Steve was at sea in his kayak when he saw something small and green in the distance. At first he took it for plant life and didn’t give it a thought. But as he got closer, the shape began moving towards him, so he stopped and observed its approach.
Steve lives in the Florida Keys, and he’s a man who knows a thing or two about fishing. In fact, he has his own YouTube channel called Key West Kayak Fishing where he shows off his talents. He also provides some great tips for surviving on the water.
Steve uses his platform to teach people a little more about sailing. But among his videos you can also find methods for catching and cooking sea life. That includes some creatures you wouldn’t usually associate with a hearty meal, such as the horseshoe crab.
And there are plenty of things on the menu in the Florida Keys. Its climate is technically classed as a tropical savanna, which means it’s home to some exotic flora and fauna. Some of them can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Among the Florida Keys’ unique inhabitants are the Key deer, Key largo woodrat and the American crocodile. Since the Keys are an archipelago (a group of islands), the surrounding seas contain a lot of life, too. The previously mentioned horseshoe crabs, turtles and sharks are prime examples.
But none of those things fit the description for what Steve spotted out at sea on October 18, 2017. He wrote, “I was coming in from an offshore trip, and I noticed a weird shaped object floating in the distance.” Initially, he thought it was inanimate.
“All I could see were the multiple fins running down its back,” he described. “So I thought it was some sort of palm frond, but it just didn’t look right.” Steve’s doubts got the better of him, and he decided to investigate the shape further.
Steve wrote, “I ended up stopping and noticed that it started swimming.” Then he realized the shape was actually a green iguana, miles out at sea. “It was pretty crazy seeing this guy so far out,” he commented in the video’s description.
The footage reveals Steve to be a genial guy, and he offers the iguana a lift back to dry land. He calls to the lizard, “I could give you a ride back if you want.” The iguana subsequently seems to take the fisherman up on his invitation.
It swims its way over to Steve’s kayak, but when it gets there it seems hesitant. Steve notices the lizard’s apprehension too. “You don’t trust me very much, do you?” he asks it, but its sense of self-preservation takes over.
The iguana makes several attempts to climb onto the kayak without success. Despite Steve’s encouraging words, the iguana can’t seem to find its footing; it slips off each time. As a result, the fisherman intercedes to lend his new friend a hand.
Steve reaches over to the kayak oar next to him, then lowers it into the water as a platform. Seeing safety in reach, the iguana immediately clambers onto the paddle. Steve consequently lifts it onto the boat, where it takes a perch on the outrigger piping.
Although Steve tries to convince the iguana to move to the back of the kayak, the lizard seems tired from its swim. “You’re probably going to be more comfortable on the back over here,” Steve points out. “Or do you just want a breather and keep swimming to Cuba?”
Once the iguana has a break, Steve tells it they need to move before darkness descends. With that, he nudges the iguana back onto the paddle so he can transport it to the kayak’s rear. When the lizard is comfortable, it’s time for the return journey.
“Get seatbelted in,” Steve warns, “because we’re going to go flying. Don’t panic and jump off; I’ll leave you.” As the kayak speeds along the water, Steve’s new pal looks quite happy watching the waves go by until it sees some mangroves nearby.
“All right, we’re almost home, any of this look familiar to you?” Steve calls back to the lizard. And, as if in answer, the iguana turns towards to mangroves and leaps off. The fisherman’s delighted when his friend reaches the safety of the trees and stops to say goodbye.
“Alright buddy, nice meeting you,” Steve tells the lizard now clinging to the branches. “Rest up for a while, be safe. Goodbye!” With his good deed for the day done, the fisherman continues on with his journey. But why was the lizard at sea?
“I have seen plenty swimming around the islands, but never one that far out,” Steve said. “Most likely, because of the king tides that are occurring, it got caught in one of the swift outgoing tides and got pushed out to sea.” The iguana was quite far out too.
“I was just inside the reef so it was close to four miles from land,” the fisherman explained. But he believes he saved the iguana’s life. “Most likely, it would have died out there, as the current that far out would most likely push it east with very little chance of coming back inshore.”
“But you never know,” Steve concluded. “It could be its normal daily swim back and forth between Cuba and the U.S. Regardless, it was pretty cool to see it trust me enough (versus dying of course) to swim toward the kayak and hop on.”