Travel Tuesday with BLM Wilderness Specialist Bob Wick to Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area– A Quiet Oasis in Urban Southern Florida.
Visitors to the Atlantic Coast of South Florida who want a break from the hustle and bustle of this mostly urbanized area will find a welcome respite in northern Palm Beach County. The 120-acre Jupiter Inlet Outstanding Natural Area (ONA) packs in a remarkable array of natural and historical resources in addition to its spectacular namesake lighthouse. The 105 foot tall brick lighthouse itself, an early homestead, and other historic structures are visitor and photographer mainstays and are open for tours most days. However, don’t end your visit there. An interpretive trail traverses several Florida coast vegetation types and ends with an overlook of mangrove forest and the intracoastal waterway. Osprey, herons, egrets and ibis are commonly seen along the shore. In winter, manatees congregate in the adjoining waterways and are often visible surfacing for air right next to shore. Look for gopher tortoises along the trails sunning themselves at mid-day. The waters around the ONA offer opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding past mangroves and other native shoreline vegetation. The ONA’s location at the confluence of the Loxahatchee River and Indian River Lagoon, just ¼ mile from the Atlantic Ocean, has made the site a popular and strategic site of human occupation for the past 5,000 years.
The ONA designation was established by Congress primarily to protect unique scenic, scientific, educational, and recreational values. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse ONA is one of three sites afforded this designation, along with Oregon's Yaquina Head established by Congress in 1980 and California's Piedras Blancas Light Station established alongside the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in May of 2008.
Photo tip: A polarizing filter works just like polarized sunglasses and cuts the glare on the water surface and other objects. This will improve photo clarity of manatees as they remain mostly under water, and also brings out the colors of all scenery – it’s my mainstay filter and as a bonus it (like any filter) protects the camera lens from scratches.
Photo tip: When photographing wildlife, try to capture behaviors; an osprey eating a fish, a tortoise walking towards its burro. This makes for more interesting shots than an animal just standing looking at the camera.