Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sanibel Skull Reveals Island "Ancient" History

We all know and love Sanibel as a peaceful, pretty place.

A lot of us leave doors and windows open and cars unlocked based on the Island's exemplary record for safe living.

So it came as a bit of a shock when a local biologist uncovered a skull here.  Was our tropical island once the location of some diabolical murder?

Not likely, it seems.

Long before the coming of the Spanish explorers, Sanibel andCaptiva were home to the Calusa Indians. The Calusa are long gone now, swallowed up in the melting pot of cultures that became Florida, but in their day they thrived on the special bounties of the barrier islands on the Southwest shore of the peninsula.

Until the arrival of the Spanish, the Calusa developed unimpeded without outside influence. It took the Spanish awhile to tame the Calusa and diseases may have had more to do with this than guns. Ravaged, the Calusa retreated. Their remnants were scattered through out South Florida and into the Caribbean, eventually to be swallowed up in the melting pot. By the middle of the 18th Century the Calusa were gone. Some were perhaps absorbed by the Seminole, but little of their language is known. 
That is why the recent discovery of the Sanibel Skull near The Sanctuary Golf Club and the 'Ding' Darling NWR Refuge recently is a big deal. Suddenly there is something new for the archaeologists and historians to study, and, more importantly, it raises the question of what else is beneath the surface in thesurrounding area.

An archaeologist didn't find the skull; a biologist did while dealing with gopher tortoises ahead of any dirt being turned in the new Wulfurt Point Estates subdivision. The skull was handed over and now archaeologists will take a closelook.
For now the Sanibel Skull is with the Florida Department of State and it was reported at Thursday's meeting that an exact origin of the skull hasn't been determined. The results are anxiously awaited on a lot of fronts, not the least of which is having one more clue to the lost tribe of the Calusa in hand.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New eateries on Sanibel

It is always fun , in anticipating a trip to the Island , to think of the great places you love to eat.

It is also fun to think of new places that invite you to experiment.

And, being foodies ourselves, we savor the flavors of Sanibel and have a few new places to suggest.

Probably most tantalizing , is The Pecking Order.  As the bird-like name would suggest, The Pecking Order is founded on Chicken, mostly fried chicken.  From the moment we heard of its opening, we were intrigued by its name, menu and artistic website.

The Pecking Order is a family affair, conceived by long time Islanders Bridgit and Dan Budd.  They boast that they can comfort your hearts, souls and tummies with food and fellowship and we have no reason not to believe them.

The Pecking Order's signature marinade and batter bring out the unique flavors in every piece of chicken that they cook.  The start with Grade A prime chicken, and "treat your food with tender loving care to the peak of yum."

A bit different for the Island, The Pecking Order is primarily a take out place, and one with prices that make it especially tempting for families looking for big meals at budget prices.  For example, a bucket of chicken that could feed 5 to 6 people costs only $29.00.  And there are plenty of affordable sides to go with that chicken, including grits, rice and beans and collard greens.  Did we say southern loving? Get it right here!

On the other end of the eating spectrum, you might want to give the Sea Star CafĂ© and bar a try. Not brand new, but new to us.   Located at the Island Inn, The Sea Star has a somewhat elegant appearance and offers a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

What we find notable is that this is a quiet place to eat.  It does not feel crowded or rushed, and stands out from many other restaurants because of the easy feel of the place.

Similarly, The Starfish Grille in the Holiday Inn is worth looking into.  We are particularly attracted to its sushi menu, not always easy to find on Sanibel.

Chef Aung is reputed to be a great sushi chef, and the menu is very diversified and appetizing.  There are literally dozens of different kinds of rolls , as well as mouth watering Sashimi platters. 

So whether you are looking for Southern Soul food or Asian fusion, you can find it on Sanibel!

Friday, August 14, 2015

New License Plate to Help Sanibel Sea Turtles

With only 1 out of 1000 sea turtle hatchlings surviving, the protection and proliferation of these beautiful little babies is always on our minds.

When you sit on the beaches in Sanibel, you can see areas designated as sea turtle nests and marked off so that they are not disturbed.

You can also see the vehicles on our beautiful beaches naming them as Sea Turtle Research jeeps.

Now, the Island has even more incentives as well as opportunities to advocate for some of our most treasured and smallest creatures.

The 2015 sea turtle nesting season is underway. Over the next several months, hatchling sea turtles will emerge from their nests and head to the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to the usual rules and regulations offered to help visitors and residents alike understand the importance of protecting, some new measures have been added. 

This year, The City of Sanibel received a $6000 grant from the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Sea Turtle License Plate Grant Program, the City has initiated a new educational campaign, “After 9, it’s turtle time!”, to remind residents and visitors to close curtains and blinds and turn off lights after dark. The Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate is the primary source of funding for Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program. It also supports the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which has awarded more than $2.7 million in grants for research, education and conservation programs since 2001 to benefit sea turtles in Florida.

Grant funds were used to create and produce light switch stickers, static-cling window decals, and elevator wraps (posters). These special materials are currently being distributed free of charge to beachfront resorts, property owners and managers, and rental agencies for placement in beachfront units. Although most summertime visitors to Sanibel receive some information regarding sea turtles at “check-in”, the goal of this program is to provide additional reminders at key locations—light switches, windows and sliding glass doors, and elevators—that helping sea turtles can be as easy as flipping a switch.

The City believes that this campaign, in coordination with longstanding efforts to enforce exterior beachfront lighting regulations, will reduce the number of disorientation events occurring on Sanibel’s beaches. Disorientation from a variety of artificial lighting sources causes thousands of hatchling deaths each year in Florida and is a significant sea turtle conservation problem. In most cases, however, implementing solutions is relatively simple.

after dark (Yes, even if the windows/sliding glass doors are tinted “turtle glass”).

Replace the light source with a low-wattage, yellow or amber bulb, LED preferably.

Cover the lens of your flashlight with red cellophane to make it less disruptive to sea turtles.

For more information regarding sea turtles on Sanibel, please visit the City’s website: . To request “After 9, it’s turtle time” educational materials, please contact City of Sanibel Environmental Specialist Jason Cull at 239-472-3700 or

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

One More Way to Bliss Out on Sanibel and Captiva

Most people who have stepped foot on Sanibel or Captiva know that these tropical islands offer the utmost in relaxation.

Though there are dozens of activities one can take part in from boating to biking, the biggest attraction appears to be loafing.

The beach, even now in the height of summer, beckons.  The recent rains have created cooling breezes and chilling out on our endless shores is more appealing than ever.

But a new and inviting activity may bring nirvana to your holiday.

Ambu Yoga Boutique Studio, located on the grounds of South Seas Resort on Captiva, isn't just the creation of entrepreneur Yali Zawady, it also is a dream come true for the Yoga instructor from Colombia, South America.

"There's an excitement in me, I definitely have those butterflies in my stomach everyday," Zawady said. "It's just really nice to see all that hard work paying off."

Zawady is no stranger to Captiva and the beauty which comes with it. Her style of Yoga blends nature with the body's movement. She has trained and studied at Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica, the Foundation of Pathanjala Yoga Kendra in India and Bala Vinyasa Yoga in Naples.

"We will have one of the most beautiful studios in the area," Zawady said. "It is approximately 1,000 square feet and can hold classes up to 30-plus students. We have all the props you need, such as yoga mats, blocks, straps and bolsters, blankets and eye pillows for restorative classes. All the props are made from recycled material, as well."

After teaching and instructing Yoga on Captiva, Zawady captured the sense of excitement people had for the art of exercise. It made sense to pursue the next step and that was to open her own Yoga studio, along with her being able to share her sense of fashion in the form of the boutique.

When things started to roll towards her opportunity to open her own studio boutique, it happened quickly and in sync.

The right place was South Seas, in which Zawady instructed Yoga classes over the course of the last year. It's a great opportunity to open on the resort's grounds, because she can be near her clients whom she has created a bond with during their stays at South Seas.

"(Ambu Yoga Boutique) is totally independent from South Seas and we are open to the public," Zawady said. "We definitely have a good connection with South Seas, though, and are extremely happy to have the support of the resort. We are open to serving the entire island."

"We will have more meditation, gentle and restorative Yoga classes in the winter," Zawady added.

Although there are more than several Yoga studios in the area, Ambu Yoga Boutique Studio has the special advantage of being in paradise. It's a selling point which will be hit on by Zawady when she is marketing her new business.

"It's just a beautiful location," Zawady said. "You can go through a vigorous yoga session and go right to the beach and jump in the ocean. Or you can go right next door (to Doc Ford's) and grab a bite to eat or go and walk the beauty of the island."

It's exactly what Zawady wants her students to tap into - the natural beauty which is Captiva.

"I've always been inspired by nature," she said. "Our mission is to promote a healthy lifestyle and the benefits of yoga."