Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weeki Wachee

Returned to the Weeki Wachee River Saturday, May 10, 2008. Air temperature 50 degrees higher than my last visit in January. Spring fed water temperature, 72, as always. I launched from Rogers Park shortly before 9 am, and headed upstream. Paused at the "Fish Hospital" where I swam with manatees last visit. None present today, no reason for manatees to seek warmer water. Perhaps this hawk was also looking for manatees.

If the hawk saw any manatees in the River from Rogers Park to the Spring area, it has better eyes then I. Very few people, a fisherman or two, folks having coffee on their docks, were seen until I was past the halfway point. The downstream traffic became heavy, 25 or so canoes and kayaks. Several people asked if I had seen any manatees. My response "Not yet".

It took just over two hours to arrive at the "No Boats Beyond This Point" sign. Turned around, and as soon as I found a good spot to land, I did. Well, a good spot once I got past the area where swimming is not allowed. I snorkeled downstream for a while. The River was stirred up by all the paddlers, so I only took two pictures. No fish, underwater turtles or manatee shots today. Just to cool off was worth it. My shirt was soaked with sweat. The miserable months have begun in Florida. But, if its over 90, no better place to be then a cool, sping fed river.

By the time I finished my snorkel, and lunch, it was past 12:30. Now the River was full of paddlers, boaters, tubers, swimmers, rope swingers, tree jumpers all seeking Saturday fun.

All the activity left nature in a precarious position. Well, maybe not, but it fits the above photo.

Not a lot of avian life, here are a great blue heron and an ibis. I all my Weeki trips, I've seen one, maybe two alligators. Not including this one.

Tree climbing alligator ! This one is always in the same place ;)

Here is a real animal on tree pic.

Pileated woodpecker. I paddled past Rogers Park, going to the Gulf. Past Rogers Park, the River is much more developed, big homes on both sides. Except for one channel that has homes on the south bank only. The residences end, the Weeki Wachee widens as it winds its way to the Gulf.

Past the last homes, there are two green docks on the south bank. I have never seen them being used, and wondered who or what owned the land. Today, some folks sat at a picnic table on the downriver dock. My attention was diverted by a manatee at the first dock. I observeded it for a while, noticed the light scars on its back, then moved on to talk to the folks on the dock. Turns out a doctor owns the land. "Two homes can be built on the lot" I told them I hoped no homes would be built, or, when I get my million or so, I'd build a small place. I moved on, and saw another manatee. Just inside the sign designated the WW as an Idle Speed, No Wake Zone. Not to mention no alcohol. The River is patrolled. I saw Hernado County Sheriffs in boats, and jet skis.

Just after seeing the manatee, I saw sting rays, perhaps 3 feet across, hunting in the shallow water. I hoped to see dolphins as I went pass the Bayport Pier , circling a mangrove island at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. No luck. As far as dolphins are concerned. Any disappointment was mitigated by a bald eagle flying across the river. More luck, or good timing, was the incoming tide, making the way back much easier at the end of a long day.

I returned via the northernmost channel, the one with residences restricted to the south side. I have seen manatees here, most often on hot days. As you can see, I saw two today.

Today's trip was 16 miles in 7 hours. As usual on the Weeki Wachee, I dined at the Upper Deck. Here's a view from the yak.

I have another report, concentrating on the WW downstream of Rogers Park on Green Wave


Not to mention by two prior reports on the Yak Tales



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