New Leaf: eco-friendly tours

By Lindy Almony |

A simple look along Florida coastlines, will prove to be one of the best things our city has to offer.

Kept along 77,000 acres of untouched space and beauty are the most diverse and best kept estuaries in our area. This space, which spans from Jacksonville Beach to the Marineland area, is exactly what attracted Chris Kelley to the area, and inspired him to open Ripple Effect Kayaking Ecotours.

Ripple Effect tours lead you into the waterways of Faver-Dykes State Park, Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR,) Washington Oaks State Park, Anastasia State Park and everything in-between.

The kayak tours are eco-educational, which means the main goal is to share knowledge of the coastal estuary and what is unique to the area.

“Educational outreach and awareness is really what it is all about,” said Kelley.

A staff of very well educated and passionate guides leads the tours. Each guide offers a wealth of local knowledge; everything from the birds, mammals and reptiles found in an area, to preservation of fisheries in Florida and the interpretation of natural Florida.

“You can not find this strong of a knowledge base on other ecotours,” Kelley said.

Ripple Effect’s recent partnership with Marineland and the University of Florida’s Whitney Lab offers a strong foundation for research, education and conservation.

GTM NERR is the twenty fifth National Estuarine Research Reserve in the United States.

Ripple Effect has a unique partnership with The Friends of the GTM NERR, which according to the Ripple Effect website offers extensive eco-educational opportunities exploring ecological diversity.

Ripple Effect funds many environmental outreach organizations and tries to spread awareness through its tours and partnerships.

Ripple Effect Ecotours and its instructors are rewarded by the work they do. The conservation of Florida’s natural environment allows kayakers to explore endless waters that they may have never seen.

Coastal Florida Master Naturalist, Mathew Monroe said, “My job gives me the opportunity to meet interesting people and kayak some of Florida’s most pristine estuaries.”

Never limit or ignore the amount of incredible things there are to do and see in the St. Augustine area. The exploration of coastal estuaries is a unique opportunity that we have through Ripple Effect Kayaking Ecotours.

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