Wednesday Update
August 19, 2020
Welcome to the third bi-weekly edition of the Wednesday Update!
We'll be emailing it to you every two weeks, with the next edition on September 2.
By highlighting SCCF's work to conserve and restore coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed, our updates will connect you with nature, which goes on in all its beautiful brilliance.

We encourage you to spend time outdoors while adhering to smart social distancing practices!

Thanks to Matt Johnson for this photo of a snowy egret (Egretta thula) taken at Tarpon Bay.

Please send your wildlife photos to
Sea Turtle Hatching Season Peaking; Nesting Nears End
Our sea turtle team has only discovered six new nests since the last Wednesday Update, but 42 new hatches have been documented in the last two weeks!

A total of 415 nests on Sanibel and Captiva have hatched so far, with 23,364 hatchlings leaving our beaches and heading into the Gulf of Mexico. Volunteers and staff have been busy doing inventories of these nests to determine hatch and emergence success.

One of the more memorable recent inventories was a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) nest that produced 107 hatchlings! Thanks to SCCF Volunteer Karl Werner for this photo of one of these hatchlings. This nest was laid by Holly, a green that we first encountered in 2019, and who returned again to nest this year. We suspect she laid all four of the green nests on the East End this year.

Unfortunately, the increase in hatches is also corresponding with a spike in hatchling disorientations, with 47 nests disorienting on Sanibel and Captiva to date. The City of Sanibel and Lee County have dedicated staff to enforce lighting codes and keep our beachfront properties dark. Of these disorientations, 33 were attributed to skyglow from Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Skyglow has quickly become one of the biggest threats to sea turtles in Florida. Fortunately, light pollution caused by skyglow is a manageable issue. There is an opportunity to adopt more rigorous strategies of light management and have a positive impact on humans and wildlife in Florida.

See the charts below for a comprehensive update of all nesting and false crawls this year to date compared to last year.
Sign Up to Join Worldwide Effort to Clean Beaches of Trash
In coordination with Keep Lee County Beautiful, SCCF is serving as coordinator for Sanibel and Captiva for the Ocean Conservancy's annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on Saturday, Sept. 19.
Every September for 34 years, ICC has motivated over nine million people from around the world to pick up over 144 million pounds of trash from nearly 300,000 miles of shoreline as the largest volunteer effort of its kind!
While FGCU Service Learning students will be doing the clean up this year on Captiva, there are two ways you can participate in the clean up on Sanibel. One is in-person for pick-up of materials and drop-off of trash and one is through an app and is totally contact-free.
For either of these two options, you need to first sign up online to commit to a specific stretch of beach on Sanibel where your family (or group) would like to collect trash.
If you opt to participate in-person, please pick up garbage bags, gloves, and data sheets at SCCF’s Sanibel Sea School at 455 Periwinkle Way, on any weekday between 9am to 4pm from now until Friday, Sept. 18.
On Sept. 19, transportation and parking will be the responsibility of the participants. Many beach access parking lots require City-issued parking stickers or require you to pay for parking. There will be no parking passes available. Click here for city parking locations and information.
Trash will be collected and weighed at SCCF’s Nature Center at 3333 San-Cap Rd., between 9am-12pm on Sept. 19. You will also need to hand in your completed data sheet then.
If you prefer to participate in a contact-less way, you can download the Ocean Conservancy Clean Swell app to record any trash/debris collected. You will need to provide your own garbage bags and gloves. The data collected will instantaneously upload to Ocean Conservancy’s global ocean trash database and be recorded.
We recommend all volunteers to wear beach shoes, a hat and sunscreen. We also ask our volunteers to bring a reusable filled water container to reduce plastic use.

If you have any questions please email
Marine Lab Launches Webpage Focused on Oysters
Over the past decade, the SCCF Marine Lab has been actively working to restore oyster reefs in the area around Sanibel and Captiva. The lab conducts routine monitoring of oyster reef health, targeted research on specific attributes of oysters, and has restored a dozen reefs. We are excited to share a new webpage created by Marine Lab Manager A.J. Martignette that provides an in-depth look at this work.

Built on an interactive platform, it includes background information on oysters, outlines how we restore reefs, and discusses some of the monitoring and research the lab has conducted. It features several maps, slideshows, and videos. You can watch a great overview video that was created five years ago by then Marine Lab intern Leah Reidenbach, who, after going back to school to earn her master's degree, has returned to the lab as a Research Associate. We hope you enjoy exploring this new online opportunity to learn about our work and the important role oysters play in the local ecosystem!
Snowy Plover Fledglings Continue to be Spotted at Regional Beaches
SCCF Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht reports that our Sanibel snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) fledglings continue to move around the region.
Through reports received via email, Facebook, eBird, and the Bird Banding Lab, we learned that four of the five fledglings headed north, with three on Lido Key and one on Caladesi Island. Pictured here is Blue Orange from the Facebook Banded Birds Group, taken by Miri Hardy on Lido Key on August 10. The other fledgling had traveled south to Keewaydin in July and then returned to Sanibel. Its current whereabouts are unknown. Sanibel's adult plovers are also traveling, with one on Anclote Key, one at Bunche Beach, and another at Fort Myers Beach. 

Albrecht also reports that she will be doing the annual World Shorebird Day surveys on Sanibel and Captiva during the global count window September 3-9. 

“We have participated in this global effort since 2016, though I was unable to finish all of them in 2017 with Hurricane Irma fast approaching at the time,” said Albrecht. 

As we start to see migratory shorebirds return, keep an eye out for banded birds, and let our Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht know if you see one, or have any shorebird questions by emailing
SCCF Sea Turtle Program Awarded Grant for GPS Device
This year, SCCF Sea Turtle Program Research Associate Andrew Glinsky was awarded a grant from the Sea Turtle Grants Program which is funded by Florida’s Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate. The grant that was awarded to SCCF was used to purchase a Trimble TDC150.
Pictured here, SCCF Technician Megan Reed uses the TDC150, a highly accurate GPS system, on Captiva. It is able to obtain location data within seven centimeters of accuracy. This is extremely impressive when compared to a standard GPS unit which may only get down to three meters accuracy.
“This season the TDC150 was used to collect data on hundreds of nests on Sanibel and Captiva and the SCCF Sea Turtle Program is excited to use this unit for years to come,” said Glinsky.

This unit is an extremely valuable tool especially following a storm or high tide events. Nests subjected high winds and waves often lose the stakes marking their location. Having accurate location data lets SCCF staff find the exact location of the nests so they can be properly marked and protected for the remainder of their incubation.
SCCF Thankful for Retrieval
of Ad Banner by LCSO
On Wednesday, August 12, there was a very unusual sight on the beach – a small Piper plane near Access 6 off West Gulf Drive!

The single-engine plane, which tows banner ads, was experiencing engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing on the unoccupied stretch of Sanibel beach. The pilot dropped the advertising banner before landing with no injuries. After the appropriate inspection and repair of the aircraft, the beach was cleared of citizens and the plane took off eastbound with no further complications.

While SCCF staff was on standby to assist if needed, officers from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) marine unit and the Sanibel Police Dept. arrived quickly on the scene and sought to locate and recover the immense 45’ x 90’ banner that landed in the Gulf, as it posed an entanglement risk to marine wildlife such as sea turtles and manatees.

"Removing a banner so large and heavy was no small feat, and we are very grateful that LCSO went above and beyond to ensure the safety of our marine life," said Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan. We are also appreciative of the ongoing support from Officer Steve Royka and the Sanibel PD, who consistently go the extra mile to serve not only humans in our community, but to protect the well-being and safety of our wildlife and environment.

“This was an all hands-on deck event for our environmentally-minded community,” added Sloan. “The success of our program would not be possible without the stewardship of Steve and his fellow law enforcement officers on Sanibel and Captiva.”
Ever Wonder How Sanibel Attained Such High Diversity in Freshwater Fish?
The high diversity of freshwater fish species on Sanibel is a result of both natural and human-induced transportation to the island. Small live-bearing species such as the mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) pictured here, sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna) and least killifish (Heterandria formosa) likely arrived here in pockets of freshwater on floating mats of vegetation from the Caloosahatchee River. Other diminutive species such as marsh (Fundulus confluentus), bluefin (Lucania goodei), rainwater killifish (Lucania parva) and flagfish (Jordanella floridae) are all egg layers and likely arrived the same way, however, two of them are true brackish water species that could have swam across during periods of heavy rain events when bay waters were more fresh than average seawater.
Exotic fish are also part of diversity in the Sanibel River and wetlands such as the walking catfish (Clarius batrachus) pictured here that was reported as early as the 1970s. These southeast Asian fish actually cross roads during heavy rainstorms to expand their range by using their pectoral fins as pivots as they wiggle in a snakelike motion. The Mayan cichlid (Cichlasoma urophthalmus), an extremely invasive species in south Florida, was first documented on Sanibel by SCCF during their annual swale fish surveys in 2008. Sampling efforts on SCCF conservation lands have shown increased detections of Mayan cichlids over the last decade and a slight decrease in game fish. Click the link below to learn how game fish arrived on the island as well.
Sanibel Sea School Plans Virtual Bingo for World Shorebird Day
To celebrate World Shorebird Day on September 6, Sanibel Sea School invites you to join us in a virtual game of shorebird bingo via Zoom! We will spend time at the beginning of the session learning shorebird identification and then we’ll put your identification skills to the test with a game of bingo.

To register for this FREE activity, please email and provide us with your name and the name of the children participating. We will reply back to confirm and provide the password and login information for the Zoom session. Bingo cards will be emailed after registration for you to print out.

This activity, scheduled for 11am on Sept. 16, is designed for children ages 6-13 years old, if younger children want to participate, please have an adult on standby for assistance.
Take Action to End Shark Finning by Contacting U.S. Senators
Please urge your U.S. Senators to support S. 877, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act.

The U.S. House passed this bill in November 2019. Let's make sure the Senate passes it this session.

Sharks are threatened globally, and this bill will help close another door to the unsustainable international fin trade. The exit of the United States from the global shark fin trade will serve as a shining example that many other nations will follow.

Click here to learn more and to send an email to your Senator.
Podcast Features Ryan Orgera on Shark Conservation Campaign
CEO Ryan Orgera joins host Barbara Linstrom to talk about the Shark Conservation Campaign launched by SCCF to coincide with this summer’s 32nd annual Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

Before Ryan took over the helm at SCCF, he worked with The Pew Charitable Trusts in shark conservation, specifically in the reduction of international trade in unsustainable shark fins. He talks about his international advocacy work as well as his life-long love of sharks, going back to his childhood here in Southwest Florida, where he grew up on Lemon Bay in Charlotte County. He also gives an appraisal of Shark Week from a conservation perspective.
Sneezeweed: A Beautiful Addition to Pollinator Garden
While the name doesn’t make it sound too pleasant, sneezeweed (Helenium amarum), is a showy wildflower that can be a great addition to any pollinator garden (and doesn’t cause sneezing). Sneezeweed can grow in a variety of soils from dry to wet and prefers full sun.

This wildflower can be very impressive if planted in mass, blooming prolifically in late summer to early fall but would also be good to plant with other wildflowers as pictured here with blue porterweed (Stachytarphetajamaicensis) as it does die back after blooming and going to seed. Sneezeweed seeds itself in very easily so it can be guaranteed to pop up year after year.

Stop by our Native Landscapes & Garden Center on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 10am to 3pm to view our demonstration pollinator garden that features sneezeweed. Located at 1300 Periwinkle Way on the sprawling grounds of the historic Bailey Homestead Preserve, our Garden Center offers plenty of room for safe, social distancing.
We continue to offer contactless deliveries and curbside pickup. On-island deliveries are made on Wednesdays and curbside pickup is also on Wednesdays, from 2 to 3pm. Simply place your order online by midnight on Tuesday for pickup or delivery that Wednesday.

Please email our Garden Center Assistant Sue Ramos at with any questions or requests.

SCCF members will get their discount by entering this promo code: SCCFMBR10
CEO Ryan Orgera Featured Across Media on Shark Conservation

Click here to watch an ABC-7 story, which was the first of several stories that featured Ryan during Shark Week last week. He was also interviewed by NBC-2, WINK News, Fox 4, and WGCU, NPR for Southwest Florida.
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