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Banana Bay Tour Company is once again teaming up with local archaeologist Theresa Schober to raise awareness about the remarkable island capital of the Calusa, known today as Mound Key Archaeological State Park.

The most powerful aboriginal group in South Florida, the Calusa were one of the first groups encountered during Ponce de León’s 1513 voyage that christened La Florida, and Stababa – the Calusa name for Mound Key – one of the first locations mapped within the continental United States.

Schober is a well-known local archaeologist, having conducted archaeological research in the area since 1998, focused on sites in Estero Bay. She is executive producer of a documentary film project about Mound Key.

This year marks the 450th anniversary since the site was visited by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, founder of St. Augustine. Menéndez established a treaty with the Calusa chief, resulting in a fort and one of the first Jesuit missions in North America.

The pontoon boat and guided archaeological tours are offered on Mondays, with morning and afternoon departures from Fish Tale Marine on Fort Myers Beach. The 3.5-hour tours focus on the rich history of Mound Key and the Southwest Florida estuarine environment critical to the Calusas’ prominence in south Florida. A portion of tour proceeds directly benefits Mound Key.

Next tour dates: April 11 and 18. Departures are at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tours are limited to 28 people. Cost is $55 per person plus tax. Light refreshments are provided.

Banana Bay Tour Company is an ecotourism operator, providing opportunities for water-based education and adventure in Southwest Florida.

A pledge of support for the history of our area, owner and Capt. JR Trepper states, “Banana Bay Tour Company is excited to see the heritage of the Calusa Indians documented and preserved. Everyone should have the advantage to obtain a full awareness of the rich history of the Calusa Indians and the importance of Mound Key. By looking back and learning from our past we can better our lives for the future.”

Reservations

Reservations for the boat tour can be made with Banana Bay Tour Company at 239-728-8687 or visit bananabaytourcompany.com/mound-key-tour.html for tour information and online booking.

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