Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center
SO MUCH TO DISCOVER AND EXPLORE
There’s even a “Today and the Future” area that provides an overview of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and sea level rise, and how they might affect various forms of life in southwest Florida. The exhibits include an interactive guessing game dispelling myths about climate change, a touchscreen carbon calculator which gives people an opportunity to see how their personal choices measure up on an international standard, and a demonstration of ways people can make a difference in their homes and daily lives.
In the 2,300-gallon mangrove aquarium centerpiece, a 14-foot sculpted tree soars up through an open atrium into the Center’s second story. A climb-in “bubble” provides visitors with close-up views of mangrove prop roots that provide shelter for fish inhabitants. Interactive and hands-on exhibits provide opportunities for visitors of all ages to explore and expand upon their knowledge of Florida’s estuaries.
Estuary Encounter Touch Tank
The “Estuary Encounter” exhibit houses more than a dozen species of marine animals for guests of all ages to discover during regular visiting hours. Observe and interact with a pygmy sea cucumber, horseshoe crab or lightning whelk.
As the bridge begins to slope down to meet the ground, visitors experience a brief trek through tangled mangroves, palms and oaks. Resurrection ferns, bromeliads, and even orchids can be seen growing along the furrowed cracks of oak tree bark. Looking up, it is easy to see the pockmarks of pileated woodpeckers and other insectivores in the upper reaches of expired pine snags.
- An old homestead dating back to post-Civil War times when squatters began to farm this rugged terrain.
- A primitive swale system designed to drain the land during driving summer rains.
- Sanseveria (an ornamental plant commonly associated with early homesteads).
- A cement rainwater storage cistern that collected rainwater running off the old home’s roof and stored it through the dry winter months, when it could be used for cooking and watering livestock.