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!!!
Group Photo on the boat:
Watching Bottlenose Dolphin!!!
Group finds a horseshoe crab!
Michael catches a filefish!
Rocky catches a Big lane snapper!
Ryan catches a nice Ceasar’s grunt!
Gabriel catches another yellowtail snapper!
Trevor Catches a big Ceasar’s grunt
Danielle and Ryan find beaded starfish
Jamie with a sea urchin hairdo!
Robert with a large swimming crab!
Elena snorkeling the Rock Garden
Julian finds a beaded starfish
Trevor finds a Big Horseshoe Crab!
Acadia catches a barracuda!
Jamie finds a beaded starfish
Jamie and Ryan with some cool finds!
Gabriel with a large horseshoe crab
Michael with a large horseshoe crab
Robert watching a barracuda
Chasing mangrove crabs along the dock
Catching crabs underwater
Michael catches a big swimming 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!!!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
I just can’t wait to go do it all over again!!! Stay tuned…. See you all soon!!!
Let’s Go have Some Fun!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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.
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!
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!!!
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!
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!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
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!!!
Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!! I just got back in town and I’m finally getting a chance to write about our Holiday Adventure. It started off a bit cold on Monday morning, air temperature in the mid 30′s but that didn’t stop us from having FUN! Not this group of Adventurers! Not for one second! And [...]
Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!!
I just got back in town and I’m finally getting a chance to write about our Holiday Adventure. It started off a bit cold on Monday morning, air temperature in the mid 30′s but that didn’t stop us from having FUN! Not this group of Adventurers! Not for one second! And lucky for us it warmed up into the mid 70′s by the end of the week, and we all loved that! I knew we were not going to be doing any snorkeling this week as the water temp. was in the upper 50′s but this gave us an opportunity to have 2 full fishing days instead of one, a chance to do some island exploration, check out the sandbars for starfish, scope out manatees in the shallows and around the FPL plant and motor up the intra-coastal in search of Fun and Adventure and anything else we could find!
When I arrived at the dock Monday morning I was greeted by a great group of Adventurers all bundled up to stay warm and ready to go have some FUN!!! And I could tell we were going to have it!!! With 4 full days of boating, fishing, island exploration and unbelievable manatee encounters, etc., how could you not? Our first stop was a visit over by the Florida Power Plant to check out the manatees huddling by the warm water discharge. It wasn’t hard to find where they all were!!! We saw nothing but backs, tails, flippers and faces of hundreds of manatees with almost no water in between! If you ever wanted to see a manatee up close and personal, then today was your day! It was an absolute bonanza of manatees everywhere we looked! From top to bottom, Manatees, Manatees, Manatees!!! Did we ever love that!!!
We spent a good bit of time enjoying and watching the manatees frolic around, then decided to head over to Peanut Island to take an island hike and get out of the wind. Just as we were passing by the Rock Garden we spotted a young manatee swimming towards us. I turned off the engines, raised them up out of the water and drifted in the shallows. That manatee took a beeline right towards us and proceeded to lie right next to the boat just a few inches away. We could have leaned over the side and kissed it right on the nose it was that close! And let me tell you did we ever want too!!!, but we didn’t. But we sure thought about it!!! I’d take my little underwater camera and hold just under the surface and that cute, curious manatee would come right up and look right in the lens! It was just great!!!
After a while it sauntered off and we took a quick hike around Peanut Island to warm up a bit. From here the kids wanted to go for a quick fast boat ride so we decided to head up to Little Munyon Island and do some exploring. Were we ever glad when we got there! With the wind in our faces at 20 knots and air temperature in the low 30′s it was down right frigid! But did we ever have Fun all the same!!! The kids were laughing the whole way with the tears from the cold running down there faces!!! It didn’t take us long to hop out and go for another island hike to warm up. We hiked thru the sea oats along the back side of the island, looking for treasures and watching as rainbows of light danced off the leaves in front of us.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon combing the beach and searching the tide line for any treasures that might have washed up with wind and the waves. We found some nice shells and plenty of crabs and sea urchins. On the way back to the boat we found a nice big molt or shedded carapace to a horshoe crab, and we all took turns checking it out! They are always a great find and the kids seem to love it! I know Emma sure thought that it was cool!!!
On the morning of the next day we went by the Big Sandbar to search the shallow water and the exposed sandbar for starfish and anything else we could find. As soon as we parked the boat I could see one big Cushion Starfish right out in the open sitting high and dry on the bar. We hopped out and ran over to take a closer look. It was the first one we found and everybody loved it! We all had fun taking pictures with the starfish then Luca put it back into deeper water to let it go. It was a nice find!!!
For the next few minutes we all ran around the bar looking for blue crabs and mantis shrimp, shells and hermit crabs. We were in a hurry to search every square inch then get on to fishing since this was one of our fishing days!!! I could tell the kids wanted to stay longer having Fun searching, but they wanted to fish just as badly!!! They kept saying, “should we stay or should we go now?” and I thought that was Funny! On the way back to the boat Katie found another big cushion starfish and brought it over for us to see. Of course we had to take a few photos of that one too then hopped in the boat to start our fishing day. We just couldn’t wait a minute longer!!! We were ready to go Catch Some Fish!!!
And catch some fish we DID!!! When we arrived at the first fishing spot everybody was ready with rods in hand! On the count of three all the lines went out. It seemed the second they hit the bottom the fish were biting! Exactly how I remembered it and just the way I love it!! How we all loved it!!! It wasn’t long before everybody was catching fish and reeling them in by the dozens! Samantha was the first one to catch a fish and from that moment on it was non-stop! Nice job Samantha!
After about an hour of catching tomtates, squirrelfish, sailors choice and striped grunts we decided to move to another one of my secret spots to see if we could catch something different. I was hoping the fishing here would be as good as the previous spot. I didn’t have to wait long for my answer!!! We baited the hooks and everyone dropped down at the same time. And just like before, the minute the bait hit bottom, the fish were on! I could tell this group of Adventurers were having FUN now!! It was one fish right after another, over and over and over!!! We had our rods full of fish and they were just loving it! So was I!!!
Most of the fish we caught gave a good fight but every now and then someone would hook a nice big one they would have to work extra hard to get it in! It was just great watching all the non stop action! That is if I would have had a free second to actually watch, but the kids caught fish so fast I couldn’t keep the hooks baited no matter how quickly I moved from one rod to the next! I think I still have the sound of, “AdventureMike I need more bait” still ringing in my ears!!! I wouldn’t have it any other way! Adventure Ethan was the first to catch a nice big Ceasar’s Grunt! Way to go!
I don’t know how many fish we caught that first day but I know it was non stop and I couldn’t keep up baiting hooks or taking fish off fast enough. It was a good thing Adventure Max was giving me a hand taking fish off everyones lines! That cut the time down in half and even then we couldn’t keep up. I think everyone caught at least 40 fish that first day and some even caught much more!!! Needless to say, We were having FUN!!! Thanks Max for your help too!!!
On Wednesday the air temperature was much warmer, about 60 degrees I think and we all loved that! The skies were as blue as blue could be and it was a perfect day to be out in the boat. The tide was almost dead low and the kids wanted to go back to the Big Sandbar to do some exploring. When we rounded the corner under the bridge we could see the sandbar was totally exposed and sea gulls by the hundreds were having a field day searching the bar for food. As soon as we stopped the kids jumped out and had fun chasing after them! Before long they had found 3 big Cushion Starfish, some nice star-eyed hermit crabs and a bunch of fighting conchs!
We spent about an hour searching and exploring the shallows and found numerous Cushion Starfish that we moved back into deeper water. I was hoping to find a couple of 9 armed starfish to show everyone but we didn’t have any luck on this day. Sometimes you find them, sometimes you don’t, but it sure is FUN looking all the same. You just never know what you might come upon. I could tell AJ and Ethan had fun finding these 2 big Cushion Starfish which they held up for a quick photo op.
From here we stopped by the Sailfish Marina to check out the big Jack crevalles and sea what the sport fish boats had been catching. Not much it appeared as there wasn’t one fish carcass anywhere by the fish cleaning table. We spent some time looking about and found a nice big jolly fake Santa Claus sitting right out in front of the gift shop that seemed perfect for us to take a group photo with. Even though there was a few dozen tourists milling about taking his picture, we didn’t mind waiting our turn! We all had a Blast!!!
We spent the last hour going back over by the FPL plant to check out some more manatees. And just like before, they were everywhere by the hundreds!!! No matter where you looked there were manatees swimming, playing and frolicking about. It was just GREAT!!!
We had another Manatee come right up beside us and raise his snout out of the water just inches from the boat as if to say hello. And let me tell you, we could have kissed that one too!!! He had one cute face and a nice fuzzy nose!!! We loved it!!!
On the morning of the last day we took another quick jaunt around the Big Sandbar, found a bunch of fighting conchs, hermit crabs and a few more big Cushion Starfish. We spent a little bit of time checking out Mantis Shrimp holes, tube worms and looking for baby ear mollusks. Most of us found quite a pile of netted olive shells burrowing thru the sand,that were cool to see! Along the way, Adventure Jackie found a nice beaded starfish that was the only one to be found all week. It is always nice finding a couple different species of starfish all on the same day!
From here we ran back up the lake to another secret fishing spot to begin our second day of fishing. Just like before, the minute our lines were in the water we were catching fish. This spot is in a different location than the artificial reef and over a different type of bottom, more sand and rubble than rock, and we catch different species of fish. The most common fish we catch here are Lane Snappers and sometimes they number in the hundreds. It didn’t take Adventure Emma long to catch her first one! I could tell she just loved it!!! We all did!!! Nice Job!!!
For the next couple of hours we caught fish one after another. Just like before! Fish after fish after fish!!! Every now and then we would lose a nice big one that we just couldn’t get in, or that would get under a rock and break off. We were catching so many fish that everybody was helping to take them off the lines and rebait their own hooks! I don’t think they wanted to wait for me to catch up and get to them. They were just too busy having FUN and was I ever glad to have them help me! I couldn’t keep count just how many fish everyone caught, but it sure was a pile! I know Adventure AJ sure loved catching this nice big lane snapper!! He was having a Lane Snapper holiday!!! Way to go!
Needless to say, the week flew by faster than we 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!!! No matter what the water or air temperature was, We had a BLAST!!! From the very start until the very end! FUN FUN FUN 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!!! I think even the friendly pelecans were sorry to see us go!!!
Lucky for me I get to do it all over again when I start my Spring Break Adventure Sessions in March and April!!! I’m taking registrations now!!! Don’t post pone, We’ll fill up quickly! Its always a BLAST!!! Its going to be GREAT!!! Hope to see you there!!!
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!!!
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”!
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!!!
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!!!
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…
See you soon! Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
Welcome Back All, I just finished up the third day of this weeks adventure session and I just don’t think it gets any better than this!!! There just wasn’t enough hours in the day for us to do all we wanted. Every place we went and everything we did was an absolute blast and we [...]
Welcome Back All,
I just finished up the third day of this weeks adventure session and I just don’t think it gets any better than this!!! There just wasn’t enough hours in the day for us to do all we wanted. Every place we went and everything we did was an absolute blast and we all had fun like their was no tomorrow! I was joined by three more new adventurers today, AdventureAlgis, Linas and Paulius, all the way from the Republic of Lithuania, a country on the southeast shores of the Baltic Sea sharing borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland, and the Russian exclave of the Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Talk about adventurers, not only could these boys swim, they knew how to travel and even spoke a few words of English. So we got along great! And one thing they knew for sure was how to have fun, and they came to the right summer camp! I can guarantee that! With AdventureDavid and Dina from Hungary and Adventure Algis, Linas and Paulius from Lithuania my summer camp, AdventureMike’s, has gone international, and it has been Fabulous!!! From here on out, the skies the limit. Right on!
With AdventureAlgis, Linas and Paulius joining AdventurersJason, Jordyn, Christopher, Trevor, Gunner, Jagger, Michael and Chaz I had a full boat load, and I knew I was going to have my hands full! I knew this would not be a problem though, I am well seasoned by now after months like this! This is a great group of kids, knows how to swim, and DEFINITELY knows how to have fun!!! And that makes my job easy, at least on days like today!
We decided we would head straight for Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting while the tide was still low. AdventureJason, Jordyn, Michael, Gunner, Trevor and Jagger took turns pulling the seine net thru the shallows while AdventureAlgis, Linas and Paulius went snorkeling with AdventureChaz looking for starfish, sea urchins and large sea grass hermit crabs.
By the time we were finished seine netting the adventurers had found juvenile barracudas, hogsnappers, striped grunts, caesar’s grunts, french grunts, small mouth grunts, tomtates, pinfish, porkfish, mutton snappers, yellowtail snappers, gray snappers, mojarras, filefish, pufferfish, pipefish and even a few scorpionfish which we were careful not to touch. These were just a few of the many “treasures” we discovered. While we were having fun doing this, my Lithuanian Adventurers were discovering all sorts of cool things besides just starfish, hermit crabs and sea urchins. They saw eagle rays, crevalle jacks and even a pile of small lobster under a rock in 3 feet of water. Now that’s having FUN!!!, especially when you are from Lithuania!!! I could hear their excited voices all the way back to the boat! I was loving it!
We went to Big Munyon Island for a really cool island hike, checked out the estuary for finger mullet, the backside of the island for horseshoe crabs and hermit crabs, the wild coffee and knickerbean plants scattered about, and we even checked under the rooftop of the picnic area to find 2 different type nests of 2 distinct species of mud dobber wasps. One type built a group of single family nests while the other built condos. Just like us. Now that was cool to see! We walked back along the beach to the boat and headed to the sandbar to swim in the Big Hole. Along the way. we stopped at Starfish Prairie, picked up a few very large Cushion Seastars to show the group, released them, and off we went.
We arrived at the Deep Hole along the sandbar and the water was perfect! Just the right depth and perfectly clear! The way we love it! It was full of menhaden and the snook and small barracudas were having a feast. The menhaden would spray out of the water trying to get away from the hungry fish below while the terns and sea gulls were having a feast from above. There was action in every direction and we were loving it. We checked out the West Indian and Florida fighting conchs laying eggs and found that the West Indian species out numbered the Florida species by about 3 to 1. Along the way, AdventureJordyn found the smallest Beaded Sea Starfish I have ever seen. It wasn’t a half inch in width. They are not just uncommon around here, they are downright rare, and to find one this size, unbelievable! I thought it was great, and the coolest thing was that the smallest adventurer aboard would find the smallest beaded starfish I will probably ever see my whole life. Now that’s neat, and I have searched alot!
After this we went to the Rock Garden, dropped anchor and got in. And low and behold what did we see? That’s right, thousands,and I mean thousands of fish in every direction! One of the best days ever! And how was the visibility? That’s right, crystal clear! It just doesn’t get any better than this! We watched hundreds of blue runners and snook eat menhaden till their hearts, and stomachs content. All within inches of our masks. Just great! AdventureMichael, Gunner, Trevor, Jagger, Christopher and Jason caught all kinds of swimming crabs, blue crabs, seaweed blennies and hermit crabs, while AdventureJordyn, Linas, Chaz and Paulinus were content swimming amongst the tropical fish and watching parrotfish, surgeonfish and spotail pinfish graze on the algae covered rocks.
By now we had only 45 minutes left so we climbed in the boat, had a quick snack and some drinks, and decided to head out to the beach since the ocean was as calm as a swimming pool. We drove around the south jetty and dropped anchor a few hundred yards down the beach 10 feet from shore. The water was crystal clear, the beach full of shells and hundreds of juvenile pompano and permit were feeding on sand fleas in 3 inches of water. We were loving it all! The days just don’t get any better than this! Blue skies, clear calm seas, thousands of fish and a great group of adventurers enjoying their day. Now that’s living!!!
When it was time to go, you know, not one of us was ready to call it quits. And especially my group of Lithuanian Adventurers. Even they, with there limited knowledge of English, let me know they wanted to stay longer! And they sure knew how to say FUN while they were having it!!! Today was one of those truly blessed days and even though AdventureAlgis, Linus and Palius spent only one day with me, I know they will never forget it! When we arrived back at the dock and I heard them excitedly talking to their mom about the day I knew things just didn’t get any better than this! I knew every one of us had fun today! And the best thing about it all, there is one more day of ADVENTURE and I just can’t wait till tomorrow!!!
Its fishing day!!! And you know what that means!!! We’re going to have fun, catch fish and live the adventure!!! We’re going to have some FUN!!! Right On!!! God, I love my job!!! Yippee!!!!
Hi All, I just finished up TWO more days adventure session and let me say this week has been perfect. We have a great group of adventurers whose enthusiasm and love for the water is contagious! They arrive early to begin the days adventure with huge smiles and excitement in their voices, and raring to [...]
I just finished up TWO more days adventure session and let me say this week has been perfect. We have a great group of adventurers whose enthusiasm and love for the water is contagious! They arrive early to begin the days adventure with huge smiles and excitement in their voices, and raring to go! They jump in the boat, don their life jackets and don’t want to waste one more minute waiting at the dock then they have too. Saying they are extremely excited to go is an understatement!!! They know by now that AdventureMike’s is not your “normal” summer camp! Even after a very full day of adventuring they are never ready to come back. Reminds me of myself as a child, no matter how much fun I had, it just never was enough! I feel the same as an adult now! No wonder I love this group too! Each session just seems to be getting better and better.
Yesterday we started off the day heading back to the sandbar and searching the shallows. AdventureAllison, Madison, Dina and David found some really cool types of shells called “baby’s ears” that have the shell on the inside of the living animal instead of on the outside. They are very unusual and look more like large white nudibranchs or slugs instead of shells, and can burrow thru the sand very quickly. As the sandbar gets exposed and begins to dry out the living creatures begin to “pop” out from underneath the sand and head for water. By now the kids know what’s underneath just by looking at the type and shape of the “cracks” in the sand. They can tell whether its a crab, clam, moon snail, etc., and are quick to let me know. We are constantly being surprised by all kinds of emerging creatures from crabs, shells, clams, starfish, sea cucumbers and a variety of burrowing worms and other invertebrates. A regular smorgasbord of tiny living treasures just waiting to be discovered, and all, by us!!! Just Fabulous!!!
From here we headed to a secret out of the way little place I call “Starfish Prairie” that has hundreds if not thousands of large Cushion Sea Stars also called Bahama starfish. It is a very shallow hard rock bottom totally covered in short spined urchins and Sea Stars from end to end. I don’t let too many people know where this spot is as it is a true treasure in the Lake Worth Lagoon. In just a minute or two we picked up 9 or 10 from the shallow water and placed them in a large livewell container on the boat along with about 10 totally different colored sea urchins from snow white to a rich dark purple. We got back in the boat and talked about their life cycles and habitat, behavior, feeding habits, predators and prey etc., then hurriedly took a quick photo op. and released them where we found them. As long as too much fresh water run-off is not dumped into the lake all at once, they will continue to survive. The kids loved when they turned the large Sea Stars over and discovered the tiny delicate brittlestarfish, about a quarter inch in total length, clinging to the underneath sides. This was a great moment for them and I could tell they just loved it!
We finished up here and headed to the back side of Munyon Island to look for horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and blue crabs and take a short nature walk thru the estuary and shallow lagoon. We had so much fun along the beach and water we never got to the nature walk. AdventureNicholas showed Dina and Gavin how to tie fishing knots and cast netted some pufferfish for our entertainment. We all got to see how pufferfish get their name. It is always fun to watch them as they suck in air and water and literally double their size. Each adventurer had the opportunity to rub the smooth shiny belly of one of the checkered puffers and make a wish before letting them go, a childhood pastime of my families. How it started, who knows, but it sure is fun!!! I can’t remember if any of my wishes ever came true but it always put a smile on my face and that counts just as much!!! Just make sure to stay away from the mouth, or as I say “the business end” of a pufferfish as they can take an absolutely perfectly clean round bite out of a finger or your hand if given the opportunity. I’ll bet you’ll never guess how I found that out as a child…and on more than one occasion at that. Needless to say, I make sure to hold each fish gently and carefully so that each child has nothing to fear.
After this we had about 45 minutes left so we quickly headed to Little Munyon Island to explore and hopefully find one of those nine armed starfish that AdventureAnnie discovered last week. The only way I know how to do this is to find an area underwater with course well worked sand and just run your fingers back and forth thru the sand as you swim. Try and cover as much area as you can and if you are lucky you might find one. Watch out for broken glass and fireworms if you are in an area where they might be, just in case. AdventureAllison, Gavin and Trevor worked with me while AdventureDavid and Nicholas collected sea urchins for Madison and Dina who were taking a break in the boat. We searched and searched and searched till it was almost time to leave and just as I was getting ready to call it a day, my fingers found what we were looking for. I gently dug and sure enough it was a nice nine armed starfish. I was glad we found one! I really wanted Allison, Gavin and Trevor to see one since they had looked so hard too, and everyone had a chance to hold another new species and learn a little bit more about its behavior. On the way back I breathed a sigh of relief and was glad we got a bit lucky! I always love when things work out the way you hope!
Today, was the day I planned for us to fish and when I arrived at the dock not only were the Adventurers early, they were ready and willing and in a hurry to go!!! Everyone was asking if I “brought enough rods, enough bait, am I sure, am I sure, etc.” and I smiled and said yes even though I really wasn’t sure at the time.
I anchored the boat over the same section of artificial reef where we had done so well last Friday. I watched as 6 lines went down, hit bottom and instantly had fish on. Just like before, it was non stop action. The minute the bait hit bottom something was trying to eat it! Everyone had fish on all the time!!! It took everything AdventureNicholas and I could do to keep bait on the hooks and take fish off. No matter how fast we worked there was always a line of excited adventurers waiting. It seemed like we had 30 adventurers in the boat not just 6, and I’m sure to Nicholas it seemed more like 60!!! I didn’t see him get a chance to eat or drink the whole time we were there. Talk about having non stop fun, we did!!! I’ve never seen fish come in the boat so fast, and sometimes only parts of fish. Glad I spent my whole life diving here and marked all the hot-spots where the fish were. Made things easy for me later on…
It didn’t take long for the big barracudas to show up and park themselves right underneath the hull. The way everyone was catching fish, they knew they had pulled up to an “all you could eat diner” and for free too. I heard AdventureDavid yell, “I have a big one, A BIG ONE!!!, and just when I turned around, I saw a big swoosh by the side of the boat . I watched as David lifted his line out of the water with nothing but the very nose of his “Big Fish” left dangling. So much for almost catching the “big one” but I know it didn’t get away. I knew that just underneath us was a fat and happy barracuda waiting for the next one to be reeled in too.
I decided to try and hook a barracuda for the kids to reel in so I rigged a line with some wire leader, put on a fish and tossed it out. The second it hit the water, and I mean second, the water exploded and a huge barracuda launched skyward with the bait in his mouth. I didn’t even get a chance to take a turn on the reel before he had eaten the bait and thrown the hook. I could tell that these big barracudas had been hooked on numerous occasions before! They knew exactly what to do! The huge barracuda landed right next to the boat with a mighty splash, just about soaking AdventureMadison in the process, and then was gone. Talk about exciting for every one, it was great!!!! I know they won’t forget that!
We were so busy having fish on that I am sorry to say I didn’t get much of a chance to take photos of the whole encounter. Next time I may have to have the kids wait while I use the camera instead of bait the hooks, but its hard when you have 6 very happy and excited kids wanting their baits back in the water faster than you can possibly move, all wanting to catch the next “Big One”. I was the exact same way. Oh well…
It seemed like we only spent an hour fishing but when I looked at my watch, three and a half hours had already passed. It was the first time I had a chance to look at my watch all day. We quickly reeled and headed to the Rock Garden to get in the water, rinse off and feed the last bit of our bait to the friendly inhabitants. Again I found myself wondering just how did the time go by so fast? How can things move so quickly? It seemed to us all like we just started? And it seems to be so true…and often said,
“Time Flies, When You’re Having Fun”!!!! Our 6 happy kids would tell you that today!!!! Nothing but smiles!!! and the way I like it!!! Each day a real blessing! Thank you!
Come be a part of the Adventure!!! Just a few spaces left till next year… I guarantee your child will have fun!!!
See you soon,
Tomorrow we’re going to go to my secret spot and look for some real fossils. Hopefully we’ll discover some sharks teeth, parrotfish mouth plates, or worm tubes. Today we had an encounter with a real living fossil, the horseshoe crab. Some interesting fun facts … They used to swim side-by-side with Trilobites a long, l-o-o-o-ng [...]
Tomorrow we’re going to go to my secret spot and look for some real fossils. Hopefully we’ll discover some sharks teeth, parrotfish mouth plates, or worm tubes.
Today we had an encounter with a real living fossil, the horseshoe crab.
Some interesting fun facts …
- They used to swim side-by-side with Trilobites a long, l-o-o-o-ng time before you were born
- They live 20-30 years
- They can regrow their limbs like starfish
Class dismissed! Let’s go have some fun …
I just got back in from the first day of a new adventure session and let me tell you we had fun today! It was a smaller group than normal as a couple of the kids from one family scheduled to go were sick today and unable to make it. Now on to the fun… [...]
I just got back in from the first day of a new adventure session and let me tell you we had fun today! It was a smaller group than normal as a couple of the kids from one family scheduled to go were sick today and unable to make it.
Now on to the fun…
We had not been on the boat more than 5 minutes before one of my favorite adventurers, “Adventure Lisa” spotted a young Bottlenose Dolphin swimming and playing near little Munyon Island. We slowly motored over for a closer look and soon “Adventure Jonah” and “Adventure Annie” were pointing with excitement too. As we watched the dolphin in the shallow waters, Jonah and Annie spotted some very large Ocean Starfish, two Horseshoe Crabs and hundreds of Short Spined Sea Urchins on the bottom feeding on the algae.
They wanted a closer look so I jumped in and collected a few to show them and held up the Horseshoe Crab so they could see and they screamed with glee. We then carefully placed them in their homes and headed off to do some snorkeling in the shallow waters. On the way there Jonah spotted a very large ray foraging for food in the shallows and we turned around for a closer look and we watched as it disappeared in the distance.
When we arrived at “the rock garden” everyone was in a hurry to get in and the water was crystal clear. Adventure Jonah was in first and looked like a natural born snorkeler. Adventure Annie was quick to follow with Adventure Lisa in hot pursuit.
Jonah was quick to point out a small barracuda and a beautiful yellow Spotted Ray on the bottom which we tried to get some photos of, along with some of the large schools of Menhaden, Parrotfish, Porkfish, Grunts, Snapper, Seargent Majors and Spot Tail Pinfish, etc…
In no time at all Annie found some small Queen Conchs with beautiful pink interiors and lovely blue eyes which she just had to pick up and look at before letting go.
Lisa showed us how to find hermit crabs by the hundreds. It was almost impossible to get the kids to go back to the boat for lunch and drinks and to reapply sunscreen. I haven’t seen such enthusiasm in a “long time” or at least not since last week when we had a different group doing the same thing.
I can’t tell you how fulfilling it is to watch the kids discover things for the first time and with that gleam in their eye and excitement in their voice, yell to me, “Adventure Mike, Adventure Mike over here, over here, I found something!” and off we go searching for “treasures”. From here we went to the sandbar, found more Starfish, Florida and West Indian Fighting Conchs, explored the tunnels left behind by Mantis Shrimp and Tube Worms and had fun chasing Seagulls.
AdventureAnnie found a beautiful Milk Conch with a little pilot fish swimming around which she tried to catch bare handed, and in the process came up with a nice living Sandollar. She said she had found some “sea money” and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as we let it go. By now it was time to head back and Adventure Jonah and Adventure Annie drove us slowly home while Adventure Lisa made us snacks.
It was a beautiful way to end the first day of our second week! Not bad for a four hour trip! Can’t wait till the island adventure trek, fishing and exploring tomorrow. Lets go have some fun! Yippee!!!!