Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Fun Day of Shells, Birds, and Dolphins

We spent yesterday on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, west of Ft. Myers. It was a great day to be out since it was overcast and windy so didn't feel the 90 degrees it was. (And it was a Monday in October and we went sightseeing!!)

You don't see this sign everyday!

Our first stop was the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, an amazing museum which has only been open 12 years. (One of its benefactors was Raymond Burr.) It has incredibly good displays of shells on the islands and all over the world as well as info on other uses of shells. For instance, the cowrie has been used internationally as money for centuries. There was also a great short movie created by a woman who lives in Sanibel showing how mollusks move, mate, etc.

Our second stop was the Ding Darling National Wildlife Wildlife Refuge. It has an excellent Visitor's Center with great interactive displays, pictures, and videos to show the flora and fauna of the area. They have some guided tours but we did our own drive through the refuge. (We were happy they accepted the National Park pass Sandy had bought with Scott out west.) We saw some young raccoons, pelicans, ibis, roseate spoonbills, herons, and a couple of unknown birds.

Our last stop was the McCarthy's Marina near the end of Captiva. We took a narrated dolphin and nature cruise with Captiva Cruises. It felt great to be out on the water. We went to the end of Captiva and saw where Hurricane Charley ripped down all the trees in its path. At one point we had 2 dolphins swimming on either side of the wake that the boat made. Dolphins are tricky to photograph!

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