Cypress trees, strong and tall, form the backbone of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Having been saved from logging several decades ago, these trees are the treasure that makes the Sanctuary special. Like the sentinel cypresses, donors are the lifeblood of the Sanctuary, and as such, deserve special recognition whenever possible.
Corkscrew’s Cypress Celebration was an event to honor these very important human resources. Now in its third year, this celebration, sponsored by The Naples Trust Company, was hosted at Tiburon Golf and Country Club on January 14. Seventy of Corkscrew Sanctuary’s precious supporters were honored during an elegant luncheon, kicked off by Sanctuary Director Lisa Korte, who shared a few highlights from the year. She even announced a swamp mystery solved: which moth pollinates the Super Ghost Orchid that has captured the hearts and minds of so many who visit.
One of the visitors whose mind was intrigued by the moth mystery is photographer Mac Stone. The former Audubon biologist spent five years capturing breathtaking imagery of the Everglades, and in 2014 released a 304-page coffee table book. Entitled “Everglades: America's Wetland,” Stone’s book has won a silver medal with the Florida Book Awards and is in its second printing.
Now a photographer with National Geographic, Stone was invited to share his personal experiences in the swamp with Cypress Celebration guests as the featured speaker. Through Stone’s photos, guests were treated to amazing sights and stories, including the discovery of the ghost orchid pollinator that is putting the Sanctuary at the forefront of the research community. Thanks to Stone’s incredible dedication, photographs of the orchid’s moth pollinators were possible, leading to the publication of a journal article by Stone, entomologist Peter Houlihan, and Corkscrew Sanctuary’s research director Shawn Clem, Ph.D., who introduced Stone to Cypress Celebration guests before his lecture. Stone avowed that it had been a tremendous honor and experience climbing to heights of about 90 feet to explore the ecosystems of one of the world’s largest old-growth cypress forests in the world.
Through Stone’s lecture, the supporters who help ensure the Sanctuary thrives were encouraged and hopefully inspired. Funding is critical, but the kind of support that is regularly received from these donors is much more. They are not only helping support the science, stewardship, and educational efforts underway at the Sanctuary, but they are also helping spread the message of the importance of the Sanctuary, and the old-growth forest of the swamp it protects, for future generations.
Support for the 2020 Cypress Celebration was provided by the Naples Trust Company, Troon Golf, and Steve and Merrilee Nellis.