Virtual Eco Tours of Florida’s Aquatic Preserves

Florida’s aquatic preserves are an amazing collection of submerged lands that hold a world of adventure for residents and tourists. Using 360˚ immersive video, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protections is giving viewers a virtual tour of these lands – then encouraging them to see for themselves. Pelican Media teamed with the Florida Coastal Office staff to produce stunning 360˚ videos, starting with Rainbow Springs near Ocala in Central Florida. We followed preserve manager Jeff Sowards as he monitored the water quality of the spring as well as worked with volunteers sampling turtles and building wood duck habitat.

The focus than shifted to the Southwest Region with videos on Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Estero Bay Aquatic Preserves. While in Tampa, we caught up with manager Randy Runnels and his staff as we went knee deep in a swamp and underwater to sample hard bottom structure with corals.

Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves comprises 5 individual aquatic preserves that offer visitors a wide range of waters from tropical blue waters of Lemon Bay or kayaking mangrove tunnels in Matlacha Pass to sailing the wide open expanses of Gasparilla Sound/Charlotte Harbor.

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve was the first aquatic preserve in Florida and showcases the outstanding waters that deserve to be protected from over development. Manager Stephanie Erickson and her staff work daily to monitor the environment to maintain the pristine conditions. Visitor can enjoy ecotours by kayak or boat to get knowledgable information on the complex web of life in the waters or just find their balance with paddleboard yoga.

We hope viewers enjoy the virtual tours of the aquatic preserves but there’s nothing like being on the water.


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