Mangrove Tunnel Tour, Palmetto, Florida Dec 4, 2012

My father-in-law owns a trailer in Florida, and due to health problems, he decided to rent it out this year. My wife and I decided to go down for a week to clean it up and get it ready. We couldn't go to a state with so much water without taking some time to go kayaking. I contacted Shan-T Native Kayak Tours to tour the Mangrove tunnels in Emerson Point Preserve near Palmetto.

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Vicki sprained her wrist a couple of weeks ago, so she didn't want to make it worse by kayaking. Other than the guide, an older couple were the only other paddlers in the group. It was a wonderfully warm day with temps in the mid 80's and partly cloudy skies.
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The water was very still. The only current was the incoming tide.
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The paddle started down a narrow channel before entering the mangrove tunnel.

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The exposed roots and overhanging branches teamed with little black crabs that scurried away as we approached. They were a bit camera shy.

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 After paddling a couple hundred yards, the tunnel opened into Terra Ceia Bay.

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 The water was very calm, and with only a slight headwind the paddling was easy.There were several osprey in the surrounding trees, and brown pelicans everywhere.

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We crossed a couple of hundred yards of open water to get to Emerson Bayou. The water was mirror flat, broken only by the occasional mullet jumping.

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We passed through another short narrow mangrove tunnel that was very difficult to find, and entered a large shallow lagoon. We explored the lagoon, finding several conch snails and their egg sacks on the lagoon floor. The whole area was full of wildlife.
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We paddled back out into Emerson Bayou after about an hour of exploring. It could be very easy to miss the passage if you didn't know where it was.
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View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from the bay.
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The wind at our backs made the paddle back a little easier.
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Re-entering the mangrove tunnels on the way back to the launch site. Another difficult to find passage that without a guide would have made it impossible to explore.
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About a 2-1/2 hour paddle. We learned a lot about the area, and may return here next year and do some more exploring. If I do return here, I will need to invest in a GPS.

Miles paddled: 2.7. Year to date miles: 265.6
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