COOL SEA CREATURE ENCOUNTERS!!!

Posted by 30 June, 2011 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody!!! Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up our third week of double session Adventure, and as usual, we had a BLAST!!! When I arrived at the dock bright and early for the Tuesday morning session I could tell we had another great group and were going to have another fabulous week!!! The kids were […]

Hi Everybody!!! Welcome back!!!

We’ve just finished up our third week of double session Adventure, and as usual, we had a BLAST!!! When I arrived at the dock bright and early for the Tuesday morning session I could tell we had another great group and were going to have another fabulous week!!! The kids were all there, early no less, excited and raring to go, smiling from ear to ear. And that’s just the way I love it!!! I hopped onto the dock to meet the parents and greet the kids, and the FUN began! As I walked, I looked down into the shallow water along the seawall and saw a 9 armed starfish burrowing out of the sand, variegated urchins along the wall, 2 octopus peeking out from their holes under the rocks, an eagle ray, 3 stingrays, a school of jacks and a striped burrfish swimming by. What a way to start the session!!! What a way to start any day!!! The morning group was already having FUN and we hadn’t even left the dock yet!!! And so was I!!!

Morning group

We spent the week boating, exploring and having non-stop adventure, morning and afternoon!!! It didn’t make a difference what session you were in. It was FUN FUN FUN, all day long!!! We explored the Rock Garden, the Big Sandbar, the South Jetty, Little Munyon Island, Starfish Prairie and more. We even went a bit offshore on one totally calm, flat day looking for sea turtles. And not only did we see sea turtles, but we saw something MORE!!! MUCH MORE!!! One of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen, but your going to have to keep reading to find out WHAT!!! Of course, we also spent a day Fishing where it was non-stop action from start to finish!!!! And did we Ever LOVE IT!!! The whole week was a blast and each session seemed to end way to soon!!!

Afternoon group

At the Rock Garden we saw the usual…. Hundreds of fish in every size, shape and color imaginable! From small barracudas to snook, seargent majors, porkfish, parrotfish, sheepsheads, grunts, snappers, angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish, blennies and more. Every where you looked there was something else to be seen! There were fish in every direction!!! We didn’t know which way to look!!!

Rock Garden

We spent hours searching under the shallow rocks and found all types of hermit crabs, box crabs, rock crabs, porcelain crabs, swimming crabs, stone crabs, pistol shrimp, popping shrimp, blennies and more!!! We had so much fun finding, chasing and catching swimming crabs, we almost couldn’t stop!!! What a fun day underwater!!!

Fun day on the water

There was a plethora of things to discover, and discover them we did! One day, while swimming along the shallow rocks of the Rock Garden, AdventureKatie looked into a crevasse between 2 rocks and came up with a giant Measled Cowrie. The shell was totally covered by its mantle and looked more like a slimy short-spined sea urchin than a beautiful shiny brown and white, polka-dotted shell that is was. It gave the art of mimicry a whole new meaning! Nice find Katie! Way to Go!

measled cowrie

By the end of the week at the Rock Garden, we had found 4 different species of sea urchins, numerous species of brittle starfish and conchs, almost a dozen different species of corals and sponges, 8 different species of crabs and hundreds of different species of fish. The water was crystal clear all week, and everywhere you looked there was something to see and something new to discover!!! One of our favorite discoveries was a beautiful striped burrfish that we found hiding among seaweed along the bottom of the rocks. It was so darn cute, we just wanted to kiss it. That is, if it wasn’t so spiny and didn’t have a parrotlike beak that could nip you good!!!

Pucker up burrfish

We all spent a good bit of time taking turns checking him out and taking photos along the way. We loved the way it would puff itself up and become a short, stout, spiny pin-cushion. After we released the burrfish, it began to deflate, and then swam a few circles around AdventureLily as if to say, “goodby” before moseying on. They are always a great find and the kids love them! And so do I!!!

Striped burrfish swims by

On the Big Sandbar we found hundreds of Florida and West Indian fighting conchs and noticed they were all laying eggs. Cool to watch! We found dozens of squat lobsters and netted olive shells, and quietly observed tube worms slowly filter sand to digest the algae off each grain. One morning we found a huge Scaly Mantis Shrimp totally out of his hole, lying still in a tiny pool of water. It was a great discovery, and only the second or third time I have ever witnessed it! What LUCK!!!

Scaly mantis shrimp

Mantis shrimp get their name for the way they resemble the preying mantis insect with their large, stalked eyes and long spiked foreclaws which, when not in use, fold back into a claw slot in the leg. These powerful claws can easily slice a finger as well as capture prey! They are known as “thumb splitters’ by Caribbean fisherman. Bet you’ll never guess how I found that out, when, long ago, I wriggled my finger in one of their holes! OUCH!!!

mantis shrimp close-up

We found numerous box crabs and juvenile blue crabs and a couple of small chocolate chip sea cucumbers along the way. The kids had fun trying to find as many, and as many different species of hermit crabs they could find! Most were living in the discarded shells of fighting conchs that made for a great home. AdventureAlex and Max sure loved finding this one that wasn’t a bit shy!

Finding hermit crabs

We found a variety of starfish everytime we visited the Big Sandbar, from Beaded Sea Stars to Cushion Sea Stars and sometimes even the unusual 9 armed starfish that is mainly nocturnal. Always a great find and a wonderful treat for the kids! Of course I would have to make the most of this opportunity and take a few photos of the group with a 9 armed starfish on their heads. I could tell AdventureJacob was having a good time wearing this one as a hat!

Jakob & starfish

One afternoon we stopped to snorkle and explore a small vessel that had recently sunk just north of the Big Sandbar. It was already covered with barnacles and tunicates and loads of fish. There were dozens of juvenile blue crabs hiding underneath the boat and a few arrow crabs clinging towards the stern out of the current. It didn’t take AdventureMaxwell long before he caught one in his hand and held it up for us to see. Nice job Max!

Maxwell finds arrow crab

From here we swam to another smaller sandbar and explored along the shallows to see what we could find. Before long we had found dozens of netted olive shells, plenty of mantis shrimp holes and even a few more starfish. One afternoon little Max found a really cool beaded starfish that was in the process of regenerating the tips on 3 of its arms. It was neat to see how a starfish could grow its arms back after some other creature decided to have one for lunch! How cool is that!!

Max finds beaded starfish

Another morning while exploring the Big Sandbar we found an octopus that had been caught out of water by the falling tide and had died. We felt bad for it and wished we had come by sooner to have found it alive. We did love checking it out up close and personal, even when dead, and somehow this led to another photo opportunity to take some different photos of octopus that we hadn’t done before. That’s right! You guessed it! Dead octopus head photos!!! You just have to admit, AdventureBrett looks like he’s loving this! Well sort of ???

Brett with octopus head

One morning when the ocean was totally flat calm we drove the boat around to the South Jetty and parked a few feet off the beach. The water was crystal clear and there seemed to be thousands of tropical fish all along the shallow rocks. It was absolutely Great!!! There were so many different species of fish you couldn’t keep count! As we swam thru them, they would swirl all around us, sometimes just inches from our nose! We all just loved that!!!

South jetty

A bit further along the jetty we started seeing large numbers of short and long-spined burrfish swimming along in pairs. I found a nice big long-spined burrfish hiding in a crevasse between 2 rocks, seemingly uncorncerned that I was there. I carefully reached in and gently took hold around its midsection and pulled it out for the group to look at. A split second later it inflated itself like a ballon and became so full of long, sharp quills that I could hardly hold it. It poked me good a few times and I think the kids loved that too! One look at the photo and you can tell how it got its name and why it wasn’t too concerned I was there! I sure wasn’t going to try to eat it!!!

Long spined burrfish

On the way back to the boat, AdventureKatie found a cool Hairy Clinging Crab clinging to a rock with all its might. She called me over and it took all I had to pull that crab off that rock! Not only was it hairy, it was thorny like all get out and could hang onto that rock like Arnold Swartzencrab!!! And Arnold Swartzencrab it was!!! I think we could have used that crab as an anchor if we could have could tied a rope around it and dropped it on a rock where it could hang on! It was about that strong!! Nice find Katie!!!

Hairy clinging crab

The most wonderful underwater encounter of all for this week occurred just as we got back to the boat!!! One unbelievably cute manatee had decided to take a rest right underneath the boat while we were gone swimming along the jetty. As we got closer to the boat, it swam right up to us and just about laid right in our arms!!! It swam and rolled around us like we were long lost friends and brushed up against us over and over! It would come up right beneath us and almost lift us to the surface. It was just GREAT!!! It was one of the most friendliest manatees I have ever seen, and unbelievably cute too!!! Did we EVER LOVE that!!!

One cute manatee

Every now and then it would come right up to us and just lay there for us to scratch its back!!! It would gently roll back and forth underneath our hands while we scratched, like it just didn’t want us to ever quit! We spent a few moments appreciating every minute of that!! I could tell by all the happy squealing coming from the kids, this wondrously extra special manatee encounter would be something they would never forget!!! I know I won’t!!! What a GREAT DAY!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! LOVE IT!!!

Friendly manatee underwater

Thursday was our fishing day, and of course, its hard to match the fun and excitement of that if you love fishing! Always non-stop action from start to finish and everyone caught a mixed bag of snappers, tomtates, caesars grunts, sailor’s choice, margates, spot-tail pinfish, porkfish and more!!! All in all, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” over and over and OVER!!! The sound of that is still ringing in my ears!!! I could sure tell AdventureJulia sure loved catching this nice one!

Julia catches fish

On another day, we spent part of one morning and afternoon heading over to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallow grass beds. The tide that day was extremely low and the shallow bar to the south was exposed for hundreds of yards. This extreme low tide gave us the very best opportunity to seine net in some areas that we never had before. It was neat to see and we all were excited to get started!!! The full moon sure made a difference for the tides this day.

Extra low tide

AdventureLilly and Noelle were among the first group to go seining and before long, they were seine netting like pros! On the very fisrt pull of the net they caught sea grass filefish, pipefish, mojarras, juvenile snappers and grunts, a couple of tiny hogsnappers, pink shrimp, grass shrimp, small blue crabs and even a few small checkered puffers! What a great way to start your very first day of seine netting!!! Way to go girls!!! YOU Rock!!!

Lilly & Noelle seining

One of the neatest fish we got that day was a nice, big, striped burrfish that inflated on demand. It became a thorny ball with short, curved spines. They are common to Florida and generally inhabit sea grass beds and adjacent reefs. The stripes help them to camoflauge amongst the sea grass where they are difficult to see in brackish water. I know AdventureJack sure loved holding this one! We all did!

Jack with striped burrfish

We spent rest of that morning at Little Munyon Island finding more large sea grass hermits than you could count, and short-spined sea urchins in every color you could imagine by the hundreds. Almost every urchin was covered and camouflaged by little shells held tightly to them by their tiny tube feet. They looked more like the bottom than urchins themselves. Neat to see them this way. Give them a few quick swishes in the water and the shells fall off, leaving you with a handful of urchins in a variety of colors. It didn’t take AdventureTrevor long to find his favorites!

Sea urchin collector Trevor

We snorkeled almost the whole way around Little Munyon Island finding blue crabs, hermit crabs, juvenile stone crabs, some small beaded starfish, a few small 9 armed starfish, and a dozen or more West Indian Sea Eggs . We found just about every color combination of short spined or variegated sea urchins you could imagine. My favorites were the bright white ones with dark purple spines that are hard to find, and I wasn’t succesful on this day! AdventureLilly seemed to like every one she found. I don’t think she cared what color they were. She was having FUN either way!

Sea urchin collector Lilly

When we came around the south end of the island I took the group over to a cluster of rocks hidden among the sea grass beds. I wanted to show them another species of sea urchin called a long-spined or diadema sea urchin. These are the big black ones with long needle sharp spines that can easily puncture the skin and break off in the flesh. They are most commonly found on the near shore reefs but this cluster of rocks seems to have one or two almost every time I look. They are best left alone but over the years I have learned how to handle them without getting stuck. My advice would be to don’t try this on your own!!!

Long-spined sea urchin and group

On the way back to the boat AdventureJulia came up with another large 9 armed starfish that was just crawling out of the sand and moving towards deeper water. They are fairly uncommon thru-out the Caribbean and seem to inhabit shallow sand or sandy mud bottoms. Exactly what we have here. It was another nice find and she held it up for us to see. Way to go Julia!!!

Julia finds a starfish

We spent some time taking turns checking it out.We watched as hundreds of tiny tube feet would wriggle non-stop, as if trying to right itself up from the palms of our hands. The kids loved that and it was just great to watch them all smile when it came to their turn to hold this starfish. I could sure tell AdventureNoelle was having FUN when her turn came around!!! Love that smile too!!!

Upside down starfish

One morning ,when the ocean was flat calm, I decided to take the kids offshore for a little bit to see if we could find a loggerhead or green sea turtle floating on the surface, catching its breath. Little did I know then what a wonderful decision that would be!!! We motored around for a bit in about 120 feet of water, then shut off the engines and drifted quietly. I had just got done telling them that on days like this, when the ocean is flat calm, and shiny like a mirror, you can sometimes see hammerhead sharks swimming lazily on the surface. Not a minute or two later, the ocean erupted a hundred feet in front of us, and a tremendous hammerhead shark came thrashing to the surface with another large hammerhead shark in its jaws!!! What a sight to see!!! So much for swimming “lazily” !!!

hammerhead 1

For the first minute or so I could believe what we were seeing, and I didn’t think to take a picture! I started the engines and quickly motored to within 20 feet of this unbelievable sight, wanting to see what was actually taking place! The ocean seemed to have come alive and walls of water were being thrown 15 feet into the air! We observed, what I would estimate as about a 10 to 12 foot hammerhead shark, being attacked by another monstrous hammerhead shark that I thought was closer to about 18 feet!!! It was just INCREDIBLE!!! and one of the neatest things I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! MAY EVER SEE!!! All this action taking place at about 30 miles per hour!!! What a SIGHT!!! As we came closer, the monster shark let go this shark, and swam deeper down, and just kept circling around us, below.

hammerhead 3

This 10 to 12 foot hammerhead shark, that seconds earlier was in the jaws of the other, swam straight towards the boat as if looking for something to hide behind! For two to three minutes it never left the vicinity of our boat while the other, much LARGER shark kept circling below. This shark appeared totally exhausted and spent, probably trying to flee for its life, and at this time could hardly swim! I did not get a photo of that monster shark as it never came up close enough to the boat for me to take a decent picture. Shortly after I took this photo below, this shark swam away from the boat down a bit deeper, and I watched as that monster shark came racing in and grabbed this one again, thrashing him in its jaws and swimming deeper into the depths, until they disappeared from our view!!! JUST UNBELIEVABLE!!!

hammerhead 4

To witness what we saw was most unbelievable to say the very least!!! One of the most EXCITING and INCREDIBLE things I have ever seen or may ever see in my life!!! I will always wish I would have thought to start taking photos sooner, but I was so awestruck I couldn’t think to take a picture, as I looked on in amazement!!! WHAT A DAY!!! WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!! WHAT AN ADVENTURE!!! WHAT MORE CAN YOU SAY!!! WISH YOU ALL COULD HAVE BEEN THERE!!! IT WAS JUST GREAT!!! The kids summed it up perfectly when I asked them how they felt after seeing THAT!!! Their response was, ” IT WAS AWESOME!!!!” I FEEL THE VERY SAME WAY!!! AWESOME!!!!! WHAT AN INCREDIBLE WEEK!!! IT JUST DOESN”T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!!! AND I CAN”T WAIT TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, NEXT WEEK!!!!

See you soon!!!

AdventureMike

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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Spring Break Adventure 2011

Posted by 23 March, 2011 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!! It seems like it has been forever since the last blog! Glad to be back!!! We’ve just finished up another wonderful week of Adventure, Excitement and Fun in the Sun. Having a non stop blast all Spring Break long!!! Wish you all could have joined us, we had so much FUN!!!. […]

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!!

It seems like it has been forever since the last blog! Glad to be back!!! We’ve just finished up another wonderful week of Adventure, Excitement and Fun in the Sun. Having a non stop blast all Spring Break long!!! Wish you all could have joined us, we had so much FUN!!!. We had bottlenose dolphin sightings, saw nurse sharks and loggerhead sea turtles, caught giant porcupine burrfish by hand, found cute atlantic yellow rays, sea hares, starfish, sea urchins, chocolate chip sea-cucumbers and more!!! And if that wasn’t fun enough for a Spring Break Adventure, we caught fish like crazy, big ones too, on our fishing day!!! Now that’s what I call Having FUN!!!

Starfish Heads

Everyday we stopped by the Rock Garden to spend an hour or more snorkeling along the shallow rocks and bar. We saw so many fish! Dozens of different species! From juvenile barracudas to giant blue parrotfish, we saw them all, and by the hundreds! It was just GREAT! I think one of our more memorable moments at the Rock Garden occurred on the last day when we came around the edge of a rock and found a big spiny burrfish looking right back at us. We gently dipped him up from underneath with a small hand net, and low and behold, he puffed himself up like he was a giant spiny bowling ball. Did we ever LOVE THAT!!! I know AdventureNicholas sure did!!!

Nicholas with spiny burrfish

On another day here we found a couple of lovely atlantic yellow rays buried in the sand between a few shallow rocks. The group wanted me to catch one in my hand net so that they could check one out up close and personal. I very gingerly scooped one up and carefully removed the venemous barb with the tips of my fingers so that we could all hold one without fear of being stuck. Before doing this I made certain they understood never to do this themselves! This is certainly NOT what anyone else should try!!! EVER!!! The odds are very good that you can and will be stuck, painfully, and from personal experience, it is not something worth risking. That is of course, unless you are AdventureMike. I have spent my whole life in, around and under the water and have learned how to do this without too much worry. You certainly have to know the behavior of the subject matter involved! Best to just leave all rays alone! Once the barb was carefully removed and I had checked to make certain things were totally safe, we took turns holding the ray and checking him out. It was a wonderful experience to watch the gang gently hold the ray and check out the gills underneath, the sphericals on top of the head and the bony mouth plates within the mouth. I know AdventureMaxwell sure enjoyed this encounter. We all did!!!

Maxwell holds a barbless yellow ray

Thursday was our fishing day, and as usual, we caught fish non stop!!! We started out fishing in one of my secret lane snapper holes and before long everyone had caught some really nice fish!!! As soon as the bait hit the bottom you would have something big eating it! It was just AWESOME!!! We caught dozens of big lane snappers, ceasars grunts, spanish hogfish, tomtates and more. Every now and then someone would hook something that we just couldn’t get in, but it sure was FUN watching that rod bend double and hearing the drag on the reel scream out! More often than not, those big fish would swim under a rock or simply break the line, but everyone caught some really NICE FISH all the same!!! Talk about having FUN, we were having a blast!

Porgies, grunts and mackeral

AdventureMax, Maxwell and Nicholas caught some really big porgies that put up one heck of a fight on light tackle!!! It was just GREAT to watch them struggle and fight a nice big fish all the way back to the boat and eventually boat them! I think Nicholas was the first to catch a big porgy that he released afterwards. Maxwell was the second to catch a nice big one worth keeping. He wanted to bring some fish home for dinner for his parents so we decided to keep that one to fillet later. A short time after that, AdventureMax, the other “Max” aboard, caught one nice BIG porgy himself and he decided to add that one to Maxwell’s first so that there would be enough fish for a nice meal. Nice Job Max! And nice porgy too!!!

AdventureMax catches a big porgy

A short while after this, AdventureMiriam, who was quietly catching lane snappers and other fish non stop like there was no tomorrow, hooked into something that screamed the line off her reel like it never was going to stop!!! It took quite some time for Miriam to get that fish near the boat and every time she did, that fish would take off, screaming the line back off the drag again! It was unbelievable and very exciting to watch!!! For a while there I really didn’t think Miriam would get that fish in on this ultra-lite tackle but of course she had to prove me wrong. It turned out to be a really BIG spanish mackeral that had some how hooked itself right between two big teeth and was unable to bite thru the line. Way to go Miriam! That’s one nice fish! HOLY MACKERAL!!! Pardon the pun of course :-)

Miriam catches a BIG spanish mackeral

Each day we spent a bit of time exploring the Big Sandbar and found loads of beaded starfish, dozens of netted olives, fighting conchs, hermit crabs, cushion starfish, ctenophores and some really big Sea-Hares that are related to nudibranchs. When touched, these sea-hares would squirt out a rich purple dye just like an octopus. It had been years since I’ve seen this species around and they were quite prolific the whole week long. We all loved finding them and nick-named them “Ink fish” for the way they spewed out ink. One afternoon we stopped by Starfish Prairie and picked up a few large Cushion Starfish to take a couple of quick photo ops before releasing back where we had found them. All the kids love finding these. They are the largest species of starfish found here and we had a quick chance to take some of those infamous ‘starfish head” photos! I think AdventureJake found his to be a bit more heavy and spiny than he anticipated! Nice expression Jake!

AdventureJake with starfish

One morning we took a quick boat ride down the beach and did a bit of trolling for blue runners. AdventureMaxwell caught one right quick and we decided to put it on a line to see if something big would eat it. We ran back up the intracoastal to a shallow grass flat and put him out on the line to leave overnight. The next morning when we came back to check the line, we could see the bouy line swimming around in a circle. I knew we had something and the group was excited to see what we had caught. We pulled up slowly and pulled in the line and found that a medium sized nurse shark had eaten the bait. Nurse sharks get their name from the “sucking” sound they make while feeding. One of their favorite foods is stingrays. I carefully pulled the nurse shark out of the water to unhook him and everyone had a chance to touch the rough sand-paper like skin covered with the tiny dentickles that gives the skin its rough texture. Afterwards we released the nurse shark and watched him swim away. It was a great experience for all, and we just loved it!

Nurse shark

Later in the day we stopped back by the Rock Garden to snorkle, search for crabs and see if we could catch some small fish in our hand nets. We spent a good bit of time chasing juvenile spot-tail pinfish and some blennies, watched parrotfish munch on seaweed and went looking for all the different species of coral we could find. We found hundreds of ctenophores, a non stinging jellyfish like creature, washed up against the shallow rocks. For a while we collected them by the net-fulls then went off in search of more fish to chase with our nets. We had so much fun watching as hundreds of fish swim all around us, but didn’t have much luck catching them in our nets!

Swimming at the Rock Garden

As we swam along the rocks we discovered dozens of Sea Hare Nudibranchs and had a ball watching as they released their ink. Along the way, AdventureNicholas found a nice big Chocolate Chip Sea Cucmber and we all took turns checking it out. Sea Cucumbers are one of those creatures that slowly moves about using tiny tube feet like a starfish, and filters sand thru its mouth, digesting the algae growing on it. They basically act as the oceans vacuum sweepers. I believe almost every grain of sand on the outer reefs has been thru the belly of a sea cucumber at one time or another. This species is one of my favorites and is always a nice find! Way to go Nicholas!

Nicholas with a chocolate chip sea cucumber

On the way back to our boat we swam over the remnants of a sunken vessel lying upside down in shallow water. It looked like it had been submerged for years. A few big long-spined porcupinefish had made this boat their home and were peeking out at us from a hole in the hull. As we swam around and checked them out, a very small juvenile nurse shark came swimming lazily out from underneath the vessel. This was the very first one I have ever seen here. As she swam slowly passed me I very carefully caught her in my hands and held her out to show the kids. This is something no-one else should EVER attempt!!! I am a trained professional in handling sharks and have handled nurse sharks and dozens of other species of sharks for years while working at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota county and working for the National Marine Fisheries tagging sharks. Nurse sharks are totally a non aggresive species of shark that possess tiny serrated teeth, but when hassled or held by a swimmer can bite on and never let go! DO NOT DO THIS ON YOUR OWN!!! Trust me when I say I have seen nurse sharks hang on to something for hours, and you don’t want it to be your hand or your thigh. When handling or working with potentially harmful creatures, especially around others, you absolutely must know what they’re potential behavior is, not threaten them and respect what they are capable of doing. Needless to say, all sharks are best left alone and appreciated just swimming by. After gently holding the juvenile nurse shark for a few seconds for all to see, I placed her back underneath the hull where she belonged. It was a wonderful experience for all, and we were glad and excited to have this opportunity! It just doesn’t get any better than this!

AdventureMike with a nurse shark

Needless to say, this Spring Break week flew by faster than any of us wanted! We were having way too much FUN !!! We never wanted it to end! NEVER!!! Somehow it always seems to be this way, and I just LOVE IT!!! , We had a BLAST!!! We lived the Adventure!!! From the very start until the very end! FUN and ADVENTURE from here to there!!! Somehow each and every week always seems to be this way, and I just LOVE IT!!! Wish you all could have joined us! We loved the Adventure! We lived the Adventure! It was Just GREAT!!! Lucky for me, I get to do it all over again when my summer camp sessions start May 24th. I’m taking registrations now!!! Don’t post pone, We will fill up quickly!!! Some weeks are already filled!!! Its always a BLAST!!! Its going to be GREAT!!! Don’t be late… Hope to see you there!!!
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Spring Break: March 2011 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 : , , , , , , , , ,

Snorkeling for Crabs by the Sailfish Marina

Posted by 22 July, 2008 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session, and as usual, what a great day it was! AdventureJason and Jordyn from a couple weeks back returned for another fun filled week of adventure and I just love it! After a weekly session full of adventure and sharing […]

Hi Everybody,

Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session, and as usual, what a great day it was! AdventureJason and Jordyn from a couple weeks back returned for another fun filled week of adventure and I just love it! After a weekly session full of adventure and sharing discoveries you almost feel like you become part of the family! It doesn’t get any better than this! AdventureChaz from last week came back again to give me a hand with the boat, helping out with the group and looking for critters, and we had a blast! We were joined by 5 new adventurers today, AdventureMichael, Trevor, Christopher, Gunner and Jagger, and let me tell you this bunch can swim too. Just like fish, and they seemed to love the water as much as me! Once we got in, we didn’t get out for 3 hours. It was great! My kind of adventurers! Mini me’s! RIGHT ON!

Group Photo

We loaded up the boat and left straight for the Rock Garden. The tide was incoming and the water crystal clear and full of fish! Absolutely Beautiful!!! As soon as AdventureChaz dropped anchor we were in the water. There were large schools of fish everywhere, starting right underneath the boat and all the way to the beach. We didn’t know which way to go first! We decided to head to the rocks and the shallows to get up close and personal with some really big snook feeding on the menhaden. They let us get withing 3 feet before slowly swimming away. We felt like we could reach out and grab one and a few of us tried but no luck. They were faster than they looked! There were so many large schools of fish all along the rocks that it made the snorkeling just unbelievable. Parrotfish, sergeant majors, porkfish, menhaden, grunts, snappers, angelfish, barracudas, needlefish, Bermuda chub, surgeonfish, etc., everywhere was fish! and I mean EVERYWHERE!!! There were all sorts of tropical fish within inches of our nose! We were swimming in our very own underwater paradise, sea world it was, and again, we had the “pool” to ourselves. Nobody else around. I just love it when things come together like this! And I was sharing it all with a great group of adventurers too!!!

Checking the Shallows

We found another nice chocolate chip sea cucumber and you guessed it! Yep, We took another photo op. of my new adventurers with “sea cucumber head hairdo” and I think in some cases it was quite appealing! I just love having fun like this and so did they!!! We stopped in the shallows and collected hundreds of the tiny hermit crabs with the little blue legs. They were under every rock by the dozens, and the last I saw AdventureJordyn she had a handful of them in a dozen different types of shells. It was just great! The rest of the gang caught every different type of crab you could find around here. It was like show and tell for all of us for 3 non stop hours! We caught arrow crabs, stone crabs, rock crabs, spider crabs, shame faced crabs, porcelain crabs, blue crabs, sally lightfoot crabs and an assortment of different types of sand crabs I hadn’t seen before. If it was a crab, we caught it, checked it out, let it go and went looking for another species. We found plenty of nice size queen conchs with their beautiful pink interiors and bright blue eyes too. The way they would stick their eyes way out and look at us was just magnificent to see. We all felt they were checking us out too! Just Great! It was like this all day, non stop action like I said. Everybody was catching something different and we were loving it!!! It was nothing but smiles all day!!! Everybody was having fun and I felt great!!! I think I had the biggest smile of all watching everybody else smiling, laughing and finding “treasures”! Just love it like this…. Thank you!

A Net Full of Crabs

With 40 minutes left we headed back to the boat, had some quick snacks and drinks and went swimming in the Deep Hole with a million menhaden all around us. We took turns chasing them around and when someone jumped in, the menhaden would jump out of the water and land on our backs and flip all around before swimming off! Talk about having fun, WE WERE HAVING IT!!! Right up to our gills! It just doesn’t get any better than this! And as usual, when it was time to go, nobody wanted to head back. We were having too much fun with too many smiles to go along!

On the way back we talked about what we were going to do tomorrow and where we wanted to go first. Everyone of us was looking forward to it and I could hear the excitement in their voices. I can guarantee you everybody is going to be early again! After the very first day on an AdventureMike adventure session, nobody ever arrives late! Not once this whole summer! They are ready and raring to go and full of excitement. The way I love it! Thanks to the parents too!

And guess what’s going to happen tomorrow? That’s Right!!! WE ARE GOING TO HAVE SOME FUN!!!

Stay tuned for the next adventure! Cause we’re going to live it! Wish you were along cause we’re going to have a story to tell… another adventure of our own to share!

See you on the return,

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 9 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Weiss School Student Adventure – Part II

Posted by 16 July, 2008 (0) Comment

Hello All, I just got back in from the second day of the Weiss School adventure session and let me tell you it was another great day! It started off with a real frenzy, feeding frenzy that is! I arrived at the dock early, and as usual, everyone was eagerly waiting for me and raring […]

Hello All,

I just got back in from the second day of the Weiss School adventure session and let me tell you it was another great day! It started off with a real frenzy, feeding frenzy that is! I arrived at the dock early, and as usual, everyone was eagerly waiting for me and raring to go. Nobody ever seems to arrive late for departure at my summer camps, and that’s a good thing cause I’m just as excited about going as they are!!! You can never start having fun and adventure too early and we never know what we discover.

Sea Cucumber Head!

Today the adventure started at the dock just as we were beginning to load up. As we were walking down the dock a tremendous school of menhaden in the tens of thousands came racing along the seawall right towards us. They were being chased by hundreds of large blue runners intent on having them for breakfast. Just as they got to us the water boiled into a wild feeding frenzy and the school of menhaden erupted into the air intent on getting away. The blue runners cornered them along the wall and the water foamed and frothed in the melee as they ate their fill. All this commotion attracted jack crevalles and some really huge snook and they too joined in the feast. They in turn were followed closely by a half dozen extremely large rays hoping to pick up some scraps. By the time the commotion ended there was nothing but scales and tails sinking to the bottom, and a few frantic menhaden looking for a hole to hide in! All this took place in 3 feet of crystal clear water right beside us and the boat. Talk about exciting! What a way to start the day!!! At least for us that is! That was just unbelievable…

After this we couldn’t wait to get in the water so we hurried to the Rock Garden and dropped anchor. I couldn’t clean the masks and put defog in them fast enough for each adventurer today. Half of them were out of the boat the minute I dropped anchor into the shallow water! Nobody wanted to wait for me, last one in again! They didn’t even leave me a net to catch something myself. Going to have to use my hands again. Oh well…you have to be quick with this adventurous group, otherwise you’ll be left far behind! I just love that enthusiasm!!! It gets contagious!!! The way I love it… Right on!

JC with His Find!

We were lucky today! The tide was high, the water crystal clear and fish everywhere you looked! And best of all, we had the pool to ourselves and no one in sight. It was great and with this group, it doesn’t get any better than this!!! We saw just about every type of fish you could see around here today. I think the snook, barracudas, parrotfish, angelfish, needlefish, flounders, porkfish, surgeonfish, doctorfish, sheepshead and spotted moray eels were the biggest hit today! On the way to the new rock pile put in yesterday, AdventureAndrew found a nice chocolate chip sea-cucumber and this gave us a wonderful opportunity to see one up close and watch how it feeds. Sea cucumbers are basically the vacuum sweepers of the ocean floor that move slowly along the bottom ingesting sand particles and digesting the algae and detritus covering them. In one end goes the algae covered sand grains, and out the other comes nice clean sand particles, just the kind you would like to make a sand castle with! That is as long as you don’t mind sand going thru the intestinal tract of a sea cucumber first.

Andrew Discovers a Sea Cucumber!

Now for me, I just love it! Almost every grain of sand on the sea floor has at one time or another been thru the belly of a sea cucumber. So enjoy next time your making sand castles! But what I liked best about this opportunity was, and you guessed it? That’s right!, another wonderful opportunity to take pictures of the adventurers with “sea cucumber head”. And not just your everyday hairdo accessory either, but real life “chocolate chip sea cucumber head”. One of my all time favorites!, ranking right up there with my all time favorite, “starfish head” or “sea urchin head”. Now talk about having fun!!!, and yes, maybe even still acting like a child!!! Now we can’t always take life too seriously. Sometimes you just have to cut loose and have fun! And for me, sometimes acting in a non grown up sort of way keeps me young at heart and besides that, its good entertainment for all. Who cares if everyone is laughing at you instead of with you anyway? Fun is Fun, and you can’t beat that!

Lauren with a Chocolate Chip Sea Cucumber

We also had a wonderful opportunity to observe a spotted moray free swimming along the rocks, and AdventureLauren, Darby and Seth found some really lovely juvenile queen conchs that made another nice photo opportunity for all. AdventureMichael, JC and Andrew chased fish and caught crabs in nets and every now and then one large crab would swim out right past the girls and I would hear a scream of excitement, or maybe that was trepidation, right next to my ear. I think its still ringing. I tend to think it was excitement myself with this adventurous group! No wimps here! Just true adventurers!!! We caught one nice flounder in the net on the way back to the boat and everyone had a chance to hold it before we let it go. Now this one I remember they nick named “Fred” so “Fred the flounder” it was!

From here we motored to Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallows. We all took turns giving it a shot. We caught hundreds of juvenile parrotfish, grunts, filefish, wrasse, yellowtail snappers, hog snappers, mojarras, pinfish, barracudas but no pygmy sea horses this time. I was sure hoping!!! We swam south along the island and found hundreds of short spines sea urchins and hermit crabs and stopped to pick up a very large brilliant red cushion sea starfish. The largest species of starfish found around here. It was a such a great day and a real adventure for all of us!!!

Darby and Lauren with Sea Urchin

From here we had to hurry back. The day had come to an end, and all to quickly for us. But we knew that tomorrow was going to be another Great Day!!!,and another adventure to be lived!!! Its fishing day!!! And we know what kind of day that is!!! Its time to have FUN!, and we are going to enjoy the adventure and the ride along the way!!!

I can already hear it now! “MIKE, I NEED MORE BAIT!!! I NEED MORE BAIT!!!”

Right on, and just the way I love it!!! God, I love this job!!! Thank you…..

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 8 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,