Last weekend my husband woke me up and said, “Let’s go on an adventure. Be ready in 45 minutes.” I was instantly intrigued and after I got over the notion that I wasn’t getting a new puppy (or a sweet little pig) I started listing all the things he could have secretly planned. The only other information I could get out of him was that a t-shirt and shorts would be appropriate attire and I’d be doing some walking, sitting, and a little standing. So basically I was clueless.
We drove an hour north to Melbourne and drove through the back roads. At this point I thought maybe me were going horse back riding. Once we pulled in to the Lake Washington boat ramp I saw it…an airboat! I have always wanted to go on an airboat tour and a few weeks prior I had casually mentioned wanting to. To sweeten the deal even more my sweet sister and nieces drove down to join us (it was my birthday weekend and they wanted to celebrate with me).
It was a bright, sunny, beautiful morning. The lake was calm with lilly pads gracefully floating along the surface. Our airboat tour launched from Lake Washington, which is apart of the St. Johns River – one of the only north flowing rivers in the United States.
With the roar of the engine behind us we started flying across the water through the marshlands. We made our way around the bank of the lake and slowed to a troll. Our awesome tour guide Mike told us to keep a look out for alligators along the bank. While trolling along my husband spotted an alligator right before it dropped down under the water. Did you know that roughly 1.25 million alligators call Florida home? They were even named the state reptile in 1987 .
Following the bank we continued our cruise and located an alligator nest. The babies were only 10 days old and were still so tiny. You had to take your time to spot the few that had survived, but once you did you could make out their yellow striping. Mating season was in May and the female alligator built a nest of 20-50 eggs. The nest was built from vegetation, sticks, leaves, and mud in a sheltered spot in the marsh. Once the eggs are laid, the mama alligator covered them with more vegetation which helped keep the nest warm.
The temperature of the nest while the eggs were developing determined the sex of the alligator. Nests hatched at a temperature of 93 degrees or more are males and nests hatched at a lower temperature become females. Because this nest was built on the cooler marsh it produced females.
The morning was so much fun and our guide Mike was hilarious. He made the educational parts entertaining and we all left with a new appreciation for alligators. I’m so happy we took the time to explore our beautiful state and if you ever find yourself in Melbourne do yourself a favor and look up Melbourne Airboat Rides.
Happy exploring friends!
Does your state have a fun attraction? Please share!