Have you ever wondered how a gopher tortoise can survive an 8-foot storm surge? What happens to freshwater fish when their ponds fill with saltwater? Why do some homes survive a hurricane unscathed while others are reduced to rubble? Sanibel Island author and naturalist Charlie Sobczak will examine these and other questions during two free lectures “Surviving the Storms – Hurricanes, Humans, and Wildlife,” part of the 2024 lecture series at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, on Thursday, March 14, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.


“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) co-hosts the lectures with the refuge and through financial support from co-sponsors Cliff and Susan Beittel and Friend of “Ding” Darling. A book-signing will follow the lecture. Note: Opinions expressed in guest lectures do not necessarily reflect the views of refuge and DDWS management, staff, and board of directors.


Sobczak is an award-winning author who lives and writes on Sanibel Island. He has authored 10 books, including three non-fiction titles, two selected works, and five novels. His non-fiction work focuses on local and regional Florida flora and fauna, including Living Sanibel: A Nature Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands.


Sobczak’s lectures are part of a six-lecture series, now underway in its 19th year at “Ding” Darling. Seating for the free lectures is limited on a first-come basis. Early arrivals can check in after 9 a.m. or 12 p.m. to obtain an entrance wristband and then can explore the Visitor & Education Center or Wildlife Drive and trails before the lecture starts. Saved seats must be filled 15 minutes before lecture time or risk being reassigned.


Below is the calendar of upcoming scheduled lectures. For more information about the lecture series, visit dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/lecture-series.


March 14: Author/Sanibel islander Charles Sobczak, “Surviving the Storms – Hurricanes, Humans, and Wildlife” (Co-sponsors Cliff & Susan Beittel and Friend of “Ding” Darling)

March 21: Recycling expert Stephanie Kissinger, “Talking Trash: Post-Hurricane Clean-Up and Recycling” (Sponsor Friend of “Ding” Darling)



As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, DDWS works to support J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mission of conservation, wildlife and habitat protection, research, and public education through charitable donations and Refuge Nature Shop profits. To support DDWS and the refuge with a tax-deductible gift, visit dingdarlingsociety.org or Ann-Marie Wildman at 239-789-8991 or [email protected].