Weekly Wednesday Update
June 3, 2020
We're sending 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 while adhering to smart social distancing practices!

Thanks to Jorgen Asteberg for sending in this week's photo of a horse conch (Triplofusus giganteus) taken at Lighthouse Beach.

Please send your wildlife photos to info@sccf.org.
Juniper Nested Again on Sanibel Last Week
Juniper, a rare leatherback sea turtle ( Dermochelys coriacea) returned to our shores last Thursday, May 28, and nested again!
The SCCF sea turtle team and the Florida Leatherbacks Inc (FLI) team estimate that she may have laid a total of eight nests so far, with some nests prior to when our beach monitoring began on April 1.
"We really have no idea if Juniper's other nests are on our beaches or somewhere else. We just suspect there are more based on the timing," said SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan.
The first nest of the season documented by the Florida Leatherbacks on the east coast was on Feb. 6, making it the earliest on record for a leatherback in Florida.
FLI research shows that leatherbacks return every 8-11 days and can nest up to 10-11 times a season, so Juniper may nest again.
Leatherbacks very rarely nest on Florida’s gulf coast as they prefer southeast Florida beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Biologists with FLI also returned to Sanibel for the nesting last week and checked on her satellite transmitter to make sure it is well adhered.
Sloan coordinated with Chris Johnson and Kelly Martin with FLI who have now traveled over from their homebase in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, several times.
As the first time a leatherback has been tracked in Gulf waters, it's a very exciting research opportunity to see where Juniper travels.
As you can see on this screenshot of her tracking map taken today, Juniper is now swimming in 133-foot-deep offshore waters.
Record High Total of 334 Nests on Sanibel & Captiva Already!
SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan is grateful to have all sea turtle volunteers back on patrol now, as the off-island volunteers rejoined today.
The re-opening of public beach parking lots by the city of Sanibel prompted the Phase 2 addition of off-island volunteers. On-island volunteers have been back on duty since mid-May.
"We are so happy to have all of our volunteers back in action. They do so much work for us. And, we are having a very busy season!" said Sloan.
Last week, the team encountered the loggerhead ( Caretta caretta) pictured here near Gulf Pines nesting in the daytime, which is quite unusual. She was the second daytime nester this season and nested on the same day as the other one.
Aside from a green turtle ( Chelonia mydas) nest and four documented leatherback nests, we now have a total of 328 loggerhead nests on both islands.

Here’s the breakdown of all sea turtle nests by location:

Captiva - 114
Sanibel East End - 58
Sanibel West End -162
Click here 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.
Marine Lab Scientists Present Research at CHNEP Watershed Summit
Five SCCF Marine Lab staff members presented their research and updates on various projects a the  Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP)  2020 Watershed Summit over the past two days.
Held on June 1-2 through the Zoom platform for the first time this year, the summit is a tri-annual meeting for local scientists, policymakers, managers, and the public to share and learn about current topics of research and restoration in our watershed. 
More than 200 people attended and learned about the work being done by SCCF and other organizations within the region. 
During Session 1: Water Quality Improvement on June 1, Marine Lab Manager AJ Martignette presented data on the development of a dead zone near Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico caused by fish kills and high freshwater flows from the Caloosahatchee during the 2018 red tide event.
Research Associate Mark Thompson described the performance of the Jordan Marsh that was completed in January 2019. The 3.4-acre marsh was designed to clean water in the Sanibel Slough which is identified as an impaired water body by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Research Assistant Kevin Jones discussed the new in situ continuous nutrient sensors that the Marine Lab are testing with plans to add them to the Beautiful Island and Fort Myers RECON sites. Data from SCCF’s continuous monitoring and long-term data sets provide valuable information about the condition and health of our estuary.
During Session 3: Fish, Wildlife, & Habitat Protection on June 2, Marine Lab Director Eric Milbrandt, Ph.D., discussed the success and progress of oyster restoration in San Carlos Bay and Tarpon Bay. He walked participants through the process of selecting sites for restoration using Trimble and RTS GPS to develop elevation maps. In addition to restoration sites, reference and control sites were used to determine if the results of restoration are due to the efforts of Marine Lab scientists and volunteers or natural processes. 
Research Associate Leah Reidenbach talked about the progress of the hard clam restoration pilot project in Pine Island Sound. She discussed the Marine Lab’s plans to plant 12,000 hard clams and monitor the site for clam survival, reproduction, and changes in water quality. Hard clams, like oysters, are filter feeders and populations of hard clams were depleted in Southwest Florida in the mid-twentieth century.

Least Terns Nesting at Bowman's;
4 Active Plover Nests
SCCF Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht reports that we now have about seven active least tern ( Sternula antillarum) nests at Bowman's Beach, including the one pictured here.
During her recent monitoring, she found a total of 18 adult least terns present at Bowman's.
We also have a total of two active snowy plover ( Charadrius nivosus) nests on Sanibel, with three broods of chicks as well as one active Wilson’s plover nest with one chick that went missing after a lot of crows and gulls were seen in the area.
"The adults moved to a new location and may re-nest," said Albrecht.
If you have any questions about our shorebirds please email shorebirds@sccf.org
Reminder to Leash Dogs & Leave Nothing But Footprints on Beaches!
Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht and Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan urge everyone who goes to the beach to please be mindful of our ongoing shorebird and sea turtle nesting season.
"Please pick up your litter, fill in your beach holes and remove all beach furniture," says Sloan. "We hope you will also share this information on your social media networks and with visitors who might not know about our wildlife."
Any obstruction or deep hole on the beach can interfere with nesting wildlife and with hatchlings who will soon be emerging from our turtle nests.
Please also dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement, do not use flashlights or flash photography without a red filter and be a respectful photographer of shorebirds.
Respect signed nesting areas. Plover nests are really difficult to see. The posted areas prevent beachgoers from accidentally trampling the eggs in a nest.
Honor the leash law. Plovers view dogs as predators. An unleashed dog can destroy nests and kill hatchlings.
Garden Center Re-Opening; Delivery & Pick-Up Continues
Beginning next Tuesday, June 9, the Bailey Homestead and the Native Landscapes & Garden Center will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10am to 3pm.
We are asking all visitors to bring a face covering or mask to use when physical distancing cannot be achieved. The Bailey Homestead offers large outdoor spaces that can safely accommodate the distancing measures recommended by the CDC. All parties will need to be at least six feet apart.
Please wear a face covering or mask when interacting with our staff in the Garden Center. All staff will be outfitted in masks when interacting with guests, and will be taking extra sanitation measures in our restrooms and "high touch" areas within the Garden Center.
“We look forward to once again helping our customers make their yards a more sustainable and better habitat for wildlife!” said Garden Center Manager Jenny Evans. “Our goal is to be an educational resource for the community about native plants and sustainable gardening practices, and we're excited to get back to recommending appropriate native plants and answering gardening questions.”
  • Starting next week, on-island deliveries will still be on Wednesdays and curbside pickups will change to Wednesdays, from 2 to 3pm.
  • We will take credit card payments only (no cash or checks please).
Simply place your order online before Tuesday evening at 11:59pm for pickup or delivery that Wednesday.

Please email our Garden Center Assistant Sue Ramos at sramos@sccf.org with any questions or requests.

SCCF members will get their discount by entering this promo code: SCCFMBR10
Bailey's Donates Proceeds from 'Bring Your Own Bag'
On May 28, Bailey’s General Store generously presented a check to Coastal Watch in support of their Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) conservation initiative.
Pictured here (L to R) is Sam Lucas of Coastal Watch receiving $775.55 from Calli Johnson, Bailey Johnson, and Richard Johnson of Bailey’s.
Coastal Watch’s BYOB initiative is designed to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags on our islands and educate locals and visitors about the harm plastic causes our environment.
Bailey’s is a long-time supporter of BYOB, sponsoring the initiative since its creation. Reusable bags are available within Bailey’s General Store for purchase.
The funds provided by Bailey’s will go toward future orders of reusable bags, allowing alternative options to continue to be offered throughout the island.
Part of the SCCF Family, Coastal Watch creates and implements conservation initiatives that promote and improve the future of marine resources and, our coastal heritage. For more information about Coastal Watch, please visit sancapcoastalwatch.org or contact coastalwatch@sanibelseaschool.org.
Habitat Management Efforts Underway on Conservation Lands
Over the last month, SCCF land management activities have been in full operation on conservation lands. All of the usual activities are occurring while following safe guidelines for social distancing and cleaning practices. In preparation for the arrival of the prescribed fire season, the proposed burn units have been prepped by cutting back tree limbs near fire breaks and widening and disking, i.e. breaking up the soils and vegetation with a tractor to deter a fire from crossing an area, those breaks to keep the fire contained and the lines passable for vehicles.
For much of the spring, conditions were too dry to consider conducting a controlled burn.
“Quarantine procedures in late March and April, due to the pandemic, ruled out any controlled burns. However, due to loosening restrictions, we will be looking for windows to perform one,” said Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz.
SCCF Land Conservation Steward Victor Young has been also working on removing hardwood shrubs and trees on important gopher tortoise ridges on the C. R. Johnston Tract. This effort will allow more grasses and ground cover plants to occupy those areas for tortoises. 
Bruce Neill Reflects on Founding Sanibel Sea School as He Retires
SCCF bids farewell to a man who leaves quite a legacy on Sanibel and Captiva for establishing a place of learning unlike any other on the planet. Since established in June of 2005, the Sanibel Sea School has earned a national reputation as an informal marine science education center where going barefoot is encouraged, and getting in the water is where the best learning occurs.
Inspired by their love of the ocean, their children, and their desire to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time, Bruce Neill and his wife, Evelyn, realized a life-long dream when they opened the doors of the Sanibel Sea School fifteen years ago.
Bruce talked with podcast host SCCF Communications Director Barbara Linstrom last Friday, May 29, from his new home in San Jose, California, to commemorate his final day of employment with SCCF, which joined forces with the Sanibel Sea School in January 2020.
Ocean Tribe Outfitters to Re-Open on Monday
Sanibel Sea School will open its retail shop, Ocean Tribe Outfitters, to the public on Monday, June 8. In accordance with Florida’s Phase 1 reopening, Ocean Tribe Outfitters will allow shoppers up to 50% capacity.
The shop will be open Monday through Friday from 9am to noon at 455 Periwinkle Way.
Social distancing guidelines are strongly encouraged and face coverings will be required for shoppers. If shoppers do not have one, there will be extras on hand. All staff will be outfitted in face coverings and will be taking necessary steps to sanitize the space thoroughly and between customers.
Ocean Tribe Outfitters offers anything a beachgoer might need, including reusable Hydroflask water bottles, towels, MANG sun protective gear, and Rainbow brand sandals. They also sell children’s rash guards, shell collecting bags, and field guides.
All proceeds from sales contribute back to Sanibel Sea School’s mission to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.
Sanibel Sea School programs and camps are not open for in-person activities at this time.
Nature Near You, a free virtual learning program, will continue weekly throughout the month of June. We will announce by June 15 whether or not in-person summer camps will be offered in July and August.

Email info@sanibelseaschool.org for more information.
Sundance-Funded Filmmakers Shooting SCCF Research
A Sanibel native, Director Sasha Wortzel (pictured on the right) has been sheltering in place on the island with her Director of Photography Jessica Bennett, who is also a Florida native.
As recipients of the 2019 round of Sundance Institute Documentary Fund and Stories of Change Grantees, Wortzel and Bennett captured footage last fall from SCCF's research vessel the Norma Campbell of Marine Lab research into the impacts of discharges from Lake Okeechobee on algal blooms. Since they have been sequestered on the island, they are shooting SCCF's sea turtle monitoring efforts and other wildlife encounters along the way as an example of a positive human relationship with the environment on our sanctuary island.
Normally based in New York City and Miami, the duo found Sanibel to be a welcome retreat from the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working on a film titled River of Grass that features a time-traveling narrator channeled by the land who recounts the Everglades’ violent past and warns of Florida's precarious future. Told through Miami journalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas's The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), the film explores how Florida’s vulnerability to climate change is historically rooted in the Everglades’ ongoing legacies of colonization.
Shooting in five different locations impacted by alterations to the Everglades, she is amazed by Douglas's visionary scope.
"What's shocking to me is that it's very uncanny the things that she is saying will happen if we don't change our relationship with the environment are what's happening now, nearly 75 years later," said Wortzel.
The film will premiere in 2022 to honor the iconic novel's 75th anniversary.
Click above to view a Creature Feature video on the Florida fighting conch narrated and produced by Sanibel Sea School Educator Sam Nowinski. Sanibel Sea School marine science educators take turns each week throughout June to bring you Creature Feature videos on social media every Tuesday. Check out the archive of ten Creature Features on the Sanibel Sea School's YouTube Channel to learn about burrowing owls, limpkins, leopard geckos and more captivating creatures!
To view past issues of the Weekly Wednesday Update, please click here .
Stay Connected!