Love to Learn? Listen Up!


Marco Island, Isles of Capri and nearby environs are full of intelligent, inquiring minds that search out opportunities to be more informed and inspired. Let’s face it, we could be watching past seasons of “Game of Thrones” On Demand to make sense of it before the new series starts, but what would that add to our knowledge, our ability to ... 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


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 »

Plans for Nature Preserve Take Flight


By Don Manley  A fundraising campaign is underway for a project that will transform the former Marco Eagle Sanctuary into a full-blown nature preserve. Now known as the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary, the 11.6 acre, undeveloped parcel is expected to become a magnet for nature lovers and an interactive educational facility for local school children when work ... Read More »

A High Tech Answer to Turtle Egg Poaching

Submitted Photo

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist          Just a few weeks ago a Florida man was caught stealing more than 100 eggs from an adult female loggerhead sea turtle while she was in the process of laying them. This guy could face a maximum term of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for hisactions. A ... Read More »

This Place Is For The Birds!

Photos by Bob McConville
A Least Tern rests on Tigertail Beach, pretty well camouflaged among the sand and shells.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist   Join Bob on July 20th at 7 PM for more details about some of our area birds. This talk will take place at the Marco Island Historical Society’s Auditorium. On May 12th Bob gave a presentation about our birdlife and it was so well received that Part 2 was requested. Admission is free ... Read More »

Dual Threats to Shorebirds on Sand Dollar Island

Submitted Photos

Submitted On the plus side, the count on the shorebird nursery on Sand Dollar Island is higher than last year’s. Chicks are skittering everywhere taking cover from the hot sun. According to the Collier Shorebird Stewards, by around this time last year, the crows had wiped out the nesting colony and the birds departed without producing a single chick. It ... Read More »

Gopher Tortoises in Distress

A gopher tortoise is no match to this heavy pile driver. Photos by Maria Lamb

By Maria Lamb   The construction of an 8-foot wide sidewalk along the 1.1 miles on South Barfield Drive from San Marco Road south to Inlet Drive is in progress. The portion from South Barfield turning east to Inlet is a section of the Estates area with a very high population of gopher tortoises. These are the lucky ones! Credit ... Read More »

A Dolphin Update

Mom Sintas keeps guard over her new calf, J. Fireball, last November.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist      Everybody loves dolphins. Most people taking nature trips in South Florida want to see one of two things…dolphins or alligators. We’ll forget about the ‘gators today and talk about the other favorite in our area for a mid-year update. On board the Dolphin Explorer you not only get to see dolphins, but ... Read More »