Seven-acres of beach not just for the birds anymore

Marco beach areas begin to open to people; sea turtles share closed area with shore birds

Article Highlights

  • Marco’s “Turtle Lady,” Mary Nelson reported that sea turtles hatched in the area closed for birds Tuesday
  • 7-acres of Island beach opens back up, small area still closed for protected shore birds
Marco beaches open back up after nesting shorebirds fly-off — except for the last remaining black skimmers slightly north of Residents’ Beach. The shore birds are sharing the closed beach area with sea turtles. The nest in the center of the beach hatched Tuesday.

Mary Nelson / Special to the Eagle

Marco beaches open back up after nesting shorebirds fly-off — except for the last remaining black skimmers slightly north of Residents’ Beach. The shore birds are sharing the closed beach area with sea turtles. The nest in the center of the beach hatched Tuesday.

— Nesting shore birds are beginning to share Marco’s beaches again — not just with people, but with sea turtles as well.

City environmental specialist Nancy Richie reported that the approximate seven-acre main beach area between South Seas Towers and Crescent Beach Condominiums have opened back up to beachgoers.

The area was posted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the city earlier this summer to protect two shore bird species, least terns and black skimmers, which had nested in the area in May.

Another smaller beach area, near Cresent Beach condo, slightly north of Residents’ Beach, is still marked off to protect black skimmers, however the birds there already began sharing that beach with nesting sea turtles.

Marco’s “Turtle Lady,” Mary Nelson reported that sea turtles hatched in the closed area on Tuesday.

Once the black skimmer chicks can fly away this area will be open as well and the vegetative growth on the beach will be raked, Richie said.

Allan Madsen, Collier County Coastal Zone Management Department, has reported that the beach raker was temporarily out of service, but grass removal from the newly opened beach area is a priority.

Richie said as soon as standing water dissipates, following the recent heavy rains, the grass will be removed and the sandy beach will be restored.

There were four areas of Marco beaches closed off in May to protect the threatened species of least tern and snowy plovers, as well as the black skimmers, considered to be a species of special concern among environment regulating agencies.

She anticipates the last closed beach area in the southern end of the island, which is currently being shared by the black skimmers and sea turtles, will reopen near the end of August as shore bird nesting season ends Aug. 31.

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