July 20, 2022
Sea Turtle Nests Thriving on Sanibel and Captiva, but Slightly Down from 2021
The 2022 sea turtle nesting season is in full swing on Sanibel and Captiva. As of today, SCCF is monitoring 757 nests on the islands, and around 7,600 hatchlings have emerged. The nest counts are slightly lower than last year’s nest count of 845 on July 20. Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) nesting season will begin to wind down in a few weeks, and the nighttime research team is also nearing the end of their surveys, with an official last day of July 31. So far this season, our night crew has had 204 sea turtle encounters, including 119 unique individuals. Humphrey Wentletrap is a familiar loggerhead that SCCF has seen nesting frequently since 2016, which was also the organization’s first year conducting nighttime sea turtle surveys. This year, Humphrey Wentletrap was observed five times, and all five occasions were documented as nests.
RECON 2.0 to Include Blue-Green Algae Sensors in Caloosahatchee
Thanks to three very generous donors, as well as funding from the City of Sanibel and Lee County, the SCCF Marine Lab has been busy launching the next generation of sensors to replace those in the River, Estuary, and Coastal Observing Network (RECON). So far, the lab has partially upgraded four out of the seven current RECON sites. Additionally, two new grants were received from the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish two new RECON locations in the Caloosahatchee. Aside from the standard parameters measured at all RECON sites, these locations will have an additional sensor that measures phycocyanin, a blue pigment found in cyanobacteria.  READ MORE
17 Plovers Have Hatched in 2022 Nesting Season
The 2022 snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) nesting season started earlier than it has in the last few years with the first nest initiated in late March. Five nesting pairs have made nine nest attempts so far, and of those nine nests, seven have successfully hatched out chicks. Of the 17 chicks hatched so far, three have survived to fledging age, two are getting close, and another five are recently hatched and still very small and vulnerable. READ MORE
Valade Preserve Restoration to Help Gopher Tortoises
The first steps to restoring one of SCCF’s most recent land acquisitions, the Gretchen C. Valade Preserve, are nearly complete. Named after one of SCCF’s long-time supporters thanks to a gift from her family, the 2.2-acre preserve is located on the far west end of Sanibel and contains a favorable stretch of tropical hardwood hammock with ephemeral pools for wildlife. Part of the property is an open grassland that will be managed to allow forage for local gopher tortoises. SCCF Land Conservation Steward Victor Young and Field Technician Dustin Lucas recently planted native trees in the narrow section of the parcel to keep a buffer between residents’ properties and Sanibel-Captiva Road. READ MORE
Denise Blough Joins SCCF as Marketing Coordinator
Last week, Denise Blough realized a dream come true as she took over SCCF social media channels as Marketing Coordinator. An experienced writer and science enthusiast, she has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Master of Environment and Natural Resources, both from Ohio State University. She is also skilled in photography, video production, event planning, and brand management.
Aaron White Returns to SCCF as Shorebird Technician
JCCF is excited to welcome back 2021 Shorebird Intern Aaron White this week in a newly created, full-time position as shorebird technician. He will offer year-round support to the shorebird biologist and the coastal wildlife team. Tasks include monitoring beach-nesting birds, coordinating volunteers, doing year-round shorebird surveys, and assisting with all departmental projects as needed, including Mind Your Line and countless others.
Marine Lab Intern Adds to Oyster Research
This summer, SCCF Marine Lab Intern Josie Bliss is helping our research team count oyster larvae and measure oyster settlement at several Southwest Florida reefs. By growing in masses, oysters provide vital habitat to plants and animals, and they also filter the water around them. Over-harvesting, development and pollution have caused dramatic declines in oyster populations, which is why SCCF has been monitoring and restoring oyster reefs in the region since 2015.
Coastal Watch Volunteers String Oysters for Pilot Project in East End Canals
In June, eight Coastal Watch volunteers helped assemble 30 vertical oyster gardens for a pilot program to determine the ideal conditions to grow oysters vertically. “This involved the tedious task of stringing several hundred oysters on thin metal wires,” said Coastal Watch Director Kealy McNeal. “The volunteers were very productive and done within an hour.”  
Grab a Beach Bucket to Help Keep Sanibel Clean
Coastal Watch has partnered with the City of Sanibel and Bailey's General Store to install Beach Bucket Stations on the island, providing beachgoers a convenient way to collect debris. Coastal Watch is looking for volunteers who are frequently in the area to monitor the stations — at Lighthouse Beach Park, Tarpon Bay Beach, and Bowman’s Beach — and make sure buckets are accounted for.

Interested volunteers should email coastalwatch@sccf.org.
Teens Get Hooked during Let's Go Fishing Week
In June, Sanibel Sea School hosted nine teens for “Let’s Go Fishing Week” at the Bailey Homestead on Sanibel. Fishing is more than catching and conquering — it involves the practice of understanding fish behavior, habitat, and learning how to read the water. During this week-long camp, teens learned about fish biology, fishing gear, techniques, and what’s needed to be successful in the art. Capt. Ben Biery from Cast About Charters and members of the Sanibel FlyFishers also shared their expertise with campers. Cumulatively, they caught over 120 fish! It was a week full of laughter and many great fishing stories. READ MORE
Sanibel Sea School Shares Ocean Love with Boys & Girls Club
Since the beginning of June, Sanibel Sea School has shared meaningful ocean learning experiences with over 200 campers from the Boys & Girls Club of Lee County’s Park Meadows facility. Each week had a different topic of focus with both a field trip and hands-on learning. Topics included dolphins, crabs, mollusks, and plankton! On one of the field trips, Sanibel Sea School brought out their brand-new SEA (Science Experiments & Activities) Lab, which teaches the joys of marine science on-the-go! The SEA Lab is equipped with microscopes, a smart TV, touch tank, and a variety of lab equipment for fun, experiential learning for all ages. READ MORE

Do you have a Sanibel wildlife photo to share?

Thanks to Jeffrey Helfrich for sending us this photo of an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), double-crested cormorants (Nannopterum auritum), and a roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) in the Bailey Tract.

Please send your photos to
info@sccf.org to be featured here in an upcoming issue.
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