GPS 25.785710, -81.415130
I took some friends, Brenda and Dave, and their friends from Canada on a trip of exploration to Chokoloskee at the southernmost entrance of the Everglades National Park. The entire Federal and contiguous State park and reserve areas comprise 3 million acres of park land. For more than three hours we went on a guided excursion in an open flat bottom motorboat to tour a small area of the Ten Thousand Island region near the entrance. We crossed Chokoloskee Bay into Indian Key Pass and boated through some of the mangrove islands of Everglades National Park.
The early January morning was cool and overcast but gradually warmed over the next three hours. It was spectacular! The water was flat and the guide was pleasant, knowledgeable, and navigated the tricky waters well. We started at low tide and departed the area as the tide waters returned.
At first glance it was still, silent, and not especially interesting. As we moved along toward the Gulf there was more to see. Five species of animals were obvious. Mangrove covered sandy islands were always within easy sight. Then the guide started to point out the highlights.
Below are photos of the five most interesting things to see.
Racoons: Perhaps an otherwise unclassified small, salt tolerant raccoon are unique to this area.
Pelicans: Juvenile yearlings
Osprey: Nesting male and female
Dolphins: The bottle-nosed dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), were seen throughout the trip but were most visible as the group of four rode the boat’s bow wave on the return leg of our trip. This was the most interesting part of the trip for our guests because the animals were very close, active, and seemed to enjoy the playful moment. The dolphins often live together in family packs who share company, work and play together.
Eagles: One seen in a nest but were too far to photograph as were cormorants.
We did walk onto one of the islands where some of the First Nations People lived and worked. There was evidence that they fished, hunted, made pottery goods, and traded in the area.
It is time to explore more of this immense parkland right in our backyard !
We had an excellent lunch of fresh caught Stone Crab Claws at the Havana Café of the Everglades. No the crabs are not killed and they released to regenerate the lost claw. GPS 25.81672, -81.35971
#Everglades National Park #Everglades #Raccoon #Pelican #Osprey #Dolphins #mangroves #islands #Stone Crabs
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