Share the shore! Least terns have returned to Florida beaches for summer breeding season, and one colony has set up at the south tip of Keewaydin Island. Breeding shorebirds are very vulnerable to disturbance, especially since they nest on the same beaches where families like to vacation. To help reduce the stress on the birds, our avian biologists, in cooperation with FWC and with help from our Team OCEAN volunteers, post signs and string around the nesting area to alert visitors to stay back. It is also important to keep trash off of the beach and to not feed wildlife. If you feed wildlife, it can attract avian or mammalian predators to the beach.
Last week, Team OCEAN volunteers rescued an endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle! Bob Fink, Marcia Fink and Monte Kroh were idling past Goodland on the way to the Second Chance CWA when passing motorists alerted them to a sea turtle in distress. The trio located the small turtle, which could not submerge on its own, and contacted Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and provided a cell phone photo to the biologist who identified the turtle and offered a diagnosis called “positive buoyancy,” where intestinal gas is trapped inside the turtle’s shell. They then transported the turtle to CROW, which is the nearest rehabilitation facility certified to hold this species in captivity for treatment. The turtle is now undergoing treatment and is expected to make a full recovery. Way to go, Team O!
On Friday, April 6, Reserve staff and volunteers conducted a boat tour of the Rookery Islands Critical Wildlife Area for Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, hosted by the National Audubon Society, Audubon Florida, Audubon of the Western Everglades, the Friends of Rookery Bay and the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association.
Please help us welcome our newest staff member, Anne Mauro, who is our new avian specialist. Anne hails from Ohio but has extensive Florida experience through her work with Ding Darling Refuge, Zoo Miami and Audubon Florida in various roles of shorebird and wading bird research.
As a native Floridian, I am always keenly aware of hurricane season. This past summer was already shaping up to be a particularly busy season when Irma formed. For two weeks, long-range models insisted on a major hurricane landfall somewhere in South Florida.
On March 12th, we were pleased to welcome a surprise visitor to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center today! Governor Scott was enjoying some time with family in Naples and chose to spend part of the morning with us.
As soon as she moved from Colorado at the age of 15, Marissa Kelly fell in love with the environment of South West Florida. Inspired by the diversity of our environment, she volunteered at Rookery Bay while in high school. She also completed an internship with stewardship, along with assisting in sea turtle research while attending college at Florida Gulf Coast University.