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Protect and Preserve

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com It is common knowledge on Marco Island that Florida Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) are present, popular and so abundant that they are found in almost every neighborhood on the island. Not only do our residents enjoy these charismatic birds of prey, but people travel from all over the world to see them. Professional photographers charge top dollar to school the amateur how to photograph them in the “best light,” though any ol’ camera will do. One can’t go wrong when the subject has big yellow eyes, long downy legs and attitude that could take on ... Read More »

Far From Home


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Something is going on. Razorbills, an alcid bird or a web-footed, diving seabird, have been seen all over Florida by avid birders and beach goers. A few have been reported on Marco Island’s Tigertail Beach as well as in Caxambas Pass. Being a peninsula with one of the longest coastlines in the country, Florida has seabirds, so why is it so unusual to see the Razorbills? Historically, there have only been 14 documented sightings of this species in Florida. But since early December, there have been over 20 reports from Jacksonville to Marco Island of ... Read More »

THE PINES OF MARCO ISLAND, Not traditional christmas trees


PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com  Did you attend the City’s Christmas Tree Lighting last weekend? Have you gone by Veterans’ Park to see this beautifully trimmed tree? If not yet, take a look and Merry Christmas! On our semi-tropical barrier island, there are predominantly three species of pine-like trees. None would make for a hearty Christmas tree, but all have a value in our community. So, put up your artificial tree or get one from a big tent; the pines on Marco Island are not your traditional Christmas trees. Southern Slash Pine  The Southern Slash Pine is a native tree ... Read More »

The White Pelican


PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com  One the largest and oldest known birds in our nation, named by a German naturalist in 1789, is the White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. It migrates from the north to winter in south Florida, particularly Sarasota to south of Marco Island, giving the moniker, “snow bird,” real meaning. Once hunted as sport, the White Pelican is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 and is listed as a species of special concern in the State of Florida and several other states. This species of pelican, one of the two in the United States (the ... Read More »

Talking Trash: the toxic type


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Monthly, different local groups and residents make the effort to organize and pick up trash on Marco Island’s beach. Weekly, we all make the effort to throw trash in the appropriate receptacle; the regular trash bin which goes to our overflowing county landfill or the recycling bin which keeps excess trash out of the landfill so that products can be repurposed and reused. Those are our choices at home and work. Daily, we pick up trash as we take walks in our neighborhoods, parks or on the beach. Trash; it is part of our life. ... Read More »

Snowy Egrets: One of the coolest birds on our beach


PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com One of several larger shorebirds that are spectacular to watch while walking the beach, especially along the Tigertail Lagoon and Sand Dollar beach peninsula area, is the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). Just saying the name can cool one off on a hot Florida day at the beach. When walking the beach, one notices that there are several large white birds with long legs in the tidal zone and lagoon area. The Snowy Egret is easily identifiable by its bright yellow feet. Perhaps they are yellow galoshes? Not the largest of the long-legged shorebirds, the Snowy ... Read More »

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 »


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 »


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 »