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A masquerade of dolphins, horseshoe crabs and manatees @ Port Canaveral, Florida

“mag·ic ˈmajik”
“the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” – Oxford Dictionary

Returning with a friend to Merritt Island last weekend, the entertainment for the day had entailed a $40 Groupon for “Swimming with Dolphins.” The weather for the day was overcast with a cool breeze. The water conditions on the inside of Port Canaveral had provided murky brown waters, reducing visibility beyond a few feet. Advancing to our target in the back of boat, the salty ocean spray had splashed onto my torso with a slight chill. Upon arriving at a small atoll, Carlos, our guide, had issued some instructions for traversing the sandbar surrounding the tiny island. He also had reminded us to shuffle our feet on the sandbar for avoiding any negative encounter with a stingray. The final instruction was rotating your view 360 degrees to search for signs of dolphins.

After walking out knee deep for 20 feet, we had capitulated into fully immersing our bodies into the ocean. Ironically, this action had relieved the chilly sensation of wadding in the water. Moving around the sandbar in our swimming goggles, we had seen little to titillate the eye. Coming around the entire atoll, the most excitement I had experienced, treading water unexpectedly. After a quick sprint to the sandbar, I had risen out of the briny water to get some Gatorade. After washing away the salt water after taste of the sea, I had headed to highest point on the atoll. Now, this heap of sand’s highest point had measured maybe 3 – 4 feet. Taking a 360 view from this vantage point, I had searched for signs of swimming dolphins.

For a few minutes, I had rotated my body and view 360 degrees. All I had seen, my buddy swimming about 50 feet out and our guide stretching out at the campsite. At this point, I had thought having the sun break through the clouds might be as good as it gets; however, pivoting back to watching my friend tread water, a dolphin had surfaced just behind him. Signally a moment too late, the mammal had gone back under the surf. Looking to the other side of the island, the dolphin had resurfaced then disappearing again. After giving up scouting, I had moved back into the water waving down my friend. Catching my peripheral vision, something had moved into the shallow waters around my feet. At first, I had thought a stingray but, no flapping motion and silt cloud. Looking more keenly, what had appeared a silhouette of a living horseshoe crab. In fact, it had been two of them. A smaller one, perhaps a male or juvenile, had attached to top back of the larger specimen. Regardless, I had motioned my buddy to come ashore for taking GoPro video. I had never witnessed a living horseshoe crab before. In school, I had only seen depictions in books and dead skeletons in a marine biology field trips. Now, the next thing I had done falls out of protocol for dealing with wildlife. I have to state, never touch or disturb any living creature above or below the water or on land; however, in my excitement, I had made a decision to steer our horse crab pair back into shallow water with my bare hands. During this encounter, nothing had happened but, I still recall nature’s wrath at Scrub Brush Bird Trail @ Titusville, Florida. After sometime with the day’s guest star on camera, we had walked back to meet the guide, Carlos.

Coming ashore was another group of visitors on our ride out. During that transition, a family that had accompanied us on the tour began returning. In that family, the oldest woman had pointed out to a blue marker. At the blue marker, they had come across 5 dolphins in shallow water, just beneath a bridge going into Port Canaveral. Funny, I had asked our guide where they might be earlier. My buddy and I should had thought about what might command their attention so far offshore. Then again, spontaneous experiences, in nature, had never worked that way. These moments usually had just happened auto-magically. During the boarding process, a woman coming ashore had demanded photographic evidence of the “swimming dolphins” from Carlos. I had chimed in stating,”Like aliens, they exist!”

Taking my seat at the back of the approximately 20 foot boat, the vessel had engaged a course back to the marina. Not more than a minute out, a dolphin had surfaced moving back into the brown waters. With the boat bouncing up and down entering the estuary at the beginning of our trip, another or same dolphin had pulled in at the aft of the boat. A young child in our group had affixed her gaze looking for breaks in the surface. The dolphin had followed close for about 4 or 5 minutes. After reaching some riverside construction, it had taken a u-turn heading back out to the open water. Just after this moment, the captain had pointed out two manatees on the left in shallow river waters. The young child had excitedly inquired about the animals and getting into the water.  The captain had provided a reduction in speed for proper viewing and discussion.

At first, I had jaded appraisal of this adventure. Then, I had remembered the joyful looks on the child’s face and memories of my father steering a similar boat into different waters. Those thoughts had ended a day starting with me shouting out, “Nice tits” to alternating sexes en route to this excursion. Without alcohol, caffeine or sugar, just a buddy, now that was magic!

Dolphin Paradise Tours
4905 N Tropical Trail
Merritt Island, FL 32953
Phone: 321 848 2486

Hours: Monday-Saturday
Departure hours: 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm

Note: Sunday and Holiday’s Dolphin Paradise Tours are Closed.

Read More:
Swimming with Dolphins (
Horseshoe Crab (Wikipedia)
Stand-Up PaddleBoarding – Manatee Cove Park @ Merritt Island, Florida (
Scrub Brush Bird Trail @ Titusville, Florida (

horseshoe crabs @ port Canaveral @
horseshoe crabs, photo courtesy of renegade399

One comment

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