WILDLIFE

Here you find information on our diverse ecological systems we have here in Southwest Florida. This info below will serve as a menu of the wildlife that you will experience and see out on a trip with us. Please enjoy the information and keep our waterways clean of litter and discarded fishing lines. If you have a special hankering for photographing or seeing any of the listed wildlife let us know, and we will do our best to acommodate your request.
 
 
 MANATEES:

These mammals are sensitive to cold. When the Gulf of Mexico’s temperature is 68 or below, look for them inland along the Caloosahatchee River, and around Lee County’s Manatee Park. When water is warmer, keep a lookout throughout Estero Bay and Pine Island Sound area. Manatees are curious and will often approach kayakers and kayak anglers.

Manatees reach an average size of about 10 feet and can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds. Their distant cousins to the elephant and this is evident in their grayish-brown skin and the toenails which are visible on the edges of their flippers. Like all mammals, manatees have lungs and must surface to breathe. They do this every five minutes or so when active. While resting or sleeping manatees can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes.

Although most are solitary creatures, It is possible to see groups of manatees swimming or feeding together. These groups are typically smaller,  and usually in numbers of four or five at the most. Larger groups of a dozen or more are sometimes spotted. We have seen many of these large groups in the Pine Island Sound area. It’s illegal to feed or touch manatees. Watch from a distance so as not to alter their behavior and cause them to abandon a favorite area of theirs. To report an injured, dead, harassed or orphaned manatee, call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or call us and we will contact the FWC for you.

ALLIGATORS:

Pine Island Sound and most gulf waters are coastal, with salt water. We do have over 450 miles of canals in Cape Coral, and about 40% of these are freshwater. If you are kayaking in a freshwater area of Florida it is advisable to not tether or tie your fish catch to the side of your kayak. This will provoke them into thinking you are offering food. The months of May threw June are nesting and mating times, Alligators will be more apt to aggression during these months and should be given a wide berth when kayaking by them. The Caloosahatchee River has a high volume of fresh water and you may see Alligators there also. Alligators tend to ignore paddlers or submerge themselves until paddlers have passed. At Kayak Charters we even wade and fish in Alligator infested waters and have no problems. There are more scared of you then you can ever be of them. Most attacks occur during the mating months and because there area was disturbed or invaded in some way.

DOLPHINS:

Lee County and Southwest Florida are home to one of the highest concentrations of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in the United States. Dolphins are curious and playful and often come quite close to kayakers. The dolphins here are an average of nine feet long and weigh in at about 500 pounds. They have distinct home ranges – areas of water in which they spend most of their time – so the individuals you see in the bay live here year-round. They often can be seen teaching there young ones how to hunt and feed on fish. We have seen them rounding up schools of fish so their kids can learn and feed on food source. The Matlacha area has some resident Dolphins that can usually be seen year round.

SEA TURTLES:

It’s possible to see them year-round, but sea turtle nesting and hatchling season begins May 1 and ends Oct. 31. Five species can be found in the Gulf of Mexico region: loggerhead (most common), Kemp’s Ridley (most endangered), green (occasional), leatherback (occasional) and hawksbill (occasional). All are protected. Please when frequenting our beautiful sandy beaches do not disturb any mounds or nests that these turtles are using to raise their young on. Most of the nests are cordoned off with fencing or tape of some sort, by our local sea turtles rescue and care organizations. Florida is really trying to protect and educate the people to how scarce them beautiful creatures are becoming. Please help by picking up any discarded fishing lines you may find in your travels.

SHARKS:

Southwest Florida’s estuaries and back country area’s are like a nursery for shark pups (Young adolescent sharks). Thirteen species of sharks grow up here. Sharks typically are not a danger to paddlers; kayak anglers should be careful when catching and releasing sharks. Despite what many people think a lot of the different species of sharks are endangered. Please release these beautiful creatures without harm, as they are important to our ecological systems. You can see the Bull and Tiger shark many of our bays and passes. These are known to be the more aggressive species of sharks we have here in southwest Florida.

BIRDS:

More than 300 species can be found in southwest Florida throughout the year. Among those we typically see are:

Heron: Low tide is the time to go if you want to see these birds feed. Name it and it probably lives here – yellow-crowned night herons, black-crowned, great blue, little blue, green and tricolored

Egret: reddish, great, snowy.
 

Ibis: white, glossy.
 

Roseate spoonbills:These elusive blush-colored beauties are sensitive to humans, so if you stumble upon one, keep a farther distance than you might for other birds.

Wood stork
Osprey:

These fish hawks love to nest atop channel markers and other pilings. Their young’s fuzzy heads start appearing in spring, offering Hallmark shots. Tip: If you’re shooting a nest atop a channel marker, take care to not drift into the powerboat channel.

Bald eagle: America’s Bird in seen all over southwest Florida
 

Frigate
Kingfisher
 

Woodpecker: pileated, red-bellied and others.
 

Red-shouldered hawk
 

Terns (any and all kinds)
 

Gulls (any and all kinds)
 

Anhinga : a diving bird.
Cormorant: a diving bird.
 

Pelican (brown year-round, white in winter)Brown pelicans live in Lee County year ’round. White pelicans migrate in for winter and spring.

 

Other Wildlife Includes:

Raccoons: They can be seen feeding at the water’s edge or climbing in the trees in and along our shorelines.

Wild Hog’s and or Boars: These have be known to be fierce and not afraid of humans. Give these animals a wide berth and resist the urge to come in close quarters with them.

Snakes: We have several poisonous species of snakes here in southwest Florida. The Water Moccasin, Corral Snake and Pigmy Rattle to name a few. Always use caution in and around areas that may have snakes.