provided to Santiva Chronicle
There are few things better than exploring the edges of the ocean; every trip yields something new and often something unexpected. Shoreline exploration captivates people of all ages. And, Bunche Beach is one of Lee County’s very best beaches to explore.
Bunche Beach is a natural gem with a colored past – quite literally. In 1949, Bunche Beach was dedicated as the segregated beach for blacks – the only beach in Lee County where persons of color could go without risking arrest – it was a one-acre parcel.
Although no data exists for this, it is likely that Bunche beach was widely used by the Calusa. It is a little ironic that perhaps Florida’s first people, the Calusa, a people of color, likely found this beach attractive and that descendants of European occupiers later exiled people of color to these shores.
In 2001, the 705 acres of beachfront and adjoining salt marshes were purchased to establish Bunche Beach as a Lee County park. It is named for Dr. Ralph Bunche, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 – the first African American to receive this honor.
Biologically, Bunche Beach is a very rich environment. It is an uncommon mangal beach – a long stretch of sandy beach amidst vast forests of mangroves. Ecologists call mangrove forests mangals. In southwest Florida, mangals are extremely important for our marine communities. Much of the energy available to our marine resources comes from mangals. In that sense, Bunche Beach is a beach positioned at the gateway through which massive amounts of energy flows to the sea.
Just about all aspects of Bunche Beach are different than those on our islands. Mangal beaches are very biologically rich environments. There is a high concentration of shorebirds. The size of the sand particles is different.
Come and join us as we explore our past and this very rich and different environment – from 8 to 10 a.m. March 10. We will be meeting at Bunche Beach Preserve. To register visit sanibelseaschool.org or call (239) 472-8585 for more information.
Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.