Snook Islands Phase II Construction

If you have been to the Snook Islands Natural Area, or traveled over the Lake Worth Bridge in the last few months, you may have wondered what all that equipment and boats are about.

Just to the north of the bridge a work area is visible where the second phase of the Snook Islands Restoration Project is well underway, and to the south is the Bryant Park project which will bring new boat ramps and two new piers – one complete with a new kayak launch!

The Andy Reid from the Sun Sentinal has a great article that provides more information on the project, you can read the article in it’s entirety below, or click here for the original article.

Kayaks in Snook Beach    DSC02211

Snook Islands growing in Lake Worth Lagoon

“Heron and fishermen alike are getting new hunting grounds in the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Mounds of dirt floating by barge along the Intracoastal Waterway are laying the groundwork for new sea grass beds and mangrove islands soon to take root off the shores of Lake Worth.

Months of work has begun on the $2.3 million project to expand the Snook Islands Natural Area, 100 acres of marine habitat initially created in 2005 to help breathe new life into the lagoon — suffering from decades of waterfront development and pollution.

The new expansion is expected to add more mangrove islands, oyster reefs and sea grass beds, which provide habitat for fish, wading birds and manatees while attracting fishermen, birdwatchers and kayakers to the waterfront.

The work also includes adding new sea grass beds and mangroves offshore of nearby Bryant Park.

“What we have proven is [that] we can create vast areas of sea grass, oysters and mangroves that bring a lot of birds and fish and help filter the water,” said Daniel Bates, Palm Beach Countys deputy director of Environmental Resources Management. “It has good recreational benefits and good habitat benefits at the same time.”

The creation of the Snook Islands is aimed at fixing environmental problems lingering from dredging and development that started decades ago.

Sediment dredged from the lagoon in the 1920s was used to fill in wetlands and expand the Lake Worth waterfront where the city’s golf course now sits.

But that digging left underwater holes that through the years collected polluted muck, smothered life-giving sea grass beds and worsened water quality.

The initial $18 million Snook Islands project started filling in those holes and enabled planting 11 acres of mangroves, about 2 acres of oyster reefs and 60 acres of sea grass beds just north of Lake Worth Bridge.

This year, work was finished on $2 million of public access facilities that included a 600-foot boardwalk, a fishing pier, boat docks and a kayak and canoe launch.

The new expansion calls for adding about 7 acres of sea grass beds, another 1/2-acre of oyster reefs and 3/4-acre of mangroves parallel to the existing Snook Islands, Bates said.

Another 5 acres of sea grass beds and 1/2-acre of mangroves are planned off shore of Bryant Park, on the south side of the bridge.

More Snook, tarpon, redfish and bait fish can already be found thanks to the initial Snook Islands project, according to fishermen who target the area.

“That was one big dead zone. It was nothing but muck. Now you build these island chains and it has drawn fish,” said charter fishing captain Danny Barrows, who primarily fishes the lagoon. “They are fish magnets … It’s a fun place to fish.”

The work is expected to last about six months and is being paid for with state funds, according to Bates.

The dirt being used to fill in the dredge holes comes from digging to create new wetlands at the county’s Okeeheelee Park.

A parade of dump trucks brings the dirt to Byrant Park, where a long conveyor belt on the shoreline feeds the dirt onto barges that carry it to the dump sites.

The kayak launch, boardwalk and other recreation amenities that opened this year have helped give people more access to the waterway, said Juan Ruiz, Lake Worth’s Leisure Services Director.

“It has been a great benefit, a great amenity to the city,” Ruiz said. “We are really pleased with the project. It gets used every day.”

Mangroves once lined the shores of the lagoon, before waterfront development brought seawalls that wiped away the vital marine habitat.

The Snook Islands Natural Area and the newly completed South Cove in West Palm Beach are among the environmental restoration projects in the lagoon aimed at bringing back more marine habitat.

While too much shoreline has been tampered with to fully restore the lagoon, Bates said, “we can certainly make steps in the right direction.”

abreid@tribune.com, 561-228-5504 or Twitter@abreidnews

Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Manatee Season 2012-2013 is Here!

As the weather cools off and water temperatures drop in north and central Florida, manatees begin making their way down to our neck of the state. About half of our customers in the past week have reported seeing manatees in the Snook Islands.

If you are out in the water, you need to be aware of these gentle giants and observe slow-speed and no-entry zones. WCTV in Tallahassee published a great article outlining the danger boat and humans pose to manatees and waterway speed zones by county, I have included the text below. You can also view the original source by clicking here.

Tallahassee, Florida – November 17, 2012

Now that the weather outside is chilly, Florida manatees are migrating to warmer waters. They swim in search of a warm winter refuge such as freshwater springs or canals adjacent to power plant outflows.

An adult manatee may weigh 1,000 pounds or more but is susceptible to cold. Water temperatures dipping to 68 degrees or below can produce cold stress in these aquatic mammals, and even cause death.

With many of the seasonal manatee protection zones going into effect on Nov. 15, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to be vigilant about slowing down and watching out for manatees. In Broward County, some slow speed zones formerly active only on weekends are now in effect every day during the cold season. November is designated as Manatee Awareness Month because of this seasonal migration.

“Many manatees in Florida have scars from run-ins with boats. We can do our part to help by complying with slow-speed and no-entry zones that indicate manatees may be in the area,” said Kipp Frohlich, who leads the FWC’s imperiled species management section. “Boaters should slow down where manatees like to congregate, such as seagrass beds and warm-water sites.”

How to spot Florida’s official marine mammal?

Boaters and personal watercraft operators should scan the water near or in front of their vessels and look for signs that manatees are close by, including repetitive swirl patterns called a manatee footprint, a mud trail, or a snout or fluke (tail) breaking the water’s surface.
Here are some other steps boaters and personal watercraft operators can take to help manatees migrate safely:

* Keep vessels in marked channels;
* Wear polarized sunglasses to improve your vision;
* Obey posted boat speed zones;
* Use poles, paddles or trolling motors when close to manatees;
* Have someone help scan the water when under way.

Besides following manatee-safety recommendations, people can help manatees survive by reporting sick, distressed, injured, orphaned or entangled manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com. Florida residents also can call #FWC or *FWC via cell phone.

Manatee conservation is supported by Floridians who purchase the state’s manatee license plate. Funds from this specialty tag go directly to manatee research and conservation.

Copies of complete individual county waterway rules are available at http://www.flrules.org. Visit MyFWC.com/Manatee or call the FWC at 850-922-4330 for more information.

Below are the manatee winter waterway speed zone changes by county, including the waterways where most speed zone changes occur in November.

Brevard County
Nov. 15 – March 31
*No-entry and motorboats-prohibited zones – North Indian River area around discharge canals of the Reliant Corp. Power Plant and Florida Power and Light’s Frontenac Power Plant.
* Idle-speed zone – West of Intracoastal Waterway in general vicinity of power plants.

Broward County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* Idle speed – Port Everglades Power Plant area. Portions of the South New River Canal and Dania Cut-off Canal near the Lauderdale Power Plant.
* Slow speed – Intracoastal Waterway from the Palm Beach County line through Hillsboro Inlet south to Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades area. (Note: Some portions are weekend-only slow speed.)

Citrus County
Sept. 1 – Feb. 28
*25 mph – Lower (western) portions of Withlacoochee River and Bennetts Creek.
Sept. 1 – March 31
* 25 mph – Lower (western) portions of the Chassahowitzka River.
Sept. 1 – April 30
* Idle speed or slow speed – Portions of Kings Bay.
Oct. 1 – April 30
* Slow speed – Portions of the Homosassa River between the Salt River and Trade Winds Marina and southern portion of Halls River.
Nov. 15 – April 30
* Slow speed – All waters in the vicinity of the Florida Power Corp.’s effluent canal.
Nov. 15 – March 31
* No entry – Within the Blue Waters area of the upper Homosassa River near Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Hillsborough County
Nov. 15 – March 31
*No entry – Portions of the discharge canal of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.
* Idle speed – General vicinity of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.

Indian River County
Nov. 1 – April 30
* Slow speed – Within Sand and Shell islands area, Channel Marker 66 south to Channel Marker 75; Indian River area from Hobert Lodge Marina to North Canal; and from Channel Marker 156 south to St. Lucie County line west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Nov. 15 – March 31
* No entry – Portion of canal system adjacent to Vero Beach Power Plant.

Lee County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* No entry – Discharge and intake canals of the Florida Power & Light Tice Power Plant.
* Idle speed and slow speed – Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel on the Caloosahatchee River in the vicinity of the Tice Power Plant.
* 25 mph – Portions of Estero Bay, Hurricane Bay, Hell Peckney Bay and Hendry Creek.
* Seasonally unregulated – Cayo Costa, North Captiva, Captiva and St. James City areas.

Miami-Dade County
Nov. 15 – April 30
* No entry – Portions of the Biscayne Canal, Little River and Coral Gables Canal.
* Slow speed – Within portions of Meloy (or East) Channel and portions of the Intracoastal Waterway in Dumfoundling Bay and Biscayne Bay between Broad Causeway and Venetian Causeway.

Palm Beach County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* Motorboats prohibited – Within general vicinity of Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant discharge canals.
* Slow speed – Outside the main channel in the Loxahatchee River, and in the north and southwest forks of the Loxahatchee River.
* Idle speed and slow speed – Look for shore-to-shore speed zone changes north and south of Peanut Island near the Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant.
Oct. 1 – May 31
* 25 mph – Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel between State Road 706 and Lake Worth, and south of Lake Worth to Broward County.

Sarasota County
Nov. 15 – March 15
* No entry – Portion of Salt Creek and Warm Mineral Springs north of U.S. 41.

St. Lucie County
Nov. 15 – March 31
* Motorboats prohibited – Within Moore’s Creek. Nov. 15 – April 15
* Slow speed – Within Garfield Cut/Fish House Cove area.
Nov. 15 – April 30
* Slow speed – Within Intracoastal Waterway channel between North Beach Causeway south to Channel Marker 189 and within the Shark Cut Channel in the Fort Pierce Inlet area.

Volusia County
Sept. 1 – March 31
* 25 mph – Portions of the Tomoka River and Spruce Creek.
Oct. 15 – April 15
* Motorboats prohibited – Blue Spring Run.
* Slow speed – St. Johns River, south of Lake Beresford to Channel Marker 67.

Copies of complete individual county waterway rules for protection zones are available at www.flrules.org, or visit MyFWC.com/Manatee.

Open Kayaking this Saturday at Bryant Park

By South Florida standards, it’s been downright cold at night – especially for this time of year. But, most of the daytime temps have been absolutely beautiful with highs in the 70’s and low humidity. This makes for super enjoyable kayaking weather – you don’t even have to break a sweat half the time!

Come on down to Bryant Park this Saturday 11.10.2012 from 9am-1pm for open kayaking with Kayak Lake Worth and see for yourself!

Typically, we require advanced reservations for our rentals and tours, so this is a unique opportunity to just walk right up if the mood strikes and jump on a kayak. Notice I said ON and kayak, not IN a kayak? That is because we use SOT – sit on top kayaks, not the traditional kind where you are inside a cockpit. This makes the sport accessible to a broader group of people because the SOT kayaks do not tip or flip and are much easier to maneuver for beginners. Stand-up paddleboard rentals will also be available.

Kayak Lake Worth Kayak            Kayak Lake Worth SUP

All rentals are on a first come, first served basis. Availability is not guaranteed. Children under the age of 18 will require a parent or guardian to be present.

1 Hour Single Kayak or SUP Rentals for $20+ tax, Tandem for $35+ tax

2 Hour Single Kayak or SUP Rentals for $35+ tax, Tandem for $50+ tax

4 Hour Single Kayak or SUP Rentals for $40+ tax, Tandem for $55+ tax

8 Hour Single Kayak or SUP Rentals for $60+ tax, Tandem for $70+ tax

We will be in Bryant Park, just south of the boat ramps. All major credit cards are accepted, cash payments are accepted, but we will NOT be able to make change. Call us at 561.225.8250 with any questions.

Hope to see you Saturday!

Sunset Tours on the Lake Worth Lagoon

The East side of Florida may be better know for it’s sunrises, but our sunsets can be beautiful too!

We are happy to announce that in addition to our monthly Full Moon on the Lagoon Tours, we are adding two Sunset Tours too. One Friday and one Saturday per month we will be taking a group out to enjoy the early evening sunsets from the Lake Worth Lagoon.

As the sun sets and the shadows grow long, a whole new side of the Lagoon emerges. Join us this Saturday for the Daylight Savings Paddle and make the most of the long evening. Reservations are required.

Daylight Savings – Enjoy the last of the evening daylight until spring out on a kayak in the Snook Islands.

Saturday, November 3rd

5-7 PM, sunsets at 6:36 PM

$40+ tax per person, launch at Bryant Park

 

Turkey Paddle – Work off Thanksgiving Dinner with a Kayak Lake Worth Sunset Paddle in the Snook Islands.

Friday, November 23rd

4-6 PM, sunsets at 5:27 PM

$40+ tax per person, launch at Bryant Park

 

Holiday Paddle – Kick off the holiday season while you refresh and recharge during a Snook Islands paddle.

Saturday, December 8th

4-6 PM, sunsets at 5:28 PM

$40+ tax per person, launch at Bryant Park

 

Mayan Calendar Mayhem –  Mark the end of the Mayan Calendar with an evening paddle in the Snook Islands.

Friday, December 21st

4-6 PM, sunsets at 5:32 PM

$40+ tax per person, launch at Bryant Park

Kayak Trips Designed with You in Mind

Kayak Lake Worth offers a number of trips designed to appeal to everyone. From the casual paddler, to more adventurous types, there is a kayak trip for you. We provide all gear and make sure you have the basic skills necessary for maneuvering your kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Please be aware that you and anything you bring along will get wet and the kayaks and sups have a limited storage area. We do provide a small dry box suitable for keys, cell phone, wallet, etc.

Our 2.5 hour rentals are the most popular option. You have the choice of touring either the Snook Islands in Lake Worth or the Bingham Islands which lie just west of the island of Palm Beach. Rental time includes pre-launch procedures such as any necessary instruction and route information. We also make sure to include plenty of time for taking in the sights, bird watching, taking photos or just bobbing along on the currents. Tidal and weather conditions do play a part and may be a factor as to when your chosen area is available to paddle.

For those looking for more time out on the water, we also offer 4 hour rentals. Those renting fishing kayaks most often opt for the 4 hour rental. Kayakers just out for a paddle use the time to venture past the Snook or Bingham Islands out to John’s Island, the Ibis Isle Restoration area and Hunter’s Island. One way trips between the Snook and Binghams are often done during a 4 hour rental. Either you can arrange to be picked up and driven back to your car at the point of origin, or you can have us shuttle you back. The 4 hour kayak rental is also great for exploring Lake Osborne.

Kayak Lake Worth full day rentals are 8 hours. Most of our full day rentals are drop-offs for those living on a local body of water or for those fishing. Others do a roundtrip loop that brings them through the Snook Islands, Bingham Islands, Ibis Isle Restoration area, John’s Island and Hunters Island for an approximately 9.5 mile paddle.

Our kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals and tours are available by reservation only.

For more information, or to make a reservation, please call us at 561.225.8250 or use our contact page. You  can also visit our Rental page for more detailed information.

 

 

Kayak Lake Worth featured on Local Fitness Blog

We wanted to thank Jane Smith from the Extra Step Blog for featuring Kayak Lake Worth on one of her recent posts.

Midwest couple now running Kayak Lake Worth

Three years ago, Emily and Bryce Billings got married, pulled up their Midwest roots and moved to South Florida.

They wanted to live and work by the water, Emily says, and South Florida fit that bill. They started in Miami, gradually moved up the coast to check out Delray Beach and eventually settled in Lake Worth. Its laid-back feel and affordable homes near the water captured their hearts. They rented for a while and bought a home there in December.

Then in May, the former owner of Kayak Lake Worth needed to sell the business or close it. The mobile kayak business now required more time than Ian Esplin had to spare because he also had a full-time job and a family, Emily says. So the Billings couple bought his business with the hopes of turning it into a 7-day operation.

Read more here.

Ever Wonder What Tidal Flats, Wetlands and Maritime Hammocks Are?

We are fortunate to have such a variety of habitats within the Lake Worth Lagoon. Today, we will learn more about a few of these habitats and where they can be found within the Lagoon

Tidal Flats – According to the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, “Tidal Flats are intertidal, non-vegetated, soft sediment habitats, found between mean high-water and mean low-water spring tide datums and are generally located in estuaries and other low energy marine environments. They are distributed widely along coastlines world-wide, accumulating fine-grain sediments on gently sloping beds, forming the basic structure upon which coastal wetlands build.”

Tidal Flats support a variety of life forms such as sea grass, mangroves, invertebrates, crustaceans, bivalves and crabs and many others. You can see examples of Tidal Flats at John’s Island at the mouth of the C-51 Canal.

Wetlands – A naturally occurring habitat in Florida’s Estuaries, Wetlands provide valuable habitat for birds and other wildlife. Mangroves found in wetlands also help to filter the water and provide a favorable environment for fish nurseries.

The Snook Islands Restoration Project restored 100 acres of wetland habitat in the Lake Worth Lagoon. Where dead zones once existed, sea grasses now grow. Hundreds of bird species use the Snook Islands for food and shelter, the American Oystercatcher has even returned to the area and is one of the Snook Islands most vocal residents!

Maritime Hammock – Maritime Hammocks are some of the most rapidly disappearing habits around. They are a non-coniferous forest comprised of native tree species like Gumbo-Limbo, Sea Grape and Saw Palmetto. These coastal wooded habitats are at a higher elevation than Tidal Flats and provide food and protection for migrating birds.

The John’s Island Restoration Project created 1.4 acres of Maritime Hammock that also includes mangrove Tidal Flats, Oyster Reefs and a Tidal Inlet.

These are just a few of the more common ecosystem found right here in the Lake Worth Lagoon. These incredible restoration projects are made possible by the efforts of Palm Beach County and the Department of Environmental Resources Management.

Visit www.KayakLakeWorth.com learn about Kayak rentals and tours in the Lake Worth Lagoon