March 8, 2023

Investigating How Red Tide Impacts Sea Turtles

As Southwest Florida’s red tide bloom intensifies, the SCCF sea turtle team has seen an uptick in sea turtle strandings, including six over the past week.

"Some sea turtle strandings wash up with obvious evidence of vessel strikes, entanglement, or even predation. But during red tide events, when turtles strand with no obvious external injuries, it can be hard to tease out the exact cause of these strandings without further testing," said Coastal Wildlife Director and Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Kelly Sloan. "However, based on historical stranding reports, we know there tends to be an increase in sick and dead sea turtles washing ashore during intense blooms."

The sea turtle team is also analyzing data from a four-year study examining the long-term impacts of red tide exposure on nesting loggerhead sea turtles and their offspring, including reproductive success, embryonic tissues, and transfer of maternal toxins. 


Please report suspected strandings by calling our SEA TURTLE HOTLINE at 978-728-3663.

Recreational Crab Traps Must Now Have Terrapin BRDs

As of March 1, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requires bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) on all recreational crab traps in Florida — something SCCF has advocated for since 2007. 

“Drowning in crab traps is a major threat to diamondback terrapins throughout their range. Not only do active traps drown terrapins, but ‘ghost traps’ — abandoned or lost traps — continue to catch and drown terrapins until they break apart years later,” said SCCF Wildlife and Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz, adding that public education will be key to ensuring the new rule has a positive impact. 


Will We See a Repeat of Toxic Summer of 2018?

As we enter our sixth month of having red tide plague our water, we are starting to see some of the worst effects of it washing up on our shore. This week, Sanibel residents and visitors have seen hundreds and even thousands of dead fish washing ashore.

With the similar patterns between Hurricanes Ian and Irma, the question on many people’s minds is “Will this year be a repeat of 2018?” So far, it is shaping up to be similar, but only time will tell, and difficult water management decisions will need to be made to help prevent it from getting worse.



Coastal Watch Honored by Keep Lee County Beautiful

SCCF’s Coastal Watch was selected as a finalist for Keep Lee County Beautiful’s (KLCB) 2023 Environmental Awards! Coastal Watch Director Kealy McNeal, right, attended the awards breakfast on March 2 and was applauded for SCCF’s environmental stewardship and action. Congratulations! 

KLCB Executive Director Trish Fancher is also pictured.


Florida's Development Bills Pose Threat to Environment

SCCF joined a coalition of concerned environmental organizations last week for a press conference highlighting the danger present in the bills that have been introduced for Florida’s 2023 Legislative Session.

“Florida — the fastest-growing state in the nation — is suffering from rushing to develop as much green space as possible without thinking of the ramifications of those decisions. Our water quality is suffering, and our wetlands are disappearing,” said SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis. 



2023 Legislative Session Now Underway

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 60-day 2023 Florida Legislative Session, and the SCCF environmental policy team is already hard at work speaking up for our ecosystems! 

“Based upon many the numerous pro-urban sprawl bills filed so far, this session is setting up as one of the most challenging for growth management and the environment since the elimination of the Florida Department of Community Affairs in 2011,” said SCCF Policy Associate Holly Schwartz.

Keep up with all the bills SCCF is following with our 2023 Legislative Tracker, updated daily during session. 

Meet the Natives: Ian Survivors

The bloom of blue flag iris (Iris virginica) is a very welcoming sign of spring in our recently devastated landscape. With its showy purple flowers, this iris is great for pond/lake edges or any low areas that might periodically flood like drainage ditches or swales. What was thought to be a mainly freshwater species, the blue flag iris has proved to be very resilient here in our gardens at the Bailey Homestead Preserve, which was completely inundated with saltwater during Hurricane Ian’s surge. Blue flag iris gets 2-3 feet tall and spreads by its roots, making it easy to divide and propagate. For optimum blooming, this iris prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

Come by 1300 Periwinkle Way from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for all your native plant information and shopping needs.


March 9: Emerging from Hurricane Ian: Stronger & More Resilient

From 6-8 p.m. tomorrow, join the first in a two-part community series hosted by the newly formed SanCap Citizens for a Resilient Future. The event at BIG ARTS will focus on collecting information to guide a citizen-led planning effort to build greater resiliency. No registration necessary. The event will also be livestreamed on the City of Sanibel's Facebook page.



March 15: Carrie Schuman to Speak at SanCap Chamber Luncheon

Don’t miss SCCF Coastal Resilience Manager Carrie Schuman, Ph.D., at the SanCap Chamber of Commerce March Business Luncheon at noon on Wednesday, March 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa. Schuman and other panelists will discuss the business case for energy efficiency and solar power.


March 15: Southwest FL Solar Co-Op Info Session at Shell Museum

SCCF is teaming up with the nonprofit group Solar United Neighbors to bring you the Southwest Florida 2023 Solar Co-op, with free membership through April 30.

You're invited to attend a free information session at the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum on Wednesday, March 15, from 6-7:30 p.m. Learn how to save money and stress by going solar in a group!


March 16: No Plan is an Island: Past, Present & Future of The Sanibel Plan

Join us for a free gathering at the Bailey Homestead Preserve pavilion on Thursday, March 16, at 4 p.m. for the first in a series of lectures on the Sanibel Plan, in which the protection of nature serves as the central organizing principle of governance. 

SCCF Pfeifer Conservation Fellow Thomas Ankersen, professor emeritus at the University of Florida, will discuss the outsized role that the Sanibel Plan and its legendary authors have played in land use planning and public policy. He'll also delve into the challenges the island city faces as it recovers from Hurricane Ian, and looks to a future laced with threats that were not even on the radar of the Plan’s original authors. 


March 23: Everglades Update Will Be a Sunset Cruise This Year

Save the date for Thursday, March 23, from 6-8 p.m. for our annual Everglades Update in partnership with the Everglades Foundation. Limited tickets will be available for a narrated, educational sunset cruise with Captiva Cruises. Learn about current water quality issues, recently completed and upcoming Everglades projects, why the Everglades are important to the Caloosahatchee, and how the Everglades has an impact on water quality and coastal resilience in the face of climate change. Registration and cost details will be emailed soon!

March 30: Learn About Ways to Help at Volunteer Expo

Get connected to volunteer opportunities with SCCF and other island organizations at the Charitable Foundation of the Islands’ SanCap Volunteer Expo from 4-7:30 p.m. on March 30 at BIG ARTS. Attendance is free.


April 1: Great American Cleanup Needs Your Help!

SCCF’s Coastal Watch is partnering with Keep Lee County Beautiful for the Great American Cleanup from 8-11 a.m. on Saturday, April 1. Due to parking and beach accessibility issues, the Sanibel cleanup site is limited to 20 volunteers and is already filled. Please consider signing up for the many Lee County locations that are available! 


SCCF Hiring Garden Center Intern & Finance Staff

  • Grants & Financial Coordinator, Full-Time
  • Native Landscapes & Garden Center Intern, Seasonal
  • Shorebird Intern, Seasonal
  • Sea Turtle Intern: Nighttime Tagging Project, Seasonal



Thanks to Lynda Ryberg for reporting this juvenile American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) on the Shipley/Pond Apple Trail.

Please report your post-Ian wildlife sightings. SCCF is grateful for citizen science as we build an inventory of species that survived the hurricane.

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