Master Naturalist Bob McConville recently hosted a presentation on the various aquatic and airborne animals in the Collier County area. McConville is a guide on the dolphin survey vessel, the Dolphin Explorer.
Taking place at the Rose History Auditorium, the presentation was the last of such speaking events hosted by the Marco Island Historical Society until the fall.
During the event, McConville spoke about the various wildlife which can be found in the waters, mangroves, and other environments around Marco Island. The aim of such presentations is to inform people of the sheer diversity of animal life within the region and to encourage them to go out and see for themselves.
McConville has done similar seminars pertaining to the local dolphins, referred to as Dolphin Updates, which draw significant interest from the community. The last update saw a crowd of 165 people. “We had to turn people away,” McConville recounts, being over capacity. Similarly, the Dolphin Tours have also proven exceptionally popular, having to decline anywhere between 100 to 200 people per week due to an inability to hold so many people on their ships. To meet the demand, the organization christened a new vessel last Friday in hopes to give more tourists the opportunity to experience the wildlife tours.
One of the other critical objectives of the presentations was to highlight the threatened populations of the various animals that once called Collier County home. Ninety-percent of the bird population has otherwise vanished from the marshlands. This makes spots like the ABC Islands, located just offshore of Marco Island, exceptionally critical for conservations – as the small island chain has become home to over a hundred species of birds.
Another point of note which McConville shared, is that in the 137 years which shark attacks have been monitored in the area there have been no deaths recorded, and only a handful of biting incidents. Additionally, the local dolphin populations are generally non-migratory and stick to the waters in and around Marco. There are third-generation families of dolphins within the local waters.
McConville frequently writes about the coastal wildlife in his Stepping Stones column in the Coastal Breeze. His column placed third in Best Original Writing in this year’s Association of Free Community Publications’ Best of the Best Awards, for his article “Is the Gulf of Mexico Dying?”