Thursday , October 2 2014
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Putting the Puzzle Together

The 10,000 Islands - a maze of mangroves and mystery. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Stepping Stones Bob McConville Ah, Florida! Myriad ecosystems working together to bring us all a world of astonishment. From the coastal regions to the rivers, swamps and marshes, to the upland areas, Florida is truly magnificent. We are privileged to be here and I am honored to work with a team of passionate professionals as a part of the Dolphin Explorer team. These naturalists, environmental scientists and our marine biologist inspired me to improve my knowledge of Marco Island’s coastal region and the 10,000 Islands in order to better serve the public and to complete our team profile. This led me ... Read More »

‘Tis the Season…For Stone Claws

Many live stone crabs have been spotted
spending time at Tigertail Lagoon.

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Check the calendar! You might have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or “season” marked. In our house, the calendar marks October 15 through May 15 every year. This means it’s time to crack some claws and enjoy a tasty meal of the South Florida delicacy – the stone crab. This season got off to a rocky (or should it be called “stony?!) start with some pricing conflicts in Everglades City, the hub of Florida’s commercial stone crab fisheries. But all seems to have adjusted and the catch keeps coming in. Lucky us! Let’s eat! Florida actually has ... Read More »

Burrowing Owls and Brown-Eyed Owls


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Phew! It rains and rains and that grass grows and grows! Have you noticed that this past summer? Ever since the 2013 Burrowing Owl nesting season ended in late June with the chicks fledged (can fly and survive on their own), a handful of volunteers have been managing and maintaining the 117 Burrowing Owl burrow sites documented on Marco Island. What does this mean? Well, the Marco Island Burrowing Owl population is not migratory. Much to common misconception, the owls DO live here year round. Due to the high groundwater table that affects any burrowing ... Read More »

Keeping our Parks and Lakes Healthy

Some local kids stopped by to watch the fish release

By Nancy Richie Environmental projects were completed this year to improve water quality to support native wildlife populations and recreational uses of the Mackle Park Lake and Lee Plummer Park Lake. The project methods are to improve and stabilize water quality, to increase lake management, install a fountain (at Mackle Park only), stock fish and plant native plant species along the banks of each lake. City contracted, EarthGuard Lake Management, continues to monitor the lakes on a monthly basis to ensure water quality standards are consistent and stable. The monitoring includes water testing for dissolved oxygen, chlorides, conductivity and turbidly. ... Read More »

Pubic Works Keeps Waterways Hazard Free


By Nancy Richie The Public Works Department took to the waterways this past week to remove an entire coconut palm tree that was found floating near the mouth of the Roberts Bay entrance. With the entire 30 foot trunk submerged and just the fronds floating on the surface, it was cause for hazardous navigation in this area. Mike Daniel, using the Public Works Carolina skiff, hooked the tree and pulled it to a nearby undeveloped property. With the help of Public Works Mike Chidester on the front loader, the tree was removed from the canal, cut into pieces for transport ... Read More »

Alligators all Around Us

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] “Only gators get out of the swamp alive! Chomp Chomp!” Anyone who is a University of Florida alumni or fan knows this chant to be true. You’ll hear it at a UF Gator football team in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium a.k.a. “The Swamp!” But in the natural world, this is true too. Alligators live in all 67 counties of Florida. They are a fundamental part of the wetland, swamp, river and lake ecosystems that comprise the water world of Florida. Alligators are the apex, or top, predators for these ecosystems, keeping the animal populations ... Read More »

Tigertail Participates in International Coastal Cleanup


By Raymond Apy On the morning of Saturday September 21, Tigertail Beach goers volunteered in record numbers to help clean up Tigertail Beach as part of the 28th International Annual Coastal Cleanup. The Friends of Tigertail Beach volunteer organization teamed up again with Keep Collier Beautiful, and a record number of 108 volunteers joined in to help rid Tigertail Beach of the empty bottles, cans, foam cups, cigarette butts, plastic bags and other trash that summer visitors left behind. More than 20 bags of trash were collected. Those who volunteered to work alongside the Friends Of Tigertail hosts included Boy ... Read More »

Rookery Bay Programs


By Joan Kelly Manatees, unique mammals that inhabit the waters of Southwest Florida, are the subject of one program offered at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The thoroughly enjoyable presentation was given by Captain Nancy Anderson. Even long time residents will learn new and important concepts about these endangered creatures. Rookery Bay members have the opportunity to learn more about local habitat and environment throughout the week in the learning center. Numerous educational and entertaining presentations are also offered. To find out more about this program calendar log on to or call 239-417-6310.   Read More »

Our Canals Need Care & Conservation

A web of animals and plants live together in harmony in our canals, as long as we keep them clean. SUBMITTED PHOTO

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Marco Island has 100 miles of man-made canals. Historically, it was an approximate 6,000 acre mangrove island until the Deltona Corporation dredged it and filled it, using vertical, cement paneled seawalls to contain and stabilize the fill. Thus, creating the labyrinth of 100 miles of waterway canals in an approximately four square mile area. This construction created the 8,311 single-family residential properties (excluding Hideaway Beach and Key Marco) that we call home. Of these 8,311 properties, 5,723 are located on the canals, or waterfront. To date, 4,634 of those properties are developed. Basically, for those ... Read More »

The Myth of the “Black Panther”


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Over the years, there have been reports from hotel concierges, tourists and even some “old timers” of first-person accounts of “black panthers” lurking around the Marco Island beach dunes during the day. One tourist wrote a two-page letter in outrage that there was a “black panther” just a few feet away from children playing in the sand at the Hilton beach. Recently, a few true believers swear there was a “black panther” out on Sand Dollar “spit.” One of the best arguments heard is the “panther crossing” sign shows the outline of a panther in ... Read More »

Hatchling Heaven


By Natalie Strom [email protected] Sea turtle hatching season is in full swing all over the state of Florida. Every year, female loggerhead sea turtles and a few other varieties make their way to the beaches to find the perfect spot to lay their precious eggs – around 100 per nest. These eggs go through an incubation period of about 60 days before they break free, dig their way out of the sand and make a mad dash to the ocean. Predators await these hatchlings at every turn. While still in the nest, raccoons and ghost crabs are their biggest threats. ... Read More »

Birds of Paradise


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Skimming along our beaches and resting in our rivers, bays and canals, these birds are a common sight on Marco Island. Their presence is especially breathtaking in the early mornings and as the sun sets over the island. Black Skimmers slice our mirrored waters, cutting the surface like silk. With their bright orange-red beaks and legs, they add a certain majesty to the waters that surround us. This bird is one of the most tropical in North America… Really, who needs a toucan? Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) are gull-like in size, about 11 ounces and ... Read More »

Sea Turtle Nest Count Second Highest on Record


Submitted by Department of Environmental Protection Researchers at Florida’s three National Estuarine Research Reserves are reporting that this year’s sea turtle nesting season is boasting the second highest nest count on record at the reserves. Sea turtle nesting season begins in early May and extends to October 31. More than 1,800 biologists, interns and trained volunteers patrol Florida’s 199 nesting beaches to identify, mark and monitor nests and evaluate nest productivity after the hatchlings emerge. Researchers at Florida’s three National Estuarine Research Reserves located in Naples, Apalachicola and Ponte Vedra Beach gather evidence to track sea turtle populations and document ... Read More »

Keeping a Clean Beach


By Coastal Breeze News Staff The City of Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee sponsored two beach clean ups this August: Sunday, August 11th and Sunday, August 18th. Thanks to the support of Marco Island’s Publix, the Marco Island Civic Association, the City of Marco Island, the Beach Advisory Committee, CJ’s on the Bay and Rick’s Island Salon, along with various citizen volunteers, the beach has been looking pristine in the midst of sea turtle and shorebird nesting season. Those working hard to keep our beaches clean would like to pass on some words of wisdom to beach goers. After all, ... Read More »

The Tipping Point: Time to Pay Attention


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] Marco Island. Paradise. It’s a destination for many, a seasonal home for thousands and a year-round community and permanent home for many more – both humans and wildlife.   Separated from mainland peninsular Florida by the Marco River with the Rookery Bay estuary and the 10,000 Islands ecosystem complex cradling it on the edge of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico, the approximately four by four square mile island is one-of-a-kind. Once 6,000 acres of mangroves, it is now over one hundred miles of manmade canals with that gorgeous 7-mile crescent beach, both recreational for tourists ... Read More »

Shorebirds & Birds of Prey


By Steve Mutart Marco Island Historical Museum features a presentation on Florida’s Shorebirds The Marco Island Historical Museum is delighted to host Shorebirds & Birds of Prey, a PowerPoint presentation by Steve Mutart on August 22, at 2 pm. Join us amid the beautiful Florida Shorebirds & Birds of Prey photographic exhibition by Marie Adams, which is currently on display in the museum until September 26, 2013. Artist Marie Adams will be present and seating is limited. Mutart, a retired real estate lawyer from the Philadelphia area, has garnered a life-long passion for birds and volunteers with the Conservancy of ... Read More »

Chasin’ Tail Florida-Style


PROTECTING &PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected] In my household, sometimes I wonder if the refrigerator calendar of the Julian twelve months is really necessary as we mark our year by seasons – not fall, winter, spring and summer – but by stone crab, sailfish, mahi, grouper, scallops and lobster seasons. That’s just the oceanic seasons for my daughters and me; my husband adds in the hunting seasons as well for his year! It is definitely unanimous that we all love Lobster Season when late July and August roll around. Most Floridians know (and plan for) the “mini season” – two days ... Read More »

Jellyfish 101


By Natalie Strom [email protected] In the last few months, a new and unpleasant trend has developed along Marco beaches. Innocent vacationers and locals slip into the warm, bath-like water of the Gulf and suddenly it hits them. A sharp, stinging sensation arises and it’s clear; they’ve been stung by a jellyfish. The question that begs to be asked is why does it seem like so many more stings are being reported? A quick sit down with Marco Island’s Environmental Specialist, Nancy Richie, provided Coastal Breeze News with answers to this and other burning questions.   CBN: Why so many jellies ... Read More »

Whale Tales (Tails?)


PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie [email protected]   “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 [email protected] 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 »