Posts Tagged ‘Anclote Key’

slaying the water demon

Posted: December 23, 2010 by Jeff Fabiszewski in Holiday Season, Open Water Crossings
Tags: ,

The demon is dead.

In the Spring of 2008 Sean and I were leading a group to Anclote Key.  It was an overcast day and the water conditions were mild.  I was doing some stupid things on land the day before and when we were on the Key I slipped and twisted the wrong way getting lunch out of my stern hatch.  Not thinking anything of it we left the Key and headed back to the park.

Then it happened…I thought a bolt of lightning entered my back, zipped down into my left testicle exploding it, then wrapped around my left gluteus maximus, and pierced through my left knee.¬† I could not paddle anymore.¬† All I could do was lay on the back deck.¬† Thankfully I was paddling with experienced friends. ¬†And they knew how to help me. The tow into land seemed to take forever (4+ miles). ¬†After we got to the beach my friends lifted me out of my kayak.

The cause was simple as my doctor later explained…the disk was just counting down like a ticking¬†time bomb¬†and could have bulged at any time¬†putting pressure on the nerve during a simple task like putting away laundry.¬† It was just a coincidence that the disk hit the nerve when I was in my kayak.

It has taken almost two years for me to work up the courage to paddle to Anclote Key.  And Sean and I did this past Tuesday.  Before we began the paddle we were greeted by an unexpected development.  As of the 22nd of November 2010 Pasco County is now charging a user parking fee!  It was only $2.  I have no problem with the fee as long as it is going to keep the park looking good.  And this park is always clean.

Some would say December in Florida is warm.  Well for us locals it is cold.  Look at how we were bundled up. LOL.

The paddle was great some small swells, and clear water.¬† The water has been cold, around 50’F.¬† And we saw the effects of the cold on some aquatic life.¬† We saw several dead catfish and one small shark.¬† I think it was a small hammer head, and Sean thinks it was a small Bonnethead shark.¬† It was about 3 feet long.

We got to the Key to see several raccoon tracks.  How they got on to this island is anyones guess because the mainland is about 4.5 miles away.   But the tracks were not the biggest interest for Sean he made a beeline for the one thing that is always welcoming.  The outhouse!  The Key gets a lot of use and to help keep the land clean the county put up this outhouse.   Surprisingly it does not have a pungent smell.

We had a good lunch and headed back to the park.  The last time I beached my kayak at the park I had to be picked up and carried into a car.  It was so nice to stand up and carry my kayak to the car.

Having a bad experience on the water always makes you respect your friends, gear, and training.  It is good to start the new year with a bad experience left dead on the beach.


Unfortunately as the title alludes to this is an uncomfortable post for many people.  If you are not a local to Clearwater Florida then you did not hear of what happened to an Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin named Dunham this past Tuesday.

In December of 2008 a sick juvenile male dolphin was discovered stranded on Anclote Key.  He was acting listless, the skin dotted with shark bites, and a  long cut to the tail further sapped him of energy.

He was roughly 6 years old and was transported to the Panhandle research lab.  The staff at the Gulf World Marine Park named him Dunham and discovered he was also suffering from pneumonia.

For almost eight months, the staff worked to nursed him back to health with the help of donations and other private funding. Come June he was hunting down live fish with great speed in his 50-foot pool.

On Tuesday he was ready to leave the helping hands and reenter nature.  He was outfitted with a radio transmitter.  The transmitter was designed to further research into dolphin life.  And all was good, for three hours.

He might have been hungry and that is why he headed towards a spoil island in the Intercoastal Waterway.  That shallow water is known for great fishing.  This is July and the shallows are also known for something else.  Shortly Dunham broke the surface of the water revealing the unexpected.  Between the pectoral fin and tail was missing flesh.

He had been bitten.  He surfaced a second time with a larger bite in his belly.  Reports are varied to the length of the shark (8 to 9 foot).  But all agree that it was a tiger shark. This region is commonly known for an increase in the shark population.

The people then euthanize Dunham.

After the event a shark expert for Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute took a moment to examine photos of the wounds. ¬† Brent Winner of the research institute surmised that the dolphin was most likely attacked by several sharks of different species.¬† And the fatal bite was consistent with a medium-sized tiger shark.

I personally have mixed feeling about this event.  What is natural?  What is our roll as humans?  When do we interfere with the natural cycle of life?  How do we value life?  I have read many peoples opinions on other blogs and my head hurts.

I guess what I want to know is, is the life of a hungry dolphin equal to a hungry shark?  Both are equal in nature.  Why do we elevate one and demonize the other?

If we want to be good environmentalists all of God’s creatures should be equally respected, loved, and protected.


Team River Runner is paddling the Anclote River Saturday at 10am.  They have a few new participants that have never been paddling.  Unfortunately I will not be paddling with them tomorrow because I still am sick.


A Marks the location of the put in:
Anclote River Park
1119 Baillies Bluff Road
Holiday, FL

The Tampa Team River Runner Chapter uses Facebook to keep volunteers up to date.