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New Novel 'Sunniland' Tells the Story of the First Oil Discovery in S. Florida During WWII

Mike Kiniry and Stephen Sears on The Lucky Duck

In 1942 and 1943, German U-boats sank more than one hundred tankers in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, impeding the flow of crude oil to the refineries in the northeastern United States. This was war time, so in response, the American government encouraged drilling in South Florida, and it was discovered here first near Everglades City.

During this time, four German saboteurs landed by U-boat in Florida. These men were caught and subsequently executed. These largely forgotten historical facts form the foundation for the new novel "Sunniland" by first-time novelist Stephen O. Sears. Sunniland is the name of the oil field which was discovered. Sears is a recently retired faculty member from the LSU Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering. He joined us from a boat called The Lucky Duck which was docked in a marina in downtown Fort Myers.


Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Julie Glenn is the News Director and the host of Gulf Coast Live. She joined the WGCU team in November of 2016 to expand the Gulf Coast Live call-in radio show from once a week to five days a week. Since then, the show has been recognized in state and regional competitions and has featured artists, political leaders, historians, environmental experts, doctors, local reporters, and national and international scholars. After leading the station's award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017, Julie was named Interim News Director. In January of 2018, she launched WGCU's first podcast: Grape Minds.