Monday, August 18, 2014

Dog meets dolphins on a St. Augustine Eco Tour

There are lots of ways to bond with your dog -- cuddling, playing fetch, going for a walk. But there's nothing quite like doing something outside the norm and experiencing something that's new for both of you.

St. Augustine Eco Tours takes guests on a trip through the fragile ecosystem of the Matanzas Estuary. The tour group offers guided tours with boats, catamarans and even kayaks. Each tour is guided by a well-trained naturalist. The goal of St. Augustine Eco Tours is to show people the natural world of St. Augustine and how important it is to keep it pristine.

And your dog can tag along.


I didn't know how Lulu would handle being on a boat. She wasn't a fan of the water. I bought her a life vest but Captain Zach McKenna said it wouldn't be necessary.

Lulu was fine getting on the dock until we got to the boat. Then she froze, her paws splayed out. The deck was crooked and the water was so close that it freaked her out (I told you she wasn't a fan). Capt. Zach helped me pick her up and put her in the boat.

Turns out Capt. Zach was right. The boat, the Cetacea, was perfectly safe for Lulu, with an inflated bulkhead that was high and sturdy. The Cetacea is a rib rigid hulled inflatable boat and used to be used by the Secret Service.


We departed from St. Augustine Marina and headed north, past the Castillo de San Marcos and out toward the Atlantic Ocean. The water was calm, there was a fair wind and the sky was a brilliant blue.

Bring a really good camera! Photo courtesy of St. Augustine Eco Tours.
 We started relatively slow, watching for different estuary residents -- birds, turtles, manatees, jellyfish. But we were lucky this trip. There's always a 50/50 chance that you'll see dolphins. We were surrounded. It's important to keep a distance from wild dolphins so we don't disrupt their movements. But we could see the pods, and when we stopped the boat, Capt. Zach would drop a device into the water and we could hear the dolphins moving around us.

 
Lulu watched it all from a safe distance inside the boat. She didn't get up on the edge to look into the water, even when we weren't moving. But you could see she was fascinated. Her nostrils flared in and out as she tried to smell everything. Her ears flapped in the breeze as the Cetacea picked up speed and headed into the Atlantic. I held on to the seat for fear I might fall off as we flew across the water, but Lulu did just fine.



On the way back though Capt. Zach stopped the boat and fished out a cannonball jellyfish. It's a big bulby looking thing, and it doesn't sting but it is a bit slimy. Inside there's a spider crab, a tiny creature that has had a symbiotic relationship with the jellyfish for centuries. And oh, yeah, they are eaten all over Asia.


St. Augustine Eco Tours' Dolphin and Nature Tour:
$40 / Adult
$35 / Kids ages 3-12
$15 / Infants 2 years and younger
$199 for PRIVATE tour (can bring up to 6 guests)


Tours take off from St. Augustine Marina every day. Each tour is guided by a well-trained naturalist. The goal of St. Augustine Eco Tours is to show people the natural world of St. Augustine and how important it is to keep it pristine.

For more information, call 904-377-7245 or go to the St. Augustine Eco Tour website.

1 comment :

  1. This. is. so. cool. Definitely add to my bucket list!

    ReplyDelete

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