Wednesday , April 16 2014
Home » Environment » Protect and Preserve (page 3)

Protect and Preserve

Red Tide – Marco’s in bloom

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie 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 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  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 »

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 »


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 »

An Eagle Scout candidate constructs an Osprey nesting platform and plants rare palms

A new environmental addition to the City of Marco Island’s Mackle Park was installed on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. An American Osprey pole with nest platform was erected courtesy of Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) for Boy Scout Ricky Grootveld’s Eagle Scout project. Ricky Grootveld, 16 years old and a Lely High School junior, was “happy and excited” to see the hole drilled and the 45-foor pole erected by LCEC, and to see his design and his effort come to fruition. He said he has always worked side by side with his Dad and that is how he knew how ... Read More »

An Eagle Scout Candidate Constructs an Osprey Nesting Platform and Plants Rare Palms

A new environmental addition to the City of Marco Island’s Mackle Park will be installed on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 at noon.  An American Osprey pole with nest platform will be erected courtesy of Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) for Boy Scout Ricky Grootveld’s Eagle Scout project.  The public is invited to watch. Ricky Grootveld, 16 years old and a Lely High School junior, is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys camping, hiking and kayaking.  He is an “A” student, in the drumline of the Lely High School Trojan Marching Band, the captain of the JROTC Primary Color Guard, on the ... Read More »

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

It’s raining, it’s pouring… Isn’t it fantastic to see so much rain after such a long period of drought in southwest Florida? There are obvious positives: green, healthy plants, beautiful yards in bloom and, most importantly, the recharging of the aquifers to better prepare for the upcoming dry months. On the downside, there is more maintenance needed, such as lawn mowing and shrub trimming, and possibly more opportunities for mosquitoes to multiply! Also, with large amounts of rainfall in short periods of time, like the typical storms seen in the past weeks, the ground gets saturated, causing water to flow ... Read More »

Red Tide…It’s not here but be in the know!

Checked weekly by state scientists at many locations along the Marco Island shore and offshore Collier County, there has not been a presence of the Red Tide in our area in many months. Log on and sign up for daily email reports for Naples and Marco Island beach conditions at While the phenomenon of Red Tide is worldwide, in Florida it is caused predominantly by the organism Karenia brevis. This micro algae species is a dinoflagelate that naturally occurs or “initiates” in the Gulf of Mexico (and can be found in the Atlantic along Florida’s coastline). When circumstances are ... Read More »

What was that?

You have seen the movement out of the corner of your eye; you have heard the subtle leaves or fronds twitch; and you have seen the quick, blurry, scurry of a small brown lizard on the pool deck or running up the lanai screen. Every first-time visitor exclaims at some point, “What was that?!” In Florida, it would be unusual not to come across a Brown Anole while relaxing on a lanai, poolside or just walking down the sidewalk. This small lizard, though not native, is part of the landscape or “cityscape” here, like it or not! Common on walls, ... Read More »