Rookery Bay Celebrates the Coastal Environment at 2024 National Estuaries Day

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve invites everyone in the community and visiting to come out to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center for a free day of fun – National Estuaries Day on Saturday, May 4, 2024. There will be something for everyone in the family – kayak demos, art, children’s activities, food, nature and wildlife exhibits, boat tours and FREE admission all day to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.

It’s also an opportunity to learn about the research and preservation efforts taking place at the Reserve including sea turtle nesting, juvenile shark research, shorebird and seabird monitoring, water quality, as well as natural history, native peoples and pioneers.

This year’s event is made extra special because the Environmental Learning Center reached its 20 year milestone in 2024. That’s two decades of dedication to educating the public about the coastal environment and wildlife in the 16,500 sq. ft. two story facility which includes a nature center, four research laboratories, classrooms, an art gallery and a 140  seat auditorium.

At the Environmental Learning Center, guests can discover the waters, birds and animals of the Reserve through interactive exhibits as well as experience marine life hands-on at the Estuary Encounter Touch Tank. All ages are encouraged to look, touch or hold a sea star, sea urchin, giant conch snail or pistol shrimp. Behind the Center, a tranquil butterfly garden and picnic patio offers a respite from busy Naples. Also, there’s beautiful water views to enjoy on the scenic overlook bridge leading to three loops of nature trails.

Although the Center is now 20 years old, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has been in existence since 1978. At the time, the Reserve consisted of just 3,500 acres surrounding the actual Rookery Bay. Over the years, the Reserve has grown to encompass 110,000 acres of land and water. It now stretches from Gordon Pass in the Port Royal section of Naples and includes Keewaydin Island, the Ten Thousand Islands and reaches the western edge of Everglades National Park.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is considered one of the largest, unspoiled mangrove-lined estuaries in North America. An estuary is a place where freshwater meets saltwater creating 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. These natural places are managed through partnerships 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, education and training.

Visit to learn more about upcoming events and programs at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Also, Naturalist-led boat and kayak eco-tours are available
all summer long!

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center (Just 15 minutes from downtown Naples 5th Avenue area)
300 Tower Road, Naples, FL
Tuesday – Saturday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$10 for adults
$5 for children ages 3-12

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center

FREE Admission.

National Estuaries Day | Saturday, May 4, 2024 | 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
• Kayak Demos on the Water
• Kids Crafts & Activities
• Boat Tours
• Indoor & Outdoor Activities
• Food Trucks
• Nature, Wildlife and Art Exhibits

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