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  • Shorebird counts on Sanibel and Captiva islands in November were the highest they've been in five years, despite devastation to the region caused by Hurricane Ian in September.
  • Bird watchers in Southwest Florida are a passionate group and two months after Hurricane Ian, when they don’t see as many of their favorites, birders are worrying that such a huge storm has simply blown birds aside, killing or maiming them on a species-wide scale.The survival capabilities of shorebirds are extraordinary. Whether due to the changes in barometric pressure, storm clouds causing darkness during daylight hours, or other reasons ornithologists don’t understand research shows many birds species jump into literal flight or fight mode when a hurricane is coming.Many birds sense impending doom when a big storm rolls in and they either tuck in somewhere safe, or fly away. Other avian species are strong enough to best even hurricane-force winds, fly right through them, and live to squawk about it.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will add to its boater safety course questions about the rules designed to protect manatees, sea turtles and other marine life at risk of injury from watercraft.
  • Fifteen years ago, there was no noticeable problem with the Carolina willows at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Slowly, the native plant species grew to the extent of being considered invasive.This particular willow, almost by itself, has expanded the definition of “invasive species” to include particularly aggressive plants that are native to Florida, not just faraway exotics.
  • The power of Google's cloud computing is helping the South Florida Water Management District with collection, analysis and processing of data linked to water quality improvement efforts.
  • Red tide is everywhere.From Tampa Bay south to Ten Thousand Islands, local groups and state agencies that test for and track red tide are warning that the harmful algae bloom that kills fish and sickens dogs, and whose acrid air chases people off the beach, is here.And there. And there. And there.Red tide was detected at every beach in Sarasota County soon after Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers in late September. Earlier this month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, in nearly 100 samples throughout Southwest Florida.Florida Department of Health officials in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties are issuing health alerts daily warning of the real and present danger to human and animals.The red tide is so prevalent, so pungent, and so potentially poisonous that the authors of the health advisories ignored the long-established practice of softening the language to avoid scaring away tourists.
  • Calling declines in the manatee population since 2017 “dramatic” a coalition of groups have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to increase protections for the aquatic mammal.The Center for Biological Diversity, Harvard Animal Law & Policy Clinic, Miami Waterkeeper, Save the Manatee Club and Frank S. González García filed the petition Monday. The petition urges the federal wildlife agency to reclassify the species from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Hurricane Ian sunk, stranded, or swamped so many vessels that the deadline to have them up and out of the waterways, mangroves, or backyards has been extended.If you are lucky enough to have a boat, car, motorcycle, all-terrain and vehicle and a trailer to haul it all, but hapless enough to have the 150-mph winds blow it all over the place you just got lucky again. Sort of.Hurricane Ian displaced more than 4,000 vessels, vehicles, and trailers – anything with a registration counts - and more than 500 of them are judged abandoned. The number of vessels thrown about by Ian is expected to grow as more are discovered, some totaled and removed by their owners’ insurance companies, and some not.Rob Beaton, a major with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in charge of boating and waterways, said owners are still encouraged to hire a salvage company themselves to recover their vessel, but if they cannot afford it, and hand over the title, his agency will coordinate the removal and destruction of the vessel, and owners will not be charged.
  • A fund-raising fishing tournament for Hurricane Ian recovery and rebuilding efforts raised funds in the tens of thousands of dollars even though nobody’s gone fishing in the tournament yet.The recent kick-off party for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s “RedSnook” Catch & Release Charity Fishing Tournament raised more than $70,000 to benefit Isle of Capri hurricane victims.The party brought in more than $45,000 in less than 10 minutes. The Community Foundation of Collier County added $25,000,
  • John Cassani, the first person to be named Calusa Waterkeeper, is stepping down from the position he has held at the clean water environmental alliance for six years.Calusa Waterkeeper is among the most active environmental groups in Southwest Florida using a combination of staff scientist, experts, and a cadre of volunteers.One of Cassani’s priorities has been to keep the group focused on clean-water initiatives, whether for drinking, swimming, and fishing with a special emphasis on the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico.