Environment

‘Beyond the Mangrove Trees’ A pictorial look at South Florida

b8-cbn-11-25-16-2

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Dolphins and gators and birds, oh my! Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to take many pictures of various wildlife in our area. Some of the photos are a matter of being in the right place at the right time and others, believe me, are just luck! I’ve looked for an avenue ... Read More »

Talks, Thanks, Tributes and Tears

Photo by Bob McConville, Master Naturalist:
Clouds gather over the mangrove trees in Big Cypress Preserve. Will it rain? Come find out
on November 16th!

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist       What makes it rain on Marco Island? Does the Everglades ecosystem play a part in this? Which clouds are rain makers and which are not? These questions will be answered by my guest speaker on November 16th at Rose History Auditorium. A National Park Service Ranger, Luke Gommerman has traveled to ... Read More »

Rookery Bay Unveils New Exhibit

b25-cbn-11-11-16_replacement-1

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson Three new marine animals are now in residence at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center for the public to see. The new aquarium exhibit allows visitors to safely observe moon jellies that are commonly found in local waters. Dave Graff, an education specialist for Rookery Bay Research Reserve, introduced the exhibit to the Learning Center to help ... Read More »

MIA Students to Monitor Artificial Habitats

Photo by Don Manley:
David Wolff, Ocean Habitats’ president
and executive director, and one of his company’s artificial dock habitats.

By Don Manley The artificial habitat pilot project designed to restore the cleanliness, health and aquatic diversity of the island’s canals will be aided by students from Marco Island Academy’s environmental science classes. As part of their classwork, the students will monitor the 25 habitats that were purchased earlier this year from Ocean Habitats, Inc., a small Fort Myers-based company ... Read More »

Birds Matter on Marco’s Beaches

Please do not force birds to fly. The photo may look cool, but repeated flushing of birds is harmful to resting birds.

Submitted “Birds matter because they give us wings. And because if we save the birds, we will save the world.” ~ Peter Trail, USFWS forensic anthropologist. It was a very busy summer for the shorebird stewards. According to Jayne Johnston, coordinator of the Collier County Shorebird Stewards, the summer volunteers logged 312 volunteer hours. Sixteen active stewards interacted with 219 ... Read More »

Eggs-citing Sea Turtles

Photos by Maria Lamb: Above: Mary Nelson, Marco’s “Sea Turtle Lady,” counting the excavated eggs. Left: Fifty-seven sea turtle eggs, soft shelled and the size of ping pong balls.

  Submitted It was early Saturday in mid-October and Mary Nelson, Marco’s “Sea-Turtle Lady,” was already out on Sand Dollar Island with her ATV checking out the few remaining sea turtle nests. The nesting season is coming to a close, and there may be a few “Halloween” hatchlings. It takes sixty days for the soft shelled ping pong sized eggs ... Read More »

Happy Birthday to…Dolphins

Photos by Bob McConville
Halfway, one of the most productive females in Marco’s waters, with her new calf, Wyatt.

Dolly, Halfway, Nibbles, Rangle, Sparky and Sydney…sounds like a random selection of words from a dictionary. In fact, these are the names of some adult female bottlenose dolphins seen in the Marco waters. So what do they have in common? All of the above gave birth to calves during the month of September! Baby dolphins can be born at any ... Read More »

Local “Lost And Found” Author Heads to TV

From left: Philippe Cousteau, Capt. Tom Williams, Les Bowen (owner of the two cannons), and Ashlan Cousteau.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville What do you get when you combine high-tech satellite positioning with a search for pirate treasure off the coast of Marco Island? How about a great book with heroes and villains and more twists than a winding staircase. “Lost And Found” is a fictional story by local author and captain, Tom Williams, that was published in ... Read More »

Collier’s Artificial Reefs: The End of the Beginning

Photo by Cathy McConville
From left: Katie Laakkonen, Kathleen Rooney and Bob McConville.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Over the past few months I’ve addressed issues regarding the reef structures here in South Florida on several occasions. Recent visits by my wife, Cathy, and me have resulted in viewing the natural reef formations in the Florida Keys. The unfortunate “bleaching” of these once beautiful structures is caused by numerous factors, and has increased worldwide ... Read More »

Rookery Bay Celebrates National Estuaries Day

A view of Henderson Creek from the observation bridge. Photos by Maureen Chodaba

By Maureen Chodaba An estuary is a special place where two worlds collide and combine to create a unique habitat and environment. They are a brackish transition zone between the fresh water of a river and the salt water of the sea, serving as a coastal bay nursery for fish and other marine life. In 1972, Congress established the National ... Read More »

Florida Reefs: Old and New

A sea turtle makes its way across a reef this past summer. Photo by Bob McConville

Stepping Stones Bob McConville A short while ago I wrote an article about the decline of the coral reef system in the Florida Keys. Included were some pictures that actually showed a section of a reef and how dramatic the change occurred over a 20-year period. It was not good. The brightly colored corals of yesterday are now gray and ... Read More »

Is “Natural Selection” in Jeopardy?

The green iguana is a reptile, but closely related to amphibians. As a species, amphibians are
disappearing from the face of the Earth at an alarming rate. Could this one be next? Photo by Bob McConville

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist     Since the earliest times of life on Earth, animals, plants and minerals have been changing. Even today, as our planet makes “adjustments,” everything here must do the same. Days are longer in the summer and shorter in the winter, the rotation of the Earth is slowing, factors such as El Nino and ... Read More »

Connecting with the Past: Cultural Resources in Rookery Bay Reserve Provide Insights to Early Coastal Life

Each artifact is recorded and photographed. Photos by Renee Wilson

Coastal Connections By Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Thousands of years ago, indigenous people called the Calusa inhabited much of coastal Southwest Florida. The Calusa culture was a complex society that thrived on the bounty of the estuary as opposed to agriculture, which was the primary means of subsistence for many other early American people. Numerous Calusa settlements were developed along the ... Read More »

Fewer Sea Turtle Nests This Year

submitted photos

By Don Manley This is a busy time of year for Marco’s longtime “Turtle Lady,” Mary Kelly Nelson, as she monitors and protects this year’s loggerhead sea turtle nesting season on the island’s beaches. Nelson, an environmental specialist for Collier County Sea Turtle Protection, said 2016 represents a departure from what has been an upward trend in the number of ... Read More »

Butterflies Thrive at Calusa Park

Photo by Susan LaGrotta
Monarch butterfly feasting on milkweed

Submitted “If you plant nectar plants, butterflies will come,” remarked Calusa Garden Club member Susan LaGrotta. Calusa Park’s Butterfly Garden on Winterberry Drive is thriving, attracting a kaleidoscope of butterflies sipping the sweets from their favorite nectar plants and laying their eggs on the plentiful hosts plants. This small gem of a garden is maintained year- round by members of ... Read More »

Crocodiles in South Florida

Photos by Bob McConville

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Quite often when I’m talking about dolphins on my tours someone will ask the question regarding alligator sightings. I am always happy to respond that gators primarily stay in fresh water or brackish water habitats, and then I mention that brackish and saltwater areas of South Florida are home to many crocodiles and that this ... Read More »

Shorebird Stewards Make a Difference

Shorebird Stewards Dave and Kim Francisco, Terry Wilson, Dominique Rossetti (FWC) and Karol Tenace. Photos by Jean Hall

Submitted Lucky Birds: Volunteers from the Collier Shorebird Stewardship Program, wearing bright green shirts with bold letters, “Ask Me About The Birds,” were the “boots on the sand” ensuring a successful nesting season at Big Marco Pass (BMP), also known as Sand Dollar Island. They worked around challenges posed by the Hideaway and Central Beach dredging projects, the effects of ... Read More »

Are the Keys’ Reefs Dying?

In less than 20 years, major changes have taken place in the Florida Keys reef structure.
1992 - Head coral barely alive, and Elkhorn coral almost completely decimated.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville “Live corals on the east side of the Florida Keys are mysteriously dying and algae are taking over that eco-niche. Studies and mapping suggest that a number of natural factors, combined with the effects of human activity, may contribute to the corals’ demise.” – Gene Shinn, U.S. Geological Survey It is well documented that there is ... Read More »

Connecting Students with Science and Technology

B14-CBN-08-05-16-4

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson Spending time in a classroom is one way to learn, but smelling, hearing and touching the subject usually results in reinforcing an educational experience that won’t soon be forgotten.  Each year, roughly 3,000 local students have the opportunity to get “a taste” of our local estuary as part of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s field trip ... Read More »

Love Your Beach Clean-Up

Submitted Photo
From left: Samantha Malloy, Bernardo Bezos and Gene Burson.

Submitted On Sunday, August 14, 2016 at 9 AM, come to South Beach for a community beach clean-up and show your love for Marco Island’s beautiful beaches! Please bring your children and invite your friends and neighbors – we all can make a difference. • Clean beaches are important for their recreational value, and also as a clean nesting place ... Read More »