Traditional rivals Sarasota and Riverview High Schools worked together on Saturday
March 3, 2018 when they joined forces with Sarasota Bay Watch to make Skier’s Island
just a little bit better. Skiers Island is located in Roberts Bay in between Siesta Key and
the mainland. Over the years it accumulated trash and became dominated by a non-native
tree called carrotwood.
A big group of 71 hardy souls took the SHS Carefree Learner and other boats from
Patterson Park at Siesta Drive over to the island. They cleared out areas of pure
carrotwood, piled up the brush, replanted with native species and removed a small mountain
Scientists tell us that native plants provide food and shelter for an abundance of bugs
and other tiny creatures. The big ones eat the little ones in a pyramid of life but we just
see the big ones that we love like ospreys, herons, snook and tarpon. Exotic plants that
are accidentally introduced here from other parts of the world are said to provide about
1% of the habitat value of native plants. Native plants are a smorgasbord for the wildlife that
are making a life in our community.
Thanks to Albritton’s Nursery who provided the sea grape and pitch apple plants plus
potting soil at cost. Let’s not forget DG ACE Hardware who provided a whole variety of
tools for the event too. Sarasota County Parks Department did a great job of providing
valuable guidance about how to do this kind of work effectively. Thank you very much!
It takes a real dedication to root out litter found on an island that is covered with
dense vegetation. Trash floats onto the shores and gets tangled in the mangrove jungle.
Volunteers had little “grabbers” to reach into these inaccessible areas. We found a lot of
styrofoam (about 40 pounds!), lawn chairs, plywood, fishing line, a butterfly net, a plastic
owl and much more for a total of about 425 pounds of waste.
Seven years ago, Sarasota Bay Watch cleaned skiers island for the first time and it
was covered with trash from end to end. This time it was much harder to find trash and
most of it was scattered around the perimeter.
Sarasota Bay Watch is looking forward to more improvements to Skiers Island.
Volunteers are always more than welcome. We love the islands and look forward to helping
them along to a healthier condition for our fine feathered and fine-finned friends, as well as for our community and future generations to enjoy.
A big THANK YOU to the joint High School team that made this happen, plus the
teachers, sponsors and everyone else.