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A Day For The Dunes Educates Children And Adults About Coastal Preservation

Dune Doctors

Saturday is a Day for the Dunes with local organizations partnering with Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center to teach the importance of coastal preservation.

Dune Doctors and Navarre Beach Marine Science Station are hosting the event with educational stations and activities for all ages set up around the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. The first 100 registered participants will also get the chance to plant sea oats on the dunes.

“It helps secure the dunes in place, which is home to many species like the Santa Rosa beach mouse,” said Erin Bagley, community outreach coordinator for the Science Station. “It’s important to protect the dunes because they give protection to the island and the mainland.”

The Dune Doctors specialize in this process, helping communities and homeowners construct and maintain protective landscapes. Frederique Beroset established the organization in 2000 after years of studying native coastal plants. In a video on the Dune Doctors site, she explains the delicate process of planting sea oats in dunes.

“The dunes we have in our area … that sand we have is made of over 95% quartz,” said Beroset in the video. “It’s like glass, no nutrients are able to stick to the sand.”

Planting sea oats requires a “very fine balance,” Beroset added, of starving the sea oats just enough so that they grow lots of roots in as many directions to find water and food. Those roots help strengthen the dunes. 

"Sea oats play a vital role in the conservation of coastal ecosystems," Bereoset said in an interview Thursday aftermoon. "Unlike other plants that could not handle the dynamic environment of the coast, sea oats thrive being pelted by wind-borne sand and can withstand extreme temperatures and temporary inundation.  The sand burial cycle is critical because it encourages the plants to fight for their survival by pushing through the particles of sand with their new stems widening the plants’ grip on the sand dune."

The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station is dedicated to educating the public about marine conservation with their hands-on approach to science for kids and adults. But the message is getting harder to share. Originally touted as “Florida’s Best Kept Secret,” Florida has had record-breaking tourism numbers and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

“We’re constantly educating the public whenever we can, but it’s tough,” said Bagley. “But, as we share our knowledge, it gets passed on. Thanks to our education programs, we’ve seen more students become ambassadors for marine conservation.”

Fabien Cousteau

One of the most famous ambassadors will also be at the event. Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the well-known French conservationist Jacques Cousteau, will also be at the Day for the Dunes event.

“He has really continued the empire his grandfather built,” Bagley said.

It helps to have a famous name to put to your cause, Bagley said. Once people show up, she’ll be ready to teach them everything they want to know about the marine ecosystem.

“We want to communicate our love for the shore, for the public, and let people know what to do to protect it as long as possible.”

A Day for the Dunes event is 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 28. For more information, follow this link. 

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.