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Given the high prevalence of COVID-19 cases in South Florida, and the narrow width of our boardwalk, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary remains closed to the public at this time. This aligns with guidance from the National Audubon Society to protect the health and safety of the Audubon team, as well as our visitors, during the coronavirus pandemic. We continue to work to protect the native species that call the Sanctuary home, and are looking forward to the day when we can welcome you back. We appreciate your patience in these extraordinary times.
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
We're Hosting a Special Webinar about Ghost Orchids on Sept. 9
In the heart of the Western Everglades, Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to an Endangered ghost orchid with so many blossoms that it has been referred to by biologists as a “Super” Ghost Orchid. Learn more about this native Florida species and hear from the biologists working to study and protect these enigmatic and charismatic plants. Panelists include Sanctuary staff members Sally Stein and Shawn Clem, Ph.D., and National Geographic Explorers and scientists Mac Stone and Peter Houlihan.

The FREE webinar takes place at 4 p.m. on Sept. 9. Register today!
Keeping a Keen Eye on Water Levels
Because many environmental changes happen at a snail’s pace, long-term datasets are critically important for identifying and understanding trends. Research staff at the Sanctuary have been monitoring the shortened hydroperiod, or the number of days each year that water is above ground in a wetland, as part of their effort to understand local Wood Stork nesting efforts.

Until now, the water-level dataset consisted of readings collected manually by volunteers and staff, but these readings only tell part of the water story at the Sanctuary. These methods also rely on daily observation (for staff gauges) or monthly visits to download data (for wells); however, recent circumstances have highlighted problems with relying on these methods.

Thanks to funding support from Knopf Family Foundation and others, Sanctuary staff have some new tools in their toolbox, including two solar-powered, satellite-telemetered, water-level recorders recently installed for the purpose of long-term hydrologic monitoring.

What, exactly, is a satellite-telemetered, water-level recorder?
A contractor installing the new equipment. Photo by Roger Copp.
Saw palmetto berries.
Safeguarding Precious Natural Resources
With sharp, serrated frond stems, the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is aptly named. It is the dominant understory plant of the pine flatwoods at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and across most of Florida. Golden and grape-like, saw palmetto berries are ripening right now, providing a crucial food source for Florida black bears as well as raccoons, white-tailed deer, and other species.

But these berries are in demand by the pharmaceutical industry and poaching has been an issue over the years.
Saw palmetto berries.
#HalfMyDAF Challenge – REMINDER
Donors who commit to granting half of the money from their DAF before September 30 to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (and/or other nonprofit organizations) give us the chance to be one of the 150 non-profits that could win a matching grant of up to $25,000. The more donors who nominate the Sanctuary, the better the chances. Learn more by visiting halfmydaf.com. For more information or assistance with gifting to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, please contact development manager Sarah Lathrop or call 317-372-9016.
Great Egret.
A True American Beauty
Have you seen this colorful native plant in your yard? Recognized by its clusters of purple berries growing in late summer, the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a medium-sized, lanky bush. Its Latin name, Callicarpa, means “bearing beautiful fruit.” Pointed leaves grow alternately on tall stems. This plant can be seen in a wide variety of conditions from scrub areas to moist soils. It is an important food source for a variety of birds and animals.
American Beautyberry.
Safety Corner: Venomous Insects and Arachnids
Florida is home to a wide variety of insects and arachnids, and some of them are venomous. Most people know about black widows and brown recluse spiders, and the nonnative fire ant is infamous, but did you know you can be seriously injured by a caterpillar?

Four venomous caterpillars can be found on Florida plants, including this little guy, the flannel moth (Megalopyge opercularis). Found across the eastern and central U.S. from New Jersey to Texas, the adult (winged) stage of the flannel moth is quite beautiful and poses no threat. But its larvae, known affectionately as “puss caterpillar” due to its woolly appearance, is one of the most venomous caterpillars in the U.S.

With venomous spines hidden in its thick, hair-like exterior, the toxins it injects in whatever it touches not only cause localized pain but can also result in systemic reactions ranging from headache and fever to abdominal pain, muscle spasms and, in some extreme cases, seizures.

Whenever in the wilderness, it is best to avoid contact by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. If stung, removing the spines immediately, either with tweezers or tape, is very helpful in reducing exposure to the toxin. Remedies can include applying ice packs, taking antihistamines, and applying hydrocortisone.

The caterpillar’s host plants include oak and elm. Land management staff members have encountered this caterpillar on a few occasions and urge anyone who works or plays in the Florida environment to keep an extra eye out for these easily overlooked insects.
Flannel moth larva, a.k.a. "puss caterpillar."
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the News
Outlet: Bonita Springs Florida Weekly
Headline: Corkscrew Sanctuary aglow with bioluminescent fungi
Excerpt: Sally Stein, director of public programs at the sanctuary, first noticed them years ago. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she said. “They were very numerous that year and subsequent years — until after Hurricane Irma, when I didn’t see many for the next two summers.” Ms. Stein took the photos shown here on July 28 this year.

Outlet: National Parks Traveler
Headline: Poor Everglades Nesting Season A Result Of Climate Change And Untimely Storms
Excerpt: According to Shawn Clem, Ph.D., Director of Research at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the Western Everglades, this year’s Wood Stork nest failures were probably due to an unusual timing of rainfall in an ecosystem that is already stressed by development and habitat loss. 

Outlet: Naples Daily News* 
Headline: Going dry: Extended water loss in Collier swamp worries researchers
Excerpt: In a partnership project with the South Florida Water Management District's Big Cypress Basin, Clem said the ... in the water table,” said Brad Cornell, policy associate for Audubon of the Western Everglades and Audubon Florida.
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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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