Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dolphins, Alligators, and Hitchhikers

Some photos and video from our trip between Crawl Key and Cape Sable in Southwestern Florida. It should be noted that you have no phone service for most of the way between these two locations.

It's impossible to overstate the amount of crab pots in the Gulf of Mexico along the West coast of Florida. I am told that if you go more than 20 miles offshore that you will avoid them, but these pots were over 20 miles offshore and in 26 feet of water. Some of them are so tightly packed together that it's like a minefield. Some of them have anchor lines that are too long and the line lays just a foot or two under water at a flat angle.Sometimes it's impossible to navigate between them as a result and you have to go way out of your way to go around but, as you can see, sometimes the lines can stretch for a mile or more.

I walked over a half dozen of these tracks, distracted by looking for shells, before I realized what I was seeing. These gators are huge. The tracks left the mangrove thickets and crossed the sand to the water, then return tracks were evident. I have to do more research on these reptiles, but I would not want to meet one in person. This is not a place to take a moonlit walk on the beach!

This gator was going from the water back to the mangroves

Two tracks side-by-side, one going toward the water and one returning.

This guy stopped to take a break. You can see the print from the scales on his belly where he rested it in the sand.

I laid y sunglasses by this footprint so you could get a feel for just how large these gators are.

While seeing the gator tracks up close and personal was amazing, I much prefer my sweet, happy companions, the dolphins. These bottlenose ran with us for over an hour. Some of them were the largest bottlenose we've ever seen and they were jumping completely out of the water.

We had a Least Tern spend part of the day with us on the bow pulpit. He took a rest and groomed his feathers,
but when we brought the jib in he took off.

If you're tired of sunset progression pictures, then move on. I never tire of watching the sun go down from the boat.


Chuck said...

the crab and lobster pots are horrendous. We found them continuously from Alabama to Northern Maine. In Maine; the y sometimes completely blocked the navigation channels between rocks. There was nothing to do but plow through them. We heard daily distress calls from boats that had fouled pots.

I wouldn't think of cruising the East coast in anything but a full keel, attached rudder, and enclosed prop.

Chuck Jones

Carl said...

Love the the track pics, keep it up, miss you guys

Unknown said...

love the pics!