When I think of real Florida, I think of Cortez Park, a 55+ trailer park community near the Cortez fishing village, a place to get fresh and tasty seafood including stone crabs. Heading into the historic Cortez Fishing Village, we saw these folks sitting on fold up chairs enjoying the late afternoon ambiance. This is why people used to come to Florida, and Cortez Park is one of the places where a slow lifestyle spent enjoying nature is still the norm.
Not much has changed since this village was first settled in the 1880s. It is one of the last remaining authentic fishing villages in Florida and is something to be experienced by every visitor to the state who wants to see what Florida was once like. One of the most celebrated sights is the fishing boats.
The village is known for its fishing and crab boats, as well as its ruins.
The people of Cortez Fishing Village do not care for Coastal Conservation Association members, as this sign attests. The feud began because CCA funds were used to uphold net bans. The CCA, which sided with sport fishermen, claimed commercial fishermen's nets were harming mullet, seatrout, sea turtles, birds, and dolphins, which accidentally became ensnared. The nets were used to trap mullet, which were extremely valuable to fisherman since they could sell the mullet's roe to Asia and Europe for $100 per pound. The selling of roe wasdetrimental to the mullet's population. The ban was put into effect in 1995 and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico were forced to go 9 miles of shore, while Atlantic fisherman were forced to go three miles off shore to fish with nets. The devastating economic impact on commercial fishermen in places like the Cortez Fishing Village and the Indian River Lagoon is still being analyzed. One study showed that 3/4 of the fisherman remained in business, while 26% collected unemployment. Mullet and bait fish did seem to rebound, but the verdict is still out as to how much good it did. There is a lot of anger left on the part of the Cortez fishermen, who lost a big source of their income, and some opponents claim that net bans took the emphasis off environmental problems associated with the reduction in fish populations..
Despite the underlying hostility to visitors, I was glad we ventured back toward the shoreline as there were so many beautiful birds. This was one of my favorite images. I loved how the egret was strutting and the beautiful light. The birds at least seemed unaware of the conflict and were doing a fine job co-existing with the fishing community.
Next an osprey landed, and then another Egret joined the party.
A spoonbill entered from stage left.
Roseate Spoonbills are one of my favorite birds. I love their coloration, unusual beaks and quirky personalities.
Though being able to photograph a single spoonbill is enough for me, when I saw one with a heron and some egrets in the foreground juxtaposed against the yellow boat in the background, the composition became even more intriguing.
It is hard to believe this village, where time seems to have stood still, is so close to modern day civilization, but as the image below shows, Sarasota, a town that is expanding more and more each day, is not geographically far away though the eras they belong to are vastly different.