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Tarpon Bay Explorers welcome two new naturalists

By Staff | Jan 3, 2011

Naturalist Michael Doane returns from a Nature and Sea Life Cruise in Tarpon Bay on TBE’s Explorer III.

The Tarpon Bay Explorers team is gearing up for a busy 2011 with the addition of two new naturalists to their dedicated staff in the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Meet Michael Doane from Monticello, Ill. and Kristy Raines from Bloomington, Ill. Both joined the Explorers in time for the holidays and are looking forward to the upcoming season.

Doane is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in Integrative Biology and is very interested in coral biology. Michael’s grandparents bought a house on Sanibel the year he was born, so he has been visiting the island with his family his whole life. However, this was his first Christmas on the island and he was quite intrigued by the Christmas lights on the palm trees. He is happy for the opportunity he now has to teach other visitors about the flora and fauna in the Refuge during kayak tours and nature cruises in Tarpon Bay. His favorite species is the lightning whelk because it is left-handed like him. When Michael is not busy leading tours with the Explorers, you might find him paddleboarding at the beach or even surfing… if the waves are breaking!

Raines’ journey to Tarpon Bay followed a much different path. She grew up around pets and wildlife in Illinois and was fascinated with animals. Kristy attended Illinois State University and received a degree in Management Information Systems. As an adult, she left her business career and pursued animal oriented careers such as raising cattle in the Ozarks and working as a veterinary technician with small animals, exotics, and zoo animals. She is very interested in wolves and has traveled to Minnesota, Yellowstone and Canada to observe and study them, and has even written a children’s book.

In addition, Kristy and her husband, Morgan, had been vacationing in Sanibel for years where she stumbled across Tarpon Bay Explorers and they decided to officially become snowbirds. She is excited to learn about the local wildlife in the Refuge and is especially interested in the saltwater invertebrates as there are none in Illinois. Kristy is thrilled to be a member of the Explorers’ team and enjoys leading the wide variety of kayak tours and nature cruises.

Tarpon Bay Explorers naturalist Kristy Raines heads out into the bay to lead a kayak tour through the Commodore Creek Trail.

The Explorers are happy to have Kristy and Michael as our newest naturalists on staff. Michael and Kristy lead kayak tours and nature cruises in the J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR at Tarpon Bay and they are excited to share their love of nature with their guests. Call 239-472-8900 to join Michael or Kristy for a tour.

For more information, visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com and www.facebook.com/TarponBayExplorers.