Protect and Preserve

Be On the Lookout for the Kingly American Kestrel


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie On Marco Island, an urban, intensely developed island, surrounded on three sides by dense mangrove estuary habitat and one side by the Gulf of Mexico, it really is not uncommon to see a variety of wildlife in our yards and along roadways. Driving through several island neighborhoods one recent cold November morning, more than ... Read More »

Keeping Florida Wild: Thank You for Voting Yes to Amendment 1


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Florida, a sensitive and dynamic peninsula, unique in its habitat, wildlife and hydrology in the world, is the third most populous state in the nation. From the outcome of the election, it apparently has a majority of very wise people who hope to allow the next generation by providing clean water and protection to ... Read More »

Trifecta of Success

Sea Turtle Lady Mary Nelson and assistant Morgan Scarborough  post a new Loggerhead Sea Turtle nest on Sand Dollar Island “spit”. PHOTOS BY JEAN HALL

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie A trifecta of success unfolded this summer on the Marco Island beach. Humans, shorebirds and sea turtles were all successful in their use, productivity and healthy impact to our beautiful beach. It is increasingly a tricky balance of the increased recreational use versus the protection of the natural beach. In the past couple weeks, ... Read More »

Hello Holly! First Baby Dolphin of the Fall is Here!

Mom Sparky and baby Holly come up for air together. Holly is just learning how to breathe properly.  PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist This is the second article in a series of three about Marco Island’s young dolphins. The first article can be viewed by going to under the “Environmental” heading, then under “Stepping Stones.”   It is Thursday morning, Oct. 2, and the Dolphin Explorer is on the water, as usual, surveying the area dolphins. ... Read More »

Sensational Sharks: Important Part of the Marine Environment


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie If you haven’t heard, its Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week — a week of pseudo-science and, sometimes hilarious, propaganda. Since 1988 — yes for 26 years and making it one of the longest running cable television series — this annual week of television programs on the Discovery Channel has evolved from educational programs that ... Read More »

Art in Nature


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie A not so well known turtle roams Marco Island. It’s not the glamorous Loggerhead Sea Turtle or the well-known Gopher Tortoise. It is very commonly seen in the beachfront dunes and near wetlands and pond areas of the island such as Barfield Bay, in Hideaway Beach conservation areas and along Spinnaker Drive. The Florida ... Read More »

Save Room for Tortoises

Adult tortoises. PHOTO BY JEAN HALL

PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie For a small, developed, semi-tropical island, Marco Island has a diversity of habitats which equates to abundance of wildlife species. Sandy beaches with wide, lush vegetated dunes, sea grass beds in nearshore shallow waters, tidal mudflats, mangrove wetlands, upland scrub oak and palmetto, tropical hardwood hammock, patchy slash pine stands and even open undeveloped, grassy ... Read More »

Celebrate Our Nation’s Birthday by Respecting Our Beach


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie One of the best holidays in our country is the 4th of July! Our nation — turning 238 years old — knows how to put on a party, right? It is a day to reflect why our nation is so great, how we are the luckiest citizens on earth, and be thankful for all ... Read More »

Take a Hike: Sand Dollar Island is Waiting for You to Explore

Critical Wildlife Area. PHOTO BY NANCY RICHIE

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Take a hike and explore one of the most beautiful ecosystems in southwest Florida, walking from Tigertail Beach Park parking lot on the new boardwalk, through the tunnel of mangroves, around the southern end of the Tigertail Lagoon, then heading north to the very tip of Sand Dollar Island “spit” that curls around toward ... Read More »

Sea Turtle Season: Let’s All Do Our Part

1st Sea Turtle Nest of 2013 on Sand Dollar Island.

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Sunday, April 20, was the fourth anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Though the oil and secondary impacts to this environmental disaster never reached the shores of Marco Island, it affected the sea turtles and shorebird populations throughout the Gulf. That summer, there was record number of volunteers willing ... Read More »

Florida’s Easter Bunny: Marsh Rabbits

The Florida Marsh Rabbit. PHOTO BY JEAN HALL

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie The weather is a bit warmer. Humidity is not too high. Fresh breezes make the Gulf a little choppy, and the island is quieter. It’s spring, and that time of year when many, especially those younger than 10 years old, may be keeping an eye out for the Easter Bunny, who may be hiding ... Read More »

Something’s Got to Give

July 5, 2013 partial trash collection. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Something’s got to give. Soon. The Marco Island beach is raked daily and large debris is removed by Collier County. Volunteer Beach Stewards walk the beach daily picking up at least one bag of trash – sometimes two or more. The City’s Beach Advisory Committee partners with the Marco Island Civic Association, Publix and local ... Read More »

Great, Big, Beautiful Birds


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie They are tall, elegant and intensely avian. Like magnificently feathered ballerinas, Great Blue Heron, Great White Heron and the Great Egret magically grace many Southwest Florida habitats: the beach, back bay, mudflat and mangroves. And if a regular fisherman, one of these water birds hanging around the dock begging for bait is not uncommon. ... Read More »

Just look, don’t touch!

The Saddleback Caterpillar. Look but don’t touch!

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Beware! Lurking in many South Florida backyards is a small critter that will offer a terrible surprise if touched. The half to one inch long, stout-bodied brown caterpillar has a conspicuous green back with brown oval outlined in white. It’s unique coloring may entice a closer look by touching or holding it– but don’t! It ... Read More »

Positive Interactions with Wildlife

Burrowing owls set up shop in their new home. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie To balance out the alarming and sad stories of wildlife that have occurred recently in and around Marco Island — the pilot whale tragedy along the southwest coast of Florida, ultimately ending just south of Marco Island on Kice Island with 25 dead whales; the news of the Marco Eagle Sanctuary bald eagle pair ... Read More »

2014 Christmas Bird Count


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Each winter, the National Audubon Society holds their annual nationwide Christmas Bird Count. This is 114th year that thousands of volunteers armed with binoculars, field guides and bird lists from all over the country get out in their neighborhoods, local parks and natural areas to document each and every bird they see and hear in ... Read More »

Taking a Turn with Gulls and Terns


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie As you walk along the beach, you may think you are just seeing and hearing lots of “seagulls” on the Marco Island beach, but there are many diverse and unique species of gull-like birds on the beach. Take a closer look, and you may be surprised by the diversity of bird species using the beach ... Read More »

2014 New Year’s Resolutions


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie As the New Year rolls in, looking forward is a natural inclination. Reflecting on the past year’s experiences helps to improve knowledge, behavior and life in general. Many of us distill these lessons to make a list of resolutions for the new year. Sometimes resolutions are hard to stick to if they are too grandiose ... Read More »

2013’s Excellent Environmental Endeavors

Burrowing Owl by Jean Hall.

PROTECTING &PRESERVING Nancy Richie This past year, Marco Island’s environment had exciting conservation efforts and thrived despite increased construction and tourism and limited funding. It’s a precarious balance of people and the environment on this small barrier island in the Ten Thousand Islands, but with the community’s awareness and support, the wildlife and its habitat is holding its own. Looking ... Read More »

Giving back to wildlife, our way of life

Friends of the Fakahatchee Tram Tours. SUBMITTED photo

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie As the rest of the country is shoveling snow, commuting dangerously on icy roadways and bundling up in scarves and coats, we are walking the sunny Marco Island crescent beach in flip-flops or even barefoot, gift shopping in shorts and t-shirts and asking for an iced peppermint latte to cool off. What a wonderful ... Read More »