Seafari Eco-Tour Explores Underwater Wonderland in Panama City, Florida
For visitors wanting to add a truly unique experience to their beach vacation and locals interested in exploring the underwater wonderland in their own backyard, the new Seafari Eco-Tour by Capt. Anderson’s Marina delivers 3.5 hours of fun in the form of an educational adventure!
Leaving from the Grand Lagoon (located in the Historic East End of Panama City Beach), participants will see osprey nests, cormorants diving for fish, dolphins trying to steal bait fish from the live wells, and photogenic blue herons and pelicans hanging out on the pilings.
Once in St. Andrews Bay, the crew will set out a permitted trawl net (the only permitted trawl net in the area) which is dragged in specific areas so as not to disturb any of the soft coral species or delicate marine environment. The net, hauled in by hand, is always an eye opener when visitors see what is recovered in such a short time. As long as it is viable for both visitors and marine life, the specimen may be touched or held; viewing tanks are set up for the rest.
After the cruise, the crew releases the specimens back to the water. A study of the biodiversity of the St. Andrews Bay ecosystem in 2008 listed it as “one of the most, if not the most, diverse estuary in North America” with an impressive ecosystem supporting 3,643 reported species. The report states that “there are also a number of populations of rare and endemic species, a few of which are known only from small areas of this ecosystem and nowhere else on Earth.”
A one hour stop at Shell Island and Dolphin Encounter are also included. Shell Island is a pristine and uninhabited strip of land separating the Gulf of Mexico from St. Andrews Bay; Seafari explorers can wander paths through sand dunes and protected turtleand shore bird nests, wade into the surf for shells or just relax on the sugar white quartz sand facing the emerald green waters of the gulf. And since large populations of wild bottlenose dolphins call the bay home, watching them frolic in the local waters is a common occurrence during each trip.
The Seafari Eco-Tour w/Shell Island & Dolphin Encounter trips start running in Mid-February leaving the dock at 1:00 pm, and from Memorial Weekend thru Labor Day Weekend a 9:00 am morning trip is also available.
Reservations can be made online at CaptAndersonsMarina.com, or by phone 800-874-2415 & 850-234-3435. Rates range from $12-$23, including tax and the Shell Island state park fee, making the Seafari Eco-Tour an affordable trip for all family budgets.
Capt. Anderson’s Marina, a fixture of Panama City Beach since 1957, is one of the largest privately owned marine recreational complexes in the world, located within minutes of scenic St. Andrews Bay and the bountiful fishing waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Owned by two pioneer families who have a seafaring history spanning hundreds of years, the marina is open year-round and currently operated by Capt. Kenneth Anderson and his family.
The facility offers a full range of fishing choices from 5 large & affordable Deep Sea Head/Party boats for bottom fishing, to over 25 Private Charter Boats for custom built offshore adventures including Sport Fishing& Trolling; to 4 Dive & Snorkel boats for spear fishing and sightseeing. There’s also the Capt. Anderson III, an iconic double decker sightseeing boat; and the newest boat in the fleet, the Shell Island Express Ferry,the most convenient and least expensive way to enjoy spending the day at Shell Island. The combined marina fleet has a daily carrying capacity well in excess of 2,000 persons, and the sprawling parking lot accommodates 800 vehicles so there is plenty of free parking and room for buses.
Also conveniently located at the marina are 2 large Waterfront Restaurants, a Nautical Gift Shop, a Fish Market where you can purchase fresh seafood or have your own fresh catch cleaned & packed for travel, and a local Farmers Market in the parking lot every weekend!
For all of the boat schedules, up-to-date event information, and to watch a video of the Seafari Eco-Tour, visit CaptAndersonsMarina.com ; also like us on Facebook, and #CaptAndersonsMarina.