bird signRookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR), in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Audubon Florida, has closed the emergent sandbar located one mile southeast of Cape Romano, known as “Second Chance.”

The sandbar, which is closed to public access annually from March 1 – Aug. 31, was designated as a Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) by the FWC in November. “Protecting Florida’s wildlife and natural resources is our first priority,” said Rookery Bay Reserve Director Keith Laakkonen. “Taking steps to protect this habitat during the nesting season will increase the likelihood of successful
breeding and help preserve threatened Florida species such as the Least Tern.”

The area has been closed annually since 2001 to protect nesting habitat for Least Terns, Black Skimmers and Wilson’s Plover. This is the first year that the CWA rules are in place prohibiting vessels, in addition to people and dogs, from visiting the sandbar during summer nesting season. Rookery Bay offers numerous other recreational options throughout its 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters.



“We work with our partners to establish CWAs to protect wildlife from human disturbance during important life stages such as nesting,” said Kipp Frohlich, deputy director of FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.

“We had broad public support and the Commission was unanimous in their decision to create this CWA, the second one established by the Commission in the last two years.”

“Audubon cheers the efforts of the Department of Environmental Protection and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to manage the important shorebird nesting site at Second Chance Shoal,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida. This kind of agency coordination and action will help shorebird populations recover.”



RBNERR and FWC have installed perimeter signs on the island to clearly mark the sandbar as closed.

The signs will be removed on Aug. 31 after the birds have left and boating visitors may return.

The Least Tern is listed as a threatened species in Florida by the FWC and Black Skimmers are listed as a Species of Special Concern.

Nesting areas will be monitored throughout the nesting season and harassment or removal of endangered or threatened birds, their eggs or young is a violation of state law and may subject violators to criminal penalties.

Additionally, the attempt to remove or possess any migratory bird, their nest or eggs is a violation of federal law.

programs, tours and events at Rookery Bay Reserve

April 4–8, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Drawing Flowers and Nature in Colored Pencil

Learn how to draw fabulous flowers, fruit, and nature scenes in colored pencils during this five day class with Lee Hammond. Using her book Lifelike Drawing in Color as a guide, Lee Hammond will demonstrate easy methods for students at all ability levels; no experience required. This class will make you a master at various colored pencil techniques, and capturing things realistically.
Hammond has been a professional artist and art instructor for more than 30 years. She has published more than 35 art instruction books. Supplies are not included.

April 5, 12 – 1 p.m.
Lunch & Learn: Deepwater Horizon: Five Years Later

This program will focus on lessons learned from the largest oil spill in maritime history, including the role of the Rookery Bay
National Estuarine Research Reserve in working and coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard, and coastal managers from across Florida and the Gulf. Updates from ongoing research in the Gulf of Mexico to learn more about environmental impacts related to the event will be discussed.

Gary Lytton received his academic training in biology and marine science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and the University of South Florida. He served as the Director for the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve for 25 years prior to retiring in 2015, where he received national recognition by NOAA and the Clinton and Bush Administrations for his work in coastal management and environmental education and training. Lytton has two daughters, and is currently serving as the Executive Director for the Friends of Rookery Bay, Inc., and nonprofit organization that supports the mission of Rookery Bay Reserve.

April 9, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Wing It: A Beginning Birders Workshop

Enjoy this fun and informative class designed to help you identify birds around you. Oriented toward the beginning birder, the classroom session explores how to use birds’ plumage, shape, behavior and habitat to recognize various species. It also covers the effective use of binoculars and field guides. During the second part of the class you will learn more tricks of the trade during a field trip to a nearby park where you can enjoy practicing new skills.

April 16, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Collage on Canvas: Manatee

Local artist Marjorie Pesek will lead this 3-hour workshop for adults of all levels of creative talent. She will share her unique art technique of Layered Imagery. Participants will be supplied with a sketch on a 9” x 12” stretched canvas, a template of the subject, glue, scissors, and magazines. Marjorie will work with you to create a masterpiece you can take home! Additional kits available for purchase in the nature store.

Registration fee includes one adult (ages 12+) and all necessary supplies. Come early and enjoy complimentary admission to the
Environmental Learning Center.

April 18–22, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Animal Drawing in Graphite

Don’t pass up a chance to learn the secrets to the Hammond Blended Pencil Technique! Learn how to draw realistic animal drawings in graphite. Based on Lee’s new book Draw Animals in Nature (available in our nature store) everything you need to know about capturing images of wild animals in their natural environment will be revealed. Lee Hammond will show you how to accurately draw nature, by covering skies, trees, grasses and leaves; no experience required. You will also learn to draw many different types of wildlife including furry forest creatures, jungle animals, birds, and water animals.

Hammond has been a professional artist and art instructor for more than 30 years. She has published more than 35 art instruction books. Supplies are not included.

April 22, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Earth Day BOGO

In celebration of Earth Day, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center offers “buy one, get one free admission.” Higher price prevails. Cannot be combined with other offers. Must pay at door.


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