Boating North to Ponce Inlet and Disappearing Island

This May has been beautiful for being outdoors and we’ve been getting out on the water as much as possible. The other day we went boating north to Ponce Inlet. It’s a different area where fishing can mean catching the big ocean fish. Beach-combing is not so great, but the sandy islands are hard packed and the water is a beautiful blue.

Here we are pulling up behind an island to dock the boat.

tide pool sandy beach boating Florida island hopping
Sitting in a warm tide pool on this “island”

Low Tide Islands Are Popular For Boaters to Gather

After staying at this sandy island for a while my son wanted to fish the inlet. We stopped to fish near the north part of the jetty but didn’t stay long because the water was rough. He also didn’t catch any fish!

jetty Ponce Inlet
Fishing along the north jetty wall

Where is Disappearing Island Now?

This area is popular with boaters and at least one of the islands is called “Disappearing Island”. I say “one of the islands” because we saw a few. It used to be that the one named Disappearing was right across from the end of the Inlet. Now the place looked very different to me, with the boating channel way back behind a sand bar. In fact we got a little lost trying to find that channel.

They do dredging along this area too and I think between that and the natural movement of the sand by the water the place is ever changing. So the islands may move, but there are still a lot of beaches to roam at low tide.

We Stay Away on Weekends

Florida is a busy place and that includes on the water. This area is the place to go to have fun in the sun and water. Weekends must be ridiculously crowded. In fact if you look for pictures of Disappearing Island you will see some of those crowds.

With many island beaches created by the low tide, boats of all kinds can pull up and anchor. If the tide is going out boaters must be vigilant and make sure they don’t get beached! If the boat gets stuck, you have to wait around for the next high tide. Some people stay all day, but we only spent a few hours.

A Place for Dogs

Loads of people also bring their dogs and let them run all over the islands. A big poodle was on the boat next to us and the dog loved swimming in the channel, although the current was strong and his owner had to keep hold of him.

By the time we came back in from fishing at the inlet, we went to this second island near the Lighthouse. I think most of these big sand bars are “disappearing” when the tide comes in, so it really doesn’t matter which island is which.

When my son and I go boating we generally don’t come this far north. It’s a slow ride because of the posted slow zones between Edgewater and the Inlet. In the summer months, when thunderstorms can build quickly, we don’t want to get stuck out on the water.

We did spend a day here when the tide was coming in and the water was wonderful. The whole area is very different from the River backwaters where we mainly spend our time.

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Quiet Day On The Boat

A hot and beautiful day on the boat took us to a remote river island, a stop in the ocean, and then to Ponce Inlet.

Boating Around The River Islands in May

This week my son and I went boating around the river islands. May is a very good time to go boating in Florida. The water temp has warmed to 80 (or close) and the afternoon thunderstorms are not yet a thing.

I try to get a lot of text into most of my posts, but after being out on the boat for two days, I have so many photos to share. All those photos convert to specific posts about my beach-combing finds, but getting the pictures sized and ready also takes time.

Because I end up with many photos of the landscape, like the ones below, I’m sharing a big block of scenes from the Indian River backwater area. Soon I’ll write more in depth about these boating trips because there is a lot to report. For one thing I found more tulip shells in one place than ever before.

Discovered a New Island to Explore

The water temp was between 75 and 80 depending on where we went. The first day out we stayed in Edgewater and Oak Hill and found a new, low tide “new island” to explore. I found some really awesome marine life here, which I will be writing about!

Then we headed over to Three Sisters where I found more to photograph. That tiny sea star was a fun discovery!

After a while my photos all begin to look the same… mud, water, and mangroves! But each area holds wildlife that is interesting and beautiful. I never know what I’ll find out there.

Day Two and Boating North to Ponce Inlet

On our second boating day we headed north to Ponce Inlet to explore the sandy islands left exposed at low tide. It just happened to be a day when a rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral and we could watch.

Unlike our first day of boating, there were more boats and people. Also, there were fewer seashells and lots less marine life. But the water was a beautiful blue and the islands were hard packed sand instead of mud.

What a Discovery! A Tiny Sea Star in The Mud

While beach-combing at Three Sisters islands I made a fun discovery. This tiny sea star was just lying in the mud, upside-down. He is so small that I had trouble figuring out which was his top and which was his bottom. He is about the size of my fingernail.

sea star, starfish, five-legged, tiny sea star, Florida nature, sea life
The under part of a tiny sea star.

This is exactly how I found him. He was out of the water and turned over. The sun was hot and as I gently moved him, he seemed to be alive. It could have been my imagination, but as I turned him over I think his legs were curling in. He wasn’t hard and brittle.

sea star, tiny starfish, upside-down, sea life, nature, Florida
Found this tiny sea star just like this – upside down in the sand.

I had to assume he was alive, but needed water. The tide had gone out and left him stranded. All Florida starfish live in sandy shallows and can become stranded when the tide goes out, or if waves from a storm wash them ashore. I don’t like to mess with nature, but I’m sure he would have dried out and died if left upside down in the sun.

tiny sea star, starfish,

After getting these photos I took him over to a pool and set him down. I don’t know much about sea stars (or starfish) and never find them out on our island excursions. But, I did find a lined sea star a few months ago. That was my first. This one was so small I nearly overlooked it.

I hope he lived.

sea star, starfish , tiny sea star, sea life, echinoderm

It might be time for me to do some research into sea stars. According to my Florida’s Living Beaches book (this is an Amazon affiliate link), none of the typical starfish found around Florida are super common in my area. The only ones mentioned are the Lined Sea Star, Nine-armed sea star, and the Thorny Starfish. This one is obviously not 9-armed, and my guess would be it’s a baby Lined starfish. It doesn’t look like the Thorny variety.

Video of a Thorny Starfish, Naples Florida (West Coast)

The man in the video doesn’t say, but this sea star is a Thorny starfish according to my book. They are more commonly found in south Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

This type of starfish feeds on clams and mussels by suctioning the shell open enough to fit its stomach inside to digest the animal.

The Shape of Life website has time lapse videos about starfish and how they hunt and what they eat. View it here at Echinoderms: the Ultimate Animal – For Online Learning

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