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 Time FUN Begins!!!

Posted by 13 June, 2011 (0) Comment

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!!!

morning group

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!!!

afternoon group

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!

Nicholas, starfish and group

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!

Brianna & Kristine

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!

fighting conchs galore

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!

Aidan finds a big starfish

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!

Ryenne having fun

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.

Nicholas with squat lobster

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!!!

3 fish on

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…

Casey catches a porgy

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!

Rachel catches a porkfish

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!

sea urchin eyeballs

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!

Matthew with long-spined urchin

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.

Casey with sea urchin

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!

5 underwater

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!

Max, urchin and hermit crabs

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!!!

Aidan with pencil urchin

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!!!

Ryenne with burrfish

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 Rock!

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!!!

Matthew with cushion starfish

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!!!

Watching 2 manatees

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!!!

morning group seining

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.

Checkerboard puffer and group

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!

Ryenne & Pufferfish

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!!!

Uncommon Puffer

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.

Octopus in a pipe

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.

Checking out the octopus

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.

"sticky" situation

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!

"Gulp"

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!!!
AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2011 Tags : , , ,

Summer 2009 Week 6: Snorkeling and A New Fishing Record!!!

Posted by 10 July, 2009 (3) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We just finished up the third day of our weekly Adventure and let me tell you it has been absolutely FABULOUS!!! This week has been just perfect!!! I’m not even sure where to begin! We’ve had so much FUN since the very first second we left the dock!!! It seems like […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

We just finished up the third day of our weekly Adventure and let me tell you it has been absolutely FABULOUS!!! This week has been just perfect!!! I’m not even sure where to begin! We’ve had so much FUN since the very first second we left the dock!!! It seems like this adventure has been going on for weeks, not just 3 days! Just love it like this!!! On Tuesday AdventureGeorge, Peyton and I were joined by 6 New Adventurers, Adventurer’sLeah, Nicholas, Emily, Daniel and Joseph. And the best thing, this group not only swims like fish, they know how to make the most of an Adventure!!! It doesn’t get any better than this!!!

Group photo at the Rock Garden

Group photo at the Rock Garden

We started the first day going to the Rock Garden. The tide was high, the water crystal clear and fish everywhere by the thousands! As soon as we got in the water we saw big snook chasing menhaden, small barracudas on the prowl, parrotfish, surgeonfish and sergeant majors by the hundreds! Everywhere you looked there were fish in every size, shape and color. So many different species of fish just too numerous to mention!  It was just GREAT!!! The first wonderful highlight of the morning occurred when we caught a small sharpnosed pufferfish and watched as it puffed itself up as if on cue with water to almost double its size. Always love catching these!!! Had a chance to take some nice photos as everyone had a chance to hold it and check it out. Everybody had smiles from ear to ear as this was going on! Everyone was on the hunt with nets and catching swimming crabs, blennies, rock crabs, hermit crabs, pistol shrimp, etc. You name it, we just about caught it!!!

Emily with a pufferfish!

Emily with a pufferfish!

The second fabulous highlight of the morning occurred when we discovered a nice yellow ray swimming along the bottom without a barb.  We quickly surrounded it and were able to catch it in a net. This gave everyone a wonderful chance to check it out up close and personal since it was totally harmless. It was just great!!! We brought it back to the boat to take some photos and give everyone the opportunity to check out the mouth underneath and the sphericals on the top behind the eyes. It would lay in our hands like it belonged there without even wriggling! Did we all love this!!! Just GREAT!!! After a few minutes we let it go and watched as it swam back to the bottom and continued on its way. We spent the whole day snorkeling here. We never wanted to leave we were having so much FUN!

Yellow Ray with no barb! Nice find!

Yellow Ray with no barb! Nice find!

The second day we went back to the Rock Garden since we had so much FUN the previous day and found a baby octopus peaking out of his hole at us as we swam by. It seemed he was as curious about us as we were about him. We would stare eye to eye for minutes and boy did we all love this! We also found some cool jawfish and a baby flying gurnard crawling across the sand with its modified ventral fins that act more like legs than fins. Such a cool find! From here we went to the beach and spent the rest of the day snorkeling, collecting sea glass, shells and body surfing in the waves. We were having so much fun nobody wanted to call it a day when it was time to leave!  On the way back to the boat we saw some big tarpon in the shallows! Really cool seeing that! And on the way home we saw 2 big eagle rays swimming slowly side by side and we were able to motor right up next to them just a few feet away. They didn’t seem to mind that we were there and we loved that too!!!
And of course you all know that Thursday is our fishing day. And let me tell you, DID WE HAVE FUN TODAY!!! We set all kinds of records that may never be beaten! And I mean NEVER!!! Unfortunatel 2 adventurers couldn’t make it this morning so AdventureGeorge and Joseph missed the boat since their moms called and let me know they weren’t going to make it. They won’t believe what they missed! We had so much FUN today!!! Sorry guys…

Another quadruple hook-up!!!

Another quadruple hook-up!!!

I arrived at the dock at 9AM, and AdventureReese, Leah, Peyton, Nicholas, Emily and Daniel were quick to load up and as excited as you could be about fishing! Man were they raring to go!!! Luckily I had 5 pounds of squid already cut up into bite size morsels and 20 extra rigs already made! I wasn’t going to be having any help today so I had prepared everything as best as I could! Little did I know then how unbelievable our day of fishing was going to be!!! I quickly motored out to one of my “secret spots” and  when I drove over it with the fathometer on, we marked thousands of fish from top to bottom! The bottom was litterally “swimming” with fish!!! I anchored right above the rocky ledge, got the rods ready and handed them out. From the very minute we baited the hooks and dropped them down the rest was just a blur!!!
Instantly, and I mean INSTANTLY everyone had a fish on. AdventureReese, Leah, Peyton, Nicholas, Emily and Daniel caught fish faster than I have ever seen, and I mean EVER SEEN!!! Like in my whole life of fishing! You didn’t have 3 seconds from the moment you dropped down till you had a fish on, most times I couldn’t count to 1 second! EVERYONE had fish on ALL THE TIME!!! The action was so unbelievable that everyone was baiting and taking off their own fish!! I couldn’t even keep up with just one adventurer by myself today, the action was so hot!!!
The kids caught all kinds of fish in every size shape and color you could imagine. They caught fish I have never seen caught on rods before. From Parrotfish, snapper, grunts, cottonwicks, sailors choice, tomtates, scorpionfish, banded pufferfish, threadfin herring, porkfish,  butter hamlets, etc. You name it, I think they caught it!! We had groupers eating our bait and fish left and right and cutting us off in the rocks!!! Just Unbelievable. We had one very exciting moment occurr while AdventurePeyton was waiting for me to take his big Caesars Grunt off a big shark came up and ate it right at the side of the boat; hook, line and sinker!!! Just about splashed us in the frenzy. And while that was going on, a huge barracuda came up and ate Reeses fish off too!!! Man was that exciting too!!! Talk about having FUN, we were having it NOW!!! I know none of us will ever forget this day of fishing!!! I didn’t get a chance to look at my watch for 3 hours. It was just that crazy!!!
By the time 3 hours were over and done with, we had boated 419 fish!!! That’s right, you read that number correctly!!!  419 FISH!!!  BROUGHT IN THE BOAT!!!  And that does not include what we lost, had on or got eaten by something else!!! As fast as we could catch them and release them, we had 6 more on!!! I have NEVER seen anything LIKE THIS!!! I may never again!!! It set an all new fishing record for AdventureMike’s that may NEVER be beat!!! And I mean NEVER!!!  It never let up!!! From BIG FISH TO SMALL FISH, WE CAUGHT THEM all!!! God I love this job!!!!!
Somehow or other AdventureDaniel caught this tiny pufferfish on a hook that I had never seen done before and I bet him he would never catch another one like that again. Well just to prove me wrong, not only did he catch another one, he caught another two!!! Talk about losing a bet, Oh Boy…. I loved every minute of it!!!!!!!!! Just GREAT!!!  :-)

Daniel catches his first pufferfish!

Daniel catches his first pufferfish!

In the end, the final tally was: AdventurePeyton with 43 fish, Reese with 54, maybe even more? Lost count, oops.., Leah with 67, Nicholas with 71, Emily with 73, and the new all time winner, AdventureDaniel with 111 fish!!! I can’t tell you just how good I feel right now!!  Today was one of those “ONCE IN A LIFETIME DAYS!!! Is it possible to get any better than this or have more FUN? I don’t think so… What a day it was!!! I will never hear, “I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” without thinking about this day! never!!!
We caught so many fish!  I can’t even begin to guess how many we had on besides that. It was amazing!!! I would have given anything to have it all on video!!!  I have no idea what made the action so extra special, or what made the fish bite like they did, but I know one thing for sure, not one of these adventurers will ever forget this day, and neither I !!!!
We had fun!!! We had a blast!! ! We had a once in a lifetime day!!! And we all had a story to tell!!! It may sound like a “fish story” to some, but we all know differently! WE LIVED THE ADVENTURE!!! And if you saw the smiles on the faces that I did today, you would never forget it either!!! Thank you !!!

God, I love my job!!!! How can we have this much fun!!! I must still be dreaming… YOU GUYS ROCK!! I can’t wait till tomorrow!!!

LET’S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2009: July 6 - July 9 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Custom Palm Beach Adventure – Part III

Posted by 16 June, 2008 (0) Comment

Welcome Back all, I just finished up the last day of my custom adventure session with Adventure Drew last Friday and let me tell you what a day it was!!! Somehow it seems we saved the very best for last! What an ending to a fabulous week that I will long remember and often retell! […]

Welcome Back all,

I just finished up the last day of my custom adventure session with Adventure Drew last Friday and let me tell you what a day it was!!! Somehow it seems we saved the very best for last! What an ending to a fabulous week that I will long remember and often retell!

We started the day heading back to the Sailfish Marina to get more underwater video of the large schools of Jack Crevalles around the docks. When we arrived we noticed the visibility was even better than yesterday and we were eager to begin. The jacks were ready and waiting. I picked up the “fish food”, a couple bags of frozen shrimp, while Drew readied his video. We positioned ourselves with the sun at our back and open water in front of us. Drew submerged his camera while the jacks arrived on cue. Like yesterday, I tossed the shrimp in front of the lens and the feeding frenzy began. Tails and fins flashed by, mouths opened and the water in front of the lens seemed to boil with the onslaught of hungry jacks competing for even the smallest morsel of food. In just a few seconds, the shrimp were gone and Drew was soaked to the bone. What a rush to view all this 8 inches from your nose! Right on Drew!!!

From here I wanted to try a new place that had less tropical fish to see and not quite as scenic as the rock garden, but more of a chance to find some unusual creatures that Drew had not yet photographed. I was hoping to find an octopus and maybe even a red-tipped fireworm that is beautiful to see but extremely painful to the touch. When disturbed they display bristles that can easily penetrate the skin and cause a strong burning sensation, one that you won’t soon forget. I can guarantee that! I have been on the business end of these quite often as I gingerly handle them to show people what you should stay away from should you encounter one. Sometimes “gingerly” is not “gingerly” enough! I know what I’m getting into should I be stuck and realize that the pain will eventually go away. Plus it seems to make a lasting impression on the kids to learn from my mistakes instead of making them on their own as they see dozens of spines sticking out of my fingers. I know they won’t handle these in the future.

Once anchored, Drew and I got in and the search was on. Almost immediately we found a small Octopus curiously peaking out of a small hole and trying his best to remain invisible. Photographically wise it wasn’t the best opportunity, so after a few seconds we continued the search. Shortly after this we saw another just as it disappeared under a rock and so the search continued. As we swam we came upon a small rock that was covered in feather brush hydroids, another plant like animal that can deliver a sting to sensitive skin. As I was pointing this out to Drew I noticed a slight movement amongst the branches. Low and behold, and to my amazement and sheer joy!!!, peeking back at us was a wondrous pair of striated frogfish, camouflaged like the hydroids themselves. This was the second time in my life I had been lucky enough to encounter such an unusual and rarely seen creature, and not just one but two, in only 4 feet of water! How lucky we were!!! I believe these to be a mated pair and hopefully will be left undiscovered and undisturbed by anyone else. They tend to stay in the same area for years if left alone, and Drew and I were excited to take turns shooting videos of a creature we may never again see in our lives. I will always cherish this moment and the excitement I felt with this discovery!!! Thank you!!!

From here we continued our search for an octopus that we could hopefully tease out of its hole for a few seconds and get the video footage we wanted. While swimming next to a sunken sailboat I noticed a large pile of empty shells scattered around an opening in the hull. Bingo, the tell tale signs of an octopus home with the octopus still inside. Octopus have a tendency to stack the empty shells of their prey around the border of their homes and if the shells are still around so usually is the octopus. We were in luck, again! I gently teased the octopus from his home while Drew took video. All of a sudden the octopus reached forward and with an inquisitive tentacle, touched the lens. The suction cups adhered and to our amazement it pulled itself right onto the lens port of the underwater video housing and became firmly attached. What an unusual and different perspective Drew was seeing now!, and what an unusual perspective I was seeing on my end too! It was great, and one I can guarantee doesn’t come around too often. He let the video roll for a few more moments and then the octopus let go and returned to its home. How are we ever going to top that?

We continued to explore the sunken boat and then headed into even shallower water, about 18 inches deep. I had noticed earlier some 9 armed impressions in the sand and knew that they were left by an unusual starfish rarely seen on the open bottom. As I gently ran my fingers thru the sand it was only a matter of seconds before I felt what I was searching for. I called Drew over and we slowly unearthed a rather large nine-armed starfish. This species can move rather quickly along the bottom when compared to the movement of other starfish, and I knew it had a tendency to rapidly right itself when turned on its back. I thought this might make some interesting video so I told Drew what I had in mind. He readied the camera as I turned the starfish on its back and recorded how easily and quickly a nine-armed starfish can right itself. They curl a few arms underneath and a few arms over and before you know it, its right side up, burrowing into the sand and disappearing before your eyes. Now you see me, now you don’t. Fascinating…

As our time was quickly coming to a close I decided to try and bait in a few of the red-tipped fireworms so Drew could get them on video. I put a small piece of fish in the sand and knew it would only be a matter of seconds before the worms would appear. They are nocturnal and fast moving as worms go, and are aggressive feeders and scavengers that remain buried in the sand until the scent of prey or darkness entice them from burrows. We watched as they appeared and began to eat the fish. A few seconds later some small crabs arrived in the hopes of a free and easy meal. To our surprise, the crabs began grabbing and pinching the fireworms and began to steal their meal. A fight ensued. The fireworms bristled in defense but their poisonous spines were no match for the sharp pinchers and hard carapace of the crabs. The fireworms retreated in defeat but remained circling from a safe distance as the crabs ate their fill. What a sight to behold!

It was now time to go and we stopped to take one last look at the frogfish before we boarded the Dream Chaser to head back home. Drew and I were both thrilled and elated with what we saw and captured on video, and know this day would long be remembered often retold by us. I’m not sure how I will top this the next time Drew comes along, but one thing is certain: We’ll all be having fun on our next adventure! Stay tuned, or better yet, come join us and return with a story of your own to post on our site. For more videos of our last adventure and other images photographed by Drew, check out Drew’s website here. Way to go Drew!!!

See you on the flip side of our next adventure that starts tomorrow, and remember,

Lets Go Have Some Fun!!!!!!! Right on…

Adventure Mike

Categories : Week 3 Tags : , , , , , ,