Kayaking Eddy Creek – Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

It was just after dawn as I pushed my way kayak from the launch site and into the waters of Eddy Creek at Canaveral National Seashore. As I paddled the kayak gained speed and soon I was into a paddling rhythm. Schools of mullet swirled ahead of me as the kayak made a barely discernible hiss through the water. As I paddled along the southern shoreline of the creek a movement about 100 yards ahead on the shoreline ahead of me caught my attention. It was a large alligator casually entering the water. It seemed like it was about 10 feet in length, but then again they always look bigger when you are in a kayak. Still there was no mistaking the fact that it was a large, mature, and powerful adult. It always amazes me how this large lizard-like reptile can completely hold its body off the ground as it walks. I then remembered my bow camera mounted to the front of the kayak and reached forward to turn it on the reptile but it was now in the water and submerged under the surface. Knowing that alligators are typically not a threat to kayakers, especially in wide open waters where there is room for them to avoid you, I continued heading west towards the Mosquito Lagoon. I could hear the waves of the Atlantic crashing on Playalinda Beach just over the dunes behind the launch site. After paddling along the islands at the mouth of the cove in the Mosquito Lagoon I ventured along the northern shoreline into the northern cove. The annual bird migrants were just beginning to arrive as evidenced by a group of Great Egrets roosting in the trees just beyond the shoreline mangroves. I then found a channel into the surrounding salt marsh from an opening barely wide enough for my kayak to fit and I wondered if anyone had ever had another boat in this particular spot. It was just another beautiful day in Paradise.

Eddy Creek is the remnants of an ancient inlet that once connected the Mosquito Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean, probably about two thousand years ago. As the tides coursed in and out of the lagoon through the inlet sediments were deposited, creating a mosaic of coves, islands, and sandbars. Over a period of time, with no major storm events the tendency of an inlet is to fill in, cutting off the lagoon from the ocean. Today what is called Eddy Creek is actually a protected cove surrounded by mangroves, with two smaller islands at the mouth to the lagoon while just outside the cove to the south west are several more islands covered with mangroves. Another cove area to the south, Max Hoeck Creek, provides additional protected paddling while to the north along the shoreline brings you to Gallinipper Basin. Extensive shallow flats covered with some of the lushest sea-grasses in the entire Indian River Lagoon system are everywhere, cut with natural channels left over from earlier tidal influences. Wildlife abounds here. Many species of Birdlife, West Indian Manatees, Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, and Alligators are common sightings here. The fish life is incredible and kayakers studying the grassflats are rewarded with sightings of mullet, stingrays, horseshoe crabs and more. Sea Turtles are another possibility. If while paddling over the flats and you see a large hump in the water moving away from you, chances are your presence has just spooked one of the trophy Redfish the area is famous for. Redfish exceeding 20 lbs. are common here and the fishing can be spectacular. Spotted Sea-trout are another favorite while Snook and Tarpon are also a possibility. Kayak Fishing is fast becoming one of the most popular sports here if it isn’t already.

Eddy Creek is located within the South District of Canaveral National Seashore and can be reached from the City of Titusville by crossing the Max Brewer Causeway at State Road 406 or Garden Street and driving east through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. When you see the turn off for Black Point Wildlife Drive, stay to the right and in 4.5 miles you will come to a stop light. Continue through the stoplight and the road will take you to the check in station for the National Seashore. There is a small fee to enter and an annual pass can be purchased. After the pay station continue on until the road makes a sharp curve to the left. Soon you will see the numbered parking areas for the beach. Eddy Creek will be between beach access points 7 and 8 and will be the first one on the left side of this road. Drop the kayaks off at the water’s edge by the boat ramp and park in the area provided. Restrooms are provided here as well as a dock for viewing and fishing.

September 22, 2011

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