June 15, 2022
Editor's Note: The previous version had an incorrect link to the Putting Coastal Resilience Ideas Into Practice at the Rauschenberg Foundation article.
Sanibel Leaders Update Rep. Donalds' Team on Water Quality Issues
On June 3, as wind and rain associated with the beginning of Tropical Storm Alex arrived along the gulf coast of Sanibel Island, 14 members of Rep. Byron Donalds’ team met with island leaders at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge to talk about one of their top legislative priorities. The purpose of the visit was to discuss water quality issues with representatives of the J.N. “Ding” Darling Refuge and “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, SCCF, the City of Sanibel, and Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce. The meeting, which also included a boat tour, was part of an annual planning retreat organized by the congressman's team. READ MORE
Sea Turtle Nesting Reaching Peak of the Season
SCCF’s sea turtle team has documented 411 nests as of June 15. That total is on pace with last year’s nest count at this point in the season. The impacts of the recent rains and wind that eventually became Tropical Storm Alex were minimal, with only five nests lost to the associated surge. Mid to late June is peak nesting season on the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva and the team is looking forward to some busy weeks ahead. With so many nesting turtles coming ashore at night, please remember to turn your lights off, fill in holes on the beach at the end of the day, and remove furniture at night. Beachgoers play a huge role in keeping the beach safe for our nesting turtles! READ MORE
Plover Nests Inundated by Rains, Tides of TS Alex
The first weekend of June, the tropical cyclone that eventually became Tropical Storm Alex came through our area, bringing heavy rains and high tides. At the time the storm hit, SCCF was monitoring two active snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) nests, and two snowy plover broods with chicks. While both nests were inundated with water, one remains active with the birds still incubating. The other was less fortunate and those birds are now attempting to re-nest for a third time this season. The oldest chick, who is nearly fledged, remains alive and well, but the recently hatched chicks were too vulnerable. Small downy chicks are highly susceptible to weather events as they cannot thermoregulate. With the heavy rains, high tides, and colder temperatures, they were not able to survive the storm. SCCF staff and volunteers will be watching closely to see when the parents re-nest. If you have questions about our beach-nesting birds, send an email to shorebirds@sccf.org.  
Help Protect Terrestrial Turtles by Reporting Markings to SCCF
SCCF’s freshwater and terrestrial biologists use notching, pit-tags, and photography to positively identify individual turtles. It's a full-proof approach with three lines of defense in case one fails. The urgency to inventory and gather baseline data on turtle populations is due to the overwhelming pressure being placed on these turtles for world markets. Exploitation for the international pet trade, human consumption, and traditional medicines has caused a serious strain on many native species. Notched shells also act as a deterrent against poaching. All turtles are protected on Sanibel and cannot be legally collected. If you see a marked, non-marine turtle on the islands, please take a photograph of the markings on the shell, note its location, and send it to freshwaterturtles@sccf.org or text to (239)222-4268. READ MORE
Putting Coastal Resilience Ideas Into Practice at the Rauschenberg Foundation
SCCF staff recently joined 20 volunteers, organized by Coastal Watch, in a community-funded initiative to plant black mangroves at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva. The planting will allow SCCF to gather data on mangrove migration on built property in response to sea level rise. There are typically two ways mangroves can keep up with sea level rise. Mangrove forests can build in sediment over time which helps raise their elevation and they may migrate more inland.
Summer Camp Kicks Off at Sanibel Sea School with Octopus Week!
From June 6 to 10, Sanibel Sea School held its first week of summer camp at the Flagship Campus on the east end of the island. The week was titled “Armed with Brains – Octopus Week” as it focused on how octopuses came to be so intelligent. It included searching for octopus while snorkeling at sunset. Campers learned about different forms of animal intelligence, how scientists measure and study those forms and dove deep into cephalopod anatomy with a squid dissection. “At first, campers were really hesitant about the dissection. But, once we started learning about how each part of the body works they were fascinated and wanted to do more,” said Marine Science Educator Dana Donkle. “By the end of it, they were so excited about anatomy! That transformation from nerves to wonder is one of the best parts of my job.”  READ MORE
Explore East End Canals with a New Moon Paddle
On Tuesday, June 28, the Ocean Tribe Paddling Club will host a new moon paddle on the San Carlos Bay and East End Canals. The dark night sky may give a glance at our “living lights.” Bioluminescence is caused by dinoflagellates, single-celled organisms common in marine environments. Each bioluminescent dinoflagellate flashes only a fraction of a second when disturbed by water movement, but its high concentrations in the warm Sanibel water create beautiful bluish-white trails of light caused by a swimming fish or a stroke of a paddle. READ MORE
Meet the Intern:
Tiara Burton
Growing up in Minneapolis, Tiara fell in love with nature, adventure, and exploring how to have the most fun outdoors while also learning as much as possible. While pursuing her biology degree from Boston University, she spent a semester in Ecuador studying tropical ecology, which led her to focus on ecology and conservation. “After spending a semester following my professor through jungles, mountains, rivers, oceans, and cloud forests, I discovered that a hands-on experiential learning approach allowed us to actually experience the world we were learning about, ask deeper questions, and be active within the natural world with conservation-oriented research,” she says. Tiara is super excited to be part of Sanibel Sea School's team as a marine science education intern and to help others learn about the environment and how we can have a more positive, conservation-focused impact on our planet!
SCCF In the News
While vacationing on Sanibel last summer, Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism graduate student Sarah Anderson took note of the SCCF preserve signs on the island. When it came time to do her embedded science journalism project this spring, she reached out to the SCCF Marine Lab. Back on the island, she had a boots-on-the-ground and on-the-water experience learning about the lab's field and lab work and how it informs SCCF policy. The result: an in-depth article on one of our region's most critical water quality issues, "Can science relieve a harmful algal bloom hotspot?"
Bloomberg columnist Francis Wilkinson recently visited Sanibel to understand what the island and others like it are facing now and into the future against a backdrop of climate change. Wilkinson’s resulting opinion piece doesn’t shy away from outlining the extent of what Florida’s barrier islands are facing, but also takes stock of how Sanibel is strategically using its natural resources and resisting development pressure to meet these challenges. Learn what SCCF CEO James Evans, City of Sanibel Department of Natural Resources Director Holly Milbrandt, and others had to say during their conversations with the writer. Read the full column here.
SCCF Sea Turtle Program Featured on NBC-2
SCCF Biologist Jack Brzoza explains the impacts of what would become Tropical Storm Alex on our islands' sea turtle nests within the context of the overall summer nesting season, emphasizing how beachgoers can help protect nesting females and hatchlings.  WATCH NOW

Do you have a Sanibel wildlife photo to share?

Thanks to Gary Biltgen for sending us this photo of Eastern screech owls (Megascops asio). Named Alvin, Simon and Theodore, the owlets recently fledged from their backyard Sanibel nest box.

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