The pictures shown above are of the visitor center and paths through the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation on Sanibel Island, Fla. SCCF is one of the many attractions on Sanibel because they have several preserves, trails, a garden center and exhibits that show and explain how coastal and inland habitats live and thrive under unique conditions. The main mission of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation is to conserve the coastal resources and aquatic habitats on Sanibel and Captiva and surrounding watershed.
The SCCF has several scientists on staff who monitor the water quality around Sanibel and report on the amount of pollution, dissolved oxygen, salinity and other factors of the watershed. The waters around Sanibel were once filled with healthy oyster beds but they have been diminished and threatened by the amount of pollution coming from nearby places.
The Visitor Center at the SCCF is a great place to see the native animals and plants that live on Sanibel-Captiva including the turtles who nest on the islands. There are live turtles to view and exhibits of habitats. If you have the time and like hiking, there is a trail that winds through the several hundred acre preserve where you can view fresh water habitats, native birds and trees on Sanibel. The trail is well marked and you can take a short stroll or walk the whole length of the preserve which can take an hour or two. The trail contains an observation tower as well.
One of the best well known and cared for parts of SCCF is the Native Garden Center which was recently moved to a better and larger location on Periwinkle Way which contains several acres of plants and shrubs to view or purchase. It is managed and cared for by employees of SCCF and many volunteers.
The Caloosahatchee River and Beaches of Lee County got some good news from the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers recently when they decided to fast track the building and operation of the reservoir called C-43. This reservoir which lies along the Caloosahatchee River is basically an open pit in the ground surrounded by a berm of soil which can hold up to 55 billion gallons of water and will take a big chunk of the water releases from Lake Okeechobee. The plan is to let the polluted water which is high in nitrogen, fertilizers and phosphorous from farming, mining and urban runoff to sit in the reservoir and let plant matter filter out the nutrients before it is released back into the river. Lake Okeechobee which is one of the largest in the U.S. at 730 sq. miles has water released and sent down two rivers one to the east coast and one to the west coast, the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers respectively. The water is released from the lake to keep lake levels below 15 feet to prevent flooding in nearby Clewiston and other towns. The releases have been partially blamed for creating massive algae blooms and unsightly water scum which damages our rivers, canals and beaches.
The South Florida Water Management District put out a news release on their webpage titled “SFWMD Approves Cost Credit Agreement for Caloosahatchee Reservoir” on June 11,2015 explaining the cost sharing agreement between the state and federal government to build C-43 and more about it’s construction and operation. The SFWMD has a good web page explaining the plan and strategies they have to try to keep the Caloosahatchee River clean and healthy.
I took these pictures over a course of about 2 years. They were all taken from the Sanibel Causeway with the exception of one. Pine Island Sound can be seen from a lot of vantage points including many from the Sanibel Causeway, Punta Rassa on the Ft. Myers side, Sanibel Island and Pine Island which I do not visit much because of the long drive. As you can see from the pictures there is a lot going on in the sound. The fishing is great there and people fish from boats as well as land. There are strong currents moving through Pine Island Sound so be careful when you take a boat out or swim in its waters. There are some really neat islands you can visit if you are traveling by boat including Useppa Island or Cabbage Key. Captiva Island has a cruise company which can take you out for dolphin viewings, shelling or dinner cruises. Visit Captiva Cruises to find out more about their excursions. I like Pine Island Sounds accessibility by anyone willing to drive a car to the causeway, put in a small sailboat or kayak or fish from its shores.
Pictures in this gallery are of a sunset over the Pine Island Sound, Kayak with a dog perched on front, 2 Laughing Gull Shorebirds flying over the water, Blue Heron, Windsurfers, Sailboat, View of Pine Island Sound and Kayakers and Paddle boarders.
Click on any picture to see a larger image
Pictures in this gallery are of a sunset over the Pine Island Sound, Kayak with a dog perched on front, 2 Laughing Gull Shorebirds flying over the water, Blue Heron, Windsurfers, Sailboat, View of Pine Island Sound and Kayakers and Paddleboarders.
Click on pictures for larger images Paddle boarding in the Caloosahatchee
The Caloosahatchee River is an estuary that extends from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Okeechobee 70 miles inland. It is surrounded by a watershed that has many streams and tributaries that feed into the river. The Caloosahatchee has a long history of being a living and hunting area for Calusa Indians for several hundred years. It served as a vital waterway for humans as well as an important habitat for wildlife and fish. It was once a curving and meandering waterway much like the Kissimmee River but was changed and straightened into a canal in the late 1800’s. It was dredged and straightened into a canal so that it could be used for navigational traffic for boats, irrigation for farms and flood protection. The river was connected to Lake Okeechobee and also serves as a waterway for passage of boats to the east coast of Florida. The altering of the river and the large influx of people who built homes and farms along the river has had some harmful effects to the quality of water in the estuary. The river today supports the irrigation and water supplies for citrus and sugarcane farming, beef cattle production and drinking water supplies for humans. The water quality of the river has been unfortunately degraded from the storm water runoff containing pollutants, excess nitrogen and nutrients and animal and human wastes. It has been the subject of many complaints from concerned citizens and environmentalists who want to preserve and protect the estuary. Fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee to prevent the lake from overflowing it’s banks has adversely affected water quality in the river as well. There are several government agencies who are responsible for the health and protection of the Caloosahatchee including the South Florida Water Management District, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers. The towns of Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, LaBelle, Moore Haven and Clewiston lie along the banks of the river. The estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are located along the river in Ft. Myers. A few websites which contain historical and cultural information about the river are Protecting Our Water, and Florida Sportsman. The South Florida Water Management District contains updated information about their efforts to protect the water quality of the Caloosahatchee. The pictures in this post were taken on a calm day with clear and sunny skies. I was standing on the north side of the river at the north end of the Caloosahatchee bridge where there is a small pier and a sailing club. A lot of people come here to park, walk along the edges of the water and relax in a very scenic environment.
Welcome to my Website and Blog OurWetlands in Florida. This site is meant to inform readers about the importance of wetlands or land that is partially or fully submerged in water for most of the year. Florida was once mostly a wetland consisting of swamps, marshes, estuaries and shallow bodies of water south of Orlando that flowed south towards the Everglades. Wetlands in Florida and in other states filter and clean the water we drink, and provides a healthy habitat for wildlife. Included in this blog/website are photos of parks, preserves and wildlife that depend on healthy wetlands. Browse around to the different posts and pictures by clicking on one of the recent posts, categories or the archives. I have included many links to other websites if you want to learn more about a specific topic. The pictures are originals that I took with my digital camera unless otherwise noted. Click on pictures for larger images. Comments are appreciated and make a blog more interesting to readers. Thanks for visiting. – Dave Zuhusky
Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Observation Tower
The Sanibel & Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel & Captiva Islands. The SCCF manages over 1,300 acres of land on the islands and owns an additional 500 acres on nearby Pine Island. The SCCF Marine Laboratory conducts research on areas including seagrasses, mangroves and harmful algal blooms, fish populations and shell-fish restoration. SCCF’s RECON (River,Estuary, and Coastal Network) network of seven in-water sensors provides real-time hourly readings of key water quality parameters over a 90 mile area.
The SCCF also offers educational programs for people of all ages from beach walks to boat tours, wading trips, kayak trip tours and classroom based activities. There is a great trail to hike and walk where you will see a lot of the native trees, plants and wildlife from the islands. The SCCF’s 4 miles of trails also has an observation tower where you can see a large part of the preserve. The visitor center has a touch tank of marine life, butterfly house and nature shop. The SCCF also has a Nature Plant Nursery with a wide variety of plants for sale. www.sccf.org
The South Florida Water Management District took a step forward in approving the use of a reservoir known as C-43 which lies along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. The reservoir is built to hold 170,000 acre feet or 55 billion gallons of water that will be pumped out the Caloosahatchee into the reservoir where it will be filtered by plants and organisms to remove pollutants before it is sent back into the river. The water will be pumped into the reservoir only during rainy periods when rainwater from nearby properties along the river carries pollutants into the river which results in nutrient overloads which then causes poor water quality. The poor water quality fouling our beaches and waterways is blamed from this water runoff from land surrounding the Calooshatchee or its watershed. Fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee are also blamed for the problems of water pollution to the river but the reservoir will not be used to collect fresh water releases from the lake. Residents and government leaders from coastal areas in Lee County have complained about the quality of water coming from the Caloosahatchee River and blame them on the algae blooms and murky water-color that has plagued our beaches, bays and canals in Lee County. The approval of the SFWMD is only the first step in making the C-43 reservoir operational. There is still a public hearing to take place probably in April and a second vote in June before the project is finally approved. The South Florida Water Management District has a lot of good information about the state and federal efforts to collect polluted water before it reaches our estuaries and beaches.
This news was reported in the Ft. Myers News Press Friday, Feb. 14,th 2014 on the front page.
Pond at Six Mile Cypress Slough – click on picture to enlarge
Our Wetlands which are composed of Estuaries, Marshes and Swamps are vital to the health of Florida. Our Wetlands help to let rainwater seep into the ground and recharge our aquifers where we get much of our drinking water. With a population of 19 million people in 2014 and growing fast we cannot jeopardize our health and future water supplies by over developing the land with impervious surfaces like roads, parking lots, residential and commercial developments. We need to keep green spaces likes parks, marshes, swamps, lakes and other areas alive and growing in number to support ourselves and our important habitats for wildlife. The University of Florida IFAS has a good website describing basic facts of wetlands. You can scroll through this website and see various kinds of wetlands.