Batfish Bash breaks fund-raising record

Reels in $140,000 for Research and Education



The Friends of Rookery Bay held their seventh annual fundraiser, the Batfish Bash for the Bay at the Rookery Bay Environmental
Learning Center in Naples. Two hundred and twenty guests enjoyed a silent auction amidst the aquariums and art gallery, sunset
and cocktails overlooking Henderson Creek, and dinner, followed by a live auction and dancing, on the center’s back lawn. The event raised $140,000 to support programs at Rookery Bay Reserve, setting a new fundraising record.

The Friends of Rookery Bay (FORB) is the non-profit organization that has been working to support the mission of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve since 1987. The Rookery Bay Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters between Naples and Everglades National Park, providing essential habitat and refuge for coastal birds, fish and marine wildlife, while supporting local businesses through tourism, sport fishing and commercial harvest.

“The evening was a great success on all counts,” said Craig Seibert, president of the FORB board. “Even though the rain held off, the addition of the tent this year made the event more enjoyable for all,” he concluded.

Silent auction items amidst the two-story exhibit hall delighted auction enthusiasts as they sipped on their Batfish Brew (the event’s signature drink) while servers passed hors d’oeuvres. Under the tent, event participants enjoyed a delicious and memorable dining experience and live music and dancing with a local band. Bidders competed for their chance to experience amazing getaways to places like Belize and Kennebunkport, Maine, as well as many great “staycations” and other opportunities to enjoy the local surroundings while fishing with television celebrity Roland Martin, or enjoying kayak tours, dinner deals, rounds
of golf, wine tastings and more, all courtesy of local hotels, tour providers and other supporters.



A special live auction category called “Fund-a-Need” raised $12,000 for shark and sawfish research in Southwest Florida.

“Working with research partners such as Mote Marine Laboratory will help fill gaps in our collective understanding of shark and sawfish behavior and habitat needs,” said Keith Laakkonen, the reserve’s director. “We are already catching sawfish that are part of our shark study, so the new listening stations we can now install in our waters will provide important clues to how juvenile sawfish are moving along our coast,” he added.

Sponsors for the event included Minto, Arthrex, First Florida Integrity Bank, Hamilton Harbor, J.R. Evans Engineering, Horizons Rentals and RGB Internet Systems. Proceeds from the Batfish Bash for the Bay support the Reserve’s education programs, research, and habitat management. For more information about the Rookery Bay Reserve or Friends of Rookery Bay visit

Programs, tours and events at Rookery Bay Reserve

May 2, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Homeschool Day at Rookery Bay 

Curious about what lives under the waves? Ever wonder  about how microscopic  plankton are connected to  sharks? Students will use  microscopes to identify  different species of  plankton and learn about  their role in the estuarine  ecosystem. They will also  learn about sharks, which  species are here, and why some sharks are considered to  be an indicator species. Story time or a trail walk will also  be included.

The opportunity is limited to a maximum of 30 students  ages 7-14. Cost is $15, includes one child and one adult.  Each additional child is $10. Price includes admission to the  Environmental Learning Center for the day.

May 13, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

International Migratory Bird Day 

In celebration of  International Migratory  Bird Day, the Rookery Bay  Environmental Learning  Center offers “buy one, get  one free admission.” Enjoy  films about birds in the  comfort of our auditorium  throughout the day. Registration is not required.

May 14 – May 15, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Spring Slumber at Rookery Bay 

Discover the nocturnal side of nature while camping with  our Educators inside the Environmental Learning Center!  During this special program, your child (ages 11 – 14) will  learn more about the changing seasons: critter seasons, to  be exact! Several animals return to the reserve during this  special time of year to continue the success of their kind.  Plus, we’ll cover who makes themselves known in the night,  and who embraces the day time sun.

Event includes evening/morning snack, games and  activities, guest speakers, a commemorative Rookery Bay  water bottle, and FREE passes to the Environmental Learning  Center for your next visit.

More details to be released closer to date of event. A list  of items to bring will be emailed upon registration.

May 24, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

An Evening with Dr. Ellen Prager 

Come to Rookery Bay Reserve for a night of fun and  learning. Test your knowledge about the ocean, Southwest  Florida, Rookery Bay Reserve, and marine life. Join Dr.  Prager and the Rookery Bay Education Coordinator, Sarah  Falkowski who will co-host the event. Trivia questions  will be multiple choice and true or false. It will be fun  for all ages and all levels of  knowledge. Prizes will be given  to the individuals or pairs of  participants that get the most  answers correct.

Dr. Prager will do a book  signing in celebration of  the release of her new book  Stingray City, the third in her  fiction adventure series for middle graders, Tristan Hunt  and the Sea Guardians.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for refreshments and book  signing, with trivia from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by questions  and mingling. Admission is $10 for members and $15 for  non-members and includes refreshments. Reservations  are highly recommended as space is limited.

Fridays, June 17 – Aug. 5, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Kids Free Fridays is a summer education program that  offers free admission for children ages 12 and younger  who are accompanied by an adult (up to 5 children  per adult). Adult tickets cost $5.

Scheduled activities include story time, naturalist presentation, crafts, films and marine animal touch tank. This year’s theme is Fish. Registration is not required.

Events are located at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples unless
otherwise noticed. Registration is required for fee-based programs.


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