Archive for June, 2008

Pool Hopping Near Munyon Island

Posted by 30 June, 2008 (1) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session and as usual, what a great day it was! Adventure David and Dina from last week had so much fun they decided to join me for this week too. Alright! I just love it when kids come back! After […]

Hi Everybody,

Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session and as usual, what a great day it was! Adventure David and Dina from last week had so much fun they decided to join me for this week too. Alright! I just love it when kids come back! After a weekly session of adventuring you almost feel like you’ve become family. We have that great a time! I’m going to miss them when they go back home to Hungary. Today the three of us were joined by 4 new adventurers, AdventureCorey, Hannah, Parker and Maxwell, and I can already tell its going to be another great group!

Group Photo

We left the dock and headed out to do the normal first day adventure going to the Rock Garden and checking out the hundreds of fish that call this place home. When I came around the bend I noticed the sandbar was already exposed and dead low tide wasn’t till around noon so I knew it was going to be an extreme low tide. When we arrived at the Rock Garden the water was only about 2 feet deep instead of the usual 4 to 5 foot range so we anchored out a bit further than normal got our snorkel stuff together and got in. The large schools of menhaden, parrotfish and sheepshead were still there. We all took little collection nets and spent the first hour catching blue crabs, hermit crabs, swimming crabs, arrowcrabs, rock crabs, brittle starfish, blennies and a variety of pistol and popping shrimp. I think each one of us caught something different. After a while, the water level got so low we could walk from place to place without getting deeper than our knees. I have never seen such a low tide here. It has to be an unusual planetary alignment or moon phase or both to cause this extreme low tide. We decided to go to the sandbar to check that out.

When we arrived, we were amazed by what we saw. The whole north side of the island was exposed for hundreds of yards. It was just so unusual to see this much area out of water. We could already see shells and starfish popping out of the sand. We hurriedly grabbed our nets, masks and a bucket and headed out to explore. By the time we got to the sandbar, AdventureCorey, David, Parker and Maxwell had nets full of crabs.

I Found a Brittle Starfish!

We found some really unusual box crabs, egg masses to moon snails and fighting conchs and lettered olives were popping from the sand by the hundreds. We discovered them in all sizes from tiny to gigunda. I had never seen this before. It was just fabulous and AdventureDina and Hannah had handfuls to observe and let slither around before letting go. We had to find at least a dozen beaded starfish that we let go in deeper water so the birds wouldn’t eat them and some very large baby’s ears snails that were coming out from the sand. We explored the whole area and found so much. It was great to search the exposed areas I had never seen out of water before and even the sea grasses were high and dry.

We came to a large swimming pool sized hole that was around 8 feet deep in the middle with a dry bank all around it and full of fish. We would take turns running off the bank and doing cannonballs to make the biggest splashes and see who could jump out the furthest. We had a ball.

Jump into the Pool

Before we knew it the day was over and we had to head back to the boat. On the walk back along the sandbar AdventureParker found a very large nine armed starfish crawling out from beneath the sand and showed us all. It was a nice find! We took some photos then he moved it to deeper water also so it wouldn’t dry out in the sun or get eaten by a bird. Just as we were coming to the end of the sandbar we spotted something crawling towards the water and ran to see it. It was a very large and beautiful Rooster Crab, one of the largest members of the box crab or shame-faced family of crabs.

Group Photo with Rooster Crab

They get their name from the way they hold their claws folded in front as if they are “ashamed” to show their faces. The Rooster Crab gets its name from the raised edge of this folded claw that looks like cackles on a rooster. This is the only one I have ever seen here and a real beauty to find. We were lucky! It may be many years before I see another one like this, and especially one this large. Just great! Thank you…

From here we climbed back aboard the “Dream Chaser” and headed back. And on the way I was again asked, “why don’t I end the camp at 5pm instead of 1pm? We don’t want to go back yet!” and I mumbled something about how the weather gets worse around 3pm and didn’t want anyone out in lightning or thunderstorms, etc. but at that moment I don’t think they seemed to care. They were too busy having fun and its hard to quit while your still smiling! I know all about that, and it seemed like we just started. Oh well…

and there’s always tomorrow, and who knows what we may discover then, but one thing is certain, “We’re going to have Fun”!!! Stay tuned to see what we find… or better yet, come join us for your own adventure!!! Have a story to tell of your own and memories to share forever.

See you on the return,

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 5 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Two More Days of Adventure in Palm Beach

Posted by 26 June, 2008 (2) Comment

Hi All, I just finished up TWO more days adventure session and let me say this week has been perfect. We have a great group of adventurers whose enthusiasm and love for the water is contagious! They arrive early to begin the days adventure with huge smiles and excitement in their voices, and raring to […]

Hi All,

I just finished up TWO more days adventure session and let me say this week has been perfect. We have a great group of adventurers whose enthusiasm and love for the water is contagious! They arrive early to begin the days adventure with huge smiles and excitement in their voices, and raring to go! They jump in the boat, don their life jackets and don’t want to waste one more minute waiting at the dock then they have too. Saying they are extremely excited to go is an understatement!!! They know by now that AdventureMike’s is not your “normal” summer camp! Even after a very full day of adventuring they are never ready to come back. Reminds me of myself as a child, no matter how much fun I had, it just never was enough! I feel the same as an adult now! No wonder I love this group too! Each session just seems to be getting better and better.

Yesterday we started off the day heading back to the sandbar and searching the shallows. AdventureAllison, Madison, Dina and David found some really cool types of shells called “baby’s ears” that have the shell on the inside of the living animal instead of on the outside. They are very unusual and look more like large white nudibranchs or slugs instead of shells, and can burrow thru the sand very quickly. As the sandbar gets exposed and begins to dry out the living creatures begin to “pop” out from underneath the sand and head for water. By now the kids know what’s underneath just by looking at the type and shape of the “cracks” in the sand. They can tell whether its a crab, clam, moon snail, etc., and are quick to let me know. We are constantly being surprised by all kinds of emerging creatures from crabs, shells, clams, starfish, sea cucumbers and a variety of burrowing worms and other invertebrates. A regular smorgasbord of tiny living treasures just waiting to be discovered, and all, by us!!! Just Fabulous!!!

From here we headed to a secret out of the way little place I call “Starfish Prairie” that has hundreds if not thousands of large Cushion Sea Stars also called Bahama starfish. It is a very shallow hard rock bottom totally covered in short spined urchins and Sea Stars from end to end. I don’t let too many people know where this spot is as it is a true treasure in the Lake Worth Lagoon. In just a minute or two we picked up 9 or 10 from the shallow water and placed them in a large livewell container on the boat along with about 10 totally different colored sea urchins from snow white to a rich dark purple. We got back in the boat and talked about their life cycles and habitat, behavior, feeding habits, predators and prey etc., then hurriedly took a quick photo op. and released them where we found them. As long as too much fresh water run-off is not dumped into the lake all at once, they will continue to survive. The kids loved when they turned the large Sea Stars over and discovered the tiny delicate brittlestarfish, about a quarter inch in total length, clinging to the underneath sides. This was a great moment for them and I could tell they just loved it!

We finished up here and headed to the back side of Munyon Island to look for horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and blue crabs and take a short nature walk thru the estuary and shallow lagoon. We had so much fun along the beach and water we never got to the nature walk. AdventureNicholas showed Dina and Gavin how to tie fishing knots and cast netted some pufferfish for our entertainment. We all got to see how pufferfish get their name. It is always fun to watch them as they suck in air and water and literally double their size. Each adventurer had the opportunity to rub the smooth shiny belly of one of the checkered puffers and make a wish before letting them go, a childhood pastime of my families. How it started, who knows, but it sure is fun!!! I can’t remember if any of my wishes ever came true but it always put a smile on my face and that counts just as much!!! Just make sure to stay away from the mouth, or as I say “the business end” of a pufferfish as they can take an absolutely perfectly clean round bite out of a finger or your hand if given the opportunity. I’ll bet you’ll never guess how I found that out as a child…and on more than one occasion at that. Needless to say, I make sure to hold each fish gently and carefully so that each child has nothing to fear.

After this we had about 45 minutes left so we quickly headed to Little Munyon Island to explore and hopefully find one of those nine armed starfish that AdventureAnnie discovered last week. The only way I know how to do this is to find an area underwater with course well worked sand and just run your fingers back and forth thru the sand as you swim. Try and cover as much area as you can and if you are lucky you might find one. Watch out for broken glass and fireworms if you are in an area where they might be, just in case. AdventureAllison, Gavin and Trevor worked with me while AdventureDavid and Nicholas collected sea urchins for Madison and Dina who were taking a break in the boat. We searched and searched and searched till it was almost time to leave and just as I was getting ready to call it a day, my fingers found what we were looking for. I gently dug and sure enough it was a nice nine armed starfish. I was glad we found one! I really wanted Allison, Gavin and Trevor to see one since they had looked so hard too, and everyone had a chance to hold another new species and learn a little bit more about its behavior. On the way back I breathed a sigh of relief and was glad we got a bit lucky! I always love when things work out the way you hope!

Today, was the day I planned for us to fish and when I arrived at the dock not only were the Adventurers early, they were ready and willing and in a hurry to go!!! Everyone was asking if I “brought enough rods, enough bait, am I sure, am I sure, etc.” and I smiled and said yes even though I really wasn’t sure at the time.

I anchored the boat over the same section of artificial reef where we had done so well last Friday. I watched as 6 lines went down, hit bottom and instantly had fish on. Just like before, it was non stop action. The minute the bait hit bottom something was trying to eat it! Everyone had fish on all the time!!! It took everything AdventureNicholas and I could do to keep bait on the hooks and take fish off. No matter how fast we worked there was always a line of excited adventurers waiting. It seemed like we had 30 adventurers in the boat not just 6, and I’m sure to Nicholas it seemed more like 60!!! I didn’t see him get a chance to eat or drink the whole time we were there. Talk about having non stop fun, we did!!! I’ve never seen fish come in the boat so fast, and sometimes only parts of fish. Glad I spent my whole life diving here and marked all the hot-spots where the fish were. Made things easy for me later on…

It didn’t take long for the big barracudas to show up and park themselves right underneath the hull. The way everyone was catching fish, they knew they had pulled up to an “all you could eat diner” and for free too. I heard AdventureDavid yell, “I have a big one, A BIG ONE!!!, and just when I turned around, I saw a big swoosh by the side of the boat . I watched as David lifted his line out of the water with nothing but the very nose of his “Big Fish” left dangling. So much for almost catching the “big one” but I know it didn’t get away. I knew that just underneath us was a fat and happy barracuda waiting for the next one to be reeled in too.

I decided to try and hook a barracuda for the kids to reel in so I rigged a line with some wire leader, put on a fish and tossed it out. The second it hit the water, and I mean second, the water exploded and a huge barracuda launched skyward with the bait in his mouth. I didn’t even get a chance to take a turn on the reel before he had eaten the bait and thrown the hook. I could tell that these big barracudas had been hooked on numerous occasions before! They knew exactly what to do! The huge barracuda landed right next to the boat with a mighty splash, just about soaking AdventureMadison in the process, and then was gone. Talk about exciting for every one, it was great!!!! I know they won’t forget that!

We were so busy having fish on that I am sorry to say I didn’t get much of a chance to take photos of the whole encounter. Next time I may have to have the kids wait while I use the camera instead of bait the hooks, but its hard when you have 6 very happy and excited kids wanting their baits back in the water faster than you can possibly move, all wanting to catch the next “Big One”. I was the exact same way. Oh well…

It seemed like we only spent an hour fishing but when I looked at my watch, three and a half hours had already passed. It was the first time I had a chance to look at my watch all day. We quickly reeled and headed to the Rock Garden to get in the water, rinse off and feed the last bit of our bait to the friendly inhabitants. Again I found myself wondering just how did the time go by so fast? How can things move so quickly? It seemed to us all like we just started? And it seems to be so true…and often said,

Allison's Rare Find

“Time Flies, When You’re Having Fun”!!!! Our 6 happy kids would tell you that today!!!! Nothing but smiles!!! and the way I like it!!! Each day a real blessing! Thank you!

Come be a part of the Adventure!!! Just a few spaces left till next year… I guarantee your child will have fun!!!

See you soon,

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 5 Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

Ctenophores and More in the Lake Worth Lagoon!

Posted by 25 June, 2008 (0) Comment

I just finished up the first day of another new adventure session with a wonderful group of adventurers, and as usual, it was a blast! I had a full boat today and one of my best friends sons, AdventureNicholas, gave me a hand helping with all the things needing to be done, but most of […]

I just finished up the first day of another new adventure session with a wonderful group of adventurers, and as usual, it was a blast! I had a full boat today and one of my best friends sons, AdventureNicholas, gave me a hand helping with all the things needing to be done, but most of all entertaining the kids and making sure everyone left with smiles from ear to ear. Which of course they did! He was great to have along and after the days session was over helped me clean the barnacles off the bottom of the boat and put away all the gear. Thanks so much, I really appreciate it!!!

Group Photo

We had 3 new adventurers join us for the first time, AdventureAllison, AdventureGavin and AdventureTrevor plus 3 returning adventurers, AdventureMadison, AdventureDina and AdventureDavid. It was a great group to have together and we laughed and had fun the whole day. I can’t remember when I or anyone else laughed this hard.

We started the day going right around the corner to the sandbar and anchoring in knee deep water. We hopped out and everyone was instantly collecting fighting conchs, juvenile blue crabs and looking for starfish. We found fighting conchs with blue eyes, brown eyes and even some with green eyes and a few shy ones that never came out of their shells to show us what color eyes they had. Madison found a really nice empty Alphabet Cone and I believe Gavin or Trevor found a few empty sundial shells that get their name from the way they are shaped and patterned. Nice find!!!, and not many around sitting empty. There were hundreds of ctenophores, a type of non-stinging jellyfish like tunicate washing into the shallows as the tide went out that look and feel exactly like clear jelly. I brought up the fact that my brother and I used to play with them as kids, and the next thing I know I became target practice for 6 laughing kids hurling ctenophores in my direction. I got one in my ear, in my mouth and even one up my nose. I thought I was going to die of laughter! I’ve never seen kids laugh so hard and for so long as today. I couldn’t open my mouth long enough to yell, “aim for Nicholas instead of me” without one just about flying in there. I’m still laughing just thinking about it…and I know they are too.

Creature Collectors

From here we went to the Rock Garden and everyone got in to snorkel and check out all the fish, crabs and Hairy Blennies. And as usual, they were there by the hundreds. We saw parrotfish, angelfish, barracudas, sheephead, houndfish, snook, needlefish, lizardfish, porkfish, snappers, grunts, flounders, large schools of menhaden and an assortment of tropical fish too numerous to mention. We found hermit crabs by the hundreds, rock crabs, blue crabs, stone crabs, shamefaced crabs and sally lightfoot crabs running on the rocks just at the high tide mark. None of us wanted to get out of the water! That kept us busy for the rest of the day, barely had time to snack. AdventureGavin, David and Trevor caught crabs and blennies and put them in a bucket for all to see, while AdventureAllison, Madison and Dina collected hermit crabs and looked for shells. We all worked together and it was a blast. AdventureNicholas made sure we had what we needed, carried creatures back and forth to the buckets and brought us drinks when we asked. It was a perfect day!!!

Goofing Around

Somehow when the kids got in the boat they found my hidden stash of Squirt guns and nothing stayed dry after that, including my glasses which I could barely see out of. Next time I’m going to hide a “super soaker” for me and blast them all in return. Can’t wait…Some kids just never grow up, and that would include me too. Oh well… we had fun!

From here it was time to go, and as we headed back we saw a quite large eagle ray foraging in the shallows for conchs. Had to be 6 feet across. We stopped to watch as he glided about and then disappeared into the deeper water. It was a beautiful way to end the day! On the way back the kids kept saying ,”why do we have to go back now? Why can’t you run your camp till 3 or 5 and not end at 1? I don’t want to go back yet, do we have to go back now?” I told them their parents would be waiting for them and they said why don’t I just call and have them come back later? I didn’t have a good answer for that. They seem to think of everything nowadays. I told them there is always tomorrow, three more days left, and who knows what we are going to see next… That didn’t really satisfy them but they quit asking, and I didn’t really want to go in either. I understood how they felt. Oh well…

And for all the rest of you who haven’t experienced AdventureMike’s aquatic summer camp… Stay tuned, or better yet, Come join us for our next adventure!!! Get off the couch and get outside… Be a part of the Adventure!!!

Lets all go have some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 5 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From Hungary to Palm Beach

Posted by 21 June, 2008 (1) Comment

Welcome back all, We just finished up another great week full of adventure and thrills and at the same time were lucky enough to miss all the rain that seemed to fall everywhere but on us. Most of the showers came thru around 3pm, long after we were off the water. We could not have […]

Welcome back all,

We just finished up another great week full of adventure and thrills and at the same time were lucky enough to miss all the rain that seemed to fall everywhere but on us. Most of the showers came thru around 3pm, long after we were off the water. We could not have timed things better, thank you…

Group Photo

We started off yesterdays adventure session with a little bit of trolling down the inter-coastal waterway south along the Palm Beach Island side. I hoped to hook some large jack crevalles or barracudas on light tackle just to give Adventurers Jonah, Annie, Jake and Javier a real tussle trying to bring them in. No luck, but we trolled down to an old tugboat that looked like it had been out of service for the last 50 years or more just to check it out and give Jonah an up close view. We all found it fascinating and pondered its history and years of service.

From here, everyone wanted to go back to the Rock Garden to go snorkeling, search for hermit crabs and try and catch pufferfish and lizardfish. Adventure Annie spent her time trying to catch pufferfish barehanded. Her technique was so good that I can guarantee one day she will get one! We made a bet to see who could find the smallest shell with a hermit crab in it, and for a long while I was in the lead. Just when I thought I was going to win, Javier came up with one that I knew was going to be tough to beat, so back to work, Adventure Jake, Jonah and I went looking. We all wanted to win and I was going to give it my best. I planned on winning just to set an example that you could do anything with persistence and determination. There was just one thing I neglected to think about or seemed to overlook. And that one thing was the fact that “eagle eye” Jake could see a hermit crab about half the size of a head of a pin and not just see it, but pick it up and sure enough he won! I had to take it back to the boat and look at it with my glasses on just to see if it was a shell, and sure enough while I was looking at it, out came the tiniest blue legs I have ever seen. I had to declare him the winner. The only way I’ll ever beat that is to go have some prescription lenses put in my mask and then use a magnifying glass on top of that. Its funny how age has a way of catching up with you and evening the odds. I thought I had the better skill and experience, he just had the better eye sight. Oh well… and of course maybe skill too.

From here we took a quick trip around the island, stopped on the west side to play a little bocce ball, do a bit of snorkeling and fishing then had to hurry to get back to the dock on time. We all had a great day!

Today was a little bit different than the normal routine. A week or two ago I was contacted by a very nice lady, Elizabeth, calling from Hungary in Europe. She had google searched “summer camps” and found my website. After reading about it, she thought it might be fascinating for her children to attend so she decided to call me. After speaking for a while, she told me she was going to come to Delray Beach, FL with her two children and would like to meet me and that she would arrive on Tuesday. I told her Friday morning, (today) would be the best opportunity for us to meet, and speak with some parents and kids who are attending AdventureMike’s and get a real feel of what it is all about. Its not your “normal” summer camp experience. I love what I do too much!

Fishing Buddies

As Adventure Jonah, Annie, Javier and Jake were boarding the boat she arrived with her son David and daughter Dina. While we were speaking, Adventure Annie and Dina became instant friends and Annie did not want me to leave without taking Dina along. She asked me, (more like insisted), if Dina could go. I looked at her mom and she looked back at me and shrugged, and I said, “Lets go have some fun!” and we were joined by Adventure David and Adventure Dina and off we went. I had planned on spending the morning fishing, and then snorkeling the last half of the day and we stuck to the plan.

I dropped anchor by the artificial reef 400 yards away and baited the hooks. I watched as four lines dropped down, hit bottom and instantaneously hooked up in unison. The adventurers began to scream with joy. It was nonstop action for three hours. They all took turns reeling fish in, while I baited the hooks, unhooked the fish and de-tangled some lines. I cannot describe how fabulous it was to watch the 6 kids working together, sharing rods, helping each other reel the fish in, letting go the fish and smiling from ear to ear, and doing it all on their own. I think the real highlight came when a very large barracuda took up residence under the boat and left his mark on one nice yellowtail snapper that Adventure Jake was reeling in. The kids got to see first hand just how “toothy” a big barracuda is. The excitement in their voices reached a crescendo when I threw the head back in and the water exploded right next to the boat as two large barracudas fought for the spoils. I think every one in the boat had to catch at least 10 to 15 grunts, yellowtail snapper, lane snapper, cottonwicks, or porgies each. I know we boated over a hundred fish total and only 2 break offs. Not bad for 3 hours of fishing! I know the kids will never forget that, especially Adventure Dina and David! Their non stop smiles from ear to ear summed up the day! I don’t think they catch fish like this in Hungary!!!

When the bait came to an end we headed back to the Rock Garden to snorkel. I wanted Adventure David and Dina to see just how beautiful is. They are considering coming next week and I wanted them to have an idea of what they would encounter. Adventurers Jonah, Jake, Javier and Annie showed them around and brought them to the best spots. The boys hung together chasing fish and catching crabs with nets, while Adventure Annie and Dina were inseparable and collected shells. It was fantastic to watch and be a part of! As usual, the time seemed to fly by way too quickly and none of us were ready to head back when it was time to go. I’m going to miss this bunch too…

I just can’t tell you how personally rewarding it is for me to look into the eyes of the adventures, see their smiles and hear their laughter and know, you have left them with some truly wonderful and special memories they may never forget. For me, it is times like these that make me feel life has come full circle. To have the opportunity to share with others the things I love, the things my parents so freely shared with me, the things I will never forget, always cherish, and forever be thankful for is truly a blessing!!!! Thank you…!!!!

I can’t wait till the next adventure to begin!!! Come join us. I don’t have many more spots left. Lets go have some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 4 Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

A Manatee Encounter and More

Posted by 18 June, 2008 (0) Comment

Hi everyone, I just got back in from the second day of another new and wonderful adventure, and let me tell you it was another great start! We started the week off with a few repeat adventurers; Adventure Jonah, Adventure Annie and Adventure Jake, and one new adventurer, Adventure Javier. Adventure Jake’s dad, Adventure Paul […]

Hi everyone,

I just got back in from the second day of another new and wonderful adventure, and let me tell you it was another great start! We started the week off with a few repeat adventurers; Adventure Jonah, Adventure Annie and Adventure Jake, and one new adventurer, Adventure Javier. Adventure Jake’s dad, Adventure Paul decided to join us as well for some much needed rest and relaxation but I’m not sure if he got any, looked like he was too busy having fun to me!

Group Photo

On Monday we started off the adventure session with a trip to the Rock Garden. The water conditions were unbeatable. Crystal clear, calm ,warm, fish in every direction and best of all, no-one else around! Just the way I love it. Our very own piece of paradise! Sometimes its just hard to leave this spot! We began by doing a little bit of collecting and identification, found 6 different species of hermit crabs alone. The most common ones being the Giant Hermit, Stareye Hermit, Red Reef Hermit and the Red-Stripe Hermit. There were hundreds with beautiful blue legs and some with long green slender legs, but at this time I am not sure what species they are. I will have to find out. We collected 3 different species of Blennies, the Hairy Blenny, Seaweed Blenny and the Molly Miller. I saw a few others but couldn’t catch them bare-handed. We saw numerous species of tropical fish, angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, snook, jacks, lizard fish, porkfish, seargent majors, wrasse, sheephead, snapper, grunts, and large schools of menhayden, etc. A virtual bonanza of fish in every direction, the usual here. We didn’t get out of the water for 3 straight hours. Like I said, sometimes its just hard to leave…

With one hour left we headed over to the sandbar to play in the shallows. We looked for conch and mantis shrimp and found juvenile blue crabs galore. We talked about the differences between Florida fighting conchs and West Indian fighting conchs and even found a few hawk-wing conchs as well, not too common around here anymore. It was a nice find! We spent the rest of the time looking for pelagic tunicates, a translucent type of free swimming ascidian that looks similiar to a jellyfish, but without the stinging tentacles, and came up with a few. They are almost transparent in the water and difficult to see. From here I headed back with the sounds of, ” Do we have to go back already?” echoing from all sides. The usual…

Today we loaded up and again headed back to the Rock Garden. The conditions were just as perfect as yesterday, and everyone raring to go. Same beautiful scene, different day!!! In seconds, Adventurers Annie, Jonah, Jake and Javier were in the water and telling me and Adventure Paul to “hurry up” and “don’t take so long”. I thought I was quick to get in. About got trampled underneath by 8 tiny feet all in a hurry to be the first ones on the dive platform. Whew, that was a close call…

Once in we headed towards the shallow rocks. Everyone was pointing in different directions for me to look. “Adventure Mike over here, over here, a snook, a snook… No, no, over here ,over here, a barracuda, a barracuda… Look here, Over here, a parrotfish, a parrotfish… Adventure Mike, Adventure Mike…and on and on…” Shortly after this I put Adventure Paul to work giving me a hand, so much for his rest and relaxation.

A few moments after this I heard Adventure Jonah yell, “A manatee, a manatee” and I thought he might be mistaken.

Look!  A Manatee!

I turned around to take a look and sure enough, there was a young manatee swimming right beside us looking us right in the eye! He wasn’t 4 feet away! Could of smooched him on the nose if I wasn’t in a panic hurrying to turn on the camera to take a picture. At times like these no camera turns on quick enough. By the time I got ready he was passing us by and I hurriedly pointed and hit the shutter button once or twice.

A Friendly Manatee

I was so excited I don’t even remember looking in the view finder. I don’t think professional underwater photographers are supposed to make that mistake. Oh well…

After another hour or two swimming we headed back to the boat, had lunch, reapplied sunscreen and headed to Little Munyon Island to try some cast-netting. Everyone took turns, but Adventure Jake, under the fine tutelage of his dad, Adventure Paul, was already a pro! It didn’t take him long to fill a bucket with Killifish, sometimes called mud-minnows, mullet and moharras, also called sandperch. It was great fun! Adventure Jonah, Javier and Annie were quick to learn but by now we had spooked most of the fish so there wasn’t much around. Adventure Annie began playing in the shallows and she came up with a nice nine-armed starfish, Adventure Jake found a nice horseshoe crab molt and plenty of short spined urchins and Adventure Javier and Jonah continued practicing throwing the cast net until it was time to leave. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my watch and it was already 1pm. We were almost running late, we had to hurry, it was time to go. And once again I thought, “Time does fly when you’re having Fun!!!

Can’t wait till tomorrow!!! Wonder what we’re going to see next? Stay tuned for the next adventure… Better yet, come join us!

Ciao,
Adventure Mike

Categories : Week 4 Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,

Custom Palm Beach Adventure – Part III

Posted by 16 June, 2008 (0) Comment

Welcome Back all, I just finished up the last day of my custom adventure session with Adventure Drew last Friday and let me tell you what a day it was!!! Somehow it seems we saved the very best for last! What an ending to a fabulous week that I will long remember and often retell! […]

Welcome Back all,

I just finished up the last day of my custom adventure session with Adventure Drew last Friday and let me tell you what a day it was!!! Somehow it seems we saved the very best for last! What an ending to a fabulous week that I will long remember and often retell!

We started the day heading back to the Sailfish Marina to get more underwater video of the large schools of Jack Crevalles around the docks. When we arrived we noticed the visibility was even better than yesterday and we were eager to begin. The jacks were ready and waiting. I picked up the “fish food”, a couple bags of frozen shrimp, while Drew readied his video. We positioned ourselves with the sun at our back and open water in front of us. Drew submerged his camera while the jacks arrived on cue. Like yesterday, I tossed the shrimp in front of the lens and the feeding frenzy began. Tails and fins flashed by, mouths opened and the water in front of the lens seemed to boil with the onslaught of hungry jacks competing for even the smallest morsel of food. In just a few seconds, the shrimp were gone and Drew was soaked to the bone. What a rush to view all this 8 inches from your nose! Right on Drew!!!

From here I wanted to try a new place that had less tropical fish to see and not quite as scenic as the rock garden, but more of a chance to find some unusual creatures that Drew had not yet photographed. I was hoping to find an octopus and maybe even a red-tipped fireworm that is beautiful to see but extremely painful to the touch. When disturbed they display bristles that can easily penetrate the skin and cause a strong burning sensation, one that you won’t soon forget. I can guarantee that! I have been on the business end of these quite often as I gingerly handle them to show people what you should stay away from should you encounter one. Sometimes “gingerly” is not “gingerly” enough! I know what I’m getting into should I be stuck and realize that the pain will eventually go away. Plus it seems to make a lasting impression on the kids to learn from my mistakes instead of making them on their own as they see dozens of spines sticking out of my fingers. I know they won’t handle these in the future.

Once anchored, Drew and I got in and the search was on. Almost immediately we found a small Octopus curiously peaking out of a small hole and trying his best to remain invisible. Photographically wise it wasn’t the best opportunity, so after a few seconds we continued the search. Shortly after this we saw another just as it disappeared under a rock and so the search continued. As we swam we came upon a small rock that was covered in feather brush hydroids, another plant like animal that can deliver a sting to sensitive skin. As I was pointing this out to Drew I noticed a slight movement amongst the branches. Low and behold, and to my amazement and sheer joy!!!, peeking back at us was a wondrous pair of striated frogfish, camouflaged like the hydroids themselves. This was the second time in my life I had been lucky enough to encounter such an unusual and rarely seen creature, and not just one but two, in only 4 feet of water! How lucky we were!!! I believe these to be a mated pair and hopefully will be left undiscovered and undisturbed by anyone else. They tend to stay in the same area for years if left alone, and Drew and I were excited to take turns shooting videos of a creature we may never again see in our lives. I will always cherish this moment and the excitement I felt with this discovery!!! Thank you!!!

From here we continued our search for an octopus that we could hopefully tease out of its hole for a few seconds and get the video footage we wanted. While swimming next to a sunken sailboat I noticed a large pile of empty shells scattered around an opening in the hull. Bingo, the tell tale signs of an octopus home with the octopus still inside. Octopus have a tendency to stack the empty shells of their prey around the border of their homes and if the shells are still around so usually is the octopus. We were in luck, again! I gently teased the octopus from his home while Drew took video. All of a sudden the octopus reached forward and with an inquisitive tentacle, touched the lens. The suction cups adhered and to our amazement it pulled itself right onto the lens port of the underwater video housing and became firmly attached. What an unusual and different perspective Drew was seeing now!, and what an unusual perspective I was seeing on my end too! It was great, and one I can guarantee doesn’t come around too often. He let the video roll for a few more moments and then the octopus let go and returned to its home. How are we ever going to top that?

We continued to explore the sunken boat and then headed into even shallower water, about 18 inches deep. I had noticed earlier some 9 armed impressions in the sand and knew that they were left by an unusual starfish rarely seen on the open bottom. As I gently ran my fingers thru the sand it was only a matter of seconds before I felt what I was searching for. I called Drew over and we slowly unearthed a rather large nine-armed starfish. This species can move rather quickly along the bottom when compared to the movement of other starfish, and I knew it had a tendency to rapidly right itself when turned on its back. I thought this might make some interesting video so I told Drew what I had in mind. He readied the camera as I turned the starfish on its back and recorded how easily and quickly a nine-armed starfish can right itself. They curl a few arms underneath and a few arms over and before you know it, its right side up, burrowing into the sand and disappearing before your eyes. Now you see me, now you don’t. Fascinating…

As our time was quickly coming to a close I decided to try and bait in a few of the red-tipped fireworms so Drew could get them on video. I put a small piece of fish in the sand and knew it would only be a matter of seconds before the worms would appear. They are nocturnal and fast moving as worms go, and are aggressive feeders and scavengers that remain buried in the sand until the scent of prey or darkness entice them from burrows. We watched as they appeared and began to eat the fish. A few seconds later some small crabs arrived in the hopes of a free and easy meal. To our surprise, the crabs began grabbing and pinching the fireworms and began to steal their meal. A fight ensued. The fireworms bristled in defense but their poisonous spines were no match for the sharp pinchers and hard carapace of the crabs. The fireworms retreated in defeat but remained circling from a safe distance as the crabs ate their fill. What a sight to behold!

It was now time to go and we stopped to take one last look at the frogfish before we boarded the Dream Chaser to head back home. Drew and I were both thrilled and elated with what we saw and captured on video, and know this day would long be remembered often retold by us. I’m not sure how I will top this the next time Drew comes along, but one thing is certain: We’ll all be having fun on our next adventure! Stay tuned, or better yet, come join us and return with a story of your own to post on our site. For more videos of our last adventure and other images photographed by Drew, check out Drew’s website here. Way to go Drew!!!

See you on the flip side of our next adventure that starts tomorrow, and remember,

Lets Go Have Some Fun!!!!!!! Right on…

Adventure Mike

Categories : Week 3 Tags : , , , , , ,

Custom Palm Beach Adventure – Part II

Posted by 13 June, 2008 (0) Comment

I just finished up Thursdays custom trip with Adventure Drew and we had a blast! I’m sorry its ending soon! It was great to spend the week with someone who has as much enthusiasm towards snorkeling, underwater photography and underwater video as I do. It gets contagious and you just can’t quit. How great is […]

I just finished up Thursdays custom trip with Adventure Drew and we had a blast! I’m sorry its ending soon! It was great to spend the week with someone who has as much enthusiasm towards snorkeling, underwater photography and underwater video as I do. It gets contagious and you just can’t quit. How great is that?

We started off the day back along the rock jetty with conditions almost pristine; calm seas, clear water, fish galore…Just like all week. Perfect! We didn’t know which way to go first, there were fish in every direction. We started off towards a nice school of small barracudas congregating around a shiny object and then headed toward the rocks. We were greeted by a large school of Redfin Parrotfish that took a quick break from their daily routine and decided to gives us an up close personal inspection.

As we passed we seemed to be accepted into the school and they followed us along our way. I watched as Drew frequently stopped to videotape the schools of tropical fish, encrusting corals, and some small macro subjects hidden within the small clusters of fire coral scattered here and there. Thought I would warn him about its attention getting sting so I pointed it out. I no sooner turned my back when I heard him say, “My hands burning like fire”. Yep that’s the stuff, way to find it Drew, barehanded no less, you da man! Just like me, he had to make sure that if something’s out there that can painfully sting you, you might as well find it right at first and get it over with. Sooner or later, or in my case both, your going to find it anyway and you might as well try and enjoy that burning sensation while it lasts, good character builder and it grows on you after a while. Before you know it you won’t even care anymore … unless of course you brush up against a nice patch right behind the ear … not that I would know. Ouch!

As the clouds began to roll by on the horizon we decided to leave here and head over to the Sailfish Marina to see if we could take some video of the large jack crevalles that frequent this area. Just as we were leaving, we noticed a waterspout form out of a distant cloud bank, briefly touch down for a few seconds and then dissipate into a thin wispy trail. Alright! Very cool, a nice addition to the day!

We arrived at the dock, got some bait and Drew got ready with the video. Drew held the video in the water and I threw the bait in front of him. The action was fast and furious as each jack crevalle tried to beat the other to the throw. Looked like a school of feeding piranhas without those fine dentures of course. I couldn’t help but laugh as I watched a small terrier run frantically around Drews head barking at the fish. All of a sudden he just couldn’t contain his excitement and the dog launched off the dock after the biggest fish. No luck, the fish scattered, but it was fun to watch and Drew got it all on film.

By now we were running short on time so we quickly headed back to the boat and motored over to a new spot near Peanut Island to see what we could find. This area had a sandy rubble type of bottom and it wasn’t long before Adventure Drew was finding and videotaping small flounders that camouflaged so well against the sand you couldn’t see them inches from your nose, unless they were moving. He was lucky enough to find a couple of Bandtail Searobins that are quite uncommon to this are and we spent the last remaining time we had trying to get some images of these. It was fascinating watching them “walk” along the bottom with their modified ventral fins, that look more like legs than fins, and spread their large round pectoral fins to try and make themselves look bigger. A very lucky and unusual find. Nice job!

Our time was up and from here we began to head back. When I asked Drew if there was anything else he’d like to do, his answer summed it up best. He said, “I don’t care what I do, as long as I’m in the water, I’m happy!”. Right on Drew!! Ditto that !! I think his love for the water will one day rival my own. Somehow I just wasn’t ready to quit, and I don’t think Drew was either. Where had the time gone and how did it pass so quickly? There is no doubt, “Time flies when your having fun!” And to all the rest, Come join us for the next adventure!

I’m running a tour this weekend so I might not post again until Sunday but stay tuned. I save my best summer camp spots for Fridays!

Categories : Week 3 Tags : , , , , , ,

Custom Palm Beach Adventure – Part I

Posted by 11 June, 2008 (0) Comment

Hello all, Just got back in and cleaned up from today’s adventure! For this week I have a custom trip planned with an outdoor enthusiast, and an aspiring and inspiring young underwater photographer, Drew. It was a great day on the water and I was with great company! We had fabulous visibility, perfectly calm seas […]

Hello all,

Just got back in and cleaned up from today’s adventure! For this week I have a custom trip planned with an outdoor enthusiast, and an aspiring and inspiring young underwater photographer, Drew. It was a great day on the water and I was with great company! We had fabulous visibility, perfectly calm seas and the opportunity to explore some new areas. We had not been in the water more than a minute or two before we spotted a small nurse shark slowly foraging along the bottom below us. I watched as Adventure Drew zoomed in for the shot and hopefully will be rewarded for his efforts with a nice image. We continued down the rock jetty and stopped to photograph long-spined urchins, slate-pencil urchins, fire coral, Christmas tree worms, neon gobies, sea-weed blennies, bluehead wrasse, parrotfish, porkfish and an assortment of other tropical fishes. We gently captured a smooth trunkfish and a lobster barehanded and took turns taking a few photos before releasing them unharmed.

It was great to watch Drew go, and reminded me of the days when I was first learning underwater photography and how easy things seemed to be but how difficult they truly were. Even the very best photographers keep just a few from the hundreds they take and it reminded me of what I was told many years ago by John Shaw, one of the worlds best nature photographers of our time. I will never forget as it has come true so many times since then. He said, “I have learned from my mistakes and I can repeat them exactly” and when he came to describing how many images he kept out of how many he took he said, ” I have about a 5% success rate and a 95% failure rate so if you can live with failure and still be happy, you too can be a wildlife photographer”. I often laugh when I think of this, 25 years into being a professional freelance wildlife photographer, and how true that statement was. So Drew, don’t let the missed images and lost opportunities get the best of you, have patience and determination and you will be rewarded. This I can guarantee! Underwater photography has been the most rewarding and frustrating thing I have ever done in my life, all at the same time! I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I couldn’t live without it . Good luck!!!, and show your friends only your very best stuff, and everyone will think everything you take comes out like that and go with it.

From here we left on our custom adventure to explore further down the beach along another rocky out cropping. As soon as we entered the water Adventure Drew called my attention to a nice school of reef squid and shortly after that we came upon a huge Barracuda sitting quietly in a “cleaning station” with his mouth agape. We watched as a juvenile French angelfish swam in and out of his mouth and gills, intent on cleaning away any parasites he could find. All I could think about was, “My what big teeth you have” It was fascinating and wonderful to watch!

As we snorkeled along the shallow reef I was amazed at the quantity of juvenile French Angelfish we saw. There had to be hundreds. The most I have ever seen here by far and I hope its a sign of good things to come. I watched as Drew photographed both mature and juvenile French Angelfish, spot tail pinfish, an assortment of parrotfish, more urchins and a beautiful young spotted moray free swimming along the reef in search of an easy meal. An unusual site to see in the daytime since they are mainly nocturnal. Adventure Drew discovered a bearded fireworm and was quick to learn how it got its name. Yep, reminded me of myself, just had to touch everything and learn the hard way. Right on Drew, been there, done that, and let me say, “I can feel your pain”. I was a slow learner. Oh well…

From here time was running short, and we decided to call it a day and head back. Hopefully we will be rewarded with some nice images and video footage that we can share. Looking forward to tomorrow and a new day of discovery on our custom adventure session. I’m ready, How about you? Lets go have some fun!!!

Adventure Mike

Categories : Week 3 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Found a Hermit Crab!!!

Posted by 6 June, 2008 (0) Comment

Look at Annie! At the beginning of the week she was hesitant and as she gained experience in the water she became a true adventurer. Take a look at her now. Here’s a quick video of her diving down, picking up a rock, and finding a hermit crab clinging to the bottom. Thanks to Annie, […]

Look at Annie! At the beginning of the week she was hesitant and as she gained experience in the water she became a true adventurer. Take a look at her now. Here’s a quick video of her diving down, picking up a rock, and finding a hermit crab clinging to the bottom.

Thanks to Annie, Jonah, Ariana, Liana, Drew, Karyn, Robin, and Barbara for a great second week.

If you are here because you received one of my brochures please take a minute and click here to read my story …

Categories : Week 2 Tags : , ,

Exploring Fossil Beach

Posted by 5 June, 2008 (1) Comment

Two new adventurers recovered from their colds and joined the crew today, Ariana and Liana. A highlight of the day was searching for sharks teeth on “Fossil Beach” and collecting knicker beans on our island romp. Everyone found at least one! They are in the bags in the photo below. We also scooped and inspected […]

Two new adventurers recovered from their colds and joined the crew today, Ariana and Liana.

Adventure Sisters

A highlight of the day was searching for sharks teeth on “Fossil Beach” and collecting knicker beans on our island romp. Everyone found at least one! They are in the bags in the photo below.

Exploring Fossil Beach

We also scooped and inspected sea weed for sargassum frog fish. We weren’t lucky enough to find one but we did discover juvenile pilot fish, soldier fish, bar jacks, pipe fish, sargassum file fish, scrawled file fish, and numerous species of crabs and shrimp camouflaged like the seaweed itself.

Finally, we revisited the rock garden where we swam with large schools of parrot fish and saw a few arrow crabs.

Tomorrow we’ll have one more adventurer on the crew, an aspiring photographer, Drew. Beacause of that we’ll be starting the day at the rock garden to take some photos. Then we’ll take it from there to finish off another great week.

If you are interested in attending next week I still have a few spots so call me at 561-324-1892.

Categories : Week 2 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,