A 156 Mile Kayak Paddle

Photo of the IRL via the HBOI archive, circa 1895

I have a semi-brilliant semi-crazy idea. The Indian River Lagoon consistently gets overlooked by many of the biggest conservation organizations. Even within the boundaries of central Florida its not well known and many residents, much to my frustration, call it a “river”! Even the estuaries.gov page link is broken! And indianriverlagoon.org is unfinished as well as overwhelmingly out of date! But of all the frustrating situations that confront me and my love for this estuary there is one that takes center stage above the rest. I’m appalled at the overwhelming presence of trash in the lagoon (as I have detailed many times over the two-year lifespan of WaterNotes).

The situation prompts many questions: Why aren’t people more aware of our impacts on the IRL and how can we reach out to the public? How serious is the level of debris across the IRL system? How are wildlife – from manatees to pelicans to osprey to snook – being effected by the debris (or other problems)?

I’d like to find out the answers to these questions. Somewhere between reading of Erden Eruc, Project Tandem and observing manatees from the platform on the refuge I had an idea: could a 156 mile kayak paddle of the lagoon be turned into an outreach campaign?

While I usually shun stunts of any kind I can’t help but see that such focusing events can act as perfect teaching platforms. I foresee this paddle spanning ten to fourteen days and trekking between various hotspots around the lagoon, not the least of which would be stops at some of the most important parks, zoos, conservation groups, and environmental education outfits found along the path of the lagoon. It could easily incorporate social media, a blog, perhaps coverage from local media, a photojournalistic tinge, and plenty of opportunities to stop along the way to pick up debris and document its effects. And since I have a long view on when this paddle might take place we could potentially encourage students back in session to participate in some way.

The entire idea is in its extreme infancy but I have a lot of questions to ask of anyone who has ever: planned a long distance kayak paddle, put together a media campaign, solicited the support of conservation groups, or generally found a way to take a pipedream for the environment and turn it into reality. If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or expertise please do get in touch with me (notes at seanursery dot com). WaterNotes is regularly read by nearly three-hundred people each day. Surely within that mixed community of ocean lovers there are people with the skills and knowledge to help me bring this idea into fruition.

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One Comment to “A 156 Mile Kayak Paddle”

  1. Maybe you can compare notes with Mark Powell. He’s is doing something similar called the Swim Around Bainbridge.