Happy 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!
Weekly Wednesday Update
April 22, 2020
In these unprecedented times of stay-at-home orders and teleworking, we'll send weekly updates to your inbox every Wednesday afternoon to brighten your week and to remind you that nature goes on in all its beautiful brilliance.
At SCCF, our work carries forth to ensure the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed.
We encourage you to spend time outdoors exploring your own backyard while staying safer at home!

Thanks to Hal Espo for submitting this week's photo of a black-bellied plover (Pluvialis squatarola).

Please send your wildlife photos to info@sccf.org!
A Letter from CEO Ryan Orgera Reflecting on These Times
Dear Friends,
My grandfather Dante was an Italian immigrant, a brilliant man, always hungry for knowledge. He would do crossword puzzles in Italian and in English, a language he did not even begin to learn until he was thirty. Under a different set of circumstances he could have been a professor, novelist, or another manner of intellectual, but the realities of arriving in a new country, living in a new language, and all the fixings of his family life made it hard to head down risky paths. He ran a machine shop at Dexter Paper in Windsor Locks, CT., for his entire career, and he found it incredibly rewarding to invent and create daily. 
I tell you this story not just to honor a man I loved but also because it is the source of my reflection during this odd time. I think about the bravery it must have taken for him to leave behind all that he knew just for a glimmer of hope that his new life could be a better one. Today, the life we knew seems increasingly distant—just a few months ago most of us never thought about face masks or humming “Happy Birthday” to ensure we had washed our hands for long enough, but today here we are. I read endless news stories about how we might actually be forever changed as a society. That may be, or not. 
The same guy who came across the ocean in search of a new life, the tireless thinker who loved to create and tinker, would often recite a Latin phrase he retained from high school: Mater artium necessitas—necessity is the mother of invention. We are faced with a new slough of necessities, our economy, society, culture, they’re all shifting around us. So, we can either take the path of panic where we spend energy pining for what was, or we can choose to embrace some of the unexpected opportunities these turns of events have offered us.  Click here to read the full letter.
Sea Turtle Season Off to a Great Start with 3 Nests!
We now have three sea turtle nests on our beaches, with one loggerhead ( Caretta caretta) nest on both Sanibel and Captiva and a rare leatherback ( Dermochelys coriacea) nest on Sanibel as well.
“The gulf water is pretty warm so that may be leading to an early nesting season,” said Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan, adding that beaches are generally emptier of people due to the closings of county and city beach parking lots.
However, many boats are anchoring off Sanibel and people are coming ashore.
“We want to remind boaters and beachgoers to be mindful of near-shore sea turtles and to keep our beaches clear of litter for our sea turtles,” said Sloan.
With our first loggerhead nest on April 8, the 2020 sea turtle season has broken the record for earliest nesting. The earliest nest prior to one this year on April 8 was a Kemp's ridley nest on April 16, 2018. The earliest for loggerheads, which is the most common species, was on April 20, 2012, on Captiva.
Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with our nesting season on a daily basis!

To report any issues with nests, nesting turtles, or hatchlings, please call SCCF’s Sea Turtle Hotline: 978-728-3663.
SCCF Launches Podcast
In Honor of Earth Day
On the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we've launched a podcast that connects you to nature through conversations with people who are dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed.
The first episode honors the origins of our sea turtle monitoring program, which is one of the longest-running sea turtle conservation efforts in the world. 
Sea turtle program founder Charles LeBuff and SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan join SCCF's Communications Director Barbara Linstrom for a conversation about how the program began in 1959, its success over the years as a conservation effort as well as highlights of the 2020 nesting season that began on April 15 and continues through October.

The 84-year-old LeBuff, who is also the last living founding board member of SCCF, openly and vividly shares his memories of creating the first sea turtle monitoring program in the state of Florida as well as advocacy in the 1970s that led to getting sea turtles federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. 
2020 Everglades Update

Click here to view/listen to our 2020 Everglades Update: Celebrating Historic Progress on Everglades and Estuary Restoration, a discussion of Everglades and estuary conditions with those responsible for the management decisions to advance restoration.

The high-powered panel included:
  • Chauncey Goss,SFWMD Governing Board Chair
  • Howard "Howie" Gonzalez, USACE Program Manager
  • Drew Bartlett, SFWMD Executive Director
  • Shannon Estenoz, Everglades Foundation Chief Operating Officer

SCCF Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel moderated the discussion.
3 Snowy Plover Nests and a Wilson's Plover Nest!
Our Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht reports that we now have 3 active snowy plover ( Charadrius nivosus) nests, and 1 Wilson's plover ( Charadrius wilsonia) nest. We expect to find more very soon. Least terns ( Sternula antillarum) have returned from their wintering grounds, and typically begin nesting in early May. They may return to Bowman's Beach, or go to North Captiva, or opt to nest on nearby gravel rooftops. We will continue to monitor and protect them as needed.
Pictured here is our 2019 fledgling snowy plover Orange/Green next to a Wilson's plover yesterday at Bowman's Beach.

Did you know?
Each snowy plover receives a metal band issued by the U.S. Bird Banding Lab. This is essentially its social security number, as it has a unique number on it. In addition, each Sanibel snowy plover receives a single green band on the lower leg below the metal. This serves as its Sanibel identification, and differentiates from snowy plovers banded elsewhere. The two colors on the lower leg opposite the metal act as its individual identifier on Sanibel. This individual is White/Blue. Other individuals you may encounter near him by the lighthouse include Orange/Black, Orange/Green, or Blue/Blue.
Please review the information on the FWC Shorebird Friendly Photography brochure if you plan to photograph nesting birds. And, keep dogs on leashes!

If you have any questions about our snowy plovers please email shorebirds@sccf.org
Marine Lab Providing
Critical Water Quality
Data on Captiva
Did you know that there is very little information collected regarding water quality and phytoplankton growing in the Gulf of Mexico? In fact, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has yet to evaluate any coastal waters around Florida to see if they meet water quality criteria, which are set to assure fish and sea life can survive and people can swim without getting sick. The main reason they haven’t looked at coastal waters yet is because there is no data available to evaluate their condition. 
As with most things, collecting the needed data takes funding, especially when it requires a big boat, expensive equipment, and lots of manpower for sampling, lab work and data analysis to make the effort possible. Luckily, the Vince family from Captiva wanted to support additional information for Captiva related to red tide events, With the funding support of Goldman Sachs Gives and the Vince family, SCCF Marine Laboratory is using its big boat, equipment and manpower to look at water quality and phytoplankton around Captiva. Click here to view our website that displays the data.
With the red tide events recently and fish kills, and large-scale die-offs of marine mammals, seabirds and most marine life, there is a real need to know what microscopic organisms are living in the coastal waters and what water quality components influence them. 
The folks involved in the politics of local issues such as Captiva’s consideration of septic to sewer conversion can use this science to come to a better informed conclusion. The Marine Lab has worked with Captiva Community Panel to enlighten them to the current conditions of waters lapping up on their real estate investments.
And the data we have collected over the past year indicates there is reason for concern. To date, 68% of water samples at 9 sites snuggled up close to the waters of Captiva have failed current state water quality criteria for nitrogen or phosphorus or chlorophyll a (algae) or for multiple criteria. This was not expected or known before our effort began.  Click here to read the full article.
Maypop: A Showy Vine
& Larval Host Plant
If you’re looking for a showy vine to add to your landscape or pollinator garden, Maypop ( Passiflora incarnata) could be the perfect choice. With its unique purple flowers and attractive tri-lobed leaves it also serves another purpose of being a larval host plant for several butterfly species. The term larval host plant means adult female butterflies will lay their eggs on or nearby their particular plant of choice. Once those eggs hatch the larva (caterpillars) will feed exclusively on that plant. 

Pictured here are two Zebra Longwing ( Heliconius charithonia) caterpillars feeding on Maypop leaves. Gulf Fritillary ( Agraulis vanillae) caterpillars also enjoy the leaves. Maypop is one of several native Passionflower vines, another common one that’s also a great butterfly host plant is Corkystem Passionvine ( Passiflora suberosa).

Learn more about native plants and pollinator gardens by visiting our Native Plant Landscapes & Garden Center when it re-opens.
SFWMD Restricts Landscape Irrigation After Driest March in 89 years
On April 9, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) issued water conservation guidelines to property owners for outside irrigation to conserve water amid record dry conditions. Cape Coral residents have reported wells going dry and fresh water canal levels dropping quickly. Drought conditions spurred Lee County to issue a 30-day burn ban on April 7 for open fires and outdoor ignition sources for unincorporated Lee as well as all six incorporated areas of the county, including Captiva. 

The SFWMD reported that 88% of municipalities within the 16-county district do not have outdoor watering restriction rules. Since 50% of all household water use is for watering lawns, cutting back on this non-essential watering is a basic conservation measure. Lee County has been at the forefront of conservation limiting irrigation to 2 days/wk year-round. Cape Coral also limits irrigation to 2 days/wk.  
Sanibel irrigation guidelines are 3 days/wk:
• Odd numbered street address may water on Monday, Wednesday, and/or Saturday, only before 10am or after 4pm.
• Even numbered street address, no street address, or those that irrigate both even and odd addresses may water on Tuesday, Thursday, and/ or Sunday, only before 10am or after 4pm. Click here to read the full article.
'Together-A Way Forward' Honors 50th Earth Day Anniversary
Together-A Way Forward' is an interfaith initiative on the barrier islands of Southwest Florida. The goal is to become leaders in care of the earth, first locally, and then globally.
Today, the initiative is offering " Honoring Earth Together 2020: A Collection of Readings to Mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day" as an alternative to their planned Causeway Celebration of Creation. 

With the readings as inspiration, people are encouraged to gather in spirit from wherever they are at 6pm this evening to honor creation. The church bells at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church on Sanibel Island and at Chapel by the Sea on Captiva Island will ring out to begin the hour.

Join Ambu Yoga for a LIVE broadcast of the Captiva Sunset for Earth Day
In lieu of our monthly New Moon Meditation on the beach, Ambu Yoga will offer a 10-minute live stream of the Captiva sunset on Instagram.

The broadcast will begin this evening at 7:45pm.

We encourage everyone to click here to donate to SCCF in support of their local sea turtle conservation program. You can even add 'Ambu Yoga New Moon Meditation' under the 'Dedicate my donation in honor of someone' option so our friends at SCCF know your donation comes from our loving Ambu Community. 
We hope you and all your loved ones are doing well, and safe at home. In these times of uncertainty and constant change, we feel so much gratitude for the practice of yoga.
Sending you love and light from Captiva Island.
Yali & Ambu Yoga
Nature Near You Celebrates Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot
Nature Near You is the Sanibel Sea School's e-newsletter delivered to your inbox Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. You can expect backyard, nature-inspired lessons, activities and crafts with a fun new theme each day. .

For this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are so excited to announce SCCF's partnership with Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue and the Blue-Green Connections to protect The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot. This partnership and collaborative effort will allow us to be a voice for The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot, so that we can share the importance of our coastal waters.

Learn more about the Hope Spot through this lesson from Nature Near You.

If you are interested in joining the mailing list, please click on the button below or email info@sanibelseaschool.org. If you missed out on an issue of Nature Near You, all of the content can be accessed here. Part of the SCCF Family, Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.
SCCF Joins Mission Blue in Honor of Earth Day!
A 'Big Blue Salute' From Her Deepness Sylvia Earle
We are honored to have received an invitation from Dr. Sylvia Earle following her visit here in February to partner with Mission Blue and with Blue-Green Connections to promote the Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot and to collaborate and network with Hope Spots around the world. What a better time to announce our new partnership than the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!
In the video above, Dr. Earle gives us all a "big blue salute" for being committed to restoring our waters as an organization, a community and as individuals. She was very impressed with the work that SCCF has been doing to protect our waters and shared her appreciation in this video from her boat tour on her recent visit.

"Obviously in this community, more than in most that I get to see, you are already on the case, thanks to people who said we're really going to embrace this place."
~Dr. Sylvia Earle
Stay Connected!