Florida is home to the most diverse wildlife in the United States due to the state’s wide range range of habitats and a climate that diffs from the rest of the United States. Florida has many different species of animals, fish, birds, and reptiles that may only be found on a Florida ECOmersion kayak adventure. Below is the ultimate guide to the 5 must see animals in Florida and where to look for them!
ECOmersion Kayak Animal Number 5 – Bald Eagle
You do not want to miss the opportunity to see a Bald Eagle soar through the sunny blue sky. The Bald Eagle is the ultimate predator of the sky, With a wingspan of 7 feet, razor sharp claws, and the ability to dive at speeds up to 75 mph. The impressive features of the Bald Eagle leave no doubt as to why it is the national bird of America. Having no natural predators and the ability to roam the skies freely, the bald eagle is the ultimate sign of freedom and power.
Florida boasts one of the densest concentrations of Bald Eagles in the United States. Keep your eyes peeled and you have a great chance to spot one. The best place to spot America’s national bird is on your visit the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, a 6,400 acre refuge, home to over 250 species of birds, including the Bald Eagle.
ECOmersion Kayak Animal Number 4 – Bottlenose Dolphin
Dolphins are one of the most loved and revered mammals in the world. Luckily for us, tens of thousands of dolphins call the Florida Coastline home. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a pod of dolphins playing in the Gulf of Mexico while out on a kayak tour. ECOmersion tour guides frequently spot dolphins on our weekend St. Petersburg kayak adventures. Dolphins are not only beautiful, but amazingly intelligent as well, second only to humans in their body to brain ratio size. This intelligence enables dolphins to talk and communicate with one another through a language of clicks and whistles called echolocation. Dolphins give each other unique names that they respond to and use to communicate with each other while they swim.
Florida has a number of dolphin refuges and wildlife preserves dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured dolphins and their habitats. Donate or visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (home to Winter and Hope the stars of Dolphin Tale 1 and 2) or the Florida Dolphin Research Center to learn more about helping preserve the dolphin’s habitat.
ECOmersion Kayak Animal Number 3 – American Alligator
By far the most popular animal in Florida is the American Alligator, and for good reason. This ancient reptile has been living in and dominating Florida’s marshy wetland habitat long before any humans were here. The American Alligator has shown its resilience, and has recently been removed from the endangered list. Florida’s warm sunny weather and many lakes, rivers and marshes make it the perfect environment for alligators to thrive. The size of the American Alligator is nothing to smile about. Many alligators are able to grow up to 15ft in length and weigh up to 500 pounds. American alligators are a sight to be seen.
Despite their fearsome size and appearance, alligators are not nearly as dangerous as commonly believed. Over the last decade there have been less than 150 reported alligator attacks in Florida and very few deaths. Alligators are extremely territorial reptiles, and will leave you alone for the most part. Just be aware of their presence and be sure to view them from a safe distance. Thankfully, alligators don’t journey into the brackish waters of the Weedon Island Preserve very often, and we won’t get a close encounter with the alligator during our relaxing St. Pete kayak adventure.
ECOmersion Kayak Animal Number 2 – Manatee
The manatee is one of the most sought after animals in Florida. Referred to as the cow of the sea, manatees graze on sea grass half the day and resemble a cow in appearance. Look for manatees on the cusp between fresh and salt water like the waters of the Weedon Island Nature Preserve. With its closest living relative being the elephant, it’s no wonder people visit from all over the world to see this cute and cuddly looking animal. Sadly, the manatees numbers have been dwindling over the years. Even though the manatee has no natural predators, their numbers have decreased due to cuts from boat rudders.
Government agencies have taken measures to protect the manatee in their natural habitat through speed limits and no boating zones. That is why the best way to see a manatee up close is from a kayak or paddle board. ECOmersion provides you the unique opportunity to see manatees in the Weedon Island Nature Preserve during our kayak adventure tours.
ECOmersion Kayak Animal Number 1 – Florida Panther
The Florida Panther is the most treasured animals in all of Florida. The Florida Panther was chosen as Florida’s state animal in 1982. Unfortunately, the Florida Panther has become one of the most endangered mammals in the world with only 130-250 of the species left. Deforestation of the Florida Everglades and the destruction of the panther’s environment is the leading cause of population decline. Seeing a Florida panther in their natural environment is a moment to be cherished. You are among only a few thousand individuals around the world who can cross that off their bucket list. We won’t see a Florida Panther during our kayak adventure, but you should take a trip to the Florida Everglades to search for the Panther yourself. Remember to keep a safe distance! Help save the Florida panther from possible extinction by donating to The Nature Conservancy who fight to protect them.