Island to Island Charters,
Key West: Daily Updates

Posts Tagged ‘Key west eco guide’

Key West: Sharks, Beaches, Sandbars, Sea Turtles

October 22nd, 2015

A family from New Jersey chartered me for a 6 hour trip on the water for a little bit of fishing, exploring & chilling on a sandbar. The weather was more than cooperative and I was really looking forward to a beautiful day. We started the day off well with a pod of dolphins playing around. I was pleased to hear the young boy, Jackson, admit he has never seen wild dolphins.

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After being amused by the dolphins rough housing each other we cruised to a channel to drop anchor and try our luck at fishing. Sometimes this channel produces & sometimes not so much. Generally light tackle fishing in the backcountry is better during winter months. It seems the bait fish come in & that brings our schools of larger fish to the channels. This time of the year should be when I start to see schools of Jacks, Bar Jacks, Ladyfish, Bluerunners. Both Jackson & his dad did catch Yellowtail Snappers, but not much else going on. So time to hit the sandbar.

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We traveled about 30 minutes west of Key West to an island on the Atlantic side with one of my favorite white sand bars. Usually I can find shallow water here regardless of the tides. More importantly the sand is amazingly soft. This is a great spot to introduce snorkeling to young kids & adults to get them comfortable with the gear. Jackson enjoyed swimming about looking for small fish and shells. His mother held his 18 month year old sister in the water while she splashed around. We were very fortunate to have some Southern Stingrays swim past us. Upon leaving the sandbar a Loggerhead swam right in front of the boat. My clients rarely get this amazing opportunity to enjoy the sight of such a magnificent creature because they are quite shy, incredibly fast, & blend well with their surroundings. This sea turtle was swimming over a white sand bar & not so quickly.

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Now it was time to head to the shipwreck and do some fishing. I was very happy to see large schools of fish swimming by. Jackson caught Grey Snappers, Blue Runners, Porgy, & a very large Bar Jack that gave him a heck of a fight. In the meantime his dad was struggling with losing bait & tackle to what we think is a large grouper at the bottom of the wreck. He didn’t have nearly the success Jackson did. Also we were lucky to observe lots of Barracudas, more stingrays & another Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

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We are so fortunate in the Florida Keys to be surrounded by beautiful waters for great fishing & encountering of marine life. We were headed back to Key West through the Lakes telling fish stories of course. I noticed something unusual floating in the water. To my surprise & shock when I got closer to see, it was a Bald Eagle. Thankfully it was still alive, but definitely struggling with being soaking wet & unable to fly. I called Tom at Key West Wildlife Center for advice. I didn’t have the necessary equipment to grab the Bald Eagle safely for me & my clients. She was absolutely huge & still very powerful. I then called Florida Wildlife Commission for them to retrieve the bird out of the water. We stayed close to her to protect her from predators until they arrived. With a large net & a towel, they successfully brought her on the boat. Truly one of the most wonderful experiences I have had on the water. My clients said the same. We are extremely fortunate to have such a great organization like Key West Wildlife Center in our community. She was released the following day in good health.

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A Chilly, but Beautiful Day!

February 27th, 2015

I had spoken to my customer, Tony the night before and I expressed concern about high winds and unusually low temperatures predicted for the day of our charter. I definitely am not a captain that takes clients out regardless of the weather. It is important to me that it be an enjoyable trip for everyone (me included). I guess you could call me a “fair-weather captain”. In the morning I called him and gave him the option to go out on the boat or not. The winds were a little less than predicted. He decided he & his family wanted to go. I am really glad now, knowing what a great trip it turned out to be! Tony & his wife & her parents visiting from China had never been to Florida before, much less cruising through the shallows, and mangrove islands of the Backcountry. They were amazed to say the least. The best part of where I go is even on a windy day I can usually find shelter behind the islands. Also since I travel through such shallow water, it is not real choppy.

I recruited my husband Tony, a charter boat captain as well, to accompany me on this trip. At the very start, lo and behold a large pod of dolphins playing in a area right off Key West. So much fun to watch them jumping around and investigating us on the boat. This was the first time my clients would see dolphins in the wild. This is one of my favorite things about what I do, introducing people to the extraordinary elements of Mother Nature at her best!

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We had to pull ourselves away from the dolphins because there was so much more to see. One good thing about a windy day is if you get to see the kite boarders surfing the flats. I always enjoy watching them perform maneuvers and jumps and catch some serious wind and fly across the water. I have a lot of respect for their sport, but no desire to learn it. I will stick with being a spectator.

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We came to our first island which is always full of a large variety of birds relaxing in the mangroves. We tried to do some fishing, but were not having much luck. After pointing out all the different bird species we left to the next island to hopefully have better luck fishing.

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While we were fishing one of my favorite spots, we probable saw at least 6 Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Amazingly they were quite large and enjoying floating on the surface. I think they were trying to warm themselves in the sun. The water temperatures dipped to almost a record low that week. My clients were thrilled with seeing this, another first for them. And miraculously we were able to catch some fish with the water being so cold. Especially since this was their first time fishing!

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We were having so much fun, but we were running out of time and I had one more place I wanted to show them. One of my favorite islands has a few narrow channels to cruise through and I can only get there on a high tide. It is positively beautiful boating through this island. I knew they would appreciate it and they did!

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On the way home we went exploring for stingrays in the shallows right next to one of the mangrove islands, instead we saw dozens of Barracudas. That was very cool. The water was quite clear and you could see them very well. My husband and I really enjoyed our time with these guys. In spite of the cold, we laughed a lot and they discovered a whole new world.

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A day to celebrate!

February 10th, 2015

Randy, Mike, and I enjoyed a day exploring the backcountry. We were very fortunate to have a beautiful, calm day to cruise around and take in the sights. Our only plans were to have a relaxing day. It was very cool to be a part of their first time in the ocean and seeing such amazing sights. I love being able to introduce people to the true beauty of the Keys. The shallow flats & mangrove islands just off the Keys are really something to see.

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We encountered all sorts of herons, pelicans, egrets, ospreys, & cormorants. We boated through small channels in the mangrove islands to get a close up view of them in their habitat. The ospreys have returned to their nests with their partners and have begun to lay eggs.

We drove to the next set of mangrove islands to stop at my favorite sand bar. I jumped on the white sand bar probably in no more than two feet of water. At that point they shared with me that they had never been in the ocean. How lucky was I to be a part of a significant moment in their lives. Hesitantly they followed me and were absolutely amazed to be standing in such shallow water in the Ocean for the first time in their lives! I think I almost cried. How awesome! As you stand and scan the surrounding water from the sandbar the colors vary from every shade of blue to green imaginable. It is truly a magnificent area. Rarely do I even see another boat while I am there. All you hear is the sound of birds.

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The next set of islands held a wonderful surprise for us. A pod of dolphins were feeding in the shallows all around us. We spent a significant amount of time watching their every move in utter amazement. (As you know they are one of my favorite things in this world)

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In addition to the fabulous display from our dolphin friends we saw Southern Stingrays as well.

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After losing track of time, we realized sunset was right around the corner. We found a sandbar just off Key West to chill out and watch the famous Key West sunset. Lucky for us it was completely unobstructed. We relaxed and discussed the highlights of the trip. Mike mentioned that he learned quite a bit about all the marine life. I learned about farming & being a bee keeper from them. Also how important it is to enjoy life. I could really tell they were celebrating it!

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Thank you Mike & Randy for allowing me to show you the beauty of the world I live in.

Key West Beaches & Sandbars

August 15th, 2014

I finally had the opportunity to head to a remote island with an endless white sandy beach at low tide with a family that chartered me. It was the parents and three grown kids. Upon arrival everyone was amazed at how gorgeous this area really is. We were the only boat there. It is an island in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge about 15 miles North East of Key West. The drive out there is through gorgeous mangrove islands and large white sand bars all along the way. One of the most picturesque places in the Florida Keys.

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This is also a perfect place to teach beginners how to snorkel. Shallow calm waters with a Coral hard bottom full of small tropical fish. In no time they had mastered snorkeling. I knew they would be comfortable when we snorkeled a reef. They even encountered a large Barracuda and didn’t flinch.

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After relaxing on the beach for a bit we continued their boat charter to more fabulous locations. We cruised the Gulf of Mexico to the next set of islands to explore one of my favorite sandbars. Immediately we saw a Bullshark in about 1 1/2 feet of water swimming quickly across the sandbar definitely on the scent of something. Also we saw large stingrays, a school of Bonefish (that we saw a shark chase after),& a large Nurseshark. Lots of activity on the Flats in the Florida Keys during a low tide. My favorite time to relax on the Hurricane deckboat and watch an array of marine life cross a white sand bar.

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We continued on past several mangrove islands back to the gulf to try our luck at dolphin watching. Key West dolphin watching is by far one of the best parts of my job. Amazingly we discovered them just off Key West towards the North a few miles. They were playing in about 10 feet of clear blue water. You can distinguish all their details as they swim by the boat. In this case we came across them wrestling and jumping out of the water having loads of fun. We even saw the younger dolphin calfs playing around, always an incredible sight.

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After sometime enjoying dolphin watching, we stopped another white sand bar to have lunch and enjoy the surrounding beauty. It is nice to charter a private boat charter to be able to do what you want when you want with the knowledge of an eco guide to show you amazing places just outside of Key West. And also not worry about driving. Just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride!

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At last everybody was ready to snorkel the patch reef. We saw large Stingrays, Barracudas, a small Nurseshark and lots of colorful tropical fish. For beginners they snorkeled very well, looked like pros. On the way back to Key West we stopped at a small shallow wreck to snorkel some more and they were surprised how it was loaded with fish. We have lots of snorkeling options in Key West, from patch reefs to all sorts of wrecks to mangrove islands to sponge beds. Key West snorkeling gives you alot of opportunity to view an array of marine life. It definitely is a great reason for a Key West vacation.

Key West Sand Bars

August 3rd, 2014

I was joined by two very fun couples celebrating their birthdays in Key West. They visit the island frequently, but haven’t had a chance to explore the beauty of the backcountry of the Florida Keys. We cruised East about 14 miles to a gorgeous white sand remote beach extending off a mangrove island into the Gulf of Mexico. This is the only beach in the area and only occurs during low tide. We were very fortunate to catch it at the best time.

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After enjoying the remote beach we explored mangroves and white sand bars looking for wildlife. We saw Stingrays, Bonnethead Sharks, Barracudas, Sea Turtles, Tarpon, & a nice size Bull Shark! The mangrove islands in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge our abundant with bird and marine life. It really is the ultimate escape from the real world to absolute beauty and tranquility. There are some days I don’t see another boat for hours. (It is too shallow for the larger cattle boats.) It is really worth taking a private boat eco charter to see what the Florida Keys really has to offer.

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At last it was time to go dolphin watching! We headed back towards Key West in hopes of finding the resident pod of dolphins. We were surrounded by endless blue crystal clear water and not another boat in sight. One of my favorite places to be! Another incredible moment of dozens of dolphins playing around the boat providing huge amounts of entertainment. My private charter had never experienced seeing dolphins in the wild. They were absolutely thrilled and could not belief how interested the dolphins were in us. They discovered how truly intelligent those creatures are!

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We thoroughly enjoyed the day of dolphin watching, relaxing on the beach, chilling on sand bars, and taking in all that nature has to offer! Lots of laughs and a decision to definitely do this again next time they are in town!

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Key West Fishing & Beaches

February 4th, 2014

A great day backcountry fishing for Jack Crevals and Snappers, saw a few sharks didn’t land any.  We had the pleasure of encountering a pod of dolphins along the way.  Gorgeous visibility and clear Key West blue skies.   We were out during low tide and came across white sand bars and an endless beach just 10 miles off Key West.  There was only two other boats quite some distance, so we enjoyed the secludedness.  We cruised around the mangrove islands looking for birdlife, stingrays, sharks, and barracudas.

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