The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will be particularly rare because it is the first time the path of totality exclusively crosses the continental United States from coast to coast since June 8, 1918. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the sun for a viewer on Earth. The path of totality will touch 14 states, though a partial eclipse will be visible in many more states. Although Jupiter, FL will not be in the path of totality, a partial solar eclipse will be very visible. The eclipse will begin on the Oregon coast as a partial eclipse at 9:06 a.m on August 21, and will end later that day as a partial eclipse along the South Carolina coast at about 4:06 p.m. Come join us at Jupiter Outdoor Center on August 21st to view the beautiful solar eclipse on our crystal blue waterways from a kayak or paddle board! The partial will begin at approximately 1:25 p.m and will last a total of 4 hours. This tour departs from our JOC beach and will last a total of 2 hours. We will be paddling at the maximum peak of the eclipse. Special glasses are required when looking at the eclipse. Although we will not be looking directly into its path, you may bring special glasses for a better look. Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime event! Book now to experience this once in a lifetime event!
In the 8.5 mile stretch of the Loxahatchee River, the changes in the ecosystems along the way are enough to amaze anyone. In this relatively short distance; one can go from seeing jumping Dolphin and Tarpon, to sun bathing Alligators and Yellow-bellied Turtles. One moment you are riding along million dollar homes on crystal blue water and the next it almost feels like Jurrasic Park. The lush greenery causes the water to be darker due to the tanins in the fallen leaves, kind of like tea in hot water! The Loxahatchee River has supplied food, freshwater, and sanctuary to its nearby inhabitants for many years and continues to do so for its diverse species of animals. For this reason, it has become a popular attraction to travel up the river and back by small boat, kayak or canoe for a closer look at the plants and animals that live there. The other day was my first experience traveling up the river with our very own Captain John on the Jupiter Water Taxi Eco-tour. Although I was born here, and very much consider myself a Jupiter local, I never realized how truly spectacular this waterway was until I saw it for myself. The tour took us on a 4 hour ride focused mostly on the area and its history. I learned more from Captain John in 3 hours than I did in 3 weeks of history class! During high tide, The Jupiter Water Taxi takes guests from the Jupiter Inlet, all the way back to the mouth of the Loxahatchee or vice versa. The intimate atmosphere and limited seats make JWT the best way to learn about the area and discover new things. Captain John was able to focus all of his attention on our small group and made the experience unique for each guest. Sharing some of the amazing facts and history I learned on my tour with JWT will hopefully inspire you to take one for yourself!
Although the area has not been occupied as long as other parts of the country, Jupiter has an interesting history that largely revolves around the existence of the Loxahatchee River and Jupiter Inlet. It is said that when the Spanish first arrived, they named the area “Jobe” (Ho-Bay) after encountering the native tribe of the Jeagas, who called the area Hobe. This would later inspire the name for Hobe Sound. When the British arrived from the colonies, they translated the word to “Jove”, which in Latin refers to the Greek god Jupiter. Jupiter’s wife was called “Juno”, which led to the naming of Jupiter and its southern city, Juno beach. The name for Tequesta comes from a local Native American tribe called the “Tekesta’s”, whose name was translated when the Spanish arrived. They were a peaceful tribe that first settled near Biscayne Bay and built many other villages along the coastal islands. Some of the earliest documentation of Floridian Indian encounters comes from the journals of Jonathan Dickinson, a Quaker from Port Royal, Jamaica on his way to Pennsylvania. In 1696, Jonathan Dickinson and his family, along with crew members and slaves, were captured by Jeaga Natives after their ship wrecked off the coast of Florida. The Jeaga Indians inhabited much of what we know today as the Jupiter Inlet and were known to be one of the most violent tribes during the period. Surprisingly, the natives spared the lives of the Dickinson family and chose to free them. After giving most of what they had left to the tribe, they were let go where they walked and traveled by boat up the coast to St. Augustine. They would then find passage to their original destination where Dickinson would become Mayor of Philadelphia and write journals documenting his encounters with one of the first Floridian Native tribes.
Although these native tribes are important to the early history of the area, the most significant of all; then and today, are the Seminole Indians. The Seminoles inhabited many parts of Florida and can be traced back at least 12,000 years. Some evidence of this fact lies right on the edge of what is now Jupiter Farms. Riverbend Park is the site of two of the most relentless wars in Seminole history and still leaves traces of its presence today. More than 163 years ago, on May 17th, 1838, red and black Seminole Indians fought at Riverbend against U.S soldiers in an effort to maintain ownership of their lands and avoid being removed. In the end, 1500 American soldiers had died as well as large numbers of Seminoles and still, there would be no formal treaty signed between the groups. The wars left the Seminoles impoverished and forced them to find safe refuge in remote swampy areas. After the wars in 1838, American troops would construct the famous Fort Jupiter on Pennock Point to allow easier transport of goods and supplies for soldiers. After the third Seminole war in the 1850’s, Fort Jupiter would remain closed for good. It was located on what is now Old Fort Jupiter Rd.
Many decades later, the area would become more populated after the passing of the National Prohibition Act. This led many people to the still rural, “uninhabitable” areas of the South Florida. The Jupiter Inlet in particular was the perfect place to transport illegal boo’s, as the Bahamian Islands are a short 55 miles away. According to Betsy Dubois, “Rum Runners” would bring gunny sacks of liquor from the Bahamas through the Jupiter Inlet when the light was off or being maintained. Runners would sneak through the inlets darkened passageway and head north towards Jupiter Narrows to stash the alcohol where it would be transported at a later date. Others moved to Florida to escape the suffering society and return a state of nature. Vince “Trapper” Nelson was a polish immigrant from NJ that settled in Jupiter, FL in the 1930’s. Vince was a trapper, hunter, and zoo founder that would take residence on the shore of the Loxahatchee and make his living off the wild selling skins and meat. It is said that he could be seen wearing only a loin cloth, standing at over 6ft tall. Nelson became somewhat of an icon in the area and was called the “Wildman of the Loxahatchee”. Even women from Palm Beach would come to the island to gawk at him. In 1968, Trapper Nelson was found dead at his residence with a shotgun wound to the stomach. While his death was deemed a suicide, it is rumored that he may have been murdered, as he had acquired some enemies through his business. His compound is still open to visitors and provides a more in depth history about his life and experiences on the Loxahatchee. You can take a ride upriver with Captain John on a Cruise+, where he will drop you off to embark on a kayak adventure to the homestead of Trapper Nelson or pick you up there after your paddle downriver from Riverbend Park and bring you back to the Inlet Village.
The headwaters of the Loxahatchee River begin at the Loxahatchee slough, meandering through freshwater creeks, down into a brackish estuary, and finally emptying through the Jupiter Inlet and into the Atlantic Ocean. The river is a hub for history and a sanctuary for so many creatures, as it was left untouched for so many years. That is why in 1985, the river was named wild and scenic and is one of two, federally protected rivers in Florida. It is home to many rare and endangered species, such as the Sandhill Crane, Peregrine Falcon, Florida Manatee and the Woodstork. Common animals to see on the Jupiter Water Taxi Tour are Blue Heron, Egret, Osprey, Alligators, Yellow-bellied Turtles, and Manatees. With Captain Johns incredible eye, we were able to spot a Baby Alligator and Family of 3 Manatees as well as a Little Blue Heron. On our way back into the river, we saw an Osprey nest tucked safely in between signs and untouched mangrove islands that act as a nursery for young fish and other creatures. He also explained the harmful effects of erosion on the river and how many of the surrounding plants have had to adapt to the eroding shorelines over the years. The mangroves and mangrove islands help to keep the land from eroding as quickly, but it has become inevitable. He also informed us that you must have special permits to trim or cut mangroves as they are protected under the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. Along the way you can also spot some of the famous celebrity properties in the area including Rickie Fowlers new home on Pennock Point and Michael Jordan’s upcoming restaurant on U.S. 1, North of Burt Reynolds Park. Captain John makes it his priority to teach everyone about the area and its history as well as the value of nature and respecting the environment. His degree in marine biology and his love for the area makes his tours informative and fun! He will take you back in time and show you an entirely different world on the Loxahatchee River. Thanks Captain John, It was an experience I will never forget!
For more information about Captain John and the Jupiter Water Taxi, Visit http://www.jupiterwatertaxi.com/
High tide is when the moon pushes water from the ocean in towards shore. This influx of water rushes into jetty’s and channels along the coasts, causing many fish and other wildlife to come in towards the shore. High tide is the best time to fish, snorkel, and kayak for the most clarity and sightings. This is why at Jupiter Outdoor Center, Turtle Time focuses on directing guests to the best local spot for viewing turtles in the wild. Right near our location is the cove where the Turtles swim up for air and graze on the sea grass beds below. Before we began our adventure, JOC showed us the basics of “turtle etiquette” to ensure that we knew not to touch or approach any wild sea creatures. My first time going was the absolute best time of my life as i had never swam so close to a Sea Turtle before. We paddled against the current first which was quite a workout, but when we arrived, it was well worth it. We were able to clearly see below the surface in our new Crystal Kayaks. These transparent bottom kayaks provide up to 20 feet of visibility for a combination of kayaking and snorkeling. Fish and a Spotted Eagle Ray swam right under us and we were able to see them with full clarity. As we drifted up towards the cove, at least 4 sea turtles poked their heads out of the water. We parked the boats up near shore and got our snorkel masks out for a closer look. As we were putting drops on our lenses, a juvenile sea turtle rushed by our feet and disappeared into the distance. I had never seen a turtle move so quickly in my life! The water was very warm and crystal clear as we began our snorkel around the cove. For the first 20 minutes, we didn’t see any more turtles and started to get a bit discouraged. Then, out of no where, two huge adult sea turtles swam in my direction together. I turned on my GoPro and waited quietly so they were not frightened. They swam up almost within arms reach and began drifting slowly along my path. After they disappeared, I set my camera up on the sea floor to see if we could get a close up of the next one feeding. Sure enough, another beautiful turtle came right up to me and swam right in front of my camera, grazing on the grass in front of it. After that, the Turtles were too abundant to count and we swam with them continuously for about an hour and took as many photos and videos as possible. We only had two masks, so I gave my snorkel gear to my cousin to try and started towards the shore. When the water reached my waist, i came up on what looked like a large cloud of sand in the water floating towards me. I didn’t think anything of it until all of a sudden, a little gray face popped its head up for air! At that moment i realized that i was standing next to a giant manatee the size of my Kayak! It startled me so much that i jumped, but when i realized what i was seeing, the moment became magical. I had never seen animals in the wild that close up and for a manatee to swim right up to me, was something i could have never imagined. He swam around us for about 20 minutes until he made his way out into the channel. After that we saw at least 10 more sea turtles swimming under and around us hanging out, waiting to go up on the beach. Dusk was setting in and on our way back to shore, we looked back how our experience was way more than we expected. Many people will never see a turtle in their lifetime and who would have thought we would see over 15 in one day. It is truly a blessing to live in such an amazing place with such a vast array of ecosystems and wildlife to explore. Turtle Time will be the time of your life as it was for my friends and I.
JOC is also pleased to announce a collaboration with Dr. Larry Woods of The National Save the Sea Turtles Foundation to assist in collecting research on these beautiful creatures.
Once proposed for luxury properties, Fullerton Island was 12 acres of prime Jupiter real estate ready to be sold to the highest bidder. Fullerton Island is a piece of land right off Jupiter’s Sawfish Bay Park that remained vacant for many years over legal disputes. Before 2013, the island was infested with invasive species and required a major make over to dispose of the non-native plants like Australian Pines and Brazilian Pepper Trees. Fullerton Islands history begins in the 1920’s when the School District of Palm Beach County gave a selection of unsurveyed land to local attorney, B.F Hampton. In that selection, 2 spoil islands would be available to him, one of them being Fullerton Island. In lieu of legal fees, Hampton would choose Fullerton as his compensation. In the 1950’s, Hampton gifted the island to his grandson, Richard Fullerton as inheritance. The Island was named after Hampton’s grandson and until the 1990’s, it would remain practically untouched. As Jupiter began inhabiting more and more people between the 80’s and 90’s, Fullerton Island was noticed by local real estate as being a prime location for luxury homes on the water. Michelle Alexander, a Jupiter developer, proposed to buy the property for 2.2 million dollars but was intercepted by the Town of Jupiter stating that the land was designated for conservation and not for residential development. Alexander then filed a suit with the Town of Jupiter for refusing the permit which would last over a decade until the court favored the town and her contract with the Fullerton family was voided. In 2003, the island was bought by engineer Herb Kahlert and Ed Oliver for 2.6 million dollars and once again proposed for luxury residential homes, going against the islands conservation zoning designation. After much backlash from residents and the town, the two withdrew the plan for development. In 2008, the island was finally purchased by the Town of Jupiter for 2.9 million dollars in an effort to turn the island into a conservation land and increase eco-tourism in the area. Clearing of land, dredging, removing exotic plants, building docks and planting mangroves and other native plants would begin in 2013 with a hefty price tag of 3 million dollars. Backhoes were used to dig 3 foot deep channels meandering through the island, only deep enough for kayaks, paddle boards, and maybe a small skiff. This would make the island fully accessible from both sides by small watercraft. The 55,000 cubic yards of sand collected from the island would be hauled down to Lake Worth near Bryant Park to be reused for the construction of the Snook Islands preserve project. Mangroves and other native species were added to the island to create a flourishing environment for local sea and land creatures. The added foliage would create a perfect habitat for many different species of native birds, making it the perfect place for any ornithologist. Fish and other species to see at Fullerton Island include Florida manatees, Rays, Porpoise, Snook, Snapper, Sheepshead, and Mullet as well as birds like Blue Heron and Spoonbills. The island is now a thriving estuary promoting conservation as well as eco-friendly tourism in the Jupiter and has influenced locals, visitors, and businesses to utilize the hidden jewel. Jupiter Outdoor Center is proud to be the committed adoptive parents of Fullerton Island through Palm Beach County’s Adopt a Park Program.