Camo Crabo week campers set crab traps in San Carlos Bay. 

Camo Crabo week campers set crab traps in San Carlos Bay. 

Summer break has officially started for Lee County Schools, which means it's time for summer camp at Sanibel Sea School. During the week of May 29th, the 501c3 nonprofit organization offered two non-residential, weekly camp programs – Camo Crabo Week at its Flagship Campus on Sanibel’s East End, and Mangrove Mud Week at Sundial Resort and Spa.

Campers show off their to-scale sand sculpture of a 12-foot Japanese spider crab. 

Campers show off their to-scale sand sculpture of a 12-foot Japanese spider crab. 

Camo Crabo Week participants spent the week learning about slow-moving, algae-wearing spider crabs. They set crab traps to learn how commercial fishermen catch crabs in our area, and had a chance to examine the crabs they caught up close. Campers also snorkeled in San Carlos Bay in search of spider crabs, since they often cling to rocks and other underwater structures, and played games to understand these crabs’ perspectives and feeding habits. Spider crabs have very poor vision and must rely on other senses to find food and navigate their world. A favorite activity was building a to-scale sand sculpture of the largest spider crab, the Japanese spider crab. Its leg span can be up to twelve feet!

Mud walks at Bunche Beach are always a favorite activity among campers. 

Mud walks at Bunche Beach are always a favorite activity among campers. 

During Mangrove Mud Week, campers visited Bunche Beach and Blind Pass to learn how to identify Sanibel’s four species of mangroves, which include black, white and red mangroves, along with the beloved buttonwood. They also snorkeled to better understand mangroves’ role in our barrier island ecosystem, looking for creatures that rely on these unique trees for habitat along the way. An osmosis experiment using potatoes and salt demonstrated how mangroves regulate the amount of salt in their system – an important adaptation in this coastal area. “We also collected mangrove propagules to create our own mangrove aquarium,” said counselor Nicole Funk. “We hope these kids will stop by to see the tank later in the summer, so they can observe how much our mangroves have grown!”

You are sure to see lots of mangrove inhabitants while snorkeling in San Carlos Bay. 

You are sure to see lots of mangrove inhabitants while snorkeling in San Carlos Bay. 

In addition to learning about our marine ecosystem and its creatures, camp participants surfed, created ocean art using natural materials, and made lots of new friends. A great time was had by all, and the summer camp season is off to a fantastic start. Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more and view photos from camp, visit sanibelseaschool.org

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