At Ride and Paddle, we are strong proponents of protecting the ecosystems and wildlife in and around Sarasota and Siesta Key. After all, our entire business is built around helping you explore and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. On Earth Day and every day, we strive to celebrate and protect the Florida Gulf Coast. If you agree that this area is worth protecting, here are some ideas for doing your part.

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Protecting Sarasota and Her Keys

Leave the Car at Home: Sarasota and Siesta Key offer thousands of insanely beautiful spots to explore, but you’ll drive right past them in a car. Try kayaking to glide through the mangrove tunnels or discover private hidden beaches—or take a bicycle to bypass all the traffic and get to the best sunset viewing areas. Biking and kayaking not only provide exercise and fresh air, but they also reduce the air pollution caused by larger boats and the steady stream of cars that cross over from the mainland.

Give the Manatees a Break: While we love boating – and it certainly has its place – if you aren’t going too far, consider taking a kayak out into the water instead. You’ll enjoy an up close and personal view of the marine animals, birds, and ecosystems. And because collisions with boats are one of the primary reasons for manatee injury and death, you’ll do your part to share their home without scaring or potentially hurting them – or any other creature you may encounter. Remember, it is illegal in many areas to touch or harass manatees or dolphins – seeing them from a kayak is an awesome experience, but capture the moment only with a camera.

Keep it Clean, Make it Cleaner: The cardinal rule of any nature adventure is to always pack out what you carry in. It goes without saying that in order to protect our waterways, all garbage must be kept out of the bays, inlets, lagoons, or Gulf. This goes for ensuring all of your garbage is removed from shore, picnic areas, and the like. But in honor of Earth Day, how about taking it a step further? Carry empty garbage bags with you, and clean up any garbage you may find floating or along the coastline. Not only is garbage unsightly and damaging to the environment, but many items can harm or even kill local birds and marine life. If it is not there naturally, pick it up!

Don’t Feed the Animals: While it may be tempting to feed some curious birds or seemingly friendly marine life, this action has serious consequences for the ecosystems. Wild animals and birds that are fed by humans can lose their ability and instinct to hunt and find food – not to mention that potato chips are not an appropriate food source for pelicans or tortoises. When wild creatures are fed by humans, there can be devastating consequences. Animals can become very aggressive towards humans when they expect food. They can also be injured by boats, fishing poles, or people when they get too close, and having to destroy an animal due to human negligence is tragic.

Earth Day is a Great Reminder

Even though Earth Day only comes once a year, it is a vital reminder of our need to be good stewards of nature all year long. The brilliance of Siesta Key Beach, the intrigue of the mangrove tunnels, the majesty of a leaping dolphin, or the bloom of a wild orchid – all depend on us doing our part to protect them.

The Ride and Paddle team loves all things Sarasota and Siesta Key, and we thank you for joining us in protecting our home.