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Campers learn about gators, needlefish and algal blooms

By Staff | Aug 8, 2018

SANIBEL SEA SCHOOL Campers visit Periwinkle Park Campground during Crocs and Gators Week at the Sanibel Sea School.

The harmful algal blooms we are currently experiencing in our area required camp counselors at the Sanibel Sea School to improvise daily during Crocs and Gators Week and Needlefish Week.

Campers were unable to engage in most water-based activities, so camp staff organized many inland games and experiences, often with help from fellow non-profits and businesses on Sanibel.

“Thanks to our community, camp participants were able to enjoy a great week of camp despite the poor water conditions,” counselor Sam Lucas said.

Activities included art and games at Sanibel Sea School’s Flagship Campus and its Sundial Beach Resort and Spa location, as well as field trips to the Visitor & Education Center and Wildlife Drive at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and the Periwinkle Park Campground.

“We’re so grateful to everyone who invited us to visit and offered to help in other ways,” Lucas said.

Counselors also organized lessons to help campers better understand harmful algal blooms and why they occur. Each group collected a water sample using a plankton net, then used a microscope to look for Karenia brevis – red tide – cells. A sample collected at the Buttonwood Lane bayside beach access contained a high concentration of cells.

The Sanibel Sea School is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. For more information about the organization, visit sanibelseaschool.org.

The Sanibel Sea School is at 455 Periwinkle Way.