Archive for July, 2011
Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!! I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been another great week full of fun and excitement, and non stop adventure! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN all the way from Here to There!!! The whole week thru!!! It just doesn’t get [...]
Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!!
I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been another great week full of fun and excitement, and non stop adventure! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN all the way from Here to There!!! The whole week thru!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! And I know, I’ve said that before!!! I started out this week with just another absolutely wonderful, great group of kids raring to go!!! They were ready to go have FUN, and so was I!!! And they stayed that way the whole week thru!!! Just the way I love it!
We quickly loaded up, and off to the Rock Garden we went. The tide was high and the water absolutely beautiful! What a great way to start the day!!! There were menhaden by the thousands and dozens of big snook and juvenile barracudas were trying to eat them for lunch, right up next to the beach! It was darn exciting watching those menhaden race past us with some big fish right after them! It didn’t take long for AdventureMatthew to join the race and try to catch a few in his net as well!!! Way to go Buddy!!! Keep Chasing!!!
While we swam around the Rock Garden enjoying ourselves and checking out the hundreds of species of fish, one big giant ray came gliding right up next to us that was truly awesome!!! It had to have about a 6 foot wingspan and as it glided past us, it looked like a 747 going down the reef! It was absolutely GREAT, and we all loved it!!! It was cool to see!!! We spent a good bit of time searching for and finding blue legged hermit crabs by the hundreds! Along the way, we found one big, beautiful, mature queen conch that was about as nice as you can find around here. It was a nice find and we all took turns taking our photos with it. AdventureTripp sure had fun when it was his turn!!!
We spent a little bit of time swimming around the lagoon on Peanut Island, and saw a manatee go by, found a school of reef squid hovering in mid water that were really great to watch as they changed colors by contracting and expanding their chromatophores.We found dozens of large short spined and variegated sea urchins that were totally covered with shells and algae. We came upon a nice rock that had a half dozen big lobsters underneath waving their antennae’s at us as if to say hello! AdventureDylan and Beau caught dozens of rock crabs and swimming crabs, and had fun feeding a few to the friendly sheep head and parrotfish that were following us around.
On the way back to the boat we found some small sea cucumbers and big tunicates, and at least a half dozen Giant Hermit crabs that were just waiting to crawl right out of their shells and grab your fingers if you gave them half a chance!!! There was nothing shy about these guys!!! The very second you grabbed their shell, they would stretch way out and try and reach around and take hold of your finger! It was just GREAT and EXCITING too trying to hold those crabs with getting pinched! AdventureDylan sure payed close attention to this one when he held it up for a picture!!! Nice Job!!! Didn’t get pinched either!!! Way to go!!!
Each time we went by the Big Sandbar we put out a line with a shiny “Gotcha” plug and trolled along the shallows. A few times during the week a big barracuda would grab it, and we would all take turns reeling it in. A few we kept for our crab trap, and others to use as bait for our set line hoping to catch a small shark or a big ray! We didn’t have any luck this week on the line, but we sure had fun on the way there to check it out just in case! Sometimes anticipation is everything!!! AdventureMatthew sure had FUN when it was his turn to reel in a nice big barracuda!!!
Everyday at low tide we stopped by the Big Sandbar to explore and see what we could find. We found hundreds of West Indian and Florida fighting conchs laying eggs, dozens of Baby Ear mollusks and olive snails, quite a few juvenile box crabs and blue claw crabs and a few nice, big, short-spined sea urchins and beaded starfish. Along the way AdventureRachel and Davina found the smallest, most tiniest beaded starfish that I’ve seen all year! It was a really nice find and we all took turns taking pictures of that tiny starfish as well. AdventureDavina was sure full of smiles when it was her turn to check it out!!! Way to go girls!!!
Everyday we would check out our crab trap to see if we caught anything and to add a bit more bait. Some days we would have nothing, and other days we would have only spider crabs. One day we had a trap full of some of the biggest, meanest blue crabs you ever saw!!! I’m talking CRABS WITH ATTITUDE!!! And thats just the way we love it!!! I gave the kids a talk on how to hold a “big mean blue crab full of attitude”without getting pinched, and showed them the proper technique that works everytime!!! I could tell they paid close attention too the way they tamed these big ol’ Crabs!!! Nice job!!! Nobody was “crabby” here!!!
We stopped by Little Munyon Island a couple of times this week to look for horseshoe crabs and 9 armed starfish and to do a little bit of searching and exploring along the shallows on the backside of the island. We found loads of green legged hermit crabs and a few juvenile starfish that had most of the tips of the arms nibbled off by crabs. Probably by those very same ‘big mean blue crabs with attitude”!!! Most of the tips had begun to regenerate and that was cool for the kids to see! We stopped by the south end of the island to take a couple of group photos along the edge of the rocks, where everyone had fun posing for pictures!!!
Another day we stopped by little Munyon Island to do some seine netting along the shallow sea grass beds, and talk about how many juvenile reef fish begin their life cycles in the grass flats before moving out onto the reefs as adults. We never know what we might pull up, and that always seems to add to the excitement for the group! On this day, the lake was flat calm, the tide way out, and conditions were perfect for seineing. Everyone was excited and ready to get started, and so was I!!!
By the end of the day we had caught more than a dozen juvenile barracudas, hundreds of mojarras, grunts, pinfish, snappers and tomtates. A half dozen or so big pipefish that are related to sea horses, tons of sea grass filefish that have rough skin with tiny teeth-like denticles similiar to that of sharks and lucky for the kids, a bunch of sharp-nosed puffers and checkerboard pufferfish that inflated right on demand!!! The kids loved these and we all took turns checking them out!!! It was a great day!!!
We spent another morning going over to Sea Urchin Shoals and found more short spined and variegated sea urchins than you could count!!! They came in every size and color combination you could think of!!! I’m not sure who won the contest that day for finding the smallest sea urchin, but I know it wasn’t me!!! And I gave it my best too! Oh well… We all took turns letting them stick to our hands using their tiny tube feet and checked out their tiny pyramidal teeth underneath, known as ‘Aristotle’s lantern”. They have the perfect teeth for grazing on sea grass, which is why we find them here in such large numbers. AdventureRachel had fun finding the perfect color she liked best!
I took the kids down to a section of rocks that often has a few of the long-spined or diadema sea urchins hidden among the crevasses. I wanted to show them what another species looks like that is cool to see, but best left alone!!! These also feed on algae but usually are found on the rocks and not in the sea grass beds around here. These have long, black, venemous spines that easily break off in the skin leaving a painful puncture for an hour or so. Sometimes they can be carefully handled underneath where the spines have been worn down and dull at the tips. If you chose to pick one up, WHICH YOU SHOULDN”T!!!, be prepared to be stuck on more than a few occasions. It happens to me quite often!!! The kids sure loved seeing this one up close and personal!!!
On our fishing day we started out going to the artificial reef where we caught Ceasars grunts, snappers, tomtates, pinfish, pigfish and striped grunts, NON-STOP!!! We caught so many fish that I stopped counting after a couple hundred! I have no idea who caught the most, but I can guarantee you, we had FUN like there was no tomorrow!!! I don’t think I could count three seconds before someone else had a fish on, or there was 8 fish on at once!!! One thing is certain, AdventureDavina sure had FUN catching this nice fish!!!
A bit later I took the group down to my secret lane snapper hole, and we caught lane snappers there, like there was no tomorrow too!!! After about 15 minutes of catching snappers non-stop, one big ,hungry barracuda decided to park itself right underneath the boat and start having our lane snappers for lunch!!! AdventureRachel was reeling in one fine snapper when this barracuda darted out and ate half of it for lunch. She dangled the remaining half just out of water and that baracuda never took its eyes off that fish. I thought it might jump out of the water and grab it in mid air. I took the rest of that snapper and put it on a slightly bigger rod with a hook and wire leader and gave it to Rachel. A split second later, she had that big Cuda on, and a while after that, she got it in the boat!!! Way to Go Rachel!!! How is it, that it always seems the girls catch the biggest fish??? HMMMNNNN?????
The latter part of the day we went to the Big Sandbar to swim in the Deep Hole to rinse off. We collected a bunch of florida and west indian fighting conchs to check out, and take a few photos of the kids with Rachel’s Big Barracuda, now that it was dead and safe to handle! We had so much fun we never wanted the day to end!!! When I told the kids it was getting time to go, I could hardly get them to come back in the boat. I had to threaten them that if they didn’t hurry, I was going to have to BLOW MY WHISTLE!!! And lucky for me, it happens to be one of the worlds loudest whistles!!! This day was one of those very special days, and that barracuda was one heck of a FISH!!! Way to Go Everybody!!! You guys ROCK!!!
The last day we spent snorkeling around the Rock Garden, then took a quick boat ride along the beach so everyone could enjoy going “FAST”. From here we went to check the crab trap and shark line we set in the deep trough along the sea grass beds. Lotsa crabs!!! No shark!!! Oh well… But one thing very cool we did see when we went to check the line was 21, yes, that is the correct number!!!, 21 big huge manatees eating mouthfuls of sea grass, all around the boat!!! It was fantastic!!! And we loved every second of it!!! We spent at least 30 minutes watching them munch away just a few feet from our boat!!! What a sight to see!!! It was just GREAT!!! And did we EVER want to join them!!!
And while we were all enjoying this, 3 bottlenose dolphin swam by to take a close up look for themselves! They spent about 15 minutes circling our boat looking at us, while we looked back at them!!! It was a great way to end the day and our week, and a put an exclamation point on another wonderful week full of FUN and ADVENTURE!!! All the way from HERE to THERE!!! Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!!! What a week!!! What a day!!! What FUN we had!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!!!
I can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! Its going to be GREAT!!!
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We’ve been having so much FUN these past few weeks that I just haven’t found the time and energy to keep up to date with my blogs and posts. I’m running a couple weeks behind and its about time that I get right down to it!!! Thanks for your patience!Where does [...]
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!
We’ve been having so much FUN these past few weeks that I just haven’t found the time and energy to keep up to date with my blogs and posts. I’m running a couple weeks behind and its about time that I get right down to it!!! Thanks for your patience!Where does the time go? For us it has been spent boating, fishing, snorkeling, seine netting, crab trapping, island hiking and exploring, and having all kinds of Adventure Fun!!! Fun from Here to There!!! And like I seem to say every week, “It has been just GREAT, and I mean from start to finish!!!” It just doesn’t get any better than this!! The water quality for this week at the Rock Garden has been the best the whole summer! Crystal clear water, flat calm and loads of fish in every direction you look!!! I have never seen so many snook, sheeps head and parrotfish like I have seen this week! Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, every where you look there seems to be a dozen looking back at you!!! Now that’s what I call having FUN!!! And if you ask AdventureMichael, Nicholas, William, Jacob, Vinnie, Domanik, Rocky, Eli and Gabrielle, they would all tell you the same thing! FUN FUN FUN from start to finish!!!
We spent a bit of each day going straight to the Rock Garden to do some snorkeling and check out the tremendous schools of fish that inhabit this area. The water was as clear as it could possibly be, and we were the only ones there, no one else in sight. Our very own swimming pool full of fish! Just the way I love it!!! Every where we looked were fish in all different sizes, shapes and colors imaginable. Large schools of snook and juvenile barracuda were all around us lying lazily in the shallows, their bellies gorged to the max on menhaden. At times the schools of menhaden and glass minnows were so thick you could hardly see a snorkeler thru them! It was just great, and did we ever love that!!!
We spent a fair amount of time at the Rock Garden chasing fish thru the shallows with our nets. By the end of the week we caught some cool wrasse, a couple of beau gregories, lots of blennies, and even came up with a juvenile green moray eel that was a first for the camp and darn hard to keep in the net! It was a nice catch and cool to check out, before we let it go back into the rocks where we had found it. We found dozens of queen conchs and a few smaller hawkwing conchs scattered along the rocky bottom. Somewhere along the way, AdventureJacob found a nice milk conch that was just about fully mature but still had a thin lip that was just beginning to flare out. It was a nice find and another first for the camp! Not very common around here! Way to go Jacob!
Each day we came back to the Rock Garden, we would search for crabs under the rocks.We found hundreds, and I mean hundreds of blue-legged hermit crabs. There seemed to be dozens under each and every rock, much to our enjoyment! We found some really cool mantis shrimp, popping shrimp and tiny pistol shrimp. Most of us even came up with some unusual porcelain crabs and rock crabs clinging to the undersides of the rocks. We caught dozens of swimming crabs and juvenile blue crabs and that kept us busy for a while!We all took turns checking out each others finds, and loved every minute of it!!! The big sheep head would follow us around trying to take the crabs right out of our fingertips! One morning, AdventureMichael came up with such a big blue crab, that even the sheep head knew better than to try and mess with this one! Nice Job Michael! One BIG crab too!!! Didn’t get pinched either! Alright!!!
The coolest thing we found by turning over rocks in the shallows, was a juvenile octopus that would cling and stick to your hands with its suction cup tentacles, and just about never let go! It was a wonderful find and all the kids loved it, including even the big kids like me!!! We all took turns checking it out up close and personal. We watched as it siphoned water thru its sphericals and changed its color, which they are able to do by expanding or contracting their specialised pigment cells called chromatophores. By the end of the week, we had found 3 different ones. I know AdventureGabrielle sure loved holding this one! We all did!!!
We spent about a half hour each day exploring the Big Sandbar and walking around in the shallows to see what we could discover. We found hundreds of fighting conchs laying eggs, saw dozens of scaly tailed mantis shrimp peeking their heads out of their holes, caught numerous juvenile blue crabs and star eyed hermit crabs, found more than a half dozen beaded starfish and even snorkeled and explored around a sunken boat where we found an inch long spiny burrfish and a few arrow crabs. On the way back to the boat, AdventureDomanik found a nice big Cushion Starfish that we all thought was way cool! Way to go Domanik!
Each time we passed by the Big Sandbar, I put out a trolling line with a big silver “gotcha” plug on in the hopes that we would hook a barracuda for the kids to reel in, and that we could later use as bait in our crab traps or on our shark line. We had numerous fish on thru out the week, and every now and then we would catch a nice big one that would give a good fight and often leap clear of the water, and shake its head trying to dislodge the fish hook. It was a wonderful and exciting experience for the kids and everyone took turns reeling them in. AdventureMichael sure had fun reeling this nice barracuda in!
Thursday was our fishing day, and like every fishing day we’ve had this year, it was non-stop action from start to finish!! And I mean from the very second the line hit bottom! I just about couldn’t keep up with all the action these kids were having!! I baited the hooks and took fish off as fast as I could, but still I couldn’t keep up!!! I didn’t get a chance to even look at my watch until almost three hours went by! Talk about being busy, and having FUN, we were sure having it then!!! Just the way I remember it!!! God, I just love it like this!!! I’m not sure who caught what or how many, but everyone was catching fish and having a blast, and that is what counts!!! I know AdventureEli sure had FUN catching this big grunt!!!
All I know is that this gang of Adventurers and I were beat by the time our fishing day came to an end!!! We had smiles on our faces from ear to ear, and had an absolute ball!!! We didn’t catch the big ones today, but we sure made up for that in quantity!!! Its hard not to have fun when your catching yellowtail snappers, lane snappers, ceasars grunts, tomtates, porgies, butter hamlets, pigfish and even a few big pinfish, one after another after another!!! By the hundreds!!! I know AdventureNick sure loved catching this nice yellowtail snapper!!!
Another day we went to the backside of Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting along the shallow 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! Everyone loves checking, and clearing the net of fish, and when the net comes in, it is a blur of hands trying to pick up all the really cool things first!Sometimes all I hear is, “MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE…” What a pile of FUN!!!
On this day we came up with some really big pipefish, a few juvenile barracudas, tons of mojarras, juvenile grunts and snappers, a couple of tiny hogsnappers, pink shrimp, grass shrimp and some nice checkered puffers!!! By the time we got done seine netting we had caught 7 checkered puffers and a few sharp nose puffers, and I can tell you everbody sure loved holding those!!! The really great thing too, is those checkered puffers seemed to inflate right on cue the minute you picked one up! We all loved that!!! I know AdventureWilliam sure did!!!
After we were seine nettings and put away the net, we swam down to Sea Urchin Shoals and spent the next hour finding hundreds of short-spined or variegated sea urchins in every size, shape and color combination you could find! That’s how they get their name, variegated urchins, from the variety of colors they come in. It didn’t take us long to find them by the netfuls. They literally covered the bottom! We had a blast letting them stick to our hands with their tiny tube feet and looking for the smallest one we could find! I won on this day, finally!!! It was just great!
I think we swam half way around Little Munyon Island looking for sea urchins and trying to find the color combinations that we liked best. My favorite color combination is the one that has the bright white shell and the very tips of the short spines a rich deep purple. I didn’t find any of these today, but I’m always looking. Some of the kids liked the bright pink urchins, the brilliant red ones, or the green and pink banded ones. I think AdventureWilliam seemed to like them all, no matter which color they were!!! He was collecting them by the handfuls!!!
As we swam thru a shallow section of sea grass beds, I heard AdventureGabrielle yelling that he found a puffer fish ,and I swam over to take a look. When I got close I could see him pointing to a nice big striped burrfish lying totally motionless, almost perfectly camouflaged amongst the sea grass. It was a nice find and I gently scooped it up in a small handnet so that we could al check it out. We took turns carefully and gently holding it, and inspecting it up close and personal. We were all careful to avoid placing our fingers near the mouth and teeth as they ae capable of giving a painful bite! Good job Gabrielle!!!
On the way back to the boat, we came upon a BIG blue crab crawling about thru the shallows. We gave chase, and eventually had it cornered between all of us. It stood its ground and began to wave its claws menancing back and forth. I carefully scooped it up and held it by the back legs just where they attach to the shell or carapace. This is the best way I know how to handle a big blue crab without getting pinched. Well, most of the time anyway!!! I showed the group the proper way to hold it and AdventureRocky was the first to give it a try! I have to say, he handled that big crab perfectly!!! Way to go Rocky!!! And way to pay attention!!!
The last part of the day we spent at the beach snorkeling for shells and sea glass, and checking out the turtle tracks and nests from the night before. The kids had fun playing on the beach, digging for sand fleas and having chicken fights along the waters edge. There were a couple of good matches, and it was great fun to watch! Everyone had a ball horseing around till it was time to go!! It was just GREAT!!! On this day, AdventureMichael and Nicholas were the definite champs!!! Nice job guys! Way to have FUN!!!
What a way to end the day!!! What a wonderful way to end the week!!! 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, Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!! Can’t wait to do it all over again next week!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! I know its going to be GREAT!!!! See you all soon!!!
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!