In order to protect the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and visitors and to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is closed. Our Blair Audubon Visitor Center and boardwalk are also closed. Our essential workforce continues to maintain the security of the Sanctuary. We are working hard to develop procedures that will allow for a safe re-opening as soon as possible. Thank you so much for your patience.
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Fish stranded in gator wallow
Annual Wetland Drydown Produces Massive Concentration of Fish
The annual drydown of freshwater wetlands typically strands small fish in isolated deepwater ponds and results in a feeding frenzy of wading birds that reap the benefits of an easy meal during a critical time in their nesting season. Last week, a member of our essential staff recorded video of a rare, unusually large concentration of fish (primarily the nonnative walking catfish, Clarias batrachus) trapped in a ditch along the edge of the Sanctuary. Instead of wading birds, the beneficiaries of this buffet were alligators, turtles, and hundreds of Black Vultures. Read more and watch the video!
Walking catfish stranded in gator wallow
Don't Miss the Next Virtual Lunch and Learn Lecture with Dr. Jerry Jackson
Last month, we hosted our first “virtual” Lunch and Learn lecture with historian Cesar Becerra. Nearly 200 people tuned in for “ The History of Cypress Logging in South Florida” – a record attendance for a Corkscrew lecture. If you missed it, you can find a recording of the webinar here.

This month, we are excited to host another lecture, “The Colors of Spring,” on Wednesday, May 27. Dr. Jerry Jackson, Professor Emeritus, Florida Gulf Coast University, and the voice of WGCU-FM’s “With the Wild Things” is also a longtime Boardwalk Naturalist Volunteer at Corkscrew Sanctuary. He will share his thoughts and imagery relating to “spring as the season of renewal -- even in the time of Covid-19 -- bringing with it some feelings of hope.” The lecture is free. 
Tricolored Heron. Photo by Dr. Jerry Jackson
"A Gauge" is dry
"A Gauge" is dry!
DRY is the word!
Okay, now we can finally say we are dry. During our current Water Year (June – May), recorded rainfall was 30% lower than Corkscrew’s 20-year average. The rain gauge has now been at zero inches since April 8, and will likely remain there until rainy season kicks in. Historically, the swamp would reach this level of low water only a few times each decade, however, this has been happening far more regularly. Since 1996, there have only been five years when the swamp stayed wet throughout the entire season, with last year being the most recent.  Click to see the latest water level graph.
Wildfire Threat is High
Last week, an 8,800-acre wildfire near Alligator Alley in Collier County made national news. Smaller fires had also popped up in the area, including one near Sanctuary road, just east of Corkscrew. The drought conditions and high winds have made these and other fires difficult to contain, and Corkscrew’s Senior Resource Manager (who is also a certified Prescribed Burn Boss) Allyson Webb had been in constant contact with the local fire department. She offered as much logistic assistance as was possible under our current COVID-19 restrictions. The essential staff on-site has been patrolling the Sanctuary, working to ensure fire breaks are cleared to reduce the wildfire risk and provided a tractor and water tanker. That fire is now contained.

The support provided by Corkscrew staff was helpful during this exceptional situation where the local fire departments were stretched thin due to the sheer number of wildfires that cropped up in a short amount of time. It is fortunate that Corkscrew has a great relationship with the fire department and staff members plan to work with them more on future prescribed fires around the Sanctuary. Prescribed fire is a necessary tool to help reduce fuel loads (thus minimizing the risk of wildfires), regenerate marshes and wet prairies, perpetuate fire-dependent plant species, and ensure a healthy habitat for animals and people.
Fire near the Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary In the News
Outlet: NBC-2
Headline: Catfish walk over alligators at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary 

Outlet: WGCU-FM
Headline: Contribute Your Bird Sightings to Science

Outlet: FGCU 360
Headline: Virtual field trips and other resources help Colloquium carry on

Outlet: WGCU-FM
Headline:  Seeing Wildlife? Keep Socially Distant 

Outlet: Fort Myers News-Press
Headline: Florida panthers, bobcats struggling with ailment to get help with research grant 
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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary closed to the public on Monday, March 16. The cancellation of public programs and the absence of admission, memberships, and retail purchases has severely impacted the Sanctuary – with an anticipated loss in income of $400,000. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary relies heavily on these sources of income to support our work to protect the 13,000 acres of critical wetlands for the wildlife and people who rely on the Sanctuary.
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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Rd., Naples, FL 34120 USA
(239) 348-9151 | corkscrew.audubon.org

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