Rookery Bay Research Reserve is temporarily extending the closure of Second Chance Sandbar, a Critical Wildlife Area southeast of Cape Romano. Second Chance is a habitat for nesting shorebirds. Currently, 50 pairs of Black Skimmers are actively nesting with flightless, camouflaged chicks and eggs.
The boating public is asked to avoid this area for the next few weeks and allow these protected birds more time to raise their young and for chicks to become flight capable.
“This is a very sensitive period in the nesting cycle,” Rookery Bay Research Reserve Director Keith Laakkonen said. “The chicks and eggs are extremely well camouflaged in the sandy terrain, and even the smallest disturbance could prove detrimental to a successful breeding season for the Black Skimmer population. The eggs and chicks can be easily crushed underfoot.”
Nesting areas across Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve are monitored throughout the nesting season. After nesting is complete and young birds are flight-capable, boating visitors may return. The area will remain closed under Chapter 18-23.007 Florida Administrative Code, which allows for closure of bird nesting areas until nesting is complete and young are flight capable. Second Chance will open no later than Sept. 30, 2020 and will open earlier if conditions allow.
Second Chance CWA is located 1 mile southeast of Cape Romano and has been closed annually since 2001. In 2016, FWC established it as a Critical Wildlife Area. Signs are installed on the island on March 1 each year to clearly mark the sandbar as a CWA that is closed to public access for the nesting season. People, pets and vessels are prohibited from entering the CWA during the closure period.
Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve stretches across 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters. We are committed to preservation through research, education, and land protection.