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Unintended consequences | Sanibel Sea School Blog

Unintended consequences

At Sanibel Sea School, we think a lot about the consequences of our actions, both positive and negative: if we keep one of the seahorses we catch, will it survive in our tanks? If we learn about the life cycle of moon jellies, will that help foster a deeper love for these beautiful animals?

We were pleasantly surprised by the consequences of one of our recent actions, a study of ocean currents around Sanibel – check out our blog about it under “Tarpon Week: Coconut Currents Study”.  In essence, our group of ocean-curious campers, aged 6 to 13, painted 30 coconuts bright pink and orange and attached a message to each asking the finder to report when and where they found it. On August 26th, we boated out into the Gulf of Mexico and tossed our coconuts into the wide world, unsure that we would ever see or hear from them again.

But we did! We got a remarkable return on our coconut messages, and we are learning a lot about Sanibel current and wind patterns in the process.  But one of the best things we realized was that Naples is our next-door neighbor.  So, howdy Naples, we’re your upstream neighbors on Sanibel Island.

Megan, a 4th grade teacher, found her coconut in Lowdermilk Park

So far, of the 30 coconuts we released, more than 20 of them have been reported as washed up on the beaches of Naples.  And not only is this exciting news for the students/scientists at Sanibel Sea School, it seems to be exciting to many Naples residents as well.  Similar to the way giving a gift can be even more rewarding than receiving one, the people who helped us out with our study seemed to benefit from the experience.

One of our most enthusiastic callers was Donna, the mother of 7-year-old Adam. On Saturday morning, Adam was playing on a crowded beach in Naples, sandwiched in-between a group of about 4 boys his age on one side and the entry to Doctor’s Pass on the other. Out of the blue, a pink-and-orange coconut rode the surf straight into Adam’s arms—it chose him over everyone on the beach! It was the “highlight of his weekend” and he is excited to bring his coconut in for show-and-tell at school.

Adam proudly shows off the coconut he found at the entrance to Doctor's Pass

Nancy with her coconut

Nancy, who found coconut #2 during a morning beach walk, loves the painted colors on her coconut and plans to put it in her garden to show her grandchildren. As she says, “they always tell me about what they are up to, so it will be nice to show them something that I’ve been doing lately!”

Two of our coconuts just happened to float their way into the hands of Julie, the chair of the Collier County School District. Merely a happy coincidence? We suspect not. It was fate, with the help of a couple of coconuts, that created the auspicious connection between Sanibel Sea School and Collier County schools that will hopefully lead to a beautiful future collaboration. After all, we are next-door neighbors.

Jim, a retired high school Biology teacher

Julie, the Chair of Collier County schools

(From top left to right) Capt Tom, Stephanie, Cullen, Brian, and photographer Andrew found 2 coconuts in Gordon’s Pass

 

Pamela found her coconut during a clean-up of Keewaydin beach

3 Responses to Unintended consequences

  1. Erin says:

    What a cool experiment. I have a question – what did you use to paint the coconuts? The paint seems to have survived the ocean nicely!

    Erin

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Erin,
      We used house paint. Some of the coconuts survived better than others, but yes the colors remained bright and attention-grabbing at the other end of their journey. Thanks for your question!

  2. Pingback: Have there always been coconuts on Sanibel? | Sanibel Sea School Blog

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