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The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond


Snake in the Mangroves

Spring has sprung, and we have started seeing snakes occasionally. This is fine so long as they are moving away from me, but I almost had a much closer encounter with one in the mangrove tunnels at Thousand Islands.

Wendy and Mike at Tousand Islands
Wendy and Mike between mangrove islands.

There are large open areas to paddle around when you go to Thousand Islands, but the real attraction is the mangrove tunnels. There are big clumps of mangrove trees and tunnels wander all through the tree roots. It is shady and mysterious looking with the shapes of the roots and the sunlight filtering through the treetops, then you suddenly break through into a sunny, quiet little open area.

Pulling through a mangrove tunnel
Wendy pulls herself through the mangrove roots.

Being in Florida, we know there is a certain amount of wildlife to be dealt with, but in the tunnels we had been more concerned about spiders than anything else. Who ever is leading gets to knock down all the spider webs. I wear a full hat on these trips.

Pulling through a mangrove tunnel
It took a lot of leaning and wriggling to get through some spots!

The tunnels are not only small enough to be criss-crossed with spider webs, they are often too small to use a paddle. Sometimes you can break down your kayak paddle and only use half, but sometimes even that won't work. When it gets this tight, we lay our paddles down and grasp tree branches and pull ourselves along.

Wendy demonstrates how it is done.

We took turns taking the lead and exploring whatever tunnels looked interesting. Wendy was in the lead once and went around a sharp bend into a little opening. She started to say something about a lot of fish in the water, then suddenly broke off screaming. One of the fish had jumped into her sit-in kayak and she couldn't get it out!

Sorry about the wobbly camera at the end - I was laughing too hard to hold steady.

Wendy fell back and let someone else go first for a while. I was in the lead, pulling myself along through the trees, and saw a side-trail that caught my eye. I backed up my boat and started to grab for the first branch on the new trail - and spotted a snake right where I was about to grab. If I had touched him there would have been much louder screaming than a fish could cause!

Snake in the mangroves

None of us wanted to get close enouth to get a good photo. Wendy wanted the snake to move so she could get it on video, but turned down my offer to push her kayak into the tree to get things going.

Snake in the mangroves

I couldn't get a real good look at his head, but I don't think it was a poisonous snake. It doesn't matter, though, if I had touched it I probably would have died of shock.

Snake in the mangroves

We weren't so carefree about grabbing branches after that. This guy blended in so well we wondered how many we had passed without seeing them.

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