“Mullet & Mangroves” coming to WGCU TV

Mark your calendar for the WGCU premiere of “Mullet & Mangroves, The History of Pioneer Families of Cayo Costa,” a 30-minute documentary from local Main Sail Video Productions, Inc. and airing July 12 at 8 p.m.
Produced and directed by Southwest Floridian Ilene Safron, “Mullet & Mangroves” is about the way of life, past and present, on this remote local barrier island. The narrator is Bob Hite, a popular anchorman for Channel 8 in Tampa for more than 30 years who now lives in Southwest Florida.
The story is told through historical research and interviews with the few remaining pioneers who grew up on Cayo Costa. The history traces the island’s inhabitants from its native Calusa origins, to Spanish colonization, through modern day fishing families and their descendants.
Safron has been working on this film since 2014, she said. It has had several incarnations before this latest finished product, requiring quite a few updates. “History doesn’t stand still,” Safron said. “People out there were passing away – going to the next fishing camp – and we really needed to get their stories before it was too late.
“But it was a labor of love.”
Today, 94 percent of Cayo Costa is a state park, where visitors arrive by boat and can stay for the day or camp overnight to enjoy its seclusion, white sandy beaches, thousands of seashells and the warm waters of the Gulf. The sentiment among the different people in the program who visit or have ties to the island was to keep it pristine, the same as it was thousands of years ago, by protecting and preserving it as a natural classroom, a glimpse of “Old Florida” to be enjoyed for many generations into the future.