National Estuaries Day and OceanWise will be celebrated tomorrow, Sept. 24, at the GTM Research Reserve! The Reserve invites families to celebrate by participating in the family seining clinics beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Guana Dam, and then, at noon join the fun at the family fishing clinic in the Environmental Education Center’s classroom 2. Wrap up the day’s activities with the Friends of the GTM Reserve’s signature fundraiser, OceanWise: An Evening for the Estuaries beginning at 6 p.m.

National Estuaries Week, September 17-24, celebrates the unique habitats where rivers meet the sea. Florida’s estuaries provide more than 95 percent of the state’s recreational and commercial industries fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Estuaries also improve water quality in nearby rivers, filtering future drinking water.

The National Estuaries Day activities being held across the country focus on the importance of unique coastal habitats. The Reserve’s family seining events and the family fishing clinic will give participants an opportunity to learn about the wildlife living within the estuary and how vital it is to the ecosystem.

At the Family Seining events, various fish and crab species can be collected with a seine net, and then, participants can learn about them with their guide. All necessary gear, including waders and boots, are provided. The Family Fishing Clinic is a two-hour educational event for youth ages 5-15 (and parents). The Reserve will provide bait, hooks, weights and sinkers, bobbers and floats, and drinking water. Participants should bring sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water bottle, fishing rod and reel, fishing line, and valid saltwater fishing license (anyone over 16). To register for a family seining event, click here. To register for the family fishing clinic, click here. For more information, please call 904-823-4500.

The finale to the National Estuaries Day celebration will be Friends of the GTM Reserve’s signature fundraising event, OceanWise: An Evening for the Estuaries, which supports the ecological education programs, research and stewardship of the Reserve’s landscape. First Coast News reporter, Jessica Clark will emcee the event. Cat Eastman, sea turtle program coordinator at the University of Florida’s The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience at the Sea Turtle Hospital will be the keynote speaker. The Guana River will provide the backdrop for the evening’s events. Oh yes, be sure to check out the Hobie Mirage Tandem Island kayak, one of the silent auction items! To purchase a ticket to OceanWise, click here. For more information, please call 904-823-4526.