Saturday, August 27, 2016

Protecting our Greatest Legacy on Sanibel

As every visitor to Sanibel notes immediately on arrival, this island is dedicated to the ones it loves.

And though rental guests are highly appreciated and celebrated, there is no greater love than wild life on this little tropical island.

As you drive through the island,  you will see numerous signs of our affection for our creatures, literally and figuratively.

The most visible signs are those along the roads posted to keep drivers to slow speeds.  This is good for our 4 legged and winged friends as well as for our guests walking and biking.

But some of the signs of our respect and need to protect our wild life are not so obvious.

They can be found more subtly at the beaches where areas are cordoned off to give birds ample safe space when they are nesting and chicks are beginning to explore.

They can also be seen in the cordoned off areas designated to keep sea turtles and their nests unharmed. 

 The City of Sanibel, in partnership with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF),  asks all residents and visitors to do their part in protecting these very special threatened and endangered species.  On Sanibel, nesting and hatchling emergence typically occur between May 1st and October 31st

The nesting ritual of the loggerhead sea turtle is one of the most remarkable natural phenomena occurring on Sanibel’s Gulf beaches. This natural process has happened on Sanibel for centuries and our eleven miles of Gulf shoreline have more nesting activity than any other beach in Lee County.  Sought by predators and susceptible to dehydration, sea turtle hatchlings have only a one in one thousand  chance of survival.  Human activities can further reduce that chance.  Please help protect our legacy of life in these ways:

  • Turn off or shield lights near the beaches.  Artificial beach lighting can inhibit female sea turtles from nesting and disorient hatchlings.  Most beachfront lighting issues can be addressed by turning off all unnecessary lights,    repositioning or modifying light fixtures, or closing blinds and drapes.  
  •      Remove furniture and other items from the beach and dune area, when not in use, between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M.  Items left on the beach including beach furniture, toys and trash may provide barriers to nesting or result in entanglement and predation of hatchlings.

  •      Level all sandcastles and fill any holes dug during play. These are fine during the day but may pose additional hazards at night. Please leave the beach as you found it, so that sea turtles and hatchlings are not hindered on their way to nest or to the water. 

  •      Pick up all trash.  Sea turtles mistakenly eat debris, especially plastic, which results in death.

  •      Honor the leash law.  All dogs on the beach must be on a leash and not allowed to disturb nesting turtles or hatchlings.  

  • People come to Sanibel for many reasons, but the Island's greatest reason for existing is the haven it provides for the smallest of our creatures.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2016

    Dr. Beach Grades Sanibel Island

    As the Gulf flows, Sanibel has lots of competition .  Miles and miles of beautiful beaches line the west coast of Florida.

    So getting a high grade is not a given, when measured against the dozens of beaches up and down the coast.

    But our little island sweeps the beach awards for a variety of reasons.

    Sanibel and Captiva Islands are two of the loveliest barrier islands in the country. Once connected, a hurricane severed the two islands at Blind Pass, and each has developed its own personality, though both cater to upscale winter vacationers. While the islands are known for their first-class amenities, there is room for nature lovers to explore. No high-rises are allowed, and even concrete and asphalt are limited as parking lots tend to be sandy areas.

    Sanibel is known as the best shelling beach in the country. The hard-packed sand at the water's edge, where the shells are plentiful, makes for an easy stroll and the casuarina trees provide shade, making Sanibel the Best Walking Beach in the Gulf. So many people lean over to pick up shells that this posture even has a name - the "Sanibel stoop". Whelks, cones, periwinkles, fighting conch, coquina, fan, lion's paw, and sunray venus are in plentiful supply along the 14 miles of beach.

    The best time to go shelling here or elsewhere is after the January or February coastal storms when big waves drive the shells ashore by the thousands. Sanibel hosts a Shell Fair in March, and serious shell collectors travel from around the world to meet their fellow conchologists at this event. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel is a great place to determine the types of shells that you have picked up along the shore. Seashells are considered by many as the Gulf's most special gifts.


    Sanibel is also known for its restrictions on growth and preservation of nature. We have often spotted large gopher tortoises on the upper beach and dune areas grazing upon various plants and fruits. There are also "gator crossings" along the bayside. The real preserve is at nearby Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the home of numerous wildlife, including large birds like egrets, osprey, and roseate spoonbills.

    So the beach is a delight in and of itself, it also offers easy access to the other jewels on the island.

    Monday, August 8, 2016

    What's happening at the Sanibel Pier?

    On the far east end of the Island, the Sanibel Pier is probably best known to those who love fishing.

    But with the pier undergoing renovations until the end of August, many are looking forward to having the area back in operation come early September.

    And the anticipation is well placed.

    The Pier is located at Light House Beach. Cross the causeway from Ft. Myers and keep going straight until you hit the four way stop at Periwinkle Way. Make a left and follow Periwinkle to Light House Beach at the eastern tip of the Island.

    There’s plenty here for a fisherman’s friends and family to do while he/she does their thing. There are picnic areas with barbecue grills, short nature trails and a light house. The beach has bath rooms, a drinking fountain and outside showers as well. As icing on the cake, the pier is a social gathering spot and it often appears that the beach goers know each other.  For certain, it is a very popular gathering spot for shore birds, pelicans and egrets of several species who are opportunists and see the fishermen and their bait buckets as very enticing opportunities.   This pier and beach are must see destinations for anyone going to Sanibel.

    And if you have not been, here is some more advice guaranteed to raise your interest, particularly if you fish.

    The Sanibel Pier is a short pier, but it gets you to the fish. It ends at a deep channel that often has a strong current. This creates a highway for fish moving back and forth between the Gulf and the bay. Schools of bait fish are common near the pilings and right off the beach. They attract game fish. Use a cast net to catch some and you’ll have an unlimited supply of an extremely effective live bait. A wide variety of special fish are caught from both the pier and the adjacent beach, sheepshead, snapper, mackerel and snook. At night the shark hunters come out with their heavy rods and big baits. They’ve battled monsters.

    The pier is not the only place to fish. It’s built on Light House Beach which has three distinct sections. There’s the beach next to the pier, here you’re fishing in the bay. There’s the “point”, where the bay and the Gulf of Mexico meet, and there’s the Gulf beach. One spot may be cold while another is sizzling. Watch what other fishermen are doing and look for bait.

    And right next to the pier lies another delight for another reason.  Light House Beach is arguably the best shelling beach in the country, but there’s a lot of competition from other collectors for the most prized shells. Your best chance is to get there early or right after a storm. The Gulf waters off Sanibel are shallow. Miles offshore it will be only 40 feet deep. There’s a long, wide, sandy slope to the beaches, creating an ideal ramp for the shells to roll up.

    A few yards to the left of the pier, there’s an excellent place to wade. Remember to do the sting ray shuffle. If you want to swim, the Gulf waters are best. The current on the bay side gets strong and will take you places you don’t want to go.

    The one downside to the pier is parking. Parking can be a pain. It’s four dollars an hour. It’s wise to buy more time than you think you’ll need. People often stay longer than planned. This place will do that. You buy a ticket at a kiosk and put it on your dashboard. Don’t skip this chore. There’s a $50.00 fine, and they do check.

    So, in just a few more weeks, come check out the pier, brand new and waiting for you~