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Visiting students explore Tarpon Bay, Sanibel refuge

By TARPON BAY EXPLORERS - | Jan 20, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED First Baptist Academy students prepare to take of on a bicycle ride through Wildlife Drive.

On Jan. 4, students from the First Baptist Academy in Naples journeyed to Sanibel to spend the day exploring the J.N “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. During the winter term, the school allocates a week’s worth of time to promote a particular interest of the students. The subject for these 13 high schoolers was environmental sciences.

First, the students hopped into kayaks to explore Tarpon Bay’s Commodore Creek Trail with naturalist Brie Coffman. A low tide made for superb birding. White pelicans could be seen by the dozens flying overhead or swimming from nearby sandbars. Wading birds peppered the edges of the mangrove roots stalking for prey.

“The birds have been awesome lately,” Coffman said. “Low tides create concentrated pockets of prey for birds to easily feed on and it doesn’t disappoint.”

The second part of the excursion was by bicycle. The students pedaled down to Wildlife Drive to search for other wildlife that the refuge could offer. The birding was spectacular, with white pelicans observed along with other species not seen earlier, including reddish egrets and blue-winged teals.

“The students had such a great time,” Jennifer Hannon, a science teacher at First Baptist Academy, said. “We are looking forward to coming back.”

PHOTO PROVIDED First Baptist Academy students float their way through Tarpon Bay.

Tarpon Bay Explorers is the concession to the refuge, offering educational and recreational opportunities. For more information, call 239-472-8900 or visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com.