by Melanie and Jim
On our last full day in Florida, we headed to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge north of Kennedy Space Center. The wildlife site is accessible from the town of Titusville. After crossing the causeway from Titusville, we turned onto the Black Point Wildlife Drive. This is a seven-mile, one-way drive through marshlands.
As the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says, it “provides an excellent place to see waterfowl (in season), wading birds, shorebirds and raptors. Alligators, river otters, bobcats, various species of snakes, and other wildlife may be visible as well.” We saw no bobcats or snakes, and the velociraptors were hiding. But there were plenty of birds and alligators to enjoy. Zoom/drag or turn your phone in this interactive for a typical view of the area.
This Great Blue Heron stalked some lunch while we passed. It gave us some great views.
There are multiple places to leave the car and explore on foot. Once out of the car, you can get close enough to see small things, like these tiny fiddler crabs. They scurried in and out of burrows in the sand along the water’s edge. The largest is about 2″ wide.
While out of the car you do need to watch underfoot for snakes, and more generally keep watch for alligators. We saw these ancient beasts from the safety of the car.
This gator gave us a full-length show.
Ferocious Brown Anole were everywhere. This little one sunned itself on a curb (at the space center.) Note the cigarette butt nearby for a sense of scale.
Next time you go to Florida, make sure to spend some time appreciating the wildlife. These ancient wonders make a great counterpoint to the modern miracles of space flight and amusement parks.