What's an Earthcache?
Sanibel and Captiva islands are young, only 5,000 years old. They began to form about 3,000 B.C. when storms created a sandbar about 6 miles off the coast of today's Florida. Soon mangrove trees grew to hold the sand in place, creating a permanent island. This became Captiva.
Sand continued to build up to the south, eventually forming Sanibel. The whole process took 4,500 years. The lighthouse end of Sanibel didn't exist until about 1500.
The roots of the mangrove plants stabilize the sand and mud and helped form the island. In areas of the world where mangroves have been removed for development purposes, the coastline has been subject to rapid erosion.
Today you can get fined for removing mangrove trees on Sanibel island, even on private land. Unfortunately the fines are not high enough to prevent development in all sensitive areas.
The coordinates will take you to Ding Darling Preserve, which takes up a large percentage of the island. Much of the preserve is still covered with mangroves. There are boardwalks you can walk out on into the mangroves and you can see examine the root system of these plans and see how they help prevent erosion of the sand and continually build up the island more.
At the coordinates is a large platform with a nice view of the surrounding area.
Unfortunately traditional caches are not allowed in the wildlife refuge. I hope this Earthcache will bring people out to this beautiful area. The best way to visit is by bicycle, but you can also drive your car if your not up for the 8 mile (or so) round trip ride. If you are a visitor, there are plenty of places you can rent a bike nearby. The visitor center also runs a tram through the area, but it may not stop at the posted coordinates.
(Some of the text above taken from the wonderful book Sanibel & Captiva: A Guide to the Islands by Julie Neal)
Effective October 20th, 2006, you must meet the following in order to claim a find, due to new Earthcache rules:
Answers to these questions can be found on many of the educational signs throughout the area, or can be looked up afterwards on the internet.
- Optional - post a picture of yourself at the posted coordinates to prove you were here.
- Send an email to me before posting your find (but do not wait for a reply from me) with the answers to the following:
- There are several types of mangroves on the island. What type of mangrove props itself above the water with stilt roots?
- What type of mangrove lives on higher land?
- Red mangroves are viviparous - what does this mean?