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Giving Eco-Tours of Key West

January 11, 2012

This winter I am too busy to write much, busy giving eco-tours of this gorgeous island, both by land and by sea.

As a bike guide for Key Lime Bike Tours, I mostly deal with people off the cruise ships. Now cruise ships on the whole are not great for the environment, but at least I can urge people to bike the island while they’re here instead of driving or taking the train/trolly.  I can teach them why our ecosystem is so unique and important. Cruise-shippers  generally arrive with little knowledge of the island and only a few hours to get to know it, so I have fun giving them a grand overview of the island’s history, attractions, and ecosystem. It’s a great tie-in to my travel guide, Key West: A Guide To Florida’s Southernmost City.

Buy my book! 🙂

A few weeks ago, I picked up a second gig as an eco-tour guide for Blue Planet Kayak.  With this job I get to go deep into the ecosystem with people who are very interested and concerned with the environment, and I am loving it! I have a firm grasp of our local marine creatures from my years working at the Key West Aquarium, plus know plenty about birds from my many years at the Key West Wildlife Center. However, I had done little kayaking, and at first, my muscles screamed at me after every outing. Plus, I found it easy to get lost among the mangrove creeks which can look and feel completely different given different tidal/weather conditions. I certainly found my first outings a challenge.

Now, after about a dozen times out my muscles have adjusted, I know my way around, and I find myself able to relax and have big fun. I have had the pleasure of  introducing people on my tours to some amazing critters, including horseshoe crabs, queen conch, Bahama sea stars, spotted sea hares, Atlantic deer cowrie, southern stingrays, reddish egrets, great white herons and more.

A Caribbean Reef Octopus occasionally shows up on my kayak tours. This one has changed its color to match the seagrass.

It’s funny to think that eight years ago, my job consisted of sitting in an office in Manhattan, intellectual rights of novels for foreign markets–snore!   Anyway, eco-touring really is the way to go when visiting Key West. With our delicate coral reefs just offshore, our sensitive sea grass beds and mangrove islands, and our ever-dwindling green spaces on land, as our population grows and our infrastructure strains, its becomes imperative to attract visitors who are interested in enjoying and conserving our beautiful ecosystem rather than damaging or exploiting it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 3:27 pm

    Great job! Natural Florida is such a great place!

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