It’s hard to see dead fish littering Southwest Florida’s beaches as far as the eye can see. Even if you close your eyes, the smell won’t let you forget. Images of dying manatees and sea turtles and fuzzy black skimmer chicks starving on our beaches make even the most cheerful among us angry.
Harmful algae blooms have captured national attention and elicit quick “solutions” to prevent the blue-green algae slime fouling our coasts. Some continue to place the blame of algae blooms on the shoulders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by falsely claiming that holding more water in Lake Okeechobee could prevent or end our algae crisis.
In December 2017, Port Orange bird rookery became the state’s 32nd Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This important protection was advanced by Halifax River Audubon and Audubon Florida to buffer nesting American Oystercatchers, Brown Pelicans and several species of herons and egrets from disturbance by boaters.
The Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary is the crown jewel of wading bird rookeries on the Gulf Coast, with 16 species nesting there, including our most iconic Florida species - Brown Pelicans and Great Egrets - and some of our rarest birds - Reddish Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, and American Oystercatchers. More than 8,000 waterbirds depend on this special place as a nursery to safely raise young.
The equivalent of Piping Plover royalty were spotted wintering in Florida this year! In 2017, for the first time in 60 years, two pairs of Piping Plovers nested in Pennsylvania on the shores of Lake Erie.
Just like Floridians, Florida’s coastal birds demonstrated perseverance and persistence last year. Audubon support and stewardship gave the birds a fighting chance despite extreme weather, disappearing habitat, and crowded beaches.