Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Volunteers rally to protect black skimmers on Fourth of July

INDIAN SHORES — Kevin Christman, a St. Petersburg Audubon Society volunteer, knows how protective black skimmers can be.

He has seen the beach-dwelling birds defend their eggs in heavy storms until the moment the waves swallow their nests. But fireworks, for some reason, always seem to scare them off, he said.

"It's one of the biggest problems. The loud bangs and pops freak them out to the point that they don't come back," said Christman, 24, a Largo resident and recent St. Petersburg College graduate.

When the adults leave the nests, the young birds are left unprotected from predators or scurry into crowds.

Christman volunteers at Indian Shores, home to more than 600 of the 1,000 black skimmers in Pinellas County and 4,000 in Florida. Crows, pollution and erosion all threaten their natural habitat. Last month, Christman saw Tropical Storm Andrea wash away more than half their colony.

"The public isn't the enemy," he said. "We understand that we need their help for these birds to bring in the next generation."

Still, the week of Fourth of July, when beaches are likely to be more crowded, is a crucial time to protect the black skimmers, according to Saskia James, a volunteer coordinator at the St. Petersburg Audubon Society.

The black skimmer nesting areas at Indian Shores and Clearwater's Sand Key are roped off and protected by warning signs alerting beachgoers to keep away from the nests.

More than half of the Audubon Society's 70 volunteers will be dispatched at Indian Shores on Thursday, James said. Volunteers will watch the nests there and at Sand Key all day.

"Black skimmers are like the sports cars of the air, and we want to do whatever we can to protect them," James said. "They're part of what makes this area so special."

Matt McKinney can be reached at or at (727) 445-4156.

Volunteers rally to protect black skimmers on Fourth of July 07/02/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 6:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 17:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, right, along with her mother Tranda Webb, 62, pose for a photograph Wednesday, at their home in Port Richey. Pasco's former boyfriend John Riggins doused Pasco with gasoline and set her on fire after an argument last year.. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  3. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  4. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  5. Rick Kriseman picks Floribbean restaurant for Manhattan Casino

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Mayor Rick Kriseman has chosen a controversial restaurant concept to occupy the Manhattan Casino, saying he made a decision 11 days before the mayoral primary because he didn't want politics to get in the way of progress in struggling Midtown.

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson speaks during a Friday press conference announcing that the Callaloo Group will open a Floribbean restraurant in the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood. Some residents were upset with Mayor Rick Kriseman's choice, saying it will speed up gentrification of the area. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]