Rookery Bay Research Reserve is here for everyone to discover and enjoy
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of the most unique and beautiful mangrove estuary habitats in North America, and it is here in Naples for you to enjoy – by boat, kayak, hike on a trail or visit to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center! Community members and visitors alike can explore the reserve’s 110,000 acres, which is set aside as preserved public land and water.
The Reserve encompasses 40% of Collier County’s coastline (a fact even most locals don’t know). It begins at the Gordon River in Port Royal, crosses the beaches of shell strewn Keewaydin Island and stretches all the way down to Everglades National Park.
Acres of mangrove forests, secluded island beaches and warm shallow waters are just a few reasons why Rookery Bay is so special and worth a visit. The mangroves create an extremely nutrient rich ecosystem – a perfect food source for all types of birds, fish and marine organisms as well as a haven for these animals to call home and stay safe from predators. On any given day, when exploring Rookery Bay, a visitor may encounter manatees, dolphins, shorebirds, sea turtles as well as diverse fish such as the endangered sawfish, tiny squirt fish, sea horses and
“good eating” fish like snook and mullet.
What is an Estuary?
An estuary is a place where fresh water meets salt water and creates a super-productive habitat for wildlife and a prime nursery for fish, birds and all kinds of marine animals. There are 30 National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs) in North America along the East Coast, West Coast, Great Lakes, Puerto Rico and Alaska; protecting more than 1.2 million acres. Each NERR offers a different type of habitat and experience, from the muddy marsh land of Mississippi to deep cold bays in Alaska.
The one thing they all have in common is they are a refuge for animals, fish, birds … and even people. These unspoiled places are protected through a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and individual states. The Reserves all share the same mission of long-term protection and preservation of these coastal treasures through scientific research, monitoring, community education and training.
Eco-Tours on the Water
Biologist Guided Kayak & Boat Tours at Rookery Bay Kayak tours and eco-boat tours are offered at Rookery Bay through an exclusive partnership with biologist-led Rising Tide Explorers and the Friends of Rookery Bay. On these tours, visitors can experience the estuary up-close and personal – paddle through mangrove tunnels, search for the perfect shell on beautiful barrier island beaches and see wildlife including more than 150 species of bird life like egrets, pelicans, blue herons and roseate spoonbills.
Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center
300 Tower Road, Naples, Florida Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 239-530-5972 www.rookerybay.org