By Natalie Strom
“Seventy to eighty percent of commercially and recreationally valuable fish and shellfish spend part of their lives in an estuary like Rookery Bay,” explains Renee Wilson, the Rookery’s Research Translator. “So if you like seafood, you are probably benefitting from an estuary in some way.”
As far back as the Calusa Indians, inhabitants of Southwest Florida have taken advantage of all the estuaries that surround us have to offer. On September 29, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve will be celebrating, “these special places where the rivers meet the sea,” with the rest of the country for National Estuaries Day. “There are 28 national estuarine research reserves around the country that all recognize Estuaries Day in one way or another,” states Wilson.
Rookery Bay will be hosting activities to celebrate the national event from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Free thirty minute boat rides and kayak tours will offer an in-depth look at the mangrove systems of Southwest Florida. Those who plan to attend can also look forward to paddle boarding demos, a marine critter touch tank, lab tours and nature trails.
“The most exciting event this year is Captain Alex Suescun, host of ‘Tarpon Bay Tales’ will be giving a backcountry fishing seminar at one o’clock.” The Miami-based artist, angler, television producer and host will be, “infusing some of his artwork and some of his inspiration for his artwork into the discussion. He’ll be talking about what to fish for in waters like Rookery Bay and what kind of tackle to use. He’ll present some perspective between using lures verses live bait and how to handle live fish; things of that nature. It will be kind of like his show. ” adds Wilson. Suescun’s artwork will also be featured in Rookery Bay’s gallery from September 10 through November 9.
A discounted price on September 29, of $3 for adults and free admission for children 12 and under offers a chance to experience all there is to learn about the estuary we call home. Renee Wilson hopes people who attend will, “come to know it, explore it and protect it. Because people won’t want to protect it unless they know about it.”
Learn more about National Estuaries Day and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve at www.rookerybay.org.