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A Goodland Favorite Son Succeeds at MIA, Part Two

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:31pm

By Barry Gwinn

Tyler at a pre-season game.

A few days after being abandoned and picked up by his uncle, Tyler ended up with his sister in East Naples. She faithfully took him over to Marco Island Charter Middle School every school day during his 7th grade year. The next year, his dad returned and managed to rent another place in Goodland. Tyler moved back in with him for his 8th grade year. During this period, Jim Prange, the father of his best friend, was keeping tabs on Tyler. “My dad wasn’t doing so well,” Tyler recalled, “I had to get an afternoon and weekend job to pay the rent.” Even this wasn’t enough. In April 2014, Tyler’s dad said that he had to go away again. The next day, the police showed up outside to enforce the eviction. Tyler packed his stuff in his father’s van and was driven over to the Pranges’ house on Marco Island. He and his dad unloaded his stuff in the Pranges’ garage. His dad said, “Sorry. I love you.” and left. Tyler later heard his dad was admitted to the David Lawrence Center in Naples. In October 2014, Jim Prange and his wife Missy became the legal guardians of Tyler Gresham.

Prange is a successful real estate agent at Premier Sotheby’s on Marco Island. He moved here from Indiana in 1980. He first met Tyler Gresham when Tyler was 7-years-old. Tyler played on an Optimist football team, which Prange was coaching. Tyler became a star on the team and best friends with Tanner Prange, Prange’s son, who was also on the team. Tanner and Tyler became inseparable. Tyler was living in Goodland with his parents, and Prange would drop Tanner off down there every day during summers. “The two boys had some wonderful times in Goodland,” said Prange. Prange suspected that Nikki Bauer of the Little Bar and Shelly Balante, of the Olde Marco Lodge had a soft spot for Tyler. “They made sure that Tyler could always get a hot meal when he needed one,” said Prange. Prange kept in touch with Tyler, and learned that his mother was in prison and his dad was having a rough time. Often, Tyler was left alone and would stay with the Pranges for a while.

Tyler speaking at a meeting of the Sunrise Rotary Club.

In April 2014, Prange learned that Tyler and his dad were being evicted from their Goodland residence. Tyler’s father brought him up to the Pranges’ and left. “Tyler has not seen much of his dad since then,” said Prange. Tyler has lived with the Pranges ever since. Tyler has told Prange that he loves his father for taking care of him after his mother went to prison. Tyler said that his father was recently living at St. Matthews House in Naples, and may have regressed again. Tyler visits his mother at a Naples halfway house, when he can. He occasionally attends a church service with her. His father comes over for MIA Friday night football games. “Despite all that has happened,” said Prange, “Tyler still feels an obligation toward his parents.” “I must now be a parent to both of them,” Tyler told him.

Prange notes that through all of this, Tyler’s priority was to stay in school. Somehow, through good times and bad, he showed up every day and did well in both the classroom and the athletic field. It was a long, sometimes wet, round trip on his bicycle from Goodland up to TBE and MICMS.

Tyler with a fellow student at the installation of the Rotary Club District Governor.

Tyler has just begun his junior year at MIA. He has become a three-sport star and has maintained a high scholastic average. He had a breakout year in football last year and hopes to parlay that along with a high GPA into a college scholarship. In the meantime, Tyler is still trying to pay his way through an after school and weekend job.

When it comes to academics, Tyler looks upon Amber Prange – yes, that Amber Prange – as his mentor. Amber Prange is Jim Prange’s daughter, and also happens to be the assistant principal at MIA. Ms. Prange recalls that through a tumultuous life, Tyler always managed “to keep his nose clean and do well at school.” Tyler is starting his junior year at MIA after concluding a successful sophomore year. Ms. Prange would characterize him as one who “excels in the classroom and on the athletic field.” She finds him to be feisty and motivated. “Tyler has a lot of energy which he uses to challenge himself in the classroom and on the athletic field,” said Ms. Prange.

Greg Fowler is starting his third year as MIA’s football coach. Tyler says that the new football coach is one of the reasons he transferred to MIA from Lely last year. Coach Fowler has found Tyler to be a real gamer. “He played through a lot of injures and did everything you’d ask him to do. He’s a great kid and a good fit for the team,” Fowler said. Fowler had Tyler playing both ways: full back on offense, and outside linebacker on defense. He notes that Tyler was the team’s leading rusher last year, and also starts in two other sports at MIA. Like the rest of the team, Tyler works hard and takes his conditioning seriously. Fowler notes that Tyler broke into the team’s 1,000 pound club when he was able to lift a total combined weight of at least 1,000 pounds in the bench press, squat, and power clean lifts.

Tyler and Jim Prange at the Sunrise Rotary. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

While talking to Jim Prange, it became obvious to me that for all Tyler Gresham’s accomplishments, the one Prange was most proud of was Tyler’s participation in the Rotary Club’s Youth Leadership Awards program (RYLA). Last spring, Tyler was nominated by the Sunrise Rotary Club of Marco Island (Prange is a member) to attend a state wide RYLA conference at Florida Atlantic University. In April 2015, Tyler joined students from Florida high schools, colleges, and young professional ranks for a five-day program, which emphasized leadership skills, communication skills, problem solving and conflict management, and community and global citizenship. All of the participants were nominated by their local Rotary Clubs. On August 11, Tyler addressed the Sunrise Rotary Club. According to Prange, Tyler did well and will be used by the club as a mentor and role model in the Youth Leadership Program.

Nancy and I met first Jim Prange and Tyler Gresham a few Saturdays ago, eating dinner at the Philly Grille. I noticed how comfortable each was with the other, and introduced myself. You don’t often see a father and teenage son actually enjoying a dinner together. Tyler introduced Jim Prange as his second father. It was evident to me that Tyler had respect and affection for Prange. I know Tyler better now. I am certain that he will never disappoint Jim and Missy Prange, who have sacrificed so much so that Tyler can realize his dreams. There are a lot of people pulling for Tyler.


Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years. Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association

Physicians Regional Healthcare System’s 4th Annual PINK PARTY

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:20pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Physicians Regional Healthcare System is once again hosting its annual “PINK PARTY” on Thursday, October 22 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. This year’s PINK PARTY will take place at Naples Luxury Imports, 900 Tamiami Trail North in Naples.

A highly popular annual event, Physicians Regional’s PINK PARTY is free to the public and promises to deliver a healthy blend of essential wellness information, engaging activities, and much more.

In addition to serving as a complimentary resource for important medical information, Physicians Regional’s PINK PARTY will feature prizes, giveaways, food and beverage—all presented with the goal of pampering Southwest Florida’s extraordinary community of women in a fun, sophisticated atmosphere.

Proceeds will be donated to Cancer Alliance of Naples (CAN). Devoted to helping people touched by cancer, volunteer-led CAN provides financial aid, support, education, and information resources. Jodi Bisogno, Executive Director of CAN, said, “Cancer Alliance of Naples (CAN) is grateful for the continued support and partnership from Physicians Regional Healthcare System. Many individuals in Collier County are not even aware of the services CAN provides for cancer patients. CAN is excited to continue to be a part of the Pink Party which helps to raise awareness of the services and support CAN offers to the local cancer community.”

Scott Lowe, Market CEO of Physician Regional Healthcare System, tells us, “As a native of Southwest Florida, I have a somewhat unique appreciation for the women in our community as they are often members of my family, my neighbors, or lifelong friends. Just as our extraordinary local women continue to invest themselves in our community, Physicians Regional has invested significantly, our ability to offer companionate, state-of-the-art patient care, such as 3-D Tomosynthesis mammography, to address the very unique needs of all our mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. Our highly-skilled physicians are dedicated to improving the health of the women in our area.”

According to Marti Van Veen, System Director of Marketing & Public Relations, “By offering women a single event to obtain information on important healthcare issues such as wellness, breast cancer, dermatology, diabetes, cardiology, gynecology and more, we also provide them with the essential tools necessary to help medically safeguard their future.”


All health-conscious women are all invited to “GO PINK” and RSVP by calling 239-348-4180 before October 15.


Christmas Island Style Hosts Casino Night October 17

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:14pm

By Coastal Breeze News Staff

Christmas Island Style has added a new event to its line-up for 2015: Casino Night.

Casino Night will take place on Saturday, October 17 from 6-9 PM at the Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Museum.

The fun-filled evening boasts casino-style gambling, gift and cash raffles, a prize for the best-dressed couple (holiday-themed), silent auction items, and a bar manned by Marco Island celebrities. Light appetizers will be served.

Christmas Island Style board member Allyson Richards told us “Casino Night is a first-time event for Christmas Island Style, and is another way to help the organization provide its many holiday activities to the people of Marco Island, at no cost.”

Bringing some excitement to the island, professional casino party planners will set up the Rose History Auditorium in true Las Vegas style. There will be blackjack tables, Texas hold ‘em, three card poker, mini baccarat, casino war, roulette and craps.

Don’t know much about gambling? Don’t worry! No real money will be lost. With your paid entrance ticket you will receive $200 worth of gambling chips. And although winners don’t walk out with cash, in addition to the raffles, there are 7 prize baskets, which will be awarded at the end of the evening.

Casino Night is a fundraising event for the Christmas Island Style organization, which brings a number of family-friendly holiday events to Marco Island, such as the boat parade, street parade, tree lighting and even a visit from Santa Claus. These activities are able to remain free of charge because of fundraising events, such as Casino Night.

Tickets are $35 per person, and include $200 in gambling chips, light appetizers and one drink ticket. Sponsorships are still available, including $150 Sponsor (3 tickets, 3 drinks and table advertising) and $300 Bar Sponsor (6 tickets, 6 drinks and table advertising). For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to Keep in Touch, Shops of Marco, 135 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, or contact Allyson Richards at 770-366-0653, or by email at

Blessing of the Fleet

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:07pm


A frog race and frog jumping contest made the blessing of the fleet a fun event for the children.

Everglades City celebrated the blessing of the 2015-2016 stone crab fleet on Saturday, September 26. The event was hosted on the grounds of the Rod & Gun Club and included music, a bake sale, local arts & crafts and a frog jumping contest.

Many children from the community enjoyed the festivities. Local correspondent, Amelia Perchalski, reports that “at the blessing of the fleet they had a frog race and they had flower girls that put flowers out on the docks. I was one of them. The frog race you had to pick a frog and make it jump to the finish line. At the docks the flower girls had baskets and they just put flowers on the docks, similar to a wedding flower girl.”

A local pastor blessed each boat and its crew for a safe and successful season. The stone crabs will begin arriving on the docks on Thursday, October 15. Good luck!

Local, National Park Rangers Work the Pope’s Visit

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:00pm

By Sean Perchalski
United States Park Ranger

National Park Service Rangers Fireman (left) and Perchalski.

When a large event occurs within national public places, different government entities will assign a special detail. Details such as the Pope Francis visit are typically a once in a lifetime thing, and most of the rangers are name requested. They occur throughout the year for special events like the 4th of July at Independence Hall, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and the St. Louis Arch. Others occur due to natural disasters like Katrina, Sandy, 9/11 and wildland fires. There are also the VIP details, such as protection for the President or Vice President. We assist Secret Service and other federal agencies in providing security and intelligence when these dignitaries come to our national parks.

For example, I will be going on a detail to Biscayne National Park for the Columbus Day Regatta. The purpose of this detail is to supplement Biscayne Rangers who provide law enforcement and emergency services, and work with FWC, U.S. Coast Guard and Miami-Dade due to the thousands of boats and partygoers that will descend upon the national park for the long weekend. It signifies the beginning of the season in South Florida.

There were over 200 National Park Service employees from all over the country, and as far away as Alaska, working under the “Incident Command System.” So, besides about 125 law enforcement rangers, we also had paramedics and EMT’s, maintenance, IT, finance/budget, supply/logistics, and the incident command staff. Rangers came from the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, St. Louis Arch, Organ Pipe, Lake Amistad, Gettysburg, Antietam, Prince William Forest, Washington D.C. Monuments, just to name a few.

For the Pope’s visit, a Jumbotron is used to bring his message to the people.

Challenge coins started in the armed forces. The coins are typically carried by every service member in a unit to show camaraderie. Many police departments carry coins that are unique to each shift. In the park service, several parks have their own challenge coins and very large event, like the Pope Francis detail, will produce special challenge coins, presented to those selected for the detail. Also, if a civilian saves a life or displays a courageous act, we usually give them a challenge coin.

This was an amazing detail. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world came to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis. Thousands of federal law enforcement officers were brought in from all over the country. It was one of the most peaceful gatherings with little incident. A few protesters showed up, but they were outnumbered by the masses and left.

Marco Island Academy will have to wait for its chance to win its first Class 2A-7 football game

Sun, 09/20/2015 - 12:33am

By Roger LaLonde

The Rays were  to have played  Moorehaven on Friday (Sept. 18) but the game was cancelled by the city of Marco Island which owns and operates Winterberry Park. It made its decision, saying that the grounds were too wet to play on.

The game will be played at 6 p.m. on Monday (Sept. 21) at Winterberry.

Fiala Appointed to National Committee

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:25pm


Collier County District 1 Commissioner Donna Fiala was appointed to the Environment, Energy and Land Use Policy Steering Committee by the National Association of Counties (NACo)

“A great deal of NACo’s strength is in our committees and your active participation reflects and reinforces that strength,” Sallie Clark, president of the National Association of Counties, wrote in a letter to Commissioner Fiala. “The expertise and engagement of our steering committee members is a main reason why Congress and federal agencies often look to NACo for feedback on legislative policy decisions being made in Washington D.C.”

Commissioner Fiala, who was first elected as the District 1 Commissioner in 2000, is expected to stay informed of legislative and regulatory action relevant to the committee, as well as participate in conference calls every other month and attend the NACo Legislative, Western Interstate Region and Annual Conferences.

“I am so honored to be appointed to the Environment, Energy and Land Use Policy Steering Committee,” said Commissioner Fiala. “This is an important committee with legislation that could have sweeping effects on our region. To be the voice for Collier County on this committee is a great responsibility and one I take very seriously. I look forward to meeting with my colleagues nationwide as we address these important issues.”


A Big Victory for Women’s Tennis Team

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:25pm

By Samantha Husted

The Treviso Bay 3.0, 18 and Over Tennis League recently represented Collier County at the sectional playoffs in Altamonte Springs, Florida.

Comprised of several Marco Island residents, these ladies competed and won each of the three league sessions in the 2015 season. They advanced to the Collier County league championships this past summer and won. At Altamonte Springs they competed against teams from throughout the State of Florida and came in at third place, an impressive victory. This feat made even more impressive due to the fact that they played on hard courts, as opposed to clay, which they’re accustomed to.

Representing the team were: Monica Elena Novotny, Rosie Harrington, Elizabeth Aristizabal, Annie Potts, Lucienne Valcourt, Stephanie Opel, Lorraine Graefenstein, Eva Dotti, Jeanette Thevening, Lisa Zumstein and team captain Neli Nelz. Also present was 3.5 league captain, Andrea Washak, lending her support.

Marco Island has several United States Tennis Association (USTA) league teams. This allows players to compete at different levels on varying teams and helps players advance through the rankings. Several players from the Treviso Bay team were advanced this past August to the 3.5 level. The players included: Stephanie Opel, Rosie Harrington and Elizabeth Aristizabal.

“We set out to go to the state finals last summer and everybody really stepped up and did what they had to do for us to even be a contender,” said team captain Neli Nelz. “Everybody stuck together and we worked hard. When we were out at Altamonte Springs everybody did what they had to do and that’s huge.”

The players’ hard work paid off with their tremendous achievement, and they look forward to the upcoming 2016 USTA season, which begins in October.

Congratulations ladies on an immensely successful season.


A Call to the Community for Help; Your Used Car can Change a Life

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:23pm


On a typical day, Marie*(not her real name) is up and about before the sun even rises.

Each day this hard-working single mother spends her mornings dressing, feeding and readying her young children for school. This routine can be challenging, yet she manages it with grace. Once the children are safely at school, Marie faces yet another challenge: how to get to work.

Marie left an abusive relationship with the clothes on her back. She works hard in the restaurant industry to support her children and make a better life for them. When her car broke down she was told it was un-repairable, and it was sent to scrap. Her income is insufficient to purchase a new car. The bus schedule in her area does not accommodate her work hours.

Faced with these challenges, many others would simply give up. But not Marie; she picked herself up, got her hands on a bicycle, and rides it to work each day.

Though not one to complain, Marie struggles with this challenge in her new life. How does she carry the groceries necessary to feed her family on a bicycle? What happens if one of the children gets sick and needs to see the doctor? How can she get a job outside of her immediate area with only a bike as transportation?

If Marie had a dependable used car, she could make things better for her family not just now -but also in the future. A car would allow her to seek higher wages and training, which in turn will end her current daily struggles.

Marie is motivated to change her life and break the cycle of poverty for her children. She takes part in the St. Vincent DePaul “Paraclete in Action” Program.

The goal of the Paraclete in Action program is not to provide a “quick fix;” it is to create systemic change, by ending the cycle of poverty “one family at a time.”

The program focuses on raising individuals and families to self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is defined as the ability to meet expenses without assistance from the community, family or friends, while creating a savings program for life’s unexpected emergencies.

The success of the program is dependent on the individual’s desire to end the cycle of poverty and live a productive, comfortable and self-sustaining life.

Would you consider helping by donating a car for Marie?

St. Vincent DePaul of Naples is a 501 (c)(3) organization that helps the community’s poor, in Naples and Marco Island, with various support needs, including food, rent, utilities and other assistance. Although faith based, St. Vincent DePaul offers help to individuals regardless of religion, sex, race and national origin. Your donation may be tax-deductible.

For more information about how you can help the Paraclete in Action program, please contact Pam Black or Kim Schul at 239-775-1667, or by email: To learn about the many programs at St. Vincent DePaul for our local community in need, visit the website at: www.

The United Church of Marco Island Welcomes New Associate Minister

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:21pm

By Samantha Husted

The United Church of Marco Island (UCMI) has welcomed a new associate minister to their ranks. Pastor David Barnes, an active Air Force Captain and ordained minister, began working at the church on September 6. David will be with UCMI year-round, focusing primarily in the areas of pastoral care, outreach and worship. UCMI will formally celebrate his arrival on November 15, with an installation worship service.

In many ways, David is a polymathic man. He has 12 years experience as a chaplain (Captain) in the United States Air Force Reserve, as well as experience in church and hospital ministry. Before he began his pastoral career, David was a successful businessman. He received a B.A. in business administration from the University of Tennessee, and later received his Masters Degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. David has worked as a money manager, a business consultant and a financial associate at a Fortune 500 company.

David, however, felt that his true passion has always been with God. After an encounter with his pastor, in which she urged him to follow his passion with the church, he realized that it was time to make some changes. So he decided to refocus his life. He went back to school and earned a Masters of Divinity degree from the Chicago Lutheran Seminary. Now he is currently finishing the dissertation portion of his Ph.D. at the University of Delaware, where he has been researching economic models for international development. These models, put simply, work to help people overcome poverty.

“David is a person of genuine faith and integrity,” said Pastor Mark Williams, senior minister to the church. “He is compassionate, empathetic, humble, a good listener, a thoughtful preacher, and has a great sense of humor.” Not to mention, he could probably give you some pretty solid business advice as well.

David’s studies, as well as his time in the Air Force, have allowed him to become somewhat of a globetrotter. He’s been to places in Africa, Asia, Central Europe, and now Marco Island. When asked why he chose Marco, as opposed to say, anywhere else in the world, he said, “I had never actually heard of Marco Island before. It’s a great secret. It sounds odd, I was sitting in Chicago and just sort of felt guided to check some things out and very quickly one thing led to another and I started a conversation with Pastor Mark.” And now here he is. It seems that everything has fallen together rather gracefully for David and for UCMI.

“I think it was God’s timing,” David said.


JCMI Book Club

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:20pm


Women readers searching for a book club to meet their needs are invited to visit the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island, 991 Winterberry Drive.

Lively discussions, varied opinions and love of the written word pique the interest and intellect of all who attend. Members choose by consensus works from all available genres. The seasonal calendar begins Tuesday, November 17, 11 AM with a discussion of “Orphan Train” by Christine Baker Kline. Meetings will continue the third Tuesday morning through April, 2016. The book group welcomes the community. There are no membership dues for participants. However, a donation to JCMI by non-JCMI members would be welcome.

For information call: 239-642-0800.

Enterprising MIA Student Makes Wishes Come True

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:19pm

By Barry Gwinn

Duneshka Cruz, MIA senior,
runs her own non-profit- Project Fairy Dust and Magic Wands. PHOTO BY BARRY GWINN

Duneshka Cruz doesn’t have a lot of spare time on her hands.

She is a senior at the Marco Island Academy, and is carrying 8 courses, plus teaching a course in Forensic Science as a teacher’s assistant. With the addition of online courses, she has managed to maintain a 4.68 weighted GPA in the 25 courses she has completed since 9th grade. The vast majority of these courses were either Honors courses or AICE courses. AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) is written and overseen by the University of Cambridge in England, ranked as one of the world’s top five universities. As with honors courses, these classes cover more in depth and advanced material. The courses may require independent research.

In her sophomore and junior years, Duneshka managed to complete 18 courses (including 3 online), receiving straight A’s in all 18. All but 3 were honors or AICE courses. She was elected vice president of the student council last year and is president this year. She plays on the MIA golf team and last year, was voted most outstanding player. She was just inducted into the National Honor Society. In addition to the volunteer hours required of all students at MIA, Duneshka enjoys reading, watching crime/forensic shows and historical/period movies, and traveling with her family.

Cruz says her proudest accomplishments are helping to bring some cheer and encouragement to children with debilitating and terminal medical conditions. As reported in the December 2, 2014 issue of Coastal Breeze News, Cruz “runs her own non-profit foundation — Project Fairy Dust and Magic Wands — which sends handmade sequin tiaras to young girls who are facing difficult challenges in their lives whether it be illness, parental divorce, problems with bullying, the death of a loved one or the military deployment of a family member.” She got the idea from her mother, who made tiaras for local cancer patients in Miami. Cruz says she was “ deeply moved by the uplifting affect these tiaras had on the young “princesses” who received them. “I wanted to find and serve more of them.” Through her Facebook page, Cruz has had requests from as far away as Chile, New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Cruz figures that she and her mother have made and sent out over 100 tiaras, at no cost. Money is raised through local events such as garage sales and on social media. Cruz handles all the administrative work, and her mom makes the tiaras.

More recently, Cruz has become involved with the Make-a-Wish Foundation (MWF) of Southern Florida. She became aware of MWF through social media. “I immediately realized that this was something I wanted to do,” Cruz said. “MWF reminded me of the Project Fairy Dust Foundation. MWF was a way to reach even more kids, who could use some cheering up. Being able to do this is probably the most fulfilling thing that I do.” The MWF was founded in 1980, after a seven-year-old leukemia victim, through the generosity of his friends, was granted a wish to spend a day as a police officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The boy died soon thereafter. The credo of MWF was, and remains, “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” MWF finances its endeavors through corporate sponsorships, special events, foundation grants and individual contributions.

In 1983, MWF established a South Florida chapter. Their fundraising includes a Youth Leadership Committee (YLC), consisting of high school students, they being among the most highly motivated. The Southern Florida YLC consists of about 23 high school students from Lee and Collier counties. They meet once a month at the Marriott in Ft. Myers. Cruz joined the YLC last year and was promptly elected vice president. This year, she was elevated to the presidency. As such, she conducts meetings, chairs the executive committee, and makes sure that everyone is meeting their fundraising quota and arranging an awareness event. It is a lot of work, but Duneshka believes that making these wishes come true can be encouraging to both the kids and their parents in adhering to difficult treatment regimens. Last year, the YLC raised over $30,000. An MWF prospectus reports that their South Florida chapter is granting a wish at the rate of one every 16 hours.


For Duneshka, the really hard stuff will begin next year. She has always been fascinated by forensic science and intrigued by stories of seemingly unsolvable crimes being cracked by forensic analyses. “The forensic science course I took in my sophomore year kind of sealed the deal for me,” Cruz said. “It removed any doubts I may have had.” Cruz is particularly interested in the forensic science major offered at Pennsylvania State University. It is a grueling 124 credit hour curriculum, which from the prospectus, looks suspiciously like a triple major in forensic science, biology, and chemistry. “This curriculum will satisfy all pre-med requirements, paving the way for med school,” says Cruz. With an MD degree, Cruz will be able to make her own wish come true, and become a medical examiner immersed in forensic pathology. One day, future forensic wannabes may be watching a TV series based on Duneshka’s cases.


Shaken, Stirred and Perturbed, or Were You Prepared?

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:18pm

Darcie Guerin

“For those properly prepared in advance, a bear market in stocks is not a calamity but an opportunity.” ~ Sir John Templeton


Question: Why were financial markets so volatile during August? Was it all because of China?

Answer: China’s currency devaluation and overall economic slowdown were the likely catalysts for the recent dramatic declines, yet other factors also fueled the fluctuations. It’s convenient and tidy to pinpoint one reason for the market’s downward drift, but it’s usually not that simple.

Slow(er) Boat to China

For the past twenty years, China has experienced frenzied growth. The pace of this increase has actually been slowing for some time now, resulting in the slowdown. Since last June, China’s primary stock exchange fell sharply, down roughly 40 percent. In an attempt to stimulate their economy, on August 11, 2015, China’s central bank devalued their currency. The thought process was that diluted currency would make exports less expensive and more attractive to consumers. The immediate reaction, however, was worry and fear, causing markets to drop and contagion to prevail.

The last time we experienced a “Tower of Terror” market ride with a plunge of 10% or more was four years ago in October 2011. This extended time lapse allowed our “built-in forgetters” to kick in, causing many of us to forget that investing does involve risk and volatility. Scholars refer to this phenomenon as “recency bias,” a term meaning that we’re hard-wired to focus primarily on recent trends and patterns, believing that present events will continue indefinitely, remembering only what is freshest in our minds.

Bloomberg reminds us that since World War II, market corrections take place approximately every twenty months, with the average correction lasting 71 days, resulting in a 13.3% decline. The definition of a correction is a 10% to 20% drop in a major market index. This time the S&P 500 Index fell more than 10% in just four days, so yes it was breathtaking. According to the St. Louis Fed, at one point during August, markets were down 12.35%, which fits the bill for a correction.

In the midst of the turmoil, it is important to recall what you own and why you own it. Three disciplines designed to help us with this and provide understanding as to what’s behind market forces and perceived valuations are: 1) Fundamental analysis which evaluates economic facts and events; 2) Technical analysis which is more statistical in nature, relying on historical pricing, patterns and charts; and 3) Behavioral analysis, which focuses on how human behavior and emotions influence markets. In this recent dip, all three categories came into play with a heavy emphasis on behavioral analysis, or in this recent instance, fear.

Many factors contribute to Wall Street’s worries, including slowing global growth, lower oil and other commodity prices, interest rate uncertainty, budget deficits, terrorism, and employment figures. Markets abhor uncertainty, and we have plenty of that right now. Overemphasis on recent events, whether positive or negative, along with discounting long-term reality can cloud judgment, leading to overreaction.

Selling Causes Selling

“Margin call, gentlemen…” is a line from one of my favorite movies, “Trading Places” (1983) with Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis. Traditionally thought of as a Christmas movie, this classic provides wonderful insight into market mechanics, specifically the potential risks of using margin, which entails borrowing money to make investments. Since individual investors rarely use this technique, we won’t go into much detail. Suffice it to say that it may increase risk while magnifying results, whether they’re positive or negative.

Selling is often contagious. When markets drop, and selling pressure snowballs, margin users may need to repay loans even if the collateral for the original loan has decreased in value. Check out “Trading Places” for a glimpse into the lives of Wall Street tycoons, Mortimer and Randolph Duke as their world comes undone with the utterance of those three words “Margin call, gentlemen…”

Be Prepared

It’s no coincidence that September is National Preparedness Month. Preparing for uncertainty, whether it’s financial or weather related, promotes peace of mind. Having a plan for circumstances you can’t control is prudent. The sun will come out tomorrow, or the next day, but what will you do in the meantime so you won’t be caught off guard physically or fiscally? has an emergency preparedness publication available at no cost that is a great resource, especially this time of year.

Markets and weather are cyclical in nature. An investment policy statement will provide structure and a long-term perspective to your financial life during turbulent times. Although disconcerting, declines are normal, natural and necessary. Seeing the short-term impact of volatility on your portfolio is unsettling. If your cash-flow needs, timeline or risk tolerance has changed, consider consulting with your advisor to discuss your goals and reimaging your plan. Stay focused and invest accordingly.

The S&P 500 Poor’s 500 Composite Index is an unmanaged market capitalization-weighted index based on the results of 500 widely held stocks. The index has no expenses; investors cannot invest directly in an index. Past results are not predictive of future results. The opinions expressed are those of the writer, but not necessarily those of Raymond James and Associates, and subject to change at any time. Information contained in this report was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed.

“Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.”


This article provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at 239-389-1041, email Website:



Keeping Your Kids and Yourself Safe From the Sun While Out on the Water

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:16pm

Capt. Pete Rapps

Make it a fun ritual for kids to put on sunscreen and protect their skin.

When you’re going out on the water you want to have a great time; but the sun is strong down here in Southwest Florida, and it’s important to keep yourself and your kids protected.

Fishing trips are great learning experiences for kids of all ages, and it can be the start of a lifelong hobby they really love, so you’ll want to make sure their experience is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. Sun exposure isn’t often thought of while you’re having a great time, but it should be.

A few tips for keeping yourself protected from the sun while enjoying a family adventure fishing trip are:

Be generous with the sunblock – Sunblock with an SPF count of 35 or higher is the most effective, and you’ll want to be frequent and generous with your application! In order to ward off the sun from above, and from the reflection on the water, a liberal amount of sunscreen should be used at all times, and hourly reapplication is never a bad plan. If you’re sweating, more frequent applications on moist skin areas can help to keep these regions protected.

Wear a hat – It’s tough to sunblock your scalp, so wearing a hat can give you that extra bit of protection you need to keep yourself safe and comfortable. A hat with a brim or bill can even help to keep the sun from your face, providing you with an extra layer of protection for one of the most sensitive areas of your body. I personally wear all Columbia brand hats, shirts, and pants while out in the sun. They offer a fantastic line of SPF rated clothing.

Bring along sunglasses – Sunglasses with UVA and UVB ray protection can keep your eyes protected from sun damage, and they’re always recommended on fishing trips. Because you’ll be on a boat, you may also want to consider a sunglass holder or clip to keep them from falling into the water, and you may even find that the sunglasses help you to see the fish in the water better as well!

Unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to sun damage, painful and blistering sunburns, and even skin cancer, so keeping yourself and your children protected from the sun’s rays is a necessity if you wish to have a successful fishing experience. While on the water, the sun can be oppressive, but sun protection is your best weapon in combating the damage and having a great time!


Captain Rapps’ Charters & Guides offers year round expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the 10,000 Islands and the Everglades National Park, and Spring time Tarpon-only charters in the Florida Keys. Capt. Rapps’ top notch fleet accommodates men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not. Between our vast knowledge & experience of the area, and easy going demeanors, you are guaranteed to have a great day. Book your charter 24/7 using the online booking calendar, and see Capt. Rapps’ first class web site for Booking info, Videos, Recipes, Seasonings, and more at

Knuckle Island

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:14pm

Richard Alan

I sort-of kind-of touched on this subject a while back, and it’s a real complicated problem – practically epidemic – and it’s something I deal with every single day in the shop.

The process of making a nice diamond ring sale can be a challenge, as you may have gathered if you read my last column. It’s what happens after the sale that the fun begins, and that magical feat can range from impossible to miraculous.

Now the diamond ring has to fit the finger. That may seem to many of you a simple cut-and-dried project…only, avast ye landlubbers, it’s another rip roaring adventure of “Welcome to Knuckle Island!”

I am now standing and staring at the diamond ring’s new owner, whose left hand appears to me to be five big toes!

Please understand my sincere condolences to many of our citizens who have to live with arthritic knuckles, fingers and hands; many of my close relatives suffer from this sometime painful affliction. I affectionately refer to them as members of the “Marco Island Knuckle Club,” over 3,000 members strong.

My problem (along with every jeweler on this planet) is getting a ring to fit correctly on those gnarly fingers. Picture this, a size 5 finger with a knuckle that measures a size 11. This means that even if the ring is sized to a 10, and you add a squirt or two of Windex (a lubricating element) on the finger and force the ring over the knuckle, the ring will still be 5 sizes too big once on the finger.

The equation that follows … a very uncomfortable + an unsatisfactory fit = an unhappy customer(s), and possible loss of that challenging diamond sale, especially if they decide to forget the whole thing, resulting in a very unhappy jeweler- namely me!

What to do? There are tricks and techniques I have experimented with over the years; ring guards, ring bumps, butterflies, spring-loaded mechanisms, open and closing contraptions, Double-Snap, Sure-Fits, Finger-Fits, Super-Fits – all enough to give me the fits! All the above are systems I can use to remedy the situation, only they will all cost the customer more money to achieve the final desired effect – a diamond ring that fits perfectly.

Fitting a ring to a hand with abnormal fingers becomes a work in progress, some methods work immediately or it can take a trial and error process. It all depends on the severity of the enlarged knuckle.

There is a cure-all that involves using either the Double-Snap or Super-Fit; once attached to the ring it actually opens and snaps closed on the finger insuring a perfect fit because there is no dealing with the problem knuckle whatsoever.

The Super-Fit web site ( mentions there are other reasons that a ring may not fit properly, the weather, time of day, the seasons, and especially physical activities. It’s a fact that hot, perspiring fingers can expand up to 2 sizes, so going to the jeweler to get your rings sized after a round of golf or a few sets of tennis would not be advisable. Oh! There is another reason, ladies and gents, lay off the bread, and especially the all-you-can-eat buffets. There I said it!

My dilemma is that the Super-Fit shank plus installation (labor) will add anywhere from $800 to $1,000 to the cost of the already purchased ring, and most folks refuse the sure cure for the perfect fit, because it’s all about the money.

Correct me if I’m wrong, I see some very impressive “rocks” here on the rock, and if your lady is sporting a beautiful diamond ring (that costs as much as an average Marco condo) which is always slipping left, right and upside down, what’s $800 to fix the ring problem? You may or may not agree, just my thoughts on the matter.

Ten years ago, every month I used to install three or four Super-Fits to customers’ new or existing rings. Now I’m lucky to install two a year.

The actual remedy or cure is unaffordable to most (Gee! Kind of like our current health care system). The other options that are available are not as effective, but may give some level of satisfaction. It can become a trial and error thing, and the process takes up lots of time and money on the jeweler’s end, which results in costs to the owner of the dang blasted knuckles.

I have gotten so proficient at diagnosing and curing “Knuckleitis” I should write a book.

The simple addition of sizing beads, or some form of a ring guard, can give good results to most minor cases, and that can range in price from $10 to $100.

The bottom line is every Super-Fit I installed solved the “knuckle problem,” and although it was not the least expensive way out, it did insure a perfect fit every time.

Contented customer + perfect fitting ring = happy jeweler.


Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. 239-394-9275 or visit his informative website at



Mortensen Brings Abundant Experience to Marco Y Aquatics Program

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:13pm

By Don Manley

Marco Y swimming instructor Carol Mortensen helps Jillian Szeczepanski and Wes Andres, both 3, practice their kicking at the Marco YMCA’S Ms. Dottie Weiner Aquatics Center.

Carol Mortensen is back in her element as an instructor for the Greater Marco Family YMCA aquatics program.

Mortensen, who has taught swimming for 25 years, joins Steven “Bear” Terstegge in providing private lessons at the Y’s Ms. Dottie Weiner Aquatics Center, where she is also handling group lessons.

She is a strong proponent of group lessons for youngsters who are just beginning to learn how to handle themselves in the water.

“It’s what I’ve done for most of the time that I’ve been teaching,” said Mortensen, who joined the Marco Y staff in July. “I believe that in group lessons, you can have children who will learn from the other children. I think it helps to motivate them. There’s a fear factor for children, so if they see another child doing something you’ve asked them to do, it helps to build their confidence, seeing other children trying that skill.”

The northern Virginia native worked as a technology resource teacher for 15 years in that state, as well as in North Carolina. She later spent several years working in hotel management, before moving to Naples in 2013.

A former high school and collegiate swimmer, Mortensen is passionate about the activity as a sport, as form of healthy exercise and as a vital skill that everyone should possess.

“I think it’s very important for children of all ages to be safe in the water,” said Mortensen. “I think it’s very important to start children at a young age so they’re secure and safe in the water. I firmly believe that all people, children and adults, need to know how to swim. It’s a great sport. You can swim all the way from 4 years old to 90 years old, if you want to.”

Private and group swim lessons are open to young children just learning how to swim, as well as adults looking to improve their skills in the water.

Suzi Szczepanski’s 3 year-old daughter Jillian is a group-lesson participant.

“Miss Carol is fantastic,” said Szczepanski. “Jillian took to her immediately. She’s great with the kids. She really encourages them and pushes them. They love playing with the (pool) toys and I’ve just been so pleased with the program.”

Szeczepanski began swimming lessons at age 4 at a YMCA in Pennsylvania and she wanted Jillian to also get an early start. “We have a pool at the house, so I wanted to make sure she was going to learn how to swim and be safe at the pool,” she added.

The aquatics program was started by the aquatics center’s namesake, Dottie “Miss Dottie” Weiner, in 1972. Weiner directed the aquatics program until her retirement in 2012.

“It’s kind of a community landmark, our YMCA pool,” said Joel Frysinger, the Marco Y’s program coordinator. “Obviously, Miss Dottie was a huge part of that and we’re attempting to carry on her legacy.”

Frysinger said the pool is open to the public and it’s often a hotbed of activity, with lap swimmers as a regular presence during the day and popular fitness classes, like aqua yoga and aqua zumba, also keeping activity level high.

“We’re also the home of our fantastically successful youth swim team, headed by our long-time coach, Kamal Farhat,” said Frysinger.

The team’s proficiency in the water was demonstrated with authority at the recent Key West ABC Pentathlon Invitational Swim Meet, where a contingent of five Marco youths came away with a combined 25 medals and five trophies.

“We took five kids and they all came back with medals and trophies,” said Farhat of the September 5 meet, which also included four teams from South Florida and the Florida Keys. “I think that for the number of kids we took, this was the best performance ever because they all achieved at the highest level.”

Medals were awarded to the top three finishers in each individual event, and the top three performers in each age group received a trophy.

The Marco Y team consisted of Gleb Korchagin, 7, Caelan Burt, 9, Karla Upham, 11, Maddy Burt, 13, and Kasey Bersh, 17.

“It feels good, as a coach, to see them all achieve at the highest level,” Farhat added. “I’m happy for the kids. And they didn’t just win medals and trophies, but they also had their best times, compared to other meets.”

Enjoy Your Estuary

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:09pm

Renee Wilson

Educational booths, like this one hosted by Collier Mosquito Control District, provide hands-on experiences and opportunities to learn about wildlife.

Marco Island is surrounded by natural beauty. Here, freshwater from land meets saltwater from the sea and forms a unique habitat known as an estuary. This special environment is vital to coastal communities like Marco because it provides shelter for fish and shellfish, recreational opportunities for people, and an economic engine that drives the local economy through tourism and real estate.

The value of these natural resources to the local community was recognized in 1978, when the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve was established. A grassroots effort began with concerned citizens purchasing a few thousand acres of core lands around Rookery Bay for future generations to enjoy. Over the following decades, more than 110,000 acres of mangroves, salt marsh, and coastal scrub habitats from Naples through the Ten Thousand Islands became enclosed within the protective boundaries of the reserve, which is managed under a state-federal partnership to ensure they continue to thrive.

A turtle excluder device, or TED, lets kids see how sea turtles that accidentally get
caught in a shrimp net can swim to safety.

Estuaries are often called “nurseries of the sea,” because they are where many kinds of fish and shellfish start their lives. Gray (mangrove) snapper, sea trout, pink shrimp and blue crab are among the species that, as juveniles, seek shelter behind the protective prop roots of red mangrove trees, amongst the shells of oyster reefs, or between the blades of seagrasses. Manatees, birds and other animals also find refuge in these quiet backwaters. Reserve staff and volunteers keep tabs on local estuaries through water quality monitoring and fisheries research, manage the resources through prescribed fire and exotic removal, and educate the community on ways to help protect these special places in a variety of ways.

All year long, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center provides hundreds of educational programs and tours for students, families and adults. On National Estuaries Day, Rookery Bay Reserve extends a variety of opportunities for residents and visitors to appreciate these special places known as nurseries of the sea. It takes place nationwide on the last Saturday in September.

Seagrass beds are like a forest where small fish can hide and find food.

Held at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, the free event invites visitors to explore the estuarine environment and learn about the estuary through 30-minute guided boat tours, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding demos, lab tours, native plant walks and more. Children can enjoy the marine life touch tank, crafts and activities, and they can even see what it is like to be a sea turtle in a shrimp net, with an actual “turtle excluder device.” A food vendor will be on-site with an array of lunch options, drinks and snacks for purchase.

The featured presentation this year is Tales from the Coast, Adventures from 30 Years in Coastal Management by Gary Lytton, former reserve director. His program will recount his experiences working in the estuary as both an educator and director, including studying fish populations with local students, rescuing a stranded fin whale in the Ten Thousand Islands, and hosting a visit from President Bush in 2004.

Admission to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center on Saturday, September 26, is free, and tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For folks who prefer not to stand in line, VIP passes are available for purchase at, with proceeds supporting the Friends of Rookery Bay. Event partners also include the Marco Island Shell Club, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and Everglades Area Tours.


Oyster beds provide hiding places for small animals that are food for predators like redfish. They also provide substrate for mangrove seedlings (propagules) to take root.

Renee Wilson is Communications Coordinator at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. She has been a Florida resident since 1986 has joined the staff at the reserve in 2000.

Marco Island Real Estate Summary and 1st Annual Economic Summit

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:05pm

By Susan Ackerson

MLS statistics, released by the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors® for Marco Island only properties, compare August 2015 to August 2014. Inventory decreased 15.60% from a year ago for all property types, while at the same time the median sale price for all property types jumped 4.94% from $405,000 to $425,000, according to Susan Ackerson, President.

  • The number of new single family listings that came on the market in August 2015 v. August 2014 decreased 6.25% (30 v. 32). The total number of single family properties active on the market in the year-to-year comparison decreased 11.81% (239 v. 271). The median sale price for closed single family homes increased 8.71% ($577,500 v. $531,250). Total sold dollar volume for single family homes decreased in August 2015 to $16,533,850 from $24,034,000 in August 2014, a 31.21% decrease.
  • In regard to condo activity, number of new listings that came on the market this August v. last August decreased 15.00% (34 v.40). Total number of condos on the market from last year decreased 25.41% (226 v. 303). The median sale price for condos was up 24.48% ($357,250 v. $287,000). Total sold dollar volume for multi-family increased 28.10% from $13,014,559 in August 2014 to $16,671,000 in August 2015.
  • Number of new lots coming on the market in August 2015 v. August 2014 increased 20.00% (18 v. 15). Total number of lots active on the market decreased 5.88% (272 v. 289) from last year. Median sale price decreased 48.21% ($145,000 v. $280,000). Total sold dollar volume decreased 55.21% ($1,544,900 v. $3,449,250).

(Median sale price means 50% of sales were above and 50% of sales were below.)

  • Number of pendings for all property types is down 13.45%. Single family pendings in the comparison are down 20.41% (39 v. 49); Lots are up 63.64% (18 v. 11); and multi-family are down 25.42% (44 v. 59).
  • Number of condos closed in the comparison decreased 15.79% (32 v. 38). Number of single family homes closed is down 38.10% (26 v.42) in the August-to-August comparison, while number of lots closed decreased 20.00% (8 v. 10) in the same comparison.

The Marco Island Area Association of Realtors® is hosting its 1st Annual Marco Island Economic Summit on Thursday, October 29, 2015 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM at Rose Auditorium.

Attend the economic summit to hear more about Marco Island real estate statistics and an economic forecast for Southwest Florida. Presenters are: Dr. Christopher Westley, FGCU, Professor of Economics; Jack Wert, Executive Director, Collier County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; Cindy Carroll, SRA, Carroll & Carroll Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants; and Rick Medwedeff, General Manager, Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort & Spa.

To register, please send your check for $25.00 per person payable to Marco Island Area Association of Realtors® (MIAAOR), 140 Waterway Drive, Marco Island, FL 34145, along with the names of who will be attending. Any questions, please contact the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors® at 239-394-5616.

As always, please contact a local Realtor® professional if you have any questions.


Susan Ackerson is President for the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors®. Call 394-5616.




A Dolphin Rescue: One Year Later

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:03pm

Bob McConville
Master Naturalist

October 23, 2014: Skipper seems normal, playing like young dolphins do.

September 4, 2014: The Dolphin Explorer is not open for business. The entire crew is, instead, on the water with one specific goal…find a dolphin in distress.

Captain Bob Erickson is at the helm of the Dolphin Explorer with Coastal Breeze reporter Noelle Lowery and a naturalist on board. Captain Michael Tateo and Naturalist Kent Morse are on Michael’s boat. Captain Chris Desmond is on a pontoon, and I am on a separate pontoon as well. Even more boats are at the Collier Boat Ramp ready to launch, all coming together to find a needle in a haystack; Actually, two needles.

Through the photo identification of area dolphins, the crew of the Dolphin Explorer noticed that one of the Young of Year (YOY) had fishing line wrapped around its tailfin (fluke). Not only was a monofilament line seen, but a metal leader on that line, as well. The YOY’s name is Skipper and it is only 9 months old. One good snag of that line on a dock post or oyster bed could mean disaster. The line would tighten, eventually causing a possible sever of the fluke, which would end this dolphin’s life.

Our crew was on the water by 7:00 AM, scattered in different directions, looking in familiar areas where Skipper and her mom, Halfway, might usually be found.

There was a chance that we would not find them at all that day, but luck was on our side.

By 7:30 AM Captain Erickson and his team located mom and baby. The call went out on the radio that they were near Channel Marker 33, and we all headed for that location.

Back at the Collier launch site a rescue team was ready to join us. Officials from NOAA, Rookery Bay, FWC, Sea World and several other agencies heard the call and joined the team. A rescue was in the making.

The plan was to get Halfway and Skipper to shallow water in hopes of capturing them in a net. While most of the team trailed behind the two, Captain Michael and Kent, who both know the area waters very well, surged in front of the dolphins to search for a potential rescue location. They found a spot at the southern tip of Little Marco Island, across from Keewaydin Island, that was ideal.

While most of the boats stayed to the rear of the action, several forged toward the front, led by NOAA. When all seemed right, a call went out on the radio “Net out!” A mullet boat, part of the team, began laying a 100-foot ring of net around the dolphins very quickly. Almost immediately another call went out “Swimmers in!” Twenty members were on the sandbar and scurried toward the net. They began to collapse the net until Halfway and Skipper could be handled. As the space became smaller, and the area for mom and baby became less mobile, they were calmed. A hand was placed on both dolphins. They were facing each other so that the two had eye contact.

A veterinarian snipped the line from Skipper’s fluke and assessed the damage. Fortunately, the metal leader on the fishing line had barely scathed the skin. Skipper would be allowed to stay in our waters with mom, Halfway. A yellow identification tag was placed on Skipper’s dorsal fin, and then both were released.

The entire operation, from the time that the net went out until the two were released, only took about thirty minutes. I counted nearly fifty people, twelve boats and seven different agencies that came together for a single purpose…to save a dolphin’s life.

On September 4, 2014, the rescue team removes fishing line from Skipper’s fluke (tail fin). PHOTOS BY BOB MCCONVILLE

The importance of this rescue was very significant. It showed that the work of the Dolphin Explorer is being noticed by many agencies, and that the survey teams’ photo identification efforts definitely have merit.

It was also determined during the rescue that Skipper is a female and that, too, is very important. Had this young one perished because of her injuries might not mean very much to very many people. However, Skipper’s mom, Halfway, is one of the most productive females in our waters. She gave birth to Seymour in 2004, Simon in 2007, Kaya in 2010 and Skipper in 2013. That is one new baby every three years.

Again, we learned during the rescue that Skipper is a female. If her mom’s genes successfully pass on to her, there is a strong chance that Skipper could be one of the most productive females in our waters when she matures to have her own calves!

Today Skipper is doing well. She is still with her mom and will stay for at least one more year. Knowing the Halfway’s pattern is to have a new baby every three years, Skipper may be on her own within the next twelve months, which is typical for Halfway’s offspring. The tag on Skipper’s dorsal fin is gone, probably snagged on barnacles or possibly pulled off by another dolphin. This has left a notch on the top back of her fin, which makes her easily recognizable. Oh yes, on the anniversary of her rescue Skipper was seen that day…twice!!! Thanks for showing up for your special day, young lady!

There are other stories out there as well. The Dolphin Explorer was involved in another major dolphin rescue a few years back that received national attention. Photos of other dolphin injuries have been forwarded to agencies for evaluation. The work will continue and the results, I am sure, can only end with a positive outcome. Stay tuned!


Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and is a Naturalist on board the Dolphin Explorer. He is a member of the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism (SEE). Bob loves his wife very much!




LOCAL SPOTLIGHT: Keewaydin Express

Thu, 09/17/2015 - 3:01pm

By Samantha Husted

September is the time to explore Marco by water and enjoy a 25% discount from the Keewaydin Express. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

The Keewaydin Express is a locally owned water taxi service that provides transportation to and from Keewaydin Island and surrounding areas. Each trip is completely customizable. Customers are able to choose which bars, restaurants and waterfronts they’d like to visit. The Keewaydin Express takes the stress out of renting a boat, and makes it easier to enjoy and explore Marco Island. The standard fare is $40 round-trip per person, and the 20-foot pontoon boat can hold up to 6 people. They also offer group discounts.

The company has been open and operating for about a year. The owner, Jordan Cabot, a New Orleans native, says that the idea for the business came about when he was out on the boat with a couple of friends. “I saw all these beautiful islands that people were hanging out on boats and realized that there was no real dependable or affordable way to get back and forth to Keewaydin,” he said. “There was no way to visit the waterfront restaurants and bars and to enjoy the beautiful sunsets out on the Gulf of Mexico unless you had a boat or a ton of money to rent one.” This thought led to the creation of the Keewaydin Express, a service that he felt Marco desperately needed. He wanted to be able to share the beauty of our island and surrounding areas without putting a huge dent into peoples’ pockets.

Jordan Cabot, owner of the Keewaydin Express water taxi service.

As most Marco Island residents know, the month of September is a slow one. So Jordan thought he’d give everyone a little break. Residents (and tourists, too) will be able to have their own little vacation, even if it is local, at a discounted price before season rolls around again.

“It’s something that I wanted to have available to me,” he said in regards to the company, “when I wanted to take a day off and go spend it in the sand.”

For more information, call 239-207-0403 or check out