Blog Description

Mound House Happenings shares the latest in ongoing projects, site improvements, scheduled programs and events, plus interesting facts and photos on our unique archaeology, history and ecology.

Mound House

Mound House
October 15, 2013

Friday, August 17, 2012

Moment of Zen...

Creature Feature #17

# 17 - THE MANGROVE TREE CRAB (Aratus pisonii)

There is an impressive array of wildlife living on the Mound House site. Some on land, some in the surrounding waters, and some perfectly at home in either environment, such as this weeks’ subject : THE MANGROVE TREE CRAB

The mangrove tree crab makes its home among the roots and branches of the mangroves that line our shore here at Mound House. They can be seen crawling high up into the top limbs or even crossing the road on occasion, making their way home after a long evening or on the way out to dinner. Thriving on a diet of plant and animal material including mangrove leaves, seagrasses, worms and small crustaceans, the mangrove tree crab is perfectly adapted to is unusual environment where it lives both in the water and on land. This makes the mangrove tree crab an important link in the conversion of plant biomass into zooplankton, which serves as component to the base of the estuarine food chain. Though extremely fast and able to scamper out of the way of most visitors, mangrove tree crabs are small and seldom exceed the size of a quarter.         
Predation is tough on the mangrove tree crab. As larvae, they are preyed upon by a variety of other zooplankton, filter feeders like barnacles, hydroids and anemones. As adults, larger fish ,wading birds and even other crabs target this species.    

Plants in Profile #17

#17 - FIG TREE (Ficus spp.)

A native of western Asia, figs have been cultivated for over 5,000 years in the Mediterranean. The fig tree has long been an important, highly valued, vital food crop and its cultivation spread rapidly with civilization. The early Greeks so highly prized figs that in the Olympics, winning athletes were crowned with fig wreaths. Now grown throughout the world, the fig tree was first introduced to Florida in the early 1500s by Spanish explorers. As far back as 1520, colonists in Cuba were only allowed one fig tree per household so as to prevent competition with growers back in Spain (Validez 1526). As a ficus, the fig tree is cousin to our native strangler figs, including the giant strangler fig you will find standing next to Mound House. Out in the backyard, our edible fig tree is among the numerous fruit trees which are part of the historic gardens at Mound House. This garden includes the many of  the fruits and vegetables which could be found in a 1920s era garden on the Beach, and like the old days, are frequently stolen by visitors and neighbors alike.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Congratulations to Mayor Kiker!

The preliminary news for the county commision seat for district 2 is in - Fort Myers Beach's Mayor Larry Kiker beat out Ray Judah in the Republican Primary election on August 14th, 2012. For more details on the story, please read the article from the Fort Myers Beach Observer, found below:

"Kiker captures Dist. 3 County commission primary"

August 14, 2012
By BOB PETCHER, , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer
There will be a new County commissioner in the District 3 seat for the first time in 24 years.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Larry Kiker unofficially defeated incumbent Ray Judah in the Republican primary election Tuesday evening and will face San Carlos Island resident Charlie Whitehead, of no party affiliation, in the general election on Nov. 6.

Kiker beat Judah by a 36,614 to 20,658 vote margin by gaining 63.93 percent of the vote. The results will become certified and official on Friday at 9 a.m.

Article Photos


Beach Mayor Larry Kiker is all smiles with wife, Paula, after hearing the news of victory over incumbent Ray Judah in the Republican primary election for County Commission Dist. 3 seat.
"I'd be lying to you if I couldn't tell you this is not exciting. This is probably one of the most exciting things that has happened to me since I have been in political office," said Kiker, who held an election party in the Island View Restaurant on top of Lani Kai.

Judah has been in office since 1988. Did Kiker see himself as an underdog in this race?

"I am not looking at it that way," he said. "People said they wanted new leadership, and I hope I represent that to them. We started from the very beginning that we needed a new face and a new attitude. That's exactly what I will bring to the board if elected in November."

Kiker stated he looks forward to meeting with Whitehead in the next three months. He was swamped by "150 of his closest friends" Tuesday evening.

"My expectation is that this election is not over yet," he said. "I will be working harder than I did before."

At age 60, Kiker brings more than 30 years of business experience along with political prowess to the commission. He has been mayor of the Beach for the past five years, but will focus on a "businesslike approach to government" at the county level if elected in November. By that, he plans to pay close attention to the budget crisis and what he calls overspending at the County level.

"Our message has been clear. We need to stop spending more money than what we have. We need to bring tourism back to basics. We need to start helping local existing businesses. And, we need to get people back to work."

Before the night's final tallies, the first set of results featured early voting and ballots-by-mail numbers. Kiker led that category with 6,000 votes or 62.91 percent of the vote, while Judah trailed with 3,538 votes or 37.09 percent.

In the other two county commission races, Cecil Pendergrass collected 17,067 votes or 31.34 percent of the vote to win a somewhat tight race in the Republican primary in District 2 over Doug St. Cerny (13,837 votes), Don Stilwell (13,144 votes) and Warren Wright (10,405 votes). The seat is being vacated by Brian Bigelow, who lost to Linda Doggett by a 38,796-17,092 count in the Republican Primary race for Clerk of Circuit Court. Pendergrass will face write-in candidate Neal Moore and independent John W. Sawyer in the Dist. 2 November election.

In the Dist. 5 Republican primary, incumbent Frank Mann received 34,802 votes or 63.21 percent of the vote to defeat Sonny Haas and get one step closer to gaining a third term as commissioner. He will take on Independence Party of Florida candidate Matt Miller in November.

In the Republican primary race for Lee County Sheriff, incumbent Mike Scott beat Tim Fisher by a 43,970 to 15,576 voting margin.

Of the combined 125 county precincts, a total of 80,601 ballots were cast out of 375,727 registered voters for a 21.45 percent voter turnout. Of them, 60,560 were Republican, 14,349 were Democrat and 5,692 were Nonpartisan.

A total of 12,839 ballots were cast in early voting. Of them, 9,962 were Republican (77.59%), 2,259 were Democrat (17.59%) and 618 were Nonpartisan (4.81%).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Moment of Zen

Creature Feature #16


Slow moving, thick shelled and armed with enormous claws that can exert a force of over 19,000 pounds per square inch, the stone crabs which inhabit the rocky shoreline of  Mound House are a remarkable testimony to millions of years of evolution. They are adapted to life on the sea floor with juveniles and young adults living in the estuaries and larger adults moving offshore to burrow in the the deeper grass flats or to inhabit  rocky limestone ledges. They are well camouflaged with a mud colored carapace and sandy underside. Feeding on carrion and even seaweed if need be, the powerful stone crab prefers using its claws to break into shells of clams, oysters, conchs ,whelks and other marine mollusks.  

On the other hand, stone crabs are a celebrated Florida delicacy and, in season, their delicious powerful claws can be  found served  with melted butter and a side salad at your favorite  seafood restaurant.

Stone crabs are harvested by commercial trappers ,recreational trappers and even divers  from October until May. Remarkably, the stone crab is a renewable resource. By law, only the claws may be taken, and the crab is released alive back into the water where it will regenerate new claws within a year.    


Plants in Profile #16

There are over 120 different species of plants and trees on the Mound House property. These specimens represent not only native Florida vegetation, such as those found in mangrove fringes, coastal hammocks and shell mound habitats, but also plants cultivated by the Calusa, Spanish  colonials and American settlers as part of early Estero Island agriculture. Species of scientific and cultural importance from around the world are also found here and are included in the “Plants and People” tour here at Mound House.



There are now over 120 species of plants at Mound House. The latest addition is a native of Florida and can be found growing in our garden containers right in back of the Mound House.  As you may know, the garden portion of our site exhibits some of the numerous varieties of fruits that would commonly be found growing in the backyard of 1920s Estero Island home.

True to its name, the Seminole thorny blackberry is an aggressively thorny variety. Sharp thorns are found along the stems and mid rib of the leaves. Blackberries are also one among the various species of brambles that have been used throughout the United States and Europe for hundreds of years as an effective natural barrier around homes or gardens to keep out marauders.

Blackberries are delicious and have one of the highest levels of antioxidants found in fruits . Antioxidants are natural substances that slow the aging process. In addition, blackberries are used in herbal remedies to treat stomach ailments, sore throat, and even dysentery. The ancient Greeks even used blackberries as a treatment for gout.

Blackberries are also an important food source for wildlife including deer ,bears and songbirds. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

FHC Board Member Visit

FHC Board Member Andy Maass visited Mound House to tour the facility and get a first hand look at the underground exhibit and long time volunteer Ceel Spuhler gave the most wonderful tour. Please see images below.