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River tour offers unique look at coast habitats

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A true gem of Jackson County is the Pascagoula River, one of the largest free-flowing rivers left in the nation. A habitat for so many different species of plants and animals, there is so much one could see while exploring the Pascagoula River. One Jackson County business that helps make that possible is McCoy’s River and Marsh Tours.

“We do eco-tours out of Pascagoula River Audubon Center,”said Capt. Benny McCoy. “We take birders out. We do help the Gulf Coast Research Lab do their research, but mostly we do eco-tours.”

No two tours are the same. You never know when you are going to see with McCoy at the helm.

“Depending on the time of year, you can get your birds, different types of birds, your plants, maybe some history of the area,” McCoy said. “Mostly we see how marshes and swamps kind of intertwine with each other and what the purpose is of each one of them. These areas are very important for the seafood industry and things we like to eat because this is where a lot of it is grown and nurseries are formed. You just learn about the nature of the Gulf Coast.”

As part of his job, McCoy gets to take people from all walks of live through the Escatawpa and Pascagoula rivers and see how they react to the unique natural habitat.

“We get people from all over our country and overseas, and they say it’s one of their greatest memories here on the Gulf Coast,” he said. “It says a lot, not only about the tour, but also what we have on the Gulf Coast.”

“I was visiting friends in Ocean Springs and I looked up the tour,” said North Carolina resident Lou Kraus. “So far, this has been a real highlight for us. The captain is a good story teller and very informed. I’m very pleased and privileged to be here.”

Even after doing the tours for 17 years, McCoy sees no signs of slowing down because of what he gets out of doing the tours.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years, and mostly what I get the thrill out of is meeting new people,” he said. “I get to meet a lot of great people throughout our country and all over the world. I get to learn their stories, and they get to see the beauty of the area. It pretty much sells itself because it’s amazing what is out there. Every season has something new out there, and they get to relax and get out on the water.”

Ahead of National Get Outdoors Day on June 10, McCoy has one piece of advice for anyone who hasn’t been able to explore the river yet.

“Come on out and get on the water and see what we can find out here,” he said. “There are all kinds of critters you can see and look at. Come on out and enjoy the outdoors. Get out of the house and get some sun.”

For more information about McCoy’s River and Marsh Tours, visit their website.


Written by Yolanda Cruz

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