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Bottlenose Dolphin

dolphinWhile dolphins are marine mammals, they often come into the Intracoastal Waterway or St. Johns River. They may even come up to your canoe or kayak to check you out. Bottlenose dolphins grow up to eight or nine feet long and 400 to 500 pounds. They use echolocation to find fish and other prey as well as to avoid boats and other dangers.

Intracoastal Salt Marsh Paddling Guide


ospreyOspreys are large birds of prey that hunt fish for food. They “dive” talons-first into the ICW to catch their prey. Ospreys mate for life and build large nests in dead trees or on power poles. Father ospreys catch six to eight fish per day for their two or three nestlings and mate. The bottoms of their feet are covered by short spines that help them hang on to slimy fish. Their oily feathers keep them from getting waterlogged.

Intracoastal Salt Marsh Paddling Guide

Snowy Egret

egretThis species is a beautiful and graceful inhabitant of swamp, marsh and wetland habitats such those found in the ICW. These wading birds have a snowy white plumage with a black bill, black legs and yellow feet they sometimes use as lures. Snowy egrets feed on fish, crabs, frogs, insects and lizards. Snowy Egrets have a low croaking voice or a bubbling wulla-wulla-wulla in colonies. This pretty bird can grow over two feet long and have a wing span of over three feet.

Intracoastal Salt Marsh Paddling Guide

Great Blue Heron

heronThis is the largest heron in North America - blue gray overall with black flight feathers. Its neck is rusty-gray with a pale head adjoined by a pair of black plume feathers and a yellow bill. Blue herons can grow up to four and a half feet tall and have nearly a six foot wing span. The blue heron’s call is a harsh croak. The large bird is most vocal during the breeding season, but will call if disturbed or involved in a territorial dispute. Being the largest wading bird in the ICW, the blue heron can wade in deeper water to hunt larger fish than other wading birds.

Intracoastal Salt Marsh Paddling Guide

Fiddler Crab

crabWaving his huge claw, the male fiddler crab tries to attract a female, while also fending off challenging males.Dancing to and fro along the water’s edge near their burrows, fiddlers find food by filtering decaying matter left behind by the tides.So ingrained are their “circadian rhythms” that their 24-hour activity patterns continue on in the laboratory even without the influence of sun, the moon, or the tides.