June 1, 2022
Take a Virtual Tour of the Caloosahatchee Watershed from Sanibel to Lake O
SCCF has launched a new website that provides extensive aerial insight into 16 sites within the Caloosahatchee watershed. Sanibel and Captiva Islands are uniquely positioned at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee which drains over 860,000 acres of land from its watershed, spanning Lee, Hendry, Charlotte, Glades, and Collier Counties. The watershed includes natural areas (45%) agricultural (35%), and non-agricultural (20%). On the new Caloosahatchee Virtual Tour Website, you can visit sites primarily along the river starting at Sanibel Lighthouse Beach Park all the way to Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston. You can see important places where flows from the watershed are measured, such as the Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) and the Moore Haven Lock and Dam (S-77). You can also see the progress that has been made on the C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir in Hendry County that will provide 170,00 acre-feet of water storage to restore flows to more natural conditions. Well-known sites, such as Shell Point, Bunche Beach, downtown Fort Myers, and the Fort Myers Power Plant, as well as smaller towns such as Ft. Denaud and Alva are included. This tour takes you to places that would be difficult or time consuming to visit and illuminates the various environments that exist in our watershed from a 360-degree perspective. To start the virtual tour, click here.
Bald Eagle Nesting Season Ends with Surprise Nest
The 2021-2022 bald eagle nesting season has come to an end, with a surprise late nest and an eaglet who just a few weeks ago started flying for the first time. A team of dedicated volunteers on Sanibel, Captiva, and North Captiva helped SCCF and Audubon Florida's Eagle Watch program monitor 13 nest structures from October through May. Of the eight nests that were utilized by eagles this year, five failed and three were successful.
Sea Turtle Team Does More Than Monitoring
SCCF’s sea turtle team has recorded 219 loggerhead nests and one green turtle nest so far this season. Aside from its monitoring work, the team is also collecting blood from a subsample of nesting loggerheads on Sanibel to provide important information that helps protect these fragile populations that face so many threats. The blood samples are informing research into red tide impacts, foraging grounds, relatedness, and disease assessment. READ MORE
Volunteers Learn How to Contribute to FWC Hatchling Orientation Study
SCCF is participating in a project led by Tomo Hirama, Ph.D., a researcher with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, that is evaluating the orientation response of sea turtle hatchlings to physical cues on nesting beaches. One of the necessary components to achieve the project’s goal is quantified hatchling orientation data. Last week, Dr. Hirama (in black) trained SCCF volunteers to collect data about hatchling tracks using a phone app. This study will make it possible to understand the relationships between hatchling orientation and beach environment, including man-made lights.
Habitat Restoration an Ongoing Process in Preserves
Restoring and then maintaining our conservation lands for native wildlife is a challenging and rewarding task. With approximately 2,000 acres of land hosting various listed or imperiled species of wildlife that often use unique habitats, SCCF’s dedication to restore and maintain these areas takes careful planning, time, and effort to keep them functional. Exotic plant removal is the first task that must be completed when acquiring a new conservation property. READ MORE
Meet the Marine Lab's Summer Interns
Josie Bliss is studying biology with a focus in evolution at the University of Iowa. She works in the Neiman Lab on campus, studying a species of ploidy-polymorphic aquatic snail called Potamopyrgus antipodarum. At SCCF, Josie will be measuring oyster settlement in the estuary and looking into the efficacy of using vertical oyster gardens in the east end canal system. She will be measuring changes in oyster density, size and estimating filtration rates. She enjoys watching Star Trek, reading comics, and playing Dungeons and Dragons and is extremely excited to be interning!
Ryleigh Mulcahey is studying chemistry and environmental science at the University of Iowa. She’s putting her studies to use as she helps out with a water quality project while interning at the SCCF Marine Lab this summer. Specifically, Ryleigh is conducting a high-resolution water quality study for the Caloosahatchee estuary. She will be sampling 25 sites in June and July to look for patterns in nutrient concentrations and phytoplankton biomass. Her favorite marine animal is an oarfish and her favorite chemical element is either iron or sulfur.
Sanibel Fifth Graders Get Into Coastal Ecosystem
The long-standing partnership between SCCF and Captiva Cruises gave The Sanibel School’s fifth graders a chance to delve into coastal ecology with a recent field trip to Cayo Costa. Ospreys, brown pelicans, cormorants, magnificent frigate birds, dolphins, and manatees were spotted during the expedition as students got an up-close look at the habitats of our back bay estuary that they had discussed in their classroom.  READ MORE
WATCH: Coastal Watch Featured on San Cap Podcast
SCCF Community Conservation Coordinator Kealy McNeal was recently the featured guest on the San Cap Guide Podcast. She talked with ever-amiable hosts Nick and Lori Adams about the volunteer-driven initiatives she leads through Coastal Watch. If you've wanted to learn more about becoming a Mangrove Mama, a Propagule Papa, or joining in on a mangrove/oyster restoration project, check it out!
Volunteers Needed for Beach Bucket Program!
Coastal Watch has partnered with the City of Sanibel and Bailey's General Store to install Beach Bucket Stations at a few beach access points on Sanibel. The objective of this project is to provide beach-goers with a vessel to collect trash as they enjoy our wonderful beaches. We have noticed people stuffing trash into their pockets, tackle boxes, shell bags, etc. and we want to make a more convenient way to collect debris. The stations will be located at Lighthouse Beach, Tarpon Bay Beach, and Bowman's Beach. We are looking for volunteers that frequently visit these areas or live close by. Volunteers will need to check on the stations and make sure all buckets are accounted for and in good condition. If interested email coastalwatch@sccf.org. 
Meet the Natives:
White Indigo Berry
Passing by the white indigo berry (Randia aculeata) is easy to do. At first glance, it's rather unobtrusive, a slender medium-sized shrub with rounded, medium-sized leaves. However, when in bloom, the fragrance will make you stop in your tracks to figure out the source of its tantalizing scent. Surprisingly, the flowers are smaller than a dime, but when observed closely, they have interesting fuzzy petals in the center of the flower. As a landscape plant, the white indigo berry has a multitude of uses. Tough as nails, it will survive blazing sun or deep shade, is drought tolerant and highly salt tolerant. It is also a useful hedge plant, growing slowly to a medium size, or as an accent within a garden. Many bird species like the white fruits, which when ripe, are indigo blue inside. It is this characteristic that led to the berries' use as a dye and ink. A more versatile and worthwhile plant would be hard to find in South Florida!
Middle School Art Classes Inspired by Pick Preserve
A lot of our fine arts, such as painting, sculpture, literature, photography, or architecture, can be traced back to people trying to emulate, or having been inspired by nature. With the connection of arts to our natural surroundings in mind, The Sanibel School’s Middle School art classes recently explored SCCF’s Pick Preserve with SCCF Environmental Educator Richard Finkel. The undisturbed terrain gave them a closer look at the ecological components of Sanibel’s interior habitats. The Sanibel School’s Art Teacher Erica Sharp found it great to get her students out of the classroom and have them reconnect with their environment as they sketched leaves, flowers, branches, and palm fronds.
Join SCCF at the Mighty Mussels' Conservation Night!
SCCF invites you to come join us in support of the Mighty Mussels’ Conservation Night on Friday, June 3. SCCF will have a table at the event and a short video will be shown featuring our work. Tickets for the minor league game against the Tampa Tarpons are $10 and half the ticket price will benefit these six environmental non-profits: SCCF, C.R.O.W. (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife), the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, Keep Lee County Beautiful, and Calusa Waterkeeper. Gates at Hammond Stadium open at 6pm, with the game starting at 7pm, followed by fireworks. Come join the fun and support conservation!

Do you have a Sanibel wildlife photo to share?

Thanks to Michael and Christiane Auracher for sending in this photo of a young red cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) in their Sanibel backyard.

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