Last week staff joined visiting investigator Paul Andreadis (Denison University) on an outing to track invasive Burmese pythons in the reserve. Five pythons caught earlier this year were implanted with radio transmitters and then released at their capture site; an area of the reserve with very limited access.
Walking along the grassy berm where the snakes are known to congregate in the winter, Andreadis raised his hand-held antenna overhead and dialed in the frequency of an adult female python on a portable radio receiver. He was able to find her signal, and the quiet beeping sound grew louder as he got closer to his target. Entering the snake's proximity, some back-and-forth wandering was needed to fine-tune the exact location. Then he set the device down on the ground near the entrance to an abandoned armadillo burrow. "She's here!" he announced, and jotted down the GPS coordinates. He went on to explain that the isolated location, with high ground and pre-existing burrows surrounded by brackish waters, seems to be the perfect combination for this species.
Longtime avian ecologist Ted Below conducted his monthly coastal waterbird survey in Rookery Bay Reserve. He found that there are two pelican nests on the #1 island in Rookery Bay. This is the third time they have nested in the bay and they always nest on island #1.
Brown pelicans are among the most recognizable bird on our shoreline. Often observed resting gregariously on piers, docks and rocks these agile anglers take to the air where they can spot schools of baitfish, and perform a plunge-dive in order to scoop up their unsuspecting quarry.
Brown pelicans may seem numerous at times, but according to avian researchers they still need our protection. Having returned from the brink of extinction in the 1970s following intense use of DDT pesticides in coastal waters, they are now being threatened by a combination of habitat loss, degraded water quality and direct human contact.
May 24, 2013
While working with DBi Services to remove invasive exotic plants along Griffin Road near the northern boundary of the Reserve, resource management specialist Greg Curry noticed a Burmese python fleeing from the activity and quickly called for back-up. The 12-foot python was extremely active due to the warm summer temperatures and required extra manpower to subdue. The back-up team of Resource Management Coordinator Jeff Carter armed with snake hook, box and other tools and Team OCEAN coordinator Kyle Yurewich arrived to help Curry and DBI exotics technician Luis Granados safely remove the intruder in order to prevent further predation on local wildlife in that location. This unfriendly visitor is a reminder of how easily small mammals and coastal birds can disappear from our landscape without a trace...
Last night in the Environmental Learning Center auditorium 22 Lely High School students presented science video shorts that they produced to their families, Collier County School District Superintendent Kamela Patton and other district faculty, their teachers, Reserve staff and board members with the Friends of Rookery Bay. The five selected video projects, which covered topics ranging from manatee conservation to sea level rise, were produced in partnership with Discovery Education using iPads donated from Arthrexx. Each student was recognized with certificates from the school and goodie bags, and plaques for the best effort were awarded by Discovery Education in this first annual awards ceremony. Read more about this project.
Lely High School (LHS), Rookery Bay Reserve, and Discovery Education held the First Annual Marine Science Film Premiere at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Throughout the school year, LHS Marine Science and TV Production students teamed up with producers from Discovery Education to produce short videos that tell stories about science. Rookery Bay was selected as the primary subject and cinematographic backdrop. The Film Premiere featured the top five films produced by students with the winning team – "Sea Level Rising" by The One Percent – taking first place honors. Collier County Public Schools Education Channel producers were on-hand during the event and produced a short documentary film about this project.
Reserve maintenance mechanic, Bob Skorney, spotted 3 otters this morning hunting in the canal adjacent to the Environmental Learning Center. They were munching on fish, hunting for fiddler crabs, and being very vocal with one another and our staff members. It was an amazing nature minute this morning!