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Cayo Costa

Osprey Nest and Ospreys, Caya Costa

Osprey Nest and Ospreys, Caya Costa

Recently I traveled to boat with a friend and my dog to Caya Costa, a nine mile island accessible only by boat.  Caya Costa is part of Florida's largest unspoiled barrier island chain that protect the Charlotte Harbor estuarine system.  There was lots of beautiful driftwood as well as dead trees, which the ospreys used to build nests on.  

Ospreys Patrolling Their Nest

Ospreys Patrolling Their Nest

Heron Perched on Caya Costa Vegetation

Heron Perched on Caya Costa Vegetation

Herons and Ibis also used the vegetation and dead trees as perches.

Ibis Perched on a Dead Tree, Caya Costa

Ibis Perched on a Dead Tree, Caya Costa

Dancing Driftwood, Caya Costa

Dancing Driftwood, Caya Costa

The beach was beautiful to walk along, especially since the driftwood was so unusual and created so many interesting lines.  The vegetation is so unusual because the island is located at a transition point between tropical south Florida and thee more temperate southeastern coastal plain.  The vegetation is largely unspoiled due to lack of development, although wild hogs and invasive Australian pines do present problems.

Driftwood from the Water

Driftwood from the Water

Asian Sea Grass Composition

Asian Sea Grass Composition

The water was so clear and clean looking the day I was there and should be all the time. However, the Charlotte Harbor Watershed, which this island protects is fed by the Peace, Myakka, and Caloosahatchee Rivers and in February massive fish kills were reported as far north as Sannibel and Caya Costa on an unprecedented scale.  

Caya Costa Sea Grass with Tiny Invertebrates

Caya Costa Sea Grass with Tiny Invertebrates

Fortunately, the sea grasses here still looked healthy and supported a teeming population of tiny invertebrates that larger fish and birds feed upon.  This area deserves to be protected for the many creatures that make it home.

Black Bellied Plover

Black Bellied Plover

Ibis Feeding on a Crab

Ibis Feeding on a Crab

Flying Plovers

Flying Plovers

Poling for Red Fish

Poling for Tarpon near Caya Costa

Poling for Tarpon near Caya Costa

Poling is a method of fishing where the guide leads the boats through flats while looking for the tails of redfish or bonefish.  It is the only way to fish in shallow areas from a motor boat without destroying the sea grass which is so important for sustaining the ecosystem.

Sunset Over Tarpon Fishing Boats Near Boca Grande

Sunset Over Tarpon Fishing Boats Near Boca Grande

The sport fishing industry is huge in Florida and its viability is dependent on clean water.  The number of boats we saw attests to the importance of fishing to Florida's economy.

Tarpon Rolling

Tarpon Rolling

I was with a friend who has fished a lot and he said the sight of all these tarpon rolling like this after the sun went down was a once in a lifetime experience.  It was incredible to watch and a perfect end to a day exploring a still healthy ecosystem that deserves to be preserved.