my Sanibel Island Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge Florida Vacation

My Trip to
Sanibel Island Florida

If you go to the Ft. Myers area you really need to take a few hours and go to Sanibel Island. Sanibel Island is a Gulf Coast barrier island just off the southwest coast of Florida, located about 15 miles southwest of Ft. Myers.

The island is small, about 12 miles long and 4 miles wide. Sanibel is known around the world for it's fabulous shelling beaches. Due to Sanibel Island's unique geographical orientation, lying East to West instead of North to South, it acts as a scoop and gathers seashells along it's beaches.

We didn't go to Sanibel Island for the beaches or the shells tho, we went to the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. Over 60% of the Island is protected wildlife preserves. The Darling Refuge was named for Jay Norwood Darling, the conservationist, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, and wildlife artist. It is a National Wildlife Refuge.

This is some info from one of their handouts about the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge:

  • The refuge is made up of several habitat types: estuarine habitat consisting of open water, sea grass beds, mud flats and mangrove islands, and interior freshwater habitats consisting of: open water ponds, spartina swales, and west Indian hardwood hammocks ridges. Two brackish water impoundments totaling 800 acres are managed for mosquito control and are used extensively by waterfowl and wading birds.
  • Two thousand eight hundred and twenty five (2,825) acres of the refuge have been designated as Wilderness Area.
  • Several threatened and endangered species benefit from the habitats described: eastern indigo snakes, American alligators, American crocodiles, bald eagles, wood storks, peregrine falcons, west Indian manatees, and Atlantic loggerhead turtles.
  • The refuge has a large diversity of species. Approximately 238 bird species have been identified utilizing refuge habitats, as well as 51 species of reptiles and amphibians and 32 species of mammals.

When you enter the Refuge, go to the Visitor's Center first. They have a short information movie and lots of handouts and tips. There's a tram that goes around the Refuge, but there is also a guided auto tour, which is what we did. You can drive your own car at your own pace. The stoping points are marked and the brochures and info points tell you what you are looking for. You can also bicycle through... but being somewhat old and out of shape I never took that option.

Take your time going through, and keep looking! We found some pretty interesting stuff.

My Sanibel Island Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge Pictures
Pictures page one Click Here
Pictures page two Click Here

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