As a Florida native, wildlife enthusiast, biologist, photographer, and exotic animal handler, Chris Gillette has spent his life serving and protecting Florida’s wildlife. He’s passionate about conserving Florida’s natural habitats, such as the alligator and crocodile sanctuaries he studies.
Conserving Florida's natural wetlands is a collective effort of all those who spend their time enjoying everything the wetlands have to offer. Both tourists and Florida natives must do their part to ensure that Florida’s wildlife is protected and remains wild for generations to come.
Here are Chris Gillette’s top five conservation tips for protecting Florida's natural wonders.
Pack it In, Pack it Out
This is one of the golden rules of conservation when it comes to protecting our natural environment. Everything you bring into state parks and wildlife sanctuaries needs to come back home with you. This includes any trash, plastic, fishing line, and any items that aren’t native to the natural environment, which is pretty much anything you bring in with you.
One of Chris’ favorite quotes is that you should leave only footprints, and take only photos and memories with you when you go. In the case of Florida's water-centric natural environments like swamps, wetlands, and coastal shores - you should leave only a wake.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
You’ve likely heard this one before, but living it is a must when it comes to enjoying and preserving Florida's natural environment. We must make a conscious effort to live by this motto. Using only reusable water bottles is a good place to start, and this is something Chris lives by. Doing so cuts down on single use plastic bottles that are sadly all too commonly found littered on Florida's beaches, wetlands, and even consumed inside the wildlife. Avoiding single use plastics is better for both you and Florida's wildlife, as well as the natural environments they inhabit.
Do Your Part to Clean Up
Conserving Florida’s natural environment is a collective effort. You can do your part by picking up trash you find littered on land and in the water. Cleaning up litter like plastic bottles, bags, aluminum cans, or even left behind party favors such as paper plates and balloons, goes a long way towards protecting Florida's marine wildlife. Volunteering on beach cleanup days is a great way to give back to your community while making you feel good in the process. As Chris says, it eventually becomes a habit, and you are an integral part of keeping Florida's wildlife wild and wonderful.
Make sure you are not leaking oil, gasoline, or other chemicals when you are out on the water. Keep your engine idling as much as possible, make sure it is well maintained, and do your best to prevent any gasoline spillage when filling up. These are all great ways to be an eco-friendly boater.
Respect Florida’s Marine Life
It’s up to us to make sure Florida's marine life is safe and protected from environmental hazards and harm. You can respect Florida's marine life by adhering to no-wake zones as you boat out on the water, especially in environmentally sensitive areas. Make sure you are mindful of all fishing regulations and size requirements when you are hunting for both inland and offshore game. Florida is full of all kinds of beautiful marine life, common and exotic. Let’s get on board with Chris and do our part to make sure these species are around for generations to come.
It can often be easy to ignore these five steps, but it is so important that we don’t. Let’s make it a habit to keep Florida’s waterways clean, and the animals that inhabit them safe. Chris never misses the opportunity to teach others about conservation. From here on out, we hope you make it your mission as well.
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