We just finished up the first day of a new summer camp adventure session and as usual, we had a blast! I had a whole new group of adventurers today, AdventureJason, Jordyn, Brian, Carolyn, and Dakota, and let me say, we had fun, non stop! AdventureChaz from a couple of weeks ago came along for the day and gave me a hand with the boat, anchor, creature collection and more. When I met the group at the ramp, not only were they early, they were eager and ready to go!
It didn’t take us long to load up, organize our snorkel gear and get on our way. I could already tell this was an enthusiastic bunch and we were going to have some fun today! We rounded the corner and decided to stop at the sandbar for an hour instead of going straight to the Rock Garden. The tide was incoming and only a small part of the bar was showing and we wanted to hurry up and check it out while we still could. We grabbed our gear and a couple of nets and hopped out. In seconds, AdventureDakota, Jason and Brian found both Florida and West Indian fighting Conchs and AdventurersCarolyn and Jordan found some buried in the sand laying eggs. In no time at all we had our hands full of them and I began showing them the difference between the two. A few of the conchs didn’t want to be held and they tried to shove our hands away with their operculum’s. This gave us a great opportunity to really check out the animals inside as they would crawl halfway out and try and dislodge our fingers. It was really neat to watch those in the sand actually lay eggs. I don’t see that too often, always is fascinating to me to watch as each species of shell lays its own identifying egg mass. Cool…
We then took a quick jaunt around the sandbar and I watched as AdventureJason, Brian and Dakota caught some nice blue crabs and the rest of us checked out Mantis Shrimp holes hoping to find one inside. No luck, they are shy, intelligent, nocturnal creatures that know when we are there and hide way before we know where they are. We took a swim in the Deep Hole which was full of menhaden and a couple of nice barracudas and snook, then headed back to the boat to have some snacks and drinks. We scooped up some Sargasso seaweed along the way and found some filefish, shrimp and crabs that camouflaged perfectly with the weeds.
While we were sitting in the boat, I spotted a nice Porcupinefish in the shallows and I quickly grabbed a net, hopped out of the boat and ran after it. I’m sure everyone in the boat thought I had lost my mind as they watched me scramble back and forth trying to net something they didn’t see. Finally I was able to net it and as I held it up to show everyone it began to suck in air and balloon up. Within a second or two it became firmly stuck in the net and I brought it back to the boat to show them and let each one touch it and feel the short spines. I made sure to tell them about the mouth and how well it could take that “perfectly clean round bite” out of a finger or hand if they weren’t careful. Remember that important lesson I spoke of in a previous post that I learned as a child and never wanted to repeat! Will never forget that!
I told the story that as a child, when we would catch fish bare-handed we would make a wish, give em a kiss and let them go for good luck, just in case. In case of what, I was never sure. AdventureBrian decided to give it a kiss, on the backside of course, and make a wish for good luck before releasing it. Hope his wish comes true! I could never remember if mine ever did but it was always fun and it put a smile on my face every time! I never minded a mouth full of fish slime either as a child but I think the porcupinefish was a bit “fishier” tasting than AdventureBrian actually thought it was going to be. Live and learn, right on… yumm! Or in his case, Yuck!!! I don’t think he has the same enthusiasm for “fish kissing” as I had when I was a child. Maybe he just needs more practice?
We started up the Dream Chaser, motored over to the Rock Garden, dropped anchor and got in. The water was perfectly clear and full of fish! Absolutely perfect and the way I love it!!! We had large schools of parrotfish, doctorfish, bermuda chubs, jack crevalles, blue runners, menhaden, snook and barracuds all around us! It was great!! We felt like we were in a giant aquarium and the best thing about it was that we were! Our very own! AdventureDakota, Brian and Jason caught all kinds of crabs. Big ones, little ones, round ones, thin ones, short ones, long ones. You name it, they caught it. It was just great! AdventureJordyn hung on my back for a ride and learned about fish while AdventureCarolyn caught things on her own and found out that some crabs can pinch well! Even while in the boat and right thru the net! AdventureChaz came to the rescue and dislodged that nice crab claw hanging to AdventureCarolyn’s finger while I tried not to laugh. Been there, done that a thousand times, and yes, “I could feel her pain” too. As I have said before, I was a slow learner!, but in reality I just loved grabbing everything and didn’t mind if I got pinched or not. I just knew I was having fun!!! There was so many fish to see we didn’t know which direction to go first. It was just great to watch the thousands of menhaden try and hide all around us while the snook and jacks chased after them. At times the they were so thick you couldn’t see thru them. I just love it like that! Non stop constant action all around us, just great..
We were having so much fun we didn’t want to quit! When I looked at my watch and it was 1pm I couldn’t believe how quickly the day had gone. When I called everyone back to the boat said it was time to go, no-one wanted to leave. Nobody was ready to quit and neither was I, but the parents were waiting, there was always tomorrow, and I knew we were going to have Fun!!! Our adventure was just beginning and we were going to make the most of it!!!
Stay tuned to see what we discover, or better yet, come join us, share in your own adventure and “Lets go have some Fun”!!!