If you're visiting southwest Florida with friends and family, a dolphin watch is likely high on your list of things to do. While the bottlenose dolphin can be found in warm and temperate seas worldwide, the robust eco-system based in the mangrove keys of the 10,000 islands provides the perfect year-round habitat for these intelligent and playful mammals, making them less elusive here than the migratory populations found in the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere.
If you've spent any time on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, you've likely seen pods of dolphin breaching near shore, but if you'd like to get a closer look and learn more about these remarkable animals, booking a dolphin tour from Marco Island is an excellent option. You'll find dolphin tour providers up and down the coast, but Marco Island's proximity to the maze of nationally protected mangrove keys in the northern stretch of the Everglades makes it uniquely well-suited to finding pods of dolphin consistently. A few of the more experienced tour providers in the area even guarantee dolphin sightings on your adventure.
The 10,000 Islands, of which Marco Island is a part, is a huge labyrinth of white sand islands and mangrove keys just south of Naples and Fort Myers. The root structure of the red mangrove trees, which compose much of the 10,000 islands, creates one of the most dense eco-systems on earth and along with it the basis for a healthy and abundant food chain. This makes the protected waters of the 10,000 Islands a popular fishing destination for humans and dolphin alike. With no natural predators in the region, the bottlenose dolphin has thrived here year-round, creating a complex social structure and fishing techniques unique to the area. A large, healthy population of dolphin and an intricate system of calm waterways make Marco Island one of the world's premier launching points for a dolphin watching adventure.
Tips for Dolphin Watching
Provided that you don't attempt to feed or swim with dolphin, there's really no wrong way, but here are some helpful tips to enhance your experience. Consider the following: