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Environment

Interns Help Protect Sea Turtles at Rookery Bay Reserve

Norris and Windle share dormitory space and have become fast friends.

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us With 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters that protect 150 species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has a big responsibility– and a devoted team of volunteers that work daily with staff to help achieve it. Through the Reserve’s citizen support organization, Friends of Rookery Bay, volunteers and interns are assisting with a variety of duties, from taking care of the butterfly garden at the Environmental Learning Center to maintaining beach-nesting bird area postings, and even monitoring sea turtle nests at the Cape Romano complex. Two young ... Read More »

Ask Me About the Birds!

A moment between a shorebird and her chick on the beach.

By Renee Wilson Florida’s white sand beaches are a playground for millions of residents and visitors each year. Beaches also serve as important habitat for shorebirds, with many species laying their eggs and raising their young right on the sand. Beaches in and around Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve historically have hosted some of the largest beach-nesting seabird colonies in the state. Audubon Florida and Audubon of the Western Everglades recently partnered with Rookery Bay Reserve to hire Adam DiNuovo in a new position as Shorebird Monitoring and Stewardship Project Manager. DiNuovo is working with research and stewardship staff ... Read More »

WHO’S YOUR MAMA? Dolphin Birthing Season is Near!

In this photo taken May 24, adult female Nibbles looks
larger than usual and is a candidate to give birth this fall.

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist Giza, Nibbles, Rangle and Button. Ah, yes! These are some of my favorite girls. But wait…these are not girls’ names! They are, if we’re talking about dolphins. It’s that time of year, when the Dolphin Explorer’s survey team is noticing changes in behavior of some of the adult female bottlenose dolphins in the Marco Island area. Many of the 3 and 4 year old calves will be leaving their moms this fall for one main reason…mom is having a new baby. Birthing season is quickly approaching for our area. It will vary around the world, ... Read More »

To Catch a Sawfish….Twice in Two Years!

The Sawfish, which had no rostrum (saw), put up a fight for nearly 2 hours.

STEPPING STONES Bob McConville Master Naturalist It’s late winter of 2014 and Captain Ted Naftal gets a call. The voice on the line says “I want to go for something big, something that might hurt us.” Captain Ted replies “There are fish that WILL hurt you, and it’s not funny!” It’s an ongoing joke that the Captain has with regular customers, the Graham family. They’ve been friends for years and have caught some trophy-sized fish together. The next prize was about to get very big, and unique! On April 25th, 2014, on board the Miss Nancy 2, guests Michael Graham and ... Read More »

Learning About Sharks in the Ten Thousand Islands

Paulette and Bruce Carabelli have been Rookery Bay volunteers since 2007.  photoS by renee wilson

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us In the 1960s, a large residential neighborhood was created northeast of Marco Island called Southern Golden Gate Estates. Although the unfinished development was later abandoned, a network of roads and miles of canals were built that significantly altered the natural flow of fresh water to the estuaries in the Ten Thousand Islands. Today, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve manages most of the estuaries downstream of that failed development. Because estuaries provide important nursery habitat for sharks and other marine life, the Reserve has been monitoring water quality there since the late 1990s. Studies indicate that ... Read More »

An Osprey Rescue, With a Happy Ending

Obviously in distress, this young Osprey was fighting to stay above water. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist It’s Saturday, May 2nd, the Dolphin Explorer’s 9 AM trip is on the water and something special is about to take place. With 19 happy passengers on board, the tour started as usual, with several dolphin sightings of adult males and even a mom and her calf. We passed a few Osprey nests and the guests took interest in the information that we shared about these raptors. As we made our way up the Intercoastal toward Keewaydin Island, I noticed something in the water flapping its wings furiously. Using my binoculars I was able to determine ... Read More »

Starting Now… The Greatest Water Migration on Earth!

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By Bob McConville Master Naturalist Undoubtedly, many full time residents of Marco Island and surrounding areas are noticing some changes in the birds we see at this time of year. Spring has sprung and our winter guests have taken flight back north as warm temperatures return. In addition some feathered friends from Central and South America are just arriving as the southern hemisphere begins to cool. In the waters, many aquatic animals are also traveling north, following the Gulf Stream current as they, too, migrate to chase their sources of food. But this does not happen just in the northern ... Read More »

Do Not Disturb Nesting Sea Turtles

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Submitted Sea turtles have begun nesting attempts in the area. Good time to post a few reminders about proper sea turtle etiquette. It can be thrilling to watch a sea turtle crawl onto the beach at night and dig a large hole in the sand to lay dozens of eggs. Just remember that “Do not disturb” is the best behavior to follow when observing a nesting sea turtle. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) asks people not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles. Spring is the beginning of sea ... Read More »

Our SwampLife is Wild…

Barbara Johnson shows her appreciation for our wild life.

By Steve Gimmestad steve@coastalbreezenews.com Literally, just outside our doors is a world foreign to many; a vast wetlands we call the Everglades. Thanks to Bob McConville, this world becomes a little less unknown. Bob is a Master Naturalist and shared some insight with us on April 23rd at the Rose History Auditorium. Through pictures, stories and fun facts, Bob let us know quite a bit about the wildlife around us. The breadth of his knowledge is vast and there is so much to impart about his talk. We have limited space here so let’s explore just a few of these ... Read More »

Share the Shore with Beach-Nesting Birds

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By Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us    Southwest Florida has long been considered one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation. Beautiful weather, amazing beaches, and breathtaking wildlife attract thousands of visitors and new residents to our area each year. From April through August, three species of beach-nesting birds also visit Marco area beaches for their nesting habitat. Nesting locations include the sand bar at Caxambas Pass, Sand Dollar Island, Tigertail Beach, and beaches within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve such as Keewaydin Island, Kice Island, and Cape Romano shoals. Least terns and black skimmers nest together in mixed ... Read More »

Our Yard is a Wildlife Habitat

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By Joan and Carl Kelly We have always loved plants and gardening. Never thought highly of grass, though. So, gradually, as we worked our yard, adding flowering and fruit bearing plants, our grass yard got smaller and the favored plants took over. With that change in vegetation also came a change in animal residents. We know of two black racers and a red rat snake who live in our yard. A red bellied woodpecker family resided here last year, and a cardinal visits us regularly for water. Palm warblers sing from the branches of our lemon tree. There are also ... Read More »

A Sanctuary For Wildlife In The ‘Glades’

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By Bob McConville Master Naturalist Okay, we all know that alligators, panthers and bears can be found in their natural habitats of the Big Cypress Swamp and Everglades National Park, just 30 minutes from Marco Island. Some of us are aware that crocodiles, river otters and several other unique species can also be found there. But, wait! Did I just see a tiger and a lion in this area? You bet!!! Just past the intersection of U.S. 41 and Route 29, about 2 miles east, is Wooten’s Airboat rides. Under new ownership by the Patel family for less than 2 ... Read More »

Bird Rookery Swamp

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By Vickie Kelber In my quest to explore the wonders that are, as I like to call it, “in our own back yard”, a friend and I set off early one morning for the Bird Rookery Swamp Trail off Immokalee Road. Many of you know of, if not visited Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The Bird Rookery is located adjacent and to the south of this preserve on Shady Hollow Boulevard, about 50 minutes from Marco Island. Open since 2011, Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is part of the South Florida Water Management District’s CREW, Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. The trail is a ... Read More »

Growing Angraecums: Exotic orchids that thrive in SW Florida

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Submitted It’s surprising that most orchid hobbyists in Southwest Florida know very little about Angraecums, especially when the orchids thrive in South Florida’s sub-tropics. The Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance invites you to a presentation by Tom Kuligowski at its “Third Thursday” Member Event on April 16, 2015 at the Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church at 1225 Piper Blvd., Naples, FL 34110 from 6:30–8:30 PM. Guests are welcome at no charge. Angraecums are known for their beautiful showy flowers, some of which give off nocturnal fragrances. The orchids can grow to become fantastic specimen plants within only a few years. They are easy ... Read More »

A Tribute to My Ultimate Dolphin Lover

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STEPPING STONES… Bob McConville 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 these pathways leave lasting ... Read More »

Join the “Team”

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Coastal Connections Renee Wilson Southwest Florida is a great place to live and play because of the beautiful weather, amazing beaches, and great fishing. Forty percent of Collier County’s coastline is protected within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, with hundreds of boaters visiting on a daily basis. The “Team OCEAN” program at Rookery Bay has a mission to help boaters safely and responsibly enjoy the waters and wilderness around Naples and Marco Island. The boat-based volunteer program got underway at Rookery Bay Reserve in 2007 following a model at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Team OCEAN (Ocean ... Read More »

Manatees Are Back!

FILE PHOTO
A foursome of the endangered mammals 
make their way to warmer waters just under the surface.

By Bob McConville Master Naturalist During the week of March 4th thru the 11th I was fortunate to be on the water every day. In addition to surveying our area dolphins, some other marine and bird life was very noticeable. A few Kemp-Ridley turtles popped their heads up and some of the osprey hatchlings are now several weeks old and growing fast. Arriving from as far away as Brazil on their 10,000 mile round-trip journey, even a few Swallow Tailed Kites were seen. The biggest surprise of all was 5 separate sightings of those lumbering aquatic giants in the Marco ... Read More »

Local Raptor or Migrant?…The Osprey

One of the first Osprey hatchlings made its debut in mid February, 2015.

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist Join Bob On March 9th At The Rose History Auditorium As He Presents “Rock My World: How The Earth’s Movements Effect Migration”. The Program Begins At 7 Pm And Is Open To The Public. Call 389-6447 For Seating Information.   Their distinctive call is unlike any other bird in our area. With a pitch that seems to accelerate with each note, our eyes are drawn to the sky, drawn to view one of nature’s best hunters, the Osprey. These prolific raptors can be seen around Marco Island all year long. But, at this time of ... Read More »

“Discover Tigertail” – Delightful and Educational FOT Event

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Submitted Susan Kubat and Fran Huxley, co-chairs of “Discover Tigertail”, organized and executed a delightful and successful Friends of Tigertail Beach event on Saturday, February 21, 2015. “Discovery Tigertail” is a free family program that addresses the marine life and other wildlife that inhabit the Tigertail Beach lagoon. Specialists were from Rookery Bay, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Marco Shell Club. Two hundred participants enjoyed the weather and the expertise of the naturalists manning the nine information stations: shells, egg casings, turtles, butterflies, plants, sharks, birds, seining and wildlife rehabilitation. Both adults and children participated in the scavenger ... Read More »

From Marco To Alaska, Local Female Captain Is Always Busy

A day of plenty. SUBMITTED  PHOTOS

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Master Naturalist I hear a very pleasant “Good morning, Bob” as someone passes by. “Good morning, Captain Jesse.” I reply as she ushers guests to a catamaran for a sailing tour of Marco Island. Yes, I did say “she”. One of the few female captains in the area, Captain Jesse Baughman leads a very active life. From fishing with active duty soldiers, to finishing her college education, to working the salmon run in Bristol Bay, Alaska, she is constantly on the move. In addition to conducting catamaran tours for the Marriott she owns a fishing charter business, ... Read More »