The Rookery Bay Field Station laboratory on Shell Island Road is being refurbished to meet the increased demand of lab space by our visiting researchers. New flooring, drywall and ceiling are currently underway. We have already replaced our lab benches, including a specialized bench for wildlife necropsies. Thanks to our partnership with FIU we have some great ideas, and we are now in the process of selecting new lab equipment to be purchased with support from the Friends of Rookery Bay. These include a deionized water filtration system and a new freezer for sample preservation. On our agenda is a major repair to the fume hood (a ventilated space where scientists can safely use chemicals or perform experiments). Special thanks to Vicki McGee, former laboratory manager at Rookery Bay, who made a trip from FIU to consult with our research staff.
Rookery Bay Research Reserve is excited to offer three annual Girl Scout Workshops. Education staff work with the Girl Scouts of Gulf coast Florida to provide immersive experiences directly related to the natural habitats within their communities. Scouts can earn council patches through a wide variety of experiences, including field work, lectures and stewardship projects.
Our most recent workshop focused on Sea Turtles, with 5 troops in attendance, from Collier, Lee and Desoto counties. Scouts learned to identify our most common sea turtles in SWFL through a series of stranding scenarios, working with preserved artifacts. Our famous sea turtle obstacle course gave the girls an opportunity to understand conservation efforts such as the use of TED’s, and regulations enforced during nesting season. Troops combined their knowledge to create educational posters, which will be on display in the art gallery of our learning center through the summer.
Research Reserve staff recently hosted a day on the water with legislative staffers from the offices of Representative Byron Donalds, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Senator Kathleen Passidomo, Congressman Francis Rooney, as well as Representative Bob Rommel. The on-the-water tour included visits with our fisheries research and education staff, a charter fishing guide, FWC officers, Audubon, Team Ocean and the Friends of Rookery Bay. The Friends provided breakfast and lunch.
Recently, Rookery Bay Research Reserve biologists shared an amazing series of images from a remote wildlife camera, showing a young Florida panther spending time near a crocodile nest located within the boundaries of the Reserve. Shared on Facebook, the images have reached more than 100,000 people and generated much appreciation for this beautiful and endangered mammal. Watch video
Multiple news sources have recently reported that the White House is planning to eliminate federal funding for the 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves, including our own Rookery Bay Reserve in Naples. The challenge is clear. If you care about the Rookery Bay Reserve and what loss of federal funds means to you and to our community, it is time to let your voice be heard as Congress moves forward to determine the federal budget.
Why should you care? Rookery Bay was designated as a National Estuarine Research Reserve 39 years ago, as the outcome of a grassroots campaign initiated by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, National Audubon Society and our local community. The State of Florida, working in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has successfully managed this pristine estuary over nearly four decades, taking a non-regulatory approach and working directly with local communities and government to help ensure clean coastal waters to underpin a vibrant coastal economy.
A new touch tank has arrived! Although it will be several weeks before it is open for business, the Florida west coast-themed tank is 16 feet long by 2.5 feet wide by 3 feet tall, has 200-gallon capacity with a partitioned, flow-through system, and view-through side windows, detailed rock formations and a mangrove-themed overflow box! Our current critters are "on vacation" until the new tank is running, sometime before the end of April.
J. McLaughlin, of Venetian Village and 3rd Street South, has selected Friends of Rookery Bay as the beneficiary of their Sip & Shop event to take place on March 15. The retail shops invite guests to enjoy light refreshments while shopping the Spring 2017 Collection at either location, and is donating 15% of their proceeds to the Friends. View the collection at www.jmclaughlin.com