The nature of the canals in Cape Coral
In a previous post I mentioned the “no wake” zone of the canals. This regulation is to protect the manatees that call the SWFL area their home. In the cooler winter months the manatees often travel up the canals seeking warmer water and to forage for food. The props on boats are documented dangers to these wonderful animals; hence, the “no wake” zones so that boats are going slow enough to hopefully avoid hitting a manatee. It’s important to be on the lookout for these animals as you travel through the canals. If you fail to heed this regulation, be prepared to be yelled at by property owners with canal front lots! You should also be aware that the Cape Coral police regularly patrol the canals and may ticket you for an unsafe speed. Out of respect for the manatees, property owners, and other boaters, please drive responsibly!
Boating slowly through the canals is beneficial in other ways, too. There is abundant wildlife along the banks of the canals as well as in the canals themselves. In addition to manatees, you may see crabs, turtles, alligators, stingrays or dolphins frolicking along. The dolphins tend to be closer to the river end of the canals, but you never know when they might surprise you! Birdwatchers will love the different species that can be seen along the banks and rushes of the canals. Blue herons and ducks, in addition to many songbirds, are frequently sighted. Not being a birdwatcher myself I’m not really sure of the names of all of the birds that can be seen!
The canals are also home to lots of fish and it’s not unusual to see people trolling through the canals in hopes of a big catch. Mullet, jacks, snook, sheepshead, and mangrove snapper are some of the varieties you are likely to catch; that is, they are in the water—that doesn’t mean that you are actually going to catch one! Be sure to study the fishing regulations for the area, however, as you don’t want to be caught with the wrong kind or size of fish! Some fishermen like to anchor in the larger parts of the canals (called “lakes”) and try their luck with the rod there. If you decide to troll through the canals you need to watch for other people fishing from their docks—sometimes all you might catch is someone else’s line! I can’t imagine how I know about that…