St Simons Island Estuary Eco Adventure

The Road Trip section of my site is where I share our wanderings from our hometown- St. Augustine, Florida {Viva St. Augustine!}  This post is from a writer’s retreat to St. Simons Island

When I walked into Cap’n Credle’s EcoAdventure shack, I knew I was in for an authentic experience. Back home, my Dad would call a place like this “Old Florida”… but I was on the Golden Isles of Georgia. So I guess I’ll just call it salty & legit. A group of writers, including myself, walked through the “Let’s Go Shrimpin” office toward the Lady Jane docked in Brunswick, GA. Descriptive phrases danced through my mind- this promised to be a fun day!

Credles Eco Adventures Brunswick
Retired nets cover the walls. Photos and discoveries are tucked in for guests to peruse while waiting to board the Lady Jane.
Lady Jane Boat Tour St Simons Island
The Lady Jane docks in Brunswick, GA.

First things first. Cap’n Credle explains safety rules and gives us an overview of what to expect from our time in the marshes between mainland Georgia and the Golden Isles.

Captain Larry Credle
Captain Credle introduces himself, his vessel and the safety procedures.

As we navigated out of port, the grasses on either side of the canal revealed how the area earned the moniker “Golden Isles”. Liquid gold poured over the marshes as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Credles Adventures St Simons Island
Credle’s Adventures heads out of port toward the Estuary between the mainland and the Golden Isles.
Credles Eco Adventure
God created the sun & the water & saw that it was good. #gorgeous #NoFilter

Shrimpers and fishermen don’t practice their trade in the estuaries of St. Simons any more- this area is protected to allow sea life to prosper. The 13 barrier islands along the Georgia Coast provide a precious nursery for countless fish. The Lady Jane has a special educational permit from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to drop a net and teach visitors about the shrimping process and the abundance of life that’s cultivated in these tidal areas.

Fishing Tour St Simons Island
As the nets dropped, sea birds started to gather. They know an easy meal when they see it!

Brooke, a marine biologist, was on board to name our catch and explain the process. Shown here is a “turtle excluder”. St. Simons fishermen developed this simple addition to nets to reduce turtle by-catch, saving the lives of animals that aren’t intended for American dining tables.

Estuary Tour St Simons
A Sea Turtle Excluder- developed by locals.

When Brooke pulled in the nets, the catch was fascinating!! The shark, below, was the coolest. He actually ATE one of the little fish that had landed near him while we watched. I guess that’s what being an opportunistic feeder is all about! Brooke held up one of each specimen and explained their place on the food chain, whether they move out to deep sea or live in tidal areas their entire lives, and how they affect the biodiversity of this area’s fisheries.

Shrimp Cruise St Simons Island
The last pull, from deeper waters, brought in the coolest sea critters!
EcoAdventures St Simons
Baby Squid
Horseshoe Crab Fishing Tour St Simons Island
Horseshoe Crab
Cannonball Jellies St Simons Island
Cannonball Jellies

We learned that while cannonball jellies {above} are considered inedible by Americans, there is a huge demand for them in Asia. When shrimping season is closed, fishermen continue to ply their trade catching these, processing them and exporting as a delicacy.

Fishing has been a way of life in the Golden Isles for as long as people have lived there. Relying on the land and the sea for a living keeps a person humble and contributes to the sturdy, respectful character of residents we met.

Like the rusty building we returned to at the end of our trip, life isn’t always perfect- but there is beauty to be found in each moment.

Larry Credle Boat Tour St Simons

Shrimpin’ Excursions aboard the Lady Jane
Captain Larry Credle

Most shrimping excursions depart at 4:00 and start at $30 (children), $39.95 (adults). Details on the site listed above. Cap’n Credle also offers dolphin cruises, fishing charters and other EcoTourism adventures. I went on this shrimping / fishing ecology tour as part of a St. Simons Media Trip and highly recommend it to visitors of all ages!!

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