Celebrate National Estuaries Week!

Now that Hurricane Irma has left us (mostly) standing and our yards (hopefully) cleared, it’s time to celebrate National Estuaries Day with events across the Tampa Bay region:

Two volunteer workdays will be held in Manatee County, sponsored jointly by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and Manatee County’s Parks and Natural Resources Department. The first, on Friday, Sept. 22, needs volunteers to help harvest marsh grasses from Perico Preserve for use in a habitat restoration project that will transplant them at Robinson Preserve the next day.

Both events run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., and lunch will be served afterward. Register here.

Also on Saturday, the TBEP will present “Tampa Bay: Paradise Lost (And Found Again)” at Brooker Creek Preserve from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. This talk by Tampa Bay Estuary Program staff will take audience members on a whirlwind natural and cultural history tour of our own “estuary of national significance.”  Participants will also be invited to test their “Tampa Bay IQ” with our fun trivia challenge. The event is free, but registration requested at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tampa-bay-paradise-lost-and-found-again-tickets.

And Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, is recruiting volunteers for a land- and sea-based cleanup on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Data from the cleanup will be forwarded to Ocean Conservancy for their International Coastal Cleanup to show how acting locally makes global impacts.

Rosette spoonbills nest on islands that may be contaminated with dangerous monofilament line. Photo courtesy Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

The majority of the volunteers will be on land to clean the shorelines, but volunteers are welcome to bring their own kayak or canoe to participate in the water-based cleanup.

Click one of these locations to register:

North Skyway Fishing Pier

Palonis Park in Tampa

Tampa Bay Watch Marine and Education Center

Coffee Pot Bayou (canoes and kayaks only)

And Saturday, Sept. 23 to October 1, Tampa Bay Watch and Audubon Florida are coordinating the 24th annual monofilament cleanup. Volunteers with boats are asked to click here to register

Monofilament is one of the most dangerous products found in a marine ecosystem, tangling creatures ranging from birds, sea turtles and manatees, as well as manatees, whales, dolphins and rays. This clean-up focuses on islands where birds will be returning soon for their winter nesting season, including the iconic roseate spoonbill, egrets, herons and ibis.

And while your calendar is open, don’t forget to sign up for the Florida Birding and Nature Festival in Ruskin Oct. 13 to 15, featuring well-known speakers and field trip leaders from across the country and region — including the bird nesting islands in Tampa Bay.

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