is located at 1831 Addison Court, Marco Island
Marco Island is a city in Collier County, Florida, United States, located on an island by the same name in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Southwest Florida. It is a principal city of the Naples–Marco Island Metropolitan Statistical Area...
. The 2.45 acre preserve is located in southwestern Collier County
Collier County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 251,377. The U.S. Census Bureau 2007 estimate for the county is 315,839...
in a residential area of Marco Island, known locally as the Indian Hills section. The preserve is maintained by Collier County.
The preserve is named for a previous resident, Ernest Otter a one-time owner who had occupied the property until 1997. Otter is credited for the unique whelk
Whelk, also spelled welk or even "wilks", is a common name used to mean one or more kinds of sea snail. The species, genera and families referred to using this common name vary a great deal from one geographic area to another...
shell terraces that define the preserve’s signature man-made feature. The initial preserve was established with a 1.77 acre purchase in 2004 followed by an additional acquisition of .68 acres in 2007.
Otter Mound and the property surrounding it was a home site for early settlers in the Caxambas Village who worked in the Marco Island clamming industry.
The "Mound" on which Otter Mound Preserve sits was constructed by the Calusa
The Calusa were a Native American people who lived on the coast and along the inner waterways of Florida's southwest coast. Calusa society developed from that of archaic peoples of the Everglades region; at the time of European contact, the Calusa were the people of the Caloosahatchee culture...
native inhabitants from oyster
The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of distinct groups of bivalve molluscs which live in marine or brackish habitats. The valves are highly calcified....
, southern surf clam, lightning whelk
The lightning whelk, scientific name Busycon contrarium, is an edible species of very large predatory sea snail or whelk, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Buccinidae, the busycon whelks. This species has a left-handed or sinistral shell...
, and other shellfish species and dates between 700 AD – 1200 AD.
Otter Mound is a man-made tropical hardwood hammock
Tropical hardwood hammocks are closed canopy forests, dominated by a diverse assemblage of evergreen and semi-deciduous tree and shrub species, mostly of West Indian origin...
formed by the Shell mound created by the Calusa natives, this raised area produced an environment that resulted in a tropical hardwood hammock community. This plant community also occurs naturally in South Florida and is a common site in the Everglades
The Everglades are subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee...
. Hammocks primarily occur on the highest elevations (e.g., shell mounds) where flooding rarely occurs and are, therefore, prime areas for human habitation.
This preserve is representative of a tropical hardwood hammock, Fifty-seven species of birds and one hundred and twenty-seven plant species have been recorded at Otter Mound Preserve. Other wildlife observed includes opossum, armadillo, raccoon, grey squirrel and even the occasional bobcat.
Whelk shell terracing
Otter Mound's signature man-made feature is the many terraced garden plots created with thousands of whelk shells. Ernest Otter created these terraced gardens in the mid 1950s.
There is a small parking area and a bike rack located at the entrance along Addison Court. A nature surface trail with benches and interruptive signs loops through the preserve allowing views of the historic whelk terracing along its path. The path in not handicap accessible and there are no comfort facilities available.