August 7, 2019
Teens are learning about environmental science at Rookery Bay’s Summer Institute for Marine Science (SIMS) camp. It kicked off yesterday with a tour of the Environmental Learning Center and a kayak expedition on Henderson Creek. As part of their eco-studies, the students collected mangrove leaves while out on the water. More fun and science to come this week including pulling a boat trawl, a visit with scientists at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Vester Field Station and a snorkeling eco-tour at Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve.
As part of a summer project, high school students from Marco Island Academy are painting a mural at Rookery Bay Research Reserve to help other local students better understand the coastal estuary environment in their own backyard. The 30-foot long painting accurately (as well as artistically) portrays the plant, wildlife and research science occurring at Rookery Bay and will be used as a visual teaching tool for Collier County Public Schools’ environmental education programs.
June 17, 2019
Peak nesting season for seabirds, shorebirds and sea turtles is in full swing at Rookery Bay Research Reserve. As different wildlife species settle in to nest on area beaches, they often end up practically side by side!
A visit within the reserve to Keewaydin Island offers a prime example of this type of coexisting beach nesting behavior with caged sea turtle nests and roped off areas for nesting Wilson’s Plovers and Least Terns only a few short feet from one another. Currently, five pairs of plovers are nesting on Keewaydin and 233 sea turtle nests have been discovered.
April 11, 2019
While Rookery Bay staff are very proud of the shorebirds that call reserve beaches their “winter getaway” or “permanent home,” we are equally proud of the wading birds that rely on the estuary for roosting or nesting. In fact, Rookery Bay Reserve has a deep history with wading birds and has been monitoring nesting wading birds near Marco Island since 1979. This colony, called the ABC Islands, and the dynamic nature of wading bird behavior, is what makes me love my job as an avian biologist. My favorite work in Rookery Bay Reserve is monitoring breeding wading birds and I always appreciate the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge of these birds.
On May 22, my last evening of sampling for May in Fakahatchee Bay, we caught only one shark, but that small neonate (newborn) bull shark was the one I was hoping for. I’ve been trying to acoustically tag the youngest bull sharks I can catch in the bays furthest from the altered Faka Union canal system. I’m trying to see if sharks born in bays with higher salinity patterns will seek out the altered freshwater flows coming from the Faka Union canal, where millions of gallons of fresh water are directed across the land to the Gulf of Mexico.
Last month, our avian team noticed a Red Knot on Keewaydin Island with a colored/numbered flag on its leg. Using a zoom lens, photos taken of the band and photo editing software made it possible to read "021" on the flag, and inquiries were made to determine the bird's origin. Research staff member Anne Mauro then learned the bird was banded in 2009 at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts.
As a Communications Specialist at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve, I promote and help get the word out to the community about the great work and programs of the Rookery Bay Research Reserve and the aquatic preserves that fall within the Southwest Region of DEP's Florida Coastal Office. Sometimes, on a lucky day, I get the opportunity to visit one of our sites in person to see the programs in action. This past Friday was one such day!
October 12, 2018
Over the past week, our avian team has observed magnificent frigatebirds roosting at the ABC Islands Critical Wildlife Area. While they are frequent fliers of our coastal skies, they don't often come down and hang out here, except for when there are higher-than-average winds, like those we've experienced as Hurricane Michael passed by. During yesterday's survey, Anne Mauro spotted a frigatebird floating in the water.