Florida

Silver River Kayak Float

A second chance for the gators to eat me while floating in a kayak on my Florida vacation. This time, we are floating the Silver River at Silver Springs State Park. The big attraction here – there is a colony of monkeys that were introduced to the area by a tour operator in the 1930s (there is an urban legend that they were released during the filming of a Tarzan movie). There is a bit of a controversy surrounding the monkeys – they have been trapping and removing them from the area due to the health hazards they present.

On our quest to find the monkeys, we hoped to find some big gators to photograph, and to see other cool wildlife along the way.

We set this float up to be a round-trip drifting downstream a bit, and then paddling upstream to return to the cars. One disadvantage to this – you are working hardest against the current at the end of the day, but it did not turn out to be a big deal.

This is the launch at the upper end of the river.

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The float starts out in a bit of a backwater with very little current. It was a very pleasant paddle. The easy stuff made our trip into a loop…If we would have looped the other direction we would not have had to paddle upstream at all.

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Early on we saw this big turtle sunning on a log.

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More turtles

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There have been various tours operating in this area since the late 1800s. Along the shore were all sorts of old buildings that have not been used for quite some time.

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paddling down to the main river.

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Big tree with lots of moss.

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An American Anhinga drying it’s wings.

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A baby gator sunning on some grass. Almost missed him.

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While checking out the baby gator, this Little Blue Heron landed and started walking toward the baby gator. I stuck around to see if anything interesting would happen.

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Gator on the left, turtles and heron on the right. The bird did not get close to the gator.

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This is the main river…much larger than the last float.

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We met a nice guy who had paddled all up and down the river today and had not seen the monkeys. He recommended that we turn back upstream because the current was pretty tough. So, we ended our quest to find the monkeys. Turns out it wasn’t too bad for us. As he floated by, he pointed out this gator that we had missed on the shore.

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I’ve already posted Great Blue Heron shots…this one was kinda cool because I caught him ruffling his feathers.

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A Snowy Egret

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A bigger gator hanging out on some floating grass. Check out those teeth!

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This little gator smiled for the picture. I was surprised that the turtles would stick around so close to him.

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Biggest gator of the trip. He was near the headwaters at the spring, really close to the current resort.

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Big gator from a different angle.

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Manatees at Blue Springs State Park

We moved on from Wekiwa Springs State Park to go look at the Manatees. I’ve never seen a Manatee before and was told that most viewing locations you get to see a couple of blobs under the water which occasionally surface for air, at which point you can see their noses.

Blue Springs State Park is the exception to the rule. When the weather turns cold, the manatees move into the spring in large numbers to warm up. The spring water is crystal clear, so you can get a good view at large numbers of them. Unfortunately I left my circular polarizer at home, so some of the pictures have a bit of glare.

The springs also contain a large number of fish species as well. I believe this one is a Florida Gar.

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Manatee feeding on the bottom.

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There were all kinds of cool trees with moss hanging off of them. This is a shot with a manatee underneath.

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Momma and her baby (and a couple of other fish).

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at the park there was a blacksmith making various trinkets. He didn’t like me because I was wearing my Seahawks gear and he is a 49er fan.

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Heating up the rods so they can be bent. He was making triangle dinner bells while we were there.

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Tools for getting the job done.

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After watching the blacksmith, we looked at manatees some more. As you can see, there were quite a few there. They do a count every day and the day we visited the count was around 220, which is a bit on the low side.

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More fish, I think these are Tilapia.

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A manatee kiss

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Ok, this wasn’t at Blue Springs, but the next campground we stayed. He was hanging out right outside the RV door.

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Also took a short video of the Manatees.

Wekiwa Springs Kayak Trip

Well, it has been quite some time since I last updated my blog. For once, it is because I haven’t really been doing anything worth posting. That has changed this week as I’ve flown to Florida for a week to hang out with my parents in their RV.

Our first adventure on this trip was a kayak trip through Wekiwa Springs State park.My mom and dad did a bit of research before I arrived to determine the best drop off/pickup locations for the run. Since I had a rental car (and they towed their Jeep), we had two vehicles to set up for the drift (and didn’t have to deal with paying someone for a pickup).

The trip begins at King’s Landing…

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My kayak is an inflatable, so my mom and dad handled all of the vehicle logistics while I set my boat up. Here are the kayaks rigged and ready to go. In the background is the little shop at the King’s Landing launch…doesn’t really look like a castle Smile

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Took a picture of the launch while killing time for the car swap to be completed.

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Looks like there will be gators on the float.

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First gator of the trip!

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Still waiting to start…a hawk was hanging out and let me get pretty close for a picture.

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We finally started! There is a small waterway from the launch out to the river.

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The river itself was very narrow, and had lily pads up and down the sides. Looks like a good place for a gator to hide.

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The early part of the river is outside the state park and there are many run down houses and docks along the waterway. I was waiting for some spooky banjo music, but it never started.

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There were tons of turtles along the float. Many of them had cool orange or yellow on the bottom.

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A wide angle shot of the river as we enter the state park…you can see the entrance sign on the left. The river really never widened more than this.

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Went past a small group of American White Ibis.

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We would occasionally have to go underneath large branches or trees. This one looked like a big hand reaching across the river.

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The first real gator! We almost went right by him. I bet you go past ten of them for every one that you see.

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Drifted up pretty close to some Black Vultures. There are two of them in the picture if you look closely.

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Close up of a Black Vulture.

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Another shot that does a good job showing the feel of the river.

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A bigger gator hiding in the weeds.

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Near the end of our float, a Great Blue Heron posed for us.

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One final gator on the trip…nice smile!

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The river was so shallow that I could not use the skeg on my kayak. This made it tough to track straight or to zip through the twisties. So, I expended a bit more energy than I would have expected for a 9 mile float. I’d still do it again though!