Cayo Costa Report
(Cayo Costa State Park)

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Report By:  gbailey    Date: 6/11/2003 
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Gasparilla Island across Boca Grande Pass to Cayo Costa (part 2 of 2)

My Report:

... continued (part 2 of 2)

Gus had mentioned that this river held a lot of alligators and sure enough we could see three from the water’s edge as were prepared our salty boats for the sweet-water. As we made our way down the narrow river it was decided we should keep a count of how many ‘gators’ are sighted and within 15 minutes we had used two hands trying to do so. The river’s water level was low as is normal this time of year but one could occasionally see the wide marshes where seasonal flooding waters could spread. The entire river basin was very attractive and is a place I would like to return when I have more time to explore. At times the river would narrow between four foot high banks of grass (we couldn’t identify the type of grass but it looked almost like corn stalks) and small alligators were hiding with just part of their tails showing. Maybe they were taking a siesta from the heat like we did often. After an hour of lazy paddling the river opened up into the Lower Myakka Lake. Its open waters provided a comforting breeze, something lacking in the narrow confines of the river. We spent a short while laying horizontal in the 4-inch deep river and it’s sandy bottom until it seemed time to make our return. Looking back in the other direction we spotted a grazing wild boar. It was approximately 300 years away and never did notice us. As we paddled against the strong current for a short period David noticed a large, slightly pink wading bird – must be a Roseate Spoonbill - in an adjourning small pool of water. We had counted exactly 20 gators on the downstream paddle and since we were retracing our route it was reasonable to see the count double on the way back. Sure enough, as the day was ending and the hungry gators awakened from their naps, we were kept busy trying to keep count. In the end 53 total gators were counted, with certainly some being counted twice and perhaps seen in the exact same spot twice. However, we had only one close call when more than one of us became concerned. At one point Gus was quite comfortable with both feet hanging over the boat’s sides when he surprised a large gator who proceeded to jump from the ‘corn grass’ into the water not more than 5 feet from Gus. He, Gus, looked to be in shock and said he felt defenseless at that particular point. I would have to agree with him. He was almost gator meat.

Within the hour we were back at the put-in and the boats loaded for the 4-hour drive home. This trip may have included the most varied paddling conditions and environment of any that I have done. The Southwestern part of the state has many paddling opportunities and we had just spent 4 days enjoying some of it’s best.

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Special Interests and Comments:

Special InterestsCayo Costa State Park

Post Date: 2/28/2009

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