Ever wonder why ospreys nest in high places or why fiddler crabs are called that? Have you ever seen a Bald Eagle? Did you know that egrets and herons come from the same family? The answers to these questions and more are easily explained on the Cape Water Taxi Eco-Tour, a 1.5 hour-educational adventure on the Lewes/Rehoboth Canal. The tour starts in the Lewes Harbor Marina just north of Irish Eyes on Anglers Road (east side of the canal). The large pontoon boat travels down to the North Shores area of Rehoboth before returning to its port. The taxi has a canopy to shield customers from the sun and there is a bathroom on board.
I took this journey not long ago with a visiting friend and was amazed at the amount of activity that takes place along the sleepy waterway. Our captain and tour guide Maddie, a trained naturalist, was a wealth of information about the flora and fauna that serve as our neighbors.
Maddie and her co-pilot had collected for show a range of examples including a giant sea nettle, a tiny crab no bigger than a fingernail, minnow sized fish, and a horseshoe crab which is not a crab at all but rather an arachnid like spiders, scorpions, mites, and other leggy, land-dwelling animals.
There is more to the tour than marine life. We learned that there is no such thing as a seagull—the correct term is simply “gull,” because gulls don’t live exclusively near the sea.
The stately Blue Heron is just one of many birds that can be spotted along the canal. These grey-ish blue birds are active mainly in the mornings and during dusk when the fishing for them is best. She’s quick to point out a heron sighting, an osprey nest or a flock of white egrets.
Maddie explained that ospreys are generally monogamous and often mate for life. Males oversee selecting a nesting site in a dead tree, on a cliff, or on a man-made structure in or near the water. The pair collects sticks and other nesting materials together, but the female generally arranges the nest, which is large and bulky.
Ospreys are successful hunters, catching fish on at least one-quarter or more of their dives. They circle over shallow waters to locate fish below the surface. Once they locate a fish, they hover briefly and then dive into the water feet-first, sometimes becoming completely submerged.
The canal is a perfect place for the osprey survival technique because the water is only 10 feet deep. This man-made waterway was originally proposed in 1803 construction by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1913. The 10-mile-long canal connects the Delaware and Rehoboth Bays.
It is a fisherman’s paradise with croaker, flounder, trout, spot and an occasional rockfish available from shore and from a boat. Small motorboats occupied by a couple of patient fishermen is a common sight along the canal.
Cape Water Taxi Eco-Tours are an ideal way to spend a couple of hours with friends or family members who may be visiting but they are popular. They typically fill up quickly so be prepared for a wait.
Cape Water Tours and Taxi offers narrated and non-narrated tours as well as music cruises, dolphin-watching tours, lighthouse tours, evening cruises, music cruises and more. All are educational or entertainment oriented and reasonable priced. A “non-tour” taxi service shuttles between the Lewes Anglers Harbour Marina and the Rehoboth Beach Museum Beach/Grove Park dock.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.