The Tombolo Books tote bags caught Holley Short's attention immediately. After a volunteer told her that the bookstore used an iconic bird in their designs, Holley made a trip to see for herself. A Coastal Biologist for Audubon Florida, Holley monitors and protects beach nesting and resting birds along Florida's Gulf Coast. When she spotted one of her focal species - the Black Skimmer - on the store's bookmarks and bags, she got excited.
"The more people who know about Black Skimmers, the more people who can come together to protect them," Holley says.
Alsace and Candice - owners of Tombolo Books - moved to St. Petersburg from North Carolina.
"I was lucky to have the opportunity to write much of our Tombolo's business plan while sitting on St. Pete Beach," Alsace explains, "Eventually I noticed the Black Skimmers. What enchanting little creatures! I loved watching them skim for their evening meals and watching their funny way of nestling down in the sand, dipping forward to allow room for their incredibly long tail feathers, then resting their long mandibles down."
Black Skimmers are unique in that the lower half of their bill is longer than the upper, enabling them to “skim” across the water with their mouth partly open and bill dragging across the surface to grab fish. Each spring, Black Skimmers gather along Florida’s shores and beyond to nest, laying their eggs right on the sand in large groups called colonies. While most natural predators can be deterred by the colony’s mobbing behavior, these birds are highly vulnerable to disturbance by humans and pets, and have absolutely no defense against toxic algae or rising seas.