If you take a look at any of Linda Soderquist’s pieces of art, the first thing that jumps to mind is her incorporation of the outdoors. Not surprising, considering where she calls home. She paints in her small studio nestled on Little Gasparilla Island, a bridgeless barrier island south of Manasota Key and north of Gasparilla Island. Accessible only by watercraft, the island is home to a small number of residents who have adapted to life without paved roads, cars or stores. Linda specializes in watercolors, with sea turtles and shorebirds often stealing the spotlight on her canvas. With just a glance at her work, you can see the influence of the beauty of the island. But look closer and you can get a deeper understanding of her connection with that beauty.
Linda has a connection with Little Gasparilla Island. She has lived there for 20 years, and she knows just about everybody on the island. She volunteers with the fire department and acts as a 911 responder. She is a primary permit holder with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for all sea turtle data collection, education and strandings. When a turtle washes up on the shores of the island, Linda is the one of the first people on scene, collecting data and sending it to the FWC for future use. When the turtles are nesting, it’s her job to put screening over the nests, keeping egg predators out. She also volunteers year-round as a shorebird monitor. As a part of a Department of Environmental Protection water quality monitoring network for more than 10 years, she participates in water testing and collects monthly samples for analysis. She snorkels each year in the local Florida Sea Grant scallop population count and even has a pen of scallops on her dock as part of a study. She has a connection with the island. But sea turtles have a special place in her heart, and her art. In fact, she credits a turtle patrol meeting she organized a few years back as the reason she paints today.
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