SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Dennis and Mary Frahm were taking photos of nature and the butterflies at the birding center.
“We are having a blast out here taking pictures of the butterflies,” Dennis said. “And it was nice seeing the alligator and the turtles.”
The two travel the country and enjoy taking pictures of nature.
“We have a lot of visitors and tourists on the Island that like to take photos,” said Javier Gonzalez, SPI Birding and Nature Center naturalist and educator. “We’re trying to engage the public help record monarch butterflies that come to the Island.”
The city of South Padre Island along with the Birding and Nature Center invite residents and visitors to contribute their observations of monarch butterflies and native milkweed species on SPI to the newly created “Monarchs and Native Milkweeds of South Padre Island” iNaturalist project.
Gonzalez said the photos can become valuable data for conservation research through the iNaturalist website, an online citizen science platform.
“This project has been established to gain a better understanding of monarch ecology and habitat on SPI that will in turn help toward conservation actions on the Island,” Gonzalez said.
The monarch butterfly is an iconic species known worldwide.
Monarchs migrating through the “Texas Funnel” on the coastal flyway come straight through South Padre Island and the surrounding landscapes, making this area a critical stretch in their yearly migration.
“Unfortunately, this beautiful butterfly has suffered alarming population declines in recent years for a variety of reasons,” Gonzalez said. “The observations will give us the data of where the monarch is migrating and feeding on the Island.”
Gonzalez said contributing to the project is an easy and fun way to get involved in the conservation of this special butterfly.
Island Mayor Barry Patel signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge in October 2016.
The pledge identifies key strategies cities can take to help the plight of the monarchs.
The citizen’s photography intiative is the citizen’s science campaign and one of more than 50 monarch pledges the city can choose from.
“We are pleased to be working with the Birding and Nature Center to help protect Monarchs,” Patel said.
Join the project at www.inaturalist.org/projects/monarchs-and-native-milkweeds-of-south-padre-island