Be Part of the Solution with Coastal Watch
Coastal Watch has a new role in the SCCF family: a mission to identify and lead local conservation initiatives that improve the island’s natural resources and honor our coastal heritage. Coastal Watch evolved from the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of START (Solutions to Avoid Red Tide), followed by Coastal Keepers. Today, it has defined its purpose to reach community members who want to assist with local conservation initiatives.
Each year, the advisory committee selects a themed initiative to form activities and projects. These themed initiatives are designed to have components that meet the needs of all interested community members’ physical capabilities. Offerings will include both virtual and in-person educational presentations, low-impact activities, and high-impact, hands-on activities such as habitat restoration.
Local mangrove habitats are the first emphasis. Mangroves are extremely important to Sanibel and the surrounding coastal areas because they provide the natural infrastructure to prevent erosion. They also are crucial when it comes to absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather events such as hurricanes. Mangrove forests provide habitat and refuge to a wide array of wildlife that call Southwest Florida home, such as birds, fish, invertebrates, and mammals. Estuarine habitats with coastal mangrove shorelines and tree roots are important spawning and nursery territory for juvenile marine species including shrimp, crabs, and many sport and commercial fish species such as redfish, snook, and tarpon.
Over the next year, Coastal Watch will be hosting educational presentations on mangroves and welcome guest speakers to discuss local research and restoration efforts. Our “Back to Our Roots” program will resume in November, where community members can “adopt” mangrove propagules to nurture at home until they’re ready for planting at a local restoration site.
Coastal Watch has partnered with the SCCF Marine Lab to take volunteers out to restoration sites in Pine Island Sound to plant mangroves. In 2004, Hurricane Charley decimated the mangrove forest on Hemp Key, so it is now a focus for mangrove restoration. We will continue to recruit volunteers to collect red mangrove propagules and participate in mangrove planting events in Pine Island Sound over the next two years.
Our goal is to make the community aware of the stressors that local coastal habitats are facing and create opportunities to help participants become more effective environmental stewards. Please visit the Coast Watch website to fill out a form entailing your volunteer profile and activity preferences and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, “The Watch,” when it goes live next month. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.