Archive for July, 2010

Sea Creature Encounters, Big and Small !!!

Posted by 16 July, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up another week of FUN and Adventure and let me tell you it was one of the best! We had so much FUN I don’t even know where to begin!!! It does seem that every week just gets better and better or maybe we are just getting lucky, […]

Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!!

We’ve just finished up another week of FUN and Adventure and let me tell you it was one of the best! We had so much FUN I don’t even know where to begin!!! It does seem that every week just gets better and better or maybe we are just getting lucky, but either way I LOVE IT!!! All week long we had the coolest encounters with all kinds of sea creatures both big and small! No matter where we went or under which rock we looked, we found something COOL! I think AdventureMandy summed this week up best when I asked the group at the end of the day, ‘Well, Did you have Fun?” And her response was, “This was AWESOME!!! This is the BEST camp I’ve ever been too!!! ” My thoughts exactly Mandy!!! I couldn’t have said it better!!!

Jack with a ghost crab

We began the first day stopping by the Big Sandbar. The tide was dead low and we all wanted to jump out and explore the bar to see what we could find. We hadn’t been out of the boat for more than a minute before we found something we liked or were fascinated with! Wherever we walked we found blue crabs scurrying by, or baby’s ear mollusks burrowing in the sand. As we walked we would occasionally stop to check out the Mantis shrimp and tube worm tunnels or pick up a handful of fighting conchs to watch for a bit. We kept our eyes open for starfish and before long we found a few. We came up with two beaded starfish, one big Cushion Starfish and shortly after that, we found a nice, medium sized 9 armed starfish that we loved! Some of the legs were shorter than others and we could see it was in the process of regenerating and growing new legs which we all found to be really neat! I know Mandy, Mac and Jack had a good time finding this one!

Mandy, Mac and jack

As we loaded up in the boat to head over to the Rock Garden to snorkel, we noticed a thin wispy water spout coming out of the very edge of beautiful cloud bank a ways offshore. We stopped and watched it develop a bit bigger than disappear in a blink of an eye as the cloud bank moved to the south. We thought that was just great too! No trouble for us! The minute we got in the water we were seeing fish by the thousands. Every where we looked there were FISH, FISH, FISH!!! And did we ever love that! While watching a school of parrotfish swim by one of the kids found a big slimy sea cucumber which we all took turns checking out. And did we ever enjoy that too! I know AdventureMandy sure did!!!

Mandy with a slimy sea cucmber

As we snorkeled along the edge of the Rock Garden we saw dozens of short-nosed puffers and quite a few checkerboard pufferfish. As usual, we all wanted to try and catch one to watch it “blow up” with air or water to more than twice its normal size. Chasing after and catching pufferfish has to be one of the most favorite things the kids love to do! We don’t always get them, but we sure LOVE trying! Sometimes it takes a combined effort to be successful. I know AdventureBobby was sure happy when it came his turn to get one in the net! We all were! Nice job!

Bobby with a checkerboard puffer

As some of the kids chased puffers or watched the thousands of fish swim by, others would search or turn over small rocks looking for crabs, shrimp, brittle starfish or anything else they could find. Every now and then someone would come up with a few small stone crabs or porcelain crabs or a nice big queen conch or two. But the prize they were after was a nice big swimming crab! Every now and then I would hear a squeal of glee and turn around just in time to see some big crab dart about scurrying from rock to rock or underneath a nearby foot. You have to be quick of foot and hand to get a big one in your net. All the while not getting pinched! Check out the impressive pincers on this one that AdventureJack was lucky to catch!

Jack catches a swimming crab

Another day we went to Little Munyon Island to search along Sea Urchin Shoals to see how many different color variations of short-spined urchins we could find. The ones most commonly found are the dark green varieties, but my favorite color phase is the bright white ones with rich dark purple spines. We found sea urchins in every size and color! There were so many urchins you could collect them by the armfuls. And by the armfuls we did! It looked like it had rained urchins all night long! On this day they literally covered the bottom and we picked them up one after another checking each one out! We loved when they would stick to our hands using their tiny little tube feet, and we would all share when a smaller one or new color variety was found.

Raining sea urchins

The latter part of the day we spent seine netting the shallow grass flat to the east. The tide had gone out and the flats were exposed like never before. This gave us a rare opportunity to seine in areas that were normally too deep. Here the sea grass was thick and luxuriant. The perfect home for fish! With the very first pull of the net we brought in some wonderful “treasures” that we placed in our tank of sea water to check out a bit later. They came in all sizes. You name it and I think we found it! The group loved to sort through the net the minute it reached the beach! And me too of course!

Low tide seine netting

The second pull of the net thru the grass flats brought in the typical assortment of juvenile fish ranging from tiny barracudas to filefish, mojarras, striped grunts, ceasars grunts, lane snappers, yellowtail snappers, pinfish, sea grass shrimp, pink shrimp and lucky for us, some striped burrfish! This fish are in the blowfish family of fishes and are striped to match the sea grass and covered in short spines. They can be handled easily from underneath if you are careful to keep your hands and fingers out of the way of their mouths. AdventureJacob, Harper and William loved taking a close-up look at these!

Jacob, Harper, William and striped burrfish

It seemed with every pull of the net we would come up with something different. It is amazing how many species of fish and juvenile fish depend on the grass flats to provide food and shelter until they are big enough to live on the reef. Many species of fish will never leave the grass flats their entire lives. This is the perfect habitat for slow swimming pufferfish and on this day we were finding them by the dozens. And were we ever happy with that! AdventureMandy, Mac and Bobby sure had FUN checking out this checkerboard pufferfish up close and personal!

Mandy, Mac, Bobby and checkerboard puffer

On the last pull of the net we came up with a juvenile long-spined porcupinefish and that was the very first one we have ever caught here. The minute the net came in to the beach this two inch long porcupinefish puffed up in all its glory and turned itself into a round little ball of quills. We absolutely loved that! This species of porcupinefish has the longest spines of any around, and even though it was tiny, we had to be very careful to hold it gingerly. All in all, we found 4 different species of blowfish or pufferfish in one pull of the net, and let me tell you that was just GREAT! AdventureHarper and Mandy loved the striped burrfish and long-spined porcupinefish best!

Harper, Mandy and porcupinefish

Of course, Thursday was our fishing day and it is mighty hard to beat the FUN and EXCITEMENT that we have on this day!!! Most days the kids will have a fish on within a few seconds of their bait hitting the bottom! On this day it was no different!!! We spent a little bit of time fishing the artificial reef and caught porkfish, grunts, snappers, tomtates, porgies, parrotfish and more! I took them to my secret snapper hole a bit later and we caught lane snappers non stop till we were almost too tired to bring any more in!!! And that’s just the way I love it!!!

Great day of fishing!

It always seems on most trips the smallest person in the boat catches the biggest fish, and on this day it was no different. This was AdventureMandy’s first day of fishing and I think she stopped counting how many fish she caught once she reached about 40 or so. She seemed to be catching big fish one after another and sometimes I was wondering whether she would get them in or whether they would pull her out of the boat. She had quite a tussle with a few big fish but eventually got them in! I absolutely loved watching that! Great job Mandy! Nice big grunt too!

Mandy catches a ceasars grunt

The last half hour of the day we went back to the Big Sandbar and romped around in the shallows. The boys dug trenches in the sand like they were building an irrigation project and the girls played in the warm pool of water we call the Hot Tub. As we headed back to the boat to call it a day we came upon a large Cushion starfish at the edge of the bar. We all had a chance to check the starfish out and take some cool photos along the way!

sandbar starfish

When we arrived back at the dock we were met with Icecream bars to celebrate AdventureJacobs birthday, and the cool thing about that was not only did we love that ice cream, but AdventureJacob and I celebrate the very same birthday! That’s July 8th, so Happy Birthday again Jacob! You ROCK! Nice sharing a birthday with another Adventurer!!!

We began the last day going back to the Rock Garden to enjoy the fabulous snorkeling and of course spent a good bit of time chasing and netting fish and crabs. We always love that!!! I noticed the ocean was absolutely flat calm so I decided to take the kids for a short jaunt offshore looking for some loggerhead and green sea turtles to show them. On the way out we passed over a nice sargassum seaweed line so we stopped to dip net a bit to see what we could find. With the very first scoop we caught a half dozen filefish, numerous shrimp and crabs and a lovely juvenile long spined porcupinefish that filled itself with air as if right on cue! Harper was the first to check it out and I could tell she loved it!!! We all did!

Harper with a long spined porcupinefish

We all took turns checking out the porcupinefish and watched how cool it was to see it fill itself up with air to more than double its size. Being able to double its size and protrude hundreds of tiny sharp spines is a great way of preventing oneself from being eaten. Makes it also difficult to hold even if all you want to do just take a quick peek before leting it go! When fully grown this porcupinefishes spines can be over 2 inches long and needle sharp, making it almost impossible to be eaten or held! I know AdventureJason sure enjoyed checking it out when it came to his turn. Me too of course!

Jason with a long-spined porcupinefish

While all this FUN was going on a great big loggerhead sea turtle surfaced right by the boat and we all got a chance to see one right up close! And let me tell you, We Loved That Too!!! After this we went to the beach and anchored a few feet offshore. Most of us snorkeled while AdventureJoseph dug a huge hole in the sand to sit in. A second or two later I heard a yelp and watched as Joseph jumped up out of the hole with a huge Ghost Crab following closely behind! And “behind” is the key word! I think he even left a mark! How about it Joseph? I laughed so hard I could hardly take a picture! In a wink of an eye, Joseph quickly chased it down and held it up carefully for us to see. Nice Find Joseph!!! Well, I’m not really sure who found who, but it was great entertainment all the same! I loved it. :-)

Joseph with his ghost crab

Just as we were getting ready to call it a day and slowly swimming back to the boat, a huge friendly manatee swam right up to us as if to say ,”hello” and gave us another BIG THRILL!!! He hung around for a little bit, then moseyed off down the beach. We loved that so much we had to get in the boat and go by and take one last look before heading home! I can tell you none of us wanted to go back that day!!! It was GREAT to have such a wonderful encounter! I wish a big friendly manatee would come by for a visit everyday!!!

Coming by to say hello

On the way back we saw another big manatee swimming right down the beach in crystal clear, shallow water. And of course, we stopped to take a look at that one too. The amazing thing about what we saw that would have knocked our socks off if we were wearing any…. Following closely behind was a huge Manta Ray that swam right up to us looking like a Bomber coming in for a landing!!! Let me tell you, WE LOVED THAT TOO!!! So much so that I forgot to take a picture! Oh well… It was just unbelievable! What a way to end the week, any week!!!

We had Sea Creature Encounters, Big and Small, all week long!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! How LUCKY we were!!! One things certain, I just can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Hope you’ll join us and be a part of the ADVENTURE!!! I know its going to be GREAT!!! See you soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: July 6 - July 9 Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Fun and Adventure from here to There!

Posted by 11 July, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!! I’m just now finally getting a chance to write about last weeks Adventure, and as usual we had a blast from the very start!!! It seems I just can’t catch up from taking that weekend off a bit back for the photo shoot in the Bahamas. Been trying to make up […]

Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!!

I’m just now finally getting a chance to write about last weeks Adventure, and as usual we had a blast from the very start!!! It seems I just can’t catch up from taking that weekend off a bit back for the photo shoot in the Bahamas. Been trying to make up for lost time ever since! Oh well, sometimes you just can’t put Fun and Adventure on hold! This week was another one of those truly fabulous weeks!!! Great Kids! Great Weather! Great FUN and ADVENTURE!!! It just can’t get any better than this! I think I’ve said that before, maybe dozens of times!!!! From here to there, we had FUN FUN FUN!!!

group photo with palm trees

We began the first day going to the Rock Garden as the tide was high and the water crystal clear! I wanted to make the very best of this opportunity to show the kids just how many fish are swimming around the Rock Garden now! As the water temperature has warmed up, thousands of fish have moved in to the Rock Garden and everywhere you look there are dozens of different species in every size, shape and color imaginable! And thats just the way I love it!!! The kids were as excited to get in as I was and that made things even better!!! We just couldn’t wait to get in!

Trio of netters

We all took a small hand net with us to test our luck catching fish! It didn’t take long before we were chasing fish in every direction. From top to bottom, side to side, over and under, this way and that, we chased fish non stop!!! Everybody was on the go and having FUN like there was no tomorrow! We had the best luck catching seaweed blennies and sharpnosed pufferfish. Juvenile spottail pinfish were massing by the hundreds all around us just under the waters surface. They were feeding on plankton and seemingly oblivious to us, and this gave us a chance to perfect our technique catching them as well!

netting spottail pinfish

Some of us were chasing fish, some of us were chasing crabs and others were just having Fun watching all the commotion and keeping a sharp look out for new things to show us when we took a breather. No matter where we swam, there was something to see and something new to discover! Under every rock there were crabs, sea cucumbers or pistol shrimp and we found them all! It was just GREAT! Some of the kids spent time searching for blue legged hermit crabs or nice pink queen conchs and it didn’t take AdventureJoshua long before he found a nice big queen conch to show us!

Joshua finds a Queen conch

The second half of the day we went to the north side of Peanut Island to search the shallows for checkerboard pufferfish and did we EVER HAVE FUN doing that! Everywhere we looked there were puffers! It took us a while to get the hang of it, but eventually we figured out if we all worked together and slowly hearded the puffers into shallow water we had the best luck of getting one. AdventureNathan would stand in the shallow water, quiet as can be, and as we hearded the pufferfish in his direction he would quickly swoop out with his net and give it his best shot. Every now and then he would be rewarded for his efforts and proudly hold up Puff Daddy the pufferfish for all to see! Nice Job!

Puff daddy and Nathan

After about an hour of this we had caught more checkerboard pufferfish than I had ever caught with any other group of kids so far! We had it down now! We would slowly swim around in the shallows as one big group. As soon as someone spotted a pufferfish they would point it out to the rest of us to see. We would spread out around the fish, herding it towards shore and before long one of us had it in their net. It was so much Fun! This was the first day I was able to take a group photo of everyone holding a pufferfish and boy did we love that!

group photo and pufferfish

By the end of the day I think we must have caught every checkerboard pufferfish that swam around Peanut Island! Most of the ones we missed at first I think we found later, buried in the sand trying to stay hidden from our wandering eyes. It didn’t take us long to get those too! We were so busy having Fun I never realized the day had come to an end and it was time to go. How quickly the time flew by! None of us wanted to call it quits and leave, but we had a bucket full of pufferfish and smiles from ear to ear to last us until tomorrow! And that’s just the way I love it!!!

A bucket of puffefish

Another day we went to Little Munyon Island to seine net the shallow grass flats to see what we could find. This is always one of the things the kids love to do most! You never know what you might find when you pull in the net and we all wait with eager anticipation as the net comes up on the beach! On the very first pull of the net we came up with some juvenile barracudas, lots of file fish, tiny yellowtail snappers, grunts, mojarras, a few hogfish, some small sharpnosed puffers, loads of sea grass shrimp and some big pink shrimp as well. A nice way to start!

Connor and Nick netting

We would all take turns pulling the net thru the shallows. Everybody would gather along the net and sort thru what we got, keeping a few “special treasures” to check out later and quickly releasing the rest! You should have heard the excitement when a few large pufferfish, some big needlefish, a load of juvenile barracudas and a mess of blue crabs came in. The kids didn’t take long to sort thru the catch and clear the net of fish! We absolutely loved it! We didn’t get any dwarf seahorses this time around but we were hoping! Maybe next time!!!

Clearing the net of fish

When the tide came in we decided to put the net away and spend the rest of the afternoon looking for sea urchins along the rocky bar to the south of the island. We searched and found sea urchins by the hundreds in every size and color you could find! We spent a good bit of time to see who could find the smallest urchin and today was my day to shine. I found one about the size of a dime, but I was hoping to find one about the size of a pea. We loved having the sea urchins stick on to our hands using their tiny tube feet as suction cups and before long everyone had them by the handfuls! I could tell AdventureDylan was sure having a good time!

Dylan with a handful of urchins

Sometimes we would find big blue crabs and sea grass hermit crabs scurrying about and we would always give chase to those as well. I kept my eyes out for a lined sea horse wrapped around a piece of sea grass but didn’t have any luck either! I’ve only seen one all summer but you never know when you might get lucky and find a nice one so I’m always looking. Occasionally we would find some nice sea squirts and tunicates to check out and a few big conchs hidden in the sea grass. AdventureBeau and Jake came up with a nice red sponge that we thought was cool then it was back in the boat to head home.

Beau and Jake with a sponge

Thursday was our fishing day and as usual we caught fish almost non stop! The most common thing I heard all day was, “AdventureMike I need more BAIT!!!” and , “My wrist hurts from reeling in so many Fish”, and let me tell you I heard that before!!! We spent a little bit of time fishing the artificial reef and caught porkfish, grunts, tomtates, porgies, parrotfish and more. I decided to run down to my snapper hole and before long everyone was catching some nice BIG snappers! And I mean one right after another!!! Over and over and over, and did we ever love that too!!! AdventureJake came up with a few nice big ones, one right after another! It was just GREAT!

Jake with a BIG Lane Snapper

The last day we went back to the Rock Garden to snorkle and the water was absolutely perfect! It was sparkling clear and fish were everywhere! One of the best things about it too was we had the spot all to ourselves and I just love it like this! As soon as we got in the water we had some large sheeps head following us hoping we would feed them some crabs. And of course we had to oblige them with that. We would turn over a rock and find a crab and the sheeps head would just about eat them right out of our hands! We just loved it!!! All around us were schools of parrotfish and surgeonfish that we could just about touch! They would swim right up to us as if to say hi then lazily saunter off. And we just loved that too!!!

surgeonfish and parrotfish

Every now and then as we turned over rocks we would come up with something cool. Sometimes we would find some pink and purple pistol shrimps that would dart quickly away under another nearby rock. Its amazing how fast a tiny shrimp can move and how accurately it can swim backwards into a hole to disappear forever. We had FUN watching these!!! AdventureBeau came up with a few nice pencil urchins to show us. They use their stout spines to securely lock themselves in place between a crack in the rock so that waves and swifts currents can’t sweep them away.

Beau with a pencil urchin

After a few minutes of turning over some small rocks we would have a hoard of wrasse following us hoping to snag a quick meal. They are not easy to catch in a small handnet but sometimes they can be quite curious and sometimes easily fooled. If you place your net near a small rock, kick up some dirt and patiently wait you might be lucky enough to have one swim in all by itself! It takes a bit of practice and a swift hand to lift the net, but it didn’t take AdventureNick long to get the hang of it! Before I knew it he was catching one right after another and we all loved that as well!!! Nice job!!!

Nick catches a slippery wrasse

The very last part of the day we went back to the north side of Peanut Island and had a ball catching checkerboard pufferfish and some nice blue crabs. Just as we were about to leave an extremely large horseshoe crab crawled up on to the beach right at our very feet and did we ever love THAT!!! She was just huge and we all took turns checking her out up close and personal! You could pick her up and hold her close and she wouldn’t even wriggle to get away. This was the largest one I have ever seen and we all were so excited and happy she came by for a visit! AdventureMaxwell was sure having a great time making a new friend!!! We all were!!!

Nice horseshoe crab Max

What a way to end the day!!! I can tell you none of us was ready to go back when it was time to leave! We were just too busy having Fun and Adventure from here to there, never knowing what we might find, but having FUN all the way!!! It just doesn’t get any better that that!!! I can’t wait till next week to do it all over again. Hope you’ll join us and be a part of the Adventure!!! See you soon!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: July 5 - July 8 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,