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Environment

A Tribute to My Ultimate Dolphin Lover

Emily on her 90th birthday in 2012. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist STEPPING STONES…This is the primary title of the column I write. Typically, a stepping stone is something to help you get from one place to another or from one phase in life to another as well. We have all utilized them. Sometimes, they are very obvious to us; very evident. Other times, we just happen to stumble upon them. They can be subtle or they can be earth shattering. One thing is for sure: We use them from the day we are born until the time we die. Some of the people who create ... Read More »

Manatee Rescue All in a Day’s Work

Mrs. Webb, Tony Smith and Ms. Lacks.

By Coastal Breeze News Staff If you’re the city of Marco Island Environmental Specialist, rescuing a manatee or other wildlife can be all in a day’s work. Just as it was during a recent manatee rescue at Tigertail Beach. A manatee stranded itself on a mud flat in Tigertail lagoon due to a strong outgoing tide in a New Moon phase. Walking the beach, Todd Tateo, spotted the stranded manatee and reported it to the Tigertail Beach gate attendant, Lee Gunderson. Todd told Lee the manatee was “high and dry” in the lagoon. Lee called the city of Marco Island ... Read More »

Trifecta of Success

Sea Turtle Lady Mary Nelson and assistant Morgan Scarborough  post a new Loggerhead Sea Turtle nest on Sand Dollar Island “spit”. PHOTOS BY JEAN HALL

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com A trifecta of success unfolded this summer on the Marco Island beach. Humans, shorebirds and sea turtles were all successful in their use, productivity and healthy impact to our beautiful beach. It is increasingly a tricky balance of the increased recreational use versus the protection of the natural beach. In the past couple weeks, when a typical seasonal northwest fall weather front blew over southwest Florida in combination with a full moon phase, it naturally washed sea squirts and other live organisms up on the beach from the near shore Gulf of Mexico. This ... Read More »

Hello Holly! First Baby Dolphin of the Fall is Here!

Mom Sparky and baby Holly come up for air together. Holly is just learning how to breathe properly.  PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist This is the second article in a series of three about Marco Island’s young dolphins. The first article can be viewed by going to coastalbreezenews.com under the “Environmental” heading, then under “Stepping Stones.”   It is Thursday morning, Oct. 2, and the Dolphin Explorer is on the water, as usual, surveying the area dolphins. Naturalist Kent Morse and Captain Michael Tateo, along with several guests, enjoy multiple sightings which include a few adult females. Information is being logged into the data base for research purposes. Among those seen is two-time mom Sparky, but no ... Read More »

It’s Time to Welcome Our Flying Winter Friends

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Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist September 21, 2014, 10:29 PM Marco Island time — The Autumnal Equinox is occurring. That imaginary line on our planet called the Equator is closest to the sun. There is an even amount of solar energy in both the northern and southern hemisphere. It is the first day of fall. Over the next few months the earth’s northern half will tilt away from the sun. Here in Florida, we will experience cooler temperatures, but further north a much colder climate will be prevalent. Some areas of the United States have already experienced snow, and ... Read More »

Come Meet Marco’s Newborn Dolphins

You can see the body creases or "fetal folds" on this newborn dolphin. It is less than 2 weeks old. Photos by Kent  Meredith of the Dolphin Explorer

By Coastal Breeze News Staff Come join Bob McConville of Steppingstone Ecotours/Dolphin Explorer and Coastal Breeze News for two very special evenings at the Rose History Auditorium. On Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 7-8 PM, McConville will introduce children of all ages to the young dolphin population around Marco Island, at the Rose History Auditorium. The program will take the audience into the world of the bottlenose dolphin where they will meet the newborns of the past three years, spend some time getting to know the new youngsters seen so far in 2014 and then meet the potential moms that may ... Read More »

Friends of Tigertail Host International Coastal Cleanup

Employees of the Marco Beach Ocean Resort.

By Barbara Parisi On the morning of Saturday, Sept. 20, Friends of Tigertail hosted the International Coastal Cleanup. Despite the overcast and “almost rainy” day, 75 volunteers participated. Keep Collier Beautiful provided collection gear, including garbage bags for trash and recyclables, plastic gloves, logo T-shirts, water and data collection forms. Once the information recorded on the data forms is compiled, it will be forwarded to Keep Collier Beautiful and eventually to the Ocean Conservancy. All cleanup results throughout the world on this particular Saturday will be published on the website: OceanConservancy.org. It was truly an international project. FOT Board Members ... Read More »

Rookery Bay Celebrates National Estuaries Day

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By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com The sky was clear. The sun was shining, and the parking lot of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve was packed on Saturday, Sept. 27. The occasion: National Estuaries Day, an annual event established in 1988 as part of Coast Weeks to help educate the public and promote the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them. Rookery Bay is one of 28 national estuarine research reserves, and the local crowd celebrated the day in fine style, with guided boat expeditions of the estuary, kayak and paddle board adventures on Henderson Creek, behind-the-scenes laboratory ... Read More »

It’s Gator Hatchin’ Time in the Glades

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Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist A few weeks ago I took a walk through several different areas of the Everglades, and there was a very distinct and serene quiet, a sound of silence that was not there in early summer. During the months of May thru July, I could hear the unmistakeable bellowing of male alligators trying to entice the females. Some of these boys have traveled great distances to find a mate. Now, all is calm. Courtship rituals are complete, and females are tending to their nests, waiting for the young to hatch. The males have moved on, ... Read More »

Rescuing Skipper: A Dolphin Explorer Tale

About an hour after the Dolphin Explorer’s Bob Erickson and Meredith Barnard spotted Halfway and Skipper in Little Marco Pass, the cavalry arrived, complete with a net boat captained by Larry Fulford, a commercial fisherman with more than 30 years experience with dolphin capture and release efforts.

By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com Finding one specific dolphin in the waters around Marco Island is akin to looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. At least that is what I thought on the morning of Sept. 4 when I set out with researchers from Sea Excursion’s 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project to find one female baby dolphin whose tail had somehow become entangled with a foot of wire leader from a fishing rig. These same researchers were the ones who spotted the baby dolphin — Skipper — and her entanglement in early August while aboard one of their Dolphin ... Read More »

Estuaries Day at Rookery Bay

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By Coastal Breeze News Staff Looking for a free, family-friendly activity on Saturday, Sept. 27? Then head to Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve for a day of free staff-narrated boat tours, introductory 30-minute kayaking trips, paddle boarding on Henderson Creek and marine critter touch tanks and other live animal presentations. The event runs 10 AM-3 PM. Following a short hiatus in operation which began Sept. 15, this event — Rookery Bay’s Grand Reopening Estuaries Day — is part of an annual celebration of the 28 national estuarine research reserves. The day’s activities aim to recognize the importance of the ... Read More »

Time to Welcome Marco Island’s Baby Dolphins

You can see the body creases or "fetal folds" on this newborn dolphin. It is less than 2 weeks old. Photos by Kent You can see the body creases or and Meredith of the Dolphin Explorer

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist This is the first of three articles this fall about dolphin births, with updates on the new moms and calves. SEPTEMBER, 2014: Within the next few weeks a naturalist on board the Dolphin Explorer will exclaim to passengers, “Here’s one of the first of this season, a newborn bottlenose dolphin!” It is birthing season for the bottlenose dolphins in our area. The 10,000 Island Dolphin Survey Team, on board the Dolphin Explorer, will be keeping a sharp lookout for newborns this season and has already made a list of adult females that could possibly ... Read More »

Eagle Sanctuary Property in the Spotlight Again

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By Noelle H. Lowery noelle@coastalbreezenews.com On Monday, Sept. 8, the Marco Island City Council will be asked to sign a letter of support for the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation. This will be the second time in three weeks that Carl Way, chairman and founder of the volunteer, nonprofit foundation, will appear before council seeking its written support for the Marco Eagle Sanctuary at 665 Tigertail Court, which also is known as Tract K. When Way first appeared before City Council during its regular Aug. 18 meeting, he explained that he was asking for the letter of support as part of ... Read More »

Rookery Bay Studying Mangrove Die-off

A reference point within the die-off area is marked with white rope.

By Coastal Breeze News Staff Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have partnered to conduct a long-term study of the 225-acre mangrove die-off area near Goodland known as Fruit Creek Farm. USGS awarded funding to this project for a minimum of three years to assess the hydrologic restoration, which now is partially underway. Since 2000, Rookery Bay Reserve has partnered with the Coastal Resources Group, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the city of Marco Island to conduct the initial assessment of the area’s hydrology and produce a ... Read More »

Restaurateurs Clean Up the Beach

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By Nancy Richie More than 60 volunteers enthusiastically embraced Sunday morning, Aug. 10, to clean up the Marco Island beach. By 9 AM, volunteers from CJ’s on the Bay led by Executive Chef Laura Own and a handful from Chop239 led by Deanna and Marco Porto walked the beach from theSouth Beach and Tigertail Beach accesses, meeting in the middle at the Marriott Resort to celebrate the beautiful morning over lunch and cold drinks. This group removed dozens of bags of trash — plastic straws, broken toys, single shoes, dryer sheets, plastic and glass bottles, pieces of rope and fishing ... Read More »

Sensational Sharks: Important Part of the Marine Environment

Bull sharks. SUBMITTED PHOTO

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com If you haven’t heard, its Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week — a week of pseudo-science and, sometimes hilarious, propaganda. Since 1988 — yes for 26 years and making it one of the longest running cable television series — this annual week of television programs on the Discovery Channel has evolved from educational programs that raised awareness of shark population decline and the importance they have in the oceans’ ecosystems to fictitious stories and ludicrous accounts of mega sharks in the waters throughout the world. Entertainment has trumped science, which does not bode well for ... Read More »

What Birds Eat… The Beak Can Tell the Tale

Wood storks use “tactolocation” to find food
and can close their beak in 1/20th of a second!

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist Have you ever seen a reddish egret dance along the shoreline to snag a meal? How about a great blue heron sitting trance-like on a mangrove branch just one foot above the water to catch a fish? Or an osprey swooping into the water feet first to grasp its prey? There is such a variety of bird life in the Marco area, and they capture their next meals in several different manners. One physical feature can tell you something very unique about their diets. Take a look at the shape of the bird’s beak. ... Read More »

The Horses are Off — Seahorses, That Is

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Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist “Mama, come quick!” a young girl cries. “There’s a tiny horse on the beach!” As mama and others run to the scene, sure enough there is a horse in the Marco Island sand. It is only a few inches long and sure looks like our equine friends but without legs. It is a seahorse. Seahorses are very small marine fish. Like other fish they breathe through gills. They float in an upright position and have pectoral fins to maneuver and dorsal fins to maintain balance. Most importantly, they are masters of camouflage. Just like ... Read More »

Florida Bird Migration: It’s All About the Tilt

White Pelicans migrate form north to south when temperatures become cooler. They are in our area during our winter. Below: Swallow Tailed Kites migrate from South America when that continent becomes cooler. They are in our area now until the fall. PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist Swallow Tailed Kites are here in South Florida right now, but the White Pelicans and other migratory bird species are not. Hmmm….it seems odd that they all do not frequent our area at the same time. Why would that happen? Don’t they all come from the north to winter in our area? Don’t they all come at the same time? The answer is a resounding NO, and it revolves primarily around one factor: the tilt of the earth. Let’s refresh with some basic science classes to figure this out. The earth is in an ... Read More »

Art in Nature

Box turtle. PHOTO BY JEAN HALL

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com A not so well known turtle roams Marco Island. It’s not the glamorous Loggerhead Sea Turtle or the well-known Gopher Tortoise. It is very commonly seen in the beachfront dunes and near wetlands and pond areas of the island such as Barfield Bay, in Hideaway Beach conservation areas and along Spinnaker Drive. The Florida Painted Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri) is a small turtle that is not only a small wonder but a treasure for the island. Its striking array of a yellow pattern on its shell is art in nature; some have said ... Read More »