Archive for August, 2010

Cool Sea Creature Encounters!!! Manta Ray!

Posted by 30 August, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!! I’m finally just sitting down to write last weeks blog. Thought I would never get a chance to get to it! Was busy doing birthday party adventures over the weekend and a little bit of fishing and before I knew it, this weeks adventure was under way! Oh well, what can […]

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!!

I’m finally just sitting down to write last weeks blog. Thought I would never get a chance to get to it! Was busy doing birthday party adventures over the weekend and a little bit of fishing and before I knew it, this weeks adventure was under way! Oh well, what can you say? Time flies when your having FUN! Last week we had a small group of adventurers, only 3, but we had a blast all the same. We had some last minute cancellations the night before the week started, and I didn’t bother to make any calls to try and fill the spaces at the last second. I thought it would be kind of nice to have just a few of us going for a change. And I’m happy we did! I know AdventureRachel, Neil and Hagan sure had fun checking everything we found and caught, up close and personal. Like this really cool mantis shrimp we found crawling around outside its burrow on the Big Sandbar.

A cool mantis shrimp

This was the very first time I have ever seen one out and about in the day time and it was a really great find! You have to be extremely careful when picking these up, best not to at all, as they can give you a painful stick with their sharp dagger like claws. We always see their burrows in the sand around the sandbar but rarely do we ever see them peeking out at us, much less crawling about. Wish I could find one like this on every weekly adventure! Like all shrimp, mantis shrimp also have the capability of slapping their tails closed. The big difference with this species is that they also have sharp razor like edges along their hard tail with a few big needle like spines to boot. Commercial fisherman who catch these shrimp sometimes call them “thumb splitters” for good reason. Either way, I was happy to find it, and we checked it out up close before letting it go.

Mantis shrimp close-up

Every morning we spent an hour or so walking the Big Sandbar and exploring the shallows like there was no tomorrow. We had a full moon coming up and the tide was exceptionally low. The bar was exposed for hundreds of yards in every direction and it didn’ take us long to find some big Cushion Starfish that were bright red in color. You could see them in the shallows at least 100 yards away. The Kids would race to get them, sometimes stopping along the way to check something else out they didn’t see at first. It was just great and we had a blast finding one big starfish after another. I know AdventureRachel sure had FUN sporting her new starfish “hat”. It seemed to fit just right!!!

Rachel's new hat

Every single day we stopped at the Sandbar to explore. We found fighting conchs, box crabs, blue claw crabs and hermit crabs galore. We even found some really cool shells and living scotch bonnets that I rarely see. Netted olive shells and bubble shells were every where leaving long burrows thru the sand. But the kids always seemed to love finding the starfish best, and every morning we found a bunch!!! We found two different species of beaded starfish, a few small brittle starfish, some nice big Cushion Starfish and quite a few 9 armed starfish that we all loved to hold. A few of the 9 armed starfish had previously lost the tips of some of their legs and you could see where they were all growing back. We all thought that was cool! I know AdventureHagan had Fun wearing a few starfish stuck to his shirt, before he let them go.

Hagan and starfish

Every afternoon we would take a swim at the Rock Garden and check out all the fish and search under rocks for swimming crabs, rock crabs, brittle starfish, blennies and what ever else we could find. Occasionally we would discover a really big swimming crab that would dart out from the rocks right under our feet. AdventureNeil and Hagan would give chase and eventually catch it in their hand net. It was a fun and exciting thing to watch as they tried to get it out of the net by the back leg without getting pinched. Half the time I would come to the rescue, but more often than naught they would get it on their own. Even Rachel would come up with a big crab in her net as well!

finding crabs and conchs

After a while we would take a break from this and swim about and look for some big queen conchs and see who could find the biggest. They can be found in a variety of sizes though most are in the 4 to 6 inch range. Every now and then one of us would come up with a mature conch that had a beautiful pink and yellow interior and we all loved that. This past week we found dozens of conchs right up next to the rocks feeding on algae and it wasn’t long before AdventureNeil came up with a really nice big one that won the contest. Nice job Neil! I thought I was going to win it for a while!

Neil finds a nice queen conch

Thursday was our fishing day, and as usual we had non-stop action the minute our lines were in the water! And I mean from the very first second! If you didn’t have a fish on within 3 seconds of hitting the bottom then your bait was gone. We all caught fish one right after the other and sometimes all at once ! And that’s just the way I love it! Over and over and over. Fish Fish Fish!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that! We started out fishing the artificial reef north of Phil Foster Park and it wasn’t long before AdventureRachel, Neil and Hagan were standing side by side, each with their very own fish! It was just great!!!

trio of fisherman

After an hour here of catching grunts, tomtates, sailors choice, porgies, seargent majors, long-spined filefish and a few cuban hogfish we decided to move the boat a bit over and try a new spot. The very first fish that AdventureHagan hooked was a nice big Ceasars Grunt and as he was fighting to bring it in to the boat a great big barracuda decided to have part of it for lunch. The line went screaming off his reel for about 10 seconds and then the fight was over. He reeled in what was left of his big grunt and we all checked out what that nice big hungry barracuda had done. I could tell AdventureHagan thought that was about as exciting as things could get! We all did!

Hagan's half eaten grunt

A few minutes after this we started catching lane snappers one right after the other until the group was tired of reeling in so many fish! From here we spent the last hour going out to the beach to do some beach combing and a bit of snorkeling along the shoreline. On the way down the beach we found a small boat that had run ashore some time in the past week. It was totally filled up with sand and sitting high and dry on the beach. The kids wanted to stop and check it out so we did. We anchored our boat and swam in to the beach. A few seconds later the kids were sitting in the old boat pretending they were driving and getting ready to run aground. No doubt they were having FUN! They were screaming with laughter the whole time!

boat aground

The last few minutes of the day we took a quick walk down the beach to do some beach combing and check out the tracks left by big sea turtles coming up on to the beach to lay eggs. There were quite a few around and some of the tracks were tremendous. On the way back to the boat a ghost crab went scurrying down the beach in front of us and we all gave chase. It took a while for us to catch up with it but we finally tired it out and it sat still just long enough for AdventureRachel to pick it up. It was great to watch. Nice job Rachel!

Rachel with a ghost crab

The next morning we went down to Little Munyon Island to collect some sea urchins and see what else we could find. We came up with quite a few different color combinations and some really nice big bright pink ones. Most of the ones we found were of the green variety and it wasn’t long before every one of us was holding them by the handfuls. In some places there were so many you had to be careful to look first before you sat down in the shallows. I learned that the hard way. They make a tough cushion to sit on! Ouch! Either way, we had a blast and it was great finding so many.

sea urchin trio

From here we decided to do some seine netting in the shallow grass flats. After just a few pulls of the net we had come up with some nice juvenile barracudas, a cool juvenile flounder, some small needlefish, a couple of pipefish, a sharpnosed and a checkerboard puffer, a bunch of filefish, mojarras, pinfish, juvenile lane and yellowtail snapper, a small hogfish, pink shrimp and grass shrimp and best of all, a dwarf sea horse. It wasn’t much bigger than a dime. We always love finding these! It was just great and we all loved checking them out before letting them go.

We find a Dwarf Seahorse!

With the very last pull of the net we came up with one really nice big blue claw crab that sat and waved its claws menacingly at us just daring us to try and pick it up. I carefully slid my hand along the backside of its carapace and picked it up by the base of its swimming leg. I showed everyone the proper technique without getting pinched, and asked if anyone wanted to pick it up for a photo op. AdventureNeil was the only taker brave enough to give it a try. I watched carefully to make sure he didn’t get pinched and a few seconds later he had it firmly in his grip. You can tell that this crab is sure capable of giving you one heck of a pinch! Nice Job Neil! Way to go!

Neils big blue crab

The last morning we spent snorkeling at the Rock Garden and chasing pufferfish and then as the tide went out, we motored over to the Big Sandbar, hopped out and began to explore the bar. The tide was so low we could walk for hundreds of yards in any direction. It was just great and we found all kinds of cool shells, sea urchins, box crabs and more. We found two different species of beaded starfish and a pile of 9 armed starfish. Every where we looked we seemed to find another starfish! We moved most of them into deeper water and kept a few just long enough to take some pictures before letting them go. We had a ball finding so many and having FUN all the while!!!

starfish trio and group

We decided to spend the last hour of the day going back out to the beach. Over the past few weeks I had seen some really nice big and beautiful Manta Rays swimming just a short distance from the beach. I was hoping that we might see another one and if we were really lucky, have a chance to get in for a wonderful manta encounter. Though they may be big, they are totally harmless, have no venemous barbs and feed mainly on small fish and plankton. Lucky for us, today was our day!!! A short distance ahead was a nice big manta ray, maybe10 feet wide from wingtip to wingtip, swimming in about 4 feet of water. We motored the boat ahead and quietly got in. A few seconds later we had this wonderful creature swim right up and past us and did we EVER LOVE THAT!!!

swimming with a manta ray

We did this over and over until it was time to go. I can tell you nobody was ready to call it a day when it was finally time to head home!!! We just never wanted it to end!!! We had such a great time and such a great week!!! I just wish it could have lasted for ever!!! None of us was ready for Summer to be over!!! Good thing for me I have one week left to do it all over again!!! I have a small group coming all the way from Hungary, and I know its going to be Great!!! I just can’t wait!!!

See you soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , ,

Crazy Adventure Fun!!!

Posted by 18 August, 2010 (1) Comment

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!! I’m finally getting a chance to write about last weeks adventure. We’ve been too busy having so much fun I don’t have any energy left once I get home to write a blog. Now That’s Having Fun!!! I think I have to admit, this group of Adventurers has finally worn me […]

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!!

I’m finally getting a chance to write about last weeks adventure. We’ve been too busy having so much fun I don’t have any energy left once I get home to write a blog. Now That’s Having Fun!!! I think I have to admit, this group of Adventurers has finally worn me out!!! And for me, that’s saying something!!! Let me tell you, we had one big group, 10 kids in all, and one big pile of FUN!!! All week long!!! :-) Day after day after day… FUN FUN FUN… I just can’t seem to catch up!!! Oh well, sometimes you just have to put your priorities in the order you like best, and for me, FUN and ADVENTURE is at the very top of the list!!! What else can I say? Sorry to make you wait… It’s been Crazy Fun!!!

Crazy Fun

We started out the first day heading over to the Rock Garden and doing a bit of snorkeling. The tide was coming in and the water was beautiful! As usual, there were thousands of tropical fish everywhere. We spent a good bit of time watching big snook and medium size barracudas chase menhaden for lunch, like right next to us. Talk about having fun, it started the very first minute, at least for us that is. We spent the first half hour chasing pufferfish and seaweed blennies over the shallow sandbar, and caught quite a few. And while we were in the midst of doing this and having all this FUN, low and behold we came upon one beautiful 9 armed starfish. And if by chance you are in the habit of regularly checking out and reading our blog, (you can subscribe your email address on to my site at www.adventuremike.com top right side of page), you know what kind of fun we had doing next!!! We had a chance to take some really cool starfish head and hairdo photos! I think AJ’s Cool Hairdo really ROCKS!!!

Aj's Cool Hairdo

After we had fun doing this we went back to chasing fish and searching under rocks for some big swimming crabs, pistol shrimp and what ever else we could find. After about 2 minutes of doing this we had a swarm of dozens of wrasse and juvenile parrotfish following us around like hungry puppy dogs, just waiting to snag a quick meal of some tiny worm or crab the very second we lifted the rock. Sometimes you have to be lightning fast to catch something before they do. I think they might even be starting to recognise me the minute I get in the water! I get in, and here they come… While all this is going on, AdventureDylan finds a nice atlantic spotted yellowray buried in the sand. She calls us over and I gently scoop it in the net and carefully remove its venemous barb so we can check it out up close and very personal. (Don’t do this at home. A lifetime of doing this has got me stuck on more than one occasion. The Ol’ do as I say and not as I do kinda thing!!!) They begin to grow new barbs back the very first week, doesn’t take them long. This gave each of us the opportunity to hold this ray and of course, take some of those now infamous spotted yellowray hairdo photos. The kids love this and I have to say it does feel really cool when one of those rays sucks on to your head like its never going to come off! It can’t help but put one big smile on your face! Even if that smile looks nervously pained at the time! What do you say Colin? Were you having FUN or what?

Colin with a yellowray cap

From here we motored over to the north side of Peanut Island to search for some checkerboard pufferfish. They have a habit of swimming just a few inches off the beach searching for small crabs and shrimp. If your move slow and careful, you might be lucky enough to trap a few up against the bank before they notice and and get a chance to get one in a handnet. They may not look like they can move, but don’t be fooled. They can take off like they were shot out of a canon! It didn’t take us long before all of us, working together, had a few surrounded. Colin, Ethan and Everett came up with some nice ones and we all had fun checking them out and watching them fill themselves up with water to more than twice their size. Nice job guys!!!

Colin, Everett and Ethan

Every day we would make a stop at the Rock Garden just to see what we could find and catch in our nets. No matter what we were doing, searching under rocks, finding big queen conchs over the sand, or just swimming thru all the tropical fish, we were having FUN!!!
We saw hundreds of snapper, grunts, parrotfish, seargent majors, sheeps head, pinfish, tomtates and angelfish, etc. every where we looked. You could just float along and watch as hundreds of juvenile spottail pinfish would eat plankton near the surface all within a few inches of your nose! I know Joshua and Christopher had Fun checking things out as they snorkeled by! We all did. It was a Blast!!!

Joshua and Christopher snorkeling

Ever now and then when someone would turn over a rock, some huge swimming crab would take off looking for a new hole to hide in. More often than not, it would be right under someone’s foot and that sure got all of us moving. In every direction at once! Especially if two or three came out at the same time! Talk about having Fun! It was great to watch 10 pair of feet scattering this way and that! But eventualy we would all come back and search those big swimming crabs down. and give it our best shot at catching them! Christopher came up with one nice big one and held it up carefully for us to see. Way to Go Christopher!!!

Christopher catches a swimming crab

From here we would usually stop by for a quick jaunt around the Big Sandbar to see what we could find laying exposed on the bar. We never know what we might find, but we are always hoping to come up with a few nice starfish, some colorful fighting conchs or maybe even a variety of box crabs, blue claw crabs, sand crabs, hermit crabs and occasionally even an arrowcrab or two. On this day, Dylan found a nice big 9 armed starfish and we all had a blast taking turns checking it out. It was bigger than average and every leg was in perfect condition. More often than not, the tips of most legs will be nibbled off by some seagull or crab but they grow back quickly. Nice Find Dylan!

Dylan's nice find

Thursday was our fishing day and as always, was one non stop day of action. And let me tell you, that is just the way I love it!!! On most days you can’t even count to three once your bait hits the bottom, before you have something trying to yank the rod out of your hand! And matter of fact on this day, I had Fun swimming after a rod that did just that! Good thing I had a mask and a set of fins right nearby! That rod and reel, complete with fish on, was on its way to the far end of the reef. I know Max was happy when I returned with his fishing rod in hand! A few seconds after this, AdventureEverett gave out a big whoop and I turned and watched as his light tackle rod was bent double. A few moments later he was proudly holding up one Big cuban hogfish, complete with buck-teeth, and in sore need of braces! Nice Fish!

Everett catches a Cuban Hogfish

After an hour here of catching grunts, snappers, tomtates, sailors choice, spottail pinfish, cuban hogfish and a variety of others we took a quick ride to the sandbar to jump in and cool off. A half hour later we were anchored over one of my favorite lane snapper holes and dropping down again. It wasn’t long before everyone was having bites and catching some nice fish! We all lost a few big ones that broke off on the reef but Max and Everett came up with a nice pair of fish at the same time. Its hard to beat catching some nice big lane snappers and porgies one after another! Just ask AdventureMax and Everett. I know they were having FUN!!!

Max and Everett catch fish

I”m not sure how many Lane Snappers we all caught, but for the next hour it was almost non stop! I think I could have used two or three of me to bait hooks and unhook fish! Good thing it wasn’t long before everyone was taking off their own fish and baiting their hooks. Nobody wanted to wait for me to catch up and I was moving fast as lightning!!! Now that FISHING!!! I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I need more bait!” but its still ringing in my ears!!! AdventureJoshua caught quite a pile of nice big snappers and I know he was having FUN too!!!

Joshua's nice Lane Snapper

Another day we went to the backside of Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting along the grass flats. This is another thing the kids absolutely love! Sometimes you find dwarf seahorses sometimes juvenile barracudas and sometimes a variety of burrfish and puffers. You never know what you might come up with and I think thats whats the most FUN! Everybody always wants to be the first to pull in the net and sometimes we have to resort to rock, paper and scissors to see who wins. Rock, paper, scissors rules when I have to make thes tough decisions between 10 kids looking at you and saying ME ME ME!!! Doesn’t really make a diference though since we all take turns doing everything and sharing everything we get.

circular seining

On this day we had a blast catching a bunch of juvenile barracudas, mojarras, checkerboard pufferfish, grunts, snappers and a ton of needlefish! Most would jump over the net the minute you got close to the beach, which is always cool to see! Everytime we pulled in the net we would find something new! And no doubt, that keeps things exciting for the kids! The minute the net hit the beach, 20 hands were sorting Fish and clearing things out. If I wasn’t careful I’d get trampled as I stood in the way trying to take a picture! Now thats what I call having FUN!!!

A full net

After we were done this and put away the net, we swam down to Sea Urchin Shoals and spent the next hour finding hundreds of short-spined sea urchins in every size, shape and color combination you could find! Most would be covered with shells and algae, but every now and then you would find a few with sea-squirts on them and we’d have fun having a sea-squirt squirt gun fight. It didn’t take the kids long to gang up on me! When that was done with, we went back to collecting a variety of urchins and I know AdventureEthan had a blast picking them up by the handfuls! It was sure fun having them stick to your hands using their tiny tube feet like suction cups!

Ethan with Sea Urchins

We decided to swim the rest of the way around the island and see what else we could find. At least that’s what I told them! I was hoping to tire them out with a good 1/4 mile swim but they kept up with no trouble. Matter of fact they tired me out, since everytime somebody found something new they would call me over to see what they had found! Between going back and forth, and left and right, I think I swam 4 miles instead! Maybe thats what they had in mind? Either way we had a blast! Along the way, AdventureJoseph found a nice horseshoe crab and held it up for us to check out. Cool find, Joe!

Joseph finds a horshoe crab

Along the west side of the island we found an area with some hard rock bottom and loads of sea grass growing everywhere. Juvenile stone crab were living in every hole and small blue crabs scurried about in the sea grass ahead of us. We found some nice big, living crown conchs grazing on the sea grass. Every empty shell we came upon had a hermit crab living in it. Every now and then someone would find a big one and we’d all check it out and see if someone else could find a bigger one than that. It was a fun contest and I’m not sure who won, but I know we were having a BLAST either way! Most of the hermit crabs we found were green legged hermits and I know AdventureEthan found a pile!!! We all did!!!

Ethan finds a hermit crab

The last day we went back to the Rock Garden and snorkeled for hours. We did the usual, chase crabs, catch fish, go after puffers, look for big queen conchs, find jawfish, watch pearly razorfish dive into the sand, feed the sheeps head, parrotfish and wrasse an occasional crab and most of all, Have FUN from start to finish!!! Just the way I Love It!! And as we swam back and forth along the shallow rock bottom, guess what we were lucky enough to find? That’s right, (I’m giving you the benfit of the doubt), we found our ol’ friend the barbless yellowray from earlier in the week, and you know what happened next! Thats Right, We took some more pics with that barbless yellowray stuck on our heads and I know AdventureDylan loved that!!! A second later she stood up and showed us her new “yellowray sun visor” and I could tell, it “Fit Just Right”. Now how cool is that!

Dylan's new sun visor

We decided to go out to the beach for one last quick swim. No sooner had we gotten in then AdventureJoseph found a nice big lady crab and gave us a yell! We swam over and all gave chase. A few minutes later we had caught it bare handed and brought it up on to the beach to get a closer look. I showed them the proper way to hold a big crab without getting pinched, and before you knew it, everybody was taking their turn. It was just a great way to end that day at the beach and we all loved it! Good thing none of us got pinched! That was one big crab! I know AdventureMax sure had FUN when it was his turn!!!

Max with a lunker crab

On the way back in we made one last quick stop at the Rock Garden. Nobody was ready to head back to the dock and call it a day. So, for the last few minutes, AdventureDylan entertained us with her own performance of underwater ballet. Before we knew it, our week had come to an end and we were running late. I just couldn’t believe how quickly this week flew by. I knew there wasn’t one of us who ready to go home yet!! These kids weren’t ready for Summer to be over and neither was I!!! They were just too busy having FUN!!! We all were!!! The kind of FUN from start to finish! The kind that sticks in your teeth and hard to blow thru your snorkle!!! That Non-Stop Crazy Adventure Fun!!! Wish you all could have joined us!!! It was just GREAT!!!

I can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! I just can’t wait!!! See you soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: August 10-13 Tags :

Starfish Starfish Everywhere!

Posted by 10 August, 2010 (1) Comment

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!! We’ve just finished up the third day of Fun and Adventure for the first week of August, and let me tell you it had been absolutely GREAT from the very start!!! Just like every week this whole Summer!!! I just can’t say it enough, “We’ve had FUN FUN FUN from start […]

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!!

We’ve just finished up the third day of Fun and Adventure for the first week of August, and let me tell you it had been absolutely GREAT from the very start!!! Just like every week this whole Summer!!! I just can’t say it enough, “We’ve had FUN FUN FUN from start to finish! Day after day after day… All Summer long…”. It just doesn’t get any better than this! And I know I’ve said that before!!! :-) This week I have another great group of kids that are ready for Adventure the very minute they come on board! And that’s just the way I love it!!! They’re ready to go go go with or without me! Good thing I keep the keys to the boat in my pocket!

group of 10

We began the week going to the Big Sandbar since dead low tide was occurring just about 9 in the morning. Lucky for us we had the whole sandbar to ourselves and not another boat full of people in sight. I love it like that. If there is anything to be discovered, we are going to be the first to find it and you never know what you might find. On this morning there were starfish starfish everywhere, and did we ever have fun running from one end of the sandbar to the other picking up starfish and checking them out! We saw beaded starfish and cushion starfish lying out on the exposed sand of the bar before we ever left the boat. You should have seen how fast the kids unloaded from the boat. AdventureLorenzo sure had Fun coming up with a couple starfish of his own to share with us. We loved that!

Lorenzo and a pair of starfish

When we weren’t picking up starfish, we were checking out the fighting conchs, moon snails and the olive shells that were leaving long trails thru the sand as they burrowed back towards deeper water. We found quite a few baby ear mollusks that were just beginning to pop out of the sand and we all took turns letting them slime thru our finger tips before letting them go. As the sand got warmer from the sun beating on it, blue claw crabs, box crabs, lady crabs and dozens of hermit crabs began to crawl out from underneath the sand just at our very toes. AdventureSydney came up with one big giant rooster crab that was blowing bubbles out his mouth and we all loved that too!!!

Sydney with a rooster crab

As the tide came in we decided to head to little Munyon Island to do some exploring in the shallows. It took me a bit to get everyone back in the boat. Nobody wanted to leave until they had put all the starfish left exposed on the bar back in to deeper water, and let me tell you that was a LOT!!! It was also a lot of FUN! I think we found the most beaded starfish I have ever seen, and the cool thing about that was not only did we find a ton, but we found a few different species of them too that I haven’t seen in quite a while. AdventureRylee came up with one nice big one that I know she wanted to take home as a pet, but she let it go all the same. Nice find too!!!

Rylee's beaded starfish

When we arrived at Little Munyon Island the whole south side of Sea Urchin Shoals was totally out of water. There were hundreds if not thousands of short spined urchins literally covering almost every square inch of the shoal. We had so much Fun searching and finding every color phase of sea urchins you could imagine. My favorite was the one with a pure white body and dark purple spines. We came up with some beautiful bright pink ones and a few pure white ones too. We found some big black round ones that would cling on to your hands with thousands of tiny tube feet. You could lift them out of the water and hold them upside down and even then they wouldn’t let go. It was just great!!! Everywhere you looked there were short spined sea urchins and AdventureJosh was picking them up by the handfuls! I know he was loving that!!!

Josh with a handful of urchins

As we left Little Munyon Island to head back to the dock a pair of bottlenose dolphin swam right up to our boat and road the bow wave for a while. We watched as they would dart back and forth in the shallows chasing mullet, and then come right back to our boat and swim beside us. They seemed to be as excited checking us out as we were checking them out! We had so much FUN watching them we were late getting back to the dock! Oh well…. I’d love to be late for that reason every day!!!! We all would have!!!

Bottlenose dolphin encounter

The next morning we stopped by the Rock Garden to do some snorkeling. The tide was a bit low and the water was not as clear as I would have liked to do some underwater photography of the group but we had loads of FUN all the same. I don’t think the kids cared whether I took underwater photos of them or not. They were so busy chasing fish and turning over rocks looking for hidden treasures I could hardly get any one of them to look at me! Oh well, so much for underwater photography and those great shots I envisioned…, needlessto say, we had a blast all the same!!! AdventureLianne came up with a really cool brittlestarfish that was about as delicate as you could imagine and that was a great find too. We all loved checking this one out before she let it go.

Lianne with a brittlestarfish

The rest of the gang spent a good bit of time chasing swimming crabs that could be found under every rock. They came in all sizes from tiny to gigunda and every now and then I would hear a squeal of laughter as one crab would swim out of the net of one adventurer and right under the foot of another! It was great to see that! It kept them right on their toes so to speak paying attention to all the fun that was going on around them! AdventureBeau thought it was cool to check out one big swimming crab underwater up close and personal!!

Beau checks out a swimming crab

From here we decided to head to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallow grass flats. On the way we stopped for a quick romp around the Big Sandbar to see what we could find. And of course, we found beaded starfish from one end to the other. Did we ever love that!!! AGAIN!!! I was hoping we would find a 9 armed starfish but no luck. Maybe tomorrow! As we were walking from one exposed bar to another, AdventureFaye found the smallest, most tiniest beaded starfish I have ever seen! It wasn’t much bigger than her pinky fingernail and we all thought that was really cool! How she saw it, I will never know! Nice Job!!!

Faye finds the smallest starfish

When we arrived at Little Munyon Island, we grabbed the seine net and a few buckets and within seconds we were seining the shallows. We all would take turns pulling the net and with every pull we would find something cool! We started from one end of the island and worked our way to the other side. Over and over and over..As soon as one group would come in and the net was sorted, the next was raring to go! I loved the enthusiasm this group had, Reminded me of myself. Sometimes its just hard to stop having FUN…

Josh and Faye seining

As soon as the net was pulled on to the beach we would hurriedly sort thru our catch of “treasures”. We would put anything special in our specimen tank to be checked out later, and let the rest go. We caught all kinds of juvenile fish from grunts and snappers to baby barracudas and pipefish. We caught an assortment of shrimp and crabs too. With every pull of the net another treasure was discovered! You should have seen the excitement on the kids faces every time the net came in and how quickly they wanted to sort thru the catch. It was just great!!!

net clearance

Everyone was hoping we would catch some pufferfish and lucky for us we did! On the very last pull of the net we came up with a beautiful striped burrfish that puffed up the minute it was out of water. It became such a spiny pin cushion we could hardly hold it. We all took turns checking it out and I was careful to make sure everybody kept their fingers away from the toothy end of the fish. This little fish can give a painful bite. AdventureSeth sure had fun gingerly holding this burrfish as best he could! No bite either! Nice Job!

Seth and a burrfish

Seine netting always seems to be one of the most fun things the kids like to do. You never know what you may come up with, how many different things you may have or if you have anything at all. Sometimes we get juvenile sea horses, barracudas, pipefish, yellowtail snappers, grass shrimp, cow fish, etc. A plethora of cool things just waiting to be discovered!!! It always seem though that a nice big spiny burrfish or a slippery blown up pufferfish puts a smile on a kids face everytime! I know it does mine!!!

Burrfish and rabbit ears

And of course, today was our fishing day and it’s always 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, sailors choice and more! IFrom start to finish we caught fish non stop!!! can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, ” Mike, I need help taking off my fish”. I just love it like that!!! Everybody caught some nice fish but I think AdventureBeau caught the biggest grunt that gave him a good fight! Way to go Beau!!!

Beau's big grunt

At the end of the day we stopped by the Big Sandbar for another quick romp of exploration then hurried over to the Rock Garden to spend the last hour snorkeling. We spent some time searching for crabs under rocks and along the way found some very cool green mantis shrimp and some big queen conchs. AdventureJosh caught a nice juvenile flounder that we all checked out, then we spent some time chasing sharpnosed pufferfish just for FUN!!! AdventureJake sure had FUN holding this nice puffer all “blown” up!

Jake's pufferfish

Whenever we would find something cool or catch a pufferfish we would all take turns checking it out and sharing it with the whole group. Many times the pufferfish would wiggle and deflate, and out of your hand they would go! It was amazing how quickly they could disappear right before your eyes! I can’t tell you how many times that happened today! No problem though, it wasn’t long before someone had another and enjoying it all over again! You can see how much FUN AdventurePetey was having with this puffer! Me too of course…

Petey and a pufferfish

Before we knew it the day had come to an end! I don’t know how the time flew by so fast, but when I said it was time for us to head back, nobody was ready to go! Not even me… on the way back to the ramp we had one more cool adventure! And did we ever love that!!! Just as we were slowly coming around the end of the Big Sandbar in the boat, a huge dark shape appeared right beside us. I put the boat in nuetral and we watched as a big friendly manatee swam right up past us, stuck his nose out of the water and took a good look at us, then took a breath and disappeared. How cool is that!!! What a way to end the day!!!

A manatee ending

One things certain, it sure left me looking forward to tomorrow and doing it all over again!!! Needless to say, we didn’t make it back to the boatramp on time again… Oh well, we were just too busy having FUN!!! I can’t wait till tomorrow! i know it’s going to be great!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! See you soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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