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Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve What's New
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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


Gary Lytton
Reserve Manager
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Environmental Learning Center
300 Tower Road
Naples, FL 34113
(239) 530-5940
(239) 530-5983 FAX


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.


Registration Open for Nature Festival

Registration is now open for dozens of field trips to wildlife hotspots across southwest Florida as part of the 11th Annual Nature Festival hosted by Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve from Jan. 16-18, 2015.

This annual event provides opportunities for residents and visitors to explore wildlife habitat and learn about nature within the region from experienced naturalists and scientists.

Three days of field trips include walking, driving, biking, paddling and boat tours. Most tours are offered in cooperation with regional partners such as Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve and Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Field trips range in price from $10 to $100. Each tour has limited space and requires online registration by clicking here.

In addition to field trips, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center will host a day of on-site activities and lectures on Saturday, Jan. 17. Marine life touch tank, guided trail walks, educational booths and other activities will be ongoing throughout the day. A partial agenda includes:

  • 11 a.m. South Florida Birds and Gardens (Kirsten Hines)
  • 12 p.m. Living Roofs, Flowers in the Sky (Eric Foht)
  • 1 p.m. Bird Behavior (Jack Berninger)
  • 2 p.m. Poachers in Paradise (Geoff Trager)
  • 3 p.m. Least Terns (Ted Below)

Admission to the Environmental Learning Center on Jan. 17 is $10 ($5 for members).

The keynote presentation will be "Roseate Spoonbills in the Everglades: A Look into the Past, Present and Future of the Flame Bird" with Pete Frezza, research manager- Everglades Region, Audubon Florida's Everglades Science Center. Frezza will discuss findings from Audubon's 75-year history of monitoring roseate spoonbill populations in southern Florida. This will include a look into historical nesting patterns in Florida Bay and factors that have led to changes in their population over time. Frezza will also give a brief overview of Everglades restoration projects that are expected to improve conditions for these birds throughout the ecosystem.

The cost to attend the keynote presentation is $15 and includes light refreshments.

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Last updated: January 26, 2015

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