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National Estuaries Day celebration attracts hundreds

Visitors to the local celebration of National Estuaries Day practiced kayaking techniques with a professional guide.

The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) and Around the Bend Nature Tours hosted a National Estuaries Day celebration last Sunday at Ken Thompson Park near Mote Marine Laboratory. The theme of this year’s free community event was “Enjoy Sarasota Bay.” Highlights included fun learning activities and exhibits as well as a performance by the Sarasota Ski-A-Rees Water Ski Show Team.

The event started with 83 volunteers with the SBEP Bay Guardians helping to clean up the park and surrounding area as part of Coastal Cleanup Day. Adult and youth volunteers from King Middle School, the Sarasota Young Professionals Group, Southeast High School and the Sarasota Military Academy participated.

One of the highlights for many visitors was the opportunity to learn more about kayaking with the SBEP Bay Wise Kayak Tour Guide Brad Tanner, who took several groups out into the bay to practice proper techniques. Visitors also had an opportunity to encounter aquatic life with dip nets and conduct water quality testing with support by guides with Around the Bend Nature Tours.

The designation of a national estuaries day underscores the importance of estuaries as a vital habitat for juvenile fish and shellfish. An estuary is a water body where freshwater mixes with salt water from the sea. The estuaries in the United States provide vital habitats for a wide variety of fish and shellfish species. Estuaries are regarded as one of the nation’s most valuable natural resources, creating more food per acre than the richest farmland. Sarasota Bay is one of 28 nationally protected estuaries in the United States.

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