NAPLES - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP)
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RB NERR) today celebrated
National Estuaries Day. The event focused on the special places where rivers
meet the sea. Celebrating this day presents an opportunity to learn more about
these magical ecosystems and how Florida’s citizens can help to protect them.
Estuaries are also important economic engines that pump millions of dollars to
coastal communities through tourism, recreational sport fishing and boating.
Governor Charlie Crist issued a
proclamation declaring September 25, 2010 as National Estuaries Day.
“Estuaries are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth, serving as
nurseries for fish and shellfish and providing vital nesting and feeding grounds
for coastal birds, sea turtles and marine mammals,” RB NERR Director Gary
Litton. “It is important for Florida’s residents and visitors alike to
understand the vital role estuaries play in our environment and economy.”
For more than 20 years, RB NERR has hosted National Estuaries Day the third
weekend in September to raise public awareness about the coast. National
Estuaries Day 2010 events included free boat tours through the estuary, guided
kayak tours, marine touch tank experiences and fiddler crab explorations. RB
NERR also hosted the local premier of the new IMAX film “Wild Ocean,” as well as
films about conservation efforts, boating safety information and demonstrations,
and lectures on RB NERR research, local fisheries and seafood and restoring the
Designed to engage the general public and increase understanding and
awareness of DEP’s Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) Program, RB NERR
unveiled one of four new exhibits that highlight the four million acres managed
by CAMA. The four exhibits feature interactive maps and videos, and will travel
around the state of Florida.
In partnership with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, RB NERR presented the
updated Gulf of Mexico exhibit, which includes a large map of the Gulf, and
brief video clips highlighting the environmental and economic health of Gulf
In partnership with the United Arts Council, RB NERR also unveiled the Gulf
of Mexico Art Exhibit that highlights the positive aspects of the Gulf of Mexico
have on local communities. The theme of the Exhibit was “What does the Gulf mean
to me?” and the work of local artists was displayed in the art gallery at RB
NERR Education Center.
DEP’s Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) manages three
National Estuarine Research Reserves in the state, 41 aquatic preserves, the
Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
CAMA’s programs and activities are designed to help Floridians better understand
and conserve the state’s resources through research, education and preservation.
For more information on CAMA, visit
Designated over 30 years ago, RB NERR is located in Naples on the Southwest
coast of Florida. CAMA manages 110,000 acres at RB NERR with a staff of 30
professionals engaged in education, research, training, and stewardship. The
Environmental Learning Center serves as a regional education, research and
training center with a 150-seat auditorium, classrooms, research labs and
state-of-the-art visitor center with aquaria and interactive exhibits. For more
information on RB NERR, visit