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Fowler’s latest San-Cap Nature Calendar features wonderful images of local wildlife

By Staff | May 3, 2010

Nature photographer Dick Fortune's image of a trio of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, shot off the coast of the Sanibel Lighthouse, was selected for the month of January.

Although the current calendar has yet to reach the middle, for wildlife lovers of the islands, the arrival of the month of May also means that it’s already time to look ahead to next year.

Released in the past two weeks to local retailers, the 2011 edition of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar features a spectacular front cover photograph of a pair of white ibises dueling for territory. The image was photographed within the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge by Sara Lopez, a longtime contributor to the calendar series.

“This edition of the calendar depicts the behavior of the many different species of wildlife on and around the islands,” said Jim Fowler, publisher of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar. “There is nothing more enjoyable than to put your camera down and simply observe the island wildlife going about their daily lives.”

Over the years, a number of professional and amateur photographers from around the world have contributed some of the greatest examples of breath-taking animal, bird and marine photography to the calendar, which has become somewhat of a collectors’ item since it contains such eye-popping images and interesting facts about local wildlife.

In addition to Lopez (whose pictures appear on the cover, in March and August), the calendar contains images skillfully captured by photographers Dick Fortune (January, September and December), Cliff Beittel (February, April and June), Charlie Heidecker (May), Bob Lindholm (July), Lorraine Sommer (October) and Cheryl Molennor (November). Each photograph is accompanied by complete subject information including full descriptions, nesting, breeding and feeding habits, range, habitat, status and health.

Fortune's image of a pair of American white pelicans, photographed at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, appears in December.

Each month, it includes enticing photo narratives penned by islander Betty Anholt, former islander Charles LeBuff and birding expert Bev Postmus. Each month also features a shell sketch by the late islander Sue Stephens and a turtle graphic during the sea turtle nesting months (May through October).

“The sight of dolphins in island waters is always joyful to onlookers, in part because the eight or nine foot mammal with its centered dorsal fin seems to be having a great time,” Anholt writes in January’s text accompanying Fortune’s image of a trio of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins off Sanibel’s east end. “Dolphins are social animals, distributed worldwide and congregating in fluid groups of nursery females, juveniles and males. They are protected, but not endangered, with an approximate population of 67,000 in the Gulf of Mexico.”

First published in 1988, this is the 23rd edition of the popular calendar. Sold only in Southwest Florida, it continues to set the standard for other calendar publishers, here and abroad.

“(The calendar was) created from an idea that took seed during my island experiences since I first came to Sanibel in the early ’70s, I have tried every year to put together a calendar that truly shows the natural beauty of the islands,” Fowler said.

Because the calendar is an environmentally-conscious publication, a portion of the proceeds is donated annually to an environmental group headquartered in Southwest Florida. Since 1989, more than $15,000 has been donated to state conservation organizations.

April's image features a stunning closeup of tricolored heron, also shot inside Sanibel's nature preserve. It was taken by photographer Cliff Beittel.

Previous donation recipients have included C.R.O.W. ($1,000 in 2004, $600 in 2001 and $400 in 1990), Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation ($1,000 in 2006, $500 in 2000 and $1,000 in 1994), Calusa Nature Center ($650 in 2002 and $500 in 1996), Sanibel-Captiva Audubon ($700 in 2003 and $484 in 1992) and Save The Manatee Club ($700 in 2008 and $500 in 1997).

Last October, $1,000 was donated to the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, bringing the total amount donated through calendar sales to that organization since 1991 to $3,538.

“It continues to be my goal every year to publish a calendar that not only is beautiful and useful, but also promotes wildlife conservation through interest, information and education,” added Fowler.

Again this year, the calendar will be available – upon request – delivered by mail order with a shipping envelope made from garbage.

“We saved the make-ready sheets from the press set-up and created custom-fit mailing envelopes,” he explained. “This paper is usually sent through the printing press once then on to the landfill. Now this paper will be used a second time as envelopes, thereby further reducing waste.”

The calendar retails for $13.95 and is sold throughout Southwest Florida in book stores, gift shops and other retailers. Mail orders send $13.95 (plus $2 shipping and handling) to: Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar, P.O. Box 356, Sanibel Island, FL 33957. For the custom-printed Blind Pass Tide edition (available this fall), send $16.95 (plus $2 shipping and handling) to the above address.

For additional information, visit www.sancapcalendar.com or call 859-846-4528.

“It is the best calendar in the world, and probably the best calendar that ever was,” boasted Fowler. “It is the only calendar that truly represents what Sanibel and Captiva are all about – nature!”