* DEP Home * About DEP * Programs * Contact * Site Map * Search *
Living Waters: Aquatic Preserves of Florida Quick Topics

Cape Romano - Ten Thousand Islands Aquatic Preserve Segment - Transcript

Clyde Butcher and Elam Stoltzfus stop to experience Cape Romano – Ten Thousand Islands Aquatic Preserve. This subtropical gem is located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf coast of Florida. The Cape Romano – Ten Thousand Islands Aquatic Preserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. An amazing wilderness habitat world exists in the network of pristine mangrove forests, coastal shorelines, rivers and lagoons.

Ten Thousand Islands is one of Florida's undiscovered wild places. Only a few people are adventurous enough to explore the rugged, subtropical landscape - one of the last natural landscapes in this country to be inhabited by humans. Gary Lytton oversees the management of Cape Romano – Ten Thousand Islands and fosters partnerships for stewardship of the area with the local community for his role as the manager of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Gary Lytton:
And our mission is to provide a basis for informed decisions through research and education. What we're really doing is promoting informed stewardship. Science and education are very, very powerful tools. And we can help the community in southwest Florida prepare for the challenges ahead by using education and science to help them really focus on the need to be good stewards in the future. So while we've got pristine, functioning, healthy estuaries in the Ten Thousand Islands, the real challenge ahead of us is how are we going to sustain these coastal systems in the face of that kind of unprecedented growth.

There is a huge economic value associated with these estuaries. If you look at what's happening in the state of Florida, for example in 2001, there was over $4 billion generated in fishing expenses. And you begin to connect what’s happening in aquatic preserves like Ten Thousand Islands serving as a nursery for recreationally valuable finfish and shellfish. And you tie that to aquatic preserves statewide and you begin to look at the $4 billion dollars being spent every year in fishing. Then you can appreciate, there's great value there.

Collier County has one of the highest metropolitan growth rates in the United States. The estuarine environment is ideal for sportfishing, boating, hiking, sailing, birdwatching and more, providing the basis of the Naples area economy.

Gary Lytton:
When you fly over the Ten Thousand Islands, you’re looking at one of our nation’s last real gems. This is an undisturbed coastal ecosystem that’s still very much intact. It’s still functioning. It still works. And we have an opportunity to even make it better. We can improve it if we can get good cooperation from folks living in the community and we can get private and public sector interests working together.

Cape Romano Mangroves

Cape Romano #10
Photo: Clyde Butcher

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Core Programs


Visit Us / Get Involved



Last updated: April 06, 2015

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
Contact Us 
DEP Home | About DEP  | Contact Us | Search |  Site Map