Tarpon Bay Explorers to restart tram tours
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tarpon Bay Explorers has not provided a tram tour along Wildlife Drive for visitors of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge since mid-March.
“It has been a while, around 140 days or so,” part-owner and General Manager Wendy Schnapp said.
As of Aug. 4, TBE will tentatively resume the tours for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Fee collecting for Wildlife Drive will also resumed next week.
“Tram tours are a great way for people to be introduced to the refuge,” Schnapp said. “Our naturalists do an excellent job providing the lay of the land for those who are new to the island, but also have a depth of knowledge for those looking to continue to learn about the Refuge and wildlife.”
TBE staffs the fee booth at the entrance of Wildlife Drive. They can help visitors by providing information and selling entry passes for federal lands.
To ensure the safety of employees and visitors, protective measures will be taken. The tours will operate at 50 percent capacity (18 people max). Social distancing will be observed throughout all trips. Masks will be worn by employees while in proximity with visitors, like boarding and unloading.
In addition, the tours will start earlier at 8:30 a.m., but also at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Visitors can join either at Tarpon Bay Explorer, at 900 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, or at the tram booth located in the middle of the parking lot next to the refuge’s Visitor & Education Center, at 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel.
Reservations are recommended for any guided tour.
“Our drivers and fee booth workers are excited to get back to work,” Schnapp said. “No one likes to be furloughed so we are happy we were able to finally give them some good news.”
The concession to the refuge, Tarpon Bay Explorers provides recreational and educational opportunities. For more information, visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com or call 239-472-8900.