Scientists, Educators, Oystermen, Tour Guides and Outfitters— Personalities as Diverse as the Species in the Estuary
|Captain Clint McMillan shows off two red snapper|
caught in Gulf of Mexico off Apalachicola Bay
along North Florida's panhandle Gulf coast.
The basic lesson is: what happens upstream effects what happens downstream. Apalachicola receives waters from a drainage basin which extends into Alabama and Georgia. Thus, the Bay is susceptible to factors affecting the Chattahoochee and the Flint River systems as well as those affecting Florida’s Apalachicola River. This creates an estuary, where fresh and salt water mix, ideally suited to serve as a nursery where some 186 species of fish, oysters, clams, shrimp and crabs spend their early days. The rich nutrients found in the river drainage basin which boasts more than 1300 species of plants--103 of which have been identified as threatened or endangered—make the sea babies grow quickly into healthy and ultimately tasty catches, creating a bounty for local fishermen and shellfish harvesters.
|Shrimp trawler heads out to sea along Scipio Creek|
near downtown Apalachicola, Florida.
and finfish come from these waters. To protect the marine and plant life, the ANERR much watchdog all the activities upstream to prevent destruction of the delicate eco-systems. Aside from pollution control, the ANERR must fight against the river cities’ demand to take more and more water out of the river, particularly in drought years.
The river flow is variable annually and seasonally and determines salinities in the bay. Low river flow means higher salinities resulting in changes in species distribution and reduction in the commercial harvest.
Our trip to Franklin County made us advocates of the essential ecological preservation work that so many individuals are involved with in the area. Catching a glimpse into the life of the fish and oyster mongerers will leave us ever-appreciative of what it takes to cultivate some of our favorite culinary delicacies. And we are particularly envious of the naturalists who trade the office for a boat decks in their workdays as eco-tourism guides.
For 20 years, Journeys has provided guided kayak, canoe and boat tours ranging from shelling tours to the outer barrier islands, informative historical tours of the estuarine system, dolphin encounter cruises and river, bird watching and sunset tours. Journeys fishing adventures include inshore bay trips, flats and tarpon fishing and deep sea charters. In addition, they are a rental resource for sailboats, powerboats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and canoes. The Journeys team delights in every opportunity to educate children about the local environment, and they specialize in provide many recreational adventures just for kids. A three hour kid’s fishing adventure is offered, and five-day environmental camps for kids are run several times during summer season.