Photo Album: cedarkey-09 (Cedar Key, Fla., May 30, 2009)

Golf Carts

A thriving industry on the key is the rental of golf carts. There are even yellow signs with golf cart pictures on them, telling drivers to share the road.

Weather Instruments

The second largest industry on the key, though, is tourism, taking people out to some of the outer islands in the estuary. The main industry on the key is clamming.

Dolphins No. 1

When the tour boats go out, sometimes dolphins perform a little show for their audience. Thanks to Capt. Doug Maple of Tidewater Tours (more photos here).

Dolphins No. 2

Unlike the zoo or Sea World, though, dolphins here are in an active ecosystem: Sometimes what looks like wrestling is actually mating. Unfortunately, I couldn't get that picture.

Dolphins No. 3

The dorsal fin of a bottlenose dolphin is like the human fingerprint. Researchers once counted 240 dolphins, based on finding that many unique dorsal fins in the waters near the key.

Island No. 1

The University of Florida has established a research lab on one of the islands, and students use the bottom floor of an old lighthouse, built by the Army Corps of Engineers, as a dormitory.

Island No. 2

Eberhard Faber, the pencil maker (read more about Eberhard Faber here), once built a steam-operated saw for lumber on one of the outer islands, back in the day when lumber was the primary industry on the key.

Island No. 3

Signs of ecological succession on an island where people aren't allowed on the beach, except for research purposes: a blowout where a catastrophe of some sort causes succession to begin over, with grasses, etc.

Pelican No. 1

A pair of pelicans perch on a cement block in the marina.

Pelican No. 2

A pelican flies close to the water alongside our boat.

Human Activity No. 1

A boater near the marina coaxes a pelican with an empty hand; feeding the dolphins is prohibited, but birds get a little more to eat.

Human Activity No. 2

Two people paddle their kayaks in the waterways that run in between the islands.

Human Activity No. 3

This boat was a little faster than our 36-passenger vessel.

More Birds No. 1

At certain times and in certain places, you can see birds of prey, such as eagles, on the key. However, this was not one of those times. We saw mostly pelicans, egrets, and a few migratory shore birds. The mid-day low tide this time of month kept our boat out of some of the more interesting channels.

More Birds No. 2

The pelican here seems to assume a role of leader for the other birds on the point (he is the biggest one).

More Birds No. 3

Birds take off from the point as a single group, in a follow-the-leader manner.

More Birds No. 4

Pelicans etc. perch on logs near one of the islands. The birds build nests in the interior of the island, protected, oddly, by cottonmouth water moccasins. These snakes are the only poisonous water snake indigenous to North America, but they are amazingly lethargic on an island where they have no predators. They don't attack the birds but rather live in a symbiotic relationship with them.

More Birds No. 5

A sign warns boaters that they are not allowed to get too close to the island during the time of year when birds are nesting. Birds bring back an abundance of fish to feed their young, and snakes eat the leftovers while keeping raccoons and other rodents fearful of life on the island. That keeps the birds and their eggs safe.

More Birds No. 6

A bird flies toward the island channel that leads, probably, to the nest.

More Birds No. 7

A bird perches atop a rock in the marina, near some restaurants.

More Birds No. 8

A bird stretches out on a log near one of the islands.

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