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 weather phenomenon known as El Nino has been bringing above average rainfall to Florida and the rest of the United States this year. S.W. Florida has already received 6.5 inches of rain for the first half of January when the average is around 1 inch for this time of year. The western part of the U.S. including drought stricken California has been getting drenched with much needed rain. The heavy rains will help to recharge the aquifers in California and the Midwest but much of the rainfall is diverted to storm water canals or rivers to prevent flooding of homeowner developments and cities. The storm water canals and rivers then send the water to salt water oceans such as the Pacific ocean, Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean where it cannot be used again for drinking supplies or irrigation. With aquifer levels dropping dangerously around the United States and water supplies shrinking, it makes me wonder why there aren’t ways to store these heavy rains and floods in large water basins for future drinking supplies and irrigation needs.
The term El Nino which means little boy or Christ child was originally used to describe warm waters in December in the Pacific Ocean by fishermen in South America in the 1600’s. The change in water and atmospheric temperatures usually lasts from 9-12 months but sometimes can last for years. La Nina (little girl) in contrast to El Nino is named for the unusually cold waters and atmosphere temperatures over the Pacific ocean. They both bring unusual wet or dry periods of weather.
The pictures shown above are of a golf driving range on Daniels Pkwy in Ft. Myers. You can see the puddles which are covering the driving range caused by the heavy rains in January. The pictures of the Ten Mile Canal in Ft. Myers has above average water levels and you can see the rushing waters going over the weir in the pictures. The Ten Mile Canal collects storm water runoff from nearby roads and neighborhoods between Daniels Pkwy and Colonial Blvd. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a good website which describes the El Nino effect in more detail.