Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oyster Bay: Day 5 – 12/30/11 by Sam Summer

Throughout today’s ten miles we did not encounter a single easily identifiable landmark. Our progress is marked only by a pattern of narrow channels opening into bays that taper back into channels. On all sides, identical islands of mangroves surround our canoes. In spite of the abundance of islands, the chickees are the only possible place to dock and camp, because the islands are overlaid by a dense web of buttress-like prop roots about two feet high. The ground beneath the roots doesn’t become solid until about 100 yards onto the islands. Combined, the difficulty of navigation and the scarcity of campsites have slimmed the number of fishermen and tourists, so we can go for hours without seeing or hearing another boat.
Throughout the entire Mangrove swamp, the water is a dark red brown color. Apparently, tannins in the roots of red mangroves actually dye the water, making it so opaque it’s difficult to see more than about a foot down. From South Joe River Chickee to Oyster Bay Chickee, the water has become gradually more brackish as we approach the Gulf of Mexico. Accordingly, the aquatic wildlife has been changing. During the day we spotted several bottle-nosed dolphins surfacing for air. Our current campsite seems to be home to a collection of small crabs, needle-nose fish, barnacles, oysters, and jellyfish. Also, we’re situated on a tract of water called the Shark River, infamous for its bounty of black-tips. Unfortunately this shot down our hopes of an afternoon swim.

-Sam Summer

1 comment:

  1. What would this have been like when the first Conquistadors went through? Did you ever imagine the despair they might have felt at the endless mangroves and channels?