Welcome back all,
We just finished up the first day of a new adventure session and as usual we had a fabulous time! I was joined by a whole new group of adventurers today, AdventureSeth, Michael, Darby, JC, Andrew and Lauren from the Weiss School. This group was well acquainted, extremely comfortable in the water, and they could all swim like fish. All the makings for a wonderful week! I just love it like this! AdventureNicholas, who joined me a few weeks back, came along to give me a hand and help find unusual creatures to share with the group.
After introductions, the group of adventurers boarded my 26′ Island Runner, “Dream Chaser”, donned lifejackets and off we went. We were all excited and in a hurry to get to the Rock Garden and start the days adventure! After a few minutes getting the masks cleaned and ready we got in. In seconds everyone was pointing at different fish, searching for crabs and finding “treasures”. We saw parrotfish, sheepshead, wrasse, bermuda chub, porkfish, pinfish, snook, barracudas, snappers, lizardfish, grunts and an assortment of tropical fish all around us. The usual here! Many times we were completely surrounded by schools of menhaden so thick you could not see thru them. AdventurersDarby, JC and Lauren found all kinds of corals while AdveturersAndrew, Michael and Seth were finding tunicates, crabs and some strange types of tube worms that had long thin stringy tentacles filtering thru the sediment on the bottom. Some of these tentacles were 2 or 3 feet long and the second you touched a tip of one, the whole thing would race back into the hole and disappear in a split second. It was neat to watch them go!
While we were snorkeling a barge came in carrying a load of large rocks to place around the perimeter of the snorkeling area to increase habitat for fish and stop erosion along the south east side of the island. I never saw this here before and it was neat to watch the back hoe operator pull the barge into shallow water and begin dropping off his load. We moved further south along the snorkeling area to get out of his way and check out some new area so we did not swim in the same places I usually go. Even the life guards didn’t know he was showing up till 10 minutes before he arrived.
AdventureNicholas found us crabs and sea urchins and caught a few fish in his hand net to show the gang. He caught a small scorpionfish in his net and brought it over to show us. I wanted everyone to see what they looked like and how well they camouflaged on the bottom. I mentioned how they could deliver a potent sting and to just let them be should you encounter one. I just wanted to make sure everyone new what to be aware of and how to recognise them in case they saw one.
A short time later AdventureNicholas returned with the smallest yellow stingray I had ever seen. It was only about 3 inches wide and cute as can be!!! It had one very tiny little barb that was hung up in the net and preventing it from swimming away. Everyone wanted a closer look so I carefully removed the barb from the ray and gently lifted her out of the net for everyone to see. Since she no longer had any barbs she was totally harmless and I could hold her without worry. This was a great opportunity for everyone to hold a ray and feel how it would suction itself to the palm of their hand as it pumped water thru its gills on the underside and out the sphericals on the top side of the head. It didn’t even try and get away and we all took turns holding it. It was a great experience for all of us and I could tell by the giant smiles all around that everybody was enjoying this encounter as much as I was. I just love it when there is nothing but smiles!!!
From here we swam back to the boat and found some really nice fossilized worm tubes and quarts crystals along the shallows. We discovered a few jawfish burrows with the tiny jawfish peeking up at us from within their shell lined homes. These are one of my favorite fish that actually carry their fertilized eggs within their mouths until the babies hatch. When danger comes near the young swim back into their mothers mouth and hide till the danger has passed. Always wonderful and fascinating to see this take place. Just love it!
From here we loaded up and went to the sandbar and found West Indian and Florida fighting conchs laying eggs and swam in the Deep Hole looking for fish. For the first time this summer, the skies began to darken overhead and the rain storm was inevitable so we motored over to the Blue Heron Bridge and played around by the life guard stand and stayed out of the rain for the last half hour till it was time to go. We even had fun doing that! I was with a great group, and we had fun no matter what we were doing and that’s what counted. I would liked to have spent more time in the shallows around the sandbar but didn’t want to stay out in a storm. I knew there was always tomorrow, and with this group, there is no doubt in my mind, We are going to have some Fun!!! I can’t wait!!! Stay tuned…..