The coast provides nesting habitat for sea turtles and shorebirds. Sanibel is a rest stop for birds flying thousands of miles and seeking out some time to rest and feed along their way.
Ghost crabs burrow in the sand. Lots of smaller creatures wriggle in the surf.
Named for its summer breeding plumage, this plover is light-colored during its Sanibel stay.
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchling
Sea turtles nest on Sanibel from May through October.
Gopher tortoises—sometimes mistaken for sea turtles—have short legs and clawed feet. Sea turtles have flatten flippers about half as long as their shells.
Gopher tortoise often dig sandy dunes near the Gulf.
Snowy Plovers simply scrape a little sand aside to lay their eggs. They are dependent upon camouflage to hide their babies.
Snowy Plover photo by Hugh McLaughlin
Beyond the Beach
Up down, up down and out to the bay, Sanibel's topography shows the subtle variations in elevation between the old dunes and lower wetlands areas. These variations, combined with a subtropical climate, yield a tremendous variety of plant and animals, all built upon
tiny grains of sand like the ones between your toes.
Beyond the ridges and swales, the mangroves, mudflats and seagrass stretch out into Pine Island Sound.
Sanibel's mid-summer freshwater wetlands are Everglades-like.
Mangroves help stabilize the bayside shoreline.