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Resources of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve What's New
View through mangroves

The view through a mangrove channel

Historical Background
Protection of Rookery Bay began back in 1964 as citizens banded together to block a road and began buying land. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) was designated in 1978.

Aerial photo of islands

Aerial of mangrove islands

Physical Features
The uplands of RBNERR are mostly ancient sand dunes with a mean elevation of 4 feet, accented by shell mounds. The bays of the region are the remnants of a bay that stretched to Tampa Bay. The barrier islands of the region have coalesced into either incipient or actual headlands.

Rainwater cistern

Rainwater cistern from an 1800s settlement


Archaeological Resources
RBNERR has a rich cultural history dating back to the days of the mighty Calusa, with over 50 historic sites. These include prehistoric midden sites and pioneer sites near Henderson Creek from the 1800s.

Sea oats

Sea oats on a beach dune

Natural Communities
RBNERR contains a wide variety of upland and submerged natural communities, but the predominant communities are mangrove forests and open water.

Yellow-crowned night heron

Yellow-crowned night heron

Native Species
Native plants and animals within RBNERR are diverse and abundant, ranging from large mammals to diverse types of plankton. This includes a large number of commercially and recreationally important fish. Rookery Bay is also valuable as foraging and nesting grounds for over 150 species of birds.

Sea turtle hatchling

Loggerhead turtle hatchling

Listed Species
With less natural habitat available in southwest Florida, many federal and state imperiled species rely on RBNERR as critical habitat for their survival. This habitat may be permanent habitat or be used as nesting areas, for over-wintering or as a travel corridor.

Captured python

A captured Burmese python

Invasive Species
South Florida is particularly vulnerable to invasive species because it is in a transitional zone between temperate and tropical climates. Non-native invasive species of Rookery Bay Reserve include plants such as Australian pine, melaleuca, Brazilian pepper and wildlife like feral hogs and Burmese pythons.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Last updated: April 06, 2015

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