The Land of 10,000 Islands
Took the day off to take an "eco tour" through the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge located in Southwest Florida between Marco Island and Everglades City, Florida. The refuge was first established in 1996 and covers 35,000 acres of the Ten Thousand Islands. The refuge includes both fresh and saltwater, and protects one of the world's largest areas of mangroves. The refuge is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. There are approximately 200 species of fish, 189 species of birds and innumerable plant species. Got some great photos during the tour, highlighted by watching dolphins swim around and after the tour boat.
Yesterday's post included a picture of an alligator in the marina I am staying at. I learned today that the alligator is considered "the marina pet" by many, it is 13 foot long and estimated to be 60 years old because of its cushy marina environment" and being feed by everyone. In a more "wild" setting where the gator would have to fight other alligators and hunt for it's food, it would likely have a life expectancy of 20-30 years and would not be as large.
Dinner tonight with friends from Tampa and tomorrow a 90 mile ride through the rest of the Everglades to Homestead Florida. Very limited services in the Everglades and I expect to have 15+ mile an hour headwinds, so it should be a fun day, can't wait as it will likely be the last tough day of the ride before riding down the Keys.