Sanibel nature is so great, and so varied

I just spent three weeks on the Gulf Coast barrier island of Sanibel, near Fort Myers, in Lee County, Florida. Sanibel is 65% nature preserve, and the island has many legal restrictions that make it wildlife-friendly.

This was my 10th visit to the island, which I heard about in childhood thanks to a National Geographic article about it. The island is very famous for its shells, but in reality it is wonderful for almost every aspect of nature. And during this visit I saw a lot of species that I had never seen before, as well as several others that I had seen before, but not very often.

Here are a few highlights. I will add others to this list as they occur to me.

My favorite sighting of all was eight manatees at Jensens Twin Palm Marina on Captiva. They were all but one clustered in an overlapping row right by the seawall where a freshwater spring runs into the saltwater of the back bay. They like to gather there to drink the freshwater, and as a result of that, you can see them quite close-up. They are really enormous, and very sweet-seeming; truly they are gentle giants.

Finally got a great view of an alligator. I also got a photo of a live Black Racer, saw one dead, run-over Florida Rat Snake and the shed skin of another one. Saw a couple of Iguanas from a distance and a freshwater turtle from a great distance (too far away to determine the species) as well as a juvenile Gopher Tortoise who has moved into the hotel grounds where we were staying.

The birds are always great on Sanibel, especially the various waterbirds, lots of egrets and herons and a nice Anhinga drying off. I also saw something that I think may have been a Clapper Rail.

Zebra Longwing, Gulf Fritilliary, Great Southern White, Barred White, White Peacock, Monarch.

Slender Brown Scorpions via UV flashlight, thanks to @jaykeller -- so cool

Squareback Marsh Crab
Mangrove Tree Crab
Atlantic Sand Fiddler Crab

Headlight Beetle, also thanks to @jaykeller and his mothing set-up.
Coastal Tiger Beetle, I think.

Shoelace Fern --looks like an armful of green spaghetti nailed to a tree trunk
Lots of cool lichens TBD

Florida Butterfly Orchid -- native and epiphytic
Chinese Crown Orchid -- ground-dwelling, introduced and invasive

For anyone who loves nature, I thoroughly recommend a visit to Sanibel.

Publicado el mayo 14, 2021 02:21 TARDE por susanhewitt susanhewitt



Publicado por al_kordesch hace casi 3 años


Thanks once again, you always inspire. I'm working near the Louisiana coast (Lake Charles) right now myself. If I ever get a day off I'll post whatever photos I can take, there are several nature preserves here.

Ray Whitson

Publicado por rtwhitson3 hace casi 3 años

Glad you had a great trip! You know I am a big fan of the Gulf coast. Got two trips planned this year; one to St. George island and another later to Cape San Blas.

Publicado por rogerbirkhead hace casi 3 años

Thanks folks! All good wishes to you!

Publicado por susanhewitt hace casi 3 años

Sanibel is one of the many fabulous places I visited decades ago “before my nature eyes were opened” and I regret missing as much as I did. Fortunately it’s still there and I now have the time to go back and catch up. Thank you for sharing your finds!

Publicado por driftlessroots hace casi 3 años

You are welcome, @driftlessroots. At some point when you are planning to go back to Sanibel, let me know, because I have lots of suggestions as to where you might want to go, and what you might want to skip.

Publicado por susanhewitt hace casi 3 años

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