Thursday, February 27, 2020

Manatee Paddle - Emerson Point and Fort Hamer

The waterways of Manatee County, Florida comprise 75 miles of paddling trails in marine and fresh waters. This post shows four of the waterways I have paddled with friends.

My selection of paddling sites is based on where I live and recommendations of local friends.  I found the Paddle Manatee: A Guide to Area Canoe and kayak Trails (see References below), an excellent resource to locate maps and places to go in my area. 

Paddling in Florida often present pleasant surprises of native marine mammals and reptiles, such as bottlenose dolphins, manatees, and alligators.  Florida also offers unique habitat, such as mangroves as borders for the rivers, keys, and bays. These same mangroves can be pathways of caution as residences for snakes, alligators, fish, and mammals.

Given mangroves ubiquitous in this area, let me share education passages I found in the Paddle Manatee Guide:

"Two forms of coastal wetlands are present in the region: tidal marshes and mangrove forests.  Healthy wetlands, including both freshwater and intertidal habitats, are important to the vitality of area waters because they provide food and shelter for marine life. Wetlands also filter pollutants while intertidal habitats, such as salt marshes and mangroves, help protect shorelines from erosion.

There are three different kinds of mangroves found throughout area waters. Red mangroves are found closest to open water. They have arching prop roots and have seed pods or propagules. Black mangroves are found growing among red mangroves. Black mangroves “sweat” salt from their leaves and send up twiggy projections from their roots embedded in the soil surrounding the tree trunk, called pneumatophores, which provide oxygen to the tree’s roots. White mangroves usually grow above the high tide line. Green buttonwood, although not a true mangrove, grows in the most landward location of the littoral zone, behind the other mangrove species. It generally has small, elongated leaves and bears round “buttons” that turn brown. Try to identify which types of mangroves you encounter on your paddling excursion.

Seagrass meadows characterize most of the shallow waters of the area. The most common species of grass in the area are shoal grass, widgeon grass, turtle grass, and manatee grass. The grass beds provide protective nursery areas for juvenile fish, shrimp and crabs, and provide surface for growth of algae epiphytes which serve as food for fish and crustaceans, as well as manatees."

Key landmarks in the below map are the Manatee River, Tampa Bay, Skyway Bridge, and Terra Ceia. I identified our put-in/takeout locations with oversize black numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. 

Enjoy my videos and narratives:
  1. Emerson Point Preserve put-in
  2. Fort Hamer put-in
  3. Ellenton Manatee River put-in
  4. Manatee River Picnic Island put-in

1. Emerson Point Preserve: Six-mile loop paddle with put-in and take-out at Terra Ceia Kayak Launch on Emerson Point Preserve to Little Bird Key and return.

Today OutdoorSteve and five friends take you on a six-mile loop paddle from the kayak launch ramp in Emerson Point Preserve. We paddle through mangroves, open saltwater bays, and around Little Bird Key and back. We enter Terra Ceia Bay near the mouth of the Manatee River. Our sights are the Skyway of Tampa Bay. We look for manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and jumping fish. One of our group is a fisherman, and although he did not bring in a fish, he had a fight with jumping ladyfish until it escaped his hook.

Enjoy the below video as we paddle from Emerson Point Preserve, Bradenton, Florida.

2. Fort Hamer Put-in on Manatee River
As you will see in the outline in our below Google MapMyRun trail outline in red, Dundee and I meandered our canoe back and forth across the river and had turnarounds in ending bays.

Enjoy our canoe paddle on the Manatee River.

In Native American Legend, the Manatee River, dividing line between the Calusa and Timucuan peoples, was known as the "Singing River" because of the most beautiful and lovely music it mysteriously made on certain moons.

The river's headwaters at 136 feet above sea level is the highest point in Manatee County.  It flows south, then west through Lake Manatee to Tampa Bay, a total of 46 miles.

Fort Hamer, named after a brigadier general of the Florida Volunteers, was built in 1849 on the south shore of the Manatee River across from the present public boat ramp, as one of several fortifications round Tampa Bay. The garrison of 165 men stood down in 1850 when the suspected Seminole uprising never came about.
A blog post for the Ellenton Manatee River put-in and Manatee River Picnic Island put-in will be in a forthcoming post.

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1. Paddle Manatee River Guide
2. PDF 3rd Edition: Paddle Manatee
3. www/
4. Manatee Paddle - Robinson Preserve
5. Manatee River- Picnic Island, Ellenton, Fl
6. Adventures

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