Merritt Island Florida
These photos are from our September, 2005 visit to Merritt Island, near
Titusville, Florida. Hurricane Ophelia had just left the area. We
drove on the Black Point Wildlife Drive and did 2 kayaking trips, one
daytime trip and a nighttime paddle. We also visited the Kennedy
Space Center. Our kayak trips were
with a great guide named Mike Mahan. Mike was knowledgable, and
able to accomodate our trips with little advance notice.
We found the manatees in a cove by a boat ramp... The manatees were
pretty outgoing, and after a few minutes, they came up to our boats,
nudging them, and looking to get their backs scratched. As Mike
put it, where else can you go where an endangered species comes up and
rubs against your leg? The night time paddle was just as
amazing. We started off at dusk, and watched as flock after
flock of different birds congregated on one island. Pelicans,
Herons, Ibis, Comerants, Fish Crows, Egrets, all roosting close
together on the same
small island. The sight (and sound!) was really something.
As we were watching the birds, we noticed a pod of
dolphins, so we paddled out to get a closer look. There were
about 10 dolphins, including at least 2 very small young ones. We
watched them play for a while, and got lots of good views, some as
close as 20-30 feet.
As it got darker, we paddled back closer to shore and started to see
the bioluminescence come out. We've seen this before, but
never this bright. The bioluminescence of seawater comes from the
tiny algae named dinoflagellates. These glow when disturbed, such
as from paddle strokes, splashing, waves, and most incredibly, from
fish and other animals in the water. As we paddled, it
looked like someone was dumping buckets of blue-green cylume stick
liquid into the water with each stroke. As we came into areas
with schools of fish, it looked like dozens of blue-green bottle
rockets shooting off in all directions. A crab swimming by was
completely glowing from the agitation of its limbs
sweeping through the water.
In addition to the photos below we also saw frogs, lizards, lots
of butterflies, some amazingly large spiders, and an adorable screech
owl. We'd certainly visit this area again, and can
recommend it to others. Just be sure to bring lots of bug
spray! The mosquitos were out in force when we visited.
Photos Copyright 2005, Andy Welter