Thursday, October 24, 2013

Biking Safety and other Tips for enjoying Sanibel Island

A 12 mile long tropical island, mostly a nature preserve, is an idyllic hide-out from the rest of the world. 

Traffic moves slowly, crime is close to non existent, and life is good. Very good.

But no place as natural as Sanibel Island is completely free of concern.

There are the usual considerations one would give to any place in the sun.  One must pay attention to being hydrated while walking, biking or beaching.  And covering up to avoid both sun burn and bug bites is clearly a good step to take.

As for the alligators, the rule is simple.  Stay away from still waters.  Walking close to the edge of a bayou or lake is never a good idea in any tropical climate.

All this said, we recently came across an article with detailed and excellent bike safety rules that we would like to share with you.  Though Sanibel is one of the best and safest places to ride a bike, with 22 miles of bike trails to entertain the eye and ear, it is always advisable to heed the special direction of experts.  And this is what they say.

If riders decide to use the public roadways, it should be noted that in Florida bicycles are considered vehicles and subject to the same rules of the roads as vehicles. Hand signals should be used when turning; headsets are not allowed; lights must be used at night, and bicyclists under sixteen must wear helmets.

On the bike paths, riders should yield to pedestrians and demonstrate courtesy when overtaking other cyclists. An audible signal should be used to alert people on foot, and passing should be done to the left. In marked crosswalks, bicyclists have the same rights as pedestrians. Treating each other with respect keeps everyone safe and enhances the vacation experience.

In a nut shell: Florida Bicycle Safety
• All bicyclists under the age of 16 must wear helmets.
• On the roadways, bicycles are considered vehicles and must follow the same rules of the road.
• Use hand signals when turning.
• Headsets are not allowed.
• Lights must be used at night.
• Yield to pedestrians.

Bicycling is a great way to visit the many shopping areas along Periwinkle Way. It is also a fun way to explore the beaches of the islands. By using an island map, you can make your own itinerary. Be sure to bring along water and sunscreen. And above all, have a great ride.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Leaping Lemurs: The strangest sighting yet on Sanibel

As a nature island dedicated to the preservation of wild life, we are always happy to learn that a new species has been spotted on Sanibel...or that a species thought long gone is back again.

In the past couple of years, there have been some delightful sightings.  There  was the bear who made it over to visit, gray fox have been heard in the night, and the indigo snake believed long gone is enjoying the Island once again.

But all the above are critters indigenous to the Island, or at least the area.

The sightings last month have certainly created much more of a stir.

Ring tailed Lemurs are only found on Madagascar, so imagine the surprise when there were a couple of calls into the city's environmental office reporting their appearance.

The first report was largely dismissed, the thought being that the person who saw them mistook 2 raccoons for lemurs.  Even the second call did not raise real concern.

But when a third sighting was reported, by a city employee well versed in just what a lemur looks like, the reality set in. 

There could really be a pair of Lemurs roaming the Island!  Though no one has yet been able to capture a photo of the special couple, the accuracy in detailing their appearance leaves little doubt after the third sighting.

If it does turn out lemurs are roaming Sanibel, the city will work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to decide what to do.    Holly Milbrandt, the city’s environmental biologist says the Island's WCC will probably catch and move them. Milbrandt thinks it’s most likely that someone let them go on the island or they’re escaped pets, though none have been reported missing.

Thanks to their fuzzy coats, big golden eyes and black button noses (remember King Julian in “Madagascar”?) ring-tailed lemurs easily win human hearts. They star in zoos and preserves around the world and in Southwest Florida, live at the Naples Zoo, North Fort Myers’ Shell Factory and Sanibel’s Periwinkle Park Campground, — and yes, all of the park’s lemurs are accounted for.

With rounded fingernails instead of claws and fused lower teeth, Milbrandt doubts the lemurs pose a major threat to humans, “though we do want the public to be safe.”

“If they’ve escaped from somewhere, they’re probably more scared than we are,” she says. “We just want to be sure the animals are safe. It doesn’t make sense to just let them fend for themselves.”

So keep your eyes  and mind open and pay attention to movement in the bushes.  You might just find a rare visitor in your midst!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Issues on National Stage Effect Little Sanibel: The Toll of the Government Shut Down

Please be aware that this blog post is not going to take sides on the Government shut down.  We believe all parties in our capital have contributed to an environment that has allowed this shut down to happen. 

We also believe that greater struggles in our country have been addressed and overcome. So we are hopeful that agreements can and will be reached.

But we can not ignore the fact that our tropical island paradise has been effected by conversations that are , or are not taking, place hundreds of miles away.

It is easy to live and work on Sanibel and feel shielded from the problems in the world.  The beautiful weather, the lush environment, the belief that time is passing more slowly than on the main land all lull us into an almost dream like state.

Indeed, it is almost a shock when anything bad happens to or on the Island as we are so accustomed to life being just about perfect.

But the impasse in Washington D.C. has landed with a heavy thud on our soft territory.

The closure of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island hasn’t just inconvenienced visitors hoping to bike its trails or glimpse magnificent birds such as the roseate spoonbill. It’s costing jobs.

Tarpon Bay Explorers, a tour business that caters to the refuge’s nearly 800,000 yearly visitors, has had to cease operations, leaving 23 workers with no paycheck until Congress ends a government shutdown that has closed hundreds of national parks and preserves since October 1.

Obviously, everyone is concerned about the shut down and pulling for as quick an opening of Ding Darling as possible.  We recognize particularly the special nature of our preserve.

Everyone, however, except the creatures who live in the preserve are worried.  And that is a big exception.

The alligators, the Roseate Spoonbills, the four legged creatures and fish in the lagoons are going about their business as usual.  They do not need us at all, and are perfectly content not to have cars or bikes or walkers strolling through their neighborhood.

The preserve is not a zoo, or a circus or a national museum that can not sustain itself with out the upright residents of the earth.  Everything a Ding Darling resident needs is right there within their grasp.

Clearly, the shutdown is dumping buckets of cold water on the heads of business owners, vacation guests and those who cater to the visitor trade.

But the animals?  No, they have hardly even noticed the signs saying Ding Darling is shut down.  That, at least, does give us some peace.