A wondrous natural paradise – that is what the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is. Resting upon the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the gulf coast of Florida, it is one of the last remaining undisturbed sanctuaries for coastal and marine life. The Bay sits on 110,000 acres of mostly mangrove forest that serve as shelter for shrimp, crabs, and other marine life. These, in turn, become the diet for eagles, and seabirds that also stay there for the fishes in the area. Manatees, dolphins and even the occasional alligators have been spotted in the area. All these makeup for a teeming ecosystem that is crucial for our survival.

Tourism is one of the major industries in the place so one can expect good service from the staff.  The reserve employs a diversified workforce with various experts.  They offer nature trails and accompanied tours so you can see the beauty that the place has to offer, kayaking which is best when you want a slow tour among the green mangroves juxtaposed against an azure sky and white, puffy cotton candy clouds. And there’s also boating and fishing for the more adventurous soul. Having established these things, the place is surely a must-visit for all the nature lovers out there.

Aside from being a tourist hotspot, the area is also being actively preserved by hard working and passionate people who devote their time and knowledge into maintaining our perhaps most important natural investment – the mangroves. These works of art are a cradle to many species that in turn support the well being of larger predators.  This simple chain of life that happens in this tiny part of the country is part and parcel of a much grander and more complex system and is what eventually puts food in the supermarkets and on our tables. Thus, the research team that monitors the waters and the wildlife and the natural resource management team of the preserve (which consists of their main workforce, volunteers and contractors) do their best to keep things as pristine as possible.

So, if you are looking to do something for the summer that is sure to be a great experience, try the Rookery Bay. Bird watching, art and photo classes, nature lectures, trainings, activities for the kids and family and other special events are sure to keep you going while keeping you informed on hot summer days.

Below are the schedules and prices for the activities around the area:

The Rookery Bay is located at US 41, about 1.5 miles south of  Collier Boulevard intersection.

The center is open from November to April, Monday thru Sunday from 9:00am to 4:00pm

In the Research Lab, there is a 45 minute discussion about marine and mammal biology commonly found in the area. They run between 10:30am to 2:00pm.

Guided kayak tours are $69.00 for two hours along the mangroves and rookeries.

Admission for adults is $5.00, children 4 -12 years old $3.00, 3 years old below are for free.

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