MANGROVE PROFESSIONALS CONVENE ROOKERY BAY RESERVE HOSTS USFWS MANGROVE WORKSHOP TO DISCUSS RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve hosted a workshop for nearly forty mangrove scientists and other professionals on December 8-9. Organized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the purpose of the workshop was to discuss mangrove conservation and research efforts of significance to Florida and regional
Mangrove forests are important habitat for fish, shrimp and crabs, and thus an important food source for many seabirds and wading birds in Florida, and also larger fish of commercial and recreational importance. Rookery Bay Reserve protects more than 26,000 acres of mangrove forest considered to be among the most pristine tracts remaining in the United States. Dozens of independent studies of mangroves have taken place in the reserve.
“Rookery Bay Reserve is a living laboratory,” said Rookery Bay Reserve director Keith Laakkonen. “Our collective efforts to better understand mangrove ecology and response to environmental stressors can help guide research, restoration, and management efforts in the reserve, and statewide.”
The workshop included meetings and presentations followed by a field trip to the mangrove restoration and research site called Fruit Farm Creek, off State Road 29 near Goodland. The group evaluated the progress of the restoration efforts that got underway in 2012.
The Mangrove Working Group, which was established at the inaugural workshop in 2014, also includes the National Park Service, South Florida Water Management District, University of South Florida, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and U.S. Geologic Survey. Rookery Bay Reserve and group partners have been working cooperatively on priority projects identified at the first meeting.
Programs, Tours & Events
Tuesdays – Fridays, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Guided Kayak Tours
Join a Rookery Bay naturalist to enjoy a two-hour guided tour which explores the mangrove bays, creeks and rookeries that make this Reserve a valuable treasure. This is a beginner’s trip and includes brief paddling instruction and all gear. Cost is $59, $49 for members.
Tuesdays – Fridays, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Guided Boat Tours
Explore the unique ecosystem of Rookery Bay through an intimate boat-based tour. With a maximum of six passengers, these intimate on-the-water adventures offer a relaxed pace and emphasis on learning designed to help visitors develop a true sense of place and a deeper connection to this unique coastal wilderness.
Several different trips are available, each with a different theme. Cost is $89, $79 for members.
Proceeds support the nonprofit Friends of Rookery Bay, Inc.
High Points: learn about the geology and wildlife of an ancient dune ecosystem (Feb. 11, 26)
Treasure Island: this ecological treasure is a rare tropical hardwood hammock (Feb. 2, 10, 16, 25)
Essence of an Estuary: learn how human history and natural history intersect (Feb. 4, 9, 18, 23)
Life’s a Beach: explore Keewaydin Island, home to some of the best shelling in Florida (Feb. 3, 5, 17, 24)
Sunset to Starlight: Enjoy sunset on the beach and moonrise over the mangroves (Feb. 20, 21, 22)
Feb. 12, 2016, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Darwin Day BOGO
In celebration of the birthday of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center offers unlimited $5 “buy one, get one free admission.” Cannot be combined with other offers.
Feb 13, 2016, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Wing It: A Beginning Birders Workshop
Learn basics of birding, including how to use field guides, plumage, flight patterns, behavior and field marks in bird identification. Cost is $35 and $25 for members. This class also provides an overview of binocular styles and functions, including adjusting the diopter and other “tricks of the trade.” The classroom session will be followed by a field trip to a nearby park to practice new skills.
Feb. 26, 2016, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Keynote Speaker: Leah Miller, Belize: My Own Private Jungle
With the cost of living in the U.S. skyrocketing, zoologist Leah Miller set out to buy property in a foreign country for retirement. What she got was a jungle in Belize, rich in wildlife beyond her wildest imagination. Leah will explain her journey, show trail camera photos of her Belizean wildlife, and answer questions about how one goes about purchasing foreign real estate, wildlife habitat in particular.