Kayaker Is Miles Away From Land When He Spots A Mysterious Shape Bobbing In The Water

There’s no shortage of unique wildlife in the Florida Keys. Natives are used to seeing tropical plants pepper the 120-mile-long string of islands, manatees and dolphins splashing in the crystal clear waters, and alligators and geckos sunbathing along the sandy beaches. But, recently, one experienced fisherman saw something that shocked even him.

A man named Steve was returning from an offshore fishing trip one evening when he noticed something strange floating in the water. He was more than four miles away from dry land, so the mysterious object piqued Steve’s curiosity. When he paddled closer, however, he was completely blown away by what he saw…

Steve the kayak fisherman knew the Florida Keys as well as anyone. With a YouTube channel dedicated to fishing, sailing, and all things Florida Keys, he’d handled just about everything there. But recently, something in the water startled even him…

keywestkayakfishing / Instagram

In October 2017, Steve chronicled an adventure that captivated more than a million people around the world. The excitement all began about four miles from the shore of southern Florida’s tropical Key West.

Steve had been facing the setting sun when he spotted “a weird-shaped object floating in the distance,” he wrote on his YouTube channel, Key West Kayak Fishing. Curiosity piqued, he flipped on his helmet camera…

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

“All I could see were the multiple fins running down its back,” he wrote, “so I thought it was some sort of palm frond.” It was a solid guess; there were certainly no shortage of palm trees in the Keys. But he was totally wrong about this strange sight!

As he drifted toward the floating object, Steve realized his first impression wasn’t even close to being correct. When he stopped paddling for a moment, he immediately noticed something very un-palm-like about the floating object…

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

The dark object started swimming! By then, Steve—with all his Keys knowledge—realized just what he was staring at. Shocked by how strange the sight was, he laughed. What had he just seen?

KEy West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

It was an iguana! But what in the world was he doing four miles from the shore? Steve couldn’t help but express his bewilderment out loud. “Dude, what are you doing out here?” he called out to the iguana. “Are you lost or what?”

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

Of course, the iguana didn’t answer. Steve, playing the gentleman, offered the lizard a ride home nonetheless. “I’ll give you a ride back if you want,” he jokingly said to the reptile. For his part, the iguana seemed interested in Steve, too.

But as the iguana tepidly approached the kayak, Steve began to understand the little guy’s predicament. Sure, this was certainly a strange—and somewhat hilarious—encounter so far from shore, but it was also serious…

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

“I have seen plenty [of iguanas] swimming around the islands,” Steve wrote, “but never one that far out. 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.” This poor iguana was in trouble!

Humor / YouTube

See, after major storms, water will rush away from flooded streets like the one here. All that water makes for a much more severe high tide—and not even the Michael Phelps of iguanas could have fought the power and pull of the tide’s outgoing flow. In other words…


“Most likely [the iguana] would have died out there,” Steve wrote, “as the current that far out would most likely push it East with very little chance of coming back inshore.” Steve immediately knew he had to save this iguana!

ac4photos. / Flickr

The poor lizard’s exhaustion clearly showed. As he approached the kayak, he flailed wildly trying to grab on to a horizontal beam on Steve’s kayak. Talk about a rough day for a lizard! How long had he been so far from land?

Key West Kayak Fishing

Luckily, Steve was able to give the iguana a helping hand—or paddle, rather. He laid his kayak paddle on the top of the water, which gave the iguana some solid ground so he could easily scamper on. The little guy had probably been dreaming of solid land for awhile!

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

With the paddle beneath him, the iguana pulled himself right up on to the bar he’d been struggling to reach a second before. Triumphantly, he began to perch. But he was still very, very far from home.

Steve had to make it to shore before the sun went down, so with a little prodding, he moved the iguana to a more secure spot on the back of his cooler. “Alright get seat-belted in,” he called back to his new lizard bud, “’cause we’re gonna go flying.”

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

And fly they did! With a broad smile on his face, Steve powered his vessel home while the iguana adorably enjoyed the ride. For all four miles, the lizard perched, watching the waves go by and the sun set. Truly, he seemed happy to not be swimming.

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

The whole adventure really resonated with Steve. “It was pretty cool see [the iguana] trust me enough … to swim toward the kayak and hop on,” he wrote. And then to hang out for four miles? Talk about a priceless experience!

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

Still, the lizard had to return to his proper home. With the “safety of the mangroves” in sight, Steve watched as he “took a leap and swam to shore.” The little guy must have been excited to see solid, dry land. “Here’s my stop, pal. Gotta go!”

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

After the iguana swam toward the mangroves, Steve doubled back. He found the iguana clutching on to some shrubs with a look on his face that said he was never letting go of that branch. You can’t blame him for that!

Key West Kayak Fishing / YouTube

Luckily, Steve captured the entire encounter on video. It was a good thing Steve was around to make sure this gorgeous green fella made it back to dry land, or else who knows what could have happened?

What an oddly delightful rescue at sea! Who knew iguanas were so into high-speed kayak rides?

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