Tag Archives: turtles

In search of Florida Wildlife…

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We LOVE canoeing on central Florida rivers – they are usually warm due to being sourced from a spring and chock full of a wide assortment of wildlife. We’ve had 2 fun days of paddling so far, with more to come in January when the manatees are back in full force.

Our first paddle was up near Ocala in the Silver Springs area. Grandpa Bob had a canoe race so we came along in hopes that we would get the see the elusive monkeys. On our last trip here we found plenty of turtles and alligators but only one monkey – even though we came armed with a full bag of marshmallows, which is what they seem to love.

The weather was fairly grey, misty and cool for our paddle so we had to amuse ourselves with bird spotting as it just wasn’t warm enough for the cold blooded animals to get out and sun themselves. By the end of our paddle we found a few turtles but definitely slim pickings! We also struck out on the monkey sightings and came home with a full bag of marshmallows!

The next day we headed up to the Weeki Wachi River in search of some early season Manatees. With the weather having been so warm in November we weren’t hopeful but had to go and look anyways! We came across a mom and baby fairly early on our paddle up the river (grey blobs in the photos) and were excited that there might be more along the way. Lots of looking but no luck as we headed up to our favourite swimming hole…

About 2/3 of the way up the river there is a really deep hole on a right corner bend. Historically we have jumped off the small wooden pad on river right but were excited to discover that someone had created a whole new level of jumping by putting wooden boards on the tall tree directly across the river. The water was relatively warm and it was a great spot to stop and play!

Hunter started a “tradition” of snorkelling his way back down the river from the turn around point when we were here two years ago. He is a tradition oriented kid so there was no real discussion as to whether or not he was doing it again – it was just a given. Tim was a nice Dad and accompanied him from the jumping hole to the rope swing, which is just before you get back into populated water. I was left to paddle the canoe down, which was actually quite peaceful.

The boys spotted a small turtle on the banks as they were swimming down so stopped to check it out. Tim, being a country boy at heart, picked him up to check him out. Hunter worked up his bravery to hold the turtle himself and thought it was so cool that he chased after him after we let him go and picked him up again all by himself, wiggles and all!

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Fewer birds on this river and not many turtles or other animals out either. We were lucky to find another couple of manatees near the take out so that left us in high spirits and looking forward to coming back in January.

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Gumbo Limbo Nature Centre

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The Gumbo Limbo Nature Centre in Boca Raton is a wonderful stop for families. It’s a non-profit, with entry by donation, and is part turtle rescue sanctuary, part research facility with the Florida Atlantic University and part aquarium with wonderful sea tanks to check out.

We arrived in time to watch the feeding at the deep water tanks. It was fun to watch the frenzy of fish as they all grabbed for food and yet managed not to grab each other!

We also checked out the Sea Turtle Rehab centre and learned some neat facts about all the different kids of turtles!

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They also have a short boardwalk trail through the mangroves, along with a 40 foot observation tower where you can see both the beach and the inland waterway.

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If you paid attention on the boardwalk, you could find lots of little critters… You even got to see Gumbo Limbo, which are red barked mangrove trees.

Turtles Turtles everywhere….

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Florida is a wonderland for turtles. We’ve seen lots of painter turtles when we are out canoeing and discovered gopher tortoises when out biking along the trails. They are very slow moving and dig holes in the dirt to live in.

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We’ve found them on the side of the road, on the side of the bike path and actually on the road trying to cross… We have one just at the end of the campground road that we check on every day.