Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | April 19, 2011

Coastal Tidewaters

Until we came to Cedar Key, neither Keith nor I ever lived in a place where the tides had an impact on our lives.

As a teenager, I spent many hours lounging on the Pacific Ocean beaches of California, but that particular activity was not really affected by the tide, other than it changed the distance you had to walk from your blanket to the water.

Sunset Isle RV ~ our current home ~ is situated on an island surrounded by the tidal backwaters of the Gulf of Mexico.

These waters are “brackish” ~ part salt water from the Gulf and part fresh from the Suwannee River.

This area is full of tiny little grassy mounds that poke their tops out of the waters when the tide is in, and which show themselves completely when the tide is low.

There are two high and two low tides every day, and it seems that the waters are always either coming or going.

Fishing is best when the tide is coming in, and Keith has been trying to get out at that time the past few days.

So far he’s caught blue crab, catfish, mullet, and a stingray, which he managed to get off his line by stepping on the tail to hold it down while he removed the hook.

It’s a good thing that there was a local fisherman around when that happened, to walk him through the process, because Keith wasn’t quite sure how to handle that thing without getting stung.

The view from our docks changes completely with the tides…when the water is out, we see lots of those little grassy islands, and all manner of water birds searching for food.

They like the tiny fiddler crabs that poke one “leg” out of small holes in the mud, and they search for small fishes trapped in pools created by the receding water.

The birds disappear when the tide is high, and it looks like we are sitting right on the Gulf.

Here are some pictures to give you a better idea of what I am talking about…

Shoreline at low tide

Here is the same shot at high tide…

Shoreline at high tide

These beautiful tidal backwaters are perfect for kayaking and canoeing ~ shallow waters with lots of little islands to explore, and to get up close and personal with the water birds.

Bear in mind, though, that paying attention to the tides is of utmost importance should you paddle off, as you may find yourself stranded in the muck a mile away from shore when the tide goes out!

It’s exciting to live in an ever-changing environment. There’s a lot to learn about what lives beneath these waters.

And, there’s a lot to learn about what lives in the clam beds that line the shore here in Cedar Key, which is known for being one of the largest producers of farm raised clams in the nation.

It’s a short walk down the road to Southern Cross Sea Farms, where you can see clam farming in action and purchase clams as fresh as you will ever get them!

We have not yet tried our hand at steaming clams, but we did sample some at the Island Hotel when we stayed our first night at Cedar Key.

We’ll be sure to buy some soon, though, and report on our experience in a future post!

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