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Tarpon Bay Explorers partially reopens

By Staff | May 7, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Tarpon Bay Explorers has opened for rentals and retail only. In addition, the ramp will be open for the public to use to launch private kayaks or small boats.

Today, Tarpon Bay Explorers partially resumed its operation by providing rentals for kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, bicycles and pontoons only.

In addition, its nature-themed gift shop has reopened to the public.

The TBE team is keeping its operations in tandem with the governor’s orders for the phase I reopening initiative for Florida and the city of Sanibel’s related proclamation.

Tours and fishing charters are postponed until further notice.

“Obviously, health and safety for our workers and the general public is our number one priority,” part-owner and General Manager Wendy Schnapp said. “We are incorporating all social distancing policies. We will keep 6 feet between customers and workers whenever possible, all staff are to wear masks, sneeze guards have been installed at each customer interaction point, hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the facility, only 10 people will be allowed in the gift shop at a time, and all surfaces of equipment and the facility will be continuously wiped down.”

“We are excited to reopen but are taking precautions seriously,” she added.

The recreation concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, TBE has been closed since March 18. All employees were furloughed, but are anxious to get back to work.

“The ‘bay’ is a special place for a lot of us. We have a lot of employees who have been here a while ranging from five to 17 years,” Assistant Manager Adam Sauerland said. “We all love what we do here and are happy to have Tarpon Bay back in our routines.”

TBE management has a plan to phase in the company’s additional offerings that it normally provides, pending on the evolution of the pandemic and permission from the management at the refuge.

“We want to be as responsible and informed as possible.” Schnapp said. “We want people to enjoy the refuge, but do it in a way that prioritizes the wellbeing of everyone.”

TBE provides recreational and educational opportunities for the refuge, with 12 percent of all of its transactions going to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to benefit wildlife refuges nationwide.

For more information, visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com or call 239-472-8900.