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Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve What's New

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is closed until further notice due to Hurricane Irma.


Located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf coast of Florida, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. An amazing world exists within the 110,000 acres of nearly pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters of Rookery Bay. A myriad of wildlife, including 150 species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals, thrive in the estuarine environment and surrounding upland hammocks and scrub found within RBNERR.

The mission of RBNERR is to provide a basis for informed coastal decisions through land management, restoration, research and education. RBNERR works in partnership with local communities to promote coastal stewardship. Located adjacent to one of the fastest developing coastal areas in the United States, RBNERR is ideally suited as a regional hub for education and research on estuaries.


Collier County


112,822 acres


Keith Laakkonen
Reserve Manager
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
300 Tower Road
Naples, FL 34113
(239) 530-5940


Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve comprises the western extent of the Everglades ecosystem, an ecological region of international significance due to its high level of biodiversity, contiguous freshwater and marine wetlands and abundance of coastal and marine wildlife. The natural and aesthetic values of the landscapes and wildlife within RBNERR represent a significant economic contribution to southwest Florida. In 2008, over 1.3 million tourists visited Collier County and the tourism industry is expected to yield over $1.06 billion per year to the local economy. Annual visitation of RBNERR is nearly 750,000 people.

The estuarine environment of RBNERR provides an ideal setting for a variety of recreational activities, including sportfishing, boating, hiking, sailing, bird watching or simply enjoying the aesthetics of the area. Recreational fishing represents a primary public use of RBNERR resources and provides significant contributions to the economy of local communities, including charter/guide services, sales of boats and fishing tackle and fuel. Major recreational species include snook, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, redfish, tarpon and spotted sea trout. Commercially valuable fishes and shellfish total 16 species, with mullet the principal finfish, and blue crabs and stone crabs the major shellfish.

Collier County is currently ranked among the highest metropolitan growth rates and is considered one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. The population has nearly quadrupled since 1980 to more than 330,000 estimated residents. Current estimates predict an additional population increase of 64 percent through 2030. Projections by the Collier County government anticipate continued growth in the next five to ten years along the State Road 951 corridor (Collier Boulevard) and south of U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail). These areas are designated as urban and directly adjoin the eastern and northern boundaries of RBNERR.

New, Interactive Marine Life Exhibit Unveiled at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has unveiled a new, 180-gallon marine life exhibit at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. More than a dozen species of marine animals are now on display and available for guests of all ages to discover during regular visiting hours.

The new exhibit features a partitioned, state-of-the-art flow-through system, which improves water quality and enables visitors to interact with animals throughout the day. The imaginative, Florida west coast-themed tank includes live sand on the bottom and view-through windows along the side, adding opportunities for guests to observe the diversity of species in the exhibit from different angles.

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Last updated: September 13, 2017

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
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