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Rookery Bay Learning Center See Undisturbed Mangroves

Published on July 23, 2019 by Teresa Luber

Rookery Bay Learning Center

Just 10 minutes from Marco Island, the Rookery Bay Learning Center is a 16,500 square-foot facility.  Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in the United States.  The learning center has four research laboratories, a 140-seat auditorium, and a two story visitor center. The visitor center offers a variety of hands-on experiences.  These include aquariums and interactive exhibits addressing ongoing research and stewardship within the reserve.  There is also a nature store, gallery and picnic area.

The center has 3 "focus" tanks, one oyster tank, a seagrass tank, a 180 gallon marine life exhibit and a 2,300 gallon mangrove tank. The relatively new observation bridge, 1/2 mile "Snail Trail" and viewing platform encourage visitors to explore the surroundings. Visitors may see manatees, tarpon and even sharks when conditions are right. Visitors can experience a short walk through tangled mangroves, palms and oaks with resurrection ferns, bromeliads, and orchids growing in oak tree bark. The trail also winds past an old homestead dating back to post-Civil War times.

Rookery Bay is an area where rivers and streams meet the sea.  It forms a unique habitat with a myriad of wildlife including 150 species of birds.  Many threatened and endangered animals also thrive in this and the surrounding 10,000 island area of Southwest Florida.

Rookery Bay Programs and Tours

Rookery Bay Learning Center offers many opportunities for visitors to explore and learn:

Science Saturdays:  Families learn about environmental science and the natural world.  Visitors have hands on experiences with marine-life touch tanks and scientific displays.  Science Saturdays are from 9 am to 4 pm October through April.

Kids Free Friday Summer Program:  From mid June to early August Kids Free Fridays provides free admission for children 12 and younger with a paid adult.  Weekly topics include sharks, manatees, sea turtles, and birds.  Program activities include story time, naturalist lecture, craft room and face painting.  A food truck is on site from 11 am to 1 pm.

Guided Sunset Bird Rookery and Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tours:  Visitors can paddle through magnificent mangrove tunnels and shallows on a 2-3 hour guided kayak tour.  This tour offers the opportunity to see wildlife like sea stars, large snails, birds, dolphin, and manatee.  Prior kayaking experience is not required.  Tours offer single and tandem kayaks and accommodate children ages 3 and up.  Tours are offered daily and registration is required.

Guided Boat Tours of Rookery Bay:  A relaxing boat tour offers an up-close and personal experience with this unique coastal environment.  The tour is led by Rookery Bay staff with an emphasis on learning.  Five different tours are offered, each with a different theme.  The tours provide a chance to see native wildlife and a great opportunity for photography.

Hours and Contact Information

Hours: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, Monday - Friday year round.
https://rookerybay.org
(239) 530-5940

Click here for a video on Rookery Bay:

https://youtu.be/fCxtiF2NTdw

Sea Mar CondoWe recommend a visit to Rookery Bay for our guests at Sea Mar Condo.  Sea Mar Condo is located in Marco Island, FL  It is located on the 19th floor of South Seas Towers with beautiful views of Crescent (South) Beach and the Gulf waters.  Visit our website to see availability and rates and contact us for the vacation of a lifetime!  http://www.seamarcondo.com

Meet The Author
We are Larry and Teresa Luber from Kingsport, TN. Teresa grew up near Bristol, VA and Larry in the St. Louis area. We both love to travel and Marco Island has become our favorite destination. Larry and I fell in love with Marco Island several years ago and we vacation here frequently. It is the one "magical" place where we can totally relax and each time we leave the island we want to come back. We are excited to share the Marco Island experience with you!
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