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Nature Near You highlights solar power

By Staff | Jul 2, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Nature Near You participants recently built homemade solar ovens.

The 13th week of Nature Near You, the Sanibel Sea School’s e-newsletter, featured the power of the sun.

Nature Near You participants learned about the sun’s energy and how it drives most life on the planet. Certain animals, called ectotherms, specifically rely on the sun to regulate their body temperature. Animals that are dependent on external sources of heat include reptiles, like snakes, alligators and tortoises.

These solar powered creatures need the sun in order to warm their bodies, so you will often see them basking in the sun in the early morning hours. Alligators bask on the water’s edge, snakes sunbathe on the bike path, and gopher tortoises peek out of their burrows during the day to catch some rays.

Marine Science Educator Kealy McNeal created a reptile checklist and challenged participants to record the reptiles that they see in their neighborhoods. At the Sanibel Sea School, staffers have seen geckos, turtles, tortoises, snakes, anoles, and skinks.

After learning about the sun-loving creatures, McNeal shared how participants can harness some solar power of their own. The weekly activity featured solar ovens – a fun activity that can be done with just a few items from around the house.

We often think of cooking outside over a fire, but solar ovens use the sun’s rays and heat to cook child-friendly food items like s’mores and solar nachos. McNeal made solar oven s’mores in her backyard in just about 30 minutes. While cooking takes a little bit longer in the solar oven, it is a super fun and eco-friendly project that youths can do in their backyards – and well worth the wait!

Humans and animals alike utilize the sun’s powerful energy as a vital resource. Participants learned how reptiles are connected to the sun and require its warmth to energize their bodies. It seems that we are not that much different than our reptilian counterparts.

Nature Near You has finished up for the season.

All of the content can be accessed at www.sanibelseaschool.org/nature-near-you.

Nature Near You was the Sanibel Sea School’s offering to 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.