If you’ve ever visited the Florida Keys then you know how packed they are with diverse wildlife. From manatees swimming in crystal clear water to alligators sunbathing along the shore, it’s hard to be too surprised by anything that might appear. That’s exactly what happened to kayak fisherman Steve, though, as he was returning from a day on the water. He spotted a mysterious shape floating near him. With more than four miles to go before making it back to shore, Steve decided to investigate.
An Experienced Fisherman
Steve was an experienced kayak fisherman with his own YouTube channel, living in the Florida Keys, who thought he had seen everything. He dedicated his time on YouTube to sailing, fishing, and any other outdoor water activities he could.
Throughout his adventures, Steve had seen so much, he didn’t think anything could surprise him. Then the unimaginable happened. He spotted something in the water, something that he never thought he’d see that far from shore.
An Adventure Like No Other
While running his own YouTube channel, Steve was used to filming his adventures on the water. When he set out fishing on that fateful day in 2017, there was nothing special he was trying to capture.
When he uploaded his story, it took over the internet and received the attention of millions of viewers across the globe. Steve had captured something incredible, but what had people so interested in this particular adventure?
Something In The Water
The sun was setting and Steve was heading home from a fishing trip on his kayak when he spotted it. There was a mysterious shape bobbing up and down gently in the water.
Steve turned on his helmet camera to record. When he uploaded the video to YouTube, Key West Kayak Fishing, he wrote he spotted “a weird shaped object floating in the distance.” Steve knew he had to find out what exactly he had found.
Just A Branch?
As Steve approached the mystery shape in his kayak he began to make guesses about what it was, “All I could see were the multiple fins running down its back, so I thought it was some sort of palm frond.”
While a palm frond would have been an interesting find more than four miles offshore, what Steve had actually found was not even close to his guess. It was much more breathtaking.
Not Even Close
The closer Steve got to the mysterious shape, he realized it wasn’t a palm frond at all. He had to stop and do a double-take to make sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him.
Was what he was seeing even possible this far off shore? It wasn’t a palm, it wasn’t even close. For the moment, all Steve knew was that after all these years on the water, the Florida Keys had finally shown him something new.
Suddenly, and without warning, the shape began moving. It was swimming! Was Steve going crazy after spending more than 20 years on the water? Looking back at the shore and thinking about what this creature could be, the answer finally came to him!
But how did this animal end up so far away from the shore? Some questions don’t have answers, but Steve didn’t need one. What he needed was to conduct a rescue mission!
Far From Home
To his amazement, Steve had stumbled upon an iguana! The reptile could swim, but didn’t belong this far from home. Not sure what to do yet, Steve asked, “Dude, what you doing out here? Are you lost or what?”
Of course Steve knew the iguana couldn’t answer him, but he was too bewildered to care. Next, he needed to decide how to help the poor lost creature. What could he possibly do?
With nothing to lose, Steve offered the iguana a lift: “I’ll give you a ride back to shore.” There was no way he could know if the reptile would take him up on his offer but he had to try.
To the iguana’s credit, it seemed to understand that Steve wasn’t a threat and began to approach the kayak. The next step was to see if the creature was just curious about the vessel, or if it did indeed want a ride.
A Serious Situation
The situation may have appeared funny on the outside looking in. Here was this small animal swimming in the open ocean approaching a motorized fishing kayak. Could it even figure out a way to get on board?
For Steve, this was no laughing matter. He knew the wildlife that lived in the Keys, so he knew there was no way this iguana should have been this far from shore. This was a very serious situation.
How Did It Happen?
Seeing an iguana swimming so far out in the ocean would have been head-scratching to most people. Steve had his ideas about what happened, though, “I have seen plenty [of iguanas] swimming around the islands, but never one that far out.”
“Most likely because of the king tides that are occurring, it got caught in one of the swift outgoing tides and got pushed out to sea.” And with that knowledge, Steve knew he needed to act fast!
King Tides Are The Results Of Storms
If you don’t know what a king tide is, it’s what happens major storms flood streets. The water washes away back to the ocean, creating a much higher tide than usual. At the time this iguana was washed out to sea, Florida had just been hit by a storm.
When the floodwater rushed through the reptile’s habitat, the current would have been too strong for him to swim against.
Life Or Death
Steve had offered the iguana a ride back to shore. Now it was up to the reptile to accept the offer or not. The fisherman hoped that the animal would, because otherwise it would stand very little chance of survival.
He wrote, “Most likely [the iguana] would have died out there. As the current that far out would most likely push it east with very little chance of coming back inshore.”
The iguana swam from the front of the kayak to the back, searching for a place to grab on and climb aboard. When it found a spot, it reached up, but was too exhausted to successfully grip.
Unable to pull itself up to safety, Steve needed to give the iguana a helping hand without scaring it off. There was no way of knowing if the animal trusted Steve or not, so any move he made had to be done with caution.
A Helping Hand
Luckily for Steve, right next to him was his paddle. He reached for it and carefully positioned it in the water under the iguana. Now the reptile had a place to stand while it navigated its way onto the kayak.
It was clear the animal was exhausted. Who knows how long it would have lasted floating alone in the open ocean before Steve came along. Standing on the paddle, the iguana took a moment to catch its breath.
A Safe Landing
Stabilized on the paddle, the iguana pulled itself onto the support beam of Steve’s kayak. As you can see, it took in its surroundings and tried to find where the land it came from was supposed to be.
Perched on the bar, the iguana looked majestic. This wasn’t the end of the rescue though. Steve had successfully gotten the iguana to safety, and now he needed to get it back home.
Racing The Sunset
After a bit, the iguana moved to the cooler on the back of the kayak. Ready for the journey home, Steve warned, “Alright get seat-belted in cause we’re gonna go flying.”
Remember, Steve’s kayak was motorized and he was more than four miles from shore. With the sun setting, he wanted to make sure he got the iguana home while it was still light out so it could find where it came from.
The Long Journey Home
Steve turned on his engine, unsure if it would frighten the iguana away. Thankfully it didn’t, and the two were heading back to Florida together! Every now and then Steve would look back to make sure his new friend was okay.
Not only was the iguana okay, it looked like it was genuinely enjoying the ride and watching the sunset! It must have known how lucky it was and was now taking in every moment of life it had.
Steve Couldn’t Believe It
Somehow, against all odds, the iguana stayed with Steve all four miles back to shore. He was stunned and blown away. How was this even possible?
Looking back, Steve recollected, “It was pretty cool to see [the iguana] trust me enough.” Sure enough, the reptile had trusted Steve more than anyone it had probably ever encountered. As they got closed to shore, the iguana began looking at the mangroves, its long journey finally coming to an end.
Zooming through the water, the four-mile journey back to shore was nearly done. The kayak skirted the mangroves, and the iguana watched intently, looking for a familiar spot to swim back to.
Slowly, the iguana moved to the back and the cooler and got ready to take a leap of faith. As soon as it spotted the place, it jumped to freedom. Steve had successfully rescued the animal, but he still felt compelled to make sure it was safe.
Before making his own landing back on shore, Steve decided to turn around and make sure the iguana had made it back to land safely. He searched though the mangroves near where it had jumped off the boat.
Before long, Steve saw a familiar face staring back at him. The reptile was hanging onto some branches with an iron grip. After the long day it had just been through, it’s hard to blame it for clinging on for a little extra safety!