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Protect and Preserve

Sentinel of the Bridge

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Who hasn’t noticed when crossing the Jolley Bridge leaving the island, the lone American Osprey sitting on the hand rail, the light pole or sign, usually looking to the south, and sometimes, it seems, looking right into your eyes through the windshield? This American Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) has been observed on our bridge for years. My daughters as young girls, then driving to high school on their own, have always noticed it in the mornings, admiring its tenacity perched on the sign as cars zoom by ruffling its feathers and enjoying one of our unique ... Read More »

Panther or Bobcat?

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com If you are fortunate to see an elusive Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryii), the first thing you will remember and describe is the long, long, large tail! Many people may think they have spotted a Panther, but it is a probability that a Bobcat (Felis rufus) was the big cat that ran by, especially if it is in an urban area. There is no doubt there are panthers on Marco Island, patrolling through quiet neighborhoods and the mangrove fringes of Key Marco and Barfield Bay. There have been well-documented sightings and reports. One summer, a ... Read More »

WATCHABLE WILDLIFE: Let’s respect what we have

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Located on the edge of the Everglades and surrounded by Rookery Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands’ unique mangrove and estuarine environment, Marco Island’s subtropical climate and diverse habitat allows many wildlife species encounters. In abundance and not found in many places, wildlife such as, Bottled-nosed Dolphins, West Indian Manatees, Loggerhead, Green, and Kemp-Ridley Sea Turtles, many species of shore and water birds, Bald Eagles, American Osprey, Burrowing Owls, Gopher Tortoises, Bobcats and even Panthers. Not a day goes by as an area resident that one does not encounter wildlife. Going to the beach, boating, ... Read More »

Shorebird NESTING SEASON

PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com The City of Marco Island is part of the Florida Shorebird Alliance, a partnership that includes Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), City of Naples, Collier County Government and Sheriff’s Office, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR), Sea Grant, the Conservancy of SW FL, Inc., Friends of Tigertail and Collier Audubon Society. The goal of this Alliance is to support those entities involved with volunteer management, materials and information to improve public outreach and education, while monitoring and protecting resting and nesting shorebird populations. Due to smaller staffs and budgets in all entities, ... Read More »

National Audubon’s 112th Annual Christmas Bird Count

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com On Wednesday, January 4th, 2012, volunteers ranging from professional scientists to amateur birders canvassed Collier County for an approximate twelve hour period counting species and numbers of all birds observed. This is the 112th year for this national bird count, having occurred between December 14th through January 5th each year since 1900. It is the longest running wildlife census in our country. Using dedicated experts and “citizen scientists” who help assess the health of bird populations has given Audubon and other organizations data to help guide conservation actions. Some families have made this a tradition ... Read More »

Red Tide – Marco’s in bloom

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Marco Island is currently experiencing a red tide event caused by a harmful algae bloom (HAB) of the algae species, Karenia brevis. Karenia brevis is a microscopic algae species that naturally occurs in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Atlantic Ocean waters. The “bloom”, or a higher than normal amount or concentration of this algae in the water, creates decreased dissolved oxygen in the water, immediately causing fish to die and wash ashore onto the beaches and float in the bays and canals. The higher than normal concentrations of Karenia brevis in the water ... Read More »

Nine nearby natural worlds

Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Marco Island is surrounded by a richness of unique natural worlds to explore and enjoy with family and friends. All are a relatively short drive off the Island and can be experienced in any degree – from a day trip to an overnight to many days of camping. By foot or watercraft, get to know the “real” Florida in Marco Island’s own backyard. Here is a list of nine “must-experience” southwest Florida sites. For more information, the phone number and website address has been provided for each. ROOKERY BAY NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE 239-417-6310 and www.rookerybay.org  A prime example ... Read More »

reSustainable yards equate to wildlife habitat and cost savings

Nancy Richie For a developed, man-made island, Marco Island is fortunate to have a large diversity of wildlife. Once made up of approximately 6,000 acres of mangroves, this island was developed into over 100 miles of dredged “finger” canals that are fortified with seawalls. As the largest of the 10,000 Islands and surrounded by the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Marco Island benefits from this natural environs that supports furred, finned, feathered and scaled wildlife. Just walking to the mailbox, it is not hard to spot a native species in the neighborhood such as a White Ibis, American Kestrel ... Read More »

Changes in the season are for the (shore) birds

Nancy Richie  Have you noticed? There is a change in the way the morning and afternoon light hits Marco Island and in the way the air feels lighter on your skin. It must be fall in southwest Florida. To many, it means time for the first “snow birds” to arrive with the Island roads, restaurants and shops getting pleasantly busier. For regular beach goers and birders, the change means time for a different type of “snow bird” to arrive on the beach – seeing the end of the spring and summer shorebird nesting species, changing to the fall migration and ... Read More »

The Brown PELICAN

Nancy Richie As fellow coastal and island residents, there aren’t many places one can go along the Florida coast without seeing a Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). There are seven species of pelicans in the world. Two inhabit North America – the White Pelican and the Brown Pelican. Standing two to four feet tall, with wingspans up to six to seven feet, tip to tip, the Brown Pelicans make their presence known on docks, at marinas and the beach in the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida; along the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia to the mouth of the Amazon River ... Read More »

Do your part! Let’s keep our beaches healthy and beautiful!

Nancy Richie It’s mid August and that means we are 2/3 through the Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting and Hatching Season. Beachfront property managers have been doing a great job with lighting compliance for our sea turtles by shading or turning off lights that shine on the beach by 9 PM nightly and giving constant reminders to their residents and visitors about the lighting and beach equipment rules on the beaches of Marco Island. To date there are 65 nests with 20 hatched. Though the number of nests is higher than the past few years, it has been a season of ... Read More »

Amazing Manatees

By Nancy Richie Love them or hate them, the Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a subspecies of the West Indian Manatee, is in our waters and has been for millions of years. Love them?  Most people do love them and seek them out to view for their unique characteristics – large, gray, sausage-shaped marine mammals with big flippers and a paddle for a tail, slowly moving and grazing through the Florida waters. Hate them? Hate is a strong feeling, but it mostly has been expressed when a slow speed, idle speed or no entry manatee protection zones are established for ... Read More »

What’s lighting up the canals?

By Nancy Richie Bioluminescent. A big word for tiny organisms. Each summer, a few locations in the Marco Island canals glimmer and twinkle in the night. Boat wakes, fish movement and jelly fish paths sparkle as the bioluminescent organisms are agitated in the water. Not just the fireworks were lighting up our Island on the 4th of July, but there was a bloom of bioluminescent algae that doubled the pleasure of the fireworks for a few residents. Studies at Scripps concluded that bioluminescent dinoflagelletes thrive in calm waters which most likely results from their extreme flow sensitivity that triggers luminescence. ... Read More »

Coyotes in Southwest Florida?

By Nancy Richie Coyotes were introduced in Florida for pursuit by hunting dogs as early as the 1920’s. The coyote’s natural expansion into Florida from then on was inevitable. As coyote numbers increase, concern over their influence on Florida’s indigenous prey species, competing predators, livestock and vegetables has grown. Coyote impact on native wildlife has already been seen in northern Florida where predation on endangered sea turtle eggs is a considerable problem. Much is still unknown, including whether the coyote will have negative effects on recovery of the Florida panther, or if it will fill the panther’s niche in areas ... Read More »

The Gopher Tortoise

By Nancy Richie Most people know by now that the protected, threatened, Loggerhead sea turtles will be nesting on Florida beaches during the spring months, with hatchlings emerging in late summer. Sea turtles symbolize the health of the oceans and are very charismatic for residents and tourists alike who embrace them with interest and protection. But, there is another turtle that has the same federal and state protection status, threatened, that nests this time of year that populates Marco Island in relatively high numbers which, unlike the Loggerhead Sea Turtles, does not go in the water, but resides in the ... Read More »

TURTLE TIME IS HERE!

By Nancy Richie As the Gulf of Mexico water temperatures climb to 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the protected Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) will soon return to the Marco Island beaches. Living year round in the open and near shore waters to feed and rest, the adult female sea turtles will begin nesting on our beaches between May and August. Sixty days after the nests are laid, the hatchlings will emerge and begin the trek to the Gulf of Mexico usually between July and October. So, the next six months – May 01 through October 31 – is a ... Read More »

Spring time brings shufflers to the beach!

By Nancy Richie It is that time of year to shuffle those feet as you enter the warm Gulf of Mexico waters. If you see beachgoers shuffling along and you wonder if perhaps they need some aid in walking or that they may be doing a funny dance, don’t worry, they are most likely doing the “stingray shuffle”! Frequent beach goers know to shuffle their feet in the sand as they enter the water to warn sting rays of their approach. The vibration of the shuffling sand is usually enough to make a ray move on to avoid getting stepped on. ... Read More »

The Florida Burrowing Owl

By Nancy Richie SPEOTYTO CUNICLARA FLORIDANA This familiar Marco Island resident is named from the Greek words, “speo” meaning “cave” and “tyto” meaning owl and “cuniclara” derived from the Latin word cuniclarius meaning “little miner”. As the name suggests the Florida Burrowing Owl digs “caves” or burrows and is the only owl species that nests underground. Background The Burrowing Owl can be found from Canada to South America, mostly prevalent in the western states with an isolated population in Florida. Though migratory in the west, burrowing owls are year round residents in Florida, most commonly observed during the nesting and hatching ... Read More »

Have You Seen One? The Florida Panther…

By Nancy Richie Over the years, one, maybe two, Florida Panther sightings on average per year have been reported on Marco Island.  The excited and surprised observer usually reporting a glimpse of golden fur and a long tail…then an adrenaline rush when the realization just moments later that a panther just dashed through their line of sight!  Stories are told from days past on Marco Island, when houses were sparse and roads were quiet, of panther cubs being raised on Inlet Drive; pairs of cats walking the beaches and panthers seen in the mangrove fringe of Barfield Bay.  Just in ... Read More »