The folks at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida are busy gearing up for the new year and new nature experiences in January. As always, the Conservancy invites the public to take part in all of its events at the Nature Center, its Eco-Cruises of Rookery Bay and its off-site nature walks.
At the Nature Center
- “Boat and Brunch” will be held Sundays in January at 11 AM. Take a guided tour of the Gordon River aboard a Conservancy electric boat, and stopping for brunch at the Naples Harbour Yacht Club. Reservations are recommended, and the price of brunch is not included. Call 239-262-0304.
- On Tues., Jan. 6, “Evenings at the Conservancy” will kick-off with Joanna Fitzgerald of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, Southwest Florida’s premier wildlife rehabilitation hospital. The program begins at 6:30 PM in Eaton Conservation Hall. General Admission is $10, and the programs are free to Conservancy members. Seating is by space availability, so to make a reservation, please contact Kelsey Hudson at 239.403.4228 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a list of upcoming speakers and dates, go to www.conservancy.org/evenings.
- “Cinema Sundays” begins Jan. 11 with a showing of Disneynature’s “Wings of Life” at 1:30 PM. This stunning adventure full of intrigue, drama and mesmerizing beauty is narrated by Meryl Streep and offers an unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and bats, on which a third of the world’s food supply depends for pollination. Go to www.conservancy.org/cinema for more details.
- A “Water Works Luncheon” will be held Jan. 14, at 11 AM. Join the Conservancy as it introduces a new event to support its water advocacy and research, Water Works. The luncheon will feature a National Geographic speaker, and proceeds benefit the Conservancy’s efforts to protect local waters. It will be hosted at the Naples Yacht Club.
- Get ready for “World Wetlands Day”, Jan 30-Feb 2, 9:30 AM- 4:30 PM. Come to the Nature Center to celebrate this special time of the year with additional programming, activities and events to highlight the Conservancy’s water, land and wildlife work. Free to members or with paid admission.
Eco-Cruises of Rookery Bay
Back by popular demand, the Good Fortune II specialty cruises set sail beginning January 2. Call 239-403-4236 to book a cruise. Cruises depart from Shell Island Road. For directions and additional information visit, www.conservancy.org/goodfortune. Members: Adult $32, Under 12 $14; Others: Adult $42, Under 12: $19.
A variety of cruise options are available, including:
- “Leisurely Lunch Cruise” – Tuesday-Saturday, 10 AM-1 PM, includes one-hour stop for lunch on Isle of Capri. Lunch is not included in program price.
- “Classic Sunset Adventure” – Daily and times vary by time of year. Get views of hundreds of shorebirds coming to roost on the mangrove islands for the night.
- “Friends and Family Sunset Cruise” – Gather a group of 10, and join other guests on the Conservancy’s Good Fortune II for one group price. Members $299; Others $399.
- Reserve the Good Fortune II for a two-hour private event for up to 35 people. Perfect for photography clubs, small receptions and any special gathering. Members $699; Others $799.
The Conservancy also offers a number of specialty-theme cruises. Dates and times vary. Members: Adult $32, Under 12 $14. General Admission: Adult $42, Under $19. Call 239-403-4236 to reserve a spot. Go to www.conservancy.org/goodfortune for directions and more information. January specialty-themed cruises include:
- “Secrets of Sea Turtles Cruise” is set for Tues., Jan. 6, 10 AM-1 PM. Dr. Jeff Schmid shares the unique features of Rookery Bay sea turtle habitat and provides a glimpse into his research on the most endangered species of sea turtles in the world, the Kemp’s ridley. Lunch cost not included in program fee.
- “Wildlife Photography Sunset Cruise” is scheduled for sunset Wed., Jan. 14. Cruise with award-winning photographer Dennis Goodman to learn expert tips, secrets and techniques for capturing spectacular wildlife and sunset photography. Bring along your camera.
- “Mangroves & More Cruise” will take place Tues., Jan. 20, 10 AM-1 PM. Led by Conservancy mangroves expert Kathy Worley, the cruise explores the importance of mangroves and the hidden lives that depend on them for survival. Cost of lunch on the Isles of Capri is not included in program fee.
- Conservancy naturalist Michelle Rebilas heads the “Hidden History Cruise,” Tues., Jan. 27, 10 AM-1 PM. Learn about Rookery Bay’s rich history – archaeological, anthropological and ecological. Lunch cost not included in program fee.
Free Conservancy Nature Walks
- Daily January-March, 9 AM-12 PM, come explore the Briggs Boardwalk of Rookery Bay. Volunteer guides take you through five eco-communities from scrub to brackish ponds. The free, self-guided boardwalk is open year round, dawn to dusk. For more information, go to www.conservancy.org/nature-center/nature-walks.
- Clam Pass Walks are available January-April, Monday-Saturday at 9 AM. The guided walk of boardwalk, bay and beach lasts about two hours. Meet your Conservancy guide at the gazebo near the parking lot tram stop. Clam Pass Park is west of US 41 on Seagate Drive. www.conservancy.org/nature-center/nature-walks.
• Explore Tigertail Beach Jan. 5-April 10, Monday-Friday beginning at 8:30 AM. Meet Conservancy volunteer guides at the kiosk for this walking tour. Walks are 1-2 hours. Bring water shoes and binoculars. For directions, go to www.conservancy.org/nature-ce