Birds aren't the only animals on Captiva and the surrounding area, and I got a few shots of some of those others during our recent visit to Captiva. (See post of February 14.)
Of course there is the beast that everyone seemed to be looking for and that we found along one of the paths at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
This alligator was perhaps 5-6 feet long and was lounging next to one of the waterways. We were perhaps 30-40 feet away. It was unfortunate that there was a branch of some sort draped in front of the alligator's head. I asked another patron if she would kindly go and move the branch aside so I could get a better shot, but she declined. So I moved over a bit to try to get a better shot. This was the best that I could do. Still not great.
On the boat cruise on Pine Island Sound that we took, the captain was successful in having a school of dolphin follow in the wake of the boat. He stated that the dolphins were in essence simply enjoying the body surfing opportunity that the boat's wake provided. The captain slowed down to about 9 miles an hour for a time so the dolphin could keep up. I took a number of shots hoping to catch one or more of the dolphin leaping out of the water. This is the best that I got, and it is not very good. A close look reveals a few more dolphin just under the surface.
Another of the creatures that we saw at Ding Darling were tree crabs that were plentiful in the mangroves. They ranged in size from about 2-3 inches to 4-5 inches across. These were among the larger ones that I saw. I think the little knobby things in the corners of these creatures' flat, square portions were their eyes.
The mangroves provided a fairly dense cover, so the light was scant and I was lucky to get these shots at a reasonable shutter speed (1/20th second) and ISO (200). I probably should have gone up on the ISO to ensure steady shots and a bit more depth of field.
Perhaps the strangest--and the ugliest--creatures we saw were the sea hares that had infested the waters of the marina where we were staying.
These were perhaps 6-8 inches long and had "wings" that they used for propulsion. The egg-shaped portion visible in the second shot is apparently a sac that holds ink that the sea hare uses to confuse any predators.
Finally, at one point on the cruise that we took on Pine Island Sound the on-board guide/spokesperson threw a net overboard to see what sort of creatures could be dredged up. The most fun of these were puffers that he then showed to the passengers. The puffers were perhaps 4-5 inches long. (Note the guide was wearing a special orange glove to protect his hand from the puffer's spikes.)
The puffer's expression in this second shot was particularly good, except for the fact that he or she was sporting some pieces of sea grass. Even so, I felt fortunate to get these at such close range.