Monday, August 13 – Myakka River –
We had the privilege of accompanying Chris Oliver, Florida Park Service Environmental Protection Biologist on one of his scheduled inspections of the Lower Myakka River. Starting at the Marina Park, Northport and traveling up the Myakka in the Park Service’s Whaler boat, the trip helped to connect geographical locations that we had visited by land. While we had entered by roads and hiking paths, arriving to the same sites by river completed our overall view of this section of the Myakka.
Not wanting to risk water damage or loss to our larger camera and sound recorder, we brought along a GoPro camera to record. While we sighted turtles, an alligator sunning itself on a tree trunk in the river and many birds, the images we were able to bring back are mainly of the river itself and plant growth along its banks. Some of the first inspection points were rookeries downstream near the Sarasota / Charlotte County lines as well as crab fishermen activities. While Chris made counts of birds and other animals along the route, he also made occasional stops to collect floating trash. He pointed out properties that have been acquired by the state. Some are undergoing changes to make them more accessible to the general public, and some are in earlier stages of transition.
We saw outstanding live oaks with canopies spreading out far overtop of the river, thriving air plants, mangrove forests, bulrushes, and reeds. We passed under bridges of the highways 41 and I-75. While we would be normally part of the rush above, we glided on the river in the shade of the bridges while Chris spotted places where bats and swallows roost.