an off-campus course taught on Dog Island, Florida. 

In May 2005, after teaching at Coe College from 1971, I officially retired.  Although not regularly teaching, I continue to pursue research projects in marine biology. I consider myself a biology generalist, who finds many aspects of the biological sciences fascinating. As a consequence of this, I often head off on interest tangents and into research investigations initially outside my expertise. Many of the courses which I taught were open to non-science majors, such as Diversity of Life, Biology of the Seashore, and Introduction to Environmental Studies. I enjoyed  the opportunity to teach and get to know the variety of students who enrolled in these courses. One of the courses I enjoyed teaching most was Animal Behavior, probably because this is the area in which I specialized for both my Masters and Ph.D. degrees as well as being an area encompassing my current research interests. 

I have made annual visits to Dog Island, Florida since 1986, and from 1991-2002, I conducted research on an interesting and unusual association between hermit crabs and a certain species of sponge [Pseudospongosorites suberitoides], commonly called a hermit crab sponge. Coe College, located about 1000 miles from the nearest ocean, is not the most convenient home base for marine studies, but I always enjoyed my trips to Dog Island, to continue my research and also to clear my mind of the trivialities that tend to accompany modern lifestyles.  Unfortunately, recent hurricanes have impacted Dog Island and it is now much changed from the island I knew in 1986.

During my career I pursued several different projects, some of which have led me down new uncharted research paths.


In 1995, during my sabbatical leave in England, I worked at the British Museum of Natural History for a month, pursuing aspects of my interest in hermit crab sponges in collaboration with my colleague Dr. Michelle Kelly.


On an Earthwatch expedition to Tobacco Cay, Belize, Cent. America, May 1997. Here I am looking at tube sponges while snorkeling on the barrier reef.

In 1997 I was a member of a research team, an Earthwatch expedition, to the barrier reef of Belize. While there I became interested in a study of the clinging crab, Mithrax sculptus, being carried out by Dr. Stanley Cobb of the Zoology Dept. at the Univ. of Rhode Island. I returned to Belize in 1998 to continue investigations of this crab and Dr. Cobb and I continue collaborative study of the interesting crustacean.

In 1998, with the support of a grant from the Iowa State Foundation, two students (Valerie Dartt and Shalini Kapoor) and I began investigating the physical and chemical nature of the glass skeletons of several sponges representing two different sponge groups. These studies involved the use of scanning electron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis. 

In the summer of 1999 I began investigations of certain porcellanid and pinnotherid crabs that live as symbionts in the tubes of the parchment tube worm Chaetopterus. This research was carried out both in the laboratory and in the field at Dog Island, Florida. 

In the fall of 1999 I had a sabbatical leave. I spent one month in the UK. For two weeks in October I solo-hiked about 160 miles of the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coast Path in S. Wales, staying in Youth Hostels, B & B's, Field Centres, and monastaries along the way. I then traveled to Kent and spent a week living in the small village of Downe where I continued my research on the life and work of Charles Darwin.

I visited Down House where Darwin and his family lived for over 40 years, and I tried to retrace many of Darwin's favorite walks in the surrounding countryside.


Down House – the home of Charles Darwin and his family for the
last 40 years of his life. The house, located a short walk from the
small village of Downe, in Kent, about 16 miles south of London.
My research culminated in the writing of a play "Darwin Remembers --- Recollections of a Life's Voyage" about the life and work of the great biologist. The play, a living history re-enactment for one actor, was performed several times at Coe College and other venues in Easter Iowa in 2000, with funding assistance from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A videotape of the play, performed in Dows Theatre at Coe College on April 20, 2000, with myself portraying Darwin, is available.
I periodically take the play "On the road" performing at colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

Performance of "Darwin Remembers",
Coe College, April 20, 2000.

Performance at Iowa Academy of Science meeting,
Des Moines, April 20, 2001

Persons interested in the videotape or in scheduling a performance of the play can contact me via e-mail

For two weeks in November 1999 I traveled to Belize where I rendezvoued with my colleague Dr. Stan Cobb from the Univ. of Rhode Island. We traveled to Tobacco Caye and continued our research there, studying the morphometrics, population ecology and behavior of the green clinging crab Mithrax sculptus, staying at Island Camps owned and operated by Mark and Denise Bradley

In December 2001 I traveled to Tanzania, East Africa. I spent several days at the University of Dar es Salaam, visiting with faculty and staff at the University who are involved in the ACM Tanzania Program. While in Dar I visited Mbudna Island and went snorkeling in the Indian Ocean. Then I visited exotic Zanzibar for several days to do some more snorkeling and to explore the narrow twisting streets of Stone Town, visiting shops selling colorful tingatinga paintings, and watching sunsets.

Zanzibar tingatinga shop

Zanzibar sunset


Zanzibar door in Stone Town

Students studying under "learning tree" at the
Univ. of Dar es Salaam

In September 2002, I traveled to Ireland for 3 weeks, first heading to Dublin where I stayed with my third cousin Linda Hawkins and her husband Mike, who introduced me to many of the wonderful sights in and around the city. We visited the impressive neolithic burial mounds and chambers at Knowth and Newgrange; Trim Castle, the largest remaining Anglo-Normal castle in Europe, and nearby Bective Abbey, Ireland's second Cistercian monastary founded in 1147; and the Hill of Tara, the seat of Ireland's early kings. On another day we traveled to the lovely town of Kilkenny to tour Kilkenny Castle and explore the ruins of Jerpoint Abbey, another 12th Cent. Cistercian monastary. After exploring the many sights of Dublin, including its major churchs, the Guinness brewery, and the awesome collection at the Chester Beatty library at the Dublin Museum, seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College, and exploring the beautiful gardens at Powerscourt, I hiked the coast path on Howth peninsula north of Dublin and hiked to some of the coastal towns south of Dublin, including Sandycove. There I saw the Men's Bathing Pool mentioned in James Joyce's Ulysses, which is located just below the James Joyce Tower.

From Dublin I took the train to Killarney in County Kerry. After visiting nearby Ross Castle and the impressive manor house and gardens at Muckross estate, I set off from Killarney to hike the Kerry Way. I had planned to take 8 days to hike the entire circuit of the Way, but stopped after Day 3 at the village of Glenbeigh where I recuperated. Mid-september or later is a good time to hike the Kerry Way as there are very few hikers on the trail. Day 1 from Killarney to the Black Valley hostel went well, as the weather was lovely and the scenery spectacular. Day 2 from Black Valley through the mountains to the Climber's Inn at Glencar was much rougher and the scenery even more spectacular as the trail follows the valley through the area of the stunning Macgillycuddy Reeks, the highest mountains in Ireland. The trail was rough and poorly marked in places, and the going up and down with my heavy pack led to aching knees. On the trail I met up with a fellow hiker, Annette Barho from Frankfurt, Germany, and we hiked together. She was almost the only person I saw on the trail for 3 days and had I been hiking solo and injured myself I would have had major problems. Day 3 from Glencar to the coastal town of Glenbeigh was a much easier hike and finding Glenbeigh a nice little village I stayed there an extra day, taking time to explore nearby Rossbeigh Beach.

Tomb of Fulk de Sandford, St. Pat's Cath., Dublin

Jerpoint Abbey, outside of Dublin

On the Kerry Way between the Black Valley and Glencar

Muckross House and gardens near Killarney

Men's Bathing Pool below James Joyce Tower at Sandycove

Trim Castle


Leaving Ireland, I traveled to Italy for two weeks, spending most of my time in the picturesque town of Santa Margherita on the Ligurian coast. Using S. Margherita as a base, I attended the VIth International Sponge Conference in nearby Rapallo, and hiked many of the trails that ran both East and West along the very scenic Ligurian coast. East of Rapallo is the Cinque de Terre, with coastal hiking trails connecting the five lovely villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The hike from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, stopping for about 20 minutes of brief exploration at each village, took a total of about 6 hours. From S. Margherita I also hiked West to beautiful Portofino and from there through the mountains to the isolated coastal village of San Fruttuoso. While in Italy I visited Genoa and toured the new aquarium there, one of the largest in Europe. I also spent several days exploring Milan. I attended a stirring performance of "Lucrezia Borgia" at La Scala, and visited the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, famous for its wall painting of Il Cenacolo, The Last Supper by De Vinci, which I found most awe-inspiring.


Liguria coast near Portofino


Rapallo Castle

Vernazza, one of the 5 lovely towns of the Cinque de Terre

House in Santa Margherita at Piazza Manzini

Bitten by the travel bug, and enjoying release from my normal routine, I traveled to Peru for 18 days in November 2002. After exploring the city of Cusco and seeing the sights in the nearby Sacred Valley, using an itinerary that was well planned and executed by Rainforest Expeditions, Inc., I visited Machu Picchu, the sacred city of the Inca's. Words cannot adequately describe the full experience. The ruins of the city, never discovered by the conquistadors, are situated on an isolated plateau with a semi-tropical climate in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides and with the Urubamba River winding through the valley below. Machu Picchu, surrounded by mountains periodically shrouded in clouds, bears witness to both the lavishness of nature's beauty and the handiwork of humans who constructed spactacular stone monuments without use of the wheel. Leaving Cusco I flew to Puerto Maldonado, a bustling frontier town in the rainforest, where I joined an Earthwatch Expedition devoted to a study of macaws, which included a study of their behavior at the nest and their visitation (along with several species of parrots and other birds) of a very large collpa (clay lick). The Earthwatch team, consisting of 12 members, traveled up the Tambopata River, first to Posada Amazonas jungle lodge, and then further up the river to the lodge at the Tambopata Research Center (TRC), located in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, and in one of the worlds most biodiverse areas. The study was conducted here, in an area with one of the largest populations of macaws in all of South America. Work mainly focused on three macaw species, the red and green macaw, the blue and yellow macaw, and the scarlet macaw. Seeing hundreds of macaws and parrots perched in trees and flying above and then landing on the lick to ingest clay was truly an awesome natural spectacle to behold. While at TRC I saw a wide variety of tropical birds, including 5 species of macaws and 8 species of parrots, several different kinds of monkeys, caiman, capybaras, leaf-cutter ants and other insects, and a wide variety of tropical plants, including Brazil nut trees bearing fruit and lovely orchids.

Llamas on the main square at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Tambopata Research Center

Red and Green Macaw, Ara chloroptera

Dawn at the Collpa, TRC

Observing macaws at the nest

Earthwatch volunteers, Doris Neilson and I

In June-July 2003 I traveled to Central Europe with 15 other college teachers for a 3-week Global Partners Program Seminar to study the environmental issues and problems confronting the countries of Central Europe. We spent most of our time in the Czech Republic and Hungary with a short visit to Slovakia. We met with environmentalists in Prague, visited the "destroyed lands" of the Most basin in N. Bohemia, went hiking in the Jizerske Hory protected area, spent 6 days attending seminars at Palacky University in Olomouc where we enjoyed the city and its two large town squares (Upper and Lower), toured the brewery at Hanosovice and drank copiously of their award-winning Holba beer, hiked the Palava Biosphere reserve in S. Moravia and explored the lovely villages of Lednice and Valtice in Moravian wine country. On our way by bus to Hungary we stopped and visited the controversial Gabcikovo Dam on the Danube in Slovakia, and then moved on to Budapest where we met with environmental scientists at the Ministry of the Environment and visited Central European University. After the seminar officially ended in Prague, I returned to Budapest for 5 days and then spent an additional week in Prague, sightseeing in this most charming of cities, with its castle on the hill and many bridges over the Vlatava River, and enjoying cultural activities like the opera and the black light theatre. While there I gave a seminar on my hermit crab research at Charles University and visited the Environment Center.

Teachers in the GPP Seminar, Northern Moravia, June 2003

On a Budapest bridge with parliament building in background


Minaret at Chateau Liberac in Moravia, Czech Republic

Street scene, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Prague Castle and River Vlatava from Charles Bridge

Palava biosphere reserve in S. Moravia

In May 2004 twelve Coe students and I traveled to Belize during Coe’s May Term. This was my fifth trip to beautiful Tobacco Caye. We stayed at Tobacco Cay Lodge for 2 weeks and learned about the biology of the Belizean barrier reef while carrying out several different research projects on chitons, emerald crabs, and commensalistic shrimp that live inside sponges. Meals at the lodge were always excellent and filling (see photo), and before returning to Iowa we traveled to the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich (see photo).


In August 2004 the college sponsored a trip to the Manu Biosphere Reserve in the Peruvian amazon for Coe alumni. The trip was led by Coe alum and former student Dave Davenport who has established his own ecotour company Ecoquest Travel. Dave is both President and chief zoologist at Ecoquest and provided my daughter Susan and I, along with Coe alums Tara Nickel and Heidi Steele, an excellent and highly educating and entertaining expedition. While in Manu we stayed at two excellent lodges, Manu Cloud Forest Lodge in the cloud forest and Manu Lodge (see photo) in the Amazon basin. For anyone interested in a well-organized ecotour with a highly knowledgeable guide and comfortable accomodations to a remote region of the world I can highly recommend EcoQuest Tours operated by Dave and his sister Kathy. Contact them at

In October-November 2004 I traveled to the countries of Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic I visited Prague and Kutna Hora, and stayed for 10 days at Ostrava where I collaborated with my colleague and friend Dr. Zdenek Duris, a crustacean specialist who teachs at the University of Ostrava. Ostrava doesn’t have the tourist appeal of Prague, but it does have a very large main square (see photo). At his office at the university Zdenek and I studied the different commensalistic shrimp species the Coe students and I had collected in Belize (see photos). We also had opportunity to travel in the scenic countryside of Northern Moravia where Zdenek has a country home. We hiked in the Beskydy mountains and traveled to the picturesque village of Stramberk (see photo), the location of a cave where Neanderthal remains and artifacts have been recovered.



In June 2005 I traveled to Quito, Ecuador with my wife Sharon and daughter Susan.  There we met my friend Stan Cobb and members of his extended family and all 16 of us had a week tour of the Galapagos Islands aboard the sailing vessel Cachelote.  We visited 9 of the Galapagos Islands, 5 more than Charles Darwin was able to visit during his explorations of the islands in Sept-Oct of 1835.  The Galapagos experience was awesome, one of the most uniquely different trips in my experience.  We first landed on Hood Island (see photo).  Seeing marine iguanas (see photo), blue-footed boobies (see photo), sea lions, albatross, and many other animals from only several feet away was a wonderful experience.  Each island we visited had its own unique character and I found Hood Island particularly beautiful. On Santa Cruz island we were able to see some of the giant tortoises (see photo) which so impressed Darwin and for which the islands are named.  Fernandina is the most recently formed of the Galapagos Islands which, like the Hawaiian Islands, lie above a “hot spot” in the earths crust and are being formed from volcanic action at a fault line beneath the ocean.  Fernandina provided me one of the most memorable natural spectacles I have ever witnessed … the sight of hundreds of marine iquanas swimming ashore to bask on the dark volcanic rocks after having fed on marine algae below the water.  What an almost prehistoric sight to see these iguanas, wonderfully adapted to an aquatic lifestyle, swimming ashore in large numbers to bask on the rocks and elevate their body temperature after swimming in cold water.  On Fernandina, I was also able to get close and personal with a land iguana (see photo).  One can understand why his Galapagos visit so impressed Darwin and set his “brain spinning”.  From Fernandina one can look across to Isabella, the largest of the Galapagos Islands, and see Mt. Darwin (see photo), one of five mountains on the islands and named to honor one of the greatest scientists who ever lived.

Hood 12     Hoodshore

Bluefooted      SantCruz


In July 2005, after my visit to the Galapagos Islands, I traveled to Scotland and England.  The University of Glascow in Scotland was the venue for the 6th International Crustacean Congress.

Glascow University

There I presented a paper on my study of the polychaete worm Chaetopterus sp, a unique worm that constructs a U-shaped parchment tube that often provides a home to two different species of small crabs, the pea crab Pinnixa chaetopterana and the anomuran Polyonyx gibbesi. I studied this worm-crab association for 7 years (1999-2005) on Dog Island, Florida in the N. Gulf of Mexico. The two chimneys of the worms U-shaped tube can easily be located projecting above the sand in the intertidal zone at low tide (see photos), and the tubes can be easily excavated from the sand without fear of the worm or any resident crabs escaping. In some years the tubes are plentiful (see photo). Tubes typically have crabs of one of the two species, usually a pair, but no tube contains adult crabs of both species. In the month of January, many of the adult female crabs are ovigerous (carrying eggs), such as the adult female Polyonyx gibbesi shown in the photo.



In England I visited several places which have a connection to Charles Darwin, a scientist and human being who I greatly admire.  I visited the lovely city of Shrewsbury, Darwin’s birthplace.  Peter Boyd of the Shrewsbury Museum gave me a personal tour of Shrewsbury and I was able to visit The Mount, the home of Robert Darwin and boyhood home of his famous son Charles.  A special highlight was to be able to see “the toolshed at the bottom of the garden” (see photo) where the young Darwin investigated the animals and plants that he collected as a young boy.  Robert Darwin’s gardens are now part of a housing estate and the toolshed is now part of the private property of a homeowner who, thankfully, is preserving the toolshed because of its historical significance.  Peter and I also visited Shrewsbury Castle, the grave of Robert Darwin, and the Darwin statue (see photo) in front of the city library, once the school that Charles Darwin attended as a young boy.  From Shrewsbury I traveled to the little village of Downe in Kent.  I stayed 3 days in the village lodged in a guest room above the George and Dragon pub (see photo).  I spent one day at Down House where Darwin lived the last 40 years of his life and walked several times around Darwin’s Sandwalk (see photo).  Darwin was an avid walker and walked nearly every day on the Sandwalk, his “thinking path”.  While in Downe I visited St Mary’s churchyard where Emma Darwin (wife of Charles) and Erasmus Darwin (brother of Charles) are buried (see photo) and I hiked many of the public footpaths in the Kent countryside, visiting Orchis Bank (see photo) and other places visited by the great scientist on his daily walks.


In October 2005 I returned to Tobacco Cay, Belize, one of my favorite destinations.  I was accompanied by my friend Neil Bernstein, Prof. of Biology at Mt. Mercy College.  For one week Neil and I collected small chitons and several different species of sponges, which we then examined for the presence of small species of shrimp. Our week-long research trip was shortened by the approach of Hurricane Wilma and we were forced to evacuate the island and stay in the mainland town of Dangriga for two days.  But, we had 6 days on lovely Tobacco Caye, a small island located just behind the reef crest and off the normal well-beaten tourist track.  Some of the sponges that we studied were the sponge species that overgrow mangrove roots.  We focused on two of the most common sponges that we found overgrowing the roots, the vivid orange fire sponge, Tedania ignis, and the greenish-blue conical-shaped sponge Lissodendoryx sp. (see photo).  Both kinds of sponges were found to provide shelter for an interesting assemblage of small commensalistic shrimp belonging to the families Alpheidae and Palaemonidae (Pontoniinae), in addition to other small marine animals.


In November 2005 I visited St. Petersburg, Russia, to spend a week with my host Prof. Boris Sirenko at the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Scientists.  The Zoological Institute, located on Vasilevsky Island,  houses an impressive array of natural history exhibits, including rarely seen material like entire mammoths found frozen in ice or mud, skeletons of the extinct Stellar’s sea cow, or specimens of the extinct Tasmanian wolf (see photo).  St. Petersburg is a spectacular city whose sights cannot help but impress visitors.  I was especially impressed by my visit to the Winter Palace and the adjoining Hermitage (see photo) which houses one of the largest collections of art and other treasures in the world, and the wonderfully ornate Cathedral of the Sacred Blood (see photos), built in an amazingly short time over the exact spot where Czar Alexander II was killed by a terrorist.  The cathedral, both inside and outside, impresses with its ornate domes, lovely tile mosaics, and wide variety of precious stones.


From Russia I traveled to Ostrava, third largest city in the Czech Republic where I resumed my research collaboration with my friend Prof. Zdenek Duris at the University of Ostrava.  When we were not identifying the shrimp found living inside sponges from Belize, we traveled to several places in the Northern Moravian countryside, including the touristy facilities at Mt. Radnost in the Beskydy Mountains (see photo) and the attractive Moravian town of Hukvaldy, birthplace of the Czech composer Janacek.  Hukvaldy is the location of Hukvaldy Castle, one of the oldest (1240) and largest castles in the Czech Republic. It was a beautiful day, and Zdenek and I enjoyed our hike up to the castle, located atop a hill and surrounded by large and lovely beech trees (see photo).


Leaving Ostrava I traveled to Prague, a frequent destination and a city filled with old world charm and a wealth of cultural venues, including three opera houses.  When not attending operas I renewed my acquaintance of this lovely city full days spent walking.  Everyone who has visited Prague leaves with memories of its beautiful castle on the hill, overlooking the river Vlatava and Charles Bridge (see photo).  From the Strahovsky monastary and church high above the city, one gets a superb view of Prague Castle and the city beyond (see photo).  On this trip I re-visited many of my favorite places, including the historic Jewish Quarter, with the oldest jewish cemetary in Europe (oldest grave = 1434) and Pinkus synagogue (see photo), and the beautiful Loreta church (see photo)


In June of 2006 I returned to the barrier reef at Tobacco Caye, Belize for the 7th time, accompanied by 4 Coe students, 7 students from Knox College and their teacher Professor of Biology Linda Dybas, and two colleagues from the University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic, Professor Zdenek Duris and his graduate student and research assistant Ivona Horka. During our two weeks on Tobacco Caye we collected sponges from deep water, and from both sea grass and mangrove lagoons and then examined them for the presence of small shrimp commensals. We also collected chitons and sipunculids for further study and went snorkeling on a daily basis, observing the wide diversity of fishes and marine invertebrates present on the Belizean barrier reef. Prof. Duris and Ivona extensively documented the trip and the species seen with photographs and videos, including film footage of whale sharks.

In August/September 2006 I traveled to the British Isles and Ireland for a four week visit. Using a Britrail pass I visited different locations in Britain. At Penzance in Cornwall I hiked a section of the Cornish coast path and while staying with friends at Kingswear in Devon I hiked the lovely stretch of Devon coast path from Brixham to Dartmouth and spent a day hiking on Dartmoor (see photo). I visited Laycock, considered one of the most picturesque villages in England (see photo), filming site of some of the Harry Potter movies, and returned to the lovely city of Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin. I visited Tenby, a picturesque town on the south Welsh coast (see photo) and spent several days at isolated Caldey Abbey (see photo), a cistercian monastary on Caldey Island, located off the coast from Tenby. A major purpose of my trip was to participate in my 3rd Earthwatch Expedition, this one involving a study of basking sharks in the area of the Scottish Inner Hebrides. There were 5 of us on the Earthwatch team (see photo), and we rendezvoud in Arisaig, a coastal village in Western Scottish. There we boarded the 11.4 m sailing vessel Forever Changes, and met Colin Speedie, the captain and principal investigator of the project, and his first mate Louise. For five days we sailed the Inner Hebrides, anchoring nightly at four of its lovely islands -- Coll, Canna (see photo), Eigg (see photo), and Rhum. Aboard the boat we performed transect surveys, took plankton samples, and documented the location of all marine mammals we encountered. On Day 4 we had the thrill of seeing several basking sharks (see photo), the second largest fish in the ocean, feeding at the surface near the boat.

When the expedition ended, I traveled by train to Holyhead and took an Irish Ferry to Dublin, where I spent 10 days visiting Ireland and my third cousin Linda Hawkins and her husband Mike. I explored Dublin, attended a number of plays and recitals, and then traveled to Mt. Melleray Abbey, a cistercian monastary located at the foothills of the lovely Knockmealdown Mountains in county Waterford. I took a taxi from Fermoy to Cappoquin then walked 8 km through beautiful countryside (see photo) to the monastary. This was my third visit to Mt. Melleray and I stayed there on retreat for three days, enjoying the quiet contemplative atmosphere of the monastary and the surrounding countryside. Before leaving I climbed to the cross on the hillside above the monastary. In August Ireland’s hills are ablaze with blooming gorse and heather (see photo).

Hound Tor on Dartmoor

Shop in Laycock

Tenby Harbor at low tide

Caldey Abbey on Caldey Island

Earthwatch Team

Isle of Canna

Eigg children

Basking shark

Cappoquin hayfield

Melleray cross

In June 2007 my book African Odyssey was published by iUniverse (  ISBN: 978-0-595-44017-7).  The book relates my experiences as a science teacher in Nigeria in the Peace Corps in the 60’s, and some of my adventurous travels throughout Nigeria and to various locales and national parks in East Africa.

African Odyssey
African Odyssey by Floyd Sandford

Also in June 2007 my wife Sharon and I traveled to Egypt with General Tours Inc. We began by taking a full day to explore populous and traffic-crazy Cairo.  We went to the Citadel and watched a call to prayers at Mohammed Ali Mosque, visited the oldest mosque in Cairo (Amr ibn Elaas, 650 AD), and wandered through the huge Khan El Khalili bazaar, searching for bellydance outfits. On the next day we visited the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza, the last remaining of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Both the pyramids and the camel ride were memorable, but I was even more impressed by the solar boat found buried in a underground chamber at the base of one of the pyramids. Pharoah Khafre had a wonderful football field length wooden boat constructed for his travels in the afterlife. From Giza we drove to the step pyramid of the 3rd dynasty pharoah Djoser, and then on to the site of ancient Memphis.

Then we flew to Luxor and visited the temples at Luxor and Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Colossi of Memnon.  For me, one of the most awesome sights of my Egypt travels was experiencing Karnak Temple, the largest temple in ancient Egypt.  The huge cavernous hall with its 134 massive columns covered with hieroglyphs and cartouches, the towering obelisks, the paintings with the original colors still visible after being exposed to the elements for thousands of years --- a truly impressive spectacle.  At Luxor we boarded the Radames II for a four day cruise South up the Nile to Aswan.  Viewing the pastoral Nile bank scenes one couldn’t help be struck by the stark contrast of a ribbon of irrigated green on both banks, with the harsh arid desert beyond.  On the cruise we stopped to tour the Temple at Edfu and the Temple at Kom Ombo on the banks of the Nile. Kom Ombo is a Greco-Roman style temple dedicated jointly to two gods of ancient Egypt - Horus, and the crocodile god Sobek.

Upon arrival in the attractive city of Aswan, we toured the city, visited spice shops and perfumeries, explored Philae Temple, drove to the top of the high Aswan dam, then boarded a boat for a short trip on the Nile to visit a Nubian village, followed by a short sail in a falucca in Aswan harbor. In Aswan we visited a granite quarry to see the Unfinished Obelisk.  Seeing the huge obelisk was wonderfully thought-provoking.  How did the ancient Egyptians carve these huge granite obelisks from solid bedrock? Remove and transport them from the quarry? Transport them to other locations up or down the Nile? And then finally erect them at some faraway temple, such as those at Luxor and Karnak?

Leaving Aswan we flew further south to Abu Simbel to visit the Temple of Pharoah Ramses II, and the nearby temple of his favorite wife, Queen  Neferteri.  The original temples were located in a location that was to be flooded by Lake Nassar, a huge lake created by the building of the high dam at Aswan.  It took years to move the temples, piece by piece, to their current location, an amazing feat of engineering.  From Abu Simbel we flew back to Cairo for the night, then the following morning left by car to visit the lovely city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast.

Khan El Khalili bazaar

Solar boat at Giza Pyramids

Nile bank scene

Sobek at Kom Ombo

Unfinished obelisk at Aswan

Aswan spice shop

Nubian village doorway

Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel

In July 07 my daughter Susan and I traveled to New Zealand and Australia for three weeks.  We began by exploring Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand.  Then we traveled north to the picturesque coastal town of Paihia where we spent a full day on a guided walk in the Puketi forest.  We experienced the lush vegetation in this beautiful rain forest and marvelled at the huge Kauri trees, the second largest trees on the planet.  On the following day we took a scenic boat trip to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock.  On the way we passed through a pod of killer whales (Orca) and stopped to watch them hunting. After briefly visiting Urapukapuka Island we returned to beautiful Paihia.
  Our next stop, after returning to Auckland, was Waitomo. There we explored the Black Labyrinth, tubing through Ruakuri Cave, going over waterfalls, seeing the glowworms on the cave’s ceiling.  From Waitomo we traveled to Rotorua and attended a Maori cultural evening. On the next day we hiked through a “rainforest primeval”, the lush Whirinaki Forest Park.  On our third day in Rotorua we saw mud pots, hot pools, geysers, and the world’s largest hot spring in the Waimangu thermal valley.  Then we helicoptered over dormant Mt. Terawera volcano, in Rotorua’s hottest geothermal park, and took a wild jet boat ride up a river.

After returning to Auckland for a day, we flew to Adelaide, Australia.  We spent several days in lovely Adelaide, visiting the Cleland Wildlife Reserve and interacting with all the native Australian animals there (e.g. dingos, wombats, koalas). On another day we took an all-day guided tour of the nearby Fleurieu peninsula.  From Adelaide, we flew to Kingscote on nearby Kangaroo Island, where we were met my Dr. Peggy Rismiller, the Prinicipal Investigator of the Earthwatch expedition “Echidnas and gowannas of Kangaroo Island”.  This was my 4th Earthwatch expedition, and like all others previous it was a wonderful experience.  Stationed at the Pelican Lagoon Reserve Station on lovely Kangaroo Island, the members of our 7-member Earthwatch team studied echidnas and gowannas, using radio-tracking equipment.  During our stay we became familian with GPS, compass reading, habitat types, and the names of native vegetation, and had close up and personal encounters with some of the island’s wildlife, including possums, great gray kangaroos, and tammer wallabys. Everyone on the Earthwatch Team fell for Ruby, the friendly great gray kangaroo matriarch. One afternoon, we visited other parts of the island, including several beachs with lovely Aeolianian rock formations, nesting little penquins (Udyptyla), or Southern sea lions.

Puketi Forest

Maori cultural show in Rotorua


Kangaroo Island beach

Ruby, the great gray kangaroo

Whirinaki forest waterfall

With retirement comes a greater degree of freedom to spend one's time involved in pursuits that are often more physically demanding and emotionally satisfying.  Now that I’m freed of some of my previous restaints associated with the under-appreciated and over-worked career of teaching in a small college, I am spending more time at my cabin and acreage in the lovely rolling hills of NE Iowa, an area in the northeast corner of the state called the “driftless zone”, a region of Iowa that was not covered by the last period of glaciers. The region is characterized by limestone bluff outcroppings and many forests – an all too infrequent sight in the state of Iowa, the state with the dubious distinction of  showing the most altered natural habitats from that which originally existed before the European settlers arrived. Iowa has seen its vast and lovely tall grass prairie heritage ravaged and morphed by humans into endless expanses of corn and soybeans.  At my acreage, 23 acres of which are in the Forest Reserve Program, I work to increase biodiversity and create habitat for wildlife --- those other living entities of Planet Earth that have no voice and are bulldozed over, driven out, or run over by the exploding human population and the metastasizing cancer we humans euphemistically refer to as “development”.  When I’m not planting trees or shrubs, installing bird houses and bird feeders, or building rock walkways, I enjoy walking in the woods observing the resident deer and turkeys, getting up close to the resident opossums (see photo), birdwatching, and awaiting the appearance of morels and spring wild flowers.  I keep looking for rattlesnakes and bobcats, hoping that there are some finding sanctuary on the property.   

Links for my other web sites.

"Biology of the Seashore" course on Dog Island, FL Hermit Crab Sponges
Charles Darwin - A Short Biography "Darwin Remembers", a one man play about Charles Darwin
List of Publications Abbreviated Dr. Sandford Web Page