Immerse in an ECO-Tour and Experience Southwest Florida Islands by Boat

“Captain Brian Holaway is well versed in the intricacies of our unmatched locale. He can guide to and through a multitude of out-of-the way tidal creeks, bayous, keys and islands. More important is his passionate interest and respect for the region. With unique insights from his many explorations and his studies, not only does he identify the birds and wildlife that inhabit our semi-tropical watery land, but he explains their interconnectedness to their environment and each other. In addition, he shares the fascinating history of rugged people who came long before us: Florida Native Indians, the Calusa, the Spanish, the Cubans, early homesteaders, and the wisdom evident in the growth of their culture.

You will come away with great enjoyment and a new understanding of this beautiful place and its history.”

Historian, Betty Anholt
Author of Sanibel’s Story

Friday, July 23, 2010

Panama Day Four

The morning started with light rain and a walk into the forest. The tide was low when I returned to the house. (13 foot tides in panama.) Exploring the beach was the plan for the rest of the morning. I walked to the mouth of the Rio Negro and started to back track looking for shells in the sea weed. This was my most productive day of shelling. Cowries, cone shells and a plethora of shells that still need to be identified were found. The shell bag was now full and starting to rip in various places. I walked back to the house observing the different round rocks along the beach. I decided to eat lunch, although I had no idea what time it was. While eating lunch with Cesar, Miguel the Captain and guide from yesterdays expeditions walked barefoot up the dirt trail. I fixed him lunch and he ate broccoli for the first time in his life. I worked on my Spanish. Cesar said he needed to give Miguel a ride, so we loaded the cooler up and traveled to his fish market where it was payday for Miguel. The beach close to the fish market was a turtle protection/ hatchery area. They released over 20,000 leatherback babies last year. I talked to the person in charge and learned a lot. He showed me whale bones that washed up a while back. The whale was over 65 feet. I held the back fluke bone. This area of the beach was also where they make Panga boats for the locals. It was nice talking to the boatbuilder. The beach was breathtaking, and the sand was black. After leaving the beach, Cesar took the 4 Runner through dirt roads to the top of a mountain, by far the steepest road I have ever been on. The horses we passed on the way looked haggard as they trudged up the wet red dirt road.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Panama Day 3

The day before America's Independence day, I set out on a 27 foot boat with a 60 horse Yamaha tiller steering engine on the biggest ocean on this sphere, we call Earth. In search of fish to eat, shells to bring home and landscapes to forever fill my mind. The guide and Captain of the vessel, Miguel was from a nearby Island. His family has lived on the island since the 1600's. Whales were observed with great awe. The spouting of the whale when it blows water is most indescribable. The day on the water in the pacific was as big as the Ocean itself. Viewing whales was spectacular. I was fortunate to see a mother and her calf. I continued to take many photos of the waves crashing on the rocks of an off shore island. After catching a few large Spanish mackerel. I was more than ready to explore the island and look for beach treasures. Wow! The shell collecting was superb. The plant life tantalizing. The orchids in bloom were a pleasure to observe. Butterflies, wasps and bees were utilizing the nectar from a seaward sprawling tree that I could not identify, but looked hauntingly familiar. Have you ever seen a blue wasp? My neck hurt from trying to observe the shells, flowering plants, insects and driftwood this island possessed. The waterfalls were mythical. the flowering plants unbelievable. I still shake my head in amazement while I type.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Panama day 2

My guide, Cesar, thought it would be a good day for a drive in the country. I couldn't have agreed more. Cesar is a team roper and a cow hand, as well as a guide. Growing up in western Nebraska I was around cattle, many rodoes and some of my best friends are ropers. Needless to say, an enjoyable time was had driving to the far stretches of Panama through handmade cattle gates, pastures, forging rivers and walking beaches with no footprints except for the occassional crab. We stopped by old fish markets, observed fishermen mending nets, just like the Calusa of southwest Florida did hundreds of years ago. The vistas were stunning. The people were friendly and answered all my curious questions. The flora observed was undeniably mind shattering.

Panama Day One

Having the right guide makes all the difference. Lewis and Clark had Sacagawea, Ponce deLeon had natives of the area or at least from Cuba to help show him the way to Florida. On my trip to Panama I also had a great guide, Cesar, pronounced (Say sir).
I flew into Panama city on a low tide, looking down on the frigate birds as we made the final approach my thoughts were of Totch Brown and how he had landed in this spot a time or two, also of my 8th grade social studies book studying the isthmus of Panama.
My destination- 3 hours from Panama city. The trip was long but enjoyable. I studied the leaf patterns of the trees, making myself familiar with the different plants. My mind went back to the Amazon and the different patterns of leaves observed 10 years previous. The trees in Panama are some of the biggest I have ever seen. Unbelievably amazing , I never tire of looking at flora.
Cesar drove to our destination in the dark, dodging potholes in the road with plants growing out of them.
The morning brought a loud surf to my ears. I sprang out of bed and observed hummingbirds of all colors, green parrots, a kingbird, orchids and bromeliads on my quick walk to the beach just 40 feet from the house. The beach was filled with rocks, driftwood of magnitude proportions, and yes, sea shells.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Spent a week in Panama in a remote location. I still need to unpack and organize all of the treasures that cleared customs. Photographs taken were over 2000. I still have not observed over half. Panama still has my head spinning for many different reasons. More to follow.