Environment

Give Space to Nesting Shorebirds

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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 »

LAUNCH OF AUDUBON BURROWING OWL WATCH PROJECT ON MARCO ISLAND: Public Invited to Special Presentation and Training

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Audubon of the Western Everglades (AWE) announces a new project called Burrowing Owl Watch, to monitor and protect Marco Island’s imperiled, state-listed Burrowing Owl population. On Saturday, March 5, from 9:00 – 10:30am at Rookery Bay Reserve, 300 Tower Road, Naples, a special presentation on Burrowing Owl Natural History will be given by Nancy Richie, former Environmental Specialist for Marco ... Read More »

Discover Pepper Ranch Preserve

COURTESY OF STEPHEN BRIGHAM 2015

Submitted Conservation Collier is offering free, guided hikes led by master naturalists at selected Pepper Ranch Preserve trails on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, April 23. Pepper Ranch Preserve is a 2,512-acre Conservation Collier preserve property that was acquired with the goals of protecting and restoring the native habitats for the benefit of wildlife, providing aquifer recharge, and to provide ... Read More »

Marco’s Magnificent Estuaries

A green heron hides among the mangroves to surprise an unsuspecting fish.

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Ah, the beauty of those small islands surrounding Marco! Everyone wants to visit them, to see what hides among the roots and branches. Whether you get out by boat, kayak, an ecotour or paddleboard, they are a treasure to behold. The wide array of animals and plants in this area requires some very special adaptations ... Read More »

Down Close and Personal

A mother and son explore nature by kayak at the Conservancy. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By Bill Rhodes, Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer Visitors to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida love the electric boats, effortlessly gliding along the backwater estuary and into the Gordon River, with captains eager to share insights while pointing out interesting local trees and animals. What many may not know is that the Conservancy also offers kayak tours guided by trained naturalists, ... Read More »

International Support for Mangrove Restoration

Roy Lewis explains the effort.

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is partnering with China’s Rilin Group to help restore 225 acres of mangroves in Collier County. The industrial group has committed $5 million to restore and monitor the mangrove forest at Fruit Farm Creek within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR). RBNERR and its partners have been researching ... Read More »

The Original Snowbirds…White Pelicans

White pelicans are gregarious and will work together to gather fish.

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist It is estimated that humans have been in the Florida region for more than 14,000 years. Naples became a destination point just over 100 years ago and Marco Island was a mosquito-infested area until development escalated in the 1950s. Long before northern tourists began visiting our beaches to seek refuge from the winter cold there ... Read More »

Discovering Your Way: How We Learn From Nature

Lee Memorial Hospital staff participates in a leadership exercise. PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Humans…the dominant species on the planet. We have evolved to a point that we don’t have to rely on other animals for our own wellbeing. We’ve gone from being hunters to farmers to producers of artificial substitutes for food. We’ve domesticated other species to provide nourishment for ourselves. Our social structure now demands that we ... Read More »

Winter in the Big Cypress Swamp

Green heron hides among the mangroves waiting for its next meal.

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Ah, the harsh winter climate of South Florida! So blustery, so cold that I had to wear long pants twice last January! I don’t know how people can stand it! Actually our climate provides a safe haven for many of our northern visitors to escape the cold and snow. These humans will take advantage of ... Read More »

Prescribed Fires Made Possible Through Partnership

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COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Prescribed fire is an important tool for natural resource managers in Southwest Florida. Within Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, thousands of acres of fire-dependent habitat are managed each year with the help of regional partners and crews from the Prescribed Fire Training Center (PFTC) in Tallahassee. “We rely on partners for a lot of ... Read More »

Our Island Ecology

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By Chadd Chutsz New Year 2016 brings a new column to Coastal Breeze News- Our Island Ecology! Enjoy regular updates and insights on Marco Island nature and wildlife, straight from the desk of the City of Marco Island Environmental Specialist, Chadd Chutsz. Burrowing Owl Chicks Arrived! The first chicks of the season have been spotted by Owl Prowl volunteers! Three ... Read More »

A Thankful Year in Review

It was a banner year for  baby dolphin births in our area; Mom Giza shows off her newborn, Freedom. Giza also became a
grandmother this year. PHOTO BY BOB MCCONVILLE

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails. ~ Wm. Ward   What a fantastic year this has been! I would like to thank the Coastal Breeze News for allowing me to be a part of their team. It has been an honor and I am ... Read More »

Losing Florida Wildlife

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STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Recently I submitted a column concerning the loss of many species around the planet and the idea, by some scientists, that we are experiencing the beginning of the next mass extinction. Several readers responded and asked that I address the loss of some Florida species, rather than just a generalization of global statistics. (This is ... Read More »

Southwest Florida Nature Festival

Birding for Beginners  field trip at Sand Dollar Island. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Leaves rustling on a light breeze in harmony with twittering songbirds. A mullet splashing out of a brackish bay. Slivers of sunlight dappling the leafy ground. There are many sights and sounds to enjoy in Southwest Florida. Throughout the seasons residents and visitors can enjoy nature hikes, paddling, birding and photography on hundreds of thousands of ... Read More »