Look who popped up in the Ocean’s Reach pond last week!
Longtime guest Scott Norris captured a number of wonderful images on his latest visit here from Indianapolis, so much so that we thought we’d dedicate this week’s blogs to the amazing photos he shared with us.
First up are these “significant otters,” who are just as cute as can be!
Just how lovable are they? Sea otters are known to hold hands while they’re sleeping to keep from drifting away from each other. In addition, a mother and her pup will also wrap themselves up in strands of sea plants that grow from the ocean floor – such as kelp – which they’ll use as anchors so they can sleep without worry of floating out to open ocean.
Another fun fact? Sea otters have the densest fur in the whole animal kingdom — ranging from 250,000 to an amazing one million hairs per square inch. I could comment on some follicle-challenged gentlemen I know being a bit jealous, but actually I’m wondering who in the world does all the counting?
Each spring, creativity blossoms at the annual Art in the Gardens exhibit at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.
Teachers and students from throughout Southwest Florida use their artistic talents — along with recycled and unusual materials — to create spectacularly unique sculptures that are displayed throughout the historic estate gardens.
This year, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the program, students will be tasked with creating patriotic-themed outdoor sculptures.
The exhibit will be open through May 6 and there is no charge for admission. For more information, call 239-334-7419.
Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement.
On April 22,1970, more than 20 million Americans took to streets, parks and college campuses in massive coast-to-coast rallies to protest against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife realized they shared common values.
Fast forward 48 years and Earth Day is now a global event each year, with an estimated 1 billion people in 192 countries taking part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.
As you’d probably expect, we’ll have a full weekend of Earth Day activities to enjoy on Sanibel Island.
At the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on April 21st, families can enjoy a free, fun-filled day. Guests can grab a free bicycle rental and join a ranger on the Wildlife Drive/Indigo Trail loop to learn about the refuge’s wildlife and ecology. They can meet Bagzilla, a “bag monster” dressed in the average person’s annual plastic bag consumption, enjoy making earth-friendly upcycled crafts to take home, and then watch the award-winning film “STRAWS,” a 30-minute documentary about plastic straw pollution and the effort to curb single-use plastics for the protection of our oceans.
At the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) on April 22nd, they will feature solar ideas for a hurricane preparation box, along with a special presentation from guest speaker Anna Shork, co-founder of LuminAID, who will present a program at 1:30 and 3 p.m. in the Nature Center about her experience lighting the dark corners of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. (It is free, but reservations are suggested as seating is limited. To register, visit “SCCF Earth Day Presentation” online at www.eventbrite.com.)
Ding Darling is located at 1 Wildlife Drive and more information can be found on dingdarlingsociety.org or by calling 239-472-1100. SCCF is at 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Drive and more information can be found at www.sccf.org or by calling 239-472-2329.
What happens when visual artists depict how music feels or what it means to them? Can art express the nuances of music?
Imagine our delight when we learned that one of our favorite longtime guests, Frank M. from Groton Point, CT, had submitted a painting for the recent Art of Music exhibit at BIG ARTS. Frank, who has been coming to Ocean’s Reach since the 1970s(!), has been enchanting us for years with his artwork and this piece is no exception.
Beautifully painted in acrylics, Frank’s piece is entitled “A Day to Remember” and includes the following charming lyrics to a song he wrote in 1998, dedicated to his lovely bride, Cynthia:
To sail, under bright blue summer skies, sending spray across the sea,
with my love close by my side,
tis a thrill that only love can bring,
as we glide down with the ebbing tide to the cove that sparkles in our mystic isle.
Then we will swim, then we will dine, then we will sun and watch clouds drift by.
Then we will embrace, as sun starts to set.
A day to remember all of our lives!
Thanks to our friends at The Islander for this update. Excerpt of article by Tiffany Repecki follows. We’ll keep you posted on the re-opening as we learn more!
The Jacaranda Restaurant has switched hands and the new owners are nearing an opening date.
Re-opening as The Jac Island Grille and Rum Bar, Eve and Alex Alves purchased the restaurant from Dr. Darayes Mobed, who had owned the venue since 2005, in November. Over the past couple of months, Eve Alves has been gutting and updating the site for her farm-to-table scratch kitchen and restaurant.
“It’s a total remodel,” she said, adding that the plumbing and wiring had to be redone. “Brand new tile in and out. The bathrooms were redone. We built a bar inside the restaurant to open it up.”
Alves described the new decor as Sanibel Island-y. “So it’s a lot of light wood,” she said of the before and after. “It’s like day and night.”
Born and raised in the restaurant business, Alves’ parents immigrated from Cyprus in the 1940s. Residing in New York and later Miami, the first family restaurant was a Jewish deli in 1968. “He had a total of five restaurants,” she said of her father.
Alves attended culinary school in London, England. She had a restaurant in Key Largo, which was part of the family for 36 years, and has owned and operated Luna Rossa Italian Grill, in the Miromar Outlets in Fort Myers, for about a decade.
“All of my restaurants are scratch kitchens,” Alves said. “Everything’s made in-house.”
Farm-to-table means locally-grown organic vegetables and fresh seafood and meat.
“We take pride in what we serve and what goes on the plate,” she said.
Philipe Schroeder has been hired as the executive chef. After attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, Schroeder has since worked in premier restaurants in Hawaii and Texas.
“I think the biggest thing that I want to bring to the table here is freshness,” when asked about the new Jac Island Grille and Rum Bar menu.
“It’ll be a lot of local seafood and some really good steaks — all cut in-house. I make my own bread and buns,” he said. “A couple of pasta dishes, and we’re going to be making that fresh in house.”
In the scratch kitchen-manner, all of the desserts will also be made in-house. There will also be plenty of gluten-free options.
“I want this to be a restaurant worth going to, a destination all by itself,” he added.
The Jac Island Grille and Rum Bar, located at 1223 Periwinkle Way, will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m., serving lunch and dinner. On Saturdays and Sundays, it will open at 9 a.m. to serve up brunch.
April 10th has been officially recognized as Gopher Tortoise Day!
The goal of Gopher Tortoise Day is to increase awareness and appreciation for these long lived, gentle reptiles.
Gopher tortoises are considered a “keystone species” because they dig burrows that provide shelter for 360 other species of wildlife, called “commensals.” These commensal species include the gopher frog, Florida mouse, eastern indigo snake, and hundreds of invertebrates like beetles and crickets. Without the gopher tortoise, many of these species would not exist.
Wildlife officials report that spring days are a good time to spot a gopher tortoise as the species becomes more active, foraging for food and searching for a mate.
Sanibel Island sustains a sizable population of gopher tortoises, which inhibit conservation lands, residential neighborhoods and commercial properties.
(Dina has one in her front yard, too!)
The species needs plenty of sandy sunny habitats with an open tree canopy to thrive and survive, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Officials advise that it is best to leave gopher tortoises and their half-moon shaped burrow entrances alone. It is illegal to disturb or harm them, their burrows or their eggs.
Habitat destruction is the main threat to its species’ population. CROW treats an average of 60-75 gopher tortoises annually, and their main reason for admission is from being ‘HBC’ (Hit By Car). As of April 5, CROW had eight gopher tortoises recovering in the hospital.
To help a gopher tortoise cross a road, pick it up and place it on the roadside in the direction it was heading. Remember that the tortoise is a land animal, so never attempt to put it into water.
CROW will host a “Patient Profiles: Gopher Tortoises” program on April 14 at 2 p.m. for those interested in learning more about the species and how the medical staff treats injured tortoises.