Sanibel Sea School Blog

Ocean Tribe Paddlers

April 23, 2021

Through monthly paddling meetups on local waters, the Ocean Tribe Paddling (OTP) Club members gather on paddleboards and kayaks to enjoy the ocean together. Paddling in San Carlos Bay, the mangrove bayou at Bowman’s Beach, and even through the winding canals of Sanibel, paddlers set out each month to experience the local wildlife Sanibel has to offer. 

Over the last two years, OTP has grown to over 50 active members that come from all walks of life. On any given paddle, you may find retired Sanibel snowbirds, veterans, teachers, environmental activists, and professional photographers. Despite coming from very different backgrounds, all of the members share one thing in common – a love for paddling and the marine ecosystem of Southwest Florida. For the members, getting out on the water together has created a community of likeminded individuals that enjoy exploring the water in good company.

OTP is great for couples and solo paddlers alike. OTP Coordinator Kealy McNeal said that it is about a 50/50 split between couples that attend the paddles and individual paddlers. “I have heard from many of the members that come solo to the paddles that they lack the confidence to paddle by themselves and enjoy paddling in a group not only for community but for safety.”

This winter and spring OTP members have been hitting the waters all over Sanibel – some trips more adventurous than others. McNeal shared a highlight from a recent paddle.

“During a recent paddle at Bunche Beach the wind was howling on the bay and we had to take a slight detour. As we deviated from the planned route, we decided to beach our boats on the exposed sand flats and search for critters,” she said “We found giant lightning whelks and tons of worm egg sacs. I think everyone’s favorite part of the paddle was exploring the sand flats and learning a little marine biology.”

OTP paddles are scheduled on varying days of the week at different times of the day to allow multiple opportunities for members to attend. McNeal chooses locations around Sanibel to explore at different times of day. “We paddle Sanibel’s east-end canals at night to see the glowing bioluminescence and also San Carlos Bay in the morning to catch a great sunrise,” she said.

Each OTP paddle offers new adventures, different locations to explore, and great camaraderie.  

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Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, the mission of Ocean Tribe Paddlers is to assist the paddling community of Southwest Florida to better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean, and to help paddlers be engaged stewards of our marine environment. For more information about Ocean Tribe Paddlers, please visit or contact




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