Monday, September 15, 2008

The Environment is the School Room on Sanibel

At a time when vacations have to be justified in the family budget, Sanibel Island's format for learning is just one more attraction for a beautiful resort island.

One distinguishing characteristic of the island is the ability to learn about nature in a variety of ways. One can learn on their own to be sure, but there are many more interesting ways to take lessons on Sanibel.

For those interested in getting a handle on the environmental issues affecting marine habitats—a matter of vital importance to anyone who eats seafood and is concerned about sustainability—this part of Florida is becoming a must see destination. Regardless of your idea of what a vacation is, the ability to get an up close and personal view of this unique environment is priceless.

Sanibel has beautiful wildlife refuges and ecologically minded outdoor outfitters that provide world-class birding, kayaking and shelling opportunities.

And quite recently, marine biologist Bruce Neill and his wife, Evelyn Neill, founded the innovative Sanibel Sea School to fill a gap in the ecotourism world: educating kids through fun, hands-on activities about the importance of preserving the ecosystem.

The school room for the Sanibel Sea School is the sea itself, the Gulf of Mexico.

Also of enormous instructional value is the Center for the Rehabilitaion of Wildlife (C.R.O.W.)

The primary mission of CROW is the rescue, care, rehabilitation and eventual release back to the wild of sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. Inherent in this mission is the education of adults and children to insure their peaceful coexistence with their wild neighbors.

C.R.O.W. provides educational opportunities for students from schools across the United States and other nations to participate in the wildlife rehabilitation process while introducing them to both Western and Eastern medical traditions.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is dedicated to preserving natural resources and wildlife habitat on and around Sanibel and Captiva islands. SCCF manages over 1300 acres of land on the islands (and owns an additional 500 acres on nearby Pine Island).

The SCCF Marine Laboratory actively conducts research in areas including seagrasses, mangroves, harmful algal blooms, fish populations and shellfish restoration. SCCF’s RECON (River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network) network of eight in-water sensors provides real-time, hourly readings of key water quality parameters – spanning a 90-mile area – which are available on their site. Their weather station provides current data from their station on Sanibel-Captiva Road on Sanibel.

SCCF offers a wide array of educational programs for people of all ages, from beach walks to trail walks, boat tours, wading trips and kayak tours plus classroom-based activities. And, their educational staff works closely with area schools.

No comments: