Oh, Kimby, I'm glad that you are finally posting more about Sanibel here. After all, you might get eaten by crocodiles in Australia and this information might have been lost forever.
I could get eaten by a crocodile on Sanibel, too.
This one was on the shore behind our house last spring.
And sadly, during the very cold spell that struck Florida this winter, this crocodile, the one and only one on Sanibel which has spent the past 20 or so years in the neighborhood and has nested multiple times (though with no mate, her eggs never hatched), was found dead a few weeks ago. R.I.P.
A moment of pedantry, but an honest question, too: are there crocodiles in Florida? I thought there were only alligators?
How did the croc/gator get to Sanibel, or were there lots of them there that got moved away as the island was populated by humans? Is it thought that she died of old age? And how long do those critters live, anyway?
bixa, I'll look up the article that announced her passing.
Yes in south Florida and the everglades there are some American Crocodiles. One of them, our Sanibel croc, wandered from the everglades to Sanibel multiple times in her life, spending much of her time in the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. But last spring she arrived on "our" lagoon, and nested in the neighboring subdivision. They live dozens of years, I believe, and they think the cold did her in.
Here's the announcement from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF):
January 28, 2010
Ding Darling Refuge and SCCF Honor the Crocodile
On Tuesday, January 26, our one and only saltwater crocodile on the island was found dead on the East River Trail at SCCF, possibly a victim of the lengthy cold of January.
There will be a gathering in her honor on the SCCF porch on Thursday, February 4 at 3 p.m.. Bring your crocodile stories and toast her with a glass of Gatorade.
In her 25 years plus on Sanibel, she helped define our community as one dedicated to living with wildlife, even the big, beautiful, scary ones. She was unique in her 11-foot length (large for a female) and the northernmost of her species in Florida. Her guess-timate age was 40 - 60 years.
Her stories will always be told at SCCF and the Refuge. A plaque will mark her final resting place on East River Trail.
In the bayous, we would regularly see a few alligators in Mississippi from time to time. Wiki says that there is a remnant population of about 2000 crocodiles in Florida, compared to 1.5 million alligators.
Oh no! Just saw this... There was no shortage of alligators in the Everglades recently,that's for sure. One crawled up way too close to me while I was eating some cheese and crackers... I did want to see an American crocodile,perhaps next time I go. I know their numbers have dwindled considerably,but not that much as K2 quotes...
Yes, it's a lagoon, but man-made, connected by a network of canals to other lagoons. I think they were all dug out during the creation of the subdivision 30 some years ago. But we have a constant parade of herons and egrets along the shores, and anhingas fishing and drying their wings in the buttonwood tree that overhangs the lagoon. Plus the alligators that sunbathe on the shores and the one croc (R.I.P.) that spent part of last spring in our lagoon. And our current renters have been seeing otters in the lagoon!
Was your second paragraph an invitation to re-post the beach photo here? If so,
(BTW, I realized that the photos in the OP needed re-sizing, so I took care of it.)
Sanibel and Captiva Islands, off the Gulf Coast of Ft. Myers, are called the "Seashell Islands" for obvious reasons. The not-so-obvious cause for this phenomenon is that Sanibel is one of the few barrier islands that lies perpendicular to the coast, so it presents a broad beach for shells carried by ocean currents to be washed up on.
This is the prize everyone seeks:
I have never found one, or even a piece of one. But it seems every week in the island newspaper some tourist from Ohio is shown posing proudly with a perfect specimen - we have suspicions that some condo operator is planting shell shop purchases out there for their guests to find!
The best time to find shells is during the full and new moon when the tides are greatest, and to go out early in the morning (before it gets light, using a headlamp), during low tide, and wade in foot deep water, netting for shells. But as you can see from the photos, even the casual beach walker will find shells.
Nature is amazing! I love the elaborate whorls of the crown conch, but it would be a thrill to find a perfect and rare junonia. Approximately what size are those shells, Kimby?
One of the great fascinations of Sanibel is how radically different the two sides of it are, from heavily canopied and fringed with foliage to the the bright expanse of the Gulf. Do you have more photos, perchance?
The comment about planting shells reminded me of a trip to Galveston some years ago. My daughters talked the entire way down about their hope of finding a beautiful sand dollar. I managed to sneak and purchase a few at a sea side shell shop and planted them for my daughters to find. Years later whilst looking at the shells, my older daughter told me she knew I must have planted them as they were perfectly white. Apparently in a school science class the teacher mentioned how they must bleach them to get them that lovely white.
Loggerhead turtle tracks, coming up the beach at night to make a nest (the winding track) then making a (slow) beeline for the waves after laying eggs. We watched one by the light of the full moon last May dig her nest, lay eggs and cover it up. She barely had enough energy to get back to the ocean, but when she was finally back in her element, she slipped gracefully away. They are more than 3 feet across!
Spent 3 weeks in November on Sanibel Island - before the cold snap this month. I learned that a "new" crocodile has been transplanted to the island. It is a female that had been living on private property in Port Charlotte, I think, and the property owners wanted it out. Since Sanibel is 65% preserved as natural habitat, she was released in the Ding Darling refuge and promptly made her way for the lagoons of the Dunes golf course/subdivision.
The bald eagles have returned to their nest along the entryway to Gulf Pines subdivision. They have raised young in this tree every year for the past 6 or more years. Even after idiot landscapers killed the tree by mistake, knowing it was a non-native Casuarina (australian pine) and not noticing the giant eagle nest in it. Though eagles prefer live trees to dead trees, this pair's fidelity to this tree has kept them returning.
It's not going to take much of a storm to bring that dead tree down. I'm wondering how long eagles use the same nest. If they weren't already the big kid on the block, I doubt that they would like their nest being so exposed to possible visitors.
The tree has been dead for about three nesting seasons, I believe. It stands on conservation land that was being cleared of non-native species, including Brazilian pepper and Australian pine (Casuarina). But the nest tree was supposed to be left alone as long as eagles were using it.
The crew on the ground apparently forgot to look up when they were killing (girdling and/or poisoning) the non-native trees and before anyone could do anything, the nest tree was dying. Before the clearing, the nest was not so conspicuous, as it stood in a near-continuous forest of casuarinas.
Eagles return to the same nest year after year, adding more sticks to the nest until it becomes so heavy it falls out of the tree or the tree falls over. Hopefully when this happens to "our" nest tree, it will not be when eaglets are in the nest.