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August 7 is National Lighthouse Day

1941 photo of Sanibel Island lighthouse

Image courtesy of the US Coast Guard

August 7th is National Lighthouse Day. Lighthouses have always intrigued, standing tall at the sea’s edge often high on a cliff. They have played an important part in history, making sea travel safer, indicating dangerous coastlines and reefs and rocks.

Two lighthouses have meaning in my life, both on islands. The first is the historic lighthouse on Sanibel Island, built in 1884. I grew to know it as a child visiting the island with my parents on annual vacations. The beach around the lighthouse offered excellent shelling and the mangroves had interesting wildlife.

An illustration of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse
An illustration of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse from my home

In 1949, the dwellings were turned over to the employees of the wildlife refuge. When I was in college, I worked for two summers with the US Fish & Wildlife Service at the J.N. “Ding Darling” Wildlife Refuge.  Their offices were in the lighthouse buildings.

The City of Sanibel assumed management of the lighthouse property in 1982, except the tower, which was later transferred to the city in 2010. In 2016, the lighthouse and dwellings were added to the City of Sanibel’s Register of Historic Sites and Structures.

a photo of the lighthouse on Cayman Brac
Photo of Cayman Brac Lighthouse courtesy of Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism

The second lighthouse in my life is on Cayman Brac.  This small lighthouse is perched on top of the bluff at the highest point on the island, 140 feet.  The view from the spot is spectacular, even if the lighthouse is not architecturally interesting. The first lighthouse was built in 1930 with a more modern one added in recent years. In addition to the ocean view, the lighthouse is a great place to observe bird life, including the nesting brown boobie birds and frigate birds drifting in the updrafts.

To learn more about the fascinating brown boobies of Cayman Brac (and only Cayman Brac), check out Bonnie Scott’s Brown Boobie Birds of Cayman Brac, and my own Fly Back to the Brac, Brian Brown Booby, which is fictional but based on the true story of a brown boobie bird that finally manages to fly and find his own kind. I love writing science into story and I hope you enjoy them. Both books are published by Lyric Power Publishing LLC.

image of book cover of a brown booby bird in cayman brac
“You can fly, Brian Brown Booby! Don’t give up!” Colorful Illustrations by Cayman Native Simone Scott Reading Level Age 8+ 48 Pages A fictionalized telling of the true story of Brian Brown Booby and the caring Caymanians who helped him. Brian Brown Booby was too young to fly but somehow ended up 80 miles from home. This is the tale of the many people who helped him get back home, fed him, and believed in him so that he could learn to fly with his own kind.

Meet the Brown Booby, a large sea bird which is a year-round resident only of Cayman Brac. They are not found at all in Grand Cayman or Little Cayman. These birds are a spectacular sight, soaring and gliding along the Bluff edge and the shore, diving for fish to feed their young, perching on rocks in the sun, then returning to their nesting colonies. With only about forty nesting pairs on the Brac, they are protected by Cayman law.
 

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