Explore your natural surrounding on Saturday, September 27, with the Loxahatchee River Environmental Center for National Estuaries Day. A day dedicated to maritime nurseries, estuaries one of the cornerstones to nearly all of marine ecosystems, with an innumerable amount of species – from fish to birds, mammals to reptiles – relying on the ecosystem for shelter and food. Conversely, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, nearly 60 percent of the world’s population lives along estuaries – at home, more than half the U.S. population lives in coastal areas according to the EPA – which is both beneficial – coastal watershed counties contributed $7.9 trillion to the Gross Domestic Product in 2007 – and detrimental – coastal counties grow three-times faster then inland, speeding up ecosystem degradation. Which is why these vital ecosystems deserve and need protection.
For National Estuaries Day, the River Center will join forces with like-minded organizations championing conservation efforts in our community, including the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the Palm Beach Zoo, and FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s Ocean Discovery Center, for a day of family-friendly activities that raise awareness about these vital swaths of the sea. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the River Center will open its doors – and the fields and waterways alongside – for wildlife presentations by Busch Wildlife Sanctuary (11 a.m.), kayak and paddleboard demonstrations with Jupiter Outdoor Center, story time with Professor Clark the Science Shark (1 p.m.), exhibitions by participating nonprofits (mentioned above) and a performance by Hitchiti Dancers, a Native American dance team from South Florida. In the River Center, guests can get an up-close experience with some of the fish species that take up residence in our local estuaries with the center’s aquariums – all 6,000 gallons of them – and touch tank. Staff will be stationed at the science labs to talk about the importance of estuaries, imparting education with the fun. For a real treat, join the feeding frenzy at 2 p.m. when River Center staff feed the fish.
National Estuaries Day was established in 1988 as part of Coast Weeks, to promote the importance of estuaries and the need to protect these cradles of the sea. Situated at Burt Reynolds Park, an island in the Intracoastal Waterway, and a short distance from the mouth of the Loxahatchee River and the Indian River Lagoon, one of Florida’s largest estuaries, the River Center is an unofficial “base of operation” for watermen and women before striking out the winding and mangrove-fringed wilds of the Jupiter/Tequesta waterways. As part of the Loxahatchee River District, the River Center also raises awareness about the Loxahatchee, Florida’s first federally designated “Wild and Scenic River,” and the freshwater portion of the brackish estuary.
- The fun begins at 9:30 a.m. with a special Estuary Day Story Time for the wee ones. Activities are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Admission is free.
- For more information, visit loxahatcheeriver.org.