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Cedar Keys NWR open house

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   Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge invites the public to an open house on Seahorse Key  from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 9. Bring a camera, fish a little, walk along the beach, and enjoy the young pelicans through the spotting scope.

   The interior of Seahorse Key is normally closed to public entrance, as are all posted refuge islands, so that nesting birds and other wildlife are not disturbed. Annually, a 300-foot buffer is closed to all public access from March through June to provide more security to the rookery while mature birds nest and rear their young. The closure ended on June 30 as nesting time will be over and the fledglings will be flying. This celebration of wildlife is an opportunity to visit the otherwise closed Seahorse Key with staff present to answer questions.

   The lighthouse on Seahorse Key, atop the 54-foot tall dune, offers great perspective for wildlife photography as the adult and juvenile birds fly by the tower. Visitors will see brown pelicans, ibis, cormorants, herons and this year’s new couple – reddish egrets flying from the rookery.  Eagles and osprey also visit throughout the day from their nearby nests.  

   This year, ghost-like figures in period dress will tell us tales of the light station and its challenges, as well as the history of the two cemeteries on the island, both Civil War sailors’ and light keepers’.

Catch a tour boat from the city docks, rent a vessel, or take your own to Seahorse Key for a celebration of wildlife hosted by refuge staff. Enjoy the out of doors at the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, where wildlife comes first.

   The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, of which the National Wildlife Refuge System is a part, is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, call 352-493-0238.