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Monday evening at the Rose History Auditorium, you have a chance to learn some intimate details about your neighbors.

This is not about what happens next door, though. Naturalist Bob McConville will be returning to the auditorium, adjacent to the Marco Island Historical Museum, to share his knowledge of the reptiles who preceded us in living here by thousands of years.

McConville will be giving a talk entitled “Crocs & Gators,” offering a close up look into the behavior, similarities, differences, and yes, sex lives, of these two related but distinct species of saurians, some of the original “Florida crackers,” creatures that are virtually unchanged since the age of the dinosaurs.

A Florida Master Naturalist, McConville is the author of two books, “Beyond the Mangrove Trees,” which focuses on the reptiles who will be the subject of his talk Monday evening, as well as their habitat, and “Beneath the Emerald Waves,” which goes into detail on the bottlenose dolphins he has been studying for many years.

Both books are illustrated with scores of his photographs. Nature photography is another passion of McConville’s, and an exhibition of his wildlife and ecological photos is currently on display in the historical museum’s Sandlin Gallery through June 2.

McConville also acts as on-board naturalist and tour guide on the Dolphin Explorer, hosting regular trips from Rose Marina out to the waterways surrounding Marco Island, as well as conducting guided nature tours in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. He also works with students at Marco Island Academy on wildlife education.

He will offer insights into the two species – alligator mississippiensis and crocodylus acutus, the American crocodile – as a whole on Monday, and also share anecdotes about particular individuals he has come to know over the years.

“There’s one female alligator I’ve been watching for four years in the Fakahatchee. I saw her bring her hatchlings out two years running, but last year there weren’t any – the eggs were inundated by Irma,” in yet another example of the ongoing effects of last September’s major hurricane.

All alligators, said McConville, are subspecies of crocodiles, and the Florida Everglades is the only place in the world where the two species coexist. Florida has about 1.25 million alligators, and only about two to three thousand crocodiles, he said, with the crocs concentrated from Sanibel Island south to the Florida Keys. Marco Island has a nest by the airport, just past the end of the runway, something to think about the next time you fly out, and another nearby in Collier-Seminole State Park along the East Tamiami Trail.

McConville’s talk will be one of many he has given on the island, with regular visits to the Rose History Auditorium.

“Bob is a repeat speaker. He has almost a cult following here, because he does such a great job,” said Marco Island Historical Society executive director Pat Rutledge. “It’s always a pleasure to have him come back.”

Previous lectures have covered local birds, turtles, how the Everglades was formed, the geology and hydrology of the Kissimmee basin, and the artificial offshore reefs along our coast. McConville will be back at Rose in June to talk about eagles, and in July for a “dolphin update.”

His wife Cathy Price, also a Florida Master Naturalist, works at the NCH urgent care center. They have four daughters.

Admission to Monday’s lecture, which begins at 7 p.m., is free to MIHS members and costs $10 for others.

 

 

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