Vote for the Environment


Ordinarily this space is used to talk about all the wonders, benefits, and techniques of paddling. But these are not ordinary times.

Last Sunday morning, I arose before dawn to watch the full moon set, then go for a sunrise paddle, which is typically a great experience – a bit of the best of both worlds. However, the Gulf of Mexico was too toxic for a safe paddle, red tide concentrations were high, and an onshore wind was blowing brevitoxins into the air.  Undaunted, I moved to San Carlos Bay to launch there, only to find the beach littered with freshly dead fish and many more on the surface. 

Ordinarily, I am not easily deterred from a paddle. In fact, very few conditions keep me on shore. But the combination of the toxins and the stench of decomposing fish, after nearly three weeks of similar conditions, did the trick. I went back home and did other things.

We need to use the harmful algal blooms of this summer to recall that we are all in this together. We all must shoulder the burden of blame, and we all have the ability to effect the change we would like to see.  All too often, we want to blame corporations, industry, and someone else.

It’s time we realize that our most powerful tool to help fix the water problems we face is the ballot. We must select our elected officials based on how well they have or will maintain the natural resource base that we all rely on. Ask questions about how they plan to correct current problems, and prevent future ones. Be certain that environmental issues are high on their priority list, and that they understand that the issue is really an economic one that will guide SW Florida’s future. Let’s vote to ensure we can always paddle on our waters.

Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club hosted by Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit or follow us on Facebook to learn more.