COOL SEA CREATURE ENCOUNTERS!!! Morning session.

Posted by 27 June, 2012 (1) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We”ve just finished up another wonderful week of Fun and Adventure on the Lake Worth lagoon and what an AWESOME week we had. First, we were lucky enough not to get rained out by tropical storm Debbie, though we did have a couple of short term torrential downpours without lighting, that […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

We”ve just finished up another wonderful week of Fun and Adventure on the Lake Worth lagoon and what an AWESOME week we had. First, we were lucky enough not to get rained out by tropical storm Debbie, though we did have a couple of short term torrential downpours without lighting, that gave a chance to hide out under the bow canopy on the boat while it rained catfish and dogsnappers! We all thought that was rather cool, and once the rained cleared, we were having FUN like there was no tomorrow! We snorkeled Peanut Island, the Rock Garden, the Big Sandbar and Blue Crab Beach for hours on end. We trolled plugs along the drop offs and caught big barracudas until the hooks broke off our lures and there wasn’t any paint left on them! We were catching barracudas by the boatloads and all of us taking turns reeling them in. It was just GREAT! What FUN days of fishing we had!!! We caught them all!!!

Group with barracudas.

Everytime we went by the Big Sandbar, we stopped to take a quick snorkel and found beaded starfish, cushion starfish and 9 armed starfish by the handfuls. The fighting conchs were in by the hundreds, most laying eggs, and it was a cool thing to watch as they laid their eggs in spaghetti like masses. It didn’t take us long to pick up a few for a quick photo op, then back to snorkeling, exploring and chasing crabs we went!

Group finding sea urchins.

Along the way, AJ came up with a big fighting conch that had a real attitude and everytime he held it up for us to see, that fighting conch would stick out its long foot and poke AJ in the hand to try and make him let it go! It was just great watching that happen over and over!!! Nice job not letting go AJ!!!

AJ with a cool fighting conch.

While AJ was messing with that fighting conch, Tripp was swimming around and coming up with a few fighting conchs of his own, plus one big giant 9 armed starfish that was truly a whopper!!! It was a nice find and we all loved it!!! Way to go Tripp!!!

Tripp with conchs and starfish.

Another day we were snorkeling around Peanut Island and came upon a really nice, BIG, short spined burrfish just swimming by!!! It didn’t seem to mind us picking it up or even try and get away. It just puffed itself up with water everytime we came near and became a big round ball of thorns and almost impossible to handle. It knew we weren’t going to eat it now! Talk about a cool defense mechanism! That fish was down right thorny, but Joseph didn’t seem to mind!!! We all took turns checking that awesome pufferfish out and were extra careful not to get our fingers anywhere near the mouth. Those fish can bite! Nice job Joseph!

Joseph with a porcupinefish.

Another day while trolling a plug along the edge of the Big Sandbar, another big barracuda decided to eat it for lunch! This time it was Owen’s turn to reel one in and we had a ball watching him reel that nice barracuda in while it jumped a dozen or more times out of the water. This week there seemed to be barracudas in by the hundreds and we kept a few to put in our crab traps, and gave a couple more away to some people who wanted them for for dinner. The action was almost non stop all week and we loved that too!!! Way to reel that fish in Owen!!!

Owen catches a nice barracuda.

Another morning we stopped by Blue Crab Beach and it wasn’t long before everyone was catching juvenile blue crabs and sand crabs by the netfuls! I’m not sure how many everyone caught, but about an hour later we had a bucketful of crabs that was about half full!! I know Julia was sure having FUN catching one crab right after another! When we let them go, it was awesome watching them scurry out of that bucket in every direction and dissappear into the sand, right under our feet!!! Julia you rock as a crab catcher!!!

Julia catches a juvenile blue crab.

Later in the week we went and checked one of the crab traps that we had baited with a piece of barracuda, and sure enough, it was filled with some big blue crabs that seemed to have some big attitudes to match! I carefully took a few out and showed everyone the safe and proper technique to holding big crabs with some serious attitudes, bare handed without getting pinched no less! Needless to say, Beau sure had FUN when it came his turn to pick up a few!!! Nice Job Beau!!!

Beau with some big blue crabs.

On Wednesday morning we stopped by the Big Sandbar on the way to the Rock Garden and found quite a pile of 9 armed starfish buried in the sand. They seemed to be crawling out and moving about just as we got there. We had a strong rain that morning and I wondered if all the fresh water was making them move into deeper water. They are always a great find and the group loves them! I know Ethan loved picking them up by the handfuls!!! We all did!!! Way to go Ethan!!!

Ethan finds 9 armed starfish.

Later that morning we snorkeled around Peanut Island and found fighting conchs, milk conchs and some really colorful hawkwing conchs. We collected a few to check out and watched as they “hopped” about on the bottom and headed off into deeper water. Jake found one that was extra colorful. It was an awesome find Jake!!!

conch

While we were finding hawkwing conchs and chasing sharp nosed pufferfish with our nets, Brett came up with another nice 9 armed starfish and put it on his head like a hat. It seemed to fit just perfectly and gave him a cool starfish hairdo!!! Way to rock that starfish hairdo Brett!!!

Brett with a cool starfish hairdo.

On the last morning on the way back to the dock, tropical storm Debbie decided to throw one more big rain cloud right on us. As we raced towards the dock the rain came down in buckets and stung our faces! When I looked over at Max, I saw that he had put his mask on and was wearing them like high speed racing goggles. It was awesome!!! He was loving every second of it and giving me the thumbs up!!! I could sure tell he was having Fun!!!Way to use your head Max!!! A few seconds later, we all were wearing them and smiling like there was no tomorrow!!! How cool is that!!!

Max with his racing goggles on.

Needless to say, we had a fabulous week!!! We had Fun!!! We had Adventure!!! We had some Cool Sea Creature Encounters!!! And we learned a pile of stuff along the way!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! I just can’t wait to do it all over again!!!

To check out the rest of the photos from this weeks session, please click on “Check out our FLICKR photostream” found a little bit down on this home page on the right side and go to “June 19 -22, 2012 AM session”. ENJOY!!!
See You All Soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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Spring Break Adventure 2012

Posted by 31 March, 2012 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!! We”ve just finished up another Spring Break Adventure and what a wonderful adventure we had!!! We spent the week boating, snorkeling, fishing, island hiking, exploring the sandbars, watching for manatees and bottlenose dolphins, finding horseshoe crabs, scaly mantis shrimp and cool starfish of al kinds. We found dozens of variegated sea […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome back!!!

We”ve just finished up another Spring Break Adventure and what a wonderful adventure we had!!! We spent the week boating, snorkeling, fishing, island hiking, exploring the sandbars, watching for manatees and bottlenose dolphins, finding horseshoe crabs, scaly mantis shrimp and cool starfish of al kinds. We found dozens of variegated sea urchins, west indian sea eggs, blue crabs and hermit crabs, watched schools of squid change colors right before our eyes, found beautiful pink queen conchs and fighting conchs galore, and caught pufferfish bare-handed day after day! We found a half dozen spotted yellow rays swimming amongst the shallows. I caught a few in hand net, took off the venemous barbs, which will begin to grow back after a few days, just so we could check them out up close and personal. We even went out along the beach most calm mornings to check out the schools of small spinner sharks and blacktip sharks that migrate past this time of year. We saw dozens swimming right off the beach! It was just GREAT!!! But best of all, I had a fabulous group of kids, and we had non-stop FUN and ADVENTURE from start to finish, each and every day!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

Group Photo

The tides were high most of the week and the Big Sandbar was covered underwater more often that not, but this didn’t stop us from romping around and catching blue crabs by the dozens! We had a blast chasing them down and catching them with our hand nets, and even at times with our bare hands. Occasionally, it would get really exciting when one would scurry right under your foot where the sand was stirred up, and we couldn’t help but think it was looking for our toes! This sure didn’t stop AdventureMatthew from catching his share and showing us one crab right after another!

Matthew with a blue crab

AdventureMax caught a pile himself and pretended he was the one that was going to have a blue crab for lunch. I wasn’t quite sure who was going to eat who, if he happened to drop it by mistake, still alive and kicking, right in his mouth! One thing for certain, he was sure having FUN, and he entertained us most of the morning! Way to go Max!!!

Max having fun

We spent a good bit of time each morning snorkeling about at the Rock Garden.Later, we would end up snorkeling in the protected inland lagoon looking for hermit crabs, juvenile lobsters, sea urchins and more! We hoped we might see a manatee again sun bathing in the shallows, but had no luck this day. AdventureMickey came up with a nice red hermit crab living within a discarded fighting conch shell, and I could tell he was having FUN holding that one up for us to see!!! His smile was contageous, and we all took turns checking that hermit crab out!

Mickey finds a hermit crab

Every morning we found spotted yellow rays swimming in the shallows or lying motionless on the gravelly sand. I caught one in a small hand net and removed the venemous barb so that we could handle it safely and check out its sphericals and tiny mouth, filled with two bony sand-paper like plates that are capable of crushing very small mollusks or invertebrates for food. The kids loved when the ray would “suck” on to their shirt, or head for that matter, and have to be gently removed by hand after a few seconds. I know AdventureMatthew was having FUN, but his older brother AdventureJohn was a bit more hesitant on this day. By the end of the week though, he was a trooper just like the rest of them!!! Way to go Matthew and John!!!

238

Every morning that we passed by the Big Sandbar or had to slow down for a no-wake zone, I would put out a light tackle rod and troll for a barracuda, blue runner or jack crevalle. We all took turns putting the line out and reeling fish in, and every now and then we would catch a nice barracuda that we would later use as bait on a shark line or save for our crab traps. AdventureRachael holds up a nice barracuda that is about typical of the size we normally catch. Nice job Rachael! Nice barracuda too!!!

rachael with a barracuda

Each day we stopped by the Big Sandbar to do some exploring, shallow water snorkeling and look for big orange or red Cushion Starfish lying on the sandy bottom. Everytime we stopped by, the kids found a few, and we would all take turns checking them out and taking a few photos ops for our own entertainment, and for that of the parents as well! Some of these starfish were quite large, and the kids all loved that!!! AdventureJohn and Matthew would take turns catching crabs and finding starfish and I could tell they were having FUN too!!!

starfish heads

Not to be out done, AdventureDylan and Rachael had a blast finding Cushion Starfish of their own and acting silly along the way! They looked like naturals, wearing those two starfish as hats, and I could tell they must have practiced their posture, since those starfish never fell off! Way to be entertaining Dylan and Rachael!!! Nice Starfish Hairdo!!!

More starfish heads

One day we snorkeled the whole way around Peanut Island and had a blast finding all sorts of cool things! We saw more spotted yellow rays, schools of mullet by the hundreds and found queen conchs galore! We found tons of blue legged hermit crabs, chased and caught short nosed pufferfish by the dozens and had more FUN than you could imagine!!! AdventureRachael found piles of west indian sea eggs, which are an uncommon species of sea urchin around here. They were feeding on the algae and sea grass growing in the shallows. It was just GREAT!!! Nice find Rachael!!!

Rachael with a west indian sea egg

AdventureMickey had a blast snorkeling the whole way around the island and just checking out everything in general. He didn’t seem to care what he saw or found! He just loved it all!!! And so did we!!! AdventureMicky first came to my camp about 3 years ago, had never snorkeled, been on a boat or ever caught a fish! Let me tell you, 3 years later, he is as comfortable and a natural swimmer as you’ll ever see!!! Mickey, you have come a long ways!!! Way to ROCK, and SWIM for that matter!!!

Mickey underwater

We spent another morning exploring the islands and estuaries, and the shallow rocky oyster covered sandbars. We talked about the benefits of mangroves, algae’s and sea grasses, and how this type of natural habitat is necessary and crucial to the juvenile reef fish, crabs and millions of crustaceans and invertebrates that inhabit this marine ecosystem. It is vital and necessary to preserve and maintain as much of this environment as possible, for without this, the water quality and near shore marine life would diminish greatly! Along the way I showed them wild coffee plants and thorny knicker beans. An interesting fact, the husk of the knicker bean is used in making quinine, an anti-malarial medicine. How neat is that!

island adventure

We took a nice hike along a nature trail on Munyon Island to the backside, or east side of the island. We ended up hiking along a narrow spit of land along the red mangroves and found a half dozen or so molts of horseshoe crabs. We hoped to see a few live ones crawling along the bottom, but no luck today. Horseshoe crabs, like all marine crustaceans, shed their outer carapace as they grow. After this molt, they fill their now soft body with sea water, and stretch out their skin. After a few days, their now much larger outer shell turns hard, giving them room to grow. Horseshoe crabs are related to spiders and enzymes from their blood are used in medicine to make blood thinners. How cool is that!!!

finding horseshoe crabs

Thursday was our fishing day and we went to one of my secret spots and everyone caught lane snappers, pigfish, big grunts and tomtates non -stop! It was a blast watching everyone catch fish by the dozens!!! Like as fast as you could “bait your hook and drop down” dozens!!! It was just GREAT, and as usual, there were a few sore arms from reeling fish in afterwards!!! Just the way I love it!!! AdventureDylan, yes, the same girl who holds the all time biggest fish record caught for my summer camp on my boat Dylan, (49lb barracuda on 6lb test, Yippee!!!) and her brother, AdventureJohn holds up a couple of nice fish! Way to go again!!!

Dylan and Matthew

AdventureMax caught lane snappers, big grunts and tons of other fish, along with some unusual pufferfish with really neat markings, that we just started seeing in the lake a couple years ago. He always does well and is a great fisherman too! loves to fish like their is no tomorrow! And as he said to me about 3 years ago on one of his first adventures with me, “Fishing is my Mojo”. Well, mine too buddy! Nice Job!!!

Max catches a strange pufferfish

AdventureJohn, Dylan and Matthews brother, seemed to be fishing in the right spot! Time after time, he would hook up with something big and have a real battle trying to get it in on light tackle! It turned out to be one big porgy after another, and after watching that going on non-stop for half an hour, I was wanting to grab a rod myself and move over right next to him and have a go at it too!!! Needless to say, he seemed to be catching the biggest ones that day!!! Way to catch another big porgy John!!! Nice fish!!!

AdventureJohn catches a Big Porgy

The really great thing about this spot is, you never know what you might catch!!! Over the years we have caught dozens and dozens of different species of fish, in all sizes, shapes and colors!!! This is also where AdventureDylan caught her huge barracuda that ate her lane snapper she was reeling in, but not quite fast enough!!! Good thing for her too, cause that barracuda was a monster!!! Yes, I had to post a photo of that fish again!!!

Dylan's Monster Barracuda!

Anyway, on this day she didn’t catch another monster baracuda, but she did catch an unusual filefish that had a set of really sharp teeth and extremely rough skin covered with denticles, just like that of a shark, not with scales like most other fish. She always seems to catch not only a ton of fish, but all kinds as well!!! Nice Job Dylan!!! Again!!!

Dylan catches a filefish

On the last day we took another wonderful snorkel adventure along the backside of Peanut Island. As we were swimming along catching sharpnosed pufferfish and finding sea urchins, etc., I hear AdventureDylan yell, “AdventureMike, come over here quick! I’ve found something!!!”. I quickly swam over and took a look, and low and behold, she had found a large scaly mantis shrimp totally out of its burrough, just crusing along the bottom. What a find!!! This doesn’t happen often!!! Mantis shrimp have large front arms, like those of a preying mantis, with spikes on those arms used for impaling their prey, hence their name! When encountered, it would be best to leave these well enough alone so as not to get your thumb split, but I knew how to handle them and showed the kids the proper technique without getting stuck. We all took turns checking it out up close and personal, and loved the experience. It ws just GREAT!!! AdventureMax was careful to hold it well!!!

Max with a mantis shrimp

Just as our last day was coming to an end, we found another small spotted yellow ray that didn’t have a barb, and we all took turns checking that one out as well!!! It seemed to be a fitting way to end the weeks Adventure. We started out finding spotted yellow rays and ended finding spotted yellow rays. What a GREAT DAY!!! What a GREAT WEEK full of FUN and ADVENTURE!!! What a GREAT group of kids!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

Dylan with a spotted yellow ray

I just can’t wait to go do it all over again!!! Stay tuned…. 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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Cool Sea Creature Encounters!!! Manta Ray!

Posted by 30 August, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!! I’m finally just sitting down to write last weeks blog. Thought I would never get a chance to get to it! Was busy doing birthday party adventures over the weekend and a little bit of fishing and before I knew it, this weeks adventure was under way! Oh well, what can […]

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!!

I’m finally just sitting down to write last weeks blog. Thought I would never get a chance to get to it! Was busy doing birthday party adventures over the weekend and a little bit of fishing and before I knew it, this weeks adventure was under way! Oh well, what can you say? Time flies when your having FUN! Last week we had a small group of adventurers, only 3, but we had a blast all the same. We had some last minute cancellations the night before the week started, and I didn’t bother to make any calls to try and fill the spaces at the last second. I thought it would be kind of nice to have just a few of us going for a change. And I’m happy we did! I know AdventureRachel, Neil and Hagan sure had fun checking everything we found and caught, up close and personal. Like this really cool mantis shrimp we found crawling around outside its burrow on the Big Sandbar.

A cool mantis shrimp

This was the very first time I have ever seen one out and about in the day time and it was a really great find! You have to be extremely careful when picking these up, best not to at all, as they can give you a painful stick with their sharp dagger like claws. We always see their burrows in the sand around the sandbar but rarely do we ever see them peeking out at us, much less crawling about. Wish I could find one like this on every weekly adventure! Like all shrimp, mantis shrimp also have the capability of slapping their tails closed. The big difference with this species is that they also have sharp razor like edges along their hard tail with a few big needle like spines to boot. Commercial fisherman who catch these shrimp sometimes call them “thumb splitters” for good reason. Either way, I was happy to find it, and we checked it out up close before letting it go.

Mantis shrimp close-up

Every morning we spent an hour or so walking the Big Sandbar and exploring the shallows like there was no tomorrow. We had a full moon coming up and the tide was exceptionally low. The bar was exposed for hundreds of yards in every direction and it didn’ take us long to find some big Cushion Starfish that were bright red in color. You could see them in the shallows at least 100 yards away. The Kids would race to get them, sometimes stopping along the way to check something else out they didn’t see at first. It was just great and we had a blast finding one big starfish after another. I know AdventureRachel sure had FUN sporting her new starfish “hat”. It seemed to fit just right!!!

Rachel's new hat

Every single day we stopped at the Sandbar to explore. We found fighting conchs, box crabs, blue claw crabs and hermit crabs galore. We even found some really cool shells and living scotch bonnets that I rarely see. Netted olive shells and bubble shells were every where leaving long burrows thru the sand. But the kids always seemed to love finding the starfish best, and every morning we found a bunch!!! We found two different species of beaded starfish, a few small brittle starfish, some nice big Cushion Starfish and quite a few 9 armed starfish that we all loved to hold. A few of the 9 armed starfish had previously lost the tips of some of their legs and you could see where they were all growing back. We all thought that was cool! I know AdventureHagan had Fun wearing a few starfish stuck to his shirt, before he let them go.

Hagan and starfish

Every afternoon we would take a swim at the Rock Garden and check out all the fish and search under rocks for swimming crabs, rock crabs, brittle starfish, blennies and what ever else we could find. Occasionally we would discover a really big swimming crab that would dart out from the rocks right under our feet. AdventureNeil and Hagan would give chase and eventually catch it in their hand net. It was a fun and exciting thing to watch as they tried to get it out of the net by the back leg without getting pinched. Half the time I would come to the rescue, but more often than naught they would get it on their own. Even Rachel would come up with a big crab in her net as well!

finding crabs and conchs

After a while we would take a break from this and swim about and look for some big queen conchs and see who could find the biggest. They can be found in a variety of sizes though most are in the 4 to 6 inch range. Every now and then one of us would come up with a mature conch that had a beautiful pink and yellow interior and we all loved that. This past week we found dozens of conchs right up next to the rocks feeding on algae and it wasn’t long before AdventureNeil came up with a really nice big one that won the contest. Nice job Neil! I thought I was going to win it for a while!

Neil finds a nice queen conch

Thursday was our fishing day, and as usual we had non-stop action the minute our lines were in the water! And I mean from the very first second! If you didn’t have a fish on within 3 seconds of hitting the bottom then your bait was gone. We all caught fish one right after the other and sometimes all at once ! And that’s just the way I love it! Over and over and over. Fish Fish Fish!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that! We started out fishing the artificial reef north of Phil Foster Park and it wasn’t long before AdventureRachel, Neil and Hagan were standing side by side, each with their very own fish! It was just great!!!

trio of fisherman

After an hour here of catching grunts, tomtates, sailors choice, porgies, seargent majors, long-spined filefish and a few cuban hogfish we decided to move the boat a bit over and try a new spot. The very first fish that AdventureHagan hooked was a nice big Ceasars Grunt and as he was fighting to bring it in to the boat a great big barracuda decided to have part of it for lunch. The line went screaming off his reel for about 10 seconds and then the fight was over. He reeled in what was left of his big grunt and we all checked out what that nice big hungry barracuda had done. I could tell AdventureHagan thought that was about as exciting as things could get! We all did!

Hagan's half eaten grunt

A few minutes after this we started catching lane snappers one right after the other until the group was tired of reeling in so many fish! From here we spent the last hour going out to the beach to do some beach combing and a bit of snorkeling along the shoreline. On the way down the beach we found a small boat that had run ashore some time in the past week. It was totally filled up with sand and sitting high and dry on the beach. The kids wanted to stop and check it out so we did. We anchored our boat and swam in to the beach. A few seconds later the kids were sitting in the old boat pretending they were driving and getting ready to run aground. No doubt they were having FUN! They were screaming with laughter the whole time!

boat aground

The last few minutes of the day we took a quick walk down the beach to do some beach combing and check out the tracks left by big sea turtles coming up on to the beach to lay eggs. There were quite a few around and some of the tracks were tremendous. On the way back to the boat a ghost crab went scurrying down the beach in front of us and we all gave chase. It took a while for us to catch up with it but we finally tired it out and it sat still just long enough for AdventureRachel to pick it up. It was great to watch. Nice job Rachel!

Rachel with a ghost crab

The next morning we went down to Little Munyon Island to collect some sea urchins and see what else we could find. We came up with quite a few different color combinations and some really nice big bright pink ones. Most of the ones we found were of the green variety and it wasn’t long before every one of us was holding them by the handfuls. In some places there were so many you had to be careful to look first before you sat down in the shallows. I learned that the hard way. They make a tough cushion to sit on! Ouch! Either way, we had a blast and it was great finding so many.

sea urchin trio

From here we decided to do some seine netting in the shallow grass flats. After just a few pulls of the net we had come up with some nice juvenile barracudas, a cool juvenile flounder, some small needlefish, a couple of pipefish, a sharpnosed and a checkerboard puffer, a bunch of filefish, mojarras, pinfish, juvenile lane and yellowtail snapper, a small hogfish, pink shrimp and grass shrimp and best of all, a dwarf sea horse. It wasn’t much bigger than a dime. We always love finding these! It was just great and we all loved checking them out before letting them go.

We find a Dwarf Seahorse!

With the very last pull of the net we came up with one really nice big blue claw crab that sat and waved its claws menacingly at us just daring us to try and pick it up. I carefully slid my hand along the backside of its carapace and picked it up by the base of its swimming leg. I showed everyone the proper technique without getting pinched, and asked if anyone wanted to pick it up for a photo op. AdventureNeil was the only taker brave enough to give it a try. I watched carefully to make sure he didn’t get pinched and a few seconds later he had it firmly in his grip. You can tell that this crab is sure capable of giving you one heck of a pinch! Nice Job Neil! Way to go!

Neils big blue crab

The last morning we spent snorkeling at the Rock Garden and chasing pufferfish and then as the tide went out, we motored over to the Big Sandbar, hopped out and began to explore the bar. The tide was so low we could walk for hundreds of yards in any direction. It was just great and we found all kinds of cool shells, sea urchins, box crabs and more. We found two different species of beaded starfish and a pile of 9 armed starfish. Every where we looked we seemed to find another starfish! We moved most of them into deeper water and kept a few just long enough to take some pictures before letting them go. We had a ball finding so many and having FUN all the while!!!

starfish trio and group

We decided to spend the last hour of the day going back out to the beach. Over the past few weeks I had seen some really nice big and beautiful Manta Rays swimming just a short distance from the beach. I was hoping that we might see another one and if we were really lucky, have a chance to get in for a wonderful manta encounter. Though they may be big, they are totally harmless, have no venemous barbs and feed mainly on small fish and plankton. Lucky for us, today was our day!!! A short distance ahead was a nice big manta ray, maybe10 feet wide from wingtip to wingtip, swimming in about 4 feet of water. We motored the boat ahead and quietly got in. A few seconds later we had this wonderful creature swim right up and past us and did we EVER LOVE THAT!!!

swimming with a manta ray

We did this over and over until it was time to go. I can tell you nobody was ready to call it a day when it was finally time to head home!!! We just never wanted it to end!!! We had such a great time and such a great week!!! I just wish it could have lasted for ever!!! None of us was ready for Summer to be over!!! Good thing for me I have one week left to do it all over again!!! I have a small group coming all the way from Hungary, and I know its going to be Great!!! I just can’t wait!!!

See you soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

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Summer 2009 Week 8: Adventure FUN in the Lake Worth Lagoon!

Posted by 29 July, 2009 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We just finished up the third day of our weekly Adventure and as usual, We’ve had an Awesome week! Things have been just perfect from the very start! The weather was looking iffy in the beginning of the week but somehow it turned to be about as nice as it could […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

We just finished up the third day of our weekly Adventure and as usual, We’ve had an Awesome week! Things have been just perfect from the very start! The weather was looking iffy in the beginning of the week but somehow it turned to be about as nice as it could be! The Adventurous weather Gods were looking out for us and the water was beautiful, calm and clear, and sunny skies all day long! It just doesn’t get any nicer than this week! Which is a good thing cause I have a boatful of Adventurers and let me tell you they know how to have FUN!!! From start to finish, We’ve had a Blast!!!

Group Photo

Group Photo

I arrived at the dock bright and early Tuesday morning and as soon as I tied up, AdventureGunner, Jagger, Kai, Seth, Josh, Dominik, Daniel, Eli, Louis and Madison hopped aboard! They were as full of energy as you could imagine and ready to start the Adventure and have some FUN! And so was I!!! could already tell it was going to be another great week!!! The tide was high and the water clear so we went straight to Peanut Island to do some snorkeling in the shallows. The minute we got in the water we could see fish everywhere!!! Snook, Barracudas, parrotfish, sheepshead, sergeant majors, grunts, snappers, porkfish, bermuda chub, needlefish, surgeonfish, doctorfish, pufferfish, blue runners, crevalle jacks and menhaden by the thousands. No matter where you looked, there were fish EVERYWHERE!!! And I mean every where!!! And we were loving this!!!

Fun at the Rock Garden!

Fun at the Rock Garden!

We all grabbed some small hand nets and decided to give chase for some fun and excitement! It wasn’t long before we had caught some pufferfish, large crabs and some cute seaweed blennies! We almost caught a pair of small peacock flounders but they got away at the last minute. It was FUN to see and we were getting some good exercise swimming frantically around in the shallows chasing after fish this way and that!!! Even the lifeguard decided to come over and take a look at what we were catching. She said, “It looks like you guys are having fun! Wish I could join you”, but she was still on duty and we went back to chasing fish!. Just about that time Daniel came up with a BIG swimming crab in his net and we all took turns checking it out and then everybody was catching them right and left! It was GREAT!!! You could hear squeals of laughter and excitement every time you came up for a breathe! It doesn’t get any better than this!!!

Netting Crabs!

Netting Crabs!

I don’t know where the time went but somehow it flew by!!! It seemed to me we had only been in the water for just a few minutes, not 3 hours! We were having so much FUN we never even thought to take a look at our watches! We had just enough time to take a quick romp on the Big Sandbar before heading back to the dock. I can tell you when I said it was time to head back, I thought there was going to be a mutiny! Nobody and I mean nobody was ready to call it a day yet!!! Good thing there was 3 more days left of adventure, and we couldn’t wait to do it all over again! It was that much Fun!!!

The next day we went straight to the Big Sandbar to do some exploring and found all kinds of sea urchins, fighting conchs, nine armed and beaded starfish, mantis shrimp and some cool arrow crabs and banded cleaner shrimp. We found a blue crab in the very process of molting its shell and watched as it shed its shell and pumped himself up with water to stretch the new soft shell out into a bigger shell with room to grow into. It was just great to see that!!! Did it right in our hands too!!! How cool is that!!! There were giant mantis shrimp peeking out of every hole we saw and checking us out as we swam by! And of course when we found the nine armed starfish we had to take some “starfish head” photos of the gang having FUN! AdventureJagger especially liked that! We all did!

Jagger with starfish head

Jagger with starfish head

While we were swimming in the shallows a big school of crevalle jacks chased a school of menhaden right up next to us and began to eat them with gusto!!! We could hear the jacks gulping them down as we watched them from underwater. Talk about having Fun and EXCITEMENT!!! We were loving it!!! I’m sure the menhaden felt otherwise!!! By the time it was all over, there were nothing but scales and tails. After this we decided to take a quick plunge into the “Hot Tub” and then head to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallows.

Jumping in the Hot Tub!

Jumping in the Hot Tub!

As soon as we arrived we grabbed the seine net and waded out into the shallows. Everybody took turns bringing in the net, sorting the fish and releasing the rest. We caught so many different types of juvenile fish, shrimp and crabs. Our favorites were the small barracudas, the checkerboard and sharpnosed pufferfish, the hogfish, needlefish, grunts, snappers and tiny flounders! Each one of us had a chance to gingerly hold them, take a few photos and release them where we caught them. And just like yesterday, when I mentioned it was time to go, nobody was ready!!! We were having too much FUN!!! After a few more hurried pulls we loaded up and headed back, and yes, I arrived a bit late, Oh well…

Seine netting treasures!

Seine netting treasures!

Today was our fishing day, and when I arrived at the dock everybody was raring to go! Good thing one of my very best friends, AdventureBill was kind enough to give me a hand!!! He’s a captain and ships pilot at the port of Palm Beach and one of the best too! Not only that, he’s my best tennis bud and we take turns showing each other who’s “boss” on the tennis court. I think we are about even there though he may think otherwise…  Nice of him to come along!  We didn’t have the action that I had hoped for today but everybody caught fish and no matter how fast we worked to catch up, we never could!!! I know he won’t ever forget those infamous words either, “I NEED MORE BAIT” without thinking about today! It was just GREAT even though we didn’t catch the hundreds I had hoped!!! I think Jagger caught the biggest one, A nice Porkfish, and Josh caught a few really beautiful parrotfish and everybody caught some nice big Casears Grunts, Tomtates and Sailors Choice!!! We just had trouble hooking the fish today. We lost a few really nice fish to some huge barracudas that took up residence under the boat. Everybody loved when one would dart out, swallow their fish whole and take hook, line and sinker to boot! Just great, at least for us anyway…

Jaggers BIG FISH!

Jaggers BIG FISH!

Needless to say, We had an absolute ball and everybody had fun, and that’s what counts!!! Sometimes fishing is just “fishing” and not always “catching” and AdventureDaniel when you read this you can breathe a sigh of relief!!! Your record of 111 fish in one day still stands! I know you will love that!!! That number still seems mind blowing to me!!! And he’ll be the first to tell you that was no “FISH STORY” either!!! All in all, we had a fabulous day, non stop action, not always catching, but it was Fun from start to finish!!! And you know what the best thing is? We still have one more day left!!! And I can’t wait till tomorrow!!!! How about you?

LET’S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!

AdventureMike

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