If you have ever gone kayaking, you know the thrill of discovery. The first time I ever went kayaking I was in Georgia and the six geese I stumbled upon tolerated my presence more so because they were curious of who, or should I say what, I was rather than being fearful of me. These animal encounters add to the thrill of being on the water and the relaxation and peace of mind that goes along with it. Now imagine you are kayaking down the river, hear a "blowing" noise off to the side, and look down to see a mammoth sized manatee directly under your kayak? How would you react? This is exactly what happened to me recently and it was an experience I will never forget.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I, along with two friends, went kayaking down the Indian River. I was hoping to see an alligator, my wife wanted to see a manatee since she had never seen one out in the wild before. Once we arrived at the boat ramp, we launched our kayaks and paddled our way down the river's edge. There were not a lot of people along our stretch of the river so it was very peaceful and relaxing. After we had paddled for around 45 minutes, we reached a bend in the river. It was then that I heard a loud blowing noise coming from under an overhang where tree limbs covered the surface of the water. Almost instantly we saw the nose of a manatee breaking through the water, followed by the nose of a manatee calf. This encounter was truly a sight to behold and for around 10 minutes we kept seeing the manatees' noses bob up and down in the water. Once we thought the manatees had swam off, I put my camera away and as I dipped my paddle back into the water the larger of the two manatees was directly under my kayak! The top of the manatee was almost touching the bottom of my kayak, it was that close! Manatees are quite friendly and I was not at all surprised by how curious they both were, but when I saw the larger of the two eclipse the length of my 9.5 foot kayak, my heart immediately started racing. Now that my wife had seen the manatees and had gotten several pictures, we were off to find an alligator!
We continued paddling for another hour or so until we decided to turn around and head home. It was getting dark and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to get back to the boat ramp so that we could load up the kayaks without difficulty. On the return trip up the river is when we saw it; we saw the head of an alligator break the surface of the water. Long story short, despite our arms feeling like spaghetti, we mustered up the strength of an Olympic rowing team and removed ourselves from the area rather quickly. On the return home, we also saw herons and fish jumping out of the water which was a unique sight.
In the end, we truly had a wonderful afternoon on the river and left with an experience we will remember for the rest of our lives. If you would like to go on a similar adventure in the Cocoa Beach area, check out some of our partner tour companies at visitcocoabeach.com.
Until next time,
Marshall Hooks, Director
Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce
Convention & Visitors Bureau
Cocoa Beach, FL