Coastal Connections

Helping Sea Turtles, One Nest at a Time

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us An early-morning walk on the beach is routine for some Floridians and a treat for many visitors, but it is also part of an important summer job for a handful of volunteers, interns, and staff at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Just south of Marco Island, the Cape Romano complex is an active nesting beach ... Read More »

Seeing Shorebirds: From Peeps to White Pelicans

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve was designated in 1978 and named for the bay where thousands of wading birds roost and nest on certain mangrove islands. A lot of other birds also rely on this area for survival. Reserve staff and volunteers keep tabs on these bird populations as an indicator of estuarine health. I ... Read More »

Rookery Bay Unveils New Exhibit

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson Three new marine animals are now in residence at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center for the public to see. The new aquarium exhibit allows visitors to safely observe moon jellies that are commonly found in local waters. Dave Graff, an education specialist for Rookery Bay Research Reserve, introduced the exhibit to the Learning Center to help ... Read More »

Connecting with the Past: Cultural Resources in Rookery Bay Reserve Provide Insights to Early Coastal Life

Coastal Connections By Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Thousands of years ago, indigenous people called the Calusa inhabited much of coastal Southwest Florida. The Calusa culture was a complex society that thrived on the bounty of the estuary as opposed to agriculture, which was the primary means of subsistence for many other early American people. Numerous Calusa settlements were developed along the ... Read More »

Connecting Students with Science and Technology

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson Spending time in a classroom is one way to learn, but smelling, hearing and touching the subject usually results in reinforcing an educational experience that won’t soon be forgotten.  Each year, roughly 3,000 local students have the opportunity to get “a taste” of our local estuary as part of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s field trip ... Read More »

Technology and Nature Keep Rookery Bay’s Marine Life Healthy & Happy

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson June is National Aquarium Month and some exciting things are happening in the watery world at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Located between Naples and Marco Island, the 16,500 square-foot center features a two-story exhibit hall and was developed to serve as an interactive gateway into the 110,000-acre Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The center’s exhibits, ... Read More »

Sandbar Closed For Nesting Season

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Rookery 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 – August 31, was designated as ... Read More »

International Support for Mangrove Restoration

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is partnering with China’s Rilin Group to help restore 225 acres of mangroves in Collier County. The industrial group has committed $5 million to restore and monitor the mangrove forest at Fruit Farm Creek within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR). RBNERR and its partners have been researching ... Read More »

Prescribed Fires Made Possible Through Partnership

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Prescribed fire is an important tool for natural resource managers in Southwest Florida. Within Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, thousands of acres of fire-dependent habitat are managed each year with the help of regional partners and crews from the Prescribed Fire Training Center (PFTC) in Tallahassee. “We rely on partners for a lot of ... Read More »

Southwest Florida Nature Festival

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Leaves rustling on a light breeze in harmony with twittering songbirds. A mullet splashing out of a brackish bay. Slivers of sunlight dappling the leafy ground. There are many sights and sounds to enjoy in Southwest Florida. Throughout the seasons residents and visitors can enjoy nature hikes, paddling, birding and photography on hundreds of thousands of ... Read More »

Sea Turtle Research in the Ten Thousand Islands

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Most Marco residents know that Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters on Southwest Florida’s coast, but few are aware that this outdoor classroom and living laboratory hosts hundreds of research projects undertaken by DEP staff, graduate research fellows, and visiting scientists from around the world to answer scientific ... Read More »

Sea Turtle Research in the Ten Thousand Islands

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Most Marco residents know that Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters on Southwest Florida’s coast, but few are aware that this outdoor classroom and living laboratory hosts hundreds of research projects undertaken by DEP staff, graduate research fellows, and visiting scientists from around the world to answer scientific ... Read More »

A Rare Encounter With a Rare Fish…

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve staff were conducting a nonbreeding bird route survey recently in the Ten Thousand Islands near Cape Romano, and were very excited to observe a 30-inch smalltooth sawfish. At this size, the sawfish would be considered “young-of-the-year” and was most certainly pupped in Reserve waters. They were able to watch ... Read More »

Enjoy Your Estuary

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Marco Island is surrounded by natural beauty. Here, freshwater from land meets saltwater from the sea and forms a unique habitat known as an estuary. This special environment is vital to coastal communities like Marco because it provides shelter for fish and shellfish, recreational opportunities for people, and an economic engine that drives the local economy ... Read More »

Meet Heidi Waite – Rookery Bay Intern

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us Southwest Florida has an amazing coastal environment. From pine flatwoods to salt marsh, mudflat to nearshore waters, the diversity of plants and animals here is spectacular. While it is impossible to experience it all in person in a short time, a visit to the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center’s two-story exhibit hall can provide a glimpse ... Read More »

Interns Help Protect Sea Turtles at Rookery Bay Reserve

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us With 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters that protect 150 species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has a big responsibility– and a devoted team of volunteers that work daily with staff to help achieve it. Through the Reserve’s citizen support organization, Friends of Rookery Bay, volunteers ... Read More »

Learning About Sharks in the Ten Thousand Islands

COASTAL CONNECTIONS Renee Wilson renee.wilson@dep.state.fl.us In the 1960s, a large residential neighborhood was created northeast of Marco Island called Southern Golden Gate Estates. Although the unfinished development was later abandoned, a network of roads and miles of canals were built that significantly altered the natural flow of fresh water to the estuaries in the Ten Thousand Islands. Today, Rookery Bay National ... Read More »

Join the “Team”

Coastal Connections Renee Wilson Southwest Florida is a great place to live and play because of the beautiful weather, amazing beaches, and great fishing. Forty percent of Collier County’s coastline is protected within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, with hundreds of boaters visiting on a daily basis. The “Team OCEAN” program at Rookery Bay has a mission to ... Read More »