FANTASTIC ANIMALS UP CLOSE
Young or old, big or small, something that all our passengers enjoy experiencing is the amazing wildlife we see on our sails. The Intracoastal Waterway is teeming with life, from the sky down to the deep, blue sea. We frequently see sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, jellyfish, manta rays and even the occasional right whale and shark swimming in the waters. Looking up, many birds soar, including osprey, American bald eagles, kites, pelicans and least terns. Look towards the rich marsh, and you’ll find egrets, herons, kingfishers, oystercatchers, anhinga, cormorants and roseate spoonbills. Our crew always keeps an eye out for wildlife, but our Sail Science excursions are where we really explore the fantastic animals that we share the waterways with. Once your feet are firmly back on the ground, you may want to see some of these creatures close up and learn even more fascinating facts. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite animal experiences around!
MARINELAND DOLPHIN ADVENTURE
There’s nothing like seeing your first dolphin swimming alongside a boat. These aquatic mammals are curious and playful – they love riding bow wakes and checking out the scene. Marineland Dolphin Adventure is the perfect place to get up close and personal with them! But Marineland is more than a place to play with dolphins. It has a rich 80-year history, appearing in the spotlight as the site of Hollywood films, making significant contributions to marine science and promoting the conservation and protection of dolphins and their habitat. Marineland offers many experiences, from general admission, which includes access to view various animal habitats, including bottlenose dolphins, sharks, sea turtles and red-footed tortoises, to immersive swim-with-the-dolphins adventures.
ST AUGUSTINE ALLIGATOR FARM AND ZOOLOGICAL PARK
You may be asking yourself, “Hold it, are we going to see alligators on our sail?!” Honestly, probably not. But don’t be fooled by the name Alligator Farm. Yes, they have alligators and crocodiles. But they also have a menagerie of other animals, including a natural rookery (a.k.a. a colony of breeding animals). The St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s two-acre native swamp habitat is an open space where alligators glide through the marsh, and all types of birds nest and lay their eggs in the expansive oak canopy. You can come eye-to-eye with a nesting wood stork, roseate spoonbill or egret. It’s a truly magical experience.
THE SEA TURTLE HOSPITAL
Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience is a full-time University of Florida research center for biomedical research and biotechnology located in St. Augustine, Florida. Founded in 1974, the Whitney Lab is dedicated to using marine model animals for studying fundamental problems in biology and applying that knowledge to issues of human health, natural resources and the environment. They also operate the Sea Turtle Hospital, which opened in October 2015 to provide rehabilitation, education and research for sea turtle conservation in Northeast Florida. They offer private tours of the facility and educational seminars and events throughout the year.
ANASTASIA STATE PARK
This Florida State Park is a magical retreat with over 1,600 acres of unspoiled beaches, tidal marshes, maritime hammocks and ancient sand dunes. It’s a haven for wildlife of all kinds. The estuaries are home to sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and more, while the terrestrial parts of the park are home to gopher tortoises, snakes, raccoons, squirrels and so many birds! Anastasia State Park is a bird-watcher’s paradise with over 195 verified species sightings. The park is one of the most important areas for beach-nesting birds along the east coast of Florida, hosting imperiled species such as least terns, Wilson’s plovers and black skimmers. Anastasia State Park is located along the Atlantic Flyway for migrating birds, which migrate thousands of miles in the fall and spring and often suffer from exhaustion and lack of nutrition. The park provides a critical stopping point where birds can feed and rest. Their knowledgeable rangers offer monthly bird walks, or you can grab some binoculars and explore!
ST AUGUSTINE AQUARIUM
Get up close and personal with sea creatures at the St. Augustine Aquarium. This attraction is an immersive experience where guests are encouraged to learn, touch and interact with a host of sea animals. Guided tours are offered with marine biologists or guests can enjoy free time to explore. Their open-air exhibits give visitors a chance to touch sea urchins, sea stars, horseshoe crabs and more. Guests can snorkel with Florida Reef Fish and Rays and even feed them!
JACKSONVILLE ZOO AND GARDENS
This one is a haul, but it’s totally worth it. Something you may not know about this world-class zoo is that they are a rehabilitation center for sick and injured manatees. The zoo has a Marine Mammal Response Team that assists the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with the rescue and transport of injured marine mammals to rehabilitation centers in Florida, including their own Manatee Critical Care Center. Once animals have recovered, they are released back into the wild. They have just broken ground on an expanded care facility that will triple their capacity for care. They offer limited viewings of the manatees, but visitors can enjoy seeing many other animals and birds.
SAIL SCIENCE ADVENTURES
We love getting wild with wildlife! Book your Sail Science Adventure today and experience the beauty of nature and its creatures.