Sunday, February 1, 2015

Kayaking the Mangrove Tunnel

The Refuge hosted "Camp Run-A-Muk" last week. This is an outdoor nature camp for adults, and is geared toward helping residents of the Keys better understand the ecology and habitats in the area.

The final day of the three-day camp included a kayak trip through the "secret" mangrove tunnel on No Name Key.

After paddling along the shore of NoName Key for a bit, our leader turned into a barely visible opening in the Red Mangroves. I can see why this is "secret" as one would be hard-pressed to find this opening without some prior knowledge.
Entering Mangrove Tunnel
Once inside, we were surprised at how narrow things got. Teri and I had opted for a tandem kayak, and found our boat to be considerably less maneuverable than the shorter singles.
Inside the Tunnel
It got more and more narrow as we proceeded, and we finally put the paddles away and just used our hands.
Too Tight to Paddle!!
At the other end of the tunnel we entered a beautiful saltwater lagoon that was full of waders. The water was crystal clear.

Among the various waders were a few Great White Herons, which is the white morph of the Great Blue Heron, found only in Florida. I wasn't carrying my big camera and we didn't get close to the birds, so this picture isn't one of my best. But you can see the yellow legs that distinguish this bird from the Great Egret.
Great White Heron
The tide was going out and the lagoon was getting shallower, so we headed back out through the canal. Going with the flow made our exit a bit easier than our trip in. Plus, we were pros at pulling ourselves along with our hands!
Teri's in Front...
We look forwarded to returning by ourselves, hoping that we can get closer to the birds and stay a bit longer in the lagoon.



  1. Oh yes... so nice! We always (well, almost) opt for a double kayak but I didn't realize they are harder to maneuver ..... do you find alligators back in "them swamps"?

    1. The turns were so tight that the extra length of the tandem was the issue. There were times that the front was up against mangrove roots before the back had cleared the corner. TIGHT!! No gators in that lagoon though...

  2. We got the Great White Heron on our visit there some years to add it to our life list.