Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator) feeding in the surf at Boca Grande Pass.
Boca Grande Pass is the main channel from the Gulf of Mexico into Charlotte Harbor, Florida. The Pass is between the southern tip of Gasparilla Island and the northern tip of Cayo Costa. It is also a "hot spot" for tarpon fishing.
Red-breasted Mergansers are large diving ducks that prefer feeding in salt water. This group was after small fish very close to shore.
A group of ten ducks, they appeared to hunt cooperatively at times....but were more successfull as individuals.
What great swimmers...agile even in very shallow surf.
A common sight in bays and lagoons, the Red-breasted Merganser shares it's name with two other Mergansers...the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) and the Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus).
Of "least concern" on the IACU Red List.
Duck indentification is always a challenge!
A few yards further offshore were a pair of mating West Indian Manatees (Trichechus ingunguis).
Commonly seen on Gasparilla Island are Willets (Tringa semipalmata). This one seemed quite interested in what the Mergansers were doing.
Looking across the Pass toward Cayo Costa, we saw tarpon fishermen and a small group of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). There are about 200 living in Charlotte Harbor.
It's always a great outing along Florida's Gulf Coast. This young Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) in first winter plumage also enjoyed the breezy and sunny afternoon.