Cruising, with Wildlife

By: Terry Gibson

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Who doesn’t enjoy watching wildlife, especially on a cruise? Florida is famous for its alligators, manatees and dolphins. Our habitats also host a bevy of gorgeous and rare birds.

Here are four sightseeing cruising opportunities in natural areas that will astound:

Amelia Island River Cruises & Charters: Salt marshes, wilderness beaches, and historic river banks. Dolphins, sea turtles, manatees, egrets, herons, spoonbills, and osprey meld with shrimp boats, luxury yachts, and even a Civil War era fort along the way -- all of it professionally narrated by local history and nature experts.

St. Lucie River Cruises: Narrated historical and ecological cruises on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River aboard a 35-foot U.S. Coast Guard inspected pontoon boat. I strongly recommend pre-scheduling for the Bird Island & Sunset cruise. This place is gorgeous in evening light, and the birds are more active. You’ll see ospreys catch mullet, dabbling Florida mottled ducks -- a non-migratory subspecies of mallard indigenous to the state -- and a suite of wading birds, including roseate spoonbills, four species of herons, and rafts of white and silky ibis headed to roost.

Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina Airboat Tours: If you’re visiting in the winter months, you may witness peregrine falcons taking wild ducks out of the air at incredible speeds. Speaking of ducks, you will see mottled ducks, and up to 12 other species depending upon water levels. Purple gallinules pose pretty year round.

Everglades National Park Boat Tours: This tour departs from Chokoloskee, near Everglades City. It’s the only tour provided through the National Park. Quiet boats so wildlife can be viewed in natural premises, fully narrated by national park-trained naturalists. Tours leave approximately every 30 minutes. Everglades National Park has been declared a Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetlands International Alliance by the United Nations. Look forward to roseate spoonbills, wood storks and many species of wading birds. And keep an eye out for the secretive North American crocodile.

Wherever you decide to go wildlife watching by boat, bring the family, and don’t forget your binoculars and cameras.


Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners

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