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.
Bromeliads are flowering plants that grow on tree trunks and branches. Also known as air plants, bromeliads absorb nutrients and water from the air and cause no harm to their tree hosts. They are found throughout Florida on rough-barked trees such as oaks, cypresses and pines. Their vase-like structure collects rainwater and allows them to serve as watering holes for small animals and birds.
There are sixteen bromeliad species found in Florida, but ten are listed as endangered or threatened. This is partly because they are often taken from their natural habitat.
Another threat to bromeliads is an exotic weevil from Mexico. It arrived in Florida on imported plants and has been spreading whenever infected plants are relocated. Learn more
The removal of bromeliads from state lands is prohibited to avoid further weevil infestation and potentially bromeliad extinction. You can help by leaving all bromeliads right where you found them.
Trash is one of the most visible kinds of pollution we encounter at the beach, in parks, forests and on roadsides. Most of us have learned from an early age not to litter, however trash often accumulates by accident. The garbage truck is one example of an accidental trash spreader: loose items can become airborne as the truck drives down the road. The end result is unsightly; however, litter is easily removed and even more easily prevented. To help reduce litter:
Bag household trash before placing it into the receptacle;
Be resposible for your trash away from home, i.e. fast food containers, balloons;
Recover lost or downed kites and fishing lines;
Carry a bag to remove trash at the end of outings;
Participate in beach clean-ups and Adopt-A-Shore programs.
Early October in South Florida brings more than long, hot days with afternoon downpours. It’s also a time when nature gets on the move. Fall migration is up and running, or flying I suppose, for many species of “northern birds.” Collier County may be one of their last stops before they journey across the Gulf of Mexico or on to the Caribbean! Even if you aren’t a rabid or avid birdwatcher (we have both on staff here at Rookery Bay), you may come across one of these voyagers in an unfortunate location – on the ground outside one of your windows.
Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are on the move and in the news. They are nonnative species that can be deadly to curious pets because they emit a milky toxin that sticks in the mouth of whatever tries to eat it. There are a lot of them in the areas around Rookery Bay Reserve - in fact, one of our volunteers, Paul Allen, has personally removed more than 1,000 toads from his neighborhood off Barefoot-Williams road over the past 3 years.
Keep your pets safe by reducing hiding places for these toads in your yard and avoid letting pets nose around in bushes while on walks. If your pet comes into contact with the toad's toxic secretion, symptoms include disoriented behavior, red gums, foaming at the mouth or seizures. If you think your pet has come into contact with a cane toad, flush its mouth for 10 minutes, wipe inside with a dish towel, and consult your vet ASAP.
In partnership with UF/IFAS, our local Southwest Florida CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area) has recently produced a three-part series on cane toads. Cane toads are an exotic species that have been implicated in the poisoning of pets, especially dogs.
Although imported with pioneer settlers hundreds of years ago, European honeybees play an important role in our community. In addition to producing honey, these insects are critically important for agriculture, and fertilize many of our crops.
Bees can be pretty protective of their homes and offspring, but the European honeybee, the most common species in North America, is generally not aggressive. Africanized honeybees are more recently introduced to this continent and are much more aggressive. A swarm may attack any threat that approaches within ten feet of their hive.
Always be aware of your surroundings so you don’t accidentally disturb them.
More information about honeybees: http://entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/honeybee/
Here’s a tip for today: Please don’t leave your line behind.
Marine debris, such as fishing line and plastic bags, continue to be a problem in Florida. It has the potential to damage boat engines by clogging intake valves and entangling in propellers, and also harms aquatic life. Plastic bags are deadly to sea turtles that mistake them for jellyfish, their favorite food. Fishing line snares pelicans and other coastal water birds. When an entangled bird is able to fly back to its rookery with yards of line dangling behind it, it can entrap other birds that fly to that location.
Help protect Rookery Bay and coastal marine life: