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Did you know...

That Manatee’s are vegetarians and eat sea grasses and algae’s

That just about 40 percent of Florida's endangered and threatened species can be found in our estuaries?

About 80 percent of Florida's recreationally and commercially important fish, shellfish and crustaceans spend some part of their lives in the estuaries and back country areas, usually when they are young?

That a Flounder’s starts out vertical like most fish and their eye’s are on each side of their head at birth and then they migrate to the top of their head as their bodies turn to a more flatter orientation.

Turtle grass beds produce more organic material than any cultivated food crop?

Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in nature? Without them most of Florida’s wildlife would perish.

Mangroves

Red, black and white mangroves are vital to Florida's coast as the first stand of defense against storm surges, erosion and pollution. The mangrove forest provides nesting and nursery areas for hundreds of animals.

Black mangroves

Grow slightly inland of the red. The bark is much darker than the other mangroves, and the tree has flat, green, bean-like seeds. Clusters of small, white, sweet-smelling flowers tip most of the tree's shorter limbs.

Red mangroves

Can be found in and near the water. Usually at the lowest tide level and they have cell membranes in their roots and lower most limbs to filter the salt. The root system of the Red Mangroves provides food, habitat and security for almost 70 percent of our area’s sea creatures.

 

White mangroves

Are found at higher elevations and have regular treelike roots that are exposed. The bark is much lighter in color. The leaves are round and thick. White mangrove are leaves equipped with a gland that secrete salt. This allows them to take in saltwater and use it and discard the unused salts.

Tidal Flats

Tidal flats are frequented by shore bound and wading birds as feeding and resting areas. They usually consist of beaches, spoil islands, shoal areas and mud flats. These are extremely vital to crabs, oysters, clams, and worms. These provide area’s for the growth of algae to begin and flourish.

Mud Flats

Leaves that fall from the mangrove trees year round break down on decay in the soil. This organic material becomes food for many of our small animals, which are in turn are food for our other predator species on the food chain. When the tide comes in and covers the flats it brings with it Red fish and other fish that feed on the many crustaceans and smaller fair. Wading shore birds love the opportunities that the mud flats provide.

Sea Grasses

Sea grasses are as important to the survival of a estuary as air is to our survival. They provide a filtering system and produce much needed oxygen. Sea grass leaves provide structure and protective cover for small marine animals. They also provide food for other animals, such as the manatee. Six species of sea grasses live in Florida's estuaries and can be seen on our tours and trips.

 

Shoal grass

These grasses grow in shallow, undisturbed areas forming lush green beds with 18 inch narrow flat leaves. We have seen large groups of shrimp in these grasses in the summer months.

Turtle grass

 is Florida's most abundant of the underwater grasses. The flattened leaves are thicker and wider than that of the shoal grass leaves. We find that Spotted Sea Trout love to frequent these grasses and they provide cover, ambush spots, and a array of food sources.

Manatee Grass

  The leaves are slender and cylindrical and reach lengths of three feet or more. As the name implies, it is a favorite food of the manatee. Please tilt your motors and or raise them when in shallow waters on our Florida coasts. Prop scars are scars or rows of damage that your will see when kayaking. These are easy to see they look like bare dugout out bald paths in our grass beds.

Even when kayaking, take care when deploying your anchor and retrieving it. Retrieve it gently and do not just pull and tear out what ever grasses it is stuck on. You can usually lightly pull your self over to your anchor and then left straight up on it and get it released.

Johnson's Sea Grass

 This grass has a thin elliptical paired type leaf and is usually a few inches in length with a mid vein. this grass is a slow grower, and will take a long time if at all to recover from environmental damage and or boaters.

Paddle Grass

This grass has paired leaves like Johnson's grass with very small serrated edges and a shorter,  more broader profile. Hence the name “paddle grass”.

Star Grass

This grass has two to sometimes four pairs of elliptical leaves on the end of a one-and-one-half-inch stem, resembling a star. We have found large concentrations of Horseshoe Crabs mating in and among these grasses.

Our Rookery Islands

More than a dozen species of wading and water birds make their homes and raise their young and feed in shorelines of the area's islands. In recent survey’s they have found that more than 190 nests were counted on just four rookery islands, with 16 separate species observed. These are usually easy to spot by kayak as most of them have white stains on the leaves of the plants and trees from the birds relieving themselves while at rest in the branches of the trees.

The Deep-Water Areas

With all of the shallow water the deeper cuts in our passes, channels, rivers and creeks are critical areas for tides to flush debris and food around. This is necessary to maintain a healthy estuary. These passes allow predator fish and mammals passage in and around our bays.

Our Oyster Bars

Oyster bars convert plankton and broken down matter into animal proteins. They are like little filters that live on our flats and shallow water areas. Oyster bars allow for a unique habitat space to be inhabited by small fish, crabs and invertebrates. We usually see Red fish, snapper and lots of pin fish when kayaking in and around oyster bars.