Nature Near You: Highlighting Conservation Success Stories

by Nicole Finnicum

The fifth week of Nature Near You, 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 these species. We also introduced SCCF’s partnership with Blue-Green Connections and Mission Blue, part of Sylvia Earle’s efforts to create Hope Spots around the globe.

On Monday, we introduced a familiar feathered friend, 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 this chemical was banned in 1972. After the ban, the Osprey population recovered quickly – showing how swift actions can have positive impacts on wildlife.

On Wednesday, we announced our partnership with Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue and the Blue-Green Connections to protect The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot. This partnership and collaborative effort will allow us to be a voice for The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot, so that we can share the importance of our 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 these marine areas.

The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot was recognized because it has Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), oyster habitat, blue holes, and a unique offshore rocky hard bottom habitat. We are so excited that this area is gaining awareness, so that we can protect our coastlines for the future.

Friday’s 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. These whales were hunted for their blubber, meat, and bones, which decimated this population to just 440 individuals 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 this 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 these success stories on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we hope we can be motivated to tackle future issues that arise and protect the beauty of nature near all of us.

Nature Near You will continue throughout the school closures and be delivered via email. If you are interested in joining the mailing list, please email info@sanibelseaschool.org If you missed out on an issue of Nature Near You, all of the content can be accessed at https://www.sanibelseaschool.org/nature-near-you.

Nature Near You is Sanibel Sea School’s offering to the community. If you would like to support our efforts, please visit https://www.sanibelseaschool.org/support-the-cause or email 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.

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