Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling Fun!

Posted by 13 July, 2011 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We’ve been having so much FUN these past few weeks that I just haven’t found the time and energy to keep up to date with my blogs and posts. I’m running a couple weeks behind and its about time that I get right down to it!!! Thanks for your patience!Where does […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

We’ve been having so much FUN these past few weeks that I just haven’t found the time and energy to keep up to date with my blogs and posts. I’m running a couple weeks behind and its about time that I get right down to it!!! Thanks for your patience!Where does the time go? For us it has been spent boating, fishing, snorkeling, seine netting, crab trapping, island hiking and exploring, and having all kinds of Adventure Fun!!! Fun from Here to There!!! And like I seem to say every week, “It has been just GREAT, and I mean from start to finish!!!” It just doesn’t get any better than this!! The water quality for this week at the Rock Garden has been the best the whole summer! Crystal clear water, flat calm and loads of fish in every direction you look!!! I have never seen so many snook, sheeps head and parrotfish like I have seen this week! Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, every where you look there seems to be a dozen looking back at you!!! Now that’s what I call having FUN!!! And if you ask AdventureMichael, Nicholas, William, Jacob, Vinnie, Domanik, Rocky, Eli and Gabrielle, they would all tell you the same thing! FUN FUN FUN from start to finish!!!

island group photo

We spent a bit of each day going straight to the Rock Garden to do some snorkeling and check out the tremendous schools of fish that inhabit this area. The water was as clear as it could possibly be, and we were the only ones there, no one else in sight. Our very own swimming pool full of fish! Just the way I love it!!! Every where we looked were fish in all different sizes, shapes and colors imaginable. Large schools of snook and juvenile barracuda were all around us lying lazily in the shallows, their bellies gorged to the max on menhaden. At times the schools of menhaden and glass minnows were so thick you could hardly see a snorkeler thru them! It was just great, and did we ever love that!!!

Rock garden Fun

We spent a fair amount of time at the Rock Garden chasing fish thru the shallows with our nets. By the end of the week we caught some cool wrasse, a couple of beau gregories, lots of blennies, and even came up with a juvenile green moray eel that was a first for the camp and darn hard to keep in the net! It was a nice catch and cool to check out, before we let it go back into the rocks where we had found it. We found dozens of queen conchs and a few smaller hawkwing conchs scattered along the rocky bottom. Somewhere along the way, AdventureJacob found a nice milk conch that was just about fully mature but still had a thin lip that was just beginning to flare out. It was a nice find and another first for the camp! Not very common around here! Way to go Jacob!

Jacob finds a milk conch

Each day we came back to the Rock Garden, we would search for crabs under the rocks.We found hundreds, and I mean hundreds of blue-legged hermit crabs. There seemed to be dozens under each and every rock, much to our enjoyment! We found some really cool mantis shrimp, popping shrimp and tiny pistol shrimp. Most of us even came up with some unusual porcelain crabs and rock crabs clinging to the undersides of the rocks. We caught dozens of swimming crabs and juvenile blue crabs and that kept us busy for a while!We all took turns checking out each others finds, and loved every minute of it!!! The big sheep head would follow us around trying to take the crabs right out of our fingertips! One morning, AdventureMichael came up with such a big blue crab, that even the sheep head knew better than to try and mess with this one! Nice Job Michael! One BIG crab too!!! Didn’t get pinched either! Alright!!!

Michael with Blue Crab

The coolest thing we found by turning over rocks in the shallows, was a juvenile octopus that would cling and stick to your hands with its suction cup tentacles, and just about never let go! It was a wonderful find and all the kids loved it, including even the big kids like me!!! We all took turns checking it out up close and personal. We watched as it siphoned water thru its sphericals and changed its color, which they are able to do by expanding or contracting their specialised pigment cells called chromatophores. By the end of the week, we had found 3 different ones. I know AdventureGabrielle sure loved holding this one! We all did!!!

Gabrielle with octopus

We spent about a half hour each day exploring the Big Sandbar and walking around in the shallows to see what we could discover. We found hundreds of fighting conchs laying eggs, saw dozens of scaly tailed mantis shrimp peeking their heads out of their holes, caught numerous juvenile blue crabs and star eyed hermit crabs, found more than a half dozen beaded starfish and even snorkeled and explored around a sunken boat where we found an inch long spiny burrfish and a few arrow crabs. On the way back to the boat, AdventureDomanik found a nice big Cushion Starfish that we all thought was way cool! Way to go Domanik!

Domanik with starfish

Each time we passed by the Big Sandbar, I put out a trolling line with a big silver “gotcha” plug on in the hopes that we would hook a barracuda for the kids to reel in, and that we could later use as bait in our crab traps or on our shark line. We had numerous fish on thru out the week, and every now and then we would catch a nice big one that would give a good fight and often leap clear of the water, and shake its head trying to dislodge the fish hook. It was a wonderful and exciting experience for the kids and everyone took turns reeling them in. AdventureMichael sure had fun reeling this nice barracuda in!

Group with barracuda

Thursday was our fishing day, and like every fishing day we’ve had this year, it was non-stop action from start to finish!! And I mean from the very second the line hit bottom! I just about couldn’t keep up with all the action these kids were having!! I baited the hooks and took fish off as fast as I could, but still I couldn’t keep up!!! I didn’t get a chance to even look at my watch until almost three hours went by! Talk about being busy, and having FUN, we were sure having it then!!! Just the way I remember it!!! God, I just love it like this!!! I’m not sure who caught what or how many, but everyone was catching fish and having a blast, and that is what counts!!! I know AdventureEli sure had FUN catching this big grunt!!!

Eli catches a grunt

All I know is that this gang of Adventurers and I were beat by the time our fishing day came to an end!!! We had smiles on our faces from ear to ear, and had an absolute ball!!! We didn’t catch the big ones today, but we sure made up for that in quantity!!! Its hard not to have fun when your catching yellowtail snappers, lane snappers, ceasars grunts, tomtates, porgies, butter hamlets, pigfish and even a few big pinfish, one after another after another!!! By the hundreds!!! I know AdventureNick sure loved catching this nice yellowtail snapper!!!

Nick catches yellowtail snapper

Another day we went to the backside of Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting along the shallow grass flats. This is another thing the kids absolutely love! Sometimes you find dwarf seahorses sometimes juvenile barracudas and sometimes a variety of burrfish and puffers. You never know what you might come up with and I think thats whats the most FUN! Everyone loves checking, and clearing the net of fish, and when the net comes in, it is a blur of hands trying to pick up all the really cool things first!Sometimes all I hear is, “MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE, MINE…” What a pile of FUN!!!

seine netting

On this day we came up with some really big pipefish, a few juvenile barracudas, tons of mojarras, juvenile grunts and snappers, a couple of tiny hogsnappers, pink shrimp, grass shrimp and some nice checkered puffers!!! By the time we got done seine netting we had caught 7 checkered puffers and a few sharp nose puffers, and I can tell you everbody sure loved holding those!!! The really great thing too, is those checkered puffers seemed to inflate right on cue the minute you picked one up! We all loved that!!! I know AdventureWilliam sure did!!!

William with checkered puffer

After we were seine nettings and put away the net, we swam down to Sea Urchin Shoals and spent the next hour finding hundreds of short-spined or variegated sea urchins in every size, shape and color combination you could find! That’s how they get their name, variegated urchins, from the variety of colors they come in. It didn’t take us long to find them by the netfuls. They literally covered the bottom! We had a blast letting them stick to our hands with their tiny tube feet and looking for the smallest one we could find! I won on this day, finally!!! It was just great!

Sea urchin collectors

I think we swam half way around Little Munyon Island looking for sea urchins and trying to find the color combinations that we liked best. My favorite color combination is the one that has the bright white shell and the very tips of the short spines a rich deep purple. I didn’t find any of these today, but I’m always looking. Some of the kids liked the bright pink urchins, the brilliant red ones, or the green and pink banded ones. I think AdventureWilliam seemed to like them all, no matter which color they were!!! He was collecting them by the handfuls!!!

handful of sea urchins

As we swam thru a shallow section of sea grass beds, I heard AdventureGabrielle yelling that he found a puffer fish ,and I swam over to take a look. When I got close I could see him pointing to a nice big striped burrfish lying totally motionless, almost perfectly camouflaged amongst the sea grass. It was a nice find and I gently scooped it up in a small handnet so that we could al check it out. We took turns carefully and gently holding it, and inspecting it up close and personal. We were all careful to avoid placing our fingers near the mouth and teeth as they ae capable of giving a painful bite! Good job Gabrielle!!!

gabrielle and burrfish

On the way back to the boat, we came upon a BIG blue crab crawling about thru the shallows. We gave chase, and eventually had it cornered between all of us. It stood its ground and began to wave its claws menancing back and forth. I carefully scooped it up and held it by the back legs just where they attach to the shell or carapace. This is the best way I know how to handle a big blue crab without getting pinched. Well, most of the time anyway!!! I showed the group the proper way to hold it and AdventureRocky was the first to give it a try! I have to say, he handled that big crab perfectly!!! Way to go Rocky!!! And way to pay attention!!!

Rocky & blue crab

The last part of the day we spent at the beach snorkeling for shells and sea glass, and checking out the turtle tracks and nests from the night before. The kids had fun playing on the beach, digging for sand fleas and having chicken fights along the waters edge. There were a couple of good matches, and it was great fun to watch! Everyone had a ball horseing around till it was time to go!! It was just GREAT!!! On this day, AdventureMichael and Nicholas were the definite champs!!! Nice job guys! Way to have FUN!!!

horsefighting champ

What a way to end the day!!! What a wonderful way to end the week!!! I can tell you none of us was ready to go back when it was time to leave! We were just too busy having fun, Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!! Can’t wait to do it all over again next week!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! I know its going to be GREAT!!!! See you all soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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COOL SEA CREATURE ENCOUNTERS!!!

Posted by 30 June, 2011 (0) Comment

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

Hi Everybody!!! Welcome back!!!

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

Morning group

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

Afternoon group

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

Rock Garden

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

Fun day on the water

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

measled cowrie

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

Pucker up burrfish

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

Striped burrfish swims by

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

Scaly mantis shrimp

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

mantis shrimp close-up

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

Finding hermit crabs

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

Jakob & starfish

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

Maxwell finds arrow crab

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

Max finds beaded starfish

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

Brett with octopus head

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

South jetty

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

Long spined burrfish

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

Hairy clinging crab

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

One cute manatee

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

Friendly manatee underwater

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

Julia catches fish

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

Extra low tide

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

Lilly & Noelle seining

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

Jack with striped burrfish

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

Sea urchin collector Trevor

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

Sea urchin collector Lilly

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

Long-spined sea urchin and group

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

Julia finds a starfish

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

Upside down starfish

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

hammerhead 1

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

hammerhead 3

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

hammerhead 4

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

See you soon!!!

AdventureMike

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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Summer 2009 Week 4: Hiking, Fishing and having Fun at the Beach!

Posted by 26 June, 2009 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!! We just finished up the third day of week 4 and let me tell you it’s been another FUN week!!! Got lucky with the weather too! When I left my dock on Tuesday morning to head to Phil Foster Park it was a little wet, but by the time I arrived […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!!

We just finished up the third day of week 4 and let me tell you it’s been another FUN week!!! Got lucky with the weather too! When I left my dock on Tuesday morning to head to Phil Foster Park it was a little wet, but by the time I arrived at Phil Foster Park the sky was clearing. Good thing too cause I could tell this weeks group of Adventurers was raring to go, no matter what the weather was going to be! As soon as AdventureRachel, Amanda, Brendan, Brian, Robert, Michael and Christopher were on board I could tell it was going to be another great week! Their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious!!! Since it was still a little cloudy out to the south, we decided to head north to Munyon Island and start the day with an island hike and a bit of Adventure.

Island Exploration

Island Exploration

Before I had a chance to even drop anchor, this group was ready to go!!! We hopped out and headed up the boardwalk trail and before long we were on our way to the backside of the island to see what we could find. This trail was relatively new and took us past a big stand of Ficus and Sea- grape trees, thru a mangrove estuary, along a salt marsh prairie and eventually out along the northeast side of the island. It was a beautiful hike and along the way we saw wild coffee plants, knickerbean trees, ospreys, giant blue land crabs, monarch and zebra butterflies, a number of lizards and a few big banana spiders high up in the trees. We searched the shallow flats and found dozens of sea grass hermit crabs in a variety of beautiful shells, hundreds of juvenile blue crabs, but no luck finding any live horseshoe crabs. I was hoping to find a few but they are not too common around here anymore. We found a half dozen or so molts from them which we checked out and AdventureBrendan and Christopher kept one each for a souvenir. Nice Big ones too! After an hour or so we headed back to the boat and went to the Rock Garden for a bit of snorkeling.

The tide was incoming, the water crystal clear and the Rock Garden was full of fish, as usual! Within the last week the big schools of Menhaden arrived and we had a wonderful opportunity to swim through large schools of snook and small barracudas on the prowl for an easy meal. It was just great to watch the fish swirl around us by the thousands! We saw hundreds of snappers, grunts, seargent majors, porkfish, Bermuda chub and parrotfish, etc and even a nice small yellow ray without a tail or barb. Looked like a swimming yellow spotted “dinner plate”. I tried to catch it by hand but no luck. It was too slippery to hold on to. AdventureChristopher gave me the “thumbs up” for trying though!

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up!

The second day we stopped by the Big Sandbar to do a bit of snorkeling over the shallow bar and found quite a few large Mantis Shrimp peaking out of their tunnels at us. We tried to bait a few out but they were more wary than I had hoped. Maybe next time… We all found dozens of Florida and West Indian fighting conchs, short-spined sea urchins and numerous olive shells sliding across the bottom. We chased a few small barracudas out of the shallows just to show them who was “boss” then decided to head out along the beach since the ocean was flat calm.

We had barely made it around the Jetty when right before us was tremendous splash. A second later a group of Bottlenose Dolphin leaped out of the water and began chasing a school of houndfish right off our bow. The houndfish would race, skipping along the surface with the Dolphin in hot pursuit!! We watched as the Dolphin caught one houndfish after another and ate them right before our eyes. Let me tell you, our group of Adventurers were loving this!!! Wish you could have been there to hear their excitement!!! It was just GREAT!!! And just as this was coming to an end, a large Loggerhead Sea Turtle came up for a few quick breaths of air right beside the boat, gave us a quick once over as if checking us out, then lazily swam back towards the bottom. We were having a Blast!!! Love it like this!!! We spent the last hour snorkeling along the beach for shells and body surfing the boat wakes when they would come by. Does it get any better than this?

Today was our fishing day and we were joined by AdventureDakota from last Summer who caught a nice big red grouper the last time he was along! We dropped anchor on my secret spot and as soon as the bait hit the water we were having bites! AdventureAmanda caught the first fish, which by chance was her very first fish ever, so I had to definitely take a picture of that! Nice Job Amanda!!! You Rock!!!

Amandas First Fish!

Amanda's First Fish!

It wasn’t long after that before the whole gang was having them on. All at the same time of course!!! And boy was I missing my helper AdventureNicholas today!! He’s great with kids, fishing, boating, baiting the hooks, rigging the lines, taking off the fish and cleaning the boat, etc. but he over slept and missed the boat. And let me tell you that left me EXTRA busy today. We’ll have to make sure to give him a little “grief” next time we see him just to let him know he was missed!!! Good thing Rachel, Brendan, Amanda and the rest of the gang were quick to learn how to bait their own hooks and take off the fish to give me a hand. I had to move the boat a few times to stay on the fish, but it was non stop from start to finish as usual. I think AdventureDakota may have caught the most fish, AdventureBrendan caught two at once and AdventureAmanda caught the biggest. A nice Margate that fought hard!!! Good job!!! A bit later Dakota was reeling in a nice snapper when a tremendous barracuda decided to have it for lunch and he did a superb job fighting that for quite a while before it bit thru the line. Nice job there too!!! It was nice to see that everyone caught fish and had non stop action as usual!!!

Everyone has a fish on at once!

Everyone has a fish on at once!

The last hour of the day we went back out to the beach for some snorkeling, sea glass and shell collecting and competitive game of “chicken fighting”. Amanda and Rachel against Brendan and Brian, and I have to say in my opinion the girls won! It was great fun for all and a wonderful way to end the day and burn off any excess energy!!! I can tell you that not one of us was ready to call it a day!!!  We were having too much FUN!!! The really nice thing though, is that we have one more day left, and who knows what we may find and discover then!!! I can promise you one thing, we are going to have a BLAST!!! Am thinking about starting the day at the Rock Garden and catching all kinds of fish with nets. Know we will have a ball doing that! Stay tuned to see what we discover and the fun we’re going to have!!! Wish you could join us!!! It’s going to be great!!!

Having FUN Chicken Fighting!

Having FUN Chicken Fighting!

LET”S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2009: June 22 - June 25 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer 2009 Begins!!!

Posted by 7 June, 2009 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!! We just finished our first weekly Adventure and as usual we had a BLAST!!!!! We’ve been so busy adventuring this week I haven’t even had a chance, nor the energy to write about it! As some of you may know, I’ve had such a wonderful response to my camp that I […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!! We just finished our first weekly Adventure and as usual we had a BLAST!!!!! We’ve been so busy adventuring this week I haven’t even had a chance, nor the energy to write about it! As some of you may know, I’ve had such a wonderful response to my camp that I decided to do double sessions to try and get some more of you in, and even then I couldn’t accommodate all the requests I’ve had. Thanks to you all! For those of you who couldn’t get your child in, I’m sorry…. Would love to be able take everyone who wanted to go, just not able to. Please register early next year when I open up registration and get ALL the paper work to me IMMEDIATELY to hold your space when that time comes! I already know I won’t be able to take everyone for sure then! Now on to this past weeks ADVENTURE!!!

 Havin Fun!

When I arrived at the dock bright and early for the Tuesday morning session I could already tell we were going to have another great group! The kids were there, excited and raring to go, and with smiles from ear to ear. Just the way I love it!!! Soon afterwards, AdventureMatthew, Casey, Jaime, Miriam, Katie, Thomas, Nicholas and Neil boarded my Adventure boat, “DREAM CHASER” to begin the weeks adventure. And were they ever ready to go!!! We stowed the gear, off we went and the FUN began…

We spent the week boating and exploring, isaland 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!!! From start to finish it was a blast and each session seemed to end way to soon!

On the Big Sandbar we found hundreds of Florida and West Indian fighting Conchs and loads of short-spined sea urchins in a variety of colors. We checked them all to see what new color combinations we could find. My favorite being the bright white with the deep purple short spines. Just beautiful!!! Along the way we discovered Mantis Shrimp burrows and watched as Tube Worms slowly filtered sand to digest the algae off each grain. We came upon the broken carapace of a very large Rooster Crab, in the family of box or shame-faced crabs known for holding their claws in front of their faces, that had been freshly eaten by a ray and found quite a few Baby’s Ear Mollusks burrowing in the sand. Always love finding those!

We found a variety of starfish every time we went, from Beaded Sea Stars, Cushion Sea Stars and the unusual Nine-Armed Starfish that’s mainly nocturnal. Always a treat!!! That gave me a great opportunity to take some cool photos of AdventureNeil and a few others with “Nine-Armed Starfish Head” a first for the trip!!! On one day we found a very rare and unusual fish resting in a shallow hole with only an inch or two of water remaining, maybe a hundred feet from the waters edge. I was excited to see it was a Flying Gurnard, distinguished by having fan like pectoral fins that often have brilliant iridescent blue lines and markings!!! It was a fabulous discovery!!! These fish have modified ventral fins that allow them to “walk” about and turn over rocks and shells while foraging. A very unusual fish and one that I rarely see. Boy were we Lucky!!! We released it unharmed into deeper water. I know it was glad about that. Every now and then when we would get cold swimming, we would come back to the Big Sandbar and sit in a deep hole filled with hot water that we nicknamed “The Hot Tub” to warm up. It was just great!!! Our very own hot tub…

At the Rock Garden we saw the usual…. Hundreds of fish in every size, shape and color imaginable! From small barracudas to snook, porkfish, parrotfish, sheepsheads, grunts, snappers, angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish, blennies, etc. Every where you looked there was something else to be seen… We spent hours searching under the shallow rocks and found all types of hermit crabs, box crabs, rock crabs, porcelain crabs, swimming crabs, stone crabs, pistol shrimp, popping shrimp, blennies and more. A plethora of discoveries with every turn. Just love it that way!!!

This week we were lucky to have calm enough seas to run out the inlet and around the South Jetty to park right near the beach and do some beach combing for shells and worn sea glass. All of us came home with a few treasures of our own. We had hours of fun “hill jumping” and body surfing the small waves in crystal clear water. Never wanted to leave here, and in between body surfing and snorkeling, the group played a few games of “chicken” where Casey and Jaime would team up against Thomas and Nicholas and try and wrestle each other over into the water. It was fun for all!!

  Playing Chicken!

We spent one day going to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallows and had a ball. We caught numerous mojarra, pinfish, juvenile grunts and snappers, pistol shrimp, popping shrimp, seagrass shrimp, smooth trunkfish and even a checkerboard pufferfish which delighted the group by puffing up with air for a quick photo op! On the way home that day we stopped by Starfish Prairie and hurriedly picked up a few large Cushion Starfish for another quick photo opportunity then released them unharmed exactly where we found them. They were everywhere to be found! Really nice to have nearby…

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 AdventureNeil caught one scorpionfish which I was happy to get back in the water as quickly as possible. You definitely want to stay away from the venomous spines on those!!! I learned that the hard way many a year ago and don’t want to repeat that EVER again! OUCH!!! All in all, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” over and over and OVER!!! Good thing AdventureNicholas from last summer 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!!!

All in all, it was a fabulous first week!!! When it was time to head back, no-one was ready to call it a day!!! We were just too busy having fun!!! And Just the way I love it!!! And lucky for me, I got to do it all over again with the second group of Adventurers for the afternoon session!!! Doesn’t get any better than that!!! Wish you could have joined us!!!! We had a BLAST!!! I just couldn’t wait for the second adventure session to begin!!!

All you guys will be missed, and I can’t wait to see you again!, but it was time to…

Hill Jumpin at the Beach

Go Have Some More Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2009: June 2 - June 5 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer 2009 Begins – The Afternoon Adventure!

Posted by 7 June, 2009 (0) Comment

Hi All, I had no sooner finished up the first adventure session and readied the boat when I was joined by my second group of eager and excited Adventurers that in turn were ready for the Fun to begin!!! And so was I!!! AdventureSheri came along to help me with this weeks afternoon Adventure and […]

Hi All,
I had no sooner finished up the first adventure session and readied the boat when I was joined by my second group of eager and excited Adventurers that in turn were ready for the Fun to begin!!! And so was I!!!
AdventureSheri came along to help me with this weeks afternoon Adventure and she and I were joined by AdventureAnnie and Jonah from last Summer and three new Adventurers, Michael, Brooke and Leah. This group was just as full of energy as the last, and great swimmers to too, another fabulous bunch!!! Love it like this!


Group Photo

 
For the weeks afternoon session we followed much like the first group, but in a different order. The days adventure for the most part is determined by the tides. At high tide we go snorkeling, island hopping and beach combing and at low tide we go seine netting in the shallows and exploring at the Big Sandbar, etc. All subject to change at a whim of course… whatever the group or I may want to do. Sometimes we are having so much fun doing one thing that its hard to quit and go do another. Just doesn’t get any better than that!!!
 
Everytime we visited the Big Sandbar we had as much fun as the first group. This was really a great week for low tide exploration since we had lower mean low tides than normal and we found so many different starfish, shells and sea urchins that we couldn’t keep count. Everybody had fun collecting their own and sharing their finds with the rest. And of course, I had to take a few photos of “starfish head” with this group too. Always put a smile on their faces and mine and that’s what counts! AdventureAnnie, Leah and Brooke would be busy finding starfish, conchs and sea urchins while AdventureJonah and Michael would be busy finding crabs, mantis shrimp, baby ear mollusks, sundial shells, bristleworms and netted olives, etc. I was careful to gently pick up a bristleworm and point out the mildly venomous spines and to make sure they knew not to play with them unless they wanted to learn a painful lesson of their own. They don’t call them fireworms for nothing. Yes, I learned that too? Over and over and over, still learning I guess?…


9 Armed Starfish!

 
 AdventureSheri would over see the gang, bring us drinks and snacks, entertain the kids, keep things running smoothly and occasionally find some cool treasures of her own to share with us. Very Nice to have her along!!!  :-)  We had such a great time!!! We would stop and jump into the “hot tub” every time we came just for the fun and to warm up of course. We even practiced to see who could hold their breathes the longest. It was close for all…and left us breathless…
 
We visited the beach and found some cool shells and treasures of our own, checked out some fresh turtle tracks leading up to their nests, found numerous ghost crabs that we couldn’t catch and did some body surfing too. Its nice when the water is crystal clear along the beach and we hoped we might see a few manatees like last year as an extra bonus. No luck, but maybe next week. I hope! We had as much fun here as the first group and none of us wanted to leave!
 
We spent one day at Little Munyon Island finding more large sea grass hermits than you could count and short-spined sea urchins in every color you could imagine by the thousands.  Almost every urchin was covered and camouflaged by little shells held tightly to them by their tiny little tube feet so they looked more like the bottom than urchins themselves. Neat to see them this way. We had a contest to see who could find the smallest one and for a while I had the winner. Later I was usurped by Michael who was later dethroned by Brooke and Leah who some how found one about a quarter inch in diameter. It was a really fun way to spend that afternoon. We even did a little seine netting and came up with a beautiful blue, scrawled cowfish, complete with two tiny “horns”. One over each eye. Everybody had a chance to hold the fish and check out its small mouth, rubbery lips and wiggly tail. They subsist mainly on a diet of small invertebrates and sponges. Very Cool!!! As usual, we stopped at Starfish Prairie along the way to check out the Cushion Sea Stars and found some really nice big red ones to everyone’s delight. Nice Finds…
 
Our fishing day was just as exciting with the same fast paced action, maybe even faster than the first groups. AdventureBrooke and Leah were neck and neck till the very end, both catching almost 40 fish each!!! AdventureJonah, Annie and Michael were following close behind! We had double, triple, qraduple and quintuple hook-ups all at once! Numerous times! Was too busy to take all the photos I wanted. Yes. I lost count of how many times I heard, “AdventureMike, I NEED MORE BAIT!!!”. Oh well…  AdventureJonah caught a big mutton snapper and Michael caught some nice sailors choice and a big black margate. Just another great day of fishing by a great group of “fishermen”! Right on!!!  You guys ROCK!!!


Quadruple Hookup!

 
On the last day we had to cut the adventure session a half hour short and head back to the dock because of a big rain storm to the north of us. Luckily the rain held off till after we arrived and we spent the last minutes glad we were inside out of the wind. We had so much fun this week! Non-stop from beginning to end! None of us wanted this session to end either! It was such a great week and a real adventure for all of us. One I won’t forget anytime soon!  And I’m sure neither will they… That’s what I love about running this camp!!! Sharing the things I love and appreciate with a great group of Adventurers, each one having as much FUN as I…. I can’t wait till next weeks double sessions begin too! Let the Adventure begin!
 
Will miss you all. It was a Blast!!! Hope to see you soon… :-) Until then…
 
Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
 
AdventureMike
Categories : Summer 2009: June 2 - June 5 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Weiss School Student Adventure – Part II

Posted by 16 July, 2008 (0) Comment

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

Hello All,

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

Sea Cucumber Head!

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

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

JC with His Find!

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

Andrew Discovers a Sea Cucumber!

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

Lauren with a Chocolate Chip Sea Cucumber

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

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

Darby and Lauren with Sea Urchin

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

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

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

AdventureMike

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

Things We Seined in our Summer Camp

Posted by 10 July, 2008 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome back! Today’s adventure session was a little bit different than the normal session I had planned and I can guarantee you, everyone had a great time today! We were going to do a little bit more snorkeling in the morning and then an island romp later but when I saw that the […]

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back! Today’s adventure session was a little bit different than the normal session I had planned and I can guarantee you, everyone had a great time today! We were going to do a little bit more snorkeling in the morning and then an island romp later but when I saw that the tide was extremely low, I decided to change things up a bit. We made a quick trip to the sandbar just to check things out and see what we might find. AdventureCarolyn and Jordyn wanted to find some Baby Ear snails so we searched the dry bar till we found their indicative cracks in the sand that let us know the snails were just about to pop out into the open. We collected a few to observe and talk about, then released them a few minutes later into deeper water. It is amazing how fast they can disappear right before your eyes! Now you see them, now you don’t. Just great to watch them go! The hundreds of fighting conchs, blue crabs and mantis shrimp were still there but we decided to let them be and head to Little Munyon Island instead to do some seine netting in the shallows.

Critter Collecting

When we arrived the conditions were perfect for what I had in mind. It was dead low tide and would be incoming all day and I wasn’t worried about getting the boat stuck in the shallows. And perfect for seine netting! We unloaded the gear out of the boat, brought a large plastic container and a couple of 5 gallon buckets and our masks and snorkels and headed to the south end of the island. AdventureBrian and I decided to make the first pull of the net. He followed me out into waste deep water and then we slowly pulled the net towards shore, keeping the lead line on the bottom and out in front to make a nice pocket. We gently pulled the net onto the beach and sorted thru all the fish, putting the unusual ones in a bucket and letting the rest go. I was amazed at the diversity of juvenile fish.

From the very first pull we found dozens of juvenile barracudas, hogfish, parrotfish, pipefish, grunts, snappers, mojarras, pinfish, tomtates, pink shrimp, grass shrimp, filefish, pufferfish, ballonfish, sea urchins. You name it, we just about found it. It was fabulous!!! We all discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem including water quality, mangrove estuaries, grass flats, etc. and how the offshore reefs and fisheries benefited from this natural and delicate balance. As we took turns pulling the net it became obvious to all that the juvenile fish needed the grass beds and mangrove estuaries to provide food, shelter and protection from predators until they could reach a large enough size to move out to the reefs and survive. On one pull, Adventure Dakota, Brian and Jason found a beautiful pigmy seahorse. It was a full sized adult female about 3/4 of an inch in length and the only one I have ever seen here. It was a fabulous find!!! We all loved it! Thank you!!!

Seine Netting

We put away the net, donned our snorkel gear and swam thru the shallow grass beds and found hundreds of short spined sea urchins. AdventureBrian even came up with a nice sized lobster molt and we new what that meant! Somewhere near by was a nice lobster but we never found him. The sea urchins came in all colors and sizes from bright pink to pure white. It was great to see so many! AdventureJordyn, Carolyn, Jason and Dakota spent a good bit of time trying to find the smallest one, while AdventureBrian and I went in search of the elusive 9 armed starfish. I showed him the type of sand and loose coarse shell they like to live in and we began to run our fingers thru the sand searching as we slowly swam back to the boat. It didn’t take him long to find one or me either.

Jordyn, Carolyn and the 9 Armed Starfish

We were in the right spot!!! Everyone came over to check them out and admire them. We then took a few photos, brought one back in the live well to show the parents, and then let them go. We were busy non stop and were having so much fun we barely had time to eat a snack before we had to head back. Somehow the day had come to an end and we felt like we were just getting started. And yes, not one of us was ready to quit! We were just too busy having fun, enjoying ourselves and learning so much! Just the way I love it!!! Today was now over for us, but tomorrow will be another adventure waiting to happen. And we are all looking forward to it! Its fishing day!!!, and we know how much fun that is!!! Can’t wait till tomorrow! I don’t know about you, but we’re going to have some Fun and catch some fish too!!!

See you soon on the return,

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 7 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pool Hopping Near Munyon Island

Posted by 30 June, 2008 (1) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session and as usual, what a great day it was! Adventure David and Dina from last week had so much fun they decided to join me for this week too. Alright! I just love it when kids come back! After […]

Hi Everybody,

Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session and as usual, what a great day it was! Adventure David and Dina from last week had so much fun they decided to join me for this week too. Alright! I just love it when kids come back! After a weekly session of adventuring you almost feel like you’ve become family. We have that great a time! I’m going to miss them when they go back home to Hungary. Today the three of us were joined by 4 new adventurers, AdventureCorey, Hannah, Parker and Maxwell, and I can already tell its going to be another great group!

Group Photo

We left the dock and headed out to do the normal first day adventure going to the Rock Garden and checking out the hundreds of fish that call this place home. When I came around the bend I noticed the sandbar was already exposed and dead low tide wasn’t till around noon so I knew it was going to be an extreme low tide. When we arrived at the Rock Garden the water was only about 2 feet deep instead of the usual 4 to 5 foot range so we anchored out a bit further than normal got our snorkel stuff together and got in. The large schools of menhaden, parrotfish and sheepshead were still there. We all took little collection nets and spent the first hour catching blue crabs, hermit crabs, swimming crabs, arrowcrabs, rock crabs, brittle starfish, blennies and a variety of pistol and popping shrimp. I think each one of us caught something different. After a while, the water level got so low we could walk from place to place without getting deeper than our knees. I have never seen such a low tide here. It has to be an unusual planetary alignment or moon phase or both to cause this extreme low tide. We decided to go to the sandbar to check that out.

When we arrived, we were amazed by what we saw. The whole north side of the island was exposed for hundreds of yards. It was just so unusual to see this much area out of water. We could already see shells and starfish popping out of the sand. We hurriedly grabbed our nets, masks and a bucket and headed out to explore. By the time we got to the sandbar, AdventureCorey, David, Parker and Maxwell had nets full of crabs.

I Found a Brittle Starfish!

We found some really unusual box crabs, egg masses to moon snails and fighting conchs and lettered olives were popping from the sand by the hundreds. We discovered them in all sizes from tiny to gigunda. I had never seen this before. It was just fabulous and AdventureDina and Hannah had handfuls to observe and let slither around before letting go. We had to find at least a dozen beaded starfish that we let go in deeper water so the birds wouldn’t eat them and some very large baby’s ears snails that were coming out from the sand. We explored the whole area and found so much. It was great to search the exposed areas I had never seen out of water before and even the sea grasses were high and dry.

We came to a large swimming pool sized hole that was around 8 feet deep in the middle with a dry bank all around it and full of fish. We would take turns running off the bank and doing cannonballs to make the biggest splashes and see who could jump out the furthest. We had a ball.

Jump into the Pool

Before we knew it the day was over and we had to head back to the boat. On the walk back along the sandbar AdventureParker found a very large nine armed starfish crawling out from beneath the sand and showed us all. It was a nice find! We took some photos then he moved it to deeper water also so it wouldn’t dry out in the sun or get eaten by a bird. Just as we were coming to the end of the sandbar we spotted something crawling towards the water and ran to see it. It was a very large and beautiful Rooster Crab, one of the largest members of the box crab or shame-faced family of crabs.

Group Photo with Rooster Crab

They get their name from the way they hold their claws folded in front as if they are “ashamed” to show their faces. The Rooster Crab gets its name from the raised edge of this folded claw that looks like cackles on a rooster. This is the only one I have ever seen here and a real beauty to find. We were lucky! It may be many years before I see another one like this, and especially one this large. Just great! Thank you…

From here we climbed back aboard the “Dream Chaser” and headed back. And on the way I was again asked, “why don’t I end the camp at 5pm instead of 1pm? We don’t want to go back yet!” and I mumbled something about how the weather gets worse around 3pm and didn’t want anyone out in lightning or thunderstorms, etc. but at that moment I don’t think they seemed to care. They were too busy having fun and its hard to quit while your still smiling! I know all about that, and it seemed like we just started. Oh well…

and there’s always tomorrow, and who knows what we may discover then, but one thing is certain, “We’re going to have Fun”!!! Stay tuned to see what we find… or better yet, come join us for your own adventure!!! Have a story to tell of your own and memories to share forever.

See you on the return,

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 5 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Two More Days of Adventure in Palm Beach

Posted by 26 June, 2008 (2) Comment

Hi All, I just finished up TWO more days adventure session and let me say this week has been perfect. We have a great group of adventurers whose enthusiasm and love for the water is contagious! They arrive early to begin the days adventure with huge smiles and excitement in their voices, and raring to […]

Hi All,

I just finished up TWO more days adventure session and let me say this week has been perfect. We have a great group of adventurers whose enthusiasm and love for the water is contagious! They arrive early to begin the days adventure with huge smiles and excitement in their voices, and raring to go! They jump in the boat, don their life jackets and don’t want to waste one more minute waiting at the dock then they have too. Saying they are extremely excited to go is an understatement!!! They know by now that AdventureMike’s is not your “normal” summer camp! Even after a very full day of adventuring they are never ready to come back. Reminds me of myself as a child, no matter how much fun I had, it just never was enough! I feel the same as an adult now! No wonder I love this group too! Each session just seems to be getting better and better.

Yesterday we started off the day heading back to the sandbar and searching the shallows. AdventureAllison, Madison, Dina and David found some really cool types of shells called “baby’s ears” that have the shell on the inside of the living animal instead of on the outside. They are very unusual and look more like large white nudibranchs or slugs instead of shells, and can burrow thru the sand very quickly. As the sandbar gets exposed and begins to dry out the living creatures begin to “pop” out from underneath the sand and head for water. By now the kids know what’s underneath just by looking at the type and shape of the “cracks” in the sand. They can tell whether its a crab, clam, moon snail, etc., and are quick to let me know. We are constantly being surprised by all kinds of emerging creatures from crabs, shells, clams, starfish, sea cucumbers and a variety of burrowing worms and other invertebrates. A regular smorgasbord of tiny living treasures just waiting to be discovered, and all, by us!!! Just Fabulous!!!

From here we headed to a secret out of the way little place I call “Starfish Prairie” that has hundreds if not thousands of large Cushion Sea Stars also called Bahama starfish. It is a very shallow hard rock bottom totally covered in short spined urchins and Sea Stars from end to end. I don’t let too many people know where this spot is as it is a true treasure in the Lake Worth Lagoon. In just a minute or two we picked up 9 or 10 from the shallow water and placed them in a large livewell container on the boat along with about 10 totally different colored sea urchins from snow white to a rich dark purple. We got back in the boat and talked about their life cycles and habitat, behavior, feeding habits, predators and prey etc., then hurriedly took a quick photo op. and released them where we found them. As long as too much fresh water run-off is not dumped into the lake all at once, they will continue to survive. The kids loved when they turned the large Sea Stars over and discovered the tiny delicate brittlestarfish, about a quarter inch in total length, clinging to the underneath sides. This was a great moment for them and I could tell they just loved it!

We finished up here and headed to the back side of Munyon Island to look for horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and blue crabs and take a short nature walk thru the estuary and shallow lagoon. We had so much fun along the beach and water we never got to the nature walk. AdventureNicholas showed Dina and Gavin how to tie fishing knots and cast netted some pufferfish for our entertainment. We all got to see how pufferfish get their name. It is always fun to watch them as they suck in air and water and literally double their size. Each adventurer had the opportunity to rub the smooth shiny belly of one of the checkered puffers and make a wish before letting them go, a childhood pastime of my families. How it started, who knows, but it sure is fun!!! I can’t remember if any of my wishes ever came true but it always put a smile on my face and that counts just as much!!! Just make sure to stay away from the mouth, or as I say “the business end” of a pufferfish as they can take an absolutely perfectly clean round bite out of a finger or your hand if given the opportunity. I’ll bet you’ll never guess how I found that out as a child…and on more than one occasion at that. Needless to say, I make sure to hold each fish gently and carefully so that each child has nothing to fear.

After this we had about 45 minutes left so we quickly headed to Little Munyon Island to explore and hopefully find one of those nine armed starfish that AdventureAnnie discovered last week. The only way I know how to do this is to find an area underwater with course well worked sand and just run your fingers back and forth thru the sand as you swim. Try and cover as much area as you can and if you are lucky you might find one. Watch out for broken glass and fireworms if you are in an area where they might be, just in case. AdventureAllison, Gavin and Trevor worked with me while AdventureDavid and Nicholas collected sea urchins for Madison and Dina who were taking a break in the boat. We searched and searched and searched till it was almost time to leave and just as I was getting ready to call it a day, my fingers found what we were looking for. I gently dug and sure enough it was a nice nine armed starfish. I was glad we found one! I really wanted Allison, Gavin and Trevor to see one since they had looked so hard too, and everyone had a chance to hold another new species and learn a little bit more about its behavior. On the way back I breathed a sigh of relief and was glad we got a bit lucky! I always love when things work out the way you hope!

Today, was the day I planned for us to fish and when I arrived at the dock not only were the Adventurers early, they were ready and willing and in a hurry to go!!! Everyone was asking if I “brought enough rods, enough bait, am I sure, am I sure, etc.” and I smiled and said yes even though I really wasn’t sure at the time.

I anchored the boat over the same section of artificial reef where we had done so well last Friday. I watched as 6 lines went down, hit bottom and instantly had fish on. Just like before, it was non stop action. The minute the bait hit bottom something was trying to eat it! Everyone had fish on all the time!!! It took everything AdventureNicholas and I could do to keep bait on the hooks and take fish off. No matter how fast we worked there was always a line of excited adventurers waiting. It seemed like we had 30 adventurers in the boat not just 6, and I’m sure to Nicholas it seemed more like 60!!! I didn’t see him get a chance to eat or drink the whole time we were there. Talk about having non stop fun, we did!!! I’ve never seen fish come in the boat so fast, and sometimes only parts of fish. Glad I spent my whole life diving here and marked all the hot-spots where the fish were. Made things easy for me later on…

It didn’t take long for the big barracudas to show up and park themselves right underneath the hull. The way everyone was catching fish, they knew they had pulled up to an “all you could eat diner” and for free too. I heard AdventureDavid yell, “I have a big one, A BIG ONE!!!, and just when I turned around, I saw a big swoosh by the side of the boat . I watched as David lifted his line out of the water with nothing but the very nose of his “Big Fish” left dangling. So much for almost catching the “big one” but I know it didn’t get away. I knew that just underneath us was a fat and happy barracuda waiting for the next one to be reeled in too.

I decided to try and hook a barracuda for the kids to reel in so I rigged a line with some wire leader, put on a fish and tossed it out. The second it hit the water, and I mean second, the water exploded and a huge barracuda launched skyward with the bait in his mouth. I didn’t even get a chance to take a turn on the reel before he had eaten the bait and thrown the hook. I could tell that these big barracudas had been hooked on numerous occasions before! They knew exactly what to do! The huge barracuda landed right next to the boat with a mighty splash, just about soaking AdventureMadison in the process, and then was gone. Talk about exciting for every one, it was great!!!! I know they won’t forget that!

We were so busy having fish on that I am sorry to say I didn’t get much of a chance to take photos of the whole encounter. Next time I may have to have the kids wait while I use the camera instead of bait the hooks, but its hard when you have 6 very happy and excited kids wanting their baits back in the water faster than you can possibly move, all wanting to catch the next “Big One”. I was the exact same way. Oh well…

It seemed like we only spent an hour fishing but when I looked at my watch, three and a half hours had already passed. It was the first time I had a chance to look at my watch all day. We quickly reeled and headed to the Rock Garden to get in the water, rinse off and feed the last bit of our bait to the friendly inhabitants. Again I found myself wondering just how did the time go by so fast? How can things move so quickly? It seemed to us all like we just started? And it seems to be so true…and often said,

Allison's Rare Find

“Time Flies, When You’re Having Fun”!!!! Our 6 happy kids would tell you that today!!!! Nothing but smiles!!! and the way I like it!!! Each day a real blessing! Thank you!

Come be a part of the Adventure!!! Just a few spaces left till next year… I guarantee your child will have fun!!!

See you soon,

AdventureMike

Categories : Week 5 Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

A Manatee Encounter and More

Posted by 18 June, 2008 (0) Comment

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 […]

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 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!

Group Photo

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.

Look!  A Manatee!

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.

A Friendly Manatee

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!

Ciao,
Adventure Mike

Categories : Week 4 Tags : , , , , , , , , , ,