Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dolphin Tour

Since our little man is a fan of sharks and ocean animals in general, we decided to do a dolphin tour run by the Banana Bay Tour Company. They had tours leaving the other islands but we did not want to get off Ft. Meyers to get there. As luck would have it, the boat leaving from Ft Meyers was at the dock managed by the hotel next to our condo.
We literally got out of bed, had breakfast and walked across the street. We chose a ½ day tour in search of dolphins, shells and a stop at Lover’s Key. 

Our boat was a covered pontoon with benches and picnic tables. The boat was enclosed so our little guy could walk about safely even in bare feet. Our captain and first mate were 2 of the most laid back and cool people we had met. They pointed out dolphins and large local birds nesting in the estuary, which I learned is where fresh water meets ocean salt water. This type of environment is abundant with sea life, which makes it ideal hunting grounds for wild dolphins that need to eat about 20 pounds of fish per day! We learned that dolphins hunt together to increase their chances of a catch. We also learned that unlike dolphins that are born and bred in captivity, the wild dolphins that we saw swimming would not have friendly since they would seek to protect their territory. The boat would sort of amble to one location and stop when we spotted animals. There was indescribable joy on the face of my son when one of these would crest the water.  We also saw a manatee, which we learned could stay under water for about 20 minutes, so we only saw him break the surface once. To his disappointment, we did not see any sharks but learned there were about 18 different breeds in the area. Our guides explained that the sharks only came out to hunt at night. I should mention we saw pelicans, an eagle and egrets too.  

Our amicable guides also pointed out eateries on the waterfront that the locals enjoyed including Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, based on the crime novels set in the area (find out this connection exactly), Nervous Nellies and the Dixie Fish Co. (which we did go to before the end of our trip). They also pointed out the shrimp fleet that made its way back to the Florida coast after spending some time in Texas. They told us that the best way to get cheap shrimp was to bring a cooler of beer in exchange for cheap shrimp since the ships were not allowed to bring alcohol in the open seas.

Shrimp boat fleet

We sailed for about an hour and a half before we picked up speed and headed to Lover’s key in the Gulf of Mexico. We docked for about an hour so we could swim and search for shells. For me, the tour was worth seeing this island since it was uninhabited and underdeveloped. The ocean was a brilliant emerald in the Florida sunshine.

Lover's Key

At the end of our tour, we ate our packed lunch on the boat and headed back to the dock. We were mighty impressed with our captain that parallel parked the pontoon.  

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