Sanibel the Sanctuary

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Protecting nature and wildlife is a mission of the Sanibel Island community and city leaders. Part of the City of Sanibel’s mission statement describes Sanibel as the community’s sanctuary, “one in which a diverse population lives in harmony with the island’s wildlife and natural habitats.” Furthermore, the City strives to “be vigilant in the protection and enhancement of its sanctuary characteristics.”

Sanibel preserves its wildlife by resisting “pressures to accommodate increased development and redevelopment.” In fact, the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, located on Sanibel Island, is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the US. This wildlife refuge is known throughout the world for its migratory bird populations.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF)

The mastermind behind preserving Sanibel’s wildlife is the SCCF.  The foundation conserves the coastal habitats and aquatic resources across 1300 acres of Sanibel and Captiva Island, and also owns an additional 500 acres on nearby Pine Island.

The SCCF Marine Laboratory actively conducts research in areas including sea grasses, mangroves, harmful algae blooms, fish populations and shellfish restoration. SCCF’s RECON (River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network) network of seven in-water sensors provides “real-time readings of key water quality parameters – spanning a 90-mile-area.” Hourly readings and local weather updates are available on the SCCF website.

Want to Help Conserve?

Getting involved with wildlife preservation in Sanibel is easy. SCCF offers a wide array of educational programs for all ages including beach walks, trail hikes, wading trips, kayaking, classroom-based activities, and more.

At the SCCF Nature Center of Sanibel, visitors can enjoy an observation tower that overlooks four miles of wooded hiking trails, exotic exhibits, an aquatic touch tank, a colorful butterfly house and a souvenir nature shop. The onsite Native Plant Nursery has a wide selection of native plants for sale. If you have no landscaping experience, you’re in luck. Ask nursery plant experts for landscaping tips and available educational services before you leave.

Explore the Wildlife at Port Sanibel Marina

Port Sanibel Marina is proud to be a part of the city’s mission to preserve the island and surrounding areas. We’ve got great activities for nature lovers including nature trail hikes and kayak/canoe eco tours. Our naturalist guide will fill you in on all the secrets of the mangroves and wildlife in the Sanibel area. Come explore the beautiful ecosystem of Southwest Florida with us!