Thursday , April 17 2014
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Whale Tales (Tails?)


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie   “It is not down on any map; true places never are.” - Herman Melville, Moby- The unexpected experiences are always the most memorable and perhaps the most real. While fishing offshore Miami a few weekends ago nothing much was happening; no fish were biting, no birds were flying. It was hard to complain about not catching anything, though. The day was beautiful on the Atlantic Ocean about 6 miles offshore Biscayne Bay. The water was clear deep blue, the seas were calm and air warm. Watching the occasional man-of-war jellyfish float by with its ... Read More »

The Reddish (or is it Whitish) Egret?


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie One of the most entertaining and beautiful wading birds to watch along the Marco Island beach, especially in the Tigertail Lagoon area, is the medium sized egret named appropriately the Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens). Once, nearly completely annihilated from the state of Florida, the Federal 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed, protecting the Reddish Egret and all other herons and egrets from plume hunters. Today, there is a population estimated between 1,500 and 2,000 in the United States – mostly found along the Texas coast, a few in Louisiana and southern Florida. We ... Read More »

Knock, Knock! Who’s There? It’s the Pileated Woodpecker!


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie The magnificent Pileated Woodpecker…Can anyone say Woody Woodpecker? Okay, the Pileated Woodpecker (Dyrocopus pileatus) does not wear a cute blue suit like Woody Woodpecker (Animated cartoon character), but they do share that snazzy red mohawk atop their heads and a big, noisy personality! Pileated Woodpeckers are the third largest woodpecker species in North America – only smaller than the extinct Imperial and Ivory Billed woodpecker species. So, okay, they are the largest living woodpecker in the woods of North America today! They are startling to see clinging to the side of a tree due ... Read More »

Storm Season and Trees


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie As of June 1st, hurricane season officially began and by midweek, the first named storm, Tropical Storm Andrea, was blowing by our island. Luckily, Marco Island just received lots of rain but not much wind from Andrea. As the season progresses, it’s important to know ahead of time what to do when a storm strikes to protect trees to prevent or minimize financial and aesthetic losses. In the past couple of years, most of the trees on the island have been impacted by spiraling white fly and the ones which have had treatment are ... Read More »

Dolphins: Wild and Free

PHOTO BY Kirk Gardner

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie With smile-like expressions on their faces, serious agility that translates to playfulness to human observers and a curiosity that may equal ours, dolphins are WILD animals – marine mammals that need to be treated as such to keep them that way. “Flipper” is the iconic dolphin whose story created the myth that a wild dolphin is naturally friendly and never a menace. In fact, “Flipper” was a trained, captive dolphin (actually several dolphins) who did tricks on command for food, happily accepting the food and did not bite the hand that fed him. In ... Read More »

Python Found at Mainsail


By Coastal Breeze News Staff At around the same time as an endangered leatherback sea turtle was being rescued, a heavily invasive species – the Burmese python – was just being discovered under a valve cover box on Mainsail Drive. Lawn care workers opened the valve cover to find a large, shiny snake coiled up at the bottom of the box. Mike Gee, an employee at the Marco Shores Wastewater Treatment Plant quickly identified it as a Burmese python. According to the city, Gee is a collector of snakes and well-versed in species of reptiles and exotic pets who identified ... Read More »

Rare Turtle Rescue


By Coastal Breeze News Staff On May 9th, a surprise visitor to our waters was thankfully rescued by Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve staff and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). A boater approximately three miles west of Caxambas Pass on Marco Island called the FWC to report that a turtle was apparently entangled in a crab trap. RBNERR staff member Greg Curry was contacted and set out to find the turtle. To the surprise of many, it was actually a leatherback turtle, one not commonly found along the Gulf shore. As seen in the photos, Curry was ... Read More »



By Nancy Richie Dozens of donated plants were replanted in the City of Marco Island’s Calusa Park Butterfly Garden by the city’s Beautification Advisory Committee members: Susan LaGrotta, Linda Colombo and Bob Kennedy. Joining them in their labor of love were Alex Dubicki, Paul Crain, and, loyal supporter and favorite dog, Barron. The Waterway Cove complex in “Old Marco” is currently giving its landscape a facelift. Via homeowner association president, Marianne Maniace, lirope and bromeliads were donated to the City’s promising Butterfly Garden. A generous gesture that was very appropriate for Earth Day. Tom Trombly of EarthCare removed the plants ... Read More »

“SEASON” is Just Starting for Some


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Snowbird Season – or as locals simply call it – “season,” is over. Or at least it has definitely slowed down. Our roads are quieter; that’s good. Restaurants are easier to get in; that’s good for locals (but not so good for owners). Publix aisles are navigable; that’s great! The beach has fewer people on it; nice. But now it is a different kind of “season.” It is one for Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) and nesting shorebirds, such as Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger), Least Terns (Sternula antillarum), and Wilson Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia). This ... Read More »

Earth Day Photo Contest Winners!


By Nancy Richie To celebrate the 43rd Earth Day (April 22, 2013) and the unique and beautiful flora and fauna of our home, the City of Marco Island and Coastal Breeze News held the 6th Annual City of Marco Island Amateur Native Wildlife Photo Contest. Residents sent their photos in and choosing the winners was no easy task, but the winners have been chosen. Coastal Breeze is proud to announce the winners. Participants had the choice to enter photos in four categories; color, black and white, enhanced and tree species. The photo subjects were to be of native Southwest Florida ... Read More »

Updates on Island Mammal Life


Nancy Richie The following are brief updates, “animal bites,” on the unique mammal populations that are monitored in and around Marco Island. All are locally, state and even federally protected. Please enjoy the wildlife life, but do not intrude in their space, feed, water, or harass them in any way – this is against the law. If wildlife acts startled, agitated, or leaves the site as you approach, it is considered harassment. Move away slowly and enjoy the animal and its natural behavior. Gopher Tortoises It is estimated that the Florida Gopher Tortoise population has decreased overall by 30% ... Read More »

Friends Clean Up Tigertail


By Linda Colombo Mother Nature cooperated for the beach clean-up sponsored by the Friends of Tigertail Beach on Saturday, April 13th. Over 40 people turned out to assist in picking up trash. Volunteers arrived at 8 AM to receive their trash bags, gloves and assignments. The areas to be picked up were: the parking lot, butterfly garden, the boardwalk areas, the playground and the beach along the lagoon in both directions. Sand Dollar Island was also scoured for trash. Sand Dollar is not county property or City of Marco Island property. It is owned and controlled by the State of ... Read More »

Updates on Island Bird Life


By Nancy Richie - Photos by Jean Hall The following are brief updates, “animal bites,” on the unique bird life populations that are monitored in and around Marco Island. All are locally, state and even federally protected. Please enjoy the wildlife life, but do not intrude in their space, feed, water, or harass them in any way – this is against the law. If wildlife acts startled, agitated, or leaves the site as you approach, it is considered harassment. Move away slowly and enjoy the animal and its natural behavior. Burrowing Owls The popularity of the Marco Island Burrowing Owl ... Read More »

The Tiger In The Sky


By Nancy Richie - Photos by Jan Bergantz The Marco Island Burrowing Owl population is very popular this season. So popular, in fact, that many burrow sites on the main thorough fares are being invaded by visitors for drive-by photos and amateur tours. Some sites have people approaching all day long by car, bike, foot – even crawling under the flagging tape with cameras – time will tell if this owl population will tolerate and sustain this impact. Just a friendly reminder – please approach all wildlife sites quietly, if in a group, stay together, don’t surround the posted area ... Read More »

La Florida


By Nancy Richie – Florida, originally called “La Florida” or “flowery land” by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, is home to an amazing and impressive array of wildflowers and butterflies. Florida is known for many unique characteristics such as having the longest contiguous coastline in the lower 50 states (1,197 miles), the only State to have two oceanic borders (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean) and, of course, the famous Everglades. But it is the vast and diverse number of native plant and butterfly species that really are the most spectacular characteristics for year- round residents ... Read More »

Marco Island Christmas Bird Count


By Nancy Richie The 113th Audubon Christmas Bird Count was held nationwide between December 14th, 2012 and January 5th, 2013. For over one hundred years, citizen scientists gear up with binoculars, a favorite bird guide and checklists, and brave the elements to count birds in their backyards and neighborhoods. Generations of families have participated; from avid birders to students to scientists to folks who just enjoy the outdoors. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running wildlife consensus of bird populations in our country. Audubon and many other organizations use the counts to monitor and assess the health and of ... Read More »

Bumper Crop


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie It is common knowledge on Marco Island that Florida Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) are present, popular and so abundant that they are found in almost every neighborhood on the island. Not only do our residents enjoy these charismatic birds of prey, but people travel from all over the world to see them. Professional photographers charge top dollar to school the amateur how to photograph them in the “best light,” though any ol’ camera will do. One can’t go wrong when the subject has big yellow eyes, long downy legs and attitude that could take on ... Read More »

Keeping Plastic’s Footprint Off Our Beaches


By Danielle Dodder Major beachfront cities like Miami are banning them outright. The resort empire that is Walt Disney World in Orlando has replaced them with paper versions. The small bits of plastic straws and drinking cup lids discarded by people quickly accumulate into a giant toxic mess on beaches globally. The unsightly litter not only ruins the beauty of a pristine beach, but also strangles the birds, turtles and fish who mistake it for food. Straws and lids are the most widely and easily littered items along most beaches, but here on Marco cooperation will hopefully trump the need ... Read More »

Marriott shares bugs with City


By Natalie Strom “I was a killer,” admits Jeane Lefebvre, Grounds Supervisor at the Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa. “I thought if there was a bad bug, let’s shoot it. Anything I could spray, I would.” Recalling his early years, Lefebvre laughs as he describes his “180 degree turn” when it comes to the use of pesticides. Under the Master Gardener eye of Lefebvre, the Marriott’s grounds have been pesticide-free for 20 years. As Lefebvre battles the biggest pest invasion of his career – the spiraling whitefly – he shares his secrets for a pesticide-free landscape. For 23 ... Read More »

Far From Home


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie Something is going on. Razorbills, an alcid bird or a web-footed, diving seabird, have been seen all over Florida by avid birders and beach goers. A few have been reported on Marco Island’s Tigertail Beach as well as in Caxambas Pass. Being a peninsula with one of the longest coastlines in the country, Florida has seabirds, so why is it so unusual to see the Razorbills? Historically, there have only been 14 documented sightings of this species in Florida. But since early December, there have been over 20 reports from Jacksonville to Marco Island of ... Read More »