Let me paint a picture for you…The water is flat calm around you, there is not a soul in sight, and the only sounds that you hear are those of wading birds and jumping fish. As the sun rises over the horizon, a manatee meanders by and surfaces not 100 feet from you. Life could not be more serene.
You are Paddling! Kayaking and other paddle sports allow us to experience the coastal marine environment in a unique way. They offer increased opportunity for viewing wildlife for several reasons-there is no engine noise to deter animals, and with the slower pace of a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, you are more likely to be observant of your surroundings. Paddle sports are also a great form of exercise.
Kayaking and Canoeing can be combined with many activities that you already enjoy-fishing, bird watching, geochaching, spending time with friends and family, and exploring the great outdoors. You do not have to own your own gear or be an expert to enjoy a day paddling on the water. Tampa Bay is home to many reputable companies who rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. Many outfitters also offer lessons from beginner to advanced, as well as provide guided tours.
Weedon Island is home to a 4-mile marked loop paddling trail that will lead you through mangrove tunnels and over seagrass flats. On Saturday, June 13th join Join Libby Carnahan, UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant Agent, and Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Extension Agent, Brian Niemann, for a 2-hour guided canoe program at Weedon Island Preserve. While we paddle, we will cover a portion of the trail, learning about the coastal habitats including the mangrove forests and seagrass flats, as well as the wildlife that call these places home. Register online for this low-cost program at https://paddlethepreserve.eventbrite.com.
Other trails in our region will take you to Intracoastal spoil islands and sandy beaches. For a comprehensive list of paddling trails around Tampa Bay, as well as helpful safety tips, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Paddling Trails webpage, http://ocean.floridamarine.org/boating_guides/tampa_bay/pages/paddling_trails.html