How Climate Change Helped Intensify Hurricane Ian

As Hurricane Ian roared across Florida, we were reminded once again that climate change is helping make tropical storms and hurricanes worse.

While scientists and meteorologists collectively caution against blaming these intense storms on any one cause, they do agree that climate change is creating conditions which contribute to the rapid intensification, rainfall, and inland flooding of recent hurricanes.

“The acting National Hurricane Center director recently stated that ‘on the whole, on the cumulative, climate change may be making storms worse.’ That is supported by the overwhelmingly clear science on what climate change means for storms like Ian in general: heavier rainfall, possible slower movement which prolongs heavy rain and battering winds, and more inundation as sea levels rise,” the Hurricane Center’s public affairs officer Maria Torres wrote in an email for a recent TIME magazine article.

Scientists agree that the rapid intensification of hurricanes is becoming more frequent and is connected to the impacts of climate change. Higher average temperatures lead to warmer ocean waters which in turn causes more evaporation. As tropical storms like Tropical Storm Ian pass over very warm water, they absorb more moisture, leading to heavier rainfall. In the right calm conditions, warmer waters can also increase the storms’ wind speed, and can cause hurricanes to undergo rapid intensification more frequently.

Dr. Richard Knabb, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said in a CBS News article that Hurricane Ian packed two days’ worth of rapid intensification into less than 36 hours.

“Warming sea-surface temperatures are playing a role, since they provide fuel for hurricanes, which also rely on a moist and unstable atmosphere — all of which are becoming more conducive for strengthening hurricanes in our changing climate,” Knabb said. “Hurricanes appear to be peaking in strength a bit higher than they used to, and they seem to be intensifying at a rapid rate a bit more frequently. We do not appear to be seeing more tropical storms and hurricanes overall, but the proportion of storms that become majors and that peak a bit stronger appears to be what is increasing.”

Rising sea levels also increase flooding danger from storm surge, helping to push flooding further inland.

“In addition,” Knabb said, “sea level rise will only continue to increase the magnitude and inland extent of flooding already caused by storm surge, when saltwater is pushed onto normally dry ground from the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean.”

 Apart from the damage caused by inland flooding, freshwater lagoons and reservoirs may become contaminated by the saltwater and may also damage water sanitation services resulting in waterborne infections. Standing water may also increase the presence of mosquitos and airborne diseases as well. More intense hurricanes and more frequent flooding are expected to drastically increase insurance costs to Florida residents.

We can all make a difference by helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and by encouraging our leaders, friends, and neighbors to make impactful change as well. Here are 5 Things You Can Do to Fight Climate Change.

Eco-teers Secret Woods Nature Center Clean Up

On September 25th, the Eco-teers visited Secret Woods Nature Center for a waterway cleanup and invasive plant removal.

Unfortunately, the park has experienced heavy flooding due to king tides and they were unable to remove invasive plants. Their focus shifted to solely removing incoming trash from South Fork New River and they collected 47.6 pounds of trash including shoes, Styrofoam, toys and many plastic bottles. 

After the cleanup, the Secert Woods Naturalist offered a reptile show educating the Eco-teers on the many reptiles that are found in Florida and the importance of understanding the difference between non-invasive and invasive species. Invasive species can be plants or animals that have detrimental ecological and/or economic impacts. Learn more on how to identify these species by joining the next Eco-teers project in October. 

Support has been provided by the following Funds at Community Foundation of Broward: Leonard & Sally Robbins Fund, Mary and Alex Mackenzie Community Impact Fund, Frederick W. Jaqua Fund, and support from Spirit Airlines.

If you would like to join the Eco-teers in their upcoming projects, email Glennys Navarrete at [email protected] to request an application. 

Volunteer of the Month: Ines Rosales

Our Volunteer of the Month for August 2022 is Ines Rosales.

Ines has quickly made herself an important asset here at Flamingo Gardens.

She started in June and has quickly amassed over 110 hours. She has really taken initiative and volunteered in major areas of need for us.

Ines has been present at every Eco-teers project including this month’s mangrove propagule collection. She has regularly been involved with our Orchidteers as well as assisting Animal Care on a regular basis.

Her love of nature and wildlife shows every single time she volunteers, and she is a shining example of the type of volunteer we want here at Flamingo Gardens.

We really appreciate all the time and effort you’ve given us Ines!

Broward Attractions and Museums Month (BAMM) September 1-30, 2022

September is Broward Attractions and Museums Month (BAMM), which encourages visitors to experience the diversity of cultural treasures throughout Broward County. During September, visitors may buy one admission and get a second admission of equal or lesser value for free to Flamingo Gardens and 12 other participating museums and attractions in Broward County. Five additional museums offer free admission as part of the BAMM promotion.

Adventures await you right outside your door! Discover new artists or ancient artifacts, ride on a riverboat or an airboat, explore a botanical garden and historic house or feed a flamingo…and so much more.

Visitors just need to mention “BAMM” or inquire about the offer at the facility’s ticket booth to purchase one regular price admission and get a second admission of equal or lesser value for free.

Flamingo Gardens’ Buy One Get One (BOGO) admission offer is only available at the Gift Shop Box Office. BOGO is not available online.

Participating attractions and museums* include:

  • Art and Culture Center/ Hollywood (BOGO admission)
  • Bonnet House (BOGO admission *self-guided tours only)
  • Butterfly World (BOGO admission)
  • Coral Springs Museum of Art (Free admission)
  • Flamingo Gardens (BOGO admission)
  • Historic Stranahan House (BOGO admission *online reservation required)
  • History Fort Lauderdale (BOGO admission)
  • International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum (Free admission *partially open)
  • Jungle Queen Riverboats (BOGO *90-minute cruises only *online reservation required)
  • Museum of Discovery and Science (BOGO *Tuesdays excluded. Adult purchase required)
  • NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale (BOGO admission)
  • Old Davie School Historical Museum (BOGO admission *online reservation required)
  • Plantation Historical Museum (Free admission)
  • Sawgrass Recreation Park (BOGO admission *online reservation required)
  • Stonewall National Museum & Archives (Free admission)
  • Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts (BOGO *adult purchase required)
  • World AIDS Museum (Free admission)
  • Young At Art Museum (BOGO admission)

Broward Attractions and Museums Month is September 1-30, 2022. Visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BAMMsfl for additional information.

*Participating organizations may have additional restrictions or blackout dates that apply, as well as additional discounted offers available. No other offers, discounts or coupons may apply. Visitors should check each attraction’s website or call for details, hours of operation, and COVID19 updates before visiting.

Eco-teers Mangrove Propagules Collection

The Eco-teers have launched their mangrove restoration campaign in partnership with The Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) on Saturday, August 27th. 

Volunteers spent their day collecting propagules and removing trash off the shores of Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park. Approximately 300 white, black and red mangroves propagules were collected which have been transported to Flamingo Gardens where they will be germinated in freshwater tanks. 

Once the trees are strong enough to be planned in-ground, they will return to Eula Johnson Stat Park. A special recognition goes to MangroLife and Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) for their kind donations of aquatic tanks and for their roles as educators, providing information on how to collect and germinate the propagules. 

Eco-teers also removed approximately 40 pounds of trash using supplies donated by 4Ocean

Mangroves provide essential habitat for thousands of species. They also stabilize shorelines, preventing erosion and protecting the land – and the people who live there – from waves and storms. As the Climate Crisis and detrimental human activates continues to threaten our planet, it is crucial to take action in creating and advocating for more sustainable future for all.  

The success of this project could not have been possible without the help of MangroLife and the Youth Environmental Alliance. Support has been provided by the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward: Leonard & Sally Robbins Fund, Mary and Alex Mackenzie Community Impact Fund, Fredrick W. Jaqua Fund, and support from Spirit Airlines.

If you would like to join the Eco-teers in their upcoming enviromental projects, email Glennys Navarrete at [email protected] to request an application. 

A New Butterfly Pavilion

Flamingo Gardens is raising $225,000 to construct and maintain a Butterfly Pavilion, or Lepidopterarium, specifically intended for the breeding, display, and release of Broward County native butterflies with an emphasis on education. The 1,600-square-foot pavilion will be accessible to the public for self-guided tours, guided tours, and class field trips.

THE NEED FOR BUTTERFLIES

Butterflies have long been admired for their beauty and grace, but often fail to receive the appreciation they so earnestly deserve for their role in plant pollination. Pollinators, such as bees, ants, and butterflies, are responsible for one out of every three bites of food you eat!

An estimated 87.5% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination—they need pollinators. Pollinators provide pollination to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops. Without pollination, most crops would simply fail to bear fruit and eventually become extinct—as would the animals that rely on them for sustenance.

Pollinators are vital economically, adding $217 billion dollars to the global economy. In the United States, honeybees alone are responsible for between $1.2 and $5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity. Pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife. Tragically, a host of environmental imbalances are decimating many Florida pollinator populations. For example, Florida monarch butterfly populations have dropped an alarming 80% since 2005!

The monarch butterfly has recently been added to the endangered species list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the imperiled butterfly on the waiting list for Endangered Species Act Protection and will propose listing it in 2024.

Researchers believe that shrinking populations of native milkweed (the monarch’s host plant), due in part to a boost in the use of the herbicide glyphosate (lethal to milkweed), is responsible. Less milkweed means less habitat, and less habitat means less monarch butterflies, an essential food source for birds and mice. These chain effects inevitably undermine the entire ecosystem.

MEETING THE NEED

 

Protecting butterflies requires both conservation and education. Educating individuals about butterfly life cycles, migration patterns, and ecological roles cultivates an appreciation for these animals and encourages people of all walks of life to invest in and protect native butterfly habitats, promoting their survival and ensuring that their crucial role in the ecosystem continues

The new Butterfly Pavilion will be an effective way to offer individuals engaging, fun, and interactive opportunities to learn about these key players in our ecosystem and the inseparable connection between their survival and our own. Housed in a screened pavilion and furnished with native nectar and host plants, the exhibit will provide the perfect environment for our 12 species of Florida butterflies to thrive at all stages of their life cycle while providing visitors an opportunity to discover more about these splendid pollinators and their native habitat.

 

For decades, Flamingo Gardens has offered exhibits to the public that both delight and inform. In 2021 alone, over 192,000 guests, including 12,000+ students—nearly a quarter of which were from Title 1 Schools or children with special needs—were educated about native wildlife (including butterflies!) and the need for conservation.

Since starting our Pollinator Repopulation Program in the fall of 2021, 3,654 students have participated in the program through outreach and in-person field trips. Our Pollinator Repopulation Program allows students to learn about the importance of butterflies as pollinators and the butterfly lifecycle through hands-on, interactive classes in which they can experience all stages of the butterfly lifecycle before releasing the butterflies used in the class. 

Putting our own teaching into practice, since June of 2021, we have already released over 8,000 butterflies, representing 12 native species, from our butterfly hatchery.

ABOUT THE BUTTERFLY PAVILION PROJECT

We envision a Butterfly Pavilion that provides a supportive environment for raising Broward County-native butterflies for release, all while educating and engaging our guests. The fully-screened, 1,600-square-foot building will house a variety of native host and nectar plants and will be supplied with flat rocks for the butterflies to sun themselves, special “puddlers” and nectar trays for water and supplemental food, and butterfly “houses”—simple wooden boxes with thin slits cut into them that act as the butterflies’ sleeping quarters.  

A path through the pavilion dotted with informative signage will enable our guests to experience a self-guided tour of the exhibit while protecting the butterfly habitat. Of particular interest in the pavilion will be the live display showing the entire life cycle of the butterfly, specially designed to hatch butterfly eggs, protect larvae, and release adult butterflies for colony establishment in our local area. We foresee weekly if not daily releases of butterflies!

In keeping with our mission, the Butterfly Pavilion will serve to perpetuate and protect native butterfly and plant populations all while educating the public about this vital pollinator and the need to conserve it. The funds raised will allow for construction of the pavilion, signage, plant material and staff required to maintain the facility for the first year.

Volunteer of the Month: Ariana-Marie Lorenzo

Our Volunteer of the Month for July 2022 is Ariana-Marie Lorenzo.

Ariana has been one of the most enthusiastic and pro-active volunteers we’ve ever had.

In July alone Ariana has complete 90 hours. She has been a part of every department including the Orchidteers, Animal Care, Flamingo Café, and events. Most recently she was a key contributor to our Monarchs and Milkweeds Eco-teer project.

July has been an extremely productive month for the Volunteer Department of Flamingo Gardens and Ariana may have been the biggest reason why. Thank you, Ariana!

Taurin Ameigeiras Volunteer of the Month

Our Volunteer of the Month for June is Taurin Ameigeiras.

 

Taurin has been consistent and dedicated volunteer at Flamingo Gardens. Often seen as a guide in our Gallery for the current exhibit “Pollution Solutions,” Taurin has also assisted at the Trams and at Flamingo Cafe.

 

Taurin started in January and has already accumulated over 120 hours, but he has been here even more often in June, volunteering in almost every department. We are so lucky to have him on our volunteer team this summer! Thank you Taurin!

 

We have new volunteer opportunities at Flamingo Gardens. If you would like to join our volunteer team, please email [email protected].

Three Plants to Help Save Seven Butterflies

Pollinators are one of the most impacted populations by climate change. Bees, hummingbirds, bats, and butterflies are all facing unprecedented threats as they struggle to adapt and survive the changing rhythms of weather and the seasons. You can help save seven species of Florida butterflies just by providing these three host plants in your yard!

The native habitats and migration of butterfly populations have been disrupted by extreme and unpredictable weather patterns. Summer in some areas is becoming drier and hotter, and in other areas winter is lasting longer with more storms and blizzards.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Butterfly conservation data shows that increasing temperatures and changing bloom times of flowers are forcing many species of butterflies to alter their migration schedules and spread northwards and uphill in search of cooler more favorable temperatures while in search of their favored nectar sources and larval host plants.

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus)

Nectar plants attract adult butterflies by supplying nectar. These plants vary in size, fragrance, and shape of the flower. All nectar plants have nectar that is sipped by the butterfly, but the plant is not eaten by them.  

Julia Butterfly (Dryas iulia)

Butterfly species choose to lay their eggs on or near plants, (called host or larval plants), that their caterpillar phase will eat. Each species has a very narrow range of host plants that supply the necessary chemicals required for the proper nourishment and growth of the caterpillars.

Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia)

Butterfly conservation organizations agree that we can help our native butterfly populations become more resilient and more responsive to climate change by providing the proper host or larval plants in our landscape.

Gulf Fritillary (Dione vanillae)

Here are three easy-to-grow host plants you can grow in your backyard that will help sustain the seven different Florida native butterflies featured in this article!

1. Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis) is a host plant for both the Monarch and Queen butterfly.

Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis)

2. Corky stemmed passionflower (Passiflora suberosa) is a host plant for Julia, zebra longwing, and Gulf fritillary butterflies.

Corky stemmed passionflower (Passiflora suberosa)

3. Bahama Cassia (Senna Mexicana chapmanii) is a host plant for Orange-barred sulphur and Cloudless sulphur butterflies.

Bahama Cassia (Sennna Mexicana chapmanii)

When you plant these host plants be sure to place them in a sunny, low-traffic area. Provide some nectar plants nearby that are appropriate to your area. (In South Florida, firebush, pentas, lantana, verbena, plumbago, and blue porterweed are good choices and easily found.) Try to provide some larger plants nearby for shelter and a windbreak, preferable on the north-side of the garden, and provide a water source for drinking. Flat rocks in a sunny place allow a source for butterflies to warm themselves in the sun.

Orange-barred Sulphur (Phoebis philea)

Avoid pesticides in your garden as they will kill your butterflies. Instead, use a strong spray jet of water to rid plants of pests or hand-pick them from the plants, and use mulch to decrease the weeds. Choose natural organic or slow-release fertilizers with a low phosphorous level to help minimize phosphorous runoff to our waterways.

Cloudless Sulphur butterflies (Phoebis sennae)

With just a little effort and these three plants, you can attract these seven Broward County native butterflies to your yard and help them survive! If you wish to learn more about Florida butterflies and establishing a Butterfly Garden, the University of Florida has excellent information on Butterfly Gardening in Florida, here.

Note: The three plants listed in this article can be difficult to find. We recommend looking at nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants and/or butterfly plants. Flamingo Gardens is now propagating these plants in our nursery, and we hope to have these and other essential butterfly host plants for sale in the Gift Shop by the weekend. 

Eco-teers First Beach Cleanup

Flamingo Gardens’ new volunteer group, the Eco-teers, spent Saturday morning, June 25, collecting trash from the beach at Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park with equipment donated by our 4Ocean partners. Over 60lbs of trash was gathered at Saturday morning’s cleanup by the eleven volunteers. There were many items collected during the beach cleanup, but the majority was plastic.

The plastic pollution crisis has consumed every corner of Earth which has consequences on our ocean, climate, food, and drinkable water. Clean-ups like this are a great way to not only preserve the natural beauty of our beaches, but they also serve as research opportunities to identify the exact sources contributing to the crisis.

The Eco-teers advocate and implement solutions to plastic pollution so that our communities have a chance at a more sustainable and fair future for all. Join the Eco-teers at their next monthly project on July 23, by requesting an application through [email protected]  

Support has been provided by the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward: Leonard & Sally Robbins Fund, Mary and Alex Mackenzie Community Impact Fund, Frederick W. Jaqua Fund, and support from Spirit Airlines.

For more information about the Eco-teers visit the website: Eco-teers.