Out on the Water with John Sarkozy and the ALS

Todays News


As temperatures rise and the population further retreats into the cool confines of air-conditioned interiors, John Sarkozy of the American Littoral Society paddles round to remind them of what they’re missing. As ranking member of the local ALS chapter, Sarkozy leads kayak tours and trips year-round throughout Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties, gliding through the waterways and exploring the beauty of the natural world from a watery perspective, but this month he kicks the operation into overdrive, leading an outing nearly every two or three days. What’s the rush? “I enjoy taking people out,” he says, “and showing them what’s left.”

An offshoot of the parent organization located in Sandy Hook, NJ, the Sarasota Bay chapter of ALS dedicates itself to restoring the region’s coastal habitats and educating the public about the bay and all it has to offer. These days, that consists largely of taking folks out on the water to have the experience firsthand. Open to members and non-members, a quick phone call to Sarkozy secures a spot on an upcoming trip, which usually maxes out at around 15 people. Skill levels vary, and all equipment is provided by ALS. Each trip departs around 8:30am, with an estimated return time of 11:30am.

Out on the water, the route varies by day and tide, but common starting points include Caspersen Beach and Little Sarasota Bay, with some favorite destinations such as Palmer Point Beach, Lemon Bay and Snook Haven. Sarkozy provides as much information or as little as the group desires, whether in the mood to hear all he has to offer about the local flora and fauna, or just soak up the natural world with only birdsong as backdrop. Manatees, dolphins, shorebirds and more can be spotted, as well as mangroves and coastal forests. Once at the destination, it’s time for a break—some swim, some hike, some sit—and maybe a snack or two, before striking back out on the water.

Some of these routes are the last bastions of Old Florida in all its original splendor, says Sarkozy, and even then, some have more seawalls, marinas and “McMansions” than others. Sarkozy’s been in Sarasota since 1974, “so I’ve seen the change,” he says. But he’s also seen the people of Sarasota and Manatee counties vote to preserve the natural world, and several of the trips he leads take advantage of these parks and preserves. Maybe after a trip to the mangroves, they’ll remember why. “They’ll vote their hearts,” he says, “and preserve what’s left.”

To reach the Sarasota Bay Chapter of the American Littoral Society and view a schedule of upcoming kayak trips, visit the website below.

American Littoral Society - Sarasota

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