FGCU and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Agree to Establish Site of Planned Marine Science Lab
FORT MYERS, FL - Today, Florida Gulf Coast University President William C. Merwin accepted the University’s Environmental Stewardship Advisory Council’s recommendation that the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve be selected as the site of the planned FGCU Marine Research and Education Laboratory. RBNERR Environmental Administrator Gary D. Lytton agreed with the initiative on behalf of Rookery Bay.
FGCU will construct a marine lab at Rookery Bay to provide hands-on field experiences and collaboration opportunities for students, faculty and research staff to study a range of marine and estuarine habitats using specialized equipment and instrumentation.
“The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve already has a visiting scientist program in place where researchers from around the world visit the Reserve to conduct research,” associate professor of marine science Greg Tolley said. “The new FGCU marine lab in partnership with Rookery Bay will encourage additional researchers to visit Southwest Florida to conduct research at the new facility and to collaborate with FGCU students, faculty and staff.”
Located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands in Collier County, Rookery Bay houses one hundred fifty species of animals on 110,000 acres of protected waters, pristine mangrove forests and uplands.
This year, Rookery Bay plans to complete construction of a new Environmental Learning Center located on Tower Road, adjacent to Collier Boulevard near Marco Island. The 16,500-square foot structure was created to advance the Reserve’s mission and to meet the increasing challenges of coastal stewardship in Southwest Florida.
Up until this week, FGCU was still considering other sites throughout Southwest Florida but ultimately Rookery Bay was chosen for its tremendous education benefits to students, scope of research opportunities, proximity to FGCU, accessibility to habitats by foot and by boat, direct location to seawater, availability of land for construction, and existing boat ramps and docks, among other reasons.
“The experience and expertise of the RBNERR staff is invaluable to the FGCU marine research and education program,” Tolley said.
The mission of Rookery Bay to provide a basis for informed coastal decisions through land management, restoration, research and education, and its works in partnership with local communities to promote coastal stewardship also reflects FGCU’s environmental mission, Tolley said.
The Council recommended Rookery Bay after studying nearly 20 potential sites and discussing options with Merwin over the last several months. Comprised of FGCU faculty, students, staff as well as community representatives, the Council operates as an advisory body to the FGCU president. It is also developing a five-year environmental plan for the University.
For more information, contact associate vice president for Community Relations Audrea Anderson at (239) 590-1083.