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J.N. “Ding” Darling

May 28, 2014
FL Guide

The island's natural beauty is accessible anytime for residents who want to spend a day at the beach or ride a bicycle down the city's shared use path system.

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is open all year long, although the hours fluctuate based on the time of year. The refuge came into existence in 1945 when President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating it as the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge. It was renamed in 1967 to honor syndicated editorial cartoonist and pioneer conservationist Jay Norwood Darling.

Thousands of shorebirds use the Refuge as a resting and feeding place while migrating. Sandpipers, blue herons, roseate spoonbills and egrets call the estuary home as well as the endangered American crocodile. For a small fee, locals can spend the day bicycling down the reopened Wildlife Drive scouting for rare and migratory birds, and take a detour to explore the Indigo Trail or the refuge's new Wildlife Education Boardwalk.

The refuge vendor, Tarpon Bay Explorers, offers guided kayak and canoe tours, deck talks and stand-up paddle boarding in addition to tram tours of the refuge.

For more information on activities in the refuge, visit the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society at



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