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Manatee Cove Park, Merritt Island
This is one of the best places on the east coast to see manatees. Brevard County has more manatees than another other area of similar size in the world. (Other outstanding paddling venues to see manatees are on the west coast of Florida in the winter, when manatees swim up the crystal clear spring-fed rivers; Crystal River and the Homossassa River)
As we prepared out kayaks and canoe, we looked across the cove and could see the large round shapes of resting manatees and the occasional rear flipper protruding above the surface of the cove. (see photo)
When manatees sleep, they may sink just below the surface and then periodically surface automatically to breath and continue to sleep. If you accidentally paddle over a sleeping manatee in shallow water and startle it awake with your boat on top of it, it is likely to try to swim out from under your boat quickly with its powerful tail, moving your boat forcefully up and down and splashing. Don't panic. You may get wet but most probably won't get hurt at all.
As we exited the channel from the cove into the Indian River, we turned right to paddle north past several islands.
Just beyond those islands in a small bay (a great spot for trout and fishing) we paddled to the mouth of a small channel with a few old fence posts across it. (photo at right).
GPS: N 28.45604° W 080.71986° (actual)
As we paddled into that channel, we could smell sulfur, the sign of well water surfacing into the channel.
The small channel was surrounded by some large trees decorated with hanging Spanish moss, a common enjoyable sight in Florida.
The channel narrowed and continued to the south, but was blocked by fallen brush we chose not to penetrate.
The end of the main channel had an old cement seawall that probably once marked the perimeter of the artesian well.
We paddled back to Manatee Cove around the three island where we saw many birds and redfish.
Next time, we'll bring our fishing tackle.
It's also possible to paddle about 2 miles north from Manatee Cove to Pine Island.