In the hustle and bustle of busy people-filled Naples, there is still a natural undisturbed spot to enjoy—Rookery Bay Research Reserve. The 110,000 acres of undeveloped land and water (just south of the City of Naples) has been set aside as a National Estuarine Research Reserve.

At Rookery Bay Research Reserve, residents and visitors alike can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including kayaking, boating, fishing, shelling, beach going, and birding as well as learn about the subtropical habitat and local wildlife at the interactive and family-friendly Environmental Learning Center.

But, at the core, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is place of active marine research, conservation, training, and education. Rookery Bay is one of thirty National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRS) preserving more than 1.3 million acres along the coast of the United States. All of the NERRS have a similar mission. Each one is committed to protecting, conserving, and monitoring long-term changes in the water, land, and wildlife of their area. The habitats of the NERRs vary widely—from deep cold glacier bays in Alaska and marshy wetlands in South Carolina, to mangrove islands and shell-strewn beaches of Rookery Bay in Naples.

By sharing information and working together at a national and federal level through the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NERR scientists from around the country can better understand climate impact on estuaries (where rivers meet the sea) and how this relates to sea level, shifts in wildlife and fish communities, shoreline erosion, and changes in water quality. This data is used to educate the community and help lawmakers make more informed decisions about coastal management to protect the future of natural places like these for generations to come.

FEATURED PHOTO: Kristine Zikmanis, presenter of shark research at Lunch & Learn

DECEMBER 14, 2022
“Ongoing Graduate Student Shark Research: A Florida International University/Rookery Bay Collaboration” by Kristine Zikmanis, Rookery Bay; Margaret A. Davidson, Fellow and Sara Casareto, FIU/Rookery Bay Graduate Research Assistant

JANUARY 11, 2023
“The Birds of Rookery Bay and How They Tell Us Their Stories” by Col Lauzau, Avian Biologist

FEBRUARY 8, 2023
“Over Two Decades of Fisheries Research in Rookery Bay” by Pat O’Donnell, Fisheries Biologist

MARCH 8, 2023
“What is GIS? Mapping the Reserve” by Jill Schmid, GIS Specialist

APRIL 5, 2023
“Sea Turtles of the Reserve” by Sarah Norris, Sea Turtle Biologist

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