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Free and discounted tours part of ‘Ding’ Darling Day

By Staff | Oct 2, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Refuge educators will lead two interpretive Indigo Trail hikes — one in Spanish and one in English.

As the 75th anniversary celebration at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel kicks in, staff has planned a “Ding” Darling Day for Oct. 20 that will concentrate all the best traditions of the eco-festival into one day of family and conservation art activities, tours and programs.

New this year, the day begins early with guided refuge tours. Refuge Senior Biologist Jeremy Conrad will lead an 8 a.m. birding tour on Indigo Trail. At 9 a.m., a four-mile Bike the Refuge Tour will travel down Wildlife Drive and Indigo Trail. Two tours will take visitors on an Indigo Trail hike: one in Spanish at 10 a.m. and another in English at 11 a.m. All four tours meet at the flagpole in the parking lot of the refuge’s Visitor & Education Center.

Tarpon Bay Explorers will do free one-hour narrated tram tours of Wildlife Drive hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reserve a spot on the tours early by checking in at the tram booth in the parking lot.

The refuge’s official recreation concession, Tarpon Bay Explorers will also offer a 25 percent discount on its kayak and boating tours throughout the day. Reservations are recommended at 239-472-8900.

The TBE tour schedule is as follows:

– Guided Commodore Creek Paddle from 10 a.m. to noon; $26.25 adults, $22.50 children

– Nature & Sealife Cruise from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; $22.50 adults, $15 children

– Guided Commodore Creek Paddle from 1to 3 p.m.; $26.25 adults, $22.50 children

– Nature & Sealife Cruise from 1:30 to 3 p.m.; $22.50 adults, $15 children

– Evening Cruise from 5 to 7 p.m.; $26.50 adults, $18.75 children

– Sunset Rookery Paddle from 5 to 7 p.m.; $30 adults, $22.50 children

For the full calendar of activities, visit dingdarlingdays.com or call 239-472-1100 ext. 237.

“Ding” Darling Day celebrates the birthday of the refuge’s namesake, father of the Federal Duck Stamp program and Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, Jay N. “Ding” Darling. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge and Tarpon Bay Explorers cosponsor “Ding” Darling Day with support from the local community and businesses.