Today I was lucky enough to get to spend a beautiful day out on a boat cruising around the Ten Thousand Islands of southwest Florida. Though it was fabulous, it wasn’t all fun and games. In fact, this is what some people call work..
We joined a crew from a neighboring state park, Rookery Bay Preserve, to help with their trawling, which they use to assess the impacts on marine wildlife that disruptions to the natural watershed in the area have caused.
For us this meant spending a day getting our feet wet (literally) by pulling a large net behind the boat then looking at the types and lengths of fish, crab, and shrimp that we brought in.
I never thought I would enjoy holding and measuring slimy flopping fish so much, but honestly it was a really cool experience. In addition to the variety of sealife I got to handle, it was also a great opportunity to observe an awesome array of birds – bald eagles, pelicans, cormorants and king fishers – just to name a few.
Since the trawling was slim pickings, due to the dry season, we finished the tough work early and got to explore one of the Ten Thousand Islands.
The island was built up by the Calusa Indians with oyster shells, a shell mound, to elevate it from the water. It was filled with all sorts of interesting plants, including the the native papaya.
And the Gumbo Limbo, also known as the tourist tree, because it’s bark is red and peeling, much like the skin of a south Florida tourist after spending too much time in the sun.
And some beautiful cacti.
Alas we had to head back to shore and leave the glistening waters behind us. But I would be more than happy to spend another day on this job.