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Our Wildlife

During your vacation to Sanibel Island, it may become tempting
to get up close and personal with wildlife,
but please don’t.

Notably regarded as a “Sanctuary Island,” Sanibel Island is all about co-existing with nature. From the time of our city’s incorporation, we’ve felt it important to respect the many species of wildlife who share the island with us. Laws and protections have been put in place, to not only protect the safety of our guests and residents, but to ensure that our wild neighbors continue to thrive, as well.

Please keep the following in mind during your visit:

  • Take all the pictures you want of the alligators, otters, raccoons and birds that you see, but keep a respectful distance. Don’t try to pose with the animal, and certainly don’t pose your child near it.
  • Do not feed any wildlife. Some have a dangerous bite. Feeding them also teaches them to depend on people for food. Most importantly, feeding animals encourages them to lose their fear of humans, which can potentially harm them, you, or someone who comes along after you.
  • Our local wildlife are not pets. They are wild and will – and should – act that way. If an animal doesn’t behave as though it’s afraid of people, leave the area immediately and report it to the police.
  • Always pick up your trash and dispose of fishing line properly. A trip to C.R.O.W. will quickly show you the potential threat that trash creates for our wildlife.
  • During sea-turtle nesting season from April 15 – November 1, keep lights from shining on the beaches. Tiny hatchlings immediately scramble seaward and the bioluminescence in the water helps guide the baby turtles safely to the ocean. Any source of light – flashlights, camera flashes, or lamplight from windows – can misdirect and endanger them.
  • See you later, alligator! Sanibel Island contains over 2,200 acres of freshwater wetlands that provide habitat for a sizeable population of alligators. During cooler months, alligators are generally lethargic and do not move around much. By the beginning of April, when the weather starts to warm, alligators become active. It is this time of year, when alligators are feeding more, looking for new territories and mating, that alligator sightings become most prevalent. If you see an alligator, the best thing to do is leave it alone. Never feed or entice alligators! It is dangerous and illegal. Feeding alligators is a criminal act, punishable by up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail. If you encounter a nuisance alligator or see someone feeding an alligator, call the Sanibel Police Department immediately at 239-472-3111.
  • Lastly, always pay attention to your surroundings! Closely supervise children, especially when they are playing in or around water. Never allow children to play by themselves near water. Avoid freshwater or brackish bodies of water that might be inhabited by alligators. And always, always, be respectful of wildlife.

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