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.
Herons and Ibis also used the vegetation and dead trees as perches.
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.
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.
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.
Poling for Red Fish
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.
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.
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.