Ted Sperling Park and the surrounding waterways play host to a vast array of wildlife. From the small fish hiding away in the gentle sea grass of Sarasota bay, to the large ospreys perched high in their nests atop the mangroves, you never know what you might see during a visit to the park.
Red Mangroves are easily identified by their aboveground roots which transport air to their waterlogged belowground roots. Mangroves grow at sea level right along the shoreline. The red mangroves are one of the most imporant pieces of the SW Florida ecosystem. They provide a nursery habitat to fish, crustaceans, birds, and other small animals. They also act as a buffer, reducing the effect of waves on the coast and absorbing floodwaters.
One of the most popular creatures spotted in the waters from Ted Sperling Park is the West Indian Manatee. These gentle creatures can reach up to 13 feet long and hit up to 1,300 lbs. They can often be found grazing the turtle grass along the bottom of the bay and sometimes approach kayaks with curiosity.
Aquatic bird common to the waters at the park. These birds are experts at diving to catch small fish. Often spotted following groups of kayakers around the bay hoping to eat fish swimming below the boats or perched on docks or tree limbs with their wings spread open to dry off.
Ted Sperling Park hosts one of the top rated kayak launches in the state, located at the north entrance to the park at 190 Taft Dr. Directly off the launch at the park is a vast system of mangrove forests and tunnels, easily navigated by beginners and experts to paddling. Manatees, dolphin, and other wildlife are commonly spotted by kayakers.
The kayak launch at Ted Sperling Park is free of charge and open to any visitors to launch their own kayaks and paddleboards from.
The park is also the perfect location for stand up paddle boarding! The calm waters of the bay make it the ideal location for beginners to this new watersport. Rentals and lessons are available year round.
Guided eco tours launch from the park at 10:00am and 1:30pm every day and are an excellent way to see the mangroves and Sarasota Bay. If you would like to rent a kayak or schedule a guided eco tour of the area you can do so by calling 941-302-2677 or by booking online. Space is limited, so reservations are required.
One of Sarasota’s early pioneers, Otto Zoldan, settled around 1904 at the southern end of what is now Lido Key. Eventually the property was sold to John Ringling during the 1920s.
Ringling renamed the island to what we know it as today, “Lido,” the Italian word for beach. He had great plans for the island and surrounding properties, however during the great Florida land bust of 1926, the projects all collapsed and were abandoned.
In 1977 Sarasota County purchased all of South Lido Park and beaches as part of the Save Our Bays movement. The park and beaches were determined to forever be used as public land meant for parks and recreation and a protected habitat of the environment. In 2009 the park was renamed to Ted Sperling park, named in honor of the county commisioner most responsible for the purchase of the land.