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More time on the water

May 8, 2013
Paddling with Mel the Guide - Special to The Eagle , Pine Island Eagle

It's Mel the guide here once again with a fantastic month of kayaking behind us.

Last month, it was a little brisk, but if you took off later in the day, the weather was great. By 10 am, the day was warmer, with good paddling in the low 70s. Luckily, I've had some very nice tours in many locations in Southwest Florida.

We started the month with a meet and greet at Barnacles Adventures, located in North Captiva.

We welcomed new folks and renters on the Island, and talked about the island and the many adventures that can be had while staying on the islands. We talked about fishing captains, dolphin tours and boat rentals. And let's not forget the guided kayak tours provided by yours truly.

With some wine, cheese and crackers on hand, we often met with visitors under the large tiki huts. We met some very nice families, and a good time was had by all. While they asked questions about the island and the wild life around here, one question from the crowd was, "What happens to all the dollar bills that are stuck up on the walls at Barnacle's Adventures?"

Deb Skinner, owner of this establishment, explained that, from time to time, the money is collected from the walls and then it is donated to fund research about the eastern indigo snake, a reptile that makes its home on the island. As the longest non-venomous colubrid snake in the eastern United States, this snake is listed as a federally threatened species in Georgia as well as Florida.

Guess what the biggest threat is for this type of snake. Can you guess? Here's the answer: this type of snake is frequently captured and sold for the pet trade.

During a tour with a family from out west, the two teens in the family rode together while their mother rode in a second kayak with a younger child. During the tour, the family enjoyed watching manatees and dolphins. We were on the water for close to three hours and everyone did well. I hope to see them again next year.

Last month we also did a tour for a couple of Cape Coral residents. We met at 11 am in Matlacha Community Park and stayed out about for more than two hours Because the woman was so petite, she sat in a small santee sit. The gentleman, however, was tall. He had never kayaked before and was not sure he wanted to go this time. So we put him in a Jackson sit on top, which was very sturdy for a guy his size. All in all, the lady returned to shore saying that she has found a new sport. Her male friend, on the other hand, might just stick to his golf cart and clubs.

I also heard from Lauree, one of my all-time favorite clients, at 5'2", she is a little power house. She is the energizer bunny in disguise. I have known her since I owned Gulf coast Kayak. When she comes to town to visit her family, she always gives me a call. So I put the word out to any of the places I worked, hoping to get a call if they had a tour for only one person and needed another person to go along. As it turned out, Gulf Coast Kayak had a family of four that wanted to see manatees on tour. When I called Lauree, she was up for the paddle. The morning of the tour, it was cold and I was not sure if that was the day for manatees, but we decided to give it our best shot. Soon after we got in the kayaks, the Manatee showed up alongside the kayaks.

Let me remind everyone that the past few months have been very hard on the Manatee. Even low concentrations of Red Tide can be lethal to sea life. Since September 2012, Red Tide has bloomed in coastal waters, from as far south as Marco Island and north to Tampa Bay. Red Tide is also known as Karenia Brevis. It is an odorless toxin, so the strong stench is created by the scent of decaying sea life, killed by Red Tide. Red Tide is not a new problem and it is not only limited to sea life. Folks with sensitive skin might develop rashes after being exposed to Red Tide. So if you feel itchy after contact with the water, thoroughly rinse off with soap and water. Toxins in the air may also cause a dry, irritating cough. When you leave the beach, uncomfortable symptoms will likely disappear.

On the other hand, what about the manatee? After all, they swim in contaminated waters and feed on contaminated grasses. Actually, a large number of manatees died last month. Several were found dead in the Mayakka River, as well as Lemon Bay and Sarasota Bay. In fact, manatees were in danger in all the waterways throughout Southwest Florida.

Thanks for paddling with Mel the Guide; 941-661-8229.



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