visit the learning center

event list

kayak and boat tours

Segments of documentary film to be previewed at National Estuaries Day event

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the production of a full-length documentary film. Clips from the film, which is slated to air on PBS stations across the state on Earth Day 2019 (April 22, 2019), will be previewed at the reserve’s National Estuaries Day celebration on Sept. 29.

September 1, 2018

tyler and kennedy with bull 250

Working at Rookery Bay Research Reserve has been quite an experience! In addition to the everyday adventures of turtle patrol, I've been able to join in other types of field research and activities recently...

One of the programs I was able to assist with was the reserve's ongoing fisheries monitoring project. Reserve biologist Pat O'Donnell oversees the fisheries study that involves shark research and I was able to assist him on a couple trips. The study targets three bays: Pumpkin, Fakahatchee & Faka Union, and we used a gill net and longlines to bring live sharks on board for tagging and data collection. As you would imagine, this can be delicate work both for the safety of the volunteers and for the sharks themselves, but under Pat's guidance, everyone works together well and it was a fantastic experience. Learn more about this important research.

Grand Prize Winning Photo 250Back in April, we shared this trail camera image as part of a sequence showing interaction between a softshell turtle and a nesting crocodile on Reserve lands. We were excited to learn that this image was selected as the Grand Prize winning photo by RECONYX in their 2018 Trail Camera Photo Contest! Congratulations to Steve Bertone, resource management (and trail camera) specialist.

See more photos from our wildlife cameras

RB staff provided assistance during the rescue of a nine-foot-long manatee at Marco Rose Marina on Sunday. This unorthodox rescue was a group effort involving FWC's manatee team and law enforcement, Rose Marina and reserve staffers Greg Curry and Jill Ryder Schmid. The manatee is now recovering at Sea World. Watch the video below to see how it got to the manatee ambulance!

Red Cage 250What the heck is that? It isn't necessarily associated with the estuary, but we've seen this interesting fungus on the grounds near our headquarters building several times over the years and have identified it as Clathrus ruber, or "basket stinkhorn."

The inside of this cage fungus is coated with slime that emits a putrid odor (smells like rotting meat) to attract flies that help distribute its spores. The smell is so bad it is also nicknamed "devil's eggs" because the fungus sprouts from an egg-shaped ball. Although native to Europe, the fungus is not harmful or toxic, but boy does it stink! It helps decompose dead organic material such as hardwood mulch.

Sea turtle 250Do you know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?

Most turtles, especially sea turtles, have a low profile, streamlined shape and flippers or webbed feet that help them swim. Tortoises, on the other hand, are specifically adapted for terrestrial life.


Gopher tortoise 250The gopher tortoise is the only tortoise native to Florida, and it has a high, domed shell, stumpy legs, and claws suitable for digging burrows in the sand. Sometimes they nest in dunes next to the beach, but they prefer not to swim. Recently, a gopher tortoise hatchling was admitted to the Von Arx wildlife center because it was placed in the Gulf of Mexico by someone who was "trying to help."

Learn more about the reptiles found in our area or call Von Arx directly before taking any action, to make sure the animal is actually getting help, at 239-252-CARE.

Staff with Rookery Bay Research Reserve assisted in the release of five sea turtles rehabilitated at the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel. So far in August, a female loggerhead was released on August 13, two Kemp's ridley sea turtles were released on August 16 and two more Kemp's ridleys on Tuesday, August 21. We reached out to CROW for details on these patients, and here is what they told us:

Page 3 of 92

Go to top