Welcome to Mikaela's Panda Paddle Page
From August 20-22, I will join with nature lovers from all across the country as we paddle separately, but together, on our favorite bodies of water as part of World Wildlife Fund's Panda Paddle Virtual Event.
Like many during the pandemic, I've taken special refuge in the great outdoors, whether it be hiking and deer-tracking in the Everglades (Arthur R Marshall National Wildlife Refuge in Loxahatchee) or finding a newfound passion in sea kayaking, especially in one of Florida’s most sacred saltwater estuaries.
My favorite kayaking spot is a relatively quiet area, Round Island Park in Vero Beach, where I have enjoyed weekends paddling in a part of the Indian River Lagoon (on Florida’s Treasure Coast). The Indian River Lagoon system is known as one of the most biodiverse estuaries in North America, and I've been blessed to spend time alongside a host of incredible creatures, including pods of dolphin, manatees, horseshoe crabs, sea turtles, sharks, and even, the occasional flying ray.
Florida is a land of extremes—the beautiful, the bizarre, the broken. Ever susceptible to the dangers of climate change, and with perpetual threat of agricultural runoff, deadly algal blooms, red tide, and rising sea levels, I feel called to “give back” and participate in WWF’s conservation effort to honor a place so special to me. I love the serenity and mystery of the Indian River Lagoon, and am keenly aware that it, and the wondrous animals in it, are in an utterly precarious position.
More recently, Florida's manatees have been especially vulnerable to starvation. Our area has suffered from a devastating manatee die-off due to superblooms, pollution, and cold snaps from unstable weather conditions.
There is more information here: Cloudy waters are driving Florida’s massive manatee die-off | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org)
Will you donate to my fundraiser today? Conservation is the most important part of this event, and every dollar you provide helps address our planet's interconnected challenges.
Thank you for helping me protect the natural world and all it gives us.