Although much of my time on the water is spent fishing, a few times a month I get to take visitors out to experience our local wildlife in and around Sanibel. These trips are a great way to get on the water for folks who would rather view than catch, and although I can never guarantee sightings of wild animals, we do typically have very good luck.
We usually encounter pods of dolphins as we cruise into the Gulf of Mexico - sometimes they're chasing down food, and other times they're curious and come right up to the boat. As we head into the grass flats of Pine Island Sound, we get the opportunity to catch glimpses of manatees as they go about their day. There is also always the chance for a sea turtle sighting during our summer months.
For birders, one of the best ways to add new species to your checklist is from the water. Snowy egrets and great blue herons stand along the water's edge stalking fish, while green herons perch precariously on low branches. Multitudes of shorebirds race in and out of the breaking waves on the beaches, and terns and gulls call overhead. Ospreys dive over the flats for fish. Occasionally, a bald eagle or peregrine falcon soars overhead.
Sanibel is an island like no other. About 70% of the land has been protected for conservation on some level. This provides excellent, healthy habitat for a multitude of southwest Florida creatures. In such a unique and pristine location, why not go exploring?