A resident recently shared her concern through a text to author after visiting the beach stating, “It seems that every time I go to the beach, I have to run up to people asking them to stop flushing the black skimmers.” I am sure that these people have no idea that what they are doing is not only illegal and annoying, but often harmful to the birds on the beach.
Note: All shorebirds such as piping plovers, red knots, black skimmers, least terns, snowy plovers, gulls and pelicans are all protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They are also protected as State Threatened by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule and Marco’s Protected Species Ordinance 19-01.
September is peak bird migration on Florida’s beaches. Some of them are heading south from their arctic and boreal breeding grounds to wintering areas as far away as Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. They include sanderlings, red knots, ruddy turnstones and sandpipers. Marco’s beaches offer a safe place to rest, eat and gain weight for their long-haul flights across oceans and continents.
#1) Constant flushing uses up a lot of energy by the birds, which could mean survival or death for our feathered visitors. When you see a flock of birds resting on the beach, please give them a wide berth, and admire them from a distance.
#2) Finding a pile of beer bottles! MIPD says you can get a $200 fine if caught with possession of glass containers on Marco’s beaches. At the September 8th beach clean-up, Corona bottle caps were found all over the beach.
#3) You arrive on the beach to enjoy your “chill time,” only to find litter along your path by the water’s edge. Cups, diapers, sandwich wrappers, masks, wipes, plastic straws all left behind for someone to pick up.
#4) Cigarette Butts left by the cigarette tossers and buriers. A toxic pile of half–buried cigarette butts ends up transforming a pristine beach to a trashy one with the flick of a finger.
#5) A spray–painted sand sculpture was found close to the shoreline in front of the Eagles Nest Resort. It also appeared someone had used fire and taking the resulting charcoal–like material someone had written on the beach “To the person who did this, you are in need of serious help.” The mound to the right of the sculpture had been spray–painted with some sort of fluorescent green paint.
Though not “trash,” the green paint will wash away eventually. If this was enamel containing spray paint, the particles washed into the water will be ingested by small fish that live along the shoreline and will eventually be eaten birds feeding on small baitfish.
#6) This is a NO WAKE ZONE! The roar of three Jet Skis flushing birds by breakwaters in front of the Cape Marco complex. 100+ brown pelicans were resting on the rock jetty with some of them just floating in the water. A witness from the shore was very distressed with the behavior and sent photos to the MIPD, who responded they are investigating this. “He does this all the time” was the response from a Jet Ski person.
#7) A Collier County vehicle on its way to pick up trash, with plenty of room, decided to plow through a flock of resting birds. They should know better!
#8) A black skimmer was hooked by an inexperienced angler on the beach casting close to colonies of birds. The black skimmer did not make it—a preventable tragedy!
#9) Bicycles flushing a resting flock of birds was observed by an Audubon shorebird steward at 8:30 in the morning! According to Section 54-36 (d) Regulation of Use and Conduct on the Beach, “bicycles are NOT allowed on Marco’s beaches.”