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On the Waterfront

Ostego Bay Foundation Working Waterfront Tour returns

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Jan 26, 2021

The Working Waterfront Tour visits local shrimp docks to get Fort Myers Beach visitors educated about the work of the local shrimp fleets, their catches and their history. The working waterfront tour is held every Wednesday at 9 a.m / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

The shrimping industry has been a staple of the economy on Fort Myers Beach and San Carlos Island for decades, bringing in hefty hauls of the popular seafood appetizer for restaurants local and far away.

The Ostego Bay Foundation Working Waterfront Tour on Fort Myers Beach is back for the season and provides a closer glimpse of the shrimping business for those interested. The tour has been getting more visitors of late now that the winter season has picked up again.

According to Ostego Bay Foundation President Joanne Semmer, the shrimp fleet of San Carlos Island offloads more Florida pinks than anywhere else in Florida. Semmer cited a study by the University of Florida.

“People are starting to come back and they are very interested” in the tour and museum, Semmer said. “The boats are very busy.”

The three-hour tour, held every Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m., includes a walking tour of the commercial fishing industry working waterfront, including Erickson & Jensen Supply House, net shop and Trico Shrimp Boat loading dock.

The Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center has a new resident, this young sand tiger shark / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

The tour shows how shrimp boats are unloaded, the trawl doors are built, the shrimp nets are hand-sewn, the pink gold shrimp and other seafood is off-loaded. Social distancing is practiced during the tour.

The waterfront tour, held every Wednesday at 9 a.m., practices social distancing. The Ostego Bay Foundation earned a 2020 Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award, representing the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

The tour includes a stop at the Marine Science Center Museum at 718 Fisherman’s Wharf, where there are some new guests including a new sand tiger shark, also known as a nurse shark.

The baby shark, which the marine science center has had more a little over a month, is playing friendly for now in an aquarium with a stingray, catfish and two spadefish. Florida Gulf Coast University intern Jordan Lutzow said the shark is mostly fed shrimp, as well as squid. She said the shark enjoys playing with the stingray. “They are buddies,” Lutzow said.

The shark, who Lutzow calls “Fin,” eventually could grow to about 10 feet, and the science center will have to find a new tank sooner than later for the apex predator.

Semmer said another new guest at the marine sceience center is a northern stargazer. Caught off Bowditch Point Park on Fort Myers Beach, it is a rare visitor to these parts. “He kind of looks like Jabba the Hutt” from Star Wars, Semmer said.

Other sea creatures at the museum include eel, crabs, stingrays and an assortment of other fish.

Reservations are required for the waterfront tour, by calling 239-765-8101 or registering online at http://www.ostegobay.org/waterfront-tours/.

The Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center offers a Three-Hour Guided Tour. The cost for the Tour is $20.00 per adult and $10.00 for children over 6 years of age.

The waterfront tour visits Erickson & Jensen Seafood Packers, Supply House, Net Shop, Trico Seafood Market and unloading dock.