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Learn about the ocean through paddling excursions

January 26, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel Sea School is offering an opportunity for individuals to experience the ocean in an intimate way through paddling excursions.

"In contrast to a motorized boat, paddling allows one to slow down and to comprehensively participate in the experience," Sanibel Sea School Outdoor Educator Coordinator Walter Cheatham said. "The quiet of the paddling provides much closer interactions with wildlife, as well."

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The Sanibel Sea School is offering three paddleboarding excursions that enable participants to learn about and experience the ocean in a new and intimate way.

The three-hour stand up paddleboarding excursions include the "Introduction to Coastal Excursions" on Saturday mornings, and "Into the Seagrass" and "Mangroves" are offered on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

"However, in February these times will change and the frequency of our endeavors will greatly increase," he said.

Cheatham said "Introduction to Coastal Excursions" is designed to be a survey of the ecosystems one might experience while vacationing on Sanibel.

"The value here is that you take the memories of these ecosystems with you when you return home. Those memories are an emotional investment in the future of our oceans," he said.

The excursion launches from Bowman's Beach because it provides a great opportunity to see mangroves, estuaries and beaches.

"Intro to Seagrass" will help individuals understand why they are an integral component to estuarine ecosystems. Estuaries are the nurseries of the oceans. In addition, seagrass is the middle ground between freshwaters and oceans.

"If these ecosystems are not healthy, many aspects of our daily lives can be compromised," he said.

The excursion takes place on the causeway because it showcases the contrast between what appears to be just open water on the surface versus the diverse ecosystem underwater.

"With paddleboarding over the seagrasses, it invites people to truly consider the world beneath their feet," Cheatham said.

The final excursion on mangroves will show participants the "walking trees."

"Paddling mangroves is paddling a different world, a prehistoric world," Cheatham said. "We travel to Bunche Beach Preserve and immerse ourselves in mangrove ecology. If you wanna know why they are so cool, come paddleboard with me and you'll see what I do."

The cost is $75 per person.

Those interested can register at

"Paddling and talking are my two favorite things in the world, with the exception of hanging out with my kids," Cheatham said. "These excursions are absolutely the most fun you will have in science class. Where else can you learn mangrove ecology one moment and be laughing with your family the next?



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