NAPLES (May 24) – The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center at 300 Tower Road in Naples reopened May 17 after being closed for the past year during the height of the pandemic. The wooded property along Henderson Creek features aquariums, a touch tank with marine critters, natural history exhibits, art gallery, gift shop, picnic areas and walking trails. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The center will be closed on May 31 to observe Memorial Day and July 5 to observe Independence Day. Admission of $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 benefits the Friends of Rookery Bay, a non-profit organization that supports the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Guests may apply their admission fee toward Friends of Rookery Bay membership on the day of their visit. Active and retired military personnel and family members are free year-round. Learn more at rookerybay.org or call 239-530-5972.
The current art exhibition is entitled Rediscover Rookery Bay and is on view through August 6. It features three works each by local photographers Dennis Goodman, Jean Hall and Martin Strasmore, and painters Paul Arsenault, Muffy Clark Gill and Dora Knuteson. Most of the works are for sale, with a portion of proceeds benefitting Friends of Rookery Bay.
Friends of Rookery Bay offers biologist-led boat and kayak eco-tours as well as kayak and stand-up paddle rentals. Tours go to Keewaydin Island, through mangrove tunnels and along mudflats featuring shorebirds. An ADA-accessible pontoon boat is one of the two crafts that hold a maximum of six passengers. Learn more and book at rookerybay.org/eco-tours.
Rookery Bay Research Reserve’s summer education programs are virtual presentations. They include Break with the Birds: The Terns Turn lectures on June 24, July 29 and Aug. 18 as well as an EDscursions virtual live field trip on May 28. Learn more at register at rookerybay.org/events.
With sea turtle nesting season open since May 1 and running through October 31, Friends of Rookery Bay is offering an Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest Program. Supporters are noted on a tag that hangs from a nest’s protective cage, and they receive updates about the eggs and hatchlings in the nest they supported. Learn more at rookerybay.org.