What the heck is that? It isn't necessarily associated with the estuary, but we've seen this interesting fungus on the grounds near our headquarters building several times over the years and have identified it as Clathrus ruber, or "basket stinkhorn."
The inside of this cage fungus is coated with slime that emits a putrid odor (smells like rotting meat) to attract flies that help distribute its spores. The smell is so bad it is also nicknamed "devil's eggs" because the fungus sprouts from an egg-shaped ball. Although native to Europe, the fungus is not harmful or toxic, but boy does it stink! It helps decompose dead organic material such as hardwood mulch.
Most turtles, especially sea turtles, have a low profile, streamlined shape and flippers or webbed feet that help them swim. Tortoises, on the other hand, are specifically adapted for terrestrial life.
The gopher tortoise is the only tortoise native to Florida, and it has a high, domed shell, stumpy legs, and claws suitable for digging burrows in the sand. Sometimes they nest in dunes next to the beach, but they prefer not to swim. Recently, a gopher tortoise hatchling was admitted to the Von Arx wildlife center because it was placed in the Gulf of Mexico by someone who was "trying to help."
Learn more about the reptiles found in our area or call Von Arx directly before taking any action, to make sure the animal is actually getting help, at 239-252-CARE.
Staff with Rookery Bay Research Reserve assisted in the release of five sea turtles rehabilitated at the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel. So far in August, a female loggerhead was released on August 13, two Kemp's ridley sea turtles were released on August 16 and two more Kemp's ridleys on Tuesday, August 21. We reached out to CROW for details on these patients, and here is what they told us:
August 6, 2018
As summer marches on, the nesting season is slowly winding down. But, as you may already know, that means it is hatching season! The next generation of baby loggerheads has begun to arrive!! July 4th was the first nest to hatch out at the Cape Romano beaches, and they've only been increasing since then.
Once we locate a nest that has hatched out, we will wait three days to allow for as many of these little buggers to make their way out as nature intended. Then it's time to take down the cage and unearth whats left to collect data. Click here to read intern Anthony in-depth explanation about this process last month. A "good" nest will have between 80 and 120 eggs in it, and a good hatching event will have a minimal number of unhatched eggs upon excavation. There are a number of reasons why some eggs might not hatch, but typically there is a small percentage of the eggs that are simply unfertilized.
Monday, August 13, 2018
Today, a loggerhead sea turtle was released into Gullivan Bay within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. It was rescued in July from the waters near Sanibel Island and taken to CROW (Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) to be treated for illness related to red tide. Once it was well enough, it was decided by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and CROW staff to release the turtle into the Ten Thousand Islands, away from the worst of the red tide conditions. The Rookery Bay sea turtle team was happy to help. In this video you can see the turtle swimming away to its new life.
August 10, 2018
Today is the final day of our Summer Institute for Marine Science! Throughout the week, SIMS campers, entering grades 8-10, gained lots of field experience and met many scientists, thanks to our partners at Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Vester Marine Field Station, Tiger Tail Beach Marco Island, Marco Island Historical Society, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, and Community Foundation of Collier County.