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.
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.
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.