We were up at
oh dark thirty the crack of dawn very early this morning in order to be at Manatee Park in Ft. Myers by 8:45. It's about a 40 minute drive and we didn't want to be late! We had breakfast and took Titan for a short walk before heading out. Being Sunday, the traffic on I75 was light and our trip went smoothly.
We arrived at the park early enough to check for manatees, which we did not see when we visited with Wendy. But today, there were several swimming around; of course, I left my camera in the car.
We had a Groupon for a 3 hour manatee sightseeing kayak tour and were met by the Manatee Guides owner and guide, Tim Martell, a Certified Florida Master Naturalist, and another guide, Mike. They both proved to be very personable (a must in this business), knowledgeable and lots of fun!
|The beginning of our explorations|
We would be paddling along the Great Calusa Blueway, one of the many areas once traveled by the Calusa Indians. The water from the park enters the Orange River, which got its name because barges used to move oranges to Ft. Myers along the river.
|Park walkway to the river|
|Nor sure why anyone would offer a manatee water...|
Clearly, one of us was slacking in the paddling department...
It was a gorgeous day with sunny skies and a breeze.
|Looking up river|
|Ahhh, life is very good!|
It started out a little cool but I was able to remove my sweatshirt fairly quickly.
We were "warned" that because of the warm temperatures, there were not a lot of manatees in the river. That was okay with us, we were enjoying being on the water. We learned there are three types of manatees...West Indian, West African and Amazonian. They are nicknamed Sea Cows and their closest relative is the elephant.
We paddled up the river for an hour or so while Tim schooled us on the different types of mangroves (black, red, white and buttonwood), the invasive Brazilian Pepper Tree which is choking out a lot of the native vegetation and the Leather Fern, which can be eaten raw or cooked. Tim admitted he has never eaten it.
|Is there going to be a quiz?|
They identified several birds, including the Green Herona Red Shouldered Hawk
a Bald Eagle (everyone knows what that looks like) and a male Muscovy Duck.
We even saw a Clydesdale.
Mike told us a story about a couple of kayakers parked beneath a tree, looking up at some ducks, only to discover that they were parked right next to an alligator.
|Ducks don't live in trees.|
We headed back to the park to hang out and look for more manatees.
Now, manatees are somewhat shy and quite fast. The bright sun makes it easier to spot them under the water but you have to be positioned in just the right spot to get a good photo. Although I turned my camera on, off, on, off, on, off, this is the only picture I was able to take.
|Seriously, this is a manatee nose|
|Mike took this photo as we returned to the dock.|
We had a great time!
Thanks for stopping by...
Today's out takes...
|There's a paddle growing out of my ear|
|Smile, yes that means me|