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Nature Near You highlights conservation success stories

By Staff | May 6, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot was designated in 2019.

The fifth week of Nature Near You, the Sanibel Sea School’s e-newsletter, featured conservation success stories to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Through emails delivered at 9 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Nature Near You participants learned the stories of ospreys and humpback whales and how conservation efforts saved the species. The Sanibel Sea School also introduced the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s partnership with Blue-Green Connections and Mission Blue, part of Sylvia Earle’s efforts to create Hope Spots around the globe.

On April 20, a familiar feathered friend was introduced, the osprey. Ospreys are common to see soaring in the skies today, but years ago this was not the case. In the 1950s, osprey populations crashed as a result of a pesticide called DDT. DDT was used commonly on crops after World War II for its effectiveness in pest control, however, it was also entering aquatic ecosystems. Through a process called bioaccumulation in the food chain, DDT caused eggshell thinning in osprey eggs – drastically decimating their population. The good news is that once the negative impacts of DDT were recognized and understood, the chemical was banned in 1972. After the ban, the osprey population recovered quickly – showing how swift actions can have positive impacts on wildlife.

On April 22, the Sanibel Sea School announced its partnership with Mission Blue and the Blue-Green Connections to protect The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot. The partnership and collaborative effort will allow it to be a voice for The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot, so that it can share the importance of local coastal waters. Hope spots are areas that are critical to the health of the ocean and through their designation they increase public awareness and share the importance of the marine areas.

The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot was recognized because it has Essential Fish Habitat, oyster habitat, blue holes, and a unique offshore rocky hard bottom habitat. The Sanibel Sea School is excited that the area is gaining awareness, so that coastlines can be protected for the future.

The April 25 e-newsletter shared the story of the Western South Atlantic humpback whale. Humpback whales were widely killed between the 1700s and mid-1900s by hunters in the whaling industry. The whales were hunted for their blubber, meat and bones, which decimated the population to just 440 by 1958.

Luckily, scientists recognized the devastation in the whale populations and acted quickly to put restrictions on commercial whaling. The moratorium on whaling allowed the humpback whale population in the region to recover so that there are thousands of individuals alive today.

These stories highlight the importance of conservation in protecting species that are in danger of extinction. They also show how passionate people, education, and essential research by scientists are critical to implement measures to preserve and protect nature and wildlife.

By celebrating success stories on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Sanibel Sea School hopes to motivate others to tackle future issues that arise and to protect the beauty of nature.

Nature Near You will continue throughout the school closures and be delivered via email.

To join the mailing list, email info@sanibelseaschool.org.

The content can also be accessed at www.sanibelseaschool.org/nature-near-you.

Nature Near You is the Sanibel Sea School’s offering for the community. To help support its efforts, visit www.sanibelseaschool.org/support-the-cause or email info@sanibelseaschool.org for information.

Part of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation family, the Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.