The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (Rookery Bay) announces its calendar of events for February. The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is located at 300 Tower Road, 3/4 mile south of the intersection of Rt. 41 and Collier Boulevard, on the way to Marco Island. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12 unless otherwise noted. For more information call (239) 417-6310, or visit rookerybay.org.
A rotating schedule of lectures, films and interactive programs is offered most days at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Please check rookerybay.org for programs on specific days. Lecture and film topics include backyard butterflies, plankton, shells of Southwest Florida, and animals of Southwest Florida. Interactive programs include Touch Tank Exploration, Plant Walk, Munchin’ in the Mangroves youth program, and animal skulls and bones presentation. Kayak tours are offered at various times, depending on the tide schedule, on Wednesdays and Fridays with advanced registration required by calling (239) 417-6310, ext. 401, or registering online at rookerybay.org. The cost is $35 per person and includes kayak, all equipment and paddling instruction. The two-hour naturalist-led guided kayak tours of Rookery Bay, Hall Bay and mangrove tunnels provide the opportunity to see dolphins, ospreys, bald eagles, manatees, many varieties of fish, mangrove tree crabs, wading birds and other sights of nature. Cultural History Walks take place hourly from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays from now until the end of April. A Rookery Bay naturalist leads these free one-hour guided historical walks on Shell Island Road. Learn about the mighty Calusas and the pioneering families of the Little Marco Settlement.
February 4 to April 2 – Photography Annual Exhibition
The Friends of Rookery Bay and the United Arts Council present the Photography Annual exhibition at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center through April 2. Works on a variety of subject matter were submitted by members of the public. Renowned Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher served as juror. Most of the works are for sale.
February 5 (6:30 to 8 p.m.) – Amazing Adventure! Namibia: Thorns, Horns and Pachycorms
Join Maureen Bonness as she shares a recent self-drive tour that highlights the vast wilderness of Namibia’s desert, dunes and savanna hosting many ancient and bizarre flora and fauna. Bonness, a botanist and environmental consultant in Southwest Florida for 11 years, earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas and has academic training and research experience in plant physiology, specifically medicinal plants and how plants have adapted to various environments. Bonness was an adjunct professor at FGCU in environmental biology, traveled the world as a naturalist for eco-tour cruise, is an active volunteer at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and was recognized as the Collier County Audubon Society “Fellow” in 2004 in acknowledgment of outstanding achievement that has benefited the natural world. Doors open at 6 p.m., and light refreshments provided. Admission is $5 (free for Friends of Rookery Bay members).
February 10 (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.) – Quick Start Your Kayak
This introductory level course to paddling will cover safety, simple rescues and basic paddling instruction. Cost is $35 for Friends of Rookery Bay members and $40 for non-members. Limited to 10, and pre-registration is required by calling 417-6310,ext. 401, or registering online at rookerybay.org.
February 13 Valentine’s Day Celebration at Rookery Bay
Start your celebration early and bring your sweetie to Rookery Bay to enjoy two-for-one admission. Higher admission price prevails.
Feb. 26 (4:30 to 7 p.m.) – Sunset Rookery Kayak Trip
Paddle out to an active rookery at sunset and watch hundreds or maybe thousands of birds fly in to roost. Cost is $30 members and $35 for nonmembers. Register by calling (239) 417-6310, ext. 401, or booking online at rookerybay.org.