Copely Smoak

April 2020

Cope and his wife, Mary Alice, wintered at the Bonita Beach Trailer Park for years while residing in Galveston, TX and later in Hot Springs, AR before making permanent residence in Bonita Springs at Spring Creek Village in 2017.


A mutual friend, Dr. Aaron Adams introduced Cope to Conservancy Environmental Research Manager Dr. Jeff Schmid a dozen or so years ago when they were seining and recording species in the Conservancy filter marsh. Dr. Schmid, while sport fishing for Mayan cichlids with Cope, mentioned that if they could capture enough samples they could do a diet study.

So together in 2011, they started the Mayan cichlid project. Since that time, Cope’s effort has included collecting over 700 samples for stomach analyses, over 400 sets of otoliths for aging and tagged 600 fish for a movement experiment in Spring Creek.

A master’s degree in aquatic biology, along with his life long adventures in the outdoors, fishing and hunting kept him close to the woods and waters - even though he spent 30 years with IBM. Adventuring, gardening, building fishing rods, tying flies, hunting and fishing have always been a big part of his life. Cope loved baseball and while raising three children, he coached youth athletics for many years as well as later enjoyed competing in road races, biathlons, triathlons, marathons and ulta-marathons. Cope still run about 10 miles per week.

At present, his effort at the Conservancy is assisting volunteer senior entomologist Susan Snyder in the identification of the contents of cane toad stomachs for the ongoing project.

We thank Copely for his role in protecting Southwest Florida’s unique natural environment and quality of life…now and forever.

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