Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Truth About Alligators on Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is a peaceful place.

Small, tropical, inviting, it is easy to feel that there is not a worry in the world while vacationing on Sanibel.

And for the most part, that is accurate.

The singular exception may be the presence of alligators, and you will see signs warning about them posted throughout the Island.

But some may take the signs to heart in such a way that inhibits their enjoyment of the island.

So let's set the record straight about these prehistoric looking creatures.

First, alligators are opportunistic eaters.  They pretty much lay in wait in fresh or brackish waters or on the edges of same for prey to come close by.  They will not be wandering the streets and beaches looking for a bite to eat. 

Second, a full grown alligator can exist on one raccoon for months.  Their metabolism is very slow and they are not the ravenous monsters some think they are.  But neither you nor your dog should approach the edges of fresh or brackish bodies of water as the enticement is great, but the risk is even greater.

Third, during winter months, alligators are lethargic and pretty much just lay around.  When the weather starts to warm, alligators become active, feeding more, looking for new territories and mating. It is during these times that alligator sightings are most prevalent. If you see an alligator, the best thing to do is leave it alone.

Fourth, most deaths by alligators are not from blood loss or even from drowning.  It is the bite alone which is so full of bacteria that it kills by infection.  A word to the wise should be sufficient.
Fifth, alligators can be lighting fast when they see you are in striking distance, 15 feet or less from them and the water. Observe and photograph alligators only from 30 feet or more away. Remember they are an important part of Sanibel’s natural history as well as an integral component of our freshwater ecosystem.

Just as we love all wild life on Sanibel, we love our gators.  And we love our tourists.  We just want to see a sensible distance between the two!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Getting to , from and through Sanibel Island

Though Sanibel Island is a small, warm and inviting place; like anywhere in the world it also has some wonderful surprises and even a few challenges.

We mentioned a couple of posts ago how there have been some rare visitors, even for those of us who know the Island well.

So anyone with Sanibel in mind should be aware that there are a few aids available to help equip the vacationer for any eventuality.

As one example, if you are a shell collector, you might want to be aware of timing.  If you want to find the best seashells on Sanibel Island, get to the beaches well before dawn. In addition to competing with other avid shellers, you need to arrive early before the tide washes some of the potentially best finds back out to sea. Local parks and recreation departments comb the beaches with rakes on the backs of tractors quite early in the morning, burying or crushing seashells that could have become treasured finds.

And if you are a bird watcher coming to see migratory birds, there are now several good resources that will show you live the routes of bird migration. In addition, during the winter months, the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation – in cooperation with the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society -- conducts birding tours on Foundation Preserves that are normally not open to the public. Birding tip: During the fall, winter and spring, serious Sanibel birders know to visit Lighthouse point in the early morning, when large numbers of migrating birds can be found resting in the trees.  Like the Island itself, the Light House is a special place and worth the visit even if no migrants are in evidence.

And visitors who make their journeys to the Island  in high season know quite well that patience is some times needed to get to and through the Island....and off the island as well.   Now, the City of Sanibel has created a web cam view of not only the Sanibel Causeway, but of the major intersections and lanes on island where there might be congestion in winter months.  Want to look ahead and see what you can expect? Access the webcam views on the City of Sanibel website and you will see in real time what your path looks like.

No matter your reasons or purpose for coming to Sanibel, the opportunities to discover are endless and additional help on most anything you are interested in is just a phone call or web click away.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Some words on Nature Selfies on Sanibel

There is a new phenomena taking place all over the world.

It's been going on for a few years, and is now accelerating

It's called a selfie.

You know, the kind of quick snap of your self with your cell phone with the Eiffel Tower behind you, or perhaps a dinner photo of you and your best friend at a restaurant, or maybe your new beautiful condo that you just moved into serving as your background.

All of these are harmless,

It's fun to see them on Facebook and other social media where people post their pix.

But what concerns us is the nature selfie.

And we are reading our concern has a good reason.

In taking selfies with animals, there has been great damage.

People holding a baby dolphin for the camera actually caused the lovely , innocent creature to die.  It was kept out of the water too long and could not survive

In another incident, widely criticized, a peacock was the subject for selfies.  As with many birds, the peacock's nature and fragile heart could not handle the stress and the peacock succumbed.

While Sanibel Island is a unique nature destination attracting people from all corners of the world, many, if not most, respect and love nature.

But the island invites easy access, and it could prove harmful if caution is not exercised.

For your sake, more than the alligator's, getting close to a gator to snap a selfie could easily be the last photo you ever take.  While our gators are awesome, they are wild and unpredictable.  Standing within a few feet of a large alligator when close to the water is much too big a risk.  Stand 20 feet back and grab a snap of the gator alone.  Your friends and family will be much happier with a safe image than one that could have cost you your life.

And though most of our birds will not allow a close encounter, there are some that will.  But refrain from getting too cozy with the Great Blue Heron wandering the beach.  Your friendliness may create undue stress, and that big beak can be super painful if aimed directly at you.

None of our critters need to be fed as an enticement for a close up.  There is ample food for every creature that lives here, and it is here 12 months a year.

Sanibel is a special place.  Our guests are special people. And our nature is most special of all.    We can all co-exist on this little tropical island with no damage done to anyone.