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.
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