Boaters kept a distance from nesting birds

Wanted: Marine science students

Paurotis Pond, one of the best wading bird-watching places in Everglades National Park, is closed to boating and fishing until nesting season ends in springtime. Exactly when is up to the birds. Most go on their way in May, but sometimes some stay deep into June.

Too bad about the boats and fishing, but people aren’t supposed to get too close to the nesters at this time of the year. They’re easily spooked, and the heebie-jeebies can throw them off their nesting patterns.

Roseate spoonbills usually are the first to occupy the site. Then come wood storks, four species of heron, two of egret and anhingas.

The trees, pond and sky, reasonably visible from the parking lot off the main park road, can get pretty crowded.

Luckily, there are so many birds that it isn’t hard to get good closeup sightings and photos when they take flight.

The observation area is 24 miles from the park's main entry gate south of Homestead and Florida City. Palm Key, a spoonbill nesting site in Florida Bay, was restricted in December. It’s about 2-1/2 miles southwest of Flamingo. Boaters should avoid it, and if they can’t they should stay outside a line of buoys 150 feet off the key’s west side where the nests are.

The park doesn’t demand that motorboats pass at idle speed, but it’s a good idea anyhow. Disturbance scares the spoonbills off their nests, which exposes the eggs and chicks to temperature extremes and predators like crows and vultures.

Park passes available online of pilot testing. You can make a printout of your pass or just keep it on your smartphone or keep it in a notebook computer until it’s time to use it. When you arrive, staff at the entry gate will validate it with a quick response code.

The annual entrance pass fee is $40. Seven-day passes cost $20 for a private vehicle, $15 for a motorcycle, and $8 for an individual. If you’re less than 15 years old, you get in free.

Everglades also honors the other annual and permanent passes for national parks and federal recreation lands, seniors, military personnel and fourth grade pupils.

To apply for an online pass, visit the Everglades website at and click on the link captioned “Buy your pass online.”

Marine science students can apply for summer Woods Hole internship

High school students and recent graduates with serious interest in marine science are being invited to apply for five-week internships and two-week seminar sessions at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium on Cape Cod, Mass.

The programs, in July and August, are open to U.S. citizens who will be at least 16 years old as of July 2, and who have finished 10th, 11th or 12th grade. Other requirements are described in Woods Hole’s online application web page.

From July 2 to Aug. 3, interns will do plenty of work, beginning with 20 to 25 hours per week helping to look after animals in the aquarium. They also will be taught animal husbandry, aquarium operation, conservation and public education.

They will be assistant naturalists, taking visitors on shoreside collecting walks. They will clean tanks, prepare fish food and do other work that Woods Hole describe as “messy and smelly.” They also will visit other Woods Hole research facilities and be introduced to careers in marine and environmental science.

In the two-week seminar, July 23 to Aug 3, participants will learn what workers at Woods Hole’s various institutions do, how their specialties contribute to understanding the marine world and management of marine resources. They’ll also get introductions to animal husbandry and aquarium skills, go on a collecting trip and visit other Woods Hole facilities.

Woods Hole said it welcomes applications from students of all backgrounds, but especially encourages applications from groups that are under-represented in marine science — African-American, Hispanic, Cape Verdean and native American.

More details and an application link are online at

Questions can be sent to Kristy Owen at NOAA Fisheries, 166 Water St., Woods Hole Mass., 02543. Owen's email address is and her phone number is 508-495-2098.