Conservancy of Southwest Florida – Nature Center

Conservancy of Southwest Florida: Knight Anole

Nature Center

Inside the nature center at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, you find live displays and informational exhibits that showcase the varied animals and the rare habitats of southwest Florida.  The center’s reach stretches geographically from Naples in the north to the Everglades in the south; it spans habitats from woodsy uplands; through fresh water ecosystems, estuarine mangrove channels and protected bays; to Gulf beaches, inter-tidal shorelines, Everglade marshlands and tropical reefs.  A very rich, exquisitely beautiful, but extremely fragile set of habitats and ecosystems. 

Florida Mud Turtle 

Fresh water tanks illustrate the variety of flora and fauna unique to southwest Florida ecosystems, all extremely sensitive to human overuse and abuse of the aquifer and the watershed.

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Fresh Water Tank with Gator and Red-Eared Slider

No visit to the nature center would be complete without admiring the antics of a Florida gator.  One wonders, though, whether the red-eared slider and the fish earn a dangerous pay bonus for sharing a tank and ecosytem with the gator.

Display Tanks Integrated Among “Red Mangroves”

A section of the nature center captures the brackish, estuarine ecosystem with display tanks woven among red mangroves.

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Diamondback Terrapins in Brackish Estuarine Tank

Who else would be more at home among the mangrove roots than the diamondback terrapin?

Conservancy Touch Tank of Back Bay and Shoreline Critters

Moving to saltier habitats, the nature center sports a large touch tank with illustrative critters from protected bays and the inter-tidal zone along shore lines. 

Loggerhead Sea Turtle ( Caretta caretta) Nest Exhibit

Along the Gulf beaches of southwest Florida, loggerhead sea turtles come ashore each spring through summer to lay nests above the high water line.  The eggs incubate for an average of about two months and hatchlings generally emerge at night to head for the “brightest horizon,” which normally means the sea … unless a callous business or homeowner blares bright lights during the hatching season.

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Juvenile Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Tropical Tank 

While not currently in the nature center, juvenile loggerheads (Caretta caretta) have graced the tropical tank.  When present, they are a wonder to observe.  The juvenile in the video was two or three years old in the first clip, but had obviously grown a couple of years by the end of the video.  Large loggerheads present a challenge for rehabilitators.  They are rather jealously possessive of their own tank and brook no rivals.  So, as they grow it increases the incentive for their return to the wild.

The Conservancy Is Committed toTurtle Conservation

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is committed to endangered turtle conservation.  Many exhibits and posters document the work of the Conservancy throughout this area.  When you visit the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Turtle Journal recommends that you plan an extended stay to savor everything it has to offer.  For children from five to one hundred five, there’s unlimited opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Return to Turtle Journal soon to go behind the scenes of the Conservancy’s animal hospital to learn about rescue and rehabilitation of endangered and injured animals.  

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