Wednesday, December 1, 2021

‘Beyond the Mangrove Trees’ A pictorial look at South Florida



Stepping Stones

Bob McConville

b8-cbn-11-25-16-3Dolphins and gators and birds, oh my! Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to take many pictures of various wildlife in our area. Some of the photos are a matter of being in the right place at the right time and others, believe me, are just luck! I’ve looked for an avenue to share my good fortune with others, and have recently released my first book.

“Beyond The Mangrove Trees” captures nearly 200 moments in time of the fauna and flora that make South Florida special. With the help of creative genius Steve Gimmestad, together we’ve given this publication the look and feel of an up-to-date scrapbook. The appearance that some photos are taped, paper-clipped or stuck with bubblegum to the page brings a unique quality to each picture and several readers have smiled while gazing at each image. Steve is truly a gifted master of his craft.

There are no chapters here, but “encounters” instead. Steve’s talent gives you the feeling that you are right there with the animals, exploring a journey that YOU have created. Let’s analyze each encounter a bit.

“Gators and Crocs and Snakes, Oh My!” is your first experience. From wallowing in the mud to performing their “rain dance” you will see alligators from a whole different perspective. Do we have crocodiles in our region? The answer is yes, and we have the pictures to prove it! From rat snakes to black racers to water moccasins you never know what will pop up in the Big Cypress Preserve. You will even learn about the Burmese python.

Next on hand is “Birds Uncaged: A Fowl World.” Here you’ll find wading birds, shore birds and raptors in their natural habitats. Everything, from eagles to egrets to the glossy ibis, is photographed just being themselves. Some of our migratory, feathered friends pop up as well.

Your third encounter is



my personal favorite, “Life Beneath The Emerald Waves.” Everybody loves dolphins and we have them leaping, feeding, and frolicking as only dolphins can do. There’s even a look at a newborn calf here. In addition there are manatees, sea hares and of course, some of our crustaceans like the stone crab. Life beneath the sea always creates a sense of curiosity…you never know what will break the surface. Sea turtles and sharks? They’re here too!

“Critters and Creatures and Other Stuff” is up next. Dragonflies, river otters, iguanas and several other species of wildlife will attract your attention. Some of the more interesting critters and creatures are found in this section.

Last on the list is encounter five, “What Lies Beyond,” to summarize and tie together the previous encounters and to hopefully elevate your level of interest regarding all life in this area. Naturally the closing shot is a sunset, taken where the Marco River meets the Gulf of Mexico, with my favorite dinner cruise ship, the Marco Island Princess, silhouetted against the horizon.

My goal is to create an enjoyable journey for all who care to take a closer look at nature. It is to offer a bit of education about some of the creatures that we find here, and add a little humor along the way. With Steve’s amazing talents, this task is accomplished. Above, below and beyond the mangrove trees…you never know what you’ll find!

For more information about the book please go to: or

Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours, providing guided walks in the Big Cypress Preserve. He is also a naturalist for a local dolphin survey team and a member of the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism. Bob loves his wife very much!

Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and a naturalist on board the Dolphin Explorer survey program. He is a member of Florida SEE (Society for Ethical Ecotourism). Bob loves his wife very much!

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