In recent weeks it seems that all of the news coming out of Sanibel Island and Southwest Florida regarding the red tide is bad. However, there are plenty of stories of heroism, resilience, survival, hope and recovery, if you take the time to look. Admittedly, in the first weeks of the recent algae bloom it was hard to find any silver linings, with dead sea life and our sick waterways impossible to ignore. But after the initial shock, Sanibel residents, officials and people from all over the area began to take action. The City of Sanibel took the unprecedented step of hand cleaning every inch of the beaches from Lighthouse Point to Blind Pass. Individuals stepped up with donations, volunteerism and political activism. And many non-governmental Organizations who have long been at the forefront of the fight for clean water took their message to the people and the halls of congress. Two of these NGO’s who are leading the way are Captains for Clean Water and Calusa Waterkeeper.
Captains for Clean Water is a grassroots nonprofit organization that advocates for the elimination of harmful, large-scale Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River Estuaries by restoring the natural flow of Lake Okeechobee water south into the Everglades and Florida Bay. Restoring the natural southern flow of Lake Okeechobee water is essential to the survival of our estuaries, the health of the Everglades, and the long-term viability of South Florida’s largest drinking water source (the Biscayne Aquifer). Captains for Clean Water started out as a group of fishing guides from Fort Myers, FL that “had enough” of Florida’s poor water management practices. Select Vacation Properties is proud to be a corporate sponsor of CFCW, and If you are looking to get involved by making a donation to a group that can really make a difference, CFCW is a great place to start.
Calusa Waterkeeper, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the Caloosahatchee River & Estuary, Lake Okeechobee, Nicodemus Slough, Charlotte Harbor, Estero Bay, the near-shore waters of Lee County, and their watersheds, through education and promotion of responsible use and enjoyment by all people. Select Vacation Properties is proud to be a supporting member of this organization, and your donation to this organization is another way to make an impact.
There have been some very positive stories of survival lately as well, as the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) admitted a 290-pound loggerhead turtle a few days ago which was suffering from red tide poisoning and is now being treated. The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation and the Tarpon Bay Explorers assisted in rescuing her from the water. Another juvenile sea turtle was rescued and is now being treated at CROW as well. We have been out on the beaches providing daily video logs on our facebook page, and we have seen some very encouraging signs. While the red tide persists in the waters, the beach conditions are vastly improved and people and wildlife like shorebirds, Osprey and dolphins appear to be returning, but much more needs to be done to restore the health of our waters. We encourage you to reach out to your elected officials, volunteer, or donate and together, we can make this a story of redemption and positive change.