Monday, January 24, 2022

Jeane’s Jaunts – Rookery Bay Rocks!

Rookery Bay entrance. Photos by Ed Bridle.

Rookery Bay entrance. Photos by Ed Bridle.

Surrounding Marco Island, evidence of true unadulterated vistas of southwest Florida exists thanks to those individuals many years ago who had the foresight and made the effort to officially designate these lands for protection. And thanks to those now who spend their time and energy to continue protecting and loving these precious areas. Friends of Fakahatchee, Friends of Rookery Bay and volunteers and rangers at Collier Seminole State Park have a passion and desire to see the flow of the land, the colors, the fauna and the animals continue to reign supreme at these nature preserves.

Hundreds of thousands of acres of strands of the rare royal palm, Cypress, and mangrove swamp are protected from encroachment. Bald Eagles, alligators, wild hog, and hundreds of other species of animals find haven in this unique landscape. Rare orchids, bromeliads, ferns and plants that solely live on air and moisture survive. Strangler figs growing into giant trees, snakes, butterflies and beautiful birds of all sort are within our grasp and priceless beyond all imagination.

Rookery Bay Reserve is composed of over 100,000 acres located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands.  It remains one of the few undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. “The mission of the Reserve,” noted from their website, “is to provide a basis for informed coastal decisions through land management, restoration, research and education. The Reserve works in partnership with local communities to promote coastal stewardship.”

Enticing programs at Rookery

The Butterfly Garden at Rookery Bay is a great experience.

The Butterfly Garden at Rookery Bay is a great experience.

Bay include Munching in the Mangroves, Seashells of Southwest Florida, Where Rivers Meet the Sea, Skulls and Bones, Slithering Snakes, Manatees and Marching Molars, Native Orchids of Southwest Florida, Native Plants and More, Oceans of Life, Wet and Wild Water birds, and Sharks: Fact or Fiction. Daily programs usually run about 45 minutes and are offered Monday through Thursday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and are included with admission.

Guided kayak tours, continually changing exhibits, classes, workshops and fundraising for continued growth and success are offered at Rookery Bay.

The Batfish Bash March 27 presented by Friends of Rookery Bay is the next big fundraising event. Dancing the Batfish Boogie and rockin’ to the music of Raiford Starke featuring J Robert, eating Old Florida style fare and bidding at the silent auction items like shark tagging highlight the evening. The event will be held at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center not even 15 minutes away from Marco. Call 239-262-0750 for tickets.

It is forever amazing how much beauty and life and information is available at our very fingertips. If only we could put a rein on time and our days could be twice as long.

The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oceanic and Aquatic Areas. Drive across the bridge off the island on 951 for about 12 minutes. Look for Tower Road. Turn left. Call 239-417-6310 or email:  HYPERLINK “ for additional information.

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