What I like about Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company are the quality of boats they offer and the respect they have for wildlife. Check out their policy on manatees. What makes things hard is they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
So, it was Wednesday morning when we met with Matt to drive to Ozello. Ozello is an unincorporated town on the gulf coast. We'd be exploring a shallow bay and various mangrove islands. Much of the land, and many of the islands are a part of the Crystal River State Park Preserve.
The road to Ozello is a small and twisty offering occasional glimpses of water. Single ornaments were hung on various trees along the route, as if a seasonal Hansel and Gretel had marked the trail to safely return home. More impressive, if less seasonal, was the presence of Roseate Spoonbills in one of the marshes.
Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company has a variety of kayaks for rent, we requested touring boats. I had an Eddyline Fathom, Matt the Eddyline Raven and Mark the Eddyline Nighthawk. Paddles were a choice of Bending Branches or H2O's. Mark used his Northern Light Paddle.
Unfortunately the skies were gray so undersea viewing was limited. On the plus side, skies were gray and the day was cool, making it ideal for paddling a swift kayak.
We had just a spot of sunlight, which allowed me to see this orange sponge amidst the Sargasso seaweed, but not to get a great shot.
We were hanging around Bird Key when Matt spotted a distant flash he identified as dolphin. A half mile later we came upon a dolphin fishing in the shallows. Dolphins use various techniques to fish, the methods change by region. Matt was planning a trip to see where dolphins threw themselves on land to catch fish. In the Crystal River area dolphins often herd fish into dead ends or use tail strikes to stun fish. Initially he thought that's what this dolphin was doing, but on closer observation, and spotting the pectoral fins, he thought perhaps the dolphin was just swimming sideways and using its tail to drive it into the seagrass to catch fish hiding there.
|Dolphin with blowhole surfacing|
We observed the dolphin for awhile, at one point the dolphin surfaced and eyed the kayaks, before moving a short distance away to continue eating.
|I like the juxtaposition of the dolphin against the distant power plant|
|Dolphin again, this time the pectoral fin|
|Matt talking about an island|
|A tiny seastar|
|Just a few pelicans|
|We launched from the white spot, the area is a maze of islands.|