From the moment seasoned nature tour guide Kurt Zuelsdorf first dipped his paddle into Clam Bayou, he knew the mangrove estuary would be the right place to set his kayak tours. But there was a catch—a garbage dump’s worth of rusting shopping carts and waterlogged plastic bags was strewn about the waterway. Undeterred, Kurt hit upon a clever cleanup strategy: people could launch his fleet of kayaks for free, so long as they toted a bag of garbage out of the bayou with them.
Numerous grants, media attention, and awards later, Kurt’s waterway cleanup program has reached its final stages. Now, kayakers and paddlers can freely navigate the mangrove channels, nabbing sights of manatees, herons, and tugboat captains hopelessly lost in the mangroves. An avid nature enthusiast who has kayaked waterways from Wisconsin to Florida, Kurt prizes Clam Bayou, citing the diversity of wildlife along the one-mile stretch. “It’s not like the zoo,” he says. “Every time you hit the water, it’s a completely different experience.”
Coral growing in brightly hued clusters. Translucent jellyfish floating past verdant, undulating seaweed. Schools of black bar soldierfish swimming in unison during their morning roll call. These are just a few of the myriad sights students at Gulfport Dive Center can see during their aquatic expeditions. Owned by a family of avid divers, the center gathers a community of fledgling sub-aquanauts to explore the waterways of the Sunshine State, whether the staff is training them during classroom sessions and open dives or equipping them with gear from Aqualung, Sherwood, and Akona.
The Huntington’s Disease Society of America has its sights set on obsolescence in the form of a cure. While that would mean shuttering the doors of its 501(c)(3) nonprofit volunteer organization, it would also mean relief for sufferers of the fatal illness, which may affect up to 250,000 people across the country. Until that day comes, its work continues. The organization oversees the Coalition for the Cure, which pools the resources and knowledge of 16 researchers across the world. While those researchers work, the organization also raises funds through a network of nationwide events—5Ks, bowling outings, dinners, cocktail parties—and directs the proceeds toward advocacy, education, and more research. A portion also goes to supporting medical, psychological, and social services at major medical facilities throughout the US.
Boats dance and glide over the crisscrossing wakes carved into Tampa Bay, each craft anxiously revving toward its respective dock to arrive before closing time. All the while, a handful of boats remain on the open water, swaying atop the undulating waves as its passengers continue to enjoy the fiery sunset reflecting off the bay's surface. These select aquatic vehicles carry Lotto Boat's boat club members, who have access to a slew of exclusive perks, such as extended marina hours. Stationed at Harborage Marina, Lotto Boat's 10 rental vessels include kayaks, WaveRunners, and power boats equipped with GPS navigation systems. After hopping aboard a vessel, landlubbers can go jet-skiing, drift over to nearby tiki bars for dinner and live music, or take in scenic views of downtown St. Petersburg. Once patrons make their way back to one of Lotto Boat's two docks, staffers thoroughly cleanse the boat of interior debris and exterior mermaid hitchhikers to prepare for the vessel's next excursion.
Belly dancing marries the subtle beauty of Middle Eastern dance with intensive core exercise; techniques focus on isolating specific muscle groups for a sultry, more flexible bod. Jewel-toned skirts swirl and flash in the studio as dancers learn the fundamental movements and techniques of artful belly dancing. Najmah Nour, one of the studio's brightest hip-swaying stars, has performed across the southeastern United States, including a storied command performance for President Carter. With a friendly approach to instruction, Najmah encourages ladies of all levels to shimmy and undulate to the seductive ping of the plucked string. Classes are scheduled weekly on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Lazee Lizard opens up the Gulf, Tampa Bay, and Florida's myriad waterways to adventurers with its standup paddleboard and kayak rentals. In such vessels, explorers paddle blue waters to take in the sights, get in a workout, or spot manatees and dolphins trying to wipe the grins from their faces. To keep the maritime fun accessible, Lazee Lizard's team can also bring equipment directly to each customer's watery launch site.