The hold up at First National Bank in Florida Bay

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Aerial First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Aerial Seagull’s eye-view of my kayak stuck on the low tide mud flats that are First National Bank in Florida Bay.
CLICK for full screen VR 360 spin around Panorama !

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Distant Keys float like a mirage over a flooding First National Bank.

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  When I experienced a hold up recently at First National Bank, it was a real stick-up job!  ;)

The hold up was the tide, or lack there of. Western Florida Bay experiences extreme tide swings and huge sections of the flats (or banks as they are called) get exposed for a few hours. These can easily be miles across and if you get stranded, you could be held hostage for hours.

First National Bank appears to have been named in jest by Flamingo residents of old (along with many other funny names). There are several other ‘banks’, but First National is the most interesting due to it’s geographical position in Florida Bay and the thousands and thousands of birds that make a living out there!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Satellite view of approximate outline of First National Bank in Florida Bay.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Exploring the Underside of the Surface: Mirror to the lush forest of Turtle grass beds on First National Bank!

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For paddlers, it’s easy to get stuck out here accidentally (that’s how I first did it). If you don’t want to, make sure to time your crossing close to high tide (at East Cape). It’s best to be on the rising side! Also remember that you are very close to the gulf here and that means that most of the water will come in the last hour of the flood cycle. It can be a long wait, so bring refreshments.

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ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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It’s an interesting kind of place, so I’ve actually stranded myself here a few times on purpose. First National Bank isn’t as much of a paddling destination as a temporary place to hang out. At about 6 miles out of Flamingo it stands between you and Sandy Key on the very edge of Florida Bay and Everglades National Park proper.

If you time it right, day or night – you could be in for a real treat!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay aerial kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Aerial birds-eye view, like a Seagull flying, First National Bank in Florida Bay.
ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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First National Bank Carl Ross kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan island panorama

First National Bank as seen from Carl Ross Key
CLICK for zoomable superwide fullscreen VR panorama!

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When you settle in and hang out for a while you will notice how pristine Florida Bay appears , and it really is.  But it’s not without it’s own problems, just like the rest of the Everglades ecosystem. Since the 1980’s there have been huge algal blooms and massive grass die-offs that have decimated large tracts of Florida Bay. The ‘Bay is always saltier than the ocean, but sometimes hyper-saline conditions can persist for years. This appears to be linked to reduced freshwater flow into the Shark River Slough and thereby out the Shark River into the Gulf  & ‘Bay. Although salinity is not the only cause of the problem, hopefully the current Everglades restoration efforts will restore more natural sheet flow for all the ‘Glades and among other things help keep  salinity levels normal in Florida Bay! Even today you can find huge patches of die-offs, the cause of which is not well understood yet.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Fishermen a couple of miles away in a distant channel.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

White Pelicans flock to rest and chatter on the bank in Florida Bay.

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Being out there is the ultimate in chill! It’s so quiet, you will hear bird wings flap as they fly by and the slightest disturbance in what little water is left. Like the many small sharks hunting in the flats all around you. Then when the water drops you can easily stand in your boat and stretch out. Don’t try walking across the bank – it’s really slick soft mud. It will tear the shoes off your feet and any step could be up to your knees .. stuck in the mud!

First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

! Mud !

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If your timing is off, you might have to wait for several hours.

Be nice to the bank, healthy Turtle grass beds are very important for the food chain of Florida Bay and to the fishing economy of the Keys!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Tide is dropping ..

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Exposed Turtlegrass beds on First National Bank.

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ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Mirror, mirror of the floor, who’s the lushest of them all?
The healthy Turtle grass forest of First National Bank.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Sandy Key and Carl Ross Key a few miles due south across First National Bank.

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Chances are that you will not see another person for miles around. Along the fringes and channels of the bank you might see flats fishermen way in the distance. Fishing is very popular on Florida Bay, with many species like  Snook, Redfish, Snapper, Trout & Jacks, even Tarpon lurking in the waters all around you. Florida Bay is a giant tidal lagoon estuary, and First National Bank is in the thick of it!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Settle in and soak in the sunset!

First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

You might have a few inches of water under your kayak here.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Golden late afternoon sun shimmers over the dropping tide on First National Bank.

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ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Turtle grass lays down to sleep on low tide!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

On extreme low tide there are a few shoals you can temporarily get out on, day or night.

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There’s nothing like silence in the dark! To be stranded out there in the middle of the bank on a moonless night with the stars above is an experience not to be missed!

:)

Darkness has it’s privileges!

First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan milky way stars night

The Milky Way over First National Bank in Florida Bay.

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It’s easy to see why Florida Bay has the darkest skies in South Florida. You are about as far as you can get from all the light pollution!

Our Milky Way is easily seen on a moonless night.

http://www.lightpollutionmap.info

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan Night Satelite NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

South Florida at night, First National Bank (approximate outline in blue).
NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

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A full moon can be so bright out over Florida Bay that you can read by it!

full moon kayakfari fever kayak florida bay night Rabbit in the Moon

Rabbit in the Moon over First National Bank!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Sometimes you get lucky with a full moon tan and a little bit of space! :)
Florida Bay.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Mornings can be busy – like an airport as thousands of birds come to feed on First National Bank.
CLICK for fullscreen superwide extreme telephoto panorama!

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ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Birds are the real superheroes of Florida Bay!

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Fishing boat poling along a flats channel, while birds feed on First National Bank.

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First National Bank kayakfari Florida Bay kayak Everglades Flex Maslan mud flats low tide

Tip-toe gingerly over First National Bank ;)

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A complete white-out on the Bay over First National Bank

“White-out in fog over First National Bank on a much higher tide”.
ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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Enjoy your time out in the ‘Bay, breathe in all that fresh air.

Enjoy!

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More on Florida Bay kayaking here:

Chickees and Keys in Florida Bay – Kayaking, Camping and Nice Dreams!

kayakfari photography art Florida Bay aerial kayak Everglades Flex Maslan landscape panoramic print sea Champagne Dawn

Dawns like this can be found on Florida Bay!
Kayakfari digital ART photography – “Champagne Dawn”

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Kayakfari ART landscape photography and

Digital Art by Flex Maslan

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ART of the Bay – Florida Bay Landscapes

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To learn more about Florida Bay I can recommend this informative and beautifully done book. There is a wealth of information inside along with incredible images by internationally recognized and top local Everglades photographers. If you like Florida Bay and the Keys, you will LOVE this book!

Full Disclosure: A few of my images are in it too.

Everglades Foundation Florida Bay Forever book photography Flex Maslan kayakfari kayak canoe water keys Maslin kayakfari.com dan burkhardt acclaim press published jimmy buffett fishing

“Florida Bay Forever” – Everglades Foundation book edited by Dan Burkhardt (with some photography by Flex Maslan).
Cover photo by Rob O’Neal

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© 2013 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dallas Ransome Cobb
    Mar 28, 2013 @ 12:18:37

    Very nice photography

    Reply

  2. Dave the Wave
    Mar 19, 2014 @ 19:11:45

    “Being out there is the ultimate in chill!” lol
    Those are some epic selfies!

    Reply

  3. The hold up at First National Bank in Florida Bay. | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )
    Sep 25, 2014 @ 11:20:05

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