Kayak tour highlights wildlife of the bay

Beyond the 150-acre James Farm Ecological Preserve, which lies in the midst of developing neighborhoods, is an opportunity for discovery and exploration of Delaware’s Inland Bays. All it takes is a kayak, a paddle and a little determination.
Coastal Point • MARY ROBBINS: Mike Coppersmith and Lisa Daisey study a horseshoe crab during one of the Ecobay tours.Coastal Point • MARY ROBBINS:
Mike Coppersmith and Lisa Daisey study a horseshoe crab during one of the Ecobay tours.

Beginning this summer, Lisa Daisey, an outdoor enthusiast and founder of a new educational kayaking company called Ecobay Kayaking Adventures, is offering guided tours of the Indian River Bay, hoping to help foster a greater appreciation for the wildlife of the area.

“Because there is so much development, nobody knows or sees what Delaware is really all about. Everybody just goes to the beaches,” Daisey said. “This gives people a chance to really see nature.”

Visitors paddle for three hours beside the bay’s marshes, past an artificial oyster reef and along the bay’s shallow beaches. Daisey encourages kayakers to rest on the shore and get a feel for the life in the bay — literally.

She demonstrates how to find clams in the bay’s soft sand and picks up other forms of wildlife to show what lives beneath the murky water. Daisey grew up in the area and said she has always loved being outside, especially in the water.

At the age of 19, Daisey moved to Hawaii, where she worked on a snorkeling and whale-watching boat for six years. She recently received her boat captain’s license in Florida, before returning to the area. Daisey is also a certified surfing instructor and is trained in open water rescue, CPR and first aid.

Earlier this summer, Daisey discovered unused kayaks along the paths of the Preserve and thought to use her experience to show others what the coastal area has to offer. As a promoter of environmental appreciation, she presented her idea for educational kayaking tours to the board of directors for the Center for the Inland Bays.

“The tours really compliment the mission of the center and help in outreach to the public,” said Ed Lewandowski, executive director of the Center for the Inland Bays. “It’s something a little different, and the way Lisa packaged this activity allows people to enjoy the James Farm.”

The James Farm Ecological Preserve, which provided the kayaks and space for tours, occupies a plot of land donated to Sussex County by Mary Lighthipe, a local woman who wanted the land to be used for environmental education.

The Center for the Inland Bays began leasing the property from the county in 1998 and the area was transformed into a place for educational programs, festivals, research and enjoyment of its wooded paths and beaches.

Kayaking tours leave daily from the edge of the preserve, between 9 a.m. and noon, with no more than eight participants. Following each tour and included within the cost is a lunch catered by LunaTuna.

Daisey also donates 20 percent of the profits to preservation efforts at James Farm — something she said helps her stand out among similar kayaking tours in the area.

Daisey will run tours until the end of the summer, at which time she has plans to either travel to Caribbean and work on a privately-owned yacht, or spend the winter months in Alaska. She said she will return to Delaware next summer to run kayak tours again.

For more information, call the Center for the Inland Bays at (302) 258-4562. The cost of the tour is $60 per person.