Luckily, I headed south just in time to avoid the frigid temps of the Northeast this week! I always forget just how nurturing and relaxing the sun and heat are until I’m in it then aaaaah…
What better way to enjoy that warmth and sunshine than on the water? For a special daddy-daughter day, we opted for a kayaking tour with @sarasotapaddleboardcompany through the mangroves on beautiful Lido Key in the brackish Sarasota Bay, part of the Intercoastal Waterway.
With temps in the low 80s, brilliant sunshine, and relatively minimal water traffic, our personable and knowledgeable guide, Bobby, gave us a thorough safety review then lead us leisurely around the bay, talking about the various wildlife and human-nature interactions that are common, for better or worse. We learned about cauliflower-colored Cassiopeia jellyfish that swim upside down, blobby sea slugs and their toxic purple ink, clever sea urchins, fascinating starfish, and saw a mother and baby dolphin pair across the bay carefully avoiding human interaction. While now is not manatee season, they are commonly seen here when the weather is consistently warmer. How fun would that be?! Most of the time the water was only a few feet deep and we could easily see the bottom, and manatees if they were here.
After assuring him my hands were free of sunscreen (harmful to starfish and others), I was blessed with holding a starfish and urchin. Such an interesting texture, and movement so subtle you can’t tell if it’s real or your brain telling stories.
The paddle through the mangrove trails (also known as tunnels) reminded me of walking through a forest. The lovely foliage seen from open water gave way inside to a magical canopy, a forest of slender naked trunks, and endless tangle of roots.
Shady, cool, calm, and silent within, the meditative paddling and the environment put me in a state of wonder. It’s amazing what you see when you are truly present: Tiny black mosquito-eating crabs on tree trunks, sea-green sponges lining the muddy banks below the waterline, dry oysters clinging to mangrove roots at the waterline, starfish, crimson urchins, tiny fish, and awaiting the mouth of the trail… a tri-colored heron hunting those fish. We traveled several trails, created by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s to control mosquitoes (and sometimes barely the width of the kayak), and emerged back into the sun and breeze joined by cormorants, the chirp of osprey, and stories from our guide.
Bobby was fun and led the group so it felt like we had allllll the time in the world to explore. If you’re considering time on the Gulf Coast anytime soon, definitely check out this adventure! No kayaking experience needed. (Dad hadn’t been in a kayak in 40 years.) Oh and these vessels had mini chairs that were far more comfortable (and drier!) than traditional kayak seats. Other kayak companies operating from the same launch did not offer this feature. Hat tip to Sarasota Paddleboard Company.
Have you done a mangrove tour? Have you kayaked? Are you a landlubber or seafarer? Share with us in the Comments!
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