About 300 black skimmers were observed last week hanging out on the mudflats on Tigertail Beach. According to Adam DiNuovo, biologist for Audubon Florida, nesting bird traffic is increasing on Sand Dollar Island. He found least tern eggs in several places and black skimmers are going through their nesting rituals. This area of Sand Dollar Island is a designated Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) – a protected wildlife sanctuary closed to the public. Signs are visible warning “No Dogs,” “No Vehicles,” and “No Entry” into posted area.
May 1st was also the start of sea turtle nesting season. Marco Island is lucky to be hosting the magnificent loggerhead sea turtle female as she returns to the same beach where she was born. She is going to dig a deep sand pit and deposit more than 100 eggs, and once done, head back to the safety of the ocean. From May to October please turn off beach facing lights, pick up trash as it attracts predators, and don’t leave any furniture or trash out (it is also illegal).
Officer Kyle Plussa of FWC Law Enforcement is assigned to the Marine Unit in Collier County and is also FWC’s local point of contact and agency lead on threatened wildlife. Protection of threatened species is his area of expertise.
Threats on Sand Dollar Island: Officer Plussa confirmed that for the last seven days, a boat has been abandoned at the tip of Sand Dollar Island. The boat has a perfectly cut out hole just below the water line. The owner was stripping the boat and burning parts of it on the beach with the intent of sinking the boat offshore. Unfortunately for the boat owner, the boat and its suspicious activities were very close to the posted CWA where threatened least terns and skimmers were nesting. A concerned citizen reported the activity to FWC. This violation constitutes “harassment,” an act that causes significant disruption to normal behavioral patterns of breeding, feeding and sheltering of threatened wildlife in a Critical Wildlife Area.
How can you help? Off-leash dogs and campfires are not allowed on a CWA. When you suspect a possible violation to wildlife, please observe from a safe distance, note the location, take photos and call FWC Dispatch immediately at 305-470-6863 (#7 for live person).