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Meet Our Eco-Tour Guides

The 17 Turtles Outfitters name is inspired by the 17 turtle species that call the Mobile-Tensaw Delta home. Our Delta is the 2nd largest river Delta in our nation covering 260,000 acres of wetlands. We are based in Fairhope, Alabama, serve Baldwin and Mobile County and are willing to meet you at your chosen launch site.

Launch Sites

 

Jimbo Meador

Eco-Tour Guide 

Jimbo Meador has a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s license for both power and sail, and has run tugboats, shrimp boats and commercial fishing boats. He worked in the stevedoring business as a Ship’s Superintendent. He has been a fly fishing guide and fly casting instructor for the Orvis Company, and worked as a Regional Business Manager covering the entire Gulf Coast States. He worked for Hewes Maverick Boat Company, Hell’s Bay Boat Company, and Dragonfly Boat Company. Jimbo’s voice was recorded by a dialect coach for Paramount Pictures and used to develop Tom Hank’s southern accent for the movie Forest Gump. You may also have seen him on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, ESPN, and countless other shows. Jimbo has worked on the water his entire life except when he was in-charge of the Beretta Custom Premium Shotgun program for the U.S. Jimbo was a pioneer in kayak fishing in the early 80’s and was one of the founders of Legacy Paddle Sports and Native Water Craft designing fishing kayaks. He was a pioneer in Standup Paddle Board fishing and helped design fishing paddle boards for Native Water Craft and Dragonfly Paddle Boards. He is now running Eco-Tours with 17 Turtles Outfitters on the Gulf Coast in a custom built power boat and various paddle crafts. Growing up plying the waters hunting, fishing, bird watching, crabbing, shrimping, and exploring, Jimbo now wants to share his knowledge with others.

Ben Raines

Ben Raines

Eco-Tour Guide 

Ben has written about Alabama’s environment and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta for the Press-Register for 15 years.  Ben specializes in Delta lore and the rare flora and fauna in the giant swamp. He produced and wrote the film America’s Amazon about the Delta, which you can watch here: http://video.aptv.org/video/2365149942/.

Pepper Tonsmeire

Pepper Tonsmeire

Eco-Tour Guide 

Pepper was born on Dog River, Alabama, but has traveled many waters of the world. From scuba diving to fishing, exploring to whitewater rafting, and just plain fun, he brings eclectic skills and knowledge of the great outdoors. Pepper currently guides four- to ten-day trips for WildernessRiver.com based in Salmon, Idaho for three months of the year.

17 Turtles of the Gulf Coast

  1. Gulf Coast Box Turtle
  2. Eastern Mud Turtle
  3. Eastern Chicken Turtle
  4. Southern Painted Turtle
  5. Red-Eared Slider
  6. Florida Pond Cooter
  7. Eastern Snapping Turtle
  8. Common Musk Turtle (aka stinkpot)
  9. Florida Softshell Turtle
  10. Alligator Snapping Turtle
  11. Striped-Neck Musk Turtle
  12. Gulf Coast Spiny Softshell Turtle
  13. Gulf Coast Smooth Softshell Turtle
  14. Alabama Red-Bellied Cooter (Alabama State Reptile)
  15. River Cooter
  16. Southern Black-Knobbed Map Turtle
  17. Mississippi Diamondback Terrapin

**Wildlife can be aggressive; especially if provoked or feels threatened. Never approach, throw things, try to pick up, or kill any wildlife, even if it’s injured.