Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!!

Posted by 25 July, 2011 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!! I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been another great week full of fun and excitement, and non stop adventure! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN all the way from Here to There!!! The whole week thru!!! It just doesn’t get […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!!

I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been another great week full of fun and excitement, and non stop adventure! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN all the way from Here to There!!! The whole week thru!!! It just doesn’t get any better than that!!! And I know, I’ve said that before!!! I started out this week with just another absolutely wonderful, great group of kids raring to go!!! They were ready to go have FUN, and so was I!!! And they stayed that way the whole week thru!!! Just the way I love it!

group photo

We quickly loaded up, and off to the Rock Garden we went. The tide was high and the water absolutely beautiful! What a great way to start the day!!! There were menhaden by the thousands and dozens of big snook and juvenile barracudas were trying to eat them for lunch, right up next to the beach! It was darn exciting watching those menhaden race past us with some big fish right after them! It didn’t take long for AdventureMatthew to join the race and try to catch a few in his net as well!!! Way to go Buddy!!! Keep Chasing!!!

Matthew chasing fish

While we swam around the Rock Garden enjoying ourselves and checking out the hundreds of species of fish, one big giant ray came gliding right up next to us that was truly awesome!!! It had to have about a 6 foot wingspan and as it glided past us, it looked like a 747 going down the reef! It was absolutely GREAT, and we all loved it!!! It was cool to see!!! We spent a good bit of time searching for and finding blue legged hermit crabs by the hundreds! Along the way, we found one big, beautiful, mature queen conch that was about as nice as you can find around here. It was a nice find and we all took turns taking our photos with it. AdventureTripp sure had fun when it was his turn!!!

Trip with queen conch

We spent a little bit of time swimming around the lagoon on Peanut Island, and saw a manatee go by, found a school of reef squid hovering in mid water that were really great to watch as they changed colors by contracting and expanding their chromatophores.We found dozens of large short spined and variegated sea urchins that were totally covered with shells and algae. We came upon a nice rock that had a half dozen big lobsters underneath waving their antennae’s at us as if to say hello! AdventureDylan and Beau caught dozens of rock crabs and swimming crabs, and had fun feeding a few to the friendly sheep head and parrotfish that were following us around.

crab catchers

On the way back to the boat we found some small sea cucumbers and big tunicates, and at least a half dozen Giant Hermit crabs that were just waiting to crawl right out of their shells and grab your fingers if you gave them half a chance!!! There was nothing shy about these guys!!! The very second you grabbed their shell, they would stretch way out and try and reach around and take hold of your finger! It was just GREAT and EXCITING too trying to hold those crabs with getting pinched! AdventureDylan sure payed close attention to this one when he held it up for a picture!!! Nice Job!!! Didn’t get pinched either!!! Way to go!!!

Dylan with hermit crab

Each time we went by the Big Sandbar we put out a line with a shiny “Gotcha” plug and trolled along the shallows. A few times during the week a big barracuda would grab it, and we would all take turns reeling it in. A few we kept for our crab trap, and others to use as bait for our set line hoping to catch a small shark or a big ray! We didn’t have any luck this week on the line, but we sure had fun on the way there to check it out just in case! Sometimes anticipation is everything!!! AdventureMatthew sure had FUN when it was his turn to reel in a nice big barracuda!!!

matthew and barracuda

Everyday at low tide we stopped by the Big Sandbar to explore and see what we could find. We found hundreds of West Indian and Florida fighting conchs laying eggs, dozens of Baby Ear mollusks and olive snails, quite a few juvenile box crabs and blue claw crabs and a few nice, big, short-spined sea urchins and beaded starfish. Along the way AdventureRachel and Davina found the smallest, most tiniest beaded starfish that I’ve seen all year! It was a really nice find and we all took turns taking pictures of that tiny starfish as well. AdventureDavina was sure full of smiles when it was her turn to check it out!!! Way to go girls!!!

Davina with smallest starfish

Everyday we would check out our crab trap to see if we caught anything and to add a bit more bait. Some days we would have nothing, and other days we would have only spider crabs. One day we had a trap full of some of the biggest, meanest blue crabs you ever saw!!! I’m talking CRABS WITH ATTITUDE!!! And thats just the way we love it!!! I gave the kids a talk on how to hold a “big mean blue crab full of attitude”without getting pinched, and showed them the proper technique that works everytime!!! I could tell they paid close attention too the way they tamed these big ol’ Crabs!!! Nice job!!! Nobody was “crabby” here!!!

3 blue crabs

We stopped by Little Munyon Island a couple of times this week to look for horseshoe crabs and 9 armed starfish and to do a little bit of searching and exploring along the shallows on the backside of the island. We found loads of green legged hermit crabs and a few juvenile starfish that had most of the tips of the arms nibbled off by crabs. Probably by those very same ‘big mean blue crabs with attitude”!!! Most of the tips had begun to regenerate and that was cool for the kids to see! We stopped by the south end of the island to take a couple of group photos along the edge of the rocks, where everyone had fun posing for pictures!!!

On the rocks

Another day we stopped by little Munyon Island to do some seine netting along the shallow sea grass beds, and talk about how many juvenile reef fish begin their life cycles in the grass flats before moving out onto the reefs as adults. We never know what we might pull up, and that always seems to add to the excitement for the group! On this day, the lake was flat calm, the tide way out, and conditions were perfect for seineing. Everyone was excited and ready to get started, and so was I!!!

seine netting

By the end of the day we had caught more than a dozen juvenile barracudas, hundreds of mojarras, grunts, pinfish, snappers and tomtates. A half dozen or so big pipefish that are related to sea horses, tons of sea grass filefish that have rough skin with tiny teeth-like denticles similiar to that of sharks and lucky for the kids, a bunch of sharp-nosed puffers and checkerboard pufferfish that inflated right on demand!!! The kids loved these and we all took turns checking them out!!! It was a great day!!!

Juvenile barracudas and puffers

We spent another morning going over to Sea Urchin Shoals and found more short spined and variegated sea urchins than you could count!!! They came in every size and color combination you could think of!!! I’m not sure who won the contest that day for finding the smallest sea urchin, but I know it wasn’t me!!! And I gave it my best too! Oh well… We all took turns letting them stick to our hands using their tiny tube feet and checked out their tiny pyramidal teeth underneath, known as ‘Aristotle’s lantern”. They have the perfect teeth for grazing on sea grass, which is why we find them here in such large numbers. AdventureRachel had fun finding the perfect color she liked best!

Rachel with sea urchin

I took the kids down to a section of rocks that often has a few of the long-spined or diadema sea urchins hidden among the crevasses. I wanted to show them what another species looks like that is cool to see, but best left alone!!! These also feed on algae but usually are found on the rocks and not in the sea grass beds around here. These have long, black, venemous spines that easily break off in the skin leaving a painful puncture for an hour or so. Sometimes they can be carefully handled underneath where the spines have been worn down and dull at the tips. If you chose to pick one up, WHICH YOU SHOULDN”T!!!, be prepared to be stuck on more than a few occasions. It happens to me quite often!!! The kids sure loved seeing this one up close and personal!!!

Long spined urchin

On our fishing day we started out going to the artificial reef where we caught Ceasars grunts, snappers, tomtates, pinfish, pigfish and striped grunts, NON-STOP!!! We caught so many fish that I stopped counting after a couple hundred! I have no idea who caught the most, but I can guarantee you, we had FUN like there was no tomorrow!!! I don’t think I could count three seconds before someone else had a fish on, or there was 8 fish on at once!!! One thing is certain, AdventureDavina sure had FUN catching this nice fish!!!

Davina catches another fish

A bit later I took the group down to my secret lane snapper hole, and we caught lane snappers there, like there was no tomorrow too!!! After about 15 minutes of catching snappers non-stop, one big ,hungry barracuda decided to park itself right underneath the boat and start having our lane snappers for lunch!!! AdventureRachel was reeling in one fine snapper when this barracuda darted out and ate half of it for lunch. She dangled the remaining half just out of water and that baracuda never took its eyes off that fish. I thought it might jump out of the water and grab it in mid air. I took the rest of that snapper and put it on a slightly bigger rod with a hook and wire leader and gave it to Rachel. A split second later, she had that big Cuda on, and a while after that, she got it in the boat!!! Way to Go Rachel!!! How is it, that it always seems the girls catch the biggest fish??? HMMMNNNN?????

Rachel's Big Barracuda

The latter part of the day we went to the Big Sandbar to swim in the Deep Hole to rinse off. We collected a bunch of florida and west indian fighting conchs to check out, and take a few photos of the kids with Rachel’s Big Barracuda, now that it was dead and safe to handle! We had so much fun we never wanted the day to end!!! When I told the kids it was getting time to go, I could hardly get them to come back in the boat. I had to threaten them that if they didn’t hurry, I was going to have to BLOW MY WHISTLE!!! And lucky for me, it happens to be one of the worlds loudest whistles!!! This day was one of those very special days, and that barracuda was one heck of a FISH!!! Way to Go Everybody!!! You guys ROCK!!!

Group with barracuda

The last day we spent snorkeling around the Rock Garden, then took a quick boat ride along the beach so everyone could enjoy going “FAST”. From here we went to check the crab trap and shark line we set in the deep trough along the sea grass beds. Lotsa crabs!!! No shark!!! Oh well… But one thing very cool we did see when we went to check the line was 21, yes, that is the correct number!!!, 21 big huge manatees eating mouthfuls of sea grass, all around the boat!!! It was fantastic!!! And we loved every second of it!!! We spent at least 30 minutes watching them munch away just a few feet from our boat!!! What a sight to see!!! It was just GREAT!!! And did we EVER want to join them!!!

Manatees

And while we were all enjoying this, 3 bottlenose dolphin swam by to take a close up look for themselves! They spent about 15 minutes circling our boat looking at us, while we looked back at them!!! It was a great way to end the day and our week, and a put an exclamation point on another wonderful week full of FUN and ADVENTURE!!! All the way from HERE to THERE!!! Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling FUN!!!! What a week!!! What a day!!! What FUN we had!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!!!

Bottlenose Dolphin

I can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! Its going to be GREAT!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!
AdventureMike

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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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Adventure in an Octopuses Garden

Posted by 30 June, 2010 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!! I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and write about last weeks Adventure and let me tell you we had loads of FUN from start to finish! It seems that every week just gets better and better! The weather has been just great, the water is as warm as a […]

Hi Everyone! Welcome Back!!!

I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and write about last weeks Adventure and let me tell you we had loads of FUN from start to finish! It seems that every week just gets better and better! The weather has been just great, the water is as warm as a bathtub and there are fish of every size, shape and color to be seen!!! EVERYWHERE!!! The kids and I have been on a roll and we are ready for Adventure as soon as the day begins. It seems that no matter how early I get to the boat ramp somebody is there waiting for me with a giant smile from ear to ear and ready and raring to go have some FUN!!! Just like me, and that’s just the way I Love It!

group photo with octopus

We began the first day going to the Rock Garden and as soon as we got in the water we spotted big schools of snook chasing menhaden right onto the beach! What a way to begin! The menhaden had arrived by the tens of thousands and everyone loved watching the snook, jacks and juvenile barracudas chase them around us for a meal. Sometimes the schools of fish were so thick you couldn’t see thru them and we absolutely loved that! We all brought little hand nets and tried our luck catching as many different fish as we could. It sure kept us busy having FUN!!!

group photo netting

We searched the shallows occasionally turning over small rocks to see what’s underneath. Every now and then someone would come up with a very delicate brittlestarfish or a purple and blue pistol shrimp and we would check them out up close and personal before letting them go under the very rock we found them. We saw hundreds of seaweed blennies but had difficulty trying to catch them as they darted back and forth from rock to rock. AdventureBeth and Zara spent most of the time having fun searching for Queen Conchs and they came up with quite a few. We all had fun watching as the mollusks would shyly peek back out at us from within their shells.

Beth and Zara find conchs

One of the favorite things we love to do is search for shortnosed pufferfish. Every now and then one of the kids would find one and we would all give chase hoping to catch it in our net. Sometimes we would catch them and sometimes we wouldn’t, but we had loads of FUN all the same! And like I’ve said before, you just can’t believe how quickly a tiny pufferfish can take off straight way, then instantly stop, change direction and race right between your feet never to be seen again! It didn’t take AdventureLeah long before she could expertly catch them like she had been doing it her whole life! Nice JOB!!!

Leah nets a big crab

Occasionally we would turn over a big rock and find ourselves face to face with a nice Big swimming crab waving its claws back and forth in a menacing gesture. We knew they were just waiting for a chance to grab our finger but we were all careful and they never did. These crabs can swim rapidly from side to side and sometimes it takes two or three of us to corner them before we get one. They can give a good pinch if you are unlucky enough to not be paying close attention when the action begins and you’ve got to hold them just RIGHT!!! I learned that one years ago the hard way… This possibility never stopped AdventureNicholas from catching some big swimming crabs and holding them up for us to see! That’s one BIG Crab!!!

Nicholas holds one big crab

One of the coolest things we found and the kids absolutely loved, was a pair of yellow rays lying buried in the sand. I gently scooped one up and after making absolutely certain it didn’t have any venomous barbs, we all took turns holding it and checking it out. We loved when it would pump the water out its sphericals and suck on to us, not even trying to get away! This cute little ray let us hold him until our hearts were content and we all loved that! It would even suck onto the wet hair on our heads and stick there like that’s where it belonged! And did we ever love that too!!!

Zara with a barbless ray

One day during low tide we went to Little Munyon Island to seine net the shallow grass flats to see what we could find. This is always one of the kids favorite things to do. You never know what you may come up with and lucky for us, today was one of those days! Sometimes it just pays to be lucky! On the very first pull of the net we came up with some juvenile barracudas, lots of file fish, tiny yellowtail snappers, grunts, mojarras and a few hogfish, loads of sea grass shrimp and some big pink shrimp.

Finding treasures in the net

The second pull of the net we got even luckier! As soon as the kids brought the net on to the beach I could see some dwarf seahorses. Full grown dwarf seahorses reach about an inch and a half in length for a big one. We don’t get them very often and they are always a cool find! As usual we got more filefish, juvenile barracudas, a couple of short-nosed pufferfish and two checkerboard pufferfish as well. The minute the pufferfish were out of the water they filled themselves up with air and “puffed up” to twice their normal size. The kids absolutely loved that and so did I! AdventureReese came up with a nice one that puffed up in his hand and we nick named it Puff Daddy the pufferfish!

Reese with puffdaddy

On the very last pull of the net we got even luckier!!! We caught more pufferfish, parrotfish, pipefish, barracudas, hogfish, snappers, pinfish, etc., and the very Best Of All, a very large male Lined Seahorse!!! This seahorse was about 7 inches long and absolutely beautiful!!! What makes this so cool is that it is the very first one we ever caught seine netting in this area. everybody wanted to take a closer look and we had so much FUN checking it out! We were so lucky to have caught the only two known species of sea horses found in this area all in the same hour! Now just how COOL is that! It was great to be able to check out both species side by side at the same time!!!

We find a lined seahorse

After we released our “treasures” where we found them, we took a quick hike around the island and found hundreds of sea urchins, dozens of big hermit crabs and loads of blue claw crabs with the bluest claws you’ve ever seen! We even came up with 7 beaded starfish in a variety of sizes and some nice crown conchs as well!!! It was just GREAT!

Of course, Thursday was our fishing day and it is mighty hard to beat the FUN and EXCITEMENT that we have on this day!!! Most days the kids will have a fish on within a few seconds of their bait hitting the bottom! And on this day it was no different!!! I took them to my secret snapper hole and we caught snappers non stop till we were almost too tired to bring any more in!!! And that’s just the way I love it!!!

A bunch of snappers

After a couple hours of snapper fishing we went to the artificial reef to try and catch some different things. We came up with some yellowtail snappers, tomtates, some Big Ceasars grunts, dozens of large spottail pinfish and a few beautiful parrotfish. The kids hooked a few BIG fish we could not get to the boat and I think on more than one occasion they became lunch for some big barracudas!!! AdventureChristopher was the first to catch a nice big colorful porkfish and everybody loved that!

Christopher catches a porkfish

Every now and then we will get into a school of porgies that are aggressive feeders and hard fighters for their size! Today was one of those days! Before long everybody had one on and you should have seen the kids work hard to reel them in on ultra light tackle! Just about the time the kids would get them next to the boat, the porgies would take off swimming hard again and the kids would have to reel like crazy to bring in the line they just lost! It was just great! AdventureJacob caught quite a few nice ones and I loved that!

Jacob catches a porgy

On the morning of the last day we stopped by the Rock Garden to enjoy all the fish and had a ball swimming thru schools of menhaden, watching snook and just checking out the thousands of tropical fish that live here. The water was just beautiful and we never wanted to get leave! As the tide dropped we decided to head to the Big Sandbar and have FUN looking for Mantis Shrimp, fighting conchs, starfish and playing in the Hot Tub! AdventureChristopher and Nicholas loved finding a big red Cushion Starfish that was one of the largest I’ve ever seen here! Nice Going Guys!!!

Christopher, Nicholas and starfish

We ended the day finding a lovely octopus crawling about in the shallows looking for crabs and I know that was one of the very best things the kids loved all week. Me Too!!! We rarely see them out and about in the day time and boy were we LUCKY!!! I think I’ve said that before! This was the very first one I’ve seen in over a year and I’m always looking! It was great to watch the kids lie nearby and watch the octopus reach out with an arm and gently touch them! We had so much FUN watching it change colors from light brown to bright red and the kids were smiling from ear to ear!!! Me too of course!!!. I know AdventureBeth loved watching that octopus crawl slowly past, right in front of her nose!!!

Beth watches an octopus

As I watched the octopus head into deeper water and the kids following closely behind, smiles by the miles in view, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we were to have spent the day in an Octopuses Garden! All to ourselves. Just how COOL is that!!! I know I LOVED IT!!! WE ALL DID!!! IT JUST DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!!! And I can’t wait till next week to do it all over again!!! Who knows what we may discover or adventure we may have, but one things certain, we are going to have FUN!!! From start to Finish!!! I guarantee it!!! Hope you’ll join us in the Adventure!!! It’s going to be GREAT!!! Stay tuned… See you soon…..

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2010: June 22 - June 25 Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Summer 2009 Week 12: FUN, FUN, FUN from Here to There!!!

Posted by 21 August, 2009 (0) Comment

Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!! I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been one of the very best! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN from Here to There!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!!  And I really mean that!!! I just never want this […]

Hi Everybody, Welcome Back!!! I just wanted to drop a quick post about the weeks Adventure. Let me tell you, it has been one of the very best! We’ve had FUN, FUN, FUN from Here to There!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!!  And I really mean that!!! I just never want this Summer to come to an end!!! It has been so much Fun!!! I must be dreaming… :-)

Having FUN!!!

Having FUN!!!

I started out the week with just another absolutely wonderful, great group of kids! And like I’ve said before, “Each week just seems to get better and better!!!” When I arrived at the dock I was joined by 4 previous adventurers, AdventureRachel, Amanda, Rylee and Sydney. In turn, we were joined by 4 new Adventurers, AdventureRobert, Jonathan, Madeline and Emily. It was Emily’s birthday on Monday and we spent a great day doing an AdventureMike custom birthday party session, and boy did we ever have FUN! I never wanted that to end either! Always have a blast! I just love doing those!!! We’ll have to do some more!!!

When I arrived at the dock I could tell this group was ready and raring to go. We quickly loaded up, and off to the Rock Garden we went. The tide was high and the water absolutely beautiful! We had just dropped anchor and as I was getting the masks ready for everyone, 5 manatees came by and took a look at us!!! Right by the boat. Boy do I wish we had gotten there 2 minutes sooner so we could have been in the water with them. They hung around the boat for a minute or two, then off they went. What a way to start the day!!! It didn’t take us long to get in after that, and as usual, there were fish every where we looked!!! Within a few seconds we were catching swimming crabs, blennies, wrasse and pufferfish. We all took turns checking out what everyone was catching. It was just great and we were having so much FUN!

Amanda with a BIG swimming crab!

Amanda with a BIG swimming crab!

We found some really beautiful Hawkwing and Queen conchs and checked out their cute little eyes peeking back out at us. We found a nice big spotted moray eel living in an old barrel and that was great to see too! There were all kinds of arrow crabs and rock crabs living all around the barrel, and of course we had to catch a few of those in our nets to check them out up close and personal! There were so many things to see we didn’t know which direction to go! There were sheepshead, snook, barracudas, porkfish, snapper, grunts, surgeonfish, parrotfish, angelfish, wrasse, blennies, toadfish, cowfish, jawfish and even some beautiful pearly razorfish almost within reach of our fingertips! We found so many cool things!!!

This is COOL

This is COOL

We swam around in the shallows looking for flounder and pufferfish and came upon a beautiful small,yellow spotted ray hidden in the sand. Even though they have a small venomous barb like a stingray, I carefully took a scoop and caught it in my net. I gently pulled the barb off so that we could all hold it and take a good look up close and personal. They begin to grow their barbs back in a week or two and I thought this would be a great opportunity for the kids to hold one in their hands and see what they’re like. Boy, did everyone love doing this! I never saw such smiles on so many kids faces!!! Miles of Smiles, from ear to ear!!! Just the way I love it!!! I just loved it!!! A bit later we let him go to continue on his way.

Robert, Jonathan and Rylee with a barbless yellow ray!

Robert, Jonathan and Rylee with a barbless yellow ray!

By now the tide was going out and we went to the Big Sandbar to explore the shallows. Before we even had a chance to drop anchor I could see some big Cushion Starfish and fighting conchs exposed on the bar. The second we dropped anchor, the crew unloaded. Off and running they went to check out the big starfish!!! Nobody wanted to be the last one out of the boat here! By the time I got out of the boat they were all checking the Cushion Starfish out. So much for waiting for me… By now I was getting used to being the last one out. This group had more energy and enthusiasm than you could imagine. Just the way I love it!!!

We found a Cushion Starfish!

We found a Cushion Starfish!

We placed the big starfish back into deeper water and off we went to explore the bar. It was only a matter of seconds before we found Baby’s Ear mollusks, Netted olives and fighting conchs popping out of the sand. There seemed to be something everywhere we looked! We found numerous beaded starfish, maybe 10 or so, and that was the most I have ever seen at one time. One of the best finds on the bar was a lovely 9 armed starfish, and of course we had to share that and take some “9 armed starfish head ” photos for fun. I could tell Rachel really loved that!!! Tell me she doesn’t look like a “Natural” !!!

Rachel with a starfish hairdo!

Rachel with a starfish hairdo!

I think Jonathan found the most beautiful blue-eyed hermit crab I have ever seen! It had eyes like fluorescent deep blue sapphires! The most beautiful and unreal shade of blue in the world!!! Stunning comes to mind… Wish mine looked just like that, it was so cool! A really nice find! We took a jump into the hot tub for a few seconds, checked out some Mantis Shrimp in their tunnels then had to head back to the boat to make it back on time. On the way back we found another large Cushion Starfish and I could tell everybody loved that again too.

 Rylee and Sydney with a Big Starfish!!!

Rylee and Sydney with a Big Starfish!!!

Today may have been the most fun for me all Summer!!! Everything was just absolutely perfect from beginning to end!!! We had so much fun today!!! It just couldn’t have been any better!!! You guys ROCK!!!

Woke up Wednesday morning to a heavy rainfall, blustery winds and some strong lightning storms in the vicinity. Finally the bad weather from tropical storm Anna had caught up with me. This was the very first time EVER that I was going to have to call it a day without being able to go out, but I didn’t want to take any chances so I made the calls to cancel the day. Boy was I disappointed, but I knew the weather for Thursday was looking perfect, and that of course is our FISHING DAY! Just wanted everyone to be safe, and I knew we were going to have FUN the next two days!!!

When I arrived at the dock today, everybody was early and ready to go, and so was I!!! Little did I know then just how good our fishing day was going to be!!! When I arrived at my secret spot and checked the fish finder, I was recording fish from top to bottom!!! Excitedly I dropped anchor, baited the rods and handed them out and then everyone dropped down at once. From that second on there wasn’t ever a moment that somebody didn’t have a fish on. And I mean not for one second!!! You know the saying a “pictures worth a thousand words”, well look below…

FISH ON!!!

FISH ON!!!

Eight kids, eight rods and eight fish on at ONCE!!! All day long it was like this!!! From the very first second and it never stopped!!! I was so busy I couldn’t even take photos. I can’t tell you how often I heard, ” I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” I You could not count one second from the moment your bait hit bottom till you had one on!!! AdventureDaniel, if you are following this post you got lucky today…  If I would have had more help taking off fish and baiting hooks, your record of 111 fish in 3 hours would have fallen today!!! It was that unbelievable!!! I think everyone must have caught between 50 and 70 fish each, and some were mighty big! We caught some really nice grunts, snappers, parrotfish, tomtates, porkfish and even a seargent major or two. Good thing Madeline, Emily and Robert helped to bait lines and take fish off!!!

Madeline and Emily help take off fish!

Madeline and Emily help take off fish!

The action was so incredible that I heard complaints that wrists and arms were getting sore reeling so many fish in!!! Now that’s what I call FUN!!! I may never again see fishing action like this, but I can only hope!!! Most of the time you couldn’t even get your line to the bottom before you had a fish on. And of course all this excitement and non-stop action brought in the Big Barracudas right up underneath the boat!!! And it wasn’t long before they decided to make a meal of all the big fish that were fighting hard not to come in!!! We had fish eaten right up next to the boat and I can tell you that was exciting!!! Matter of fact, it was AWESOME!!! At least for us that is… I’m sure the snapper felt otherwise…

A Barracuda ate my fish!!!

A Barracuda ate my fish!!!

As it turned out, I have no idea how many fish we caught, but it had to be somewhere over three hundred. That may sound like a fish story to some, but we know better!!! We lived the ADVENTURE!!! You can ask anybody on board today and they would say the same thing. Non stop from start to finish!!! It just couldn’t have been any better!!! It was just GREAT!!!  JUST GREAT!!!  God, I LOVE THIS JOB!!!

When we finally reached the point where no one could reel in one more fish, we pulled anchor and went to the Rock Garden for a quick swim and a rinse. We spent some time chasing fish and crabs and relaxed, just having fun! On the way back to the boat when it was time to leave, A big manatee came by, gave us an up close and personal look, and then continued on. We gave him a quick rub on the back before he left. It couldn’t have been a nicer way to end the day!!! I would have loved to kiss him right on his nose!!!  Did I say, “It just couldn’t get any better than this”!!!

Friendly Manatee!

Friendly Manatee!

All I can say is, “So Far, We had fun from start to finish”!!! And I don’t know about you, but I just can’t wait till tomorrow!!! We have one more day left, And I can guarantee you, I’m going to make it FUN!!! It’s going to be GREAT!!! Wish you could join us!!!

LET’S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!
AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2009: August 17 to August 20 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer 2009 Week 11: Boating, Fishing and Snorkeling Adventure!

Posted by 14 August, 2009 (0) Comment

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!! We’ve been having so much FUN this past week that I just can’t believe its time to write another post! It seems like I just wrote last weeks blog yesterday. Where does the time go? For us it has been spent boating, fishing, snorkeling, etc., and having all kinds of Adventure […]

Hi Everyone, Welcome Back!!!

We’ve been having so much FUN this past week that I just can’t believe its time to write another post! It seems like I just wrote last weeks blog yesterday. Where does the time go? For us it has been spent boating, fishing, snorkeling, etc., and having all kinds of Adventure Fun!!!   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 this week has been the very best all Summer! Absolutely crystal clear, flat calm and so many fish around we don’t know where to begin or which direction to head. 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 AdventureCasey, Maxwell, Joseph, Connor, Joshua, Armaan, Meher, Sienna and Neal, they would tell you the same thing!!! FUN, FUN, FUN from start to finish!

Fun at the Rock Garden!

Fun at the Rock Garden!

We spent the first 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 here, no one else in sight. Our very own swimming pool full of fish! Just the way I love it!!!  I could tell the life guard down the beach was wanting to join us. He was laughing at all the commotion we were causing, chasing this way and that with our nets in hand after pufferfish, blennies, toadfish, flying gurnards, flounders and lizardfish. We didn’t know where to begin. Every where we looked were fish in all different sizes, shapes and colors. Large schools of snook were all around us lying lazily in the shallows, their bellies gorged to the max on menhaden. And let me say, they were looking fat and happy!!! We could get within 2 to 3 feet of them before they slowly moved off. AdventureJoseph would swim around them and ham it up just for our entertainment to see if they would move.

Joseph hamming it up!

Joseph hamming it up!

We spent a good bit of time searching for crabs under the rocks and found thousands, and I mean thousands of blue-legged hermit crabs. There seemed to be dozens under 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 clinging to the undersides of the rocks. We all took turns checking out each others finds, and loved every minute of it!!! The sheep head would follow us around like puppy dogs wanting another handout, trying to catch the crabs under the rocks before we could. On many occasions I could reach out and touch them. Before long, the parrotfish were doing the same. We had a whole entourage full of fish behind us like we were playing follow the leader. It was just GREAT!!! AdventureMeher found a big arrow crab that would sit on her hand like it belonged there, and did we all love that! Especially her!!!

Meher with an Arrow Crab!

Meher with an Arrow Crab!

Before the day was done we had found some beautiful queen conchs, hawkwing conchs, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, rock crabs, swimming crabs, blue claw crabs, mantis shrimp, and even saw a couple of flying gurnards and sea robyns which definitely aren’t too common around here. We saw a couple of barracuda and lizardfish eat other fish which definitely caused excitement in the group! The kids were loving that! It was so cool to see hundreds of Bermuda chub, parrotfish, snook, sheep head, snapper and grunts all around us. We never left this spot till it was time to go and I could tell no one was ready to call it quits yet. We were having too much fun!!!

The next morning we went straight to the Big Sandbar to walk the shallows and see what we could discover. It wasn’t long before AdventureJoshua came up with a very big and beautiful, red cushion starfish. A rarity in this area. We all took turns checking it out up close and personal. It was great! Nice find Joshua!!! AdventureNeal really loved this!!! I could tell he was having fun by the smile on his face!!!

Neal with a Cushion Starfish!

Neal with a Cushion Starfish!

The rest of us spent some time checking out the fighting conchs, large mantis shrimp tunnels and catching small blue crabs in the sand. AdventureSienna found a nice beaded starfish and we all checked that out too. Nice find there also! Shortly after this we followed AdventureConor, Casey and Maxwell into the Hot Tub and had fun playing around here until it got almost too deep to stand . As the tide came in, it carried with it large mats of sargassum seaweed over the shallows. We all grabbed nets and scooped it up and found hundreds of Sargassum filefish, shrimp and crabs! With every scoop we found something cool!!! You never know what you may find. We never wanted to quit, but time was flying by and since the water was so clear and the ocean so calm, I wanted to spend the last hour going out to the beach and having FUN there. On the way back to the boat AdventureArmaan and Meher came up with a beautiful cushion starfish of their own. And I could tell, they loved this too!!! It just couldn’t get any better than this!!!

Armaan and Meher with a Cushion Starfish

Armaan and Meher with a Cushion Starfish

As we rounded the jetty on the way to the beach, juvenile flying fish took off in every direction. It was neat to see so many this close to shore! I dropped anchor right next to the beach and we hopped out with our masks in hand and swam around collecting shells and sea glass and searching the beach for treasures. We found a hatchling loggerhead sea turtle tangled in the seaweed that didn’t make it to the water on time and appeared to be fresh dead. We took it out in the water anyway hoping it might “come back to life” but no luck. We were all a bit saddened by this, but this gave everyone an opportunity to check out a new born hatchling up close and feel the texture of its skin and carapace. We spent the remainder of the day walking along the beach looking to see if we could find anymore hatchlings in the seaweed that we might save and release into the water before they perished. No luck, but we looked anyway.

Casey with a loggerhead turtle hatchling!

Casey with a loggerhead turtle hatchling!

On the way back in we stopped by the Big Sandbar to frolic around and get our mind off the baby turtle. We ran back and forth along the shallows looking to find some things we hadn’t seen yet. We spent a bit of time searching for Mantis shrimp in their tunnels and when we’d find one, we would drop a small piece of broken shell into the hole and watch the shrimp come out and place the shell along the edge of the tunnel out of the way. I couldn’t help but feel it wanted to keep a clean house just like us! Loved watching that!!! It wasn’t long before everyone was laughing and smiling again, and having the time of our life until it was time to go! We had so much fun!

Fun at the Big Sandbar!

Fun at the Big Sandbar!

And, as you all know if you follow our blog, today was our fishing day, and I knew I was going to need some help with the hooks, lines, bait and kids the way the action has been lately! Non stop fish on from start to finish, the WHOLE SUMMER!!! And like I said, “It just doesn’t get any better than this!!!” Lucky for me, AdventureSheri was able to give me a hand, and she knows how to fish!!! Matter of fact, when she was a child growing up in Texas, her father taught her how to “noodle” catfish and I hear she was one of the best female catfish “noodlers” in the state, even though she doesn’t like to admit it. Well, at least that’s how I remember it… And for those of you who don’t know what “catfish noodleing” is, that is when you dive down into the dark water of the lakes without a mask, reach your hand way back into the deep dark crevasses of rock, feel around for a big lunker catfish, carefully work your hand towards its head, then firmly grab it by the mouth and gills until it clamps down on your hand like a vice, then you pull it out of the hole and wrestle it back to the beach for dinner!!!, all bare handed no less!!! Now that’s what I call an Adventurer!!! I sure would have loved doing this myself!!! Still hope to one day!!! I’ll let you know how I do when I get the chance, hope I don’t “find” a snapping turtle… Just my Luck, Oh boy!!!…

Anyway, back to our adventure…  As soon as we arrived at my secret spot and dropped anchor I could tell it was going to be a busy day. The current was moving and that always bodes well here! As soon as we dropped our lines down the action began!!!

FISH ON!!!

FISH ON!!!

It was non stop from the very start and from that moment on, the rest seems just a blur!!!  AdventureSheri and I couldn’t keep up with all the action these kids were having today. We baited the hooks and took fish off as fast as we could, but still we could never keep up!!! I didn’t get a chance to even look at my watch till almost three hours went by! Talk about being busy, and having FUN, We were having it now!!! 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!!! We didn’t catch the big ones today, but what we lacked in size, we made up for in quantity!!! All I know is that AdventureSheri and I were beat by the time our fishing day came to an end, and we had smiles on our faces from ear to ear, and had an absolute ball!!! We spent the last half hour back at the Rock Garden swimming with the fish and enjoying life!!! When it was time to call it a day, I can tell you, nobody wanted to go, especially me!!! It just doesn’t get any better than this!!! I love this job!!!

And the best thing about it all…  We still have one more day left!!!  I don’t know about you, but one things certain, we’re going to have FUN!!!  I can’t wait till tomorrow!!!!  It’s going to be GREAT!!!  :-)

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!
AdventureMike

Categories : Summer 2009: August 10 to August 13 Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Weiss School Student Adventure – Part II

Posted by 16 July, 2008 (0) Comment

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

Hello All,

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

Sea Cucumber Head!

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

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

JC with His Find!

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

Andrew Discovers a Sea Cucumber!

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

Lauren with a Chocolate Chip Sea Cucumber

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

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

Darby and Lauren with Sea Urchin

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

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

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

AdventureMike

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

A Fun Day in The Rock Garden

Posted by 3 June, 2008 (0) Comment

I just got back in from the first day of a new adventure session and let me tell you we had fun today! It was a smaller group than normal as a couple of the kids from one family scheduled to go were sick today and unable to make it. Now on to the fun… […]

I just got back in from the first day of a new adventure session and let me tell you we had fun today! It was a smaller group than normal as a couple of the kids from one family scheduled to go were sick today and unable to make it.

Now on to the fun…

We had not been on the boat more than 5 minutes before one of my favorite adventurers, “Adventure Lisa” spotted a young Bottlenose Dolphin swimming and playing near little Munyon Island. We slowly motored over for a closer look and soon “Adventure Jonah” and “Adventure Annie” were pointing with excitement too. As we watched the dolphin in the shallow waters, Jonah and Annie spotted some very large Ocean Starfish, two Horseshoe Crabs and hundreds of Short Spined Sea Urchins on the bottom feeding on the algae.

Spiny Finds!

They wanted a closer look so I jumped in and collected a few to show them and held up the Horseshoe Crab so they could see and they screamed with glee. We then carefully placed them in their homes and headed off to do some snorkeling in the shallow waters. On the way there Jonah spotted a very large ray foraging for food in the shallows and we turned around for a closer look and we watched as it disappeared in the distance.

When we arrived at “the rock garden” everyone was in a hurry to get in and the water was crystal clear. Adventure Jonah was in first and looked like a natural born snorkeler. Adventure Annie was quick to follow with Adventure Lisa in hot pursuit.

Over Here! Over Here!

Jonah was quick to point out a small barracuda and a beautiful yellow Spotted Ray on the bottom which we tried to get some photos of, along with some of the large schools of Menhaden, Parrotfish, Porkfish, Grunts, Snapper, Seargent Majors and Spot Tail Pinfish, etc…

In no time at all Annie found some small Queen Conchs with beautiful pink interiors and lovely blue eyes which she just had to pick up and look at before letting go.

Nice Find!

Lisa showed us how to find hermit crabs by the hundreds. It was almost impossible to get the kids to go back to the boat for lunch and drinks and to reapply sunscreen. I haven’t seen such enthusiasm in a “long time” or at least not since last week when we had a different group doing the same thing.

I can’t tell you how fulfilling it is to watch the kids discover things for the first time and with that gleam in their eye and excitement in their voice, yell to me, “Adventure Mike, Adventure Mike over here, over here, I found something!” and off we go searching for “treasures”. From here we went to the sandbar, found more Starfish, Florida and West Indian Fighting Conchs, explored the tunnels left behind by Mantis Shrimp and Tube Worms and had fun chasing Seagulls.

Sea Money!

AdventureAnnie found a beautiful Milk Conch with a little pilot fish swimming around which she tried to catch bare handed, and in the process came up with a nice living Sandollar. She said she had found some “sea money” and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as we let it go. By now it was time to head back and Adventure Jonah and Adventure Annie drove us slowly home while Adventure Lisa made us snacks.

Adventure Jonah at the Helm

It was a beautiful way to end the first day of our second week! Not bad for a four hour trip! Can’t wait till the island adventure trek, fishing and exploring tomorrow. Lets go have some fun! Yippee!!!!

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