April 11, 2019
While Rookery Bay staff are very proud of the shorebirds that call reserve beaches their “winter getaway” or “permanent home,” we are equally proud of the wading birds that rely on the estuary for roosting or nesting. In fact, Rookery Bay Reserve has a deep history with wading birds and has been monitoring nesting wading birds near Marco Island since 1979. This colony, called the ABC Islands, and the dynamic nature of wading bird behavior, is what makes me love my job as an avian biologist. My favorite work in Rookery Bay Reserve is monitoring breeding wading birds and I always appreciate the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge of these birds.
On May 22, my last evening of sampling for May in Fakahatchee Bay, we caught only one shark, but that small neonate (newborn) bull shark was the one I was hoping for. I’ve been trying to acoustically tag the youngest bull sharks I can catch in the bays furthest from the altered Faka Union canal system. I’m trying to see if sharks born in bays with higher salinity patterns will seek out the altered freshwater flows coming from the Faka Union canal, where millions of gallons of fresh water are directed across the land to the Gulf of Mexico.
Last month, our avian team noticed a Red Knot on Keewaydin Island with a colored/numbered flag on its leg. Using a zoom lens, photos taken of the band and photo editing software made it possible to read "021" on the flag, and inquiries were made to determine the bird's origin. Research staff member Anne Mauro then learned the bird was banded in 2009 at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts.
As a Communications Specialist at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve, I promote and help get the word out to the community about the great work and programs of the Rookery Bay Research Reserve and the aquatic preserves that fall within the Southwest Region of DEP's Florida Coastal Office. Sometimes, on a lucky day, I get the opportunity to visit one of our sites in person to see the programs in action. This past Friday was one such day!
October 12, 2018
Over the past week, our avian team has observed magnificent frigatebirds roosting at the ABC Islands Critical Wildlife Area. While they are frequent fliers of our coastal skies, they don't often come down and hang out here, except for when there are higher-than-average winds, like those we've experienced as Hurricane Michael passed by. During yesterday's survey, Anne Mauro spotted a frigatebird floating in the water.
Oct. 3, 2018
It’s fall in Florida and so incredibly different than the fall I knew most of my life in the Garden State & NY! Today I had to pinch myself as I was able to get out on a boat in the Ten Thousand Islands, assisting our Avian Ecologist, Anne Mauro, with bird surveys. Beautiful, peaceful, clear sky, gentle breeze and not a soul around, except an occasional boat we came across. Reminders of Hurricane Irma, which was just over a year ago, were still present in in the mangroves as many still had “bald” spots. I looked at them with appreciation not only for their role in this amazing environment but also knowing they take on the brunt of the storms! Mangroves help protect us!
July 27, 2018
Several weeks ago, I accepted an invitation from Anne Mauro, our avian ecologist, to assist her team with counting birds and bringing back the signs from the Second Chance Critical Wildlife Area, which is a special tiny island in Rookery Bay Research Reserve.
Col, an intern that works with us and Florida Audubon, picked me up at about 7 am and drove me to the Ten Thousand Islands Field Station near Goodland. There we met Megan, a biologist working for FWC, who joined us for this early morning trip.
July 18, 2018
On Wednesday evening, I set out with Pat, our fisheries biologist, and a boat full of volunteers for Pumpkin Bay to enjoy a night of shark monitoring. It is always an adventure since you never know what you will catch each time he goes out! We set up the gill net as well as the long lines, and almost right away we had something on one of the long line hooks! After pulling up the line, we discovered we had hooked a juvenile bull shark! We got the shark into the boat so we could tag and measure it before releasing it on the other side of the bay to ensure we would not catch it again later in the evening.