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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sandollars Friends and Photography

Two names I always enjoy hearing together are Paul and Koni.  We always have a good time. Koni is a breath of fresh air and Paul is a pleasure to learn from and talk cameras. Paul is a superb photographer from the wonderful state of South Dakota. His images of the state are amazing. This trip I got to meet Koni's son Ross and his wife Danielle. (Both Graduates from the University of Nebraska) We had a relaxing ride on the water and the beach was full of sand dollars. Paul was busy capturing the landscapes on the beach while the rest of us walked, talked and shelled on the beach. Paul took some great photos of Koni, Danielle and I looking at a sable palm. (Thanks Paul) I was pointing out the different uses of the plant and how the natives used the plant as cordage fiber for their fishing nets. The trip back to Captiva was filled with a quick stop by Captain Brian's "secret spot", followed by a  longer stop at a local watering hole on one of the islands where smugglers and President's daughters have both sat.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shelling The Out Islands

I enjoyed taking Gail and Hal around the islands looking for shells.  They got hooked on shelling in Mexico. It was their first time to this area shelling. Our first stop was at a little spot I like to stop at when the wind is just right because nobody shells there. :) We started by finding  a tusk shell.  Then a paper fig. Hal has a keen eye for finding coquinas and found many doubles of yellow, pink, and blue. After shelling at secret spot number one we cruised to secret spot number two. The day before the wind was out of the west with a big gentle swell pushing in. (I love those gentle swells. I could watch them forever.) Today the Gulf had layed down considerably since I left it 11 hours ago. I had a  feeling secret spot number two would be good. It turned out to be very good. We found many olives and a few sand dollars.  Gail found many beautiful lighting whelks and one outstanding albino lightning whelk. Hal with his keen eye found two kings crowns, then Gail found the third one of the day not far from where the others were found.  Then the beach revealed an elusive scotch bonnet. (I thought of my friend Moria, and then Pam, then I took a photo with shaky hands) It was a great day of shelling. Thank you Hal and Gail. Great finds!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mary From Minnesota

You never know who you will run into on the island. Today, I went to the north end of Cayo Costa for a cookout. I heard a lady say, "I am Mary from Minnesota". Last December I brought her and her daughter from the south end of the island up to the cabins. We were the only three people on the island that day. She has been camping on the island since the 80's . Her knowledge of the island intrigues me and she is a wealth of knowledge.
Today, she asked if I had ever been to a certain part of the island which she described with great detail. After many minutes of thought, I told her I had not been there. She asked if I wanted to go. That took all of 2 seconds to decide. We traveled to the location, boating then hiking for awhile. WOW!!!!! Did I say, "WOW!"  The spot she took me to was amazing!  It was a spot I had never been to before. The Joe Wood Tree in the third photo up is the largest species I have ever witnessed. The whole place was unbelievable. The oaks were stunning. The elevation intriguing. I enjoyed today immensely. I look forward to learning and researching more about the unusual location I was shown today. Thank you Mary from Minnesota for showing me a place on Cayo Costa I did not know existed. I am still mystified.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mangroves at First Light

I enjoyed taking this photo of the sun rising through the mangroves. Early morning on the water is one of my favorite times of day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Birding and Shelling


The boat was full of avid birders and veteran shell collectors - Donna, Max, Nancy, Bruce and Mimi. Donna wanted to see a magnificent frigate bird and as fate would have it, we observed one while sitting on the boat at the dock. The trip was filled with dolphin watching and many species of birds.  The shell collecting was also good. Highlights of shells found were Nancy finding a great piece of a lions paw and Donna found a large baby's ear.  Mimi was delighted observing the bird life. She also found some beautiful perfect worm shells. The weather was like a postcard.  I enjoyed watching the wildlife fly into the view of the passengers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shelling in March

The 75th Annual Shell Fair will be here before you know it. Activities start in February. I plan on being at a lot of the events this year. The month of March is booking up. A lot of you have already booked trips and currently there are only a few spots open in March. If you are planning on going out in March you may consider booking soon. I look forward to seeing a lot of you at the Shell Fair.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Captain Brian Exploring and Shell Collecting

Last week I spent two days exploring and shell collecting south of Marco Island.  The tides that far south are tricky and dictate where you travel. The shell collecting was superb and the wind had the tides low. The Kings Crown was my best find. The cones had some unusual markings that are most intriguing. I was more than thrilled to find them. The true tulips were amazing. (Nick Hahn would have been going crazy, and I am sure he would have found more tulips) The albino lightning whelk was also a cool find.  Going off the beaten path is always interesting. I enjoyed the smells, landscapes and solitude of the places just off the far horizon.