Maybe we left a day too soon, but after a few days of heavy winds and cooler temperatures, we were anxious to leave Key West and so we headed out into the 20kt winds and choppy seas at sunrise Wednesday morning. By 9AM I was prone on the port side settee not really enjoying my first trip on the Gulf of Mexico. After a long bouncy day, at last were were rewarded by dropping anchor along the isolated shores of the Shark River amid the Florida Everglades. Postings on the boating guide 'Active Captain' noted an abundance of wildlife in the area, including birds, dolphins and alligators. We saw a few pelicans and shore birds but little else. After dark we scanned the shoreline with a flashlight looking for the beady red eyes of the gators, but saw nothing. With temperatures hovering in the high 40's it was just too cold. Even the stars were dimmed by an almost full moon.
After a long day on the water, and another full day ahead of us, it was early to bed. Just after turning out the light I heard heavy breathing outside our porthole. "Gator" I thought, and ran upstairs to check it out. I threw open the cockpit door and the breath sounded close enough to touch. I shrieked, slammed the door, and ran for our new handheld "Super Spot" light. The Cap'n heard the commotion and joined me in the salon. Together we ventured into the cockpit. Just as the Cap'n aimed the spot towards shore a dolphin shot straight up out of the water into the beam of light. "Did you see that?" the Cap'n gasped. We watched in awe as he (she?)continued to jump, dive and frolic in the moonlight, finally disappearing into the dark water.
You don't need an abundance of wildlife to leave a lasting impression - just one graceful dolphin will do.