Archive for September, 2021


Posted September 15, 2021 By Managed WordPress Migration User

Driving a tour boat in the Florida Everglades is not for the faint of heart. As the Captain of the Bald Eagle II, a 48-passenger boat running out of the Flamingo Marina over the past several months, I have seen some of the worst human behavior imaginable…on a day in and day out basis.
Unless you live on an island by yourself, the freedom to be an individual has to be tempered with a responsibility not to adversely affect others with your actions. This is the basic social contract. A contract that people seem to have forgotten or were not taught in the first place. And, unfortunately, not everyone was raised to be genteel or even polite.
Florida’s Everglades is an unique ecosystem full of unusual flora and fauna and worthy of respect. It is recognized as the second largest mangrove swamp in the world and significant enough to be a National Park. One would think visitors would want to come and go without messing with it, not being pinheads.
While I was working down there, I enjoyed listening to Captain Matt giving the fishing reports on the radio. He mentioned people in boats pulling kids on floats under bridges in one of his segments and was very direct in his condemnation of this unsafe practice. I thought about asking him to mention some of the things listed below, but never got around to it.
– American crocodiles in the United States only live in South Florida and the Everglades. There are only 2,000 of them reported in the Everglades National Park. Within sight of signs saying not to feed the animals, people using a fish-cleaning facility purposely walked outside to feed them. In this same area, people threw rocks, sticks, empty soda cans, etc. at a mother crocodile near her nest. A particularly dumb fellow knelt down within a few feet of Big Mama and splashed his hand in the water. In fact, another pinhead with a “Georgia” shirt on went behind barricades with a “Do Not Enter” sign and around yellow tape stomping the eggs in the nest. Across the canal, a kayak tour guide herded a group of 5 kayaks around a mother crocodile sunning herself on the bank. Again, within sight of a sign calling for up to a $5,000 fine for harassing animals.
– The Buttonwood Canal runs about 3 1/2 miles from Florida Bay north to Coot Bay. It is only 20 feet in some places and no more than 30 feet wide. Charter boats and other fishermen, ignoring safe practices and courtesy, regularly ran full speed passing my tour boat in both directions. These same boats would run, full speed, past my boat while we were stopped looking at birds or crocodiles. Some of these same pinheads did not slow down in the “No Wake” area where the Bear Lake dock is located. Canoe and kayak renters regularly paddled in front of my moving vessel.
– Tarpon Creek runs from Coot Bay to Whitewater Bay and is a “No Wake” zone for its entire length. Boaters, including a National Park maintenance vessel, regularly ran full speed through it. Fishermen would regularly anchor in the mouth of the channel interfering with normal navigation. A well-tanned fellow in a canoe paddled through the creek completely naked, in full sight of all on my tour boat.
– I consider it impolite to hold a loud private conversation during a naturalist’s presentation. Not normal conversations, but loud and intrusive ones competing with the one that people pay to hear. These conversations occurred daily.
– People threw trash anywhere and everywhere.

As one imperfect human to others:
Hey, pinheads on the Buttonwood Canal…common sense, courtesy and navigational rules do not change because you are in a hurry.
Hey, pinheads admiring flora and fauna…stay 15 feet away from animals in the Everglades and do not feed or harass them.
Hey, pinheads on tour boats…shut up or keep it down when the paid person is presenting.
Hey, pinheads everywhere…do not anchor in navigational channels and throw your trash in a trash can.