Key West Adventure-Mangrove Kayak

January 20 Mangrove Kayak (just phone pics)

I booked a two hour kayak tour with Lazy Dog at Hurricane Hole on the Overseas Highway. 

The sunrise wasn't, so I was a bit worried about my kayak tour getting cancelled. It was raining then sprinkling then it cleared up. But it was still very gray.

I took a Lyft to the Lazy Dog and met with Heather our eco-tour guide. She paddle boarded while we all kayaked. She briefed us on how to hold the paddles, and how to steer (some folks really needed the lessons-most were experienced kayakers)

There was a manatee right near our launch but by the time the other people finished looking at it…it was gone. But I did see a Grey Heron as we started to paddle.

The first thing Heather showed us was sea star. She gathered us all up near a patch of mangroves and lowered her net. She gently scooped up the sea star and handed the net around for everyone to check out the echinoderm.

I saw a Great Blue Heron as we started to paddle away from the sea star. 

We take a left down a canal and Heather spots a group of nurse sharks sleeping on the bottom. "They are using sponges as pillows" she tells us. I couldn’t get a good photo with the current in this channel. But believe me they were there.

As we crossed the channel that runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, Heather spots an osprey on top of a sailboat mast. She tells us "Now you've paddled in the Gulf and the Atlantic-no bad for a day on the water."

We head into Riviera Canal, oh my, the houses are huge and elegant. We turn left into one of the many mangrove tunnels.

As we come through the tunnel, Heather points out what she calls “Key West Snow Flakes”. 

They are really the Cassiopeia Jellyfish. There are thousands of them and each one is different, just like snowflakes. They are upside down jellyfish and are often mistaken for a sea anemone.

She scoops one up and we get to hold it. Very slimy.

A couple of more mangrove tunnels and were ready to head back. But not before Heather explains about mangroves and how they survive in such salty water and how they are the glue that keeps Key West together in storms. On each branch one leaf will collect all the salt siphoned from the water and turn yellow and die. "They take one for the team" she said.

All mangrove trees share two reproductive adaptations – viviparity and propagule dispersal. Similar to terrestrial plants, mangroves reproduce by flowering with pollination occurring via wind and insects. 

Once pollination occurs, the seeds remain attached to the parent tree. They germinate into propagules before dropping into the waters below. This ability is referred to as “viviparity”. 

The propagules either take root in the sediments near the parent tree or are dispersed with the tides and
currents to other shorelines.

Right before we pass under the bridge, we find two iguanas in the trees. They were well camouflaged. Very hard to photograph with my cell phone.

Then we see another nurse shark near a box labeled “High Level Radio Frequency Energy Area” on which two cormorants are drying off. 

And not to be left out, we see three brown pelicans, one a juvenile.

Back at the dock we all thank Heather for a fantastic day on the water and head off to our next adventures.

I grab a Lyft back to the hotel and meet Jay for lunch at the Cheekie Hut Bar. 

Today I try the Mahi Fish Street Tacos-really good. With a salad. 

I even get Jim the bartender to make me a Hemingway Daiquiri-it was just what I need to get me ready for the rest of the day.

Jay and I decided to walk up to the Seaside Grocery to pick up some more cheese and crackers for tonight's carpet picnic and it starts to DOWNPOUR. 

We are soaked to the bone. But we grab our provisions and walk back to the hotel in sunshine. I do a load of laundry to dry our dripping wet clothes and we’re back on schedule. 

Cocktails because “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere”

More photos: CLICK HERE

Key West Adventure Photos and Videos: CLICK HERE

Tomorrow: Sunrise, Blue Heaven lunch, Sunset


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Nancy Nutile-McMenemy is an Upper Valley freelance photographer and writer who loves to paddle, hike, attend concerts and local events in and around Weathersfield and the Upper Valley.

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