· Our kayaks have never been tipped by a manatee. That being said, they are very strong and can swat their tails 22 miles per hour! They can travel at speeds up to 15 mph.
· Do not be afraid if a manatee goes under your kayak. We are in their environment, and they know how to maneuver around us.
· They may bump or follow you and consider yourself lucky if they do. That means they like you!
· Manatees breathe air and must surface to breathe approximately every three to five minutes when traveling or eating. Manatees rest from 2 to 12 hours a day either suspended near the water's surface or lying on the bottom, usually for several hours at a time & only coming up for air occasionally.
· A manatee cannot turn its head sideways—it must turn its whole body around. That’s why when you encounter manatees, they swim all around you to take in what they are seeing. They are very curious!
· Although the average adult manatee is 10 feet long & weighs about 1000 pounds, manatees can grow to 13 feet long and 3500 lbs.
· The manatee’s closest land relative is the elephant. There are 3 types of manatees: Amazonian, African, and West Indian. Florida manatees are the West Indian Manatees. They are sometimes referred to as Sea Cows or Floaty Potatoes. Female manatees are ready to mate at 3-5 years of age; males, 5-7 years. The gestation period for the West Indian Manatee is about a year.
· Manatees are herbivores which means they only eat plants. Their favorite meal is seagrass, but they will also munch on mangrove plants. A manatee can consume from 4 to 9 percent of its body weight in aquatic vegetation daily. Manatees love to drink fresh water.
· Manatees cannot regulate their body temperature. They stay in the warm waters of SWFL most of the time. In the winter, they migrate to warmer waters. Surprisingly that is sometimes north. Mid-Florida is known for its springs that stay between 72-74 degrees year-round. They also migrate to places like our nearby Manatee Park in Fort Myers. They do so because the river is fed by runoff from the power plant and the waters are warmer. Manatee Park is a GREAT place to kayak in the winter and if you enjoy this experience, we highly recommend Manatee Park. Manateekayakingcompany.com can set you up with kayaks.
· Barnacles (found mostly on coastal dwelling manatees) often leave round scars from attachment sites; movement from saltwater to freshwater habitats clears the animals of these saltwater hitchhikers.
· The only “true” way to determine the age of a manatee is by the bones in its inner ears, which grow similar to tree rings! However, in our experience, sometimes you can tell a young manatee from an older manatee is by the “stripes” on their backs. The stripes are scars left by boats. Manatees are slow moving and cannot get out of the way of boats quickly.
· The manatee has no natural predator. Their most dangerous enemy is man.
· Other than injury by boats, loss of habitat and starvation are the most serious threats facing manatees today. Sea grass is being killed by pollution and mangroves are being cut down by people.
· However, most manatees survive and live a beautiful life in the waters of SW Florida. It is believed that manatees can live 60 years or more.
· We hope you get to encounter manatees on your excursion today! You can learn more about manatees at savethemanatee.org.
· If you look upward, you may see a very noisy bird that resembles an eagle. That’s an osprey! They are smaller but look a lot like an eagle. They are a type of hawk. When you get near the nest, the male warns the female by chirping loudly. Eagles make their nests in trees while Ospreys choose very high homes like power poles. Their nests are HUGE!
· Ospreys love the island and live all along the waterways because they catch fish in their talons to feed their young.
· Dolphins in St. James City like to feed along the sea walls. If you see a lot of activity or splashing along a sea wall, it’s probably a dolphin.
· Dolphins like to hang out at high tide when the fish are coming in. Ask your guide for tide times or look them up on the Nautide App.
· Pine Island has a resident dolphin that has many affectionate names such as “Uno.” He has one pectoral fin and hangs out at the dock at Jug Creek Marina at the north end of the island in Bokeelia.
· Both types of our Bonafide paddle kayaks, the SS127 and RS117, are incredibly stable at 33.5" wide.
· The Bonafide kayak seats are great to pull out and use as beach chairs. Ron would be happy to guide you to a local island only accessible by boat for a beach trip!
· The SS127 features the incredibly comfortable HiRise™ kayak seating system. The ultra high-back seat allows you to sit with your knees bent, taking pressure off of your lower back. If you want to really dig in and cover some distance, the SeatRack™, and foldable seat frame allow quick and quiet conversion to a lower position.
· With a Hybrid Catamaran hull, the RS117 is a very standable platform that offers an excellent balance of stability and paddling performance. Add in the top-notch deck layout with all day comfort stadium seating and the RS117 is the perfect boat to get you out on the water, paddling and fishing, with friends and family!
· Featuring YakAttack GearTracs, our Bonafide kayaks give you the ability to have your gear out of the way but always within reach. It’s the comfort and ergonomics that enable long days on the water when fishing.
· Ron offers Yak Attack gear to use on his fishing tours as well as YakAttack products for purchase.
· The Hobie Mirage Lynx is a new type of hybrid kayak. It can be used for pedaling or paddling or both. The seat, rudder, and pedal drive can be removed to use as a stand-up paddle board. They are great for standing to spot manatees, fish, rays, and the occasional turtle in our waters.
· The Lynx is incredibly maneuverable and can turn on a dime.
· Hobie has provided the best seat in the house on the Lynx, designed for comfort with breathable, mono-mesh, and elevated to keep you dry all day.
· During our guided tours, you will learn how to use the Mirage 180 drive that allows you to pedal in reverse.
· Should you decide to purchase a Lynx, you will be happy to know that it is incredibly light to transport at only 47 lbs. You can learn more and check out all the specs at hobie.com/kayaks/mirage-Lynx.
· If you are interested in buying a kayak and are local, please visit Estero River Outfitters in Estero, FL.
· If you are not local, I highly recommend Strictly Sail & Kayak (strictlysailinc.com).
· If you took a motor tour (yay you!), you can visit TexasPowerPaddle.com for more info.
A popular tour for experienced paddlers is Picnic Island.
*Picnic Island is a 7.4-acre spoil island that is under the jurisdiction of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The island is located near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, northeast of the Sanibel Causeway and about a mile from St. James City on Pine Island. It’s a stop on the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile canoe and kayak trail that works its way through the area’s coastal waters and inland tributaries. The water generally offers a sandy bottom, but water shoes are always a good choice in case of rocks or sharp shells that may be underfoot.*
You will kayak 3 miles to the island where you can spend an hour or two swimming, wading, shelling & enjoying this sunny beach in Southwest Florida. You will then be guided back to our starting location at Apex Aqua Adventures behind the Pine Island Bait Shop. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks, drinks (including water), sunscreen & a towel.
Picnic Island is a dog-friendly beach so you will often see dogs frolicking and playing in the water. If you decide to bring your seasoned paddling companion, know that it gets really hot on the kayaks so take that into consideration when planning to bring Fido. Bring lots of water.
It's a longer tour so inexperienced kayakers are not recommended.
*Information courtesy of Newspress.com*