Nudists Bothering Wildlife on Passage Key

Once upon a time, Passage Key, just off the north end of Anna Maria Island, had a farm, an artesian well, and a few inhabitants. But with the passage of time (pun intended) the island changed.

Strong currents, passing storms and the normal flow of water in and out of Tampa Bay turned the Key into a sub-surface sandbar, following the heavy hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. Although no hurricanes actually crossed the island, it sank beneath the waves, only to reappear at low, low tide.

But quite surprisingly, Passage Key has risen above the waves recently. In its recent past, it was a place where naturists, or nudists, if you prefer, would take boats to the sandbar, anchor, and stand around knee-deep in water and bask in the sun.

Now, there’s actual land, and the nudists are still going to the island. And they’re walking up on the sand, where there is an official seabird sanctuary. Nesting birds, and ‘loafing’ birds now inhabit the big sandbar, which is now above the waves at all times.

They should not be interfering with the birds; the island is clearly marked, and stakes and signs tell them to keep off.

A local television station recently did a story. Here’s the news from Channel 8, Tampa: CLICK HERE

First AMI Shorebird Nest Is That of a Least Tern

least tern

Least tern on nest

According to a recent article in The Islander, the first shorebird nest identified this year is that of a Least tern, a bird that leaves its southern hemisphere wintering grounds for an eventual summering place far north of Anna Maria Island.

A protected species, the Least tern is quite the traveler. But it pauses on its way north to breed and raise a chick or two. With Florida a long-time breeding ground, the huge influx of people has pretty much destroyed most of its favored nesting sites.

For many years, flat, gravel roofs, popular in the last century, were used by the birds, usually without the homeowner even knowing about it. But these days, the old houses are being replaced with newer style roofs, not supportive of the shallow scrapes that are the actual ‘nests,’ not twigs or reeds or grasses that one thinks of from terrestrial birds.

So the preservation of some of their original, beach-y nesting sites is essential to the survival of the species.

Here is the Islander ARTICLE, a pretty good one.

Audubon Christmas Bird Count Data Reported

Here’s the summary of the Audubon Society’s CBC in Florida. this is the longest running citizen science in the country, maybe the world. For more than 100 years, interested parties have counted birds in the two weeks before and after Christmas, and submitting their counts to the National Audubon Society.

This author served in the Fort DeSoto count this past Christmas, an area that takes in the northern Tip of Anna Maria Island, Egmont Key and the southern bit of Pinellas County.

Here’s the Florida summary. CLICK HERE

Sea Turtles Are Hatching on AMI

Not that long ago, we were noting that sea turtles were crawling up the beach to lay eggs in their nests here on Anna Maria Island. that still happens, but — as is the natural course of events — now many of those eggs are hatching.

And it’s always a problem to get the little turtles from the nest to the Gulf.

Here’s an interesting follow-up from The Islander.

Click Here

Florida Beach Finder Finds AMI

Visit Florida has a new ‘Beach Finder’ page that allows use of four sliding bars to custom-search for a beach that really reflects your desires.

This author recently tried it out, and looking for a laid back, family friendly beach, Holmes Beach popped up as the best match, with 95% fidelity to my search.

Try it yourself: Click Here

Let me know what your favorite Florida beach is!