Florida Nature Experiences

Exploring The Fascinating World Of Bats At The Lubee Bat Conservancy And Photo Gallery

View the photo gallery at the end of the blog.

Nestled in the heart of Gainesville, Florida, lies a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike—the Lubee Bat Conservancy. Established in 1989, this unique conservation facility is dedicated to the preservation and study of fruit bats, also known as megabats or flying foxes. Spread across 110 acres of lush greenery, the Lubee Bat Conservancy provides a remarkable opportunity to learn about these fascinating creatures up close and personal. Let’s delve into the wonders that await within its doors.

At the core of the Lubee Bat Conservancy’s mission is the conservation and preservation of bats. With a strong focus on fruit bats, they play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitats by pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds. The conservatory works tirelessly to protect these remarkable creatures, whose populations are under threat due to deforestation, habitat loss, and climate change.

One of the highlights of the Lubee Bat Conservancy is its commitment to education. Visitors of all ages can engage in interactive and informative experiences, gaining a deeper understanding of bats’ importance in our ecosystems. Guided tours provide a comprehensive overview of bat biology, behavior, and conservation efforts. Knowledgeable staff members offer engaging presentations, dispelling myths and misconceptions about bats while highlighting their critical role.

As you explore the conservatory’s expansive grounds, you’ll encounter numerous enclosures housing various species of fruit bats. The naturalistic habitats provide the bats with ample space to fly, roost, and socialize. Observing these creatures in action is an awe-inspiring experience, as you witness their graceful flight and unique behaviors. Additionally, Lubee Bat Conservancy offers visitors the opportunity to witness bat feedings—a truly memorable sight.

The Conservancy’s commitment to research and conservation extends beyond its educational endeavors. Lubee Bat Conservatory collaborates with scientists and researchers from around the world to better understand bats’ ecological importance and address the challenges they face. By studying bat behavior, ecology, and genetics, the conservatory contributes valuable insights to the scientific community. Moreover, they actively participate in conservation programs and initiatives, striving to protect bat populations and their habitats.

The Lubee Bat Conservancy stands as a beacon of hope and knowledge in the realm of bat conservation. Through its educational programs, research efforts, and commitment to preserving these extraordinary creatures, the conservatory inspires visitors to appreciate and protect bats for future generations. Whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast, a curious student, or simply seeking a unique experience, a visit to the Lubee Bat Conservancy will leave you with a profound appreciation for these often-misunderstood mammals. Embark on a journey of discovery and unlock the secrets of the bat world at this remarkable facility.

Enjoy my photo gallery of the photo shoot at Lubee Bat Conservancy

Shelling with Ali Mick of SWFL Shell Guide In the 10,000 Islands

Shelling is a time-honored tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is the act of collecting shells that have washed up on shore, and it is a beloved activity for many people around the world. However, in Southwest Florida, shelling is taken to a whole new level. The area is home to some of the best shelling beaches in the world, and the sheer variety and quantity of shells that can be found there are truly remarkable.

One of the most experienced and knowledgeable shellers in the area is Ali of SWFL Shell Guide. With over 10,000 hours of shelling under her belt, Ali is a true expert when it comes to finding and identifying shells. She offers guided shelling tours in the 10,000 Island area, which is known for its abundance of shells. These tours are a great way to learn more about shelling and to find some truly amazing specimens.

So what makes shelling in Southwest Florida so special? For one thing, the area is home to a unique ecosystem that is ideal for shell formation. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow, sandy bottoms provide the perfect conditions for mollusks and other shellfish to thrive. As a result, the beaches are constantly replenished with new shells, and each day brings a fresh supply of treasures to be discovered.

Another factor that sets Southwest Florida apart is the sheer variety of shells that can be found there. The area is home to hundreds of different species of mollusks, and each one creates a unique type of shell. Some of the most prized specimens include the lightning whelk, the junonia, and the alphabet cone, all of which are commonly found in the area. In addition to these more rare and valuable shells, there are also plenty of common shells to be found, such as sand dollars, scallops, and cockles.

Of course, finding these shells is not always easy. It takes a trained eye to spot them in the sand, and even then, they can be easily missed. That’s where Ali of SWFL Shell Guide comes in. With her years of experience, she knows exactly where to look for the best shells, and she can help her clients spot even the most elusive specimens. She also offers tips on how to identify different types of shells, which is helpful for those who are just starting out in the hobby.

In addition to the thrill of finding new shells, shelling in Southwest Florida also offers a glimpse into the area’s rich natural history. Many of the shells found on the beaches are hundreds or even thousands of years old, and they provide a window into the area’s past. Some of the most interesting specimens include fossilized shells from ancient sea creatures that once lived in the area. By collecting and studying these shells, shelling enthusiasts can gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and the history of the area.

Overall, shelling in Southwest Florida is a unique and rewarding experience that is not to be missed. Whether you are a seasoned shell collector or just starting out, the area offers something for everyone. With the help of an experienced guide like Ali of SWFL Shell Guide, you can make the most of your shelling experience and discover some truly amazing treasures along the way. So if you’re planning a trip to the area, be sure to put shelling at the top of your list of things to do – you won’t regret it!

Click here for more information on booking a tour with Ali of SWFL Shell Guide.

Marathon, Florida, of the Florida Keys

About halfway between Key Largo and Key West in the Florida Keys is a great little place called Marathon. Marathon is set on 13 islands and is known for its beaches and barrier reefs. Coco Plum Beach and Sombrero Beach are two favorites. Curry Hammock State Park is also a great place to spend some time. The Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital are on the Gulf side. If you are looking for a great places to eat, you won’t be disappointed. While we were there, we never experienced a bad meal. Be sure to call ahead for reservations or possible wait time. After your meal there is nothing like enjoying a tropical cocktail while you sit, relax and watch the sun melt into the ocean at a Tiki Bar. Experiencing a Florida Keys sunset is a fantastic way to end your day’s adventure.


The Keys offer a lot. If you do decide to spend your vacation in Marathon, you will never be bored. When there, you must take one of the snorkeling or diving tours. We spent an afternoon snorkeling with Captain Hook’s.

Snorkeling off Marathon, FL

Whether you are a novice or veteran snorkeler, Captain Hook’s can accommodate you. Before you leave the dock, you will get an orientation on what you need to know while on the boat and while snorkeling. The crew is certified in water rescue and safety is always in the forefront. You can bring your own gear, or you can rent gear.

Captain Hook’s regularly visits the Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPA’s) that are a part of the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. The Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary is the third largest living coral barrier reef system in the world. These are biologically important areas that help sustain critical marine habitats and species. They offer beautiful coral reef formations and a diversity of fish and some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Keys.

For more information on diving with Captain Hook’s Dive Tours go to https://captainhooks.com/

A couple of things to remember. Please don’t touch the coral when snorkeling. You will kill it. Bring reef safe sunscreen, but not spray on.

Rehabbing Turtle

The Turtle Hospital

The Turtle Hospital is a fascinating place that you have to visit. The tour is highly educational. You learn about the threats to the sea turtles and how you can help keep them safe.

The tour takes about an hour. First you spend time inside where you get educated about the facilities and sea turtles in a classroom setting. The tour then takes you outside where you actually get to see the turtles that are currently being rehabilitated. You learn about how they treat various issues the turtles come in with. They will give you information on what to do if you find a sea turtle in distress.

The hospital is an amazing facility. They are successful in returning many turtles back into the wild. Some turtles have conditions that are so severe they end up living at the hospital.

For more information on the turtle hospital, go to https://www.turtlehospital.org/


Marathon Florida has plenty to do and see. Where Key West is often the ultimate destination when traveling the Keys, make sure to leave some time to enjoy some of the other islands on the way. A vacation in Marathon alone would be a wonderful time. Marathon provides plenty of sun, water activities and science.

Swimming with the Manatees of Crystal River

ManateeManatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. These creatures, who are closely related to the elephant, are extremely unique. Viewing manatees is fascinating. Swimming with them is exhilarating.

Crystal River is located near Kings Bay. The water temperature in Kings Bay is consistently 72 degrees year-round. The springs in the area are the reason for this stable water temperature. Because of the 72 degree water temperatures, large numbers of manatees migrate to the Kings Bay/Crystal River area during the winter months to escape the cold waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Some of them stay in the bay through the summer months. This creates a perfect opportunity for you to get up close and personal with these gentle giants.

There are various vehicles which allow you to view manatees from a close range. You can view them from the shore, you can kayak around the bay or you can swim with them. Yes, you can swim with these amazing creatures and Crystal River is one of the only places in Florida where you’re legally permitted to swim with manatees in their natural habitat. But before you jump in the water, be advised there a specific rules on the do’s and don’ts of interacting with the manatees.

Swimming with Manatees: 

River Ventures is the tour we took when we swam with manatees. The bars you see are not cages. At the time we were there, they were in the process of re-establishing the sea grass in the area. The bars are protecting the sea grass restoration process. The manatees were free to come and go.

The tour is about 3 hours from start to finish. Before you leave for the tour, you will be fully briefed on rules surrounding this activity. You will be provided with masks, snorkels and wet suits. A photo package is available at the end of the tour, but you are welcome to take your own videos and photos.

You are brought out to the swim area by a certified Master Captain. While on the tour, you will learn many things about the manatees and the history of manatees in the Crystal River area. In the water you will be snorkeling with pool noodles which will help support you. While in the water you are only allowed to passively interact with the manatees. The pre-tour briefing will explain the do’s and don’ts of passive interaction.

River Ventures claims you will never be the same after meeting the friendly gentle giants of the sea. We can guarantee their claim is true. The experience was exhilarating and yet amazingly calming.

River ventures Tour Center is located at 498 S.E. Kings Bay Drive Crystal River, FL. You can go to http://www.riverventures.com for more information and learn how to contact them for more information, tour schedules, pricing and how to book.

#manatees #swimwithmanatees #riverventures #riverventuresmanatees #riverventuresswimwithmanatees #riverventuresmanateetours


My Blog

IMAG1821.JPGMany years ago, just after getting married, I took my wife and her boys to Florida. First we spent a day at Universal Studios. Theme parks are always a blast. Then we visited the east coast. We spent some time on Cocoa Beach, Florida. The surf, sun and sand was wonderful.

Next we headed to the gulf side of Florida. We went over to Clearwater. My wife fell in love with the white sand, the surf and the sunset. That night she saw her first dolphin. We enjoyed other places during our stay, like Tarpon Springs.

Since then we returned to Florida on a regular basis. Each time we experienced amazing adventures. Our adventures do not revolve around the normal tourist attractions. Florida is so much more. Nature and wildlife are the real adventures. We loved our adventures so much we are retiring and will be living in Florida full time.

This blog will journal our adventures. Yes, some will feature the places everyone wants to go. Some will be of those hidden away gems. I hope our adventures will lead you to your adventures.