For the last two months, we have been hunting crocs and gators as we proceed south along the coastline here in Florida. Frankly, our gator count is very small compared to what I had expected. The way I think of Florida is that every lake, river, swamp, and tree hides a gator. Not true. One thing you can say is that all water might have a gator.
As for crocs I didn’t really expect to see any. You will see later that we got a good picture of one. The others were too small, fast (and too scared of us) to pose for pictures. As for crocs, they are located mostly in South Florida along the coast in salty water. Mangrove swamps are ideal locations for crocs.
Savannas Recreation Area
South of the Space Coast, we found a very nice place to hunt for gators. This location surprised us by having the best wildlife viewing. I had expected that the rest of southern Florida would be just like this. At Savannas, we had the wildlife right out our front window.
For the week at Savannas Recreation Area, we were parked right on the water and our kayaks were in the grass front of our RV. As for this picture (above) we are in the kayaks right after we launched on a gray afternoon.
The objective of this paddle was to make our way to a lake a little east of the campground. Going to that lake was probably the roughest kayaking we have ever done. We took a small path through the reeds that led to the lake. When I say small path, it was so narrow that we could not paddle.
After the battle, we broke out into a large lake that was impossible to approach by land. Paddling through these Lilly pads wasn’t fun but it was way better than plowing through the weeds.
Overall the lake was a disappointment. It was open water surrounded by the same reeds that nearly blocked our path to the lake. The reeds were so tight that the only birds we saw were a few scattered ducks. The water was too deep for wading birds. As for gators, we didn’t see any. They too probably didn’t like the lack of access to resting places.
Wildlife at Savannas
In our travels through the east, we couldn’t see sunsets because we were almost always under tree cover. The sunsets in southern Florida are wonderful because our locations have a view of the afternoon sky instead of dense forest.
Saint Lucie Locks
The campsites at Saint Lucie are right on the water. This river starts in Lake Okeechobee and flows eastward. The Caloosahatchee River starts at Lake Okeechobee and flows westward. By linking this lake and the two rivers with locks boats can cut right across Florida instead of going around the southern tip.
Saint Lucie Wildlife
At Saint Lucie, we took a trip eastbound on the Saint Lucie River with our kayaks toward the Atlantic Ocean. Starting at Saint Lucie Locks the water turns salty. To the west, the water is fresh flowing from Lake Okeechobee. On this trip, trees lined both sides of the waterway and we saw more birds.
Everglades National Park
The everglades start at Lake Okeechobee and flow southbound from the lake all the way to the tip of southern Florida. Most of the everglades are not in Everglades National Park. We had to drive from our current location (right next to the everglades) more than sixty miles just to get to the entrance of the park.
At the north end of the park, we still didn’t see gators in every puddle. We might have found more had we not run out of daylight.
To hunt crocs we had to go all the way to the south end of the park where mangrove swamps and saltwater mixed with the water from the everglades and Lake Okeechobee.
In Florida, crocodiles are not known for attacking humans. We are not part of the food list. Big gators are a different story as are crocodiles in other countries.
When hunting crocs, the best transportation is our kayaks. They are small enough and slow enough to really see things that we would have missed had we been in a motorboat.
Tami was game for the hunt and willing to go as long as the crocs aren’t too big. As for me, I was worried about not seeing one. As for Tami, she was worried about seeing the wrong one.
Like many of our other paddle trips we mostly saw birds, including this one I almost missed. Every other bird in this post by the way, was a Heron of one type or another. This includes the Great Egret. This bird is a Bittern. I had never seen one before and almost didn’t see this one.
Crocs and Gators
We finally got a picture of a croc. I took several pictures of him. We saw a much smaller one but he wasn’t into the photo session. This one was too big to care about us taking pictures.
This is not the first time we have gone hunting dangerous animals from our kayaks. For more adventures check out this post from last year. Stunning Big Sky
So far we are really enjoying southern Florida. But even in the middle of December, you have to hide from the heat during the day. It is not nearly as hot here as it is in the summer. I do have to appreciate our temperature in the eighties when other parts of the country are well below freezing. It is kind of funny that we are excited that tonight’s temperature may drop below 70.