815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City, FL
NAPLES — A Lehigh Acres kayaker got an eyeful during a Labor Day weekend kayaking trip to Everglades National Park -- and got it all on camera.
Don McCumber, 55, and his girlfriend, Brenda Anderson, were heading back to Everglades City on the tail end of a 30-mile trip through the Ten Thousand Islands when they stopped off at Rabbit Key.
As they waded in the shallows, the two spotted a trio of eagle rays -- McCumber says one large female and two smaller males -- gliding through the water. The largest was as wide as McCumber's outstretched arms, maybe 6 or 7 feet, he said.
McCumber grabbed his video camera and started recording. And then it happened: "A sawfish!" McCumber is heard to yell on the video, almost 15 minutes of which McCumber posted to YouTube.
The sawfish, an endangered species, cruised back and forth along the shoreline, as the more frequently seen eagle rays chased each other at McCumber's and Anderson's feet.
"It's still an exciting thing to see something that large flying through the water," McCumber later recounted about seeing the eagle rays. "But the sawfish, aw geez, I was thrilled. What an amazing thing to see."
McCumber, who has kayaked in Southwest Florida waters for the past 20 years, had almost given up on ever seeing a sawfish, he said.
Only the threat of an afternoon rainstorm and miles yet to paddle to get to Everglades City could pull McCumber away from the scene.
"I reluctantly shut off the camera and off we went," he said.