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Grant funds awarded to Duke University and USF will address ecosystem services and habitat changes in Southwest Florida

mangrovesNAPLES, Fla. – Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve announces new collaborations with Duke University and the University of South Florida (USF) to conduct research on Rookery Bay lands and waters. The projects are supported by two National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative catalyst grants of $114,000 to Duke University and $182,000 to USF.

“These projects will provide important information about ecosystem services and habitat changes to support protection and restoration of coastal habitats,” said Keith Laakkonen, Rookery Bay Research Reserve director.

July 11, 2018

I was skeptical when Keith asked if I wanted to zip down to Shell Island Road with him to see if he could find the Mangrove Cuckoo that someone on Facebook said they saw there two days earlier. Despite my hesitation, I grabbed the camera anyway, figuring maybe I’d find something else to shoot if the bird was not cooperating.

As we walked toward the parking lot at headquarters, I saw a woman with binoculars scanning the mangroves along the creek. I called to her to ask if she was looking for the cuckoo. She said she was and that the report she’d seen (on e-Bird) looked like the bird was here. I told her to follow us, and away we went.

July 1, 2018

turtle sc 250The Cape Romano "turtle boys" were recently introduced to the many birds of Rookery Bay. This began when Anne M., Avian Ecologist on staff, informed us of some potential turtle nests on Second Chance. We were excited to check it out, as Second Chance is a Critical Wildlife Area east of Cape Romano and is closed to human visitors from March-August (sea turtles can't read signs, anyway.) Almost immediately after anchoring our boat and stepping ashore, we encountered some volunteers with Team OCEAN, the reserve's boat-based outreach and education team. Their job is to help make sure boaters are aware of the importance of avoiding the closed area, and once they got close enough to read the lettering on our boat, they were clearly glad to learn that we weren’t actually law-breaking citizens.

June 21, 2018

irga2 250I decided to celebrate the summer solstice by going for a hike into the mangroves with one of our research interns, Marissa Kelly, and some fancy scientific equipment. The lure of a first time visit to Cat Claw Trail, a nature trail near the Rookery Bay Field Station, was enough to motivate me despite the June heat.

June 21, 2018

spontaneous outreach 250

We had a spontaneous outreach session recently while out on Turtle Patrol. The turtle team found a new nest at Dickman's Point on Kice Island, right around the corner from a survival skills workshop for children being put on by the Marco Island Police Dept and Marco Fire Dept. These kids had the unique opportunity to see a loggerhead crawl, as well as the turtle eggs themselves! We fielded questions for about 10 minutes and helped educate them not only on sea turtles, but also estuaries, endangered species and beach stewardship as well. It was wonderful to see the interest being sparked in this upcoming generation - and I believe there were more than a few officers who were equally excited (some maybe even more so than the kids, lol). 

If you see us our on the beach this summer, don't hesitate to come ask us questions about sea turtles, or the environment in general. We love nature and are always happy to share our passion with others!

Tyler and Anthony

  

dead 250Sadly, last week we experienced our first stranding of the season. While we were patrolling Blind Pass, a boater alerted us that he had seen a dead turtle in the vicinity. Sure enough, in the channel between Blind Pass and Dickman’s Point we spotted the dead loggerhead sea turtle, floating in the water. Everyone on the boat was extremely sad upon locating it. We were told to tie it off to a mangrove tunnel and fill out a stranding form. Because we did not have the appropriate equipment to complete the report, and due to afternoon thunderstorms, we had to return to the turtle the next day to do so.

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