Getting Out on the Water with St. Augustine Eco Tours
Like many beach-loving children I grew up with a mild obsession for dolphins. I had dolphin books, dolphin stuffed animals, dolphin jewelry… the list goes on. I enjoyed seeing them at the aquariums and SeaWorld, however after watching The Cove & Blackfish my love for them grew even stronger. The Dolphin & Nature Eco Tour with St. Augustine Eco Tours is a great opportunity to non-invasively view dolphins and other marine life at a close distance. Children and adults can enjoy their presence and observe the animals in their own habitat, without intruding.
A family of dolphins that we saw swimming out into the ocean.
The Dolphin & Bird tour is an hour and a half relaxing, yet exciting boat ride. When my husband and I went we were riding along with a family with kids from out of state. There are between 300 and 500 dolphins in St. Augustine, counted by dorsal fin sightings. We saw at least 5 different pods and were even able to listen to them over an underwater microphone. We could hear them communicating with one another and also heard the crackling of pistol shrimp.
The microphone used to listen to the dolphins.
On our surprisingly smooth ride we also saw two bald eagles in a tree. I had brought along my own pair of binoculars,so I was able to take a long look at them, but the captain had a pair to share. There are over 1,500 bald eagles in Florida now. Still a rare sight, though it’s great that the guides know where to look for them.
Looking through the binoculars at the 2 bald eagles.
We were on the lookout for manatees too, but with the water a little too chilly for them in April we didn’t see any. Again the guide knew where they hung out, an area where fresh water is pumped into the Matanzas. With each oyster filtering a gallon of water an hour, cautious boaters and other eco conscious individuals say the cleanliness of the Matanzas River allows for a lot of marine life to inhabit St. Augustine’s waterways.
This box jellyfish was interesting to learn about too. When living, there is a little crab that lives in the jellyfish and kind of cleans up after him. If the jellyfish dies the crab will move on and find another jelly. The kids were able to touch this jellyfish because he wasn't alive and wasn't able to sting anyone.
St. Augustine Eco Tour guide holding the box jelly fish.
The boat ride went from the downtown marina out to the inlet then south down the intercoastal. From riding our own boat and fishing up and down the intercoastal in this area I thought I knew a lot about marine life in St. Augustine. I was really surprised by how much more I learned on this trip. Take your kids on this tour for a different view of St Augustine. Being on the water will allow for some awesome snapshots of our historic town from a different angle so don’t forget your camera. The bigger your cameras lens, the better to catch dolphin and birds on too!
View of downtown St. Augustine's bayfront from the boat ride.
Looking for more outdoor attractions by the water?
The Schooner Freedom: A scenic cruise or a ghost cruise, enjoy your ride on this 19th century 72' sailboat and take in the sights.
- Bay Ray Boat Rentals: Located in the Camachee Island Marina on Vilano Beach, rent a boat and take yourself around St. Augustine's waterways for an afternoon of fun in the sun and maybe some fishing.
- Action Kayak Adventures: Take a guided kayak fishing tour through the waterways that the bigger boats can't get too. Rods, bait, and coolers are included.
Local St. Augustine blogger Meaghan Alvarado is a Flagler College graduate who writes on many topics ranging from fashion and food to crafts and local St. Augustine happenings. Check back here at Augustine.com regularly to see the great events and activities Meaghan will be writing about next, and check out her personal blog at http://justmeaghan.com/.
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