On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall on an island called Cape Romano, within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve boundaries. Watch the short video below:
Meet Courtney Diekelmann, our graphic design and communications intern! She will be here at Rookery Bay on Wednesdays and Thursdays as a FORB-supported intern until late April. Courtney recently graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a degree in arts. Although she was born in Illinois, Courtney grew up locally in Bonita Springs. In her free time Courtney enjoys going to the beach, especially at sunset to take pictures. Eventually Courtney would like to travel, studying and practicing art in different countries.
Please ALSO welcome Cassidy Margaritis! She is a Florida native from Tampa and will be graduating this May with a Communication degree from Florida Gulf Coast University. She will be helping with website content and media relations on Tuesdays and Thursdays until late April as she earns credit hours toward graduation. Cassidy loves the outdoors, boating and running. She is also a vegetarian foodie and blogs about her cooking on Instagram.
This week we hosted our first "Rookery Bay Survivors" seventh grade field trip in our new outdoor classroom at the Rookery Bay Field Station on Shell Island Road. Renovated with funds raised during the 2017 Batfish Bash for the Bay, the classroom has significantly enhanced the seventh grade and high school education programs by providing an outdoor space for a variety of immersive, hands-on field trips with focus on the marine environment.
Rookery Bay Research Reserve's own Team OCEAN was presented with the Guy Bradley Award from Florida Audubon during the annual 2017 Florida Audubon Assembly in St. Augustine on October 21. Each year, this prestigious award recognizes an individual for their extraordinary contribution to the protection and conservation efforts of Florida's birdlife. While Team OCEAN volunteers conduct outreach and education on natural resource protection in many areas of Rookery Bay Research Reserve, it was to their efforts at Second Chance Critical Wildlife Area (CWA) that the award was directed. Read more about the CWA designation.
In August, retired Rookery Bay Reserve director (and former Friends of Rookery Bay executive director) Gary Lytton was invited to participate in the designation of the nation’s newest National Estuarine Research Reserve in Hawaii. Lytton attended the event on behalf of the Friends of Rookery Bay, at the invitation of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association. The newest addition to the national system is located on the island of Oahu, and will be managed through a collaborative partnership involving Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology, the State of Hawaii, and NOAA.
Hurricane Irma’s eye wall passed over Cape Romano within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve before making landfall on Marco Island on September 10. Fortunately, the brunt of the storm was absorbed by barrier islands and thousands of acres of mangrove forest protected within the Reserve’s boundary.
Mangroves and other coastal habitats serve as a first line of defense during rough weather events, helping to slow storm surge, disperse wave energy, and reduce shoreline erosion on beaches and riverbanks. Coastal habitats, mangroves especially, also help protect homes and businesses from floating and windborne storm-created debris, contributing to reduced storm severity on developed areas.