COOL SEA CREATURE ENCOUNTERS!!! Morning session.

Posted by 27 June, 2012 (1) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We”ve just finished up another wonderful week of Fun and Adventure on the Lake Worth lagoon and what an AWESOME week we had. First, we were lucky enough not to get rained out by tropical storm Debbie, though we did have a couple of short term torrential downpours without lighting, that […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

We”ve just finished up another wonderful week of Fun and Adventure on the Lake Worth lagoon and what an AWESOME week we had. First, we were lucky enough not to get rained out by tropical storm Debbie, though we did have a couple of short term torrential downpours without lighting, that gave a chance to hide out under the bow canopy on the boat while it rained catfish and dogsnappers! We all thought that was rather cool, and once the rained cleared, we were having FUN like there was no tomorrow! We snorkeled Peanut Island, the Rock Garden, the Big Sandbar and Blue Crab Beach for hours on end. We trolled plugs along the drop offs and caught big barracudas until the hooks broke off our lures and there wasn’t any paint left on them! We were catching barracudas by the boatloads and all of us taking turns reeling them in. It was just GREAT! What FUN days of fishing we had!!! We caught them all!!!

Group with barracudas.

Everytime we went by the Big Sandbar, we stopped to take a quick snorkel and found beaded starfish, cushion starfish and 9 armed starfish by the handfuls. The fighting conchs were in by the hundreds, most laying eggs, and it was a cool thing to watch as they laid their eggs in spaghetti like masses. It didn’t take us long to pick up a few for a quick photo op, then back to snorkeling, exploring and chasing crabs we went!

Group finding sea urchins.

Along the way, AJ came up with a big fighting conch that had a real attitude and everytime he held it up for us to see, that fighting conch would stick out its long foot and poke AJ in the hand to try and make him let it go! It was just great watching that happen over and over!!! Nice job not letting go AJ!!!

AJ with a cool fighting conch.

While AJ was messing with that fighting conch, Tripp was swimming around and coming up with a few fighting conchs of his own, plus one big giant 9 armed starfish that was truly a whopper!!! It was a nice find and we all loved it!!! Way to go Tripp!!!

Tripp with conchs and starfish.

Another day we were snorkeling around Peanut Island and came upon a really nice, BIG, short spined burrfish just swimming by!!! It didn’t seem to mind us picking it up or even try and get away. It just puffed itself up with water everytime we came near and became a big round ball of thorns and almost impossible to handle. It knew we weren’t going to eat it now! Talk about a cool defense mechanism! That fish was down right thorny, but Joseph didn’t seem to mind!!! We all took turns checking that awesome pufferfish out and were extra careful not to get our fingers anywhere near the mouth. Those fish can bite! Nice job Joseph!

Joseph with a porcupinefish.

Another day while trolling a plug along the edge of the Big Sandbar, another big barracuda decided to eat it for lunch! This time it was Owen’s turn to reel one in and we had a ball watching him reel that nice barracuda in while it jumped a dozen or more times out of the water. This week there seemed to be barracudas in by the hundreds and we kept a few to put in our crab traps, and gave a couple more away to some people who wanted them for for dinner. The action was almost non stop all week and we loved that too!!! Way to reel that fish in Owen!!!

Owen catches a nice barracuda.

Another morning we stopped by Blue Crab Beach and it wasn’t long before everyone was catching juvenile blue crabs and sand crabs by the netfuls! I’m not sure how many everyone caught, but about an hour later we had a bucketful of crabs that was about half full!! I know Julia was sure having FUN catching one crab right after another! When we let them go, it was awesome watching them scurry out of that bucket in every direction and dissappear into the sand, right under our feet!!! Julia you rock as a crab catcher!!!

Julia catches a juvenile blue crab.

Later in the week we went and checked one of the crab traps that we had baited with a piece of barracuda, and sure enough, it was filled with some big blue crabs that seemed to have some big attitudes to match! I carefully took a few out and showed everyone the safe and proper technique to holding big crabs with some serious attitudes, bare handed without getting pinched no less! Needless to say, Beau sure had FUN when it came his turn to pick up a few!!! Nice Job Beau!!!

Beau with some big blue crabs.

On Wednesday morning we stopped by the Big Sandbar on the way to the Rock Garden and found quite a pile of 9 armed starfish buried in the sand. They seemed to be crawling out and moving about just as we got there. We had a strong rain that morning and I wondered if all the fresh water was making them move into deeper water. They are always a great find and the group loves them! I know Ethan loved picking them up by the handfuls!!! We all did!!! Way to go Ethan!!!

Ethan finds 9 armed starfish.

Later that morning we snorkeled around Peanut Island and found fighting conchs, milk conchs and some really colorful hawkwing conchs. We collected a few to check out and watched as they “hopped” about on the bottom and headed off into deeper water. Jake found one that was extra colorful. It was an awesome find Jake!!!

conch

While we were finding hawkwing conchs and chasing sharp nosed pufferfish with our nets, Brett came up with another nice 9 armed starfish and put it on his head like a hat. It seemed to fit just perfectly and gave him a cool starfish hairdo!!! Way to rock that starfish hairdo Brett!!!

Brett with a cool starfish hairdo.

On the last morning on the way back to the dock, tropical storm Debbie decided to throw one more big rain cloud right on us. As we raced towards the dock the rain came down in buckets and stung our faces! When I looked over at Max, I saw that he had put his mask on and was wearing them like high speed racing goggles. It was awesome!!! He was loving every second of it and giving me the thumbs up!!! I could sure tell he was having Fun!!!Way to use your head Max!!! A few seconds later, we all were wearing them and smiling like there was no tomorrow!!! How cool is that!!!

Max with his racing goggles on.

Needless to say, we had a fabulous week!!! We had Fun!!! We had Adventure!!! We had some Cool Sea Creature Encounters!!! And we learned a pile of stuff along the way!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! I just can’t wait to do it all over again!!!

To check out the rest of the photos from this weeks session, please click on “Check out our FLICKR photostream” found a little bit down on this home page on the right side and go to “June 19 -22, 2012 AM session”. ENJOY!!!
See You All Soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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SUMMER TIME FUN!!!

Posted by 12 June, 2012 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up our first week of summer time Fun and Adventure and what a wonderful week we’ve had!!! We spent the week boating up and down the intra coastal, snorkeling the Rock Garden, exploring the Big Sandbar, fishing my secret spots and catching tons of fish non stop! Another […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!!

We’ve just finished up our first week of summer time Fun and Adventure and what a wonderful week we’ve had!!! We spent the week boating up and down the intra coastal, snorkeling the Rock Garden, exploring the Big Sandbar, fishing my secret spots and catching tons of fish non stop! Another day we watched manatees eat sea grass all around the boat and later that day we had a ball watching a pod of 30 or more bottlenose dolphin frolic just off our bow in crystal clear water! We caught swimming crabs under rocks, found sea urchins galore and topped that day off finding a couple of big horseshoe crabs cruising around in the shallows. We found fighting conchs, beaded starfish, hermit crabs and watched a school of reef squid change all sorts of colors right before our eyes! We caught pufferfish bare handed, explored the beach and along the ocean and chased sand fleas in the surf. Needless to say, we had non stop FUN and ADVENTURE from start to finish and thats just the way I love it!!! I’ll let some of the pictures do the rest of the talking!!! Enjoy!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
AdventureMike

Group Photo on the boat:

group photo

Watching Bottlenose Dolphin!!!

watching bottlenose dolphins!

Finding starfish:

finding starfish

Group finds a horseshoe crab!

group finds a horseshoe crab

Fish On!!!

group with fish

Michael catches a filefish!

Michael catches a filefish

Rocky catches a Big lane snapper!

way to go rocky!

Ryan catches a nice Ceasar’s grunt!

nice fish

Gabriel catches another yellowtail snapper!

gabriel catches a yellowtail snapper

Trevor Catches a big Ceasar’s grunt

Big Ceasars grunt

Danielle and Ryan find beaded starfish

Ryan andDanielle

Jamie with a sea urchin hairdo!

sea urchin hairdo

Robert with a large swimming crab!

Robert with a swimming crab

Elena snorkeling the Rock Garden

fun underwater

Julian finds a beaded starfish

julian with a beaded starfish

Trevor finds a Big Horseshoe Crab!

horseshoe crab

Acadia catches a barracuda!

Acadia with a barracuda

Jamie finds a beaded starfish

Jamie with a beaded starfish

Jamie and Ryan with some cool finds!

cool finds

Gabriel with a large horseshoe crab

Gabriel with a horseshoe crab

Michael with a large horseshoe crab

horseshoe crab

Robert watching a barracuda

robert

Chasing mangrove crabs along the dock

chasing mangrove crabs

Catching crabs underwater

catching crabs underwater

Michael catches a big swimming crab!

Michael catches a crab

To check out the rest of the photos from this weeks session, please click on “Check out our FLICKR photostream” found a little bit down on this home page on the right side and go to “June 5 – 8, 2012 AM session”.
See you all soon!!! I can’t wait to do it all over again!!! Stay tuned for next weeks sessions!!! I Hope to see you there!!!

Let’s Go Have some Fun!!!
AdventureMike

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Spring Break Adventure 2012

Posted by 31 March, 2012 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!! We”ve just finished up another Spring Break Adventure and what a wonderful adventure we had!!! We spent the week boating, snorkeling, fishing, island hiking, exploring the sandbars, watching for manatees and bottlenose dolphins, finding horseshoe crabs, scaly mantis shrimp and cool starfish of al kinds. We found dozens of variegated sea […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!!

We”ve just finished up another Spring Break Adventure and what a wonderful adventure we had!!! We spent the week boating, snorkeling, fishing, island hiking, exploring the sandbars, watching for manatees and bottlenose dolphins, finding horseshoe crabs, scaly mantis shrimp and cool starfish of al kinds. We found dozens of variegated sea urchins, west indian sea eggs, blue crabs and hermit crabs, watched schools of squid change colors right before our eyes, found beautiful pink queen conchs and fighting conchs galore, and caught pufferfish bare-handed day after day! We found a half dozen spotted yellow rays swimming amongst the shallows. I caught a few in hand net, took off the venemous barbs, which will begin to grow back after a few days, just so we could check them out up close and personal. We even went out along the beach most calm mornings to check out the schools of small spinner sharks and blacktip sharks that migrate past this time of year. We saw dozens swimming right off the beach! It was just GREAT!!! But best of all, I had a fabulous group of kids, and we had non-stop FUN and ADVENTURE from start to finish, each and every day!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

Group Photo

The tides were high most of the week and the Big Sandbar was covered underwater more often that not, but this didn’t stop us from romping around and catching blue crabs by the dozens! We had a blast chasing them down and catching them with our hand nets, and even at times with our bare hands. Occasionally, it would get really exciting when one would scurry right under your foot where the sand was stirred up, and we couldn’t help but think it was looking for our toes! This sure didn’t stop AdventureMatthew from catching his share and showing us one crab right after another!

Matthew with a blue crab

AdventureMax caught a pile himself and pretended he was the one that was going to have a blue crab for lunch. I wasn’t quite sure who was going to eat who, if he happened to drop it by mistake, still alive and kicking, right in his mouth! One thing for certain, he was sure having FUN, and he entertained us most of the morning! Way to go Max!!!

Max having fun

We spent a good bit of time each morning snorkeling about at the Rock Garden.Later, we would end up snorkeling in the protected inland lagoon looking for hermit crabs, juvenile lobsters, sea urchins and more! We hoped we might see a manatee again sun bathing in the shallows, but had no luck this day. AdventureMickey came up with a nice red hermit crab living within a discarded fighting conch shell, and I could tell he was having FUN holding that one up for us to see!!! His smile was contageous, and we all took turns checking that hermit crab out!

Mickey finds a hermit crab

Every morning we found spotted yellow rays swimming in the shallows or lying motionless on the gravelly sand. I caught one in a small hand net and removed the venemous barb so that we could handle it safely and check out its sphericals and tiny mouth, filled with two bony sand-paper like plates that are capable of crushing very small mollusks or invertebrates for food. The kids loved when the ray would “suck” on to their shirt, or head for that matter, and have to be gently removed by hand after a few seconds. I know AdventureMatthew was having FUN, but his older brother AdventureJohn was a bit more hesitant on this day. By the end of the week though, he was a trooper just like the rest of them!!! Way to go Matthew and John!!!

238

Every morning that we passed by the Big Sandbar or had to slow down for a no-wake zone, I would put out a light tackle rod and troll for a barracuda, blue runner or jack crevalle. We all took turns putting the line out and reeling fish in, and every now and then we would catch a nice barracuda that we would later use as bait on a shark line or save for our crab traps. AdventureRachael holds up a nice barracuda that is about typical of the size we normally catch. Nice job Rachael! Nice barracuda too!!!

rachael with a barracuda

Each day we stopped by the Big Sandbar to do some exploring, shallow water snorkeling and look for big orange or red Cushion Starfish lying on the sandy bottom. Everytime we stopped by, the kids found a few, and we would all take turns checking them out and taking a few photos ops for our own entertainment, and for that of the parents as well! Some of these starfish were quite large, and the kids all loved that!!! AdventureJohn and Matthew would take turns catching crabs and finding starfish and I could tell they were having FUN too!!!

starfish heads

Not to be out done, AdventureDylan and Rachael had a blast finding Cushion Starfish of their own and acting silly along the way! They looked like naturals, wearing those two starfish as hats, and I could tell they must have practiced their posture, since those starfish never fell off! Way to be entertaining Dylan and Rachael!!! Nice Starfish Hairdo!!!

More starfish heads

One day we snorkeled the whole way around Peanut Island and had a blast finding all sorts of cool things! We saw more spotted yellow rays, schools of mullet by the hundreds and found queen conchs galore! We found tons of blue legged hermit crabs, chased and caught short nosed pufferfish by the dozens and had more FUN than you could imagine!!! AdventureRachael found piles of west indian sea eggs, which are an uncommon species of sea urchin around here. They were feeding on the algae and sea grass growing in the shallows. It was just GREAT!!! Nice find Rachael!!!

Rachael with a west indian sea egg

AdventureMickey had a blast snorkeling the whole way around the island and just checking out everything in general. He didn’t seem to care what he saw or found! He just loved it all!!! And so did we!!! AdventureMicky first came to my camp about 3 years ago, had never snorkeled, been on a boat or ever caught a fish! Let me tell you, 3 years later, he is as comfortable and a natural swimmer as you’ll ever see!!! Mickey, you have come a long ways!!! Way to ROCK, and SWIM for that matter!!!

Mickey underwater

We spent another morning exploring the islands and estuaries, and the shallow rocky oyster covered sandbars. We talked about the benefits of mangroves, algae’s and sea grasses, and how this type of natural habitat is necessary and crucial to the juvenile reef fish, crabs and millions of crustaceans and invertebrates that inhabit this marine ecosystem. It is vital and necessary to preserve and maintain as much of this environment as possible, for without this, the water quality and near shore marine life would diminish greatly! Along the way I showed them wild coffee plants and thorny knicker beans. An interesting fact, the husk of the knicker bean is used in making quinine, an anti-malarial medicine. How neat is that!

island adventure

We took a nice hike along a nature trail on Munyon Island to the backside, or east side of the island. We ended up hiking along a narrow spit of land along the red mangroves and found a half dozen or so molts of horseshoe crabs. We hoped to see a few live ones crawling along the bottom, but no luck today. Horseshoe crabs, like all marine crustaceans, shed their outer carapace as they grow. After this molt, they fill their now soft body with sea water, and stretch out their skin. After a few days, their now much larger outer shell turns hard, giving them room to grow. Horseshoe crabs are related to spiders and enzymes from their blood are used in medicine to make blood thinners. How cool is that!!!

finding horseshoe crabs

Thursday was our fishing day and we went to one of my secret spots and everyone caught lane snappers, pigfish, big grunts and tomtates non -stop! It was a blast watching everyone catch fish by the dozens!!! Like as fast as you could “bait your hook and drop down” dozens!!! It was just GREAT, and as usual, there were a few sore arms from reeling fish in afterwards!!! Just the way I love it!!! AdventureDylan, yes, the same girl who holds the all time biggest fish record caught for my summer camp on my boat Dylan, (49lb barracuda on 6lb test, Yippee!!!) and her brother, AdventureJohn holds up a couple of nice fish! Way to go again!!!

Dylan and Matthew

AdventureMax caught lane snappers, big grunts and tons of other fish, along with some unusual pufferfish with really neat markings, that we just started seeing in the lake a couple years ago. He always does well and is a great fisherman too! loves to fish like their is no tomorrow! And as he said to me about 3 years ago on one of his first adventures with me, “Fishing is my Mojo”. Well, mine too buddy! Nice Job!!!

Max catches a strange pufferfish

AdventureJohn, Dylan and Matthews brother, seemed to be fishing in the right spot! Time after time, he would hook up with something big and have a real battle trying to get it in on light tackle! It turned out to be one big porgy after another, and after watching that going on non-stop for half an hour, I was wanting to grab a rod myself and move over right next to him and have a go at it too!!! Needless to say, he seemed to be catching the biggest ones that day!!! Way to catch another big porgy John!!! Nice fish!!!

AdventureJohn catches a Big Porgy

The really great thing about this spot is, you never know what you might catch!!! Over the years we have caught dozens and dozens of different species of fish, in all sizes, shapes and colors!!! This is also where AdventureDylan caught her huge barracuda that ate her lane snapper she was reeling in, but not quite fast enough!!! Good thing for her too, cause that barracuda was a monster!!! Yes, I had to post a photo of that fish again!!!

Dylan's Monster Barracuda!

Anyway, on this day she didn’t catch another monster baracuda, but she did catch an unusual filefish that had a set of really sharp teeth and extremely rough skin covered with denticles, just like that of a shark, not with scales like most other fish. She always seems to catch not only a ton of fish, but all kinds as well!!! Nice Job Dylan!!! Again!!!

Dylan catches a filefish

On the last day we took another wonderful snorkel adventure along the backside of Peanut Island. As we were swimming along catching sharpnosed pufferfish and finding sea urchins, etc., I hear AdventureDylan yell, “AdventureMike, come over here quick! I’ve found something!!!”. I quickly swam over and took a look, and low and behold, she had found a large scaly mantis shrimp totally out of its burrough, just crusing along the bottom. What a find!!! This doesn’t happen often!!! Mantis shrimp have large front arms, like those of a preying mantis, with spikes on those arms used for impaling their prey, hence their name! When encountered, it would be best to leave these well enough alone so as not to get your thumb split, but I knew how to handle them and showed the kids the proper technique without getting stuck. We all took turns checking it out up close and personal, and loved the experience. It ws just GREAT!!! AdventureMax was careful to hold it well!!!

Max with a mantis shrimp

Just as our last day was coming to an end, we found another small spotted yellow ray that didn’t have a barb, and we all took turns checking that one out as well!!! It seemed to be a fitting way to end the weeks Adventure. We started out finding spotted yellow rays and ended finding spotted yellow rays. What a GREAT DAY!!! What a GREAT WEEK full of FUN and ADVENTURE!!! What a GREAT group of kids!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

Dylan with a spotted yellow ray

I just can’t wait to go do it all over again!!! Stay tuned…. See you all soon!!!

Let’s Go have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!!

Posted by 25 July, 2011 (0) Comment

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!

group photo

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!!!

Matthew chasing fish

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!!!

Trip with queen conch

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.

crab catchers

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!!!

Dylan with hermit crab

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!!!

matthew and 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!!!

Davina with smallest starfish

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!!!

3 blue crabs

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!!!

On the rocks

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!!!

seine netting

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!!!

Juvenile barracudas and puffers

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!

Rachel with sea urchin

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!!!

Long spined urchin

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!!!

Davina catches another 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?????

Rachel's Big Barracuda

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!!!

Group with barracuda

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!!!

Manatees

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!!!!

Bottlenose Dolphin

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!
AdventureMike

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Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling Fun!

Posted by 13 July, 2011 (0) Comment

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!!!

island group photo

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!!!

Rock garden Fun

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!

Jacob finds a milk conch

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!!!

Michael with Blue Crab

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!!!

Gabrielle with octopus

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!

Domanik with starfish

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!

Group with barracuda

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!!!

Eli catches a 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!!!

Nick catches 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!!!

seine netting

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!!!

William with checkered puffer

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!

Sea urchin collectors

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!!!

handful of sea urchins

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!!!

gabrielle and burrfish

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!!!

Rocky & blue crab

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!!!

horsefighting champ

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!!!

AdventureMike

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Summer Time Fun Continues into Week 2

Posted by 24 June, 2011 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody!!! Welcome Back!!! I’m finally getting a chance to write about our second week of Fun and Adventure. And what a week its been!!! Just like the first week, its been fast action Adventure Fun from dawn to dusk too!!! Non Stop fast Action Fun!!! Been so busy adventuring and running double session camps […]

Hi Everybody!!! Welcome Back!!!

I’m finally getting a chance to write about our second week of Fun and Adventure. And what a week its been!!! Just like the first week, its been fast action Adventure Fun from dawn to dusk too!!! Non Stop fast Action Fun!!! Been so busy adventuring and running double session camps that I can’t seem to ever get a chance to sit down for a bit and write my blog! So todays the Day! And just like last week, I had two great groups of kids, perfect weather all week long and non stop fun and excitement like there was no tomorrow!!! From one group to the next, its been a Blast! As soon as I would drop off the first group, the second would arrive and off we’d go again, looking for adventure and creating our own!!! Just the way I love it!!!

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For this week, the tides were low incoming in the morning and high out going in the afternoon. Sometime each day we would visit the Rock Garden to go snorkeling and the Big Sandbar to go exploring. Everyone of us had a chance to explore and discover new things. And explore and discover new things, We Did! From manatees, sea turtles and Giant Barracudas, to horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, squat lobster and more! It was a Great Week, and one thing for sure, we kept busy non-stop!!! What a week it was!!!

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We spent a few hours everyday exploring the Rock Garden. And as Usual, there were fish everywhere to be seen! We had so much fun snorkeling, observing and chasing fish, looking under rocks catching all sorts of different species of crabs, finding sea cucumbers, conchs and shrimp. You name it, we found it, and of course we tried to catch it just for FUN! Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t but it was just GREAT all the same!!!

4 having fun

AdventureMichael and Gabrielle spent a good bit of time finding fighting conchs by the hundreds. In no time at all they collected them by the handfuls! They were everywhere to be found! They literally covered the bottom! Most were West Indian fighting conchs and a few others were Florida fighting conchs. The West Indian species can be identified by having dark reddish brown to purple interiors while the Florida species has an orange to almost bright red interior and a little more knobby around the spire.

Michael, Gabrielle & fighting conchs

AdventureAJ spent a good bit of time searching for swimming crabs under rocks and collecting star eye hermit crabs by the dozens! Most were living in the empty shells of fighting conchs that were strewn along the bottom. A bit later, AdventureMichael gave a hand and in no time at all they came up with some nice and impressive swimming crabs for all to see! Nice job guys!!! Didn’t get pinched either! Way to go!!!

swimming crabs galore

Another day while we explored the lagoon on Peanut Island, AdventureJulia found 3 different species of sea urchins that she collected to show and share with us. The one she liked best was a nice big slate-pencil urchin that she found stuck between two rocks. It was using its stout spines like anchors to wedge itself in place. Another was a smaller reef urchin feeding on the algae covering the rocks and the most common of all was the variegated sea urchin that she found by the dozens!

Julia finds 3 species of urchins

By the end of the week at the Rock Garden we had schools of parrotfish following us, hoping to steal our swimming crabs, rock crabs and juvenile blue crabs for a meal! We had 3 big sheephead following us too and they wanted to steal our crabs as well. I think they were beginning to recognise us! The second we got in, here they came! Just as if we rang the dinner bell!!! All of us thought that was Cool! AdventureEthan came up with a swimming crab with giant pinchers that was so big even the sheephead thought better than try to eat this one, claws and all!!!

Ethan with one big crab

One day at the Big Sandbar we stopped by to do a bit of exploring and snorkeling and found hundreds of fighting conchs along the north edge of the bar. They were so thick along the bottom you couldn’t put your foot down without almost stepping on one. In some places they were so concentrated you almost couldn’t see sand between them! It was a great discovery and we all loved that!!! The kids collected a few dozen, placed them in one big pile and nick-named it “Conch City”. And I had to agree, it looked like a ‘conch city” to me!

Conch city

We spent a bit of time exploring around the sandbar and found numerous beaded starfish, juvenile blue crabs, found tons of mantis shrimp holes with even a few shy, beady-eyed mantis shrimp peeking out to look at us! We always love seeing that! This is the only creature I know of in the marine environment that has 360 degree vision, and they are darn smart and wary too!!! I thought one of the coolest finds at the sandbar was a banded sea star that we found just popping out of the sand! AdventureHunter shows us his find! It was the very first one I’ve seen here. And a nice find it was!!!

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Another day, while exploring the Big Sandbar, we found dozens of juvenile queen conchs and watched as the congregation of fighting conchs we found earlier in the week, were laying eggs. They would seemingly glue long strings of eggs to grains of sand, and somehow roll them into tight round balls. It was a cool thing to watch as hundreds of conchs were laying eggs all at the same time! One of the neatest things AdventureStella found this day was an extremely large 9 armed starfish that seemed to be about half her size! Way to go Stella!

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Later that day we walked over to another sandbar that was exposed to the west of us and found dozens of netted olive shells burrowing tunnels thru the sand and about a half dozen juvenile box crabs that were crawling back to deeper water. We didn’t find as many fighting conchs on this sandbar, and we thought it was neat how they somehow ‘knew” to congregate all in the same place at the same time! I guess released pheromones plays a big part in that. Another cool thing we found on this sandbar that we didn’t on the other, was dozens of squat lobsters just beginning to burrow out of the sand. I could tell AdventureAmanda sure loved finding this one!

Amanda with squat lobster

On the round about way back to the boat we stopped to explore and snorkle around an old sunken boat in about 4 feet of water. It was surrounded by thousands of menhaden in a tight school, swimming seemingly endless circles around the boat. We found a couple of arrow crabs clinging to the barnacle covered sides. While we were scuffling our feet along the bottom, AdventureNicholas came up with a nice 9 armed starfish that seemed to fit perfectly right on his head! Another nice find!

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Thursday was our fishing day, and as usual, everyone caught fish one after another!! Tomtates, sailors choice, pigfish, porkfish, pinfish, porgies. margates, lane snappers and more! You name it, I think we caught it!!! Fish after fish after fish!!! All day long!!! Just the way it always is!!! More often than not, everyone had a fish on, all at the same time!!! And I certainly was running behind taking fish off on that day!!!

Fishing day!

While fishing the artificial reef during the morning session, we had so many fish coming in one after another, we attracted a hungry barracuda that decided to hunker down right under the boat and have a few of our fish for lunch! It wasn’t long before we started to lose our fish to that toothy critter! An especially exciting moment occurred for AdventureMichael when one of his tomtates came up partially filletted before reaching the boat! Way to go Cuda!

Something bit my fish!

During the afternoon session we started out fishing the artificial reef and caught the typical grunts, snappers and tomtates by the hundreds. Nothing of any size though. We just couldn’t seem to get our baits past the schools of smaller fish hovering over the reef by the thousands. A few times we threw our lines out away from the rocks and the reef and came up with some flounder that the group loved catching! Not the typical fish you usually catch in the summer time. We seem to catch the bigger flounder during our Christmas and Holiday Camp sessions and sometimes early in the Spring sessions too. either way though we had FUN catching these! I know AdventureBella sure did!

Bella with flounder

From here I decided to move to my secret lane snapper hole where the action is not as fast and furious, but sometimes you get some decent size fish. Little did I know then how BIG the next fish was going to be!!! And today was going to set the new standard for the BIGGEST FISH caught and boated at any of AdventureMike’s Camps!!! On the lightest tackle no less!!! We no sooner pulled up to the spot, dropped anchor, let the lines down and WHAMMO!!! AdventureDylan hooks a BIG Lane Snapper! As she is reeling that fish in on 6 lb test ultra-lite spinning tackle, some Monstrous Barracuda decides to have it for lunch and eats it 6 inches rom the side of the boat!!! The drag on the reel screams out, stops for a second, then the rod bends double and the reel screams again!!! I thought it was never going to stop!!! AdventureDylan fights like a champ, long and hard till she has nothing left! Finally, with the rod bent straight by the weight of the Big Fish, she begs me to take the rod before it is pulled from her hands!!! A half hour later we boat this HUGE barracuda that was foul hooked under the belly by the # 2 circle hook when it pulled from the snappers mouth!!!

Dylan's Monster Barracuda!

Later when I got home and weighed that fish, it turned out to be a hair over 49lbs. Not bad on 6lb test and no wire leader!!! What a FISH!!! What a DAY!!! What a GREAT JOB you did Dylan!!! YOU ROCK!!! And that ain’t no fish story!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! Don’t know how we’ll ever beat that!!! But I’m sure going to try… :-)

Another day we spent snorkeling around Sea Urchin Shoals and found so many variegated and short spined sea urchins you couldn’t keep count. They came in a variety of colors, from snow white to dark green, brilliant purple to light pink. Just about every color combination you could think of!!! It was great and we had so much fun collecting them all and checking them out. It didn’t take Adventure Dylan and Julia long to find the colors they liked!

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AdventureBeau spent some time searching the shallow sea grass beds looking for a much more rare or uncommon sea urchin called a West Indian Sea Egg. They are not real easy to find and I am always looking myself. They are round and black, have very short spines and seemed to have tiny tube feet by the thousands! When held under water in the palm of your hand, those tiny tube feet will grasp ahold and firmly attach themselves to your hand like they belong there! Every kid loves when it happens to them! I know I sure did when I was a kid too! Nice find Beau!

beau with west indian sea egg

A short while after this AdventureDylan spots a giant spider crab crawling thru the sea grass beds and gives chase! After numerous squeals of laughter, excitement and/or sheer terror; or maybe all the above, she comes up holding this beauty just the way she’s supposed to without getting pinched! Way to go Dylan!!! That’s one nice, big, thorny spider crab!!! And you still have all your fingers!! Alright!!!
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From here we mosied over to Little Munyon Island and swam around the island to see what we could discover. We all found some really cool things but adventureNeil took the cake when he yelled, “horseshoe crabs, horseshoe crabs” and a split second later came up holding a pair by the tail! They are actually related to spiders and components in their blood are synthesized and used in medicine to make blood thinners and anti-coagulants for heart attack and stroke victims. How cool is that, that your very life could be saved by this amazing creature!!! It was a great find! Nice Job Neil!

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Another day while we were snorkeling at Little Munyon Island, searching around the mangrove roots and rocky shoreline to see what we could find, I heard adventureDylan yell, ” A pufferfish, a pufferfish!” and I swam over to take a look. Sure enough, AdventureDylan had found a cute striped burrfish that was lying motionless on the bottom, half hidden amongst the weeds. I’m sure it thought its camoflauge good enough to fool even the most diligent hunter. But not good enough to fool AdventureDylan!!! She seemed to be finding just about everything I could think of lately! You’ve come a long way since that very first year you came to my camp! way to Go!!! Another Great find!!!

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A short time later AdventureJulia and Bella came up with a pair of horseshoe crabs on their own and we all took turns checking those horseshoe crabs out up close and personal as well. I always wish we would be able to find these wondrous creatures everytime we come here and lately, luck has been on our side! Hopefully this species is making a comeback around the lake worth lagoon, or maybe we are just getting luckier or better at finding them. Either way I love it! Nice job Girls!!! Way to Go!!!

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During one of the morning sessions, we stopped by Starfish Prairie to search for some large cushion starfish commonly found here. It is about a 200 yard wide, shallow rocky bottom, full of short spined sea urchins, fern-like Calerpa algae and a few sandy patches full of small clams. Just right for keeping a Cushion Starfish happy and well fed! Needless to say, we found quite a few, but one of the coolest things we discovered while searching for starfish was a sandy patch full of some large live sandollars that I have never found here before! It was a great discovery! I know AdventureJackie thought so!

Jackie with sand dollar

On the way back to the boat, I heard AdventureChase yelling he’s found some horseshoe crabs too and after a few squeals of laughter, he came up with a big smile on his face, and a horseshoe crab in each hand! Way to go Chase!!! I think we found more horseshoe crabs this week than what we found in total all last year! Hope it last all summer! Wouldn’t that be GREAT!!!

Chase with horseshoe crabs

One afternoon we spent an hour doing a bit of seine netting in the shallow grass beds but the tide was so high we didn’t have any real beach to pull the net up on to. Usually we come up with hundreds of juvenile fish and a variety of shrimp and crabs but today the grass beds were too deep to do any successful seining. We had a blast all the same and it was fun for each child to give it a try!

Seine netting

We did catch a couple of checkered pufferfish which have to be one of the most favorite fish the kids like to catch, along with a few pipefish, mojarras, needlefish and a few juvenile grunts and snapper. All pufferfish are capable of giving one a good bite if you don’t hold them properly. Make sure to keep your fingers away from their mouths! Once inflated, they are easily held but since I couldn’t get this one to stay “puffed up” I held him myself to show the kids. They seemed to love it all the same!

checkered puffer and group

One morning I took the group to look for juvenile and sub-adult sea turtles that I had observed a few weeks earlier feeding on the shallow sea grass just to the west of Singer Island. I carefully motored in to shallow water and shut off the engines to drift. We spent a few minutes observing and counting all the different turtles we saw coming up to breathe. We spotted 19 different turtles in the first 15 minutes! What a day, and shortly after that it got even BETTER!!! While we were sitting quietly observing the turtles, 2 manatees came slowly swimming along, spotted the boat, and swam directly towards us. A few of the kids put their hands in the water and the manatees came over and began nuzzling their hands like they were long lost friends! It was a wonderful encounter for all of us!!!

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For the next 2 hours those manatees never left the side of the boat. They would lie right up against the boat and roll back and forth along the side, seemingly using our boat as a scratching pad. Of course the kids loved this!!!, and so did the manatees!!! Every now and then some of the gang would gently reach over the side and give one of the manatees a scratch on the back. They would arch their backs out of water as if to say, “Please scratch me some more”, and not move an inch while they were being scratched. Maybe they thought we were some giant cleaner fish, who knows, but the kids were having the time of their lives and so was I !!! It was just GREAT!!!

friendly manatee

Sometime later, as the water level got deeper, the manatees sauntered off a few feet and began eating sea grass like we weren’t even there. The would lift their heads out of water with mouths full of weeds, shake back and forth, and gobble it down. Mouthful after mouthful after mouthful! What a site to see!!! It was absolutely fabulous!! We felt so lucky to have had the opportunity to experience this! I’m sure the kids will never forget it! I know I won’t!!!

What a wonderful day!!! A short while later they swam off as a pair and disappeared into deeper water. We loved every minute of it!!!

Off they go

All in all, it was an incredible week for all of us!! An Adventure we soon won’t forget!!! We had so much FUN, so much ADVENTURE!!! And the kids were just Great!!! Even when some come wearing “chicken hats” , which I loved by the way!!!, I’m sad to see them leave!!!

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Of course all this FUN has left me looking forward to this up coming week. A new Adventure to be shared with an exciting new group of Adventurers. Who knows what we may discover, but one things certain, We Are Going To Have Some FUN!!! Stay tuned, and see what the next week brings!!! Could things possibly get any better??? Hope you’ll join us!!! I’m going to give it my best!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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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 : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Adventure in an Octopuses Garden

Posted by 30 June, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!! I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and write about last weeks Adventure and let me tell you we had loads of FUN from start to finish! It seems that every week just gets better and better! The weather has been just great, the water is as warm as a […]

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!!

I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and write about last weeks Adventure and let me tell you we had loads of FUN from start to finish! It seems that every week just gets better and better! The weather has been just great, the water is as warm as a bathtub and there are fish of every size, shape and color to be seen!!! EVERYWHERE!!! The kids and I have been on a roll and we are ready for Adventure as soon as the day begins. It seems that no matter how early I get to the boat ramp somebody is there waiting for me with a giant smile from ear to ear and ready and raring to go have some FUN!!! Just like me, and that’s just the way I Love It!

group photo with octopus

We began the first day going to the Rock Garden and as soon as we got in the water we spotted big schools of snook chasing menhaden right onto the beach! What a way to begin! The menhaden had arrived by the tens of thousands and everyone loved watching the snook, jacks and juvenile barracudas chase them around us for a meal. Sometimes the schools of fish were so thick you couldn’t see thru them and we absolutely loved that! We all brought little hand nets and tried our luck catching as many different fish as we could. It sure kept us busy having FUN!!!

group photo netting

We searched the shallows occasionally turning over small rocks to see what’s underneath. Every now and then someone would come up with a very delicate brittlestarfish or a purple and blue pistol shrimp and we would check them out up close and personal before letting them go under the very rock we found them. We saw hundreds of seaweed blennies but had difficulty trying to catch them as they darted back and forth from rock to rock. AdventureBeth and Zara spent most of the time having fun searching for Queen Conchs and they came up with quite a few. We all had fun watching as the mollusks would shyly peek back out at us from within their shells.

Beth and Zara find conchs

One of the favorite things we love to do is search for shortnosed pufferfish. Every now and then one of the kids would find one and we would all give chase hoping to catch it in our net. Sometimes we would catch them and sometimes we wouldn’t, but we had loads of FUN all the same! And like I’ve said before, you just can’t believe how quickly a tiny pufferfish can take off straight way, then instantly stop, change direction and race right between your feet never to be seen again! It didn’t take AdventureLeah long before she could expertly catch them like she had been doing it her whole life! Nice JOB!!!

Leah nets a big crab

Occasionally we would turn over a big rock and find ourselves face to face with a nice Big swimming crab waving its claws back and forth in a menacing gesture. We knew they were just waiting for a chance to grab our finger but we were all careful and they never did. These crabs can swim rapidly from side to side and sometimes it takes two or three of us to corner them before we get one. They can give a good pinch if you are unlucky enough to not be paying close attention when the action begins and you’ve got to hold them just RIGHT!!! I learned that one years ago the hard way… This possibility never stopped AdventureNicholas from catching some big swimming crabs and holding them up for us to see! That’s one BIG Crab!!!

Nicholas holds one big crab

One of the coolest things we found and the kids absolutely loved, was a pair of yellow rays lying buried in the sand. I gently scooped one up and after making absolutely certain it didn’t have any venomous barbs, we all took turns holding it and checking it out. We loved when it would pump the water out its sphericals and suck on to us, not even trying to get away! This cute little ray let us hold him until our hearts were content and we all loved that! It would even suck onto the wet hair on our heads and stick there like that’s where it belonged! And did we ever love that too!!!

Zara with a barbless ray

One day during low tide 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 kids favorite things to do. You never know what you may come up with and lucky for us, today was one of those days! Sometimes it just pays to be lucky! On the very first pull of the net we came up with some juvenile barracudas, lots of file fish, tiny yellowtail snappers, grunts, mojarras and a few hogfish, loads of sea grass shrimp and some big pink shrimp.

Finding treasures in the net

The second pull of the net we got even luckier! As soon as the kids brought the net on to the beach I could see some dwarf seahorses. Full grown dwarf seahorses reach about an inch and a half in length for a big one. We don’t get them very often and they are always a cool find! As usual we got more filefish, juvenile barracudas, a couple of short-nosed pufferfish and two checkerboard pufferfish as well. The minute the pufferfish were out of the water they filled themselves up with air and “puffed up” to twice their normal size. The kids absolutely loved that and so did I! AdventureReese came up with a nice one that puffed up in his hand and we nick named it Puff Daddy the pufferfish!

Reese with puffdaddy

On the very last pull of the net we got even luckier!!! We caught more pufferfish, parrotfish, pipefish, barracudas, hogfish, snappers, pinfish, etc., and the very Best Of All, a very large male Lined Seahorse!!! This seahorse was about 7 inches long and absolutely beautiful!!! What makes this so cool is that it is the very first one we ever caught seine netting in this area. everybody wanted to take a closer look and we had so much FUN checking it out! We were so lucky to have caught the only two known species of sea horses found in this area all in the same hour! Now just how COOL is that! It was great to be able to check out both species side by side at the same time!!!

We find a lined seahorse

After we released our “treasures” where we found them, we took a quick hike around the island and found hundreds of sea urchins, dozens of big hermit crabs and loads of blue claw crabs with the bluest claws you’ve ever seen! We even came up with 7 beaded starfish in a variety of sizes and some nice crown conchs as well!!! It was just GREAT!

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! And on this day it was no different!!! I took them to my secret snapper hole and we caught snappers non stop till we were almost too tired to bring any more in!!! And that’s just the way I love it!!!

A bunch of snappers

After a couple hours of snapper fishing we went to the artificial reef to try and catch some different things. We came up with some yellowtail snappers, tomtates, some Big Ceasars grunts, dozens of large spottail pinfish and a few beautiful parrotfish. The kids hooked a few BIG fish we could not get to the boat and I think on more than one occasion they became lunch for some big barracudas!!! AdventureChristopher was the first to catch a nice big colorful porkfish and everybody loved that!

Christopher catches a porkfish

Every now and then we will get into a school of porgies that are aggressive feeders and hard fighters for their size! Today was one of those days! Before long everybody had one on and you should have seen the kids work hard to reel them in on ultra light tackle! Just about the time the kids would get them next to the boat, the porgies would take off swimming hard again and the kids would have to reel like crazy to bring in the line they just lost! It was just great! AdventureJacob caught quite a few nice ones and I loved that!

Jacob catches a porgy

On the morning of the last day we stopped by the Rock Garden to enjoy all the fish and had a ball swimming thru schools of menhaden, watching snook and just checking out the thousands of tropical fish that live here. The water was just beautiful and we never wanted to get leave! As the tide dropped we decided to head to the Big Sandbar and have FUN looking for Mantis Shrimp, fighting conchs, starfish and playing in the Hot Tub! AdventureChristopher and Nicholas loved finding a big red Cushion Starfish that was one of the largest I’ve ever seen here! Nice Going Guys!!!

Christopher, Nicholas and starfish

We ended the day finding a lovely octopus crawling about in the shallows looking for crabs and I know that was one of the very best things the kids loved all week. Me Too!!! We rarely see them out and about in the day time and boy were we LUCKY!!! I think I’ve said that before! This was the very first one I’ve seen in over a year and I’m always looking! It was great to watch the kids lie nearby and watch the octopus reach out with an arm and gently touch them! We had so much FUN watching it change colors from light brown to bright red and the kids were smiling from ear to ear!!! Me too of course!!!. I know AdventureBeth loved watching that octopus crawl slowly past, right in front of her nose!!!

Beth watches an octopus

As I watched the octopus head into deeper water and the kids following closely behind, smiles by the miles in view, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we were to have spent the day in an Octopuses Garden! All to ourselves. Just how COOL is that!!! I know I LOVED IT!!! WE ALL DID!!! IT JUST DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!!! And I can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Who knows what we may discover or adventure we may have, but one things certain, we are going to have FUN!!! From start to Finish!!! I guarantee it!!! Hope you’ll join us in the Adventure!!! It’s going to be GREAT!!! Stay tuned… See you soon…..

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: June 22 - June 25 Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Sun, Fun and Adventure times Two!

Posted by 14 June, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up the second week of Fun and Adventure. Times two of course doing double sessions, and as usual, We had so much FUN!!! I was again blessed with two more perfect groups of kids, and absolutely perfect weather as well, and all this led up to another fabulous […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!!

We’ve just finished up the second week of Fun and Adventure. Times two of course doing double sessions, and as usual, We had so much FUN!!! I was again blessed with two more perfect groups of kids, and absolutely perfect weather as well, and all this led up to another fabulous week of Fun and Adventure!!! We had FUN from sunrise to sunset for four days in a row!!!As soon as the first session was over, the second would arrive, and off we would go again! It just doesn’t get any better than that! FUN FUN FUN from start to finish!!! Just the way I love it!

A Day at the Beach!

We spent a few hours everyday exploring the Rock Garden. There were fish everywhere and the water was crystal clear! We had so much fun observing and chasing fish, looking under rocks catching all sorts of different species of crabs, finding sea cucumbers, conchs and shrimp. You name it, we found it, and of course we tried to catch it just for FUN! Sometimes we were succesfull, sometimes we weren’t, but we had FUN trying none the less! It was just GREAT! One of the best moments occurred when an inquisitive porcupinefish swam right up to us as if to ask, “Are you AdventureMike?” And let me tell you, we loved that!!!

Are you AdventureMike?

That beautiful porcupinefish swam all around us and we couldn’t help but take a few photos with our new found friend! We were careful not to get our hands or fingers close or near to her mouth as they can deliver a painful bite! They eat barnacles right off the rocks with no problem! We all took turns carefully holding her up close, watching her fill up with water to twice her size, and being very careful to not let our fingers get in the way! A few moments later we released her and watched as she lazily swam into a nearby hole in a rock, turned around one last time to take another peek at us, and then disappear. AdventureJake sure had FUN when it was his turn to hold her. We ALL did!!!

Jake catches a Big porcupinefish!

This week was the perfect one to check out the Big Sandbar! We had exceptionally low tides and each and every day we would stop by to search the bar for starfish, shells and anything else that was out and about. We found so many cool things!!! We found beaded starfish, cushion starfish and 9 armed starfish in a variety of sizes. During one morning romp we came upon the biggest 9 armed starfish I have ever seen! It was just crawling out of the sand into deeper water when we arrived. Lucky for us!!! A few minutes later and we would never have seen it. Adventure Hannah sure loved finding that one!

Hannah finds a 9 armed starfish!

We all took turns checking it out and watching at how quickly it could right itself when turned upside down. This species of starfish is one of the fastest “movers” in this area, and has no trouble burrowing quickly into the sand and disappearing right before your very eyes! We always love finding these and wish I could find one every trip! Of course this gave those who wanted an opportunity to have their picture take with a 9 armed starfish hairdo! After all that was over and done with, we placed it in deeper water in the direction it was going and off we went to discover knew things. I think the photo I love best is of Adventure Trey having fun with his 9 armed starfish hairdo!!!

Trey with a starfish hairdo!

Another interesting thing we discovered while snorkeling along the shallows of the bar was a tiny blacktip shark about 8 inches long lying dead on the bottom. She appeared to be premature or still-born the night before. Blacktip sharks sometimes come near shore to give birth and unfortunately this juvenile didn’t make it. But it did give us a wonderful opportunity to check out a real shark up close and personal and we all were appreciative and thankful for that! On the way back to the boat we found dozens of Florida and West Indian fighting laying eggs. We collected a few to look at happily found some that came in beautiful colors! I always love finding those!

Fighting Conchs

One of our very favorite days was Fishing Day!!! And of course as usual, this day was no different than all the other fishing days we’ve experienced so far! Non-stop action from start to finish!!! Sometimes you can’t count 3 seconds before having a fish on!!! Just the way I LOVE IT!!! This time we caught so many different species of fish that I could hardly keep track!!! The ‘toothiest one” was caught by Adventure Bradley who came up with a nice and impressive barracuda that had the most pearly white dentures you’ve ever seen!!! He gave a great fight and I was amazed that Bradley got that one in with no wire leader at all. When it started jumping out of the water and shaking its head I kept telling Bradley there is no way that fish is going to stay on with out cutting the line! Of course he had to prove me wrong!!! Nice Job Bradley!!!

Bradley catches a nice barracuda!

After catching numerous parrotfish, porkfish, grunts, tomtates, hogfish and a few small yellowtail snapper and one rather ugly scorpionfish, etc. I decided to take the kids to my secret snapper hole a bit further up the lake. This spot sometimes holds a rather impressive number of Big lane snapper, and on this day it was no different! As soon as the boat was anchored, the lines dropped down and the action began!!! Non stop snapper action from start to finish!!! I was so busy unhooking and releasing snapper I could hardly take a photo. The minute I stopped to take a picture, 7 more were on the lines!!! How GREAT is that!!! One of my favorites is of Adventure Jackie catching another big one!!!

Jackie catches a Big lane Snapper!

While we were here, AdventurePaul caught a lovely remora that gave a good fight. These are the fish commonly found attached to sharks, rays and sea turtles, etc. and hitch a free ride waiting for a meal. I let it “suck” onto his arm after it was unhooked just for the fun of it. You should have seen his smile! i loved that and he did too! Everybody caught big fish. Over and over and over!!! AdventureMichael caught a big porgy that gave him a good battle too. It took some time for him to get that one up to the boat on super light tackle. Nice job Michael!!! Everybody did Great and I was super proud!

Michael catches a porgy!

One afternoon during low tide we took an island hike to the back side of Big Munyon Island. The tide was as low as I’ve ever seen it! In one deep hole we watched snook, jacks and a big permit chase mullet into the air and almost on the beach! We watched Roseatte Spoonbills search for crabs and shrimp in the shallows and found the smallest horseshoe crabs I’ve ever seen!!! We loved every minute of that!, and when the mosquitos found us, we hurriedly hiked back to the boat and went to the Rock Garden for another quick dip and chase fish with our nets.We had so much Fun on that day too! From the very start to the very end!

Chasing fish at the Rock Garden.

I think one of the most favorite fish we keep our eyes out for is the sharpnosed pufferfish. Even though they are small and rather slow swimmers as fish go, they are difficult to catch!!! They have a habit of darting quickly away, then turning on a dime and swimming rapidly between your feet and disappearing into the silt or under some rock, no where to be found! I can’t tell you how many we lost track of that day!, but we kept trying and were finally rewarded for our efforts! I think this picture of AdventureSara with a pufferfish sums up our enjoyment!!! It sure did mine!

Chasing pufferfish!

One day when the Ocean was flat calm, we took the Dreamchaser south out the inlet and anchored right on the beach to enjoy the day. We looked for sea glass and shells, and scooped up the sargassum seaweed in our handnets hoping to catch some small sargassum filefish, shrimp and crabs that camouflage perfectly with the seaweed itself. We found hundreds and before long had a 5 gallon bucket of “treasures” that was neat to look at! One of the neatest things we caught was a reef squid that propelled itself backwards around the bucket squirting out ink, and this was much to our enjoyment! I know AdventureMadison was thrilled with that! Me too of course!

Madison catches a reef squid!

We spent a good portion of the last day back at the Rock Garden watching small barracudas and jacks chase menhaden and hundreds of parrotfish grazing algae off the rocks inches from our noses! We never wanted to leave as the water was crystal clear and fish by the hundreds were everywhere!!! We had a contest to see who could catch the biggest crabs and everybody came up with something nice! AdventureSeth, Rujul and Trusha caught one nice big one together and that was great to watch them in action! They looked like professional “Crab Catchers” to me. You guys rock!!!

Crab Catchers!

Of course I explained to them the proper and safe way to hold crabs without getting pinched, and they learned that right quick! I decided to show them my very own favorite way to catch crabs without using a net and they followed me until I found a nice one that would cooperate. I gave chase and quickly had it cornered. As they all watched, it began to wave its claws back and forth in a menacing fashion. I knew it was now ready for my tried and true technique! One that works almost every time!!! I took my finger and wriggled it right in front of the crabs nose and sure enough it fell for the bait!!! In one split second I had him right where I wanted him, and I knew there was no getting away now!!! It was latched on like there was no tomorrow and I proudly held it up for everyone to see! For some reason or other no-one else wanted to give it a try??? Maybe next week…

AdventureMike catches a nice crab!

I can’t tell you how much FUN they thought that was!!! It was just GREAT!!! You could have heard then laughing a mile away!!! I loved every second of it!!! Well almost anyway… It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! Just how much FUN can one have? you’ll have to join us and find out for yourself! See you soon!!!

LET”S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: June 7 – June 11 Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,

2010 Summer Fun is Finally HERE!!!

Posted by 5 June, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We just finished up the first week of AdventureMike’s Summer Camp, double sessions from dawn to dusk, and let me tell you we had FUN and ADVENTURE from here to there! It was absolutely GREAT, and I mean from start to finish!!!! I’d no sooner finish up with the morning group […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

We just finished up the first week of AdventureMike’s Summer Camp, double sessions from dawn to dusk, and let me tell you we had FUN and ADVENTURE from here to there! It was absolutely GREAT, and I mean from start to finish!!!! I’d no sooner finish up with the morning group than the afternoon group would arrive and off we would go again! Time for more Adventure! Right On! And just the way I love it! We did so many different things and had fun all the way! I’m not even sure where to begin!

We find a chocolate chip sea cucmber!

On the first morning we stopped at the Big Sandbar, and while searching the shallows we came up with a nice Chocolate Chip Sea Cucumber! One of my very favorites and not often found. We absolutely loved finding that and took turns sharing in the fun! AdventureJohn even decided to let it climb up his face! Either Great or Gross depending on your point of view, but it sure made me laugh and all the rest of us too. Nice job John! We found all sorts of shrimp, crabs and urchins, and watched fighting conchs laying eggs and blue crabs molting and even had fun in the hot tub too! What a way to start the day. From here we went to the Rock Garden and watched fish by the thousands swim past us non stop! It was just GREAT!!! Later that day we stopped by Little Munyon Island and did some seine netting in the shallows.

Seine netting the shallows!

We discovered all kinds of fish hiding in the sea grass. Some of our favorites were juvenile barracudas, short nosed and checkerboard pufferfish and juvenile trunkfish that looked like little green peas with short tails swimming about. Everyone loved those!!! We caught juvenile parrotfish, snappers, grunts, mojarras, killifish, hogfish, pink shrimp, grass shrimp and maybe the coolest of all, dwarf seahorses!!! Full grown adults are only about an inch in length. We don’t come up with these too often and they were a great find! We set up our on board aquarium filled with the “treasures” we had just discovered and watched for a while then let them go.

On board aquarium.

Every day we would stop by the Big Sandbar and discover new things to see and talk about. Box crabs, mantis shrimp, 9 armed starfish, conchs, baby’s ear mollusks, moon snails and cushion starfish, etc. You name it, we found it. We loved ever minute of it!!! I even found a $5 bill with a tunicate growing on it. How nice is that! We’d drift down the shallow edge of the bar with the current thru schools of menhaden, and watch small barracudas and rays foraging in the shallows. AdventureGeorge discovered a nice fighting conch laying spaghetti like egg masses and that was a cool find too!

George finds a fighting conch!

One afternoon, while snorkeling at the Rock Garden, we caught a nice female yellow ray in a hand net and we brought her back to the boat for closer inspection. After making sure she had no barbs and was safe to handle, we all took turns taking a closer look. We checked out her mouth, sphericals and the denticals along her cute little tail, then gave her a “kiss” goodbye and set her on her way. We watched as she slowly glided over the rocks then settled in a sandy patch near the boat and buried herself up. Just like we found her. We all felt lucky to have that opportunity and were smiling from ear to ear!

Checking out a barbless yellow ray!

Another day we went to Munyon Island and took a hike around the island and thru the mangrove estuary. I pointed out the wild coffee and grapes that grew along the trail. Along the way we spotted 6 different species of butterflies right at our fingertips. The Zebra butterfly was one of our favorites! We reached the back side of the island and watched as snook and big jacks chased mullet in the shallows. Aidan and Ryenne both found some nice horshoe crab molts that they took home for souveniers. Crown conchs, blue crabs, hermit crabs and killifish were everywhere, and no one else but us in sight! Our very own island adventure!

Exploring the estuary!

Everyday we would stop by the Rock Garden and snorkle along the edge of the rocks and along the beach, looking for flounders, snappers, grunts, pufferfish, snook, lizardfish and a plethora of tropical fish. We were always on the look out for any type of fish or crab we could catch in a net or by hand. Before long everyone became experts and the kids were catching them by the netfuls. I think AdventureMichael caught 6 spottail pinfish at once in a little hand net and Ryenne came up with quite a few Wrasse herself! Nice Job!!! What a fun way to spend the day!!!

Netting Fish!

On another day we stopped by the Big Sandbar to swim in the Hot Tub and the Deep Hole and burn off some energy running around. We found some really nice 9 armed starfish and a few really big Cushion Starfish. We always love finding those! Not every day do we have such luck but we are always hoping and you never know what you may find. On this day we were lucky again. And of course this gave everyone the opportunity to have a few pictures taken with the now infamous “starfish head photos”. Ryenne had a ball finding one that “fit just right”!

Ryenne with a Starfish hairdo!

One of the days kids love most is Fishing Day. And it seems we always catch fish nonstop! And I mean from the very first second until the moment we have to come in! I’m sure we caught hundreds that day but I was so busy taking off fish in every size, shape, species and color that I couldn’t keep track! AdventureMichael, AJ, Rachel and Matthew even caught a few porkfish and that doesn’t happen very often. AJ’s big fish was a nice Cuban Hogfish and that was the first one caught for my camp. I know Max was having FUN when he hooked and caught a huge blue runner! Nice Job! AdventureAidan came up with some of the biggest Ceasar’s grunts and Lane Snappers that I’ve ever seen caught around here. I know she was having FUN!!! Not bad for the smallest girl on the boat catching the biggest fish!! YOU ROCK!!!

Aidan catches a big Lane Snapper!

During the afternoon session I decided to take the group to one of my “secret” snapper holes and I can tell you it was fast action that day!!! We had no sooner arrived and baited the hooks to drop down when I noticed on the fish finder a large school of fish just off the bottom. Typical sign of snapper. Everyone dropped down in a hurry, and from that moment on it was non stop snapper action like there was no tomorrow!!!
We were catching some of the biggest snapper I’ve ever seen here, and I can tell you none of us wanted to go back to the dock that day!!! It was just GREAT!!! I can still hear, “We need more bait” ringing in my ears!!!

Everyone is catching snappers!

All in all we had a fabulous week!!! The kids were just great and we had FUN from start to finish!!! The days seemed to fly by, even with double sessions, and that’s a sure sign of Having Fun!!! What a way to start the Summer off!!! Great group, great kids, great fun. Just Great!!! Non stop fun and adventure from start to finish and smiles from ear to ear! It just can’t get any better than that!!! Summer is finally here, and we are going to have FUN!!! We always have FUN!!! It’s just the beginning! Wish you all could join us! I know it’s going to be Great!!! I just can’t wait till next week to begin and do it all over! I love this job!!! Sometimes I think I’m just dreaming… :-)

Having Fun at the beach!

See you soon! Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: June 1 - June 4 Tags : , , , , , , , , ,