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geocacheGeocaching has become a popular way of enjoying the outdoors since the international trend ramped up in 2000. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is now using this technology to engage its visitors and has launched a new set of caches on the Environmental Learning Center grounds.

Geocaching is modern-day treasure hunting using geographic positioning system (GPS)-enabled devices such as smart phones. Participants find their desired cache online, download and navigate to its set of GPS coordinates, and then attempt to find the container, or cache, hidden at that location. Once a cache is found, the finder records their presence in the logbook and on the geocaching website, replaces a trinket inside with their own, and takes away a greater understanding of the natural and cultural features in the area.

Four caches in total have been placed in the reserve with varying levels of difficulty. The first one was launched in the parking area in August and has had 14 "finds." One of the new multi-caches includes "Pioneers in Paradise," which is located near a cultural site on the Snail Trail. The other two caches, "CatBird Loop" and "Slash Pine," take geocachers on a nature filled walk on primitive trails.

To find the cache, visit geocaching.com or navicache.com and search for all caches owned by Rookery Bay.

Comments received from geocachers shared with other users on the Geocaching.com website include "Great trails to hike on a super day!" and "Never been to the center before, we'll be back for sure!" A cache-in, trash-out motto is encouraged to minimize disturbance to natural sites.

Geocache By Kayak
This cache is one of 25 caches that have been placed on and around the Shell Point Canoe Trail. These caches have been placed with the approval of the kind folks at Rookery Bay. This trail will take you to some of the most beautiful mangrove estuaries in geocache-mapFlorida. I was accompanied by FLPirate, who helped me place these caches. Total length of this trip was 7.75 miles. Be sure to leave your tracking on, so that you can find your way out. The Shell Point section of the trail is marked clearly by sign posts. It is best to follow the numbers from low to high. At number 25 you are 1.25 miles from the launch point, but trust me it will be a lot further to paddle there. There will be a Mystery/Unknown published with this series. In order to find it you will have to find 15 of these caches and record the letter and associated number to give you the correct coordinates.

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