I took my dog out for a morning on the Intracoastal Waterway today. The weather was perfect; warm and breezy. Duchess and I both had a blast.
We started out in a sheltered lagoon area near John D. MacArthur State Park shortly after the park opened at 8 AM. The tide was high, and fish were continually launching themselves up out of the water; some of them sustained impressive air time. It was really encouraging to observe a thriving fish population in an era of over-harvesting.
I passed under a bridge and out into the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway and started checking out the area's birds. I spotted several flocks of Brown Pelicans, a nesting pair of Ospreys, myriad wading birds, and petite Least Terns were in abundance.
I also caught a glimpse of a sea turtle coming up for air. Oh! As of this write-up, there has been one documented sea turtle nest this season on MacArthur beach -- belonging to a lovely leatherback sea turtle. The park ranger said it's been a slow season so far.
We made landfall on a little spit of land, and I let Duchess out to romp around. She was positively giddy about being able to run around on her own private beach, so she started racing around at top speed. It makes my heart sing to see her feeling so obviously happy and liberated, because she is prone to anxiety in new situations. I am really glad that she enjoyed her kayaking trip.
After our stop on the little island, we ventured forth into the nearby mangrove alleys. The tide was starting to head out, so the current was swift and the water was receding in the area; it made for some new sights and smells for Duchess to take in.
Once we made it out of the mangroves, I headed toward the docks at nearby Munyon Island. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the motion of something brown-grey and rather large surfacing and descending. At first I thought it was a large sea turtle's back, but upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a manatee's head! The water was too brackish to get a decent photo of it, but it was really cool to see one in the Intracoastal (I hugged Duchess and laughed in my excitement).
I aimed back toward my launching area, and began the leisurely paddle back to "camp." By that time, Duchess was completely relaxed, and took a short siesta while I moseyed along. It was such a wonderful voyage for the both of us, and I think Duchess gained a lot of confidence today, which I believe to be the most important part of the whole journey. I'm deeply pleased with her, and I kept letting her know that she was a good girl and that I was proud of her (phrases she knows well!) throughout the day.
I'm truly looking forward to our next paddling adventure together.