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!!!
Summer Time FUN Begins!!! Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up the first week of Fun and Adventure and as usual, it has started out with a great big BANG!!! Non-stop, fast action fun, pulling double duty sessions from dawn to dusk! Things just couldn’t have started out better! Two great goups of kids, [...]
Summer Time FUN Begins!!!
Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up the first week of Fun and Adventure and as usual, it has started out with a great big BANG!!! Non-stop, fast action fun, pulling double duty sessions from dawn to dusk! Things just couldn’t have started out better! Two great goups 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 around every twist and turn and bump of a wave! From sunrise to sunset, Fun Fun Fun, 4 days in a row!!! Just the way I love it!!!
In the beginning of the week for the morning session, the tides were high, the water crystal clear and fish were everywhere to be seen! We would start each morning session out snorkeling and end each afternoon session exploring the sandbars and shallow estuaries looking for treasures just waiting to be discovered. And discover them we would! From manatees and bottlenose dolphin to dwarf sea horses and octopus we seemed to find it all! Each group had a chance to find and discover something special that put a smile on all our faces!!! It left us looking forward to the very next day to do it all over again!!! Things just don’t get any better than that!!!
Through-out the week we explored the Big Sandbars around Peanut Island and found many wonderful and cool things. The tide seemed to be about as low as I could remember and the sandbar stretched for hundreds of yards in every direction. It didn’t take us long to find hermit crabs, box crabs and juvenile blue crabs by the dozens. As we were walking from one sandbar to the next we came upon a nice big Cushion Starfish and all took turns checking it out! It seemed to fit perfectly on AdventureNick’s chest!
Around the shallow edge of another sandbar the morning group found a handful of really nice beaded starfish that were just beginning to pop out of the sand and move to deeper water. We collected a few to take pictures and noticed that many were beginning to grow new tips on their arms where a seagull or crab had nipped them off. This gave us a chance to talk about how starfish can regenerate new arms if they happen to lose one or two to a predator. I think AdventureBrianna and Krissy just enjoyed finding them most of all!
Another afternoon we took a long walk around the west edge of the Big Sandbar and came upon hundreds of florida and west Indian fighting conchs in a shallow pool surrounded by the dry bar. Right in the very middle of them was a big horse conch with his “suction cup foot” wrapped around a fighting conch, sucking it right out of its shell, having it for lunch! Horse conchs are the largest shell found in north america and can grow to a length of 38 inches. They feed almost exclusively on other shells, and this one seemed to be right where he belonged! It was a cool find for us!
On the way back to the boat we found a few baby’s ear mollusks, a bunch of star eye hermit crabs with the most saphire blue eyes you could ever imagine and a couple of red banded hermit crabs too. Just as we were crossing from one bar to the next, AdventureAidan came upon another big bright red cushion starfish and of course we had to stop to take a few pics of this one too! I could sure tell she had fun finding this one too! We all did! Her smile was contagious!
While we were all busy checking out AdventureAidan’s cushion starfish, her big sister, AdventureRyenne, was busy finding some really cool beaded starfish that had some lovely bright orange “beadwork’ all around the very edges of the arms. These were much more spectacularly colored than most of the beaded starfish we find. This one here seemed to fit just perfectly right on the very bridge of Ryenne’s’ nose as if it belonged there all along! I could tell AdventureRyenne was having FUN too! Cool look also!
Just as we got to the boat we saw something pop out of the sand, crawl about for a bit, then sit still not moving an inch. We went over to investigate and found a really cool and unusual squat lobster rarely found around here. Good thing we came upon it first rather than a seagull, otherwise it would have been lunch! We checked it out up close and personal for a bit, then brought it to the edge of the bar and let it go. In a blink of an eye it buried under the sand and was gone from view.
Thursday of course was our fishing day, and as usual, we caught fish like there was no tomorrow!!! Sometimes you couldn’t count 3 seconds before having a fish on!!! We caught so many different species of fish I could hardly keep track!!! Good thing one of my very best friends, CaptainBill came to help out or I would have been stuck in the weeds taking fish off and baiting hooks. We must have caught and unhooked between 300 and 400 grunts, snappers, tomtates and sailors choice in 3 hours and I certainly couldn’t have done THAT without his help!!! Good Job Bill!!! It was non-stop action from start to finish!!! Just the way I LOVE IT!!!
For the afternoon group we went to one of my other secret fishing holes that doesn’t have as many fish or non-stop action, but does seem to have bigger fish and more lane snappers than most other spots we fish! Everybody caught a ton! Every now and then a few of our lucky anglers will hook into a nice porgy that not only fights like crazy, but tastes great pan fried too!!! They are one of my favorite fish to eat, and today, AdventureMax and Casey caught some nice big ones! I know AdventureRyenne loved that since she had been wanting and craving a fish dinner, and home for her dinner they went!!! Nice Job!!! Yumm…
A short time later AdventureRachel caught a nice big black and yellow porkfish that seemed to stand out nicely in front of her bright red shirt for a great photo op. These species of fish are hard to hook as they have small mouths and feed mainly on invertebrates but fight well once you get one on the line. There was no doubt in my mind she was loving every minute of that bringing it in on ultra lite tackle. Way to go Rachel!
Another day we stopped by Sea Urchin shoals to collect a few short spined and variegated sea urchins to check out. Within minutes we found a ton amongst the sea grass happily munching away. On this day, most of the ones we found were green with pink tips to the spines and a few whitish pink ones that would stick on to your hands with their tiny tube feet and just about never let go! It was obvious AdventureBrian was sure having fun pretending he had sea urchin eyeballs as he mosied about!
For the afternoon group we moved a bit further down the shoals to a rocky area where I hoped to find a few of the long-spined sea urchins that have become a bit uncommon ever since the world wide sea urchin blight that devasted this species in the early 90′s.This species has numerous long thin needle sharp spines that can easily puncture the skin and break off in the flesh. This species is best LEFT ALONE!!!, but sometimes can be carefully handled by me from underneath where their spines have been worn down and dull from crawling about. Do not attemp this on your own and be prepared to be spined on numerous occasions. While gently and carefully trying to place this on AdventureMatthews hands, I was stuck at least a half dozen times. Him not once! Its painful for a while but eventually goes away!
A bit later in the day while snorkeling in a new area, we found a few reef urchins that were much easier handled with less chance of getting stuck! I could tell AdventureCasey had no qualms picking up this one and holding it up for a picture or two. These are more commonly found on the offshore reefs but occasionally can be found inshore on a rocky bottom grazing on the algae growing on the rocks.
We spent a few hours everyday exploring the Rock Garden. There were fish everywhere and the water was crystal clear! We had so much fun observing and chasing fish, looking under rocks catching all sorts of different species of crabs, finding sea cucumbers, conchs and shrimp. You name it, we found it, and of course we tried to catch it just for FUN! Sometimes we were succesfull, sometimes we weren’t, but we had FUN trying none the less! It was just GREAT!
Another afternoon we spent snorkeling the lagoon on Peanut Island and spent about an hour swimming with a juvenile manatee that did his best to ignore us. It was a fabulous encounterand we all loved it!!! Along the way we found dozens of large variegated sea urchins grazing on algae covering the rocks. Each one had covered themselves with dozens of live hermit crabs in an attempt to camoflauge themselves from nearby predators. We thought that was cool too and spent a good bit of time searching to see who could find the largest one. AdventureMax found a nice one and we all checked it out up close and personal!
From here we snorkeled along the deeper edge of the lagoon and found dozens of live hawkwing conchs, juvenile queen conchs, a few large sea cucumbers and saw hundreds of parrotfish, snappers, grunts, juvenile barracudas and quite a few angelfish and reef butterflyfish. It was a beautiful area to snorkle and AdventureAidan found a fairly uncommon slate-pencil urchin that I thought made a fabulous photo opportunity when she stuck it on her head. To me, it looked just like it belonged there all along. Cool Find!!!
Just as we were about to call it a day and head back to the boat, AdventureRyenne spotted a large porcupinefish swimming along the wall. She asked if I could catch it so she could check it out. I slowly swam up behind so as to not spook it, and when it was within range of my hands I quickly reached out and carefully took hold. A second later it inflated itself with water, ballooned to twice its normal size and became a large thorny ball. Extreme caution must be taken when handling these as they are capable of inflicting a nasty bite. Keep your fingers and hands away from the mouth! AdventureRyenne sure had FUN checking this Big Burrfish out!!!
Another afternoon we stopped by the Big Sandbar at an extreme low tide and were able to walk the whole way to Peanut Island without even having to swim. A distance of about an 1/8 of a mile.I t was just unbelievable! The bar seemed to be exposed for ever and we found tons of cool things!! ! We walked the whole way to the Rock Garden for a quick snorkle and came upon a beautiful green sea turtle that swam right up to us, literally just about into our hands. It was just GREAT and we all loved that!!! Later, on the way back to the boat, AdventureNicholas picked up a good sized piece of granite that was lying on the beach. It had to weigh about 60lbs or more! I bet he and Max couldn’t carry it the whole way back to the boat, and just to prove me wrong, they did!!! Way to go!! You guys ROCK!!!
pardon the pun, of course…
The next morning the group wanted to go seine netting along the backside of Little Munyon and along the way we stopped at Starfish Prairie to check out a few of the large Cushion Starfish that are commonly found here. These are the largest species of starfish found in this area. We picked up a couple and placed them in a large bin of water to check out, then hurriedly took a few photos with the group and released them where we had found them. AdventureMatthew sure thought this was FUN!!! We all did!!!
From here we continued towards Little Munyon Island and along the way, we spotted a few manatees with calves feeding along the shallow sea grass beds. Every few seconds they would lift their heads out of water with a mouthful of sea grass and munch it down. We stopped, shut off the engines and drifted slowly by, observing them all the while. At one point they swam right up beside us as if to say hello, then later, went back to their feeding, seemingly oblivious that we were there. It was a fabulous encounter for us all!!! We just loved it!!!
Finally we made our way to the island and hopped out with the seine net to see what we could discover hidden amongst the shallow sea grass. This is always one of the kids favorite things to do. You never know what you may come up with. On the very first pull of the net we came up with some juvenile barracudas, lots of file fish, tiny yellowtail snappers, grunts, mojarras, a few hogfish, loads of sea grass shrimp and some big pink shrimp as well. It was a great way to start and we loved every second of it!!!
We began the afternoon session that same day doing a bit of seine netting as well. The tide was still extra low and there were plenty of areas we hadn’t been to in a while. On the first pull of the net we came up with a couple of big checkerboard puffers that seemed to inflate right on cue, and caught loads of other fish as well. Before long we had discovered dozens of different species of juvenile fish that make their home in the sea grass beds.
By the end of the day we had found 4 different species of puffers, 3 different species of grunts, numerous snappers, juvenile barracudas, mojarras, pinfish, pipefish, needlefish and one very small dwarf seahorse that was too small to even take a worthy photo of. It wasn’t even a half inch tall but we loved the discovery all the same! I think Ryennes favorite fish was this checkerboard puffer with its big puffy cheeks!
The most unusual fish we found is another species of pufferfish that I was not able to identify in any books I have. It is either an uncommon or rare species found here or an unusual color phase that I have not seen before. I believe it is another species as it had a rough texture to its skin under the belly and a mottled pattern on the top. It could also inflate almost perfectly round which we thought was just GREAT! I know AdventureJamie sure did! It was a nice find!!!
On one of our last visits to the sandbar for the week we found a piece of pvc pipe discarded in the shallows. I had just got done saying this would be a perfect home for an octopus, when low and behold, out crawled one right into AdventureMatthew’s hands. It was just great! We all absolutely loved finding this little guy and after a few seconds of checking him out, he slid off the pipe and into the water.
One of the neatest things about octopus is they have specialized cells called chromatophores that allow them to instantly change colors to match their backgrounds. They are able to change their colors, patterns and shapes to match just about any background they are on. Sometimes they seem to disappear right before your very eyes. We brought it near the beach so that we could check it a bit out more closely.
We all took turns gently handling the octopus, letting it reach out with its tentackles to explore our hands. It would stretch out one of its arms, grasp a nearby finger, stick on for a bit, then let go and reach out for another. We were all loving that “sticky” situation!!! After a short while we released the octopus back into the pipe and watched it disappear from view. I hoped next week that it still would be there.
The very last day we went back to the lagoon on Peanut Island and spent a good bit of time snorkeling around the edges checking out the hundreds of different species of fish and corals we could find. We also hoped to see that very same manatee we spent swimming with earlier in the week, but no luck this time. Maybe next week!!! I hope anyway!!! AdventureRyenne spent some time catching juvenile checkerboard puffers and came up with quite a few. She made a joke like she was going to eat one and I’ll bet this cute little puffer was mighty happy when she let it go instead!!! It made for a great and humorous photo!
Before we knew it the week had come to an end and not one of us was ready to call it quits!!! We had so much FUN we never wanted it to stop!!! Non stop, Fast Action FUN!!! What a way to start the Summer!!! What a way to end the Week!!! It just doesn’t get any better than THIS!!!Having all this Fun has left me looking forward to next week. And one things certain, I can’t wait to head out in the boat with the next group of kids and have fun doing it all over again! I know its going to be great! I can just feel it!!! Hope you’ll join us in the Adventure!!! Stay tuned, it will be here before you know it! Time Flies when your having FUN!!!! And we’re going to have it from start to finish!!! See you soon!
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’ve just finished up the third day of Fun and Adventure for the first week of August, and let me tell you it had been absolutely GREAT from the very start!!! Just like every week this whole Summer!!! I just can’t say it enough, “We’ve had FUN FUN FUN from start [...]
Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!!
We’ve just finished up the third day of Fun and Adventure for the first week of August, and let me tell you it had been absolutely GREAT from the very start!!! Just like every week this whole Summer!!! I just can’t say it enough, “We’ve had FUN FUN FUN from start to finish! Day after day after day… All Summer long…”. It just doesn’t get any better than this! And I know I’ve said that before!!! This week I have another great group of kids that are ready for Adventure the very minute they come on board! And that’s just the way I love it!!! They’re ready to go go go with or without me! Good thing I keep the keys to the boat in my pocket!
We began the week going to the Big Sandbar since dead low tide was occurring just about 9 in the morning. Lucky for us we had the whole sandbar to ourselves and not another boat full of people in sight. I love it like that. If there is anything to be discovered, we are going to be the first to find it and you never know what you might find. On this morning there were starfish starfish everywhere, and did we ever have fun running from one end of the sandbar to the other picking up starfish and checking them out! We saw beaded starfish and cushion starfish lying out on the exposed sand of the bar before we ever left the boat. You should have seen how fast the kids unloaded from the boat. AdventureLorenzo sure had Fun coming up with a couple starfish of his own to share with us. We loved that!
When we weren’t picking up starfish, we were checking out the fighting conchs, moon snails and the olive shells that were leaving long trails thru the sand as they burrowed back towards deeper water. We found quite a few baby ear mollusks that were just beginning to pop out of the sand and we all took turns letting them slime thru our finger tips before letting them go. As the sand got warmer from the sun beating on it, blue claw crabs, box crabs, lady crabs and dozens of hermit crabs began to crawl out from underneath the sand just at our very toes. AdventureSydney came up with one big giant rooster crab that was blowing bubbles out his mouth and we all loved that too!!!
As the tide came in we decided to head to little Munyon Island to do some exploring in the shallows. It took me a bit to get everyone back in the boat. Nobody wanted to leave until they had put all the starfish left exposed on the bar back in to deeper water, and let me tell you that was a LOT!!! It was also a lot of FUN! I think we found the most beaded starfish I have ever seen, and the cool thing about that was not only did we find a ton, but we found a few different species of them too that I haven’t seen in quite a while. AdventureRylee came up with one nice big one that I know she wanted to take home as a pet, but she let it go all the same. Nice find too!!!
When we arrived at Little Munyon Island the whole south side of Sea Urchin Shoals was totally out of water. There were hundreds if not thousands of short spined urchins literally covering almost every square inch of the shoal. We had so much Fun searching and finding every color phase of sea urchins you could imagine. My favorite was the one with a pure white body and dark purple spines. We came up with some beautiful bright pink ones and a few pure white ones too. We found some big black round ones that would cling on to your hands with thousands of tiny tube feet. You could lift them out of the water and hold them upside down and even then they wouldn’t let go. It was just great!!! Everywhere you looked there were short spined sea urchins and AdventureJosh was picking them up by the handfuls! I know he was loving that!!!
As we left Little Munyon Island to head back to the dock a pair of bottlenose dolphin swam right up to our boat and road the bow wave for a while. We watched as they would dart back and forth in the shallows chasing mullet, and then come right back to our boat and swim beside us. They seemed to be as excited checking us out as we were checking them out! We had so much FUN watching them we were late getting back to the dock! Oh well…. I’d love to be late for that reason every day!!!! We all would have!!!
The next morning we stopped by the Rock Garden to do some snorkeling. The tide was a bit low and the water was not as clear as I would have liked to do some underwater photography of the group but we had loads of FUN all the same. I don’t think the kids cared whether I took underwater photos of them or not. They were so busy chasing fish and turning over rocks looking for hidden treasures I could hardly get any one of them to look at me! Oh well, so much for underwater photography and those great shots I envisioned…, needlessto say, we had a blast all the same!!! AdventureLianne came up with a really cool brittlestarfish that was about as delicate as you could imagine and that was a great find too. We all loved checking this one out before she let it go.
The rest of the gang spent a good bit of time chasing swimming crabs that could be found under every rock. They came in all sizes from tiny to gigunda and every now and then I would hear a squeal of laughter as one crab would swim out of the net of one adventurer and right under the foot of another! It was great to see that! It kept them right on their toes so to speak paying attention to all the fun that was going on around them! AdventureBeau thought it was cool to check out one big swimming crab underwater up close and personal!!
From here we decided to head to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallow grass flats. On the way we stopped for a quick romp around the Big Sandbar to see what we could find. And of course, we found beaded starfish from one end to the other. Did we ever love that!!! AGAIN!!! I was hoping we would find a 9 armed starfish but no luck. Maybe tomorrow! As we were walking from one exposed bar to another, AdventureFaye found the smallest, most tiniest beaded starfish I have ever seen! It wasn’t much bigger than her pinky fingernail and we all thought that was really cool! How she saw it, I will never know! Nice Job!!!
When we arrived at Little Munyon Island, we grabbed the seine net and a few buckets and within seconds we were seining the shallows. We all would take turns pulling the net and with every pull we would find something cool! We started from one end of the island and worked our way to the other side. Over and over and over..As soon as one group would come in and the net was sorted, the next was raring to go! I loved the enthusiasm this group had, Reminded me of myself. Sometimes its just hard to stop having FUN…
As soon as the net was pulled on to the beach we would hurriedly sort thru our catch of “treasures”. We would put anything special in our specimen tank to be checked out later, and let the rest go. We caught all kinds of juvenile fish from grunts and snappers to baby barracudas and pipefish. We caught an assortment of shrimp and crabs too. With every pull of the net another treasure was discovered! You should have seen the excitement on the kids faces every time the net came in and how quickly they wanted to sort thru the catch. It was just great!!!
Everyone was hoping we would catch some pufferfish and lucky for us we did! On the very last pull of the net we came up with a beautiful striped burrfish that puffed up the minute it was out of water. It became such a spiny pin cushion we could hardly hold it. We all took turns checking it out and I was careful to make sure everybody kept their fingers away from the toothy end of the fish. This little fish can give a painful bite. AdventureSeth sure had fun gingerly holding this burrfish as best he could! No bite either! Nice Job!
Seine netting always seems to be one of the most fun things the kids like to do. You never know what you may come up with, how many different things you may have or if you have anything at all. Sometimes we get juvenile sea horses, barracudas, pipefish, yellowtail snappers, grass shrimp, cow fish, etc. A plethora of cool things just waiting to be discovered!!! It always seem though that a nice big spiny burrfish or a slippery blown up pufferfish puts a smile on a kids face everytime! I know it does mine!!!
And of course, today was our fishing day and it’s always mighty hard to beat the FUN and EXCITEMENT that we have on this day!!! Most days the kids will have a fish on within a few seconds of their bait hitting the bottom! On this day it was no different!!! We spent a little bit of time fishing the artificial reef and caught porkfish, grunts, snappers, tomtates, porgies, sailors choice and more! IFrom start to finish we caught fish non stop!!! can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, ” Mike, I need help taking off my fish”. I just love it like that!!! Everybody caught some nice fish but I think AdventureBeau caught the biggest grunt that gave him a good fight! Way to go Beau!!!
At the end of the day we stopped by the Big Sandbar for another quick romp of exploration then hurried over to the Rock Garden to spend the last hour snorkeling. We spent some time searching for crabs under rocks and along the way found some very cool green mantis shrimp and some big queen conchs. AdventureJosh caught a nice juvenile flounder that we all checked out, then we spent some time chasing sharpnosed pufferfish just for FUN!!! AdventureJake sure had FUN holding this nice puffer all “blown” up!
Whenever we would find something cool or catch a pufferfish we would all take turns checking it out and sharing it with the whole group. Many times the pufferfish would wiggle and deflate, and out of your hand they would go! It was amazing how quickly they could disappear right before your eyes! I can’t tell you how many times that happened today! No problem though, it wasn’t long before someone had another and enjoying it all over again! You can see how much FUN AdventurePetey was having with this puffer! Me too of course…
Before we knew it the day had come to an end! I don’t know how the time flew by so fast, but when I said it was time for us to head back, nobody was ready to go! Not even me… on the way back to the ramp we had one more cool adventure! And did we ever love that!!! Just as we were slowly coming around the end of the Big Sandbar in the boat, a huge dark shape appeared right beside us. I put the boat in nuetral and we watched as a big friendly manatee swam right up past us, stuck his nose out of the water and took a good look at us, then took a breath and disappeared. How cool is that!!! What a way to end the day!!!
One things certain, it sure left me looking forward to tomorrow and doing it all over again!!! Needless to say, we didn’t make it back to the boatramp on time again… Oh well, we were just too busy having FUN!!! I can’t wait till tomorrow! i know it’s going to be great!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! See you soon!!!
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!! We’ve just finished up another week of FUN and Adventure and let me tell you it was one of the best! We had so much FUN I don’t even know where to begin!!! It does seem that every week just gets better and better or maybe we are just getting lucky, [...]
Hi Everyone! Welcome back!!!
We’ve just finished up another week of FUN and Adventure and let me tell you it was one of the best! We had so much FUN I don’t even know where to begin!!! It does seem that every week just gets better and better or maybe we are just getting lucky, but either way I LOVE IT!!! All week long we had the coolest encounters with all kinds of sea creatures both big and small! No matter where we went or under which rock we looked, we found something COOL! I think AdventureMandy summed this week up best when I asked the group at the end of the day, ‘Well, Did you have Fun?” And her response was, “This was AWESOME!!! This is the BEST camp I’ve ever been too!!! ” My thoughts exactly Mandy!!! I couldn’t have said it better!!!
We began the first day stopping by the Big Sandbar. The tide was dead low and we all wanted to jump out and explore the bar to see what we could find. We hadn’t been out of the boat for more than a minute before we found something we liked or were fascinated with! Wherever we walked we found blue crabs scurrying by, or baby’s ear mollusks burrowing in the sand. As we walked we would occasionally stop to check out the Mantis shrimp and tube worm tunnels or pick up a handful of fighting conchs to watch for a bit. We kept our eyes open for starfish and before long we found a few. We came up with two beaded starfish, one big Cushion Starfish and shortly after that, we found a nice, medium sized 9 armed starfish that we loved! Some of the legs were shorter than others and we could see it was in the process of regenerating and growing new legs which we all found to be really neat! I know Mandy, Mac and Jack had a good time finding this one!
As we loaded up in the boat to head over to the Rock Garden to snorkel, we noticed a thin wispy water spout coming out of the very edge of beautiful cloud bank a ways offshore. We stopped and watched it develop a bit bigger than disappear in a blink of an eye as the cloud bank moved to the south. We thought that was just great too! No trouble for us! The minute we got in the water we were seeing fish by the thousands. Every where we looked there were FISH, FISH, FISH!!! And did we ever love that! While watching a school of parrotfish swim by one of the kids found a big slimy sea cucumber which we all took turns checking out. And did we ever enjoy that too! I know AdventureMandy sure did!!!
As we snorkeled along the edge of the Rock Garden we saw dozens of short-nosed puffers and quite a few checkerboard pufferfish. As usual, we all wanted to try and catch one to watch it “blow up” with air or water to more than twice its normal size. Chasing after and catching pufferfish has to be one of the most favorite things the kids love to do! We don’t always get them, but we sure LOVE trying! Sometimes it takes a combined effort to be successful. I know AdventureBobby was sure happy when it came his turn to get one in the net! We all were! Nice job!
As some of the kids chased puffers or watched the thousands of fish swim by, others would search or turn over small rocks looking for crabs, shrimp, brittle starfish or anything else they could find. Every now and then someone would come up with a few small stone crabs or porcelain crabs or a nice big queen conch or two. But the prize they were after was a nice big swimming crab! Every now and then I would hear a squeal of glee and turn around just in time to see some big crab dart about scurrying from rock to rock or underneath a nearby foot. You have to be quick of foot and hand to get a big one in your net. All the while not getting pinched! Check out the impressive pincers on this one that AdventureJack was lucky to catch!
Another day we went to Little Munyon Island to search along Sea Urchin Shoals to see how many different color variations of short-spined urchins we could find. The ones most commonly found are the dark green varieties, but my favorite color phase is the bright white ones with rich dark purple spines. We found sea urchins in every size and color! There were so many urchins you could collect them by the armfuls. And by the armfuls we did! It looked like it had rained urchins all night long! On this day they literally covered the bottom and we picked them up one after another checking each one out! We loved when they would stick to our hands using their tiny little tube feet, and we would all share when a smaller one or new color variety was found.
The latter part of the day we spent seine netting the shallow grass flat to the east. The tide had gone out and the flats were exposed like never before. This gave us a rare opportunity to seine in areas that were normally too deep. Here the sea grass was thick and luxuriant. The perfect home for fish! With the very first pull of the net we brought in some wonderful “treasures” that we placed in our tank of sea water to check out a bit later. They came in all sizes. You name it and I think we found it! The group loved to sort through the net the minute it reached the beach! And me too of course!
The second pull of the net thru the grass flats brought in the typical assortment of juvenile fish ranging from tiny barracudas to filefish, mojarras, striped grunts, ceasars grunts, lane snappers, yellowtail snappers, pinfish, sea grass shrimp, pink shrimp and lucky for us, some striped burrfish! This fish are in the blowfish family of fishes and are striped to match the sea grass and covered in short spines. They can be handled easily from underneath if you are careful to keep your hands and fingers out of the way of their mouths. AdventureJacob, Harper and William loved taking a close-up look at these!
It seemed with every pull of the net we would come up with something different. It is amazing how many species of fish and juvenile fish depend on the grass flats to provide food and shelter until they are big enough to live on the reef. Many species of fish will never leave the grass flats their entire lives. This is the perfect habitat for slow swimming pufferfish and on this day we were finding them by the dozens. And were we ever happy with that! AdventureMandy, Mac and Bobby sure had FUN checking out this checkerboard pufferfish up close and personal!
On the last pull of the net we came up with a juvenile long-spined porcupinefish and that was the very first one we have ever caught here. The minute the net came in to the beach this two inch long porcupinefish puffed up in all its glory and turned itself into a round little ball of quills. We absolutely loved that! This species of porcupinefish has the longest spines of any around, and even though it was tiny, we had to be very careful to hold it gingerly. All in all, we found 4 different species of blowfish or pufferfish in one pull of the net, and let me tell you that was just GREAT! AdventureHarper and Mandy loved the striped burrfish and long-spined porcupinefish best!
Of course, Thursday was our fishing day and it is mighty hard to beat the FUN and EXCITEMENT that we have on this day!!! Most days the kids will have a fish on within a few seconds of their bait hitting the bottom! On this day it was no different!!! We spent a little bit of time fishing the artificial reef and caught porkfish, grunts, snappers, tomtates, porgies, parrotfish and more! I took them to my secret snapper hole a bit later and we caught lane snappers non stop till we were almost too tired to bring any more in!!! And that’s just the way I love it!!!
It always seems on most trips the smallest person in the boat catches the biggest fish, and on this day it was no different. This was AdventureMandy’s first day of fishing and I think she stopped counting how many fish she caught once she reached about 40 or so. She seemed to be catching big fish one after another and sometimes I was wondering whether she would get them in or whether they would pull her out of the boat. She had quite a tussle with a few big fish but eventually got them in! I absolutely loved watching that! Great job Mandy! Nice big grunt too!
The last half hour of the day we went back to the Big Sandbar and romped around in the shallows. The boys dug trenches in the sand like they were building an irrigation project and the girls played in the warm pool of water we call the Hot Tub. As we headed back to the boat to call it a day we came upon a large Cushion starfish at the edge of the bar. We all had a chance to check the starfish out and take some cool photos along the way!
When we arrived back at the dock we were met with Icecream bars to celebrate AdventureJacobs birthday, and the cool thing about that was not only did we love that ice cream, but AdventureJacob and I celebrate the very same birthday! That’s July 8th, so Happy Birthday again Jacob! You ROCK! Nice sharing a birthday with another Adventurer!!!
We began the last day going back to the Rock Garden to enjoy the fabulous snorkeling and of course spent a good bit of time chasing and netting fish and crabs. We always love that!!! I noticed the ocean was absolutely flat calm so I decided to take the kids for a short jaunt offshore looking for some loggerhead and green sea turtles to show them. On the way out we passed over a nice sargassum seaweed line so we stopped to dip net a bit to see what we could find. With the very first scoop we caught a half dozen filefish, numerous shrimp and crabs and a lovely juvenile long spined porcupinefish that filled itself with air as if right on cue! Harper was the first to check it out and I could tell she loved it!!! We all did!
We all took turns checking out the porcupinefish and watched how cool it was to see it fill itself up with air to more than double its size. Being able to double its size and protrude hundreds of tiny sharp spines is a great way of preventing oneself from being eaten. Makes it also difficult to hold even if all you want to do just take a quick peek before leting it go! When fully grown this porcupinefishes spines can be over 2 inches long and needle sharp, making it almost impossible to be eaten or held! I know AdventureJason sure enjoyed checking it out when it came to his turn. Me too of course!
While all this FUN was going on a great big loggerhead sea turtle surfaced right by the boat and we all got a chance to see one right up close! And let me tell you, We Loved That Too!!! After this we went to the beach and anchored a few feet offshore. Most of us snorkeled while AdventureJoseph dug a huge hole in the sand to sit in. A second or two later I heard a yelp and watched as Joseph jumped up out of the hole with a huge Ghost Crab following closely behind! And “behind” is the key word! I think he even left a mark! How about it Joseph? I laughed so hard I could hardly take a picture! In a wink of an eye, Joseph quickly chased it down and held it up carefully for us to see. Nice Find Joseph!!! Well, I’m not really sure who found who, but it was great entertainment all the same! I loved it.
Just as we were getting ready to call it a day and slowly swimming back to the boat, a huge friendly manatee swam right up to us as if to say ,”hello” and gave us another BIG THRILL!!! He hung around for a little bit, then moseyed off down the beach. We loved that so much we had to get in the boat and go by and take one last look before heading home! I can tell you none of us wanted to go back that day!!! It was GREAT to have such a wonderful encounter! I wish a big friendly manatee would come by for a visit everyday!!!
On the way back we saw another big manatee swimming right down the beach in crystal clear, shallow water. And of course, we stopped to take a look at that one too. The amazing thing about what we saw that would have knocked our socks off if we were wearing any…. Following closely behind was a huge Manta Ray that swam right up to us looking like a Bomber coming in for a landing!!! Let me tell you, WE LOVED THAT TOO!!! So much so that I forgot to take a picture! Oh well… It was just unbelievable! What a way to end the week, any week!!!
We had Sea Creature Encounters, Big and Small, all week long!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! How LUCKY we were!!! One things certain, I just can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Hope you’ll join us and be a part of the ADVENTURE!!! I know its going to be GREAT!!! See you soon!!!
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!! I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been one of the very best! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN from Here to There!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!! And I really mean that!!! I just never want this [...]
Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!! I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been one of the very best! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN from Here to There!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!! And I really mean that!!! I just never want this Summer to come to an end!!! It has been so much Fun!!! I must be dreaming…
I started out the week with just another absolutely wonderful, great group of kids! And like I’ve said before, “Each week just seems to get better and better!!!” When I arrived at the dock I was joined by 4 previous adventurers, AdventureRachel, Amanda, Rylee and Sydney. In turn, we were joined by 4 new Adventurers, AdventureRobert, Jonathan, Madeline and Emily. It was Emily’s birthday on Monday and we spent a great day doing an AdventureMike custom birthday party session, and boy did we ever have FUN! I never wanted that to end either! Always have a blast! I just love doing those!!! We’ll have to do some more!!!
When I arrived at the dock I could tell this group was ready and raring to go. We quickly loaded up, and off to the Rock Garden we went. The tide was high and the water absolutely beautiful! We had just dropped anchor and as I was getting the masks ready for everyone, 5 manatees came by and took a look at us!!! Right by the boat. Boy do I wish we had gotten there 2 minutes sooner so we could have been in the water with them. They hung around the boat for a minute or two, then off they went. What a way to start the day!!! It didn’t take us long to get in after that, and as usual, there were fish every where we looked!!! Within a few seconds we were catching swimming crabs, blennies, wrasse and pufferfish. We all took turns checking out what everyone was catching. It was just great and we were having so much FUN!
We found some really beautiful Hawkwing and Queen conchs and checked out their cute little eyes peeking back out at us. We found a nice big spotted moray eel living in an old barrel and that was great to see too! There were all kinds of arrow crabs and rock crabs living all around the barrel, and of course we had to catch a few of those in our nets to check them out up close and personal! There were so many things to see we didn’t know which direction to go! There were sheepshead, snook, barracudas, porkfish, snapper, grunts, surgeonfish, parrotfish, angelfish, wrasse, blennies, toadfish, cowfish, jawfish and even some beautiful pearly razorfish almost within reach of our fingertips! We found so many cool things!!!
We swam around in the shallows looking for flounder and pufferfish and came upon a beautiful small,yellow spotted ray hidden in the sand. Even though they have a small venomous barb like a stingray, I carefully took a scoop and caught it in my net. I gently pulled the barb off so that we could all hold it and take a good look up close and personal. They begin to grow their barbs back in a week or two and I thought this would be a great opportunity for the kids to hold one in their hands and see what they’re like. Boy, did everyone love doing this! I never saw such smiles on so many kids faces!!! Miles of Smiles, from ear to ear!!! Just the way I love it!!! I just loved it!!! A bit later we let him go to continue on his way.
By now the tide was going out and we went to the Big Sandbar to explore the shallows. Before we even had a chance to drop anchor I could see some big Cushion Starfish and fighting conchs exposed on the bar. The second we dropped anchor, the crew unloaded. Off and running they went to check out the big starfish!!! Nobody wanted to be the last one out of the boat here! By the time I got out of the boat they were all checking the Cushion Starfish out. So much for waiting for me… By now I was getting used to being the last one out. This group had more energy and enthusiasm than you could imagine. Just the way I love it!!!
We placed the big starfish back into deeper water and off we went to explore the bar. It was only a matter of seconds before we found Baby’s Ear mollusks, Netted olives and fighting conchs popping out of the sand. There seemed to be something everywhere we looked! We found numerous beaded starfish, maybe 10 or so, and that was the most I have ever seen at one time. One of the best finds on the bar was a lovely 9 armed starfish, and of course we had to share that and take some “9 armed starfish head ” photos for fun. I could tell Rachel really loved that!!! Tell me she doesn’t look like a “Natural” !!!
I think Jonathan found the most beautiful blue-eyed hermit crab I have ever seen! It had eyes like fluorescent deep blue sapphires! The most beautiful and unreal shade of blue in the world!!! Stunning comes to mind… Wish mine looked just like that, it was so cool! A really nice find! We took a jump into the hot tub for a few seconds, checked out some Mantis Shrimp in their tunnels then had to head back to the boat to make it back on time. On the way back we found another large Cushion Starfish and I could tell everybody loved that again too.
Today may have been the most fun for me all Summer!!! Everything was just absolutely perfect from beginning to end!!! We had so much fun today!!! It just couldn’t have been any better!!! You guys ROCK!!!
Woke up Wednesday morning to a heavy rainfall, blustery winds and some strong lightning storms in the vicinity. Finally the bad weather from tropical storm Anna had caught up with me. This was the very first time EVER that I was going to have to call it a day without being able to go out, but I didn’t want to take any chances so I made the calls to cancel the day. Boy was I disappointed, but I knew the weather for Thursday was looking perfect, and that of course is our FISHING DAY! Just wanted everyone to be safe, and I knew we were going to have FUN the next two days!!!
When I arrived at the dock today, everybody was early and ready to go, and so was I!!! Little did I know then just how good our fishing day was going to be!!! When I arrived at my secret spot and checked the fish finder, I was recording fish from top to bottom!!! Excitedly I dropped anchor, baited the rods and handed them out and then everyone dropped down at once. From that second on there wasn’t ever a moment that somebody didn’t have a fish on. And I mean not for one second!!! You know the saying a “pictures worth a thousand words”, well look below…
Eight kids, eight rods and eight fish on at ONCE!!! All day long it was like this!!! From the very first second and it never stopped!!! I was so busy I couldn’t even take photos. I can’t tell you how often I heard, ” I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” I You could not count one second from the moment your bait hit bottom till you had one on!!! AdventureDaniel, if you are following this post you got lucky today… If I would have had more help taking off fish and baiting hooks, your record of 111 fish in 3 hours would have fallen today!!! It was that unbelievable!!! I think everyone must have caught between 50 and 70 fish each, and some were mighty big! We caught some really nice grunts, snappers, parrotfish, tomtates, porkfish and even a seargent major or two. Good thing Madeline, Emily and Robert helped to bait lines and take fish off!!!
The action was so incredible that I heard complaints that wrists and arms were getting sore reeling so many fish in!!! Now that’s what I call FUN!!! I may never again see fishing action like this, but I can only hope!!! Most of the time you couldn’t even get your line to the bottom before you had a fish on. And of course all this excitement and non-stop action brought in the Big Barracudas right up underneath the boat!!! And it wasn’t long before they decided to make a meal of all the big fish that were fighting hard not to come in!!! We had fish eaten right up next to the boat and I can tell you that was exciting!!! Matter of fact, it was AWESOME!!! At least for us that is… I’m sure the snapper felt otherwise…
As it turned out, I have no idea how many fish we caught, but it had to be somewhere over three hundred. That may sound like a fish story to some, but we know better!!! We lived the ADVENTURE!!! You can ask anybody on board today and they would say the same thing. Non stop from start to finish!!! It just couldn’t have been any better!!! It was just GREAT!!! JUST GREAT!!! God, I LOVE THIS JOB!!!
When we finally reached the point where no one could reel in one more fish, we pulled anchor and went to the Rock Garden for a quick swim and a rinse. We spent some time chasing fish and crabs and relaxed, just having fun! On the way back to the boat when it was time to leave, A big manatee came by, gave us an up close and personal look, and then continued on. We gave him a quick rub on the back before he left. It couldn’t have been a nicer way to end the day!!! I would have loved to kiss him right on his nose!!! Did I say, “It just couldn’t get any better than this”!!!
All I can say is, “So Far, We had fun from start to finish”!!! And I don’t know about you, but I just can’t wait till tomorrow!!! We have one more day left, And I can guarantee you, I’m going to make it FUN!!! It’s going to be GREAT!!! Wish you could join us!!!
LET’S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! Finished up the second weekly Adventure session and finally getting a few free minutes to write about the wonderful week we had!!! Just don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything I need to get done, done, when running double sessions per week. At this time I [...]
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! Finished up the second weekly Adventure session and finally getting a few free minutes to write about the wonderful week we had!!! Just don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything I need to get done, done, when running double sessions per week. At this time I don’t have any other afternoon sessions scheduled but may later . Will keep you up to date on that. Wish I had room for everyone who wanted to go!!! Will have to come up with something! Now on to the Second Weeks Adventure!!!
Left my dad’s dock early Tuesday morning and stopped to pick up AdventureZach, Matthew, Hanna and Max on the way to Phil Foster Park. They live just down the lake a bit and this made it easier for all to just grab them and then run for the rest. When we arrived at Phil Foster Park we were greeted by AdventureKatie, Lauren and Andrew from last year. Seems that everybody arrives early and with smiles for my camp and I just love it! We had perfect weather for this week too, calm winds, sunny skies and nice clear water along the beach! Doesn’t get any better than that! We spent the week boating and exploring, island hopping, going to the Big Sandbar, the Rock Garden, Munyon Island, Starfish Prairie, the Beach and of course Fishing!!!! And did we Ever Have FUN!!! And Lots of it!!!
We spent about an hour or so each morning going to the Rock Garden and just having a ball snorkeling along the rocks and finding hundreds of crabs of all kinds. From hermit crabs, arrow crabs, swimming crabs, rock crabs and stone crabs, etc. You name it, we probably found it! And as usual there were the hundreds of different species of reef fish to enjoy and admire along the way!!! Had a lovely stingray glide past us foraging for food and saw quite a few small barracudas and loads of Bermuda Chubs, Parrotfish and Doctorfish every where we looked. AdventureZach was able to catch a nice sharpnosed pufferfish which we nick-named “Puff Daddy” and as if just on cue, it puffed up perfectly. We absolutely loved that!!! Everybody had a chance to take an up close and personal look at “Puff Daddy” then we let him go happily on his way. Always love coming to this spot, never know what we might see.
We stopped by the Big sandbar every time it was out of water for a quick romp around and to check out the fighting conchs, starfish, box crabs and anything else we could find. One afternoon we found a nice big Horse Conch trying to chase down a fighting conch for a quick meal. I was going to say “easy” meal except that every time he got close to a fighting conch and was almost able to get his foot around to hold it, that fighting conch would literally start jumping away as fast as it could go! Was fascinating to watch this interaction between a large predatory mollusk trying to chase down a meal. Never saw it get one but was cool to see!!! Horse Conchs are the largest species of Mollusk found along the east coast of North America, can get up to 38 inches in length and eat other shells by wrapping their large “foot” around the other shell then literally “sucking” it out of its shell and swallowing it whole. First time I saw one here. Nice Find!!! Its always exciting when we find something new we haven’t seen before…
And of course, its had to match the fun and excitement of our FISHING DAY!!!. 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 even a Butter Hamlet. First time for one of those. We had a bet to see who could catch the most fish and AdventureAndrew took the win! Nice Job!!! Most of the time the girls win this bet. The guys are busy talking and the girls are busy fishing!!!! And as usual, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” over and over and OVER!!! Good thing AdventureNicholas from last week came to give me a hand helping to bait lines, unhook fish and clean up, and even still, we were running deep in the hole behind this gang trying to keep up with all the fish they were catching too!!!
One morning we stopped by Starfish Prairie on the way to Little Munyon Island to check out some of the large starfish that are found here. Always love finding the large Cushion Sea Stars that inhabit this hard rock, sea urchin covered bottom. Have to be really careful when walking around here or you will find yourself with a nice short-spined sea urchin stuck to the bottom of your foot. Been there, done that on numerous occasions, hence those water shoes I always wear now a days…. Spent an hour or so seine netting the shallows behind Munyon Island and came up with some nice juvenile grunts, tomtates, permit and snappers. After this we took a romp around the island and then headed out towards the beach south of the Lake Worth jetty.
Every day we were lucky to get a chance to go out the Inlet and along the beach to do some snorkeling, beach combing and shell collecting, etc. The Ocean was flat calm all week and the water beautifully clear along the beach. We were so lucky! Wish it was always like this!!! Just love it!!! It was so much Fun being here!!! We never wanted to head back in and call it a day!!! One day the group dug such a large hole by hand the whole gang could fit in it. Couldn’t imagine if they had shovels! Another day we were saddened to discover a large dead Green Sea Turtle washed up along the beach. It had been run over by a boat and you could see that the propeller gashes had penetrated deep into the carapace. It was a good lesson for us all to keep a sharp eye out for sea turtles resting on the surface while boating, and especially now during sea turtle nesting season when they are much more likely to be encountered. As we walked further down the beach, our spirits quickly lifted when we observed a large manatee swimming slowly in the shallows along the south jetty. We hurriedly donned our masks and got in. The manatee swam over as if to take a closer look and for a few seconds we stared eye to eye, each checking the other out. We watched as she slowly swam away into the distance…
It was just GREAT and a fitting way to end the weeks adventure!!! We had such a BLAST and not one of us wanted to call it a day!!! Such a great week with such a great group!!! Just doesn’t get any better than this!!! And for me, I just couldn’t wait for the afternoon session to begin and to get back out, and… HAVE SOME FUN!!!
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back! We just finished up the first day of another new and wonderful adventure session and as usual we had an absolutely fantastic time! It was perfect from start to finish! Just the way I love it!!! AdventureJonah, Annie, Allison and Nicholas came back for some more adventuring and the four of [...]
Welcome Back! We just finished up the first day of another new and wonderful adventure session and as usual we had an absolutely fantastic time! It was perfect from start to finish! Just the way I love it!!! AdventureJonah, Annie, Allison and Nicholas came back for some more adventuring and the four of us were joined by five new adventurers, Adventure Emily, Katie, McKenzie, Megan and Joseph. Everyone was excited and ready to start the day. I quickly gave a run down on what we were going to do and we loaded up, donned life jackets and off we went.
We went straight to the Rock Garden, dropped anchor, readied our gear and in we went. From the very start I could tell this was going to be another great group. It didn’t take them long to get ready and they could swim like fish! Just great!!!The minute we got in we were surrounded by parrotfish, surgeonfish, doctor fish, porkfish, pinfish, grunts, snappers, wrasse, menhaden and hundreds of tropical fish too numerous to mention. We saw some barracudas, snook and large houndfish chasing menhaden with blue runners quickly following. It was wonderful to see so many fish in such shallow water and as usual the visibility was almost perfect.
We swam from spot to spot chasing fish, catching hermit crabs, finding queen conchs and looking for “treasures”. We covered almost every square inch, stopping here and there to check out something new, answer questions and look for more. It was non stop fun for two hours and we finally headed back to the boat for some snacks and drinks and take a quick breather. The wind was out of the west today and the ocean flat calm so we pulled anchor and decided to motor around the south jetty and park right next to the beach. What a great decision that was!!!
We didn’t even have a chance to drop anchor before we spotted two large manatees coming right towards us. They stopped in three feet of water not far from the boat and just laid there and nibbled algae off each others backs for half an hour. We had such a fabulous time watching them from 3 feet away. You just wanted to swim up and kiss one! Well actually, both of them! They didn’t even mind that we were there watching and smiling the whole time. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!, and boy were we lucky to have that opportunity in crystal clear water! What a way to start the first day!!! Right on!!!
A while later they swam into deeper water and we spent some time swimming along the shoreline looking for shells and watching juvenile permit and pompano search for sand fleas in the shallows. We just could not have had a more wonderful first day than this! With only a short time left we loaded up, motored to the sand bar and searched for fighting conchs, mantis shrimp and what ever else we could discover. We found both Florida and West Indian fighting conchs and watched as many were laying eggs. We found one conch that was extremely beautiful! Instead of being solid orange or dark brown inside, it had a pure white interior that was outlined in bright purple.
Absolutely gorgeous! I have never seen one like this before, really a nice discovery! Everyone took a look, then we put it back where we found it and swam back to the boat. It was time to go, and I can tell you nobody wanted to head home yet! I had heard it all before, ” AdventureMike, why can’t your camp last till 3 or 5 instead of 1, why do we have to go back so soon?” Oh boy, I still haven’t come up with a good answer for that…. and most of the time I don’t want to go back either. Oh well…
All of us had such a wonderful time! You could see it in our smiles and hear the excitement in our voices! We just couldn’t wait to do it all over again! Each one of us was looking forward to tomorrow! We just can’t wait!!!
Stay tuned….. We are going to have some fun!!! I can guarantee it!!! Right on!!!
Hi everyone, I just got back in from the second day of another new and wonderful adventure, and let me tell you it was another great start! We started the week off with a few repeat adventurers; Adventure Jonah, Adventure Annie and Adventure Jake, and one new adventurer, Adventure Javier. Adventure Jake’s dad, Adventure Paul [...]
I just got back in from the second day of another new and wonderful adventure, and let me tell you it was another great start! We started the week off with a few repeat adventurers; Adventure Jonah, Adventure Annie and Adventure Jake, and one new adventurer, Adventure Javier. Adventure Jake’s dad, Adventure Paul decided to join us as well for some much needed rest and relaxation but I’m not sure if he got any, looked like he was too busy having fun to me!
On Monday we started off the adventure session with a trip to the Rock Garden. The water conditions were unbeatable. Crystal clear, calm ,warm, fish in every direction and best of all, no-one else around! Just the way I love it. Our very own piece of paradise! Sometimes its just hard to leave this spot! We began by doing a little bit of collecting and identification, found 6 different species of hermit crabs alone. The most common ones being the Giant Hermit, Stareye Hermit, Red Reef Hermit and the Red-Stripe Hermit. There were hundreds with beautiful blue legs and some with long green slender legs, but at this time I am not sure what species they are. I will have to find out. We collected 3 different species of Blennies, the Hairy Blenny, Seaweed Blenny and the Molly Miller. I saw a few others but couldn’t catch them bare-handed. We saw numerous species of tropical fish, angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, snook, jacks, lizard fish, porkfish, seargent majors, wrasse, sheephead, snapper, grunts, and large schools of menhayden, etc. A virtual bonanza of fish in every direction, the usual here. We didn’t get out of the water for 3 straight hours. Like I said, sometimes its just hard to leave…
With one hour left we headed over to the sandbar to play in the shallows. We looked for conch and mantis shrimp and found juvenile blue crabs galore. We talked about the differences between Florida fighting conchs and West Indian fighting conchs and even found a few hawk-wing conchs as well, not too common around here anymore. It was a nice find! We spent the rest of the time looking for pelagic tunicates, a translucent type of free swimming ascidian that looks similiar to a jellyfish, but without the stinging tentacles, and came up with a few. They are almost transparent in the water and difficult to see. From here I headed back with the sounds of, ” Do we have to go back already?” echoing from all sides. The usual…
Today we loaded up and again headed back to the Rock Garden. The conditions were just as perfect as yesterday, and everyone raring to go. Same beautiful scene, different day!!! In seconds, Adventurers Annie, Jonah, Jake and Javier were in the water and telling me and Adventure Paul to “hurry up” and “don’t take so long”. I thought I was quick to get in. About got trampled underneath by 8 tiny feet all in a hurry to be the first ones on the dive platform. Whew, that was a close call…
Once in we headed towards the shallow rocks. Everyone was pointing in different directions for me to look. “Adventure Mike over here, over here, a snook, a snook… No, no, over here ,over here, a barracuda, a barracuda… Look here, Over here, a parrotfish, a parrotfish… Adventure Mike, Adventure Mike…and on and on…” Shortly after this I put Adventure Paul to work giving me a hand, so much for his rest and relaxation.
A few moments after this I heard Adventure Jonah yell, “A manatee, a manatee” and I thought he might be mistaken.
I turned around to take a look and sure enough, there was a young manatee swimming right beside us looking us right in the eye! He wasn’t 4 feet away! Could of smooched him on the nose if I wasn’t in a panic hurrying to turn on the camera to take a picture. At times like these no camera turns on quick enough. By the time I got ready he was passing us by and I hurriedly pointed and hit the shutter button once or twice.
I was so excited I don’t even remember looking in the view finder. I don’t think professional underwater photographers are supposed to make that mistake. Oh well…
After another hour or two swimming we headed back to the boat, had lunch, reapplied sunscreen and headed to Little Munyon Island to try some cast-netting. Everyone took turns, but Adventure Jake, under the fine tutelage of his dad, Adventure Paul, was already a pro! It didn’t take him long to fill a bucket with Killifish, sometimes called mud-minnows, mullet and moharras, also called sandperch. It was great fun! Adventure Jonah, Javier and Annie were quick to learn but by now we had spooked most of the fish so there wasn’t much around. Adventure Annie began playing in the shallows and she came up with a nice nine-armed starfish, Adventure Jake found a nice horseshoe crab molt and plenty of short spined urchins and Adventure Javier and Jonah continued practicing throwing the cast net until it was time to leave. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my watch and it was already 1pm. We were almost running late, we had to hurry, it was time to go. And once again I thought, “Time does fly when you’re having Fun!!!
Can’t wait till tomorrow!!! Wonder what we’re going to see next? Stay tuned for the next adventure… Better yet, come join us!