Week 3

Custom Palm Beach Adventure – Part III

Posted by 16 June, 2008 (0) Comment

Welcome Back all, I just finished up the last day of my custom adventure session with Adventure Drew last Friday and let me tell you what a day it was!!! Somehow it seems we saved the very best for last! What an ending to a fabulous week that I will long remember and often retell! […]

Welcome Back all,

I just finished up the last day of my custom adventure session with Adventure Drew last Friday and let me tell you what a day it was!!! Somehow it seems we saved the very best for last! What an ending to a fabulous week that I will long remember and often retell!

We started the day heading back to the Sailfish Marina to get more underwater video of the large schools of Jack Crevalles around the docks. When we arrived we noticed the visibility was even better than yesterday and we were eager to begin. The jacks were ready and waiting. I picked up the “fish food”, a couple bags of frozen shrimp, while Drew readied his video. We positioned ourselves with the sun at our back and open water in front of us. Drew submerged his camera while the jacks arrived on cue. Like yesterday, I tossed the shrimp in front of the lens and the feeding frenzy began. Tails and fins flashed by, mouths opened and the water in front of the lens seemed to boil with the onslaught of hungry jacks competing for even the smallest morsel of food. In just a few seconds, the shrimp were gone and Drew was soaked to the bone. What a rush to view all this 8 inches from your nose! Right on Drew!!!

From here I wanted to try a new place that had less tropical fish to see and not quite as scenic as the rock garden, but more of a chance to find some unusual creatures that Drew had not yet photographed. I was hoping to find an octopus and maybe even a red-tipped fireworm that is beautiful to see but extremely painful to the touch. When disturbed they display bristles that can easily penetrate the skin and cause a strong burning sensation, one that you won’t soon forget. I can guarantee that! I have been on the business end of these quite often as I gingerly handle them to show people what you should stay away from should you encounter one. Sometimes “gingerly” is not “gingerly” enough! I know what I’m getting into should I be stuck and realize that the pain will eventually go away. Plus it seems to make a lasting impression on the kids to learn from my mistakes instead of making them on their own as they see dozens of spines sticking out of my fingers. I know they won’t handle these in the future.

Once anchored, Drew and I got in and the search was on. Almost immediately we found a small Octopus curiously peaking out of a small hole and trying his best to remain invisible. Photographically wise it wasn’t the best opportunity, so after a few seconds we continued the search. Shortly after this we saw another just as it disappeared under a rock and so the search continued. As we swam we came upon a small rock that was covered in feather brush hydroids, another plant like animal that can deliver a sting to sensitive skin. As I was pointing this out to Drew I noticed a slight movement amongst the branches. Low and behold, and to my amazement and sheer joy!!!, peeking back at us was a wondrous pair of striated frogfish, camouflaged like the hydroids themselves. This was the second time in my life I had been lucky enough to encounter such an unusual and rarely seen creature, and not just one but two, in only 4 feet of water! How lucky we were!!! I believe these to be a mated pair and hopefully will be left undiscovered and undisturbed by anyone else. They tend to stay in the same area for years if left alone, and Drew and I were excited to take turns shooting videos of a creature we may never again see in our lives. I will always cherish this moment and the excitement I felt with this discovery!!! Thank you!!!

From here we continued our search for an octopus that we could hopefully tease out of its hole for a few seconds and get the video footage we wanted. While swimming next to a sunken sailboat I noticed a large pile of empty shells scattered around an opening in the hull. Bingo, the tell tale signs of an octopus home with the octopus still inside. Octopus have a tendency to stack the empty shells of their prey around the border of their homes and if the shells are still around so usually is the octopus. We were in luck, again! I gently teased the octopus from his home while Drew took video. All of a sudden the octopus reached forward and with an inquisitive tentacle, touched the lens. The suction cups adhered and to our amazement it pulled itself right onto the lens port of the underwater video housing and became firmly attached. What an unusual and different perspective Drew was seeing now!, and what an unusual perspective I was seeing on my end too! It was great, and one I can guarantee doesn’t come around too often. He let the video roll for a few more moments and then the octopus let go and returned to its home. How are we ever going to top that?

We continued to explore the sunken boat and then headed into even shallower water, about 18 inches deep. I had noticed earlier some 9 armed impressions in the sand and knew that they were left by an unusual starfish rarely seen on the open bottom. As I gently ran my fingers thru the sand it was only a matter of seconds before I felt what I was searching for. I called Drew over and we slowly unearthed a rather large nine-armed starfish. This species can move rather quickly along the bottom when compared to the movement of other starfish, and I knew it had a tendency to rapidly right itself when turned on its back. I thought this might make some interesting video so I told Drew what I had in mind. He readied the camera as I turned the starfish on its back and recorded how easily and quickly a nine-armed starfish can right itself. They curl a few arms underneath and a few arms over and before you know it, its right side up, burrowing into the sand and disappearing before your eyes. Now you see me, now you don’t. Fascinating…

As our time was quickly coming to a close I decided to try and bait in a few of the red-tipped fireworms so Drew could get them on video. I put a small piece of fish in the sand and knew it would only be a matter of seconds before the worms would appear. They are nocturnal and fast moving as worms go, and are aggressive feeders and scavengers that remain buried in the sand until the scent of prey or darkness entice them from burrows. We watched as they appeared and began to eat the fish. A few seconds later some small crabs arrived in the hopes of a free and easy meal. To our surprise, the crabs began grabbing and pinching the fireworms and began to steal their meal. A fight ensued. The fireworms bristled in defense but their poisonous spines were no match for the sharp pinchers and hard carapace of the crabs. The fireworms retreated in defeat but remained circling from a safe distance as the crabs ate their fill. What a sight to behold!

It was now time to go and we stopped to take one last look at the frogfish before we boarded the Dream Chaser to head back home. Drew and I were both thrilled and elated with what we saw and captured on video, and know this day would long be remembered often retold by us. I’m not sure how I will top this the next time Drew comes along, but one thing is certain: We’ll all be having fun on our next adventure! Stay tuned, or better yet, come join us and return with a story of your own to post on our site. For more videos of our last adventure and other images photographed by Drew, check out Drew’s website here. Way to go Drew!!!

See you on the flip side of our next adventure that starts tomorrow, and remember,

Lets Go Have Some Fun!!!!!!! Right on…

Adventure Mike

Categories : Week 3 Tags : , , , , , ,

Custom Palm Beach Adventure – Part II

Posted by 13 June, 2008 (0) Comment

I just finished up Thursdays custom trip with Adventure Drew and we had a blast! I’m sorry its ending soon! It was great to spend the week with someone who has as much enthusiasm towards snorkeling, underwater photography and underwater video as I do. It gets contagious and you just can’t quit. How great is […]

I just finished up Thursdays custom trip with Adventure Drew and we had a blast! I’m sorry its ending soon! It was great to spend the week with someone who has as much enthusiasm towards snorkeling, underwater photography and underwater video as I do. It gets contagious and you just can’t quit. How great is that?

We started off the day back along the rock jetty with conditions almost pristine; calm seas, clear water, fish galore…Just like all week. Perfect! We didn’t know which way to go first, there were fish in every direction. We started off towards a nice school of small barracudas congregating around a shiny object and then headed toward the rocks. We were greeted by a large school of Redfin Parrotfish that took a quick break from their daily routine and decided to gives us an up close personal inspection.

As we passed we seemed to be accepted into the school and they followed us along our way. I watched as Drew frequently stopped to videotape the schools of tropical fish, encrusting corals, and some small macro subjects hidden within the small clusters of fire coral scattered here and there. Thought I would warn him about its attention getting sting so I pointed it out. I no sooner turned my back when I heard him say, “My hands burning like fire”. Yep that’s the stuff, way to find it Drew, barehanded no less, you da man! Just like me, he had to make sure that if something’s out there that can painfully sting you, you might as well find it right at first and get it over with. Sooner or later, or in my case both, your going to find it anyway and you might as well try and enjoy that burning sensation while it lasts, good character builder and it grows on you after a while. Before you know it you won’t even care anymore … unless of course you brush up against a nice patch right behind the ear … not that I would know. Ouch!

As the clouds began to roll by on the horizon we decided to leave here and head over to the Sailfish Marina to see if we could take some video of the large jack crevalles that frequent this area. Just as we were leaving, we noticed a waterspout form out of a distant cloud bank, briefly touch down for a few seconds and then dissipate into a thin wispy trail. Alright! Very cool, a nice addition to the day!

We arrived at the dock, got some bait and Drew got ready with the video. Drew held the video in the water and I threw the bait in front of him. The action was fast and furious as each jack crevalle tried to beat the other to the throw. Looked like a school of feeding piranhas without those fine dentures of course. I couldn’t help but laugh as I watched a small terrier run frantically around Drews head barking at the fish. All of a sudden he just couldn’t contain his excitement and the dog launched off the dock after the biggest fish. No luck, the fish scattered, but it was fun to watch and Drew got it all on film.

By now we were running short on time so we quickly headed back to the boat and motored over to a new spot near Peanut Island to see what we could find. This area had a sandy rubble type of bottom and it wasn’t long before Adventure Drew was finding and videotaping small flounders that camouflaged so well against the sand you couldn’t see them inches from your nose, unless they were moving. He was lucky enough to find a couple of Bandtail Searobins that are quite uncommon to this are and we spent the last remaining time we had trying to get some images of these. It was fascinating watching them “walk” along the bottom with their modified ventral fins, that look more like legs than fins, and spread their large round pectoral fins to try and make themselves look bigger. A very lucky and unusual find. Nice job!

Our time was up and from here we began to head back. When I asked Drew if there was anything else he’d like to do, his answer summed it up best. He said, “I don’t care what I do, as long as I’m in the water, I’m happy!”. Right on Drew!! Ditto that !! I think his love for the water will one day rival my own. Somehow I just wasn’t ready to quit, and I don’t think Drew was either. Where had the time gone and how did it pass so quickly? There is no doubt, “Time flies when your having fun!” And to all the rest, Come join us for the next adventure!

I’m running a tour this weekend so I might not post again until Sunday but stay tuned. I save my best summer camp spots for Fridays!

Categories : Week 3 Tags : , , , , , ,

Custom Palm Beach Adventure – Part I

Posted by 11 June, 2008 (0) Comment

Hello all, Just got back in and cleaned up from today’s adventure! For this week I have a custom trip planned with an outdoor enthusiast, and an aspiring and inspiring young underwater photographer, Drew. It was a great day on the water and I was with great company! We had fabulous visibility, perfectly calm seas […]

Hello all,

Just got back in and cleaned up from today’s adventure! For this week I have a custom trip planned with an outdoor enthusiast, and an aspiring and inspiring young underwater photographer, Drew. It was a great day on the water and I was with great company! We had fabulous visibility, perfectly calm seas and the opportunity to explore some new areas. We had not been in the water more than a minute or two before we spotted a small nurse shark slowly foraging along the bottom below us. I watched as Adventure Drew zoomed in for the shot and hopefully will be rewarded for his efforts with a nice image. We continued down the rock jetty and stopped to photograph long-spined urchins, slate-pencil urchins, fire coral, Christmas tree worms, neon gobies, sea-weed blennies, bluehead wrasse, parrotfish, porkfish and an assortment of other tropical fishes. We gently captured a smooth trunkfish and a lobster barehanded and took turns taking a few photos before releasing them unharmed.

It was great to watch Drew go, and reminded me of the days when I was first learning underwater photography and how easy things seemed to be but how difficult they truly were. Even the very best photographers keep just a few from the hundreds they take and it reminded me of what I was told many years ago by John Shaw, one of the worlds best nature photographers of our time. I will never forget as it has come true so many times since then. He said, “I have learned from my mistakes and I can repeat them exactly” and when he came to describing how many images he kept out of how many he took he said, ” I have about a 5% success rate and a 95% failure rate so if you can live with failure and still be happy, you too can be a wildlife photographer”. I often laugh when I think of this, 25 years into being a professional freelance wildlife photographer, and how true that statement was. So Drew, don’t let the missed images and lost opportunities get the best of you, have patience and determination and you will be rewarded. This I can guarantee! Underwater photography has been the most rewarding and frustrating thing I have ever done in my life, all at the same time! I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I couldn’t live without it . Good luck!!!, and show your friends only your very best stuff, and everyone will think everything you take comes out like that and go with it.

From here we left on our custom adventure to explore further down the beach along another rocky out cropping. As soon as we entered the water Adventure Drew called my attention to a nice school of reef squid and shortly after that we came upon a huge Barracuda sitting quietly in a “cleaning station” with his mouth agape. We watched as a juvenile French angelfish swam in and out of his mouth and gills, intent on cleaning away any parasites he could find. All I could think about was, “My what big teeth you have” It was fascinating and wonderful to watch!

As we snorkeled along the shallow reef I was amazed at the quantity of juvenile French Angelfish we saw. There had to be hundreds. The most I have ever seen here by far and I hope its a sign of good things to come. I watched as Drew photographed both mature and juvenile French Angelfish, spot tail pinfish, an assortment of parrotfish, more urchins and a beautiful young spotted moray free swimming along the reef in search of an easy meal. An unusual site to see in the daytime since they are mainly nocturnal. Adventure Drew discovered a bearded fireworm and was quick to learn how it got its name. Yep, reminded me of myself, just had to touch everything and learn the hard way. Right on Drew, been there, done that, and let me say, “I can feel your pain”. I was a slow learner. Oh well…

From here time was running short, and we decided to call it a day and head back. Hopefully we will be rewarded with some nice images and video footage that we can share. Looking forward to tomorrow and a new day of discovery on our custom adventure session. I’m ready, How about you? Lets go have some fun!!!

Adventure Mike

Categories : Week 3 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,