Technology and Nature Keep Rookery Bay’s Marine Life Healthy & Happy

Photo by Dave Graff
Flounder often cover themselves with sand, leaving only their eyes exposed.

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson June is National Aquarium Month and some exciting things are happening in the watery world at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Located between Naples and Marco Island, the 16,500 square-foot center features a two-story exhibit hall and was developed to serve as an interactive gateway into the 110,000-acre Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The center’s exhibits, ... Read More »

A Great Migration in the Water

Submitted Photo
Leatherback sea turtles can reach 6 feet in length, weigh up to 2,000 pounds and dive more than 4,000 feet below the surface.

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Last month I wrote about one of the great land migrations that takes place on our planet. It wasn’t so much about the long distance of the pattern, but more about the sheer number of animals that participate in this annual trek across Africa’s Serengeti Plain. There are constant comings and goings throughout the year ... Read More »

Great Migration of the World

A least tern flies over its nest on Tigertail Beach. Its cousin, the Arctic tern, will migrate up to 44,000 miles each year! Photo by Bob McConville

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Planet Earth is on the move! Every day, somewhere around the globe, some type of animal is on a migration route. Whether the need be food, water, warmth or finding a mate, there is a constant pattern of motion on our planet. Let’s talk about the migration of the largest number of land animals. This ... Read More »

Mangroves…Florida’s “Walking Trees”

Photos by Bob McConville
Mangrove trees in the background, a great egret prepares to land in search of a meal.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist  Take a boat ride through Rookery Bay and you will see them. Head the other direction towards Florida Bay and, undoubtedly, they are prominent. Just walk to Tigertail Lagoon here on Marco and they can’t be missed. Mangrove trees are everywhere! Worldwide there are more than 50 species of mangrove trees. Here in Florida ... Read More »

Sea Turtles Cry Foul Over Dredging Project

Sand Dollar spit creeping slowly to Hideaway Beach will be removed. The area will be dredged to a depth of 9 feet.

Submitted Loggerhead sea turtles, nesting shorebirds and assorted marine life will become collateral damage from the Marco Central beach hydraulic dredging project just getting started at Hideaway Beach. As dredging starts, female loggerhead turtles are navigating their way into our beaches this month through the end of October. Project Detail: At its March 21st meeting, the Marco Island City Council ... Read More »

Birds Among the Mangroves

A year-round Florida resident, this Limpkin was recently seen feeding along Collier Boulevard.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane! It’s a visitor from another planet! Wait a minute…it’s a bird. As some of our winter, feathered friends have left the Marco Island area, others are arriving to join our year-round residents. The white pelicans that were seen in the Tigertail Lagoon and ... Read More »

Marco’s Busy Spring

The soft, tilled sand is inviting to this family playing on the beach.

OUR ISLAND ECOLOGY By Chadd Chustz This spring, so much has happened here on Marco Island to remind us that we are stewards of our environment and nature’s inhabitants. Manatee Release  The manatee (identified as RSW1523) was rehabilitated at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa after being rescued on September 28, 2015, for watercraft related injuries in Roberts Bay. It ... Read More »

White Tailed Deer Around Marco Island


STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist You are on a boat and in the distance you notice something swimming across the bay. It could very well be a pelican just relaxing on the surface or maybe a dolphin coming up for air. But the silhouette against the sun is unique. You grab your binoculars, filled with curiosity about what is there. ... Read More »

Marco’s Newest Resident

Calusa soars high over the nest area.

Submitted  Paleo and Calusa are the proud parents of a healthy 6-10 week old eaglet. They are proud to let all residents of their adopted home, Marco Island, know that they will be very busy for a while, tending to the duties of new parents. This little guy has a voracious appetite and does not like to go hungry. Both ... Read More »

Gentle Giant Release

Photos by Samantha Husted
Following her full recovery from brevetoxicosis, this manatee is ready to be released.

By Samantha Husted sam@coastalbreezenews.com On April 7th, Rookery Bay in congruence with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo released a manatee on Shell Island Road in Naples. The manatee in question was a 1,000-pound female who was rescued back in January after falling critically ill due to the effects of red tide, or harmful ... Read More »

Tis the Season…Two Aquatic Friends Return


STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist On Wednesday, April 13th at 7 PM join Bob McConville at the Rose Auditorium for a discussion about the sea turtles and manatees found in our area. Meet special guest, Master Naturalist Nancy Anderson, a manatee specialist. MIHS members and MIA students are free. A $5 donation is requested for all others. Ah, the first ... Read More »

Comments Sought on Oil & Gas Survey


Submitted  The National Park Service is seeking public comment related to scientific or technical information that would aid in the agency reaching a decision on a revised Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing the environmental impacts of a proposed oil and gas seismic survey by Burnett Oil Co. in Big Cypress National Preserve. This EA is a revision of the EA released ... Read More »

Give Space to Nesting Shorebirds


Submitted Shorebird nesting season is underway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds beachgoers to watch out for and to avoid disturbing birds and their young. Shorebirds build shallow nests out of sand and shells on beaches in spring and summer, hatching chicks that are difficult to see. Shorebird ... Read More »

The 2015 Sea Turtle Scoreboard

Submitted Photo

By Kathy Worley, Conservancy of Southwest Florida Director of Environmental Science Great news, like my favorite football team the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50, sea turtles were a winner last year as their nesting numbers are trending upward! I recently attended the sea turtle permit holders meeting in Jacksonville, where basically a lot of people gather to talk turtles ... Read More »

Boaters – Look Out for Manatees

Submitted Taking their cues from the warm spring weather, Florida manatees have begun leaving their winter retreats and heading north along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and through inland waters. So if you’re a boater enjoying spring days on the water, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions you to look out for manatees and follow posted manatee ... Read More »

Sandbar Closed For Nesting Season

PHOTOS BY JEAN HALL Beverly Anderson Rookery Bay reserve biologist and Adam DiNuovo Audubon Shorebird stewardship coordinator.

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR), in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Audubon Florida, has closed the emergent sandbar located one mile southeast of Cape Romano, known as “Second Chance.” The sandbar, which is closed to public access annually from March 1 – August 31, was designated as ... Read More »

Baby Gator Time at Briggs Boardwalk

Two baby alligators right near the boardwalk close to the overlook. Notice the yellow stripes.

By Bob Schulteis Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer   We are enjoying watching (at a distance) seven baby gators born to Smiley, our resident gator, on the big pond at Briggs. Baby alligators, when born, are usually 6–8 inches in length. They grow about one foot a year for the first five or so years, although each year’s growth rate ... Read More »

Pythons and Gators and Crocs, Oh My!

This 13-foot Burmese python is very visible in an open field, but well disguised when it reaches habitat shrubbery and trees.

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist   Join Bob on March 8th at 7 PM at the Marco Island Historical Society’s (MIHS) Rose Auditorium for a presentation about the 2016 Python Challenge results and an update on area dolphin activity. Also, there will be a baby gator and baby crocodile on hand so you can compare the differences of the two ... Read More »

International “Sharkman” Wows MIA Students

Katherine, a female great white, is one of the sharks the Global Shark Tracker follows. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By Bob McConville, Master Naturalist Great white sharks. For some, those three words cause the hairs on the back of the neck to stand on end. Others will get goosebumps. But for a select few it means it is time to go to work. Such is the case with Chris Fischer. Recently Mr. Fischer donated his time to educate students ... Read More »