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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2010
CONTACT: Jennifer Stan Diaz, DEP, (850) 245-2112
  Renee Wilson, RB NERR, (239) 417-6208

DEP’s Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Celebrates National Estuaries Day

~“Where Rivers Meet the Sea” is the theme for Reserve activities~

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 Everglades.

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 communities.

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 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal

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 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/rookery/

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"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."

Gary Litton
RB NERR Director

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Last updated: January 25, 2011

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