Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!! We just finished up the third day of week 4 and let me tell you it’s been another FUN week!!! Got lucky with the weather too! When I left my dock on Tuesday morning to head to Phil Foster Park it was a little wet, but by the time I arrived [...]
Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!!
We just finished up the third day of week 4 and let me tell you it’s been another FUN week!!! Got lucky with the weather too! When I left my dock on Tuesday morning to head to Phil Foster Park it was a little wet, but by the time I arrived at Phil Foster Park the sky was clearing. Good thing too cause I could tell this weeks group of Adventurers was raring to go, no matter what the weather was going to be! As soon as AdventureRachel, Amanda, Brendan, Brian, Robert, Michael and Christopher were on board I could tell it was going to be another great week! Their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious!!! Since it was still a little cloudy out to the south, we decided to head north to Munyon Island and start the day with an island hike and a bit of Adventure.
Before I had a chance to even drop anchor, this group was ready to go!!! We hopped out and headed up the boardwalk trail and before long we were on our way to the backside of the island to see what we could find. This trail was relatively new and took us past a big stand of Ficus and Sea- grape trees, thru a mangrove estuary, along a salt marsh prairie and eventually out along the northeast side of the island. It was a beautiful hike and along the way we saw wild coffee plants, knickerbean trees, ospreys, giant blue land crabs, monarch and zebra butterflies, a number of lizards and a few big banana spiders high up in the trees. We searched the shallow flats and found dozens of sea grass hermit crabs in a variety of beautiful shells, hundreds of juvenile blue crabs, but no luck finding any live horseshoe crabs. I was hoping to find a few but they are not too common around here anymore. We found a half dozen or so molts from them which we checked out and AdventureBrendan and Christopher kept one each for a souvenir. Nice Big ones too! After an hour or so we headed back to the boat and went to the Rock Garden for a bit of snorkeling.
The tide was incoming, the water crystal clear and the Rock Garden was full of fish, as usual! Within the last week the big schools of Menhaden arrived and we had a wonderful opportunity to swim through large schools of snook and small barracudas on the prowl for an easy meal. It was just great to watch the fish swirl around us by the thousands! We saw hundreds of snappers, grunts, seargent majors, porkfish, Bermuda chub and parrotfish, etc and even a nice small yellow ray without a tail or barb. Looked like a swimming yellow spotted “dinner plate”. I tried to catch it by hand but no luck. It was too slippery to hold on to. AdventureChristopher gave me the “thumbs up” for trying though!
The second day we stopped by the Big Sandbar to do a bit of snorkeling over the shallow bar and found quite a few large Mantis Shrimp peaking out of their tunnels at us. We tried to bait a few out but they were more wary than I had hoped. Maybe next time… We all found dozens of Florida and West Indian fighting conchs, short-spined sea urchins and numerous olive shells sliding across the bottom. We chased a few small barracudas out of the shallows just to show them who was “boss” then decided to head out along the beach since the ocean was flat calm.
We had barely made it around the Jetty when right before us was tremendous splash. A second later a group of Bottlenose Dolphin leaped out of the water and began chasing a school of houndfish right off our bow. The houndfish would race, skipping along the surface with the Dolphin in hot pursuit!! We watched as the Dolphin caught one houndfish after another and ate them right before our eyes. Let me tell you, our group of Adventurers were loving this!!! Wish you could have been there to hear their excitement!!! It was just GREAT!!! And just as this was coming to an end, a large Loggerhead Sea Turtle came up for a few quick breaths of air right beside the boat, gave us a quick once over as if checking us out, then lazily swam back towards the bottom. We were having a Blast!!! Love it like this!!! We spent the last hour snorkeling along the beach for shells and body surfing the boat wakes when they would come by. Does it get any better than this?
Today was our fishing day and we were joined by AdventureDakota from last Summer who caught a nice big red grouper the last time he was along! We dropped anchor on my secret spot and as soon as the bait hit the water we were having bites! AdventureAmanda caught the first fish, which by chance was her very first fish ever, so I had to definitely take a picture of that! Nice Job Amanda!!! You Rock!!!
It wasn’t long after that before the whole gang was having them on. All at the same time of course!!! And boy was I missing my helper AdventureNicholas today!! He’s great with kids, fishing, boating, baiting the hooks, rigging the lines, taking off the fish and cleaning the boat, etc. but he over slept and missed the boat. And let me tell you that left me EXTRA busy today. We’ll have to make sure to give him a little “grief” next time we see him just to let him know he was missed!!! Good thing Rachel, Brendan, Amanda and the rest of the gang were quick to learn how to bait their own hooks and take off the fish to give me a hand. I had to move the boat a few times to stay on the fish, but it was non stop from start to finish as usual. I think AdventureDakota may have caught the most fish, AdventureBrendan caught two at once and AdventureAmanda caught the biggest. A nice Margate that fought hard!!! Good job!!! A bit later Dakota was reeling in a nice snapper when a tremendous barracuda decided to have it for lunch and he did a superb job fighting that for quite a while before it bit thru the line. Nice job there too!!! It was nice to see that everyone caught fish and had non stop action as usual!!!
The last hour of the day we went back out to the beach for some snorkeling, sea glass and shell collecting and competitive game of “chicken fighting”. Amanda and Rachel against Brendan and Brian, and I have to say in my opinion the girls won! It was great fun for all and a wonderful way to end the day and burn off any excess energy!!! I can tell you that not one of us was ready to call it a day!!! We were having too much FUN!!! The really nice thing though, is that we have one more day left, and who knows what we may find and discover then!!! I can promise you one thing, we are going to have a BLAST!!! Am thinking about starting the day at the Rock Garden and catching all kinds of fish with nets. Know we will have a ball doing that! Stay tuned to see what we discover and the fun we’re going to have!!! Wish you could join us!!! It’s going to be great!!!
LET”S GO HAVE SOME FUN!!!
Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!! We just finished our first weekly Adventure and as usual we had a BLAST!!!!! We’ve been so busy adventuring this week I haven’t even had a chance, nor the energy to write about it! As some of you may know, I’ve had such a wonderful response to my camp that I [...]
Hi Everyone, Welcome back!!! We just finished our first weekly Adventure and as usual we had a BLAST!!!!! We’ve been so busy adventuring this week I haven’t even had a chance, nor the energy to write about it! As some of you may know, I’ve had such a wonderful response to my camp that I decided to do double sessions to try and get some more of you in, and even then I couldn’t accommodate all the requests I’ve had. Thanks to you all! For those of you who couldn’t get your child in, I’m sorry…. Would love to be able take everyone who wanted to go, just not able to. Please register early next year when I open up registration and get ALL the paper work to me IMMEDIATELY to hold your space when that time comes! I already know I won’t be able to take everyone for sure then! Now on to this past weeks ADVENTURE!!!
When I arrived at the dock bright and early for the Tuesday morning session I could already tell we were going to have another great group! The kids were there, excited and raring to go, and with smiles from ear to ear. Just the way I love it!!! Soon afterwards, AdventureMatthew, Casey, Jaime, Miriam, Katie, Thomas, Nicholas and Neil boarded my Adventure boat, “DREAM CHASER” to begin the weeks adventure. And were they ever ready to go!!! We stowed the gear, off we went and the FUN began…
We spent the week boating and exploring, isaland hopping, going to the Big Sandbar, the Rock Garden, Munyon Island, Starfish Prairie, the Beach and of course Fishing!!!! And did we Ever Have FUN!!! From start to finish it was a blast and each session seemed to end way to soon!
On the Big Sandbar we found hundreds of Florida and West Indian fighting Conchs and loads of short-spined sea urchins in a variety of colors. We checked them all to see what new color combinations we could find. My favorite being the bright white with the deep purple short spines. Just beautiful!!! Along the way we discovered Mantis Shrimp burrows and watched as Tube Worms slowly filtered sand to digest the algae off each grain. We came upon the broken carapace of a very large Rooster Crab, in the family of box or shame-faced crabs known for holding their claws in front of their faces, that had been freshly eaten by a ray and found quite a few Baby’s Ear Mollusks burrowing in the sand. Always love finding those!
We found a variety of starfish every time we went, from Beaded Sea Stars, Cushion Sea Stars and the unusual Nine-Armed Starfish that’s mainly nocturnal. Always a treat!!! That gave me a great opportunity to take some cool photos of AdventureNeil and a few others with “Nine-Armed Starfish Head” a first for the trip!!! On one day we found a very rare and unusual fish resting in a shallow hole with only an inch or two of water remaining, maybe a hundred feet from the waters edge. I was excited to see it was a Flying Gurnard, distinguished by having fan like pectoral fins that often have brilliant iridescent blue lines and markings!!! It was a fabulous discovery!!! These fish have modified ventral fins that allow them to “walk” about and turn over rocks and shells while foraging. A very unusual fish and one that I rarely see. Boy were we Lucky!!! We released it unharmed into deeper water. I know it was glad about that. Every now and then when we would get cold swimming, we would come back to the Big Sandbar and sit in a deep hole filled with hot water that we nicknamed “The Hot Tub” to warm up. It was just great!!! Our very own hot tub…
At the Rock Garden we saw the usual…. Hundreds of fish in every size, shape and color imaginable! From small barracudas to snook, porkfish, parrotfish, sheepsheads, grunts, snappers, angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish, blennies, etc. Every where you looked there was something else to be seen… We spent hours searching under the shallow rocks and found all types of hermit crabs, box crabs, rock crabs, porcelain crabs, swimming crabs, stone crabs, pistol shrimp, popping shrimp, blennies and more. A plethora of discoveries with every turn. Just love it that way!!!
This week we were lucky to have calm enough seas to run out the inlet and around the South Jetty to park right near the beach and do some beach combing for shells and worn sea glass. All of us came home with a few treasures of our own. We had hours of fun “hill jumping” and body surfing the small waves in crystal clear water. Never wanted to leave here, and in between body surfing and snorkeling, the group played a few games of “chicken” where Casey and Jaime would team up against Thomas and Nicholas and try and wrestle each other over into the water. It was fun for all!!
We spent one day going to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallows and had a ball. We caught numerous mojarra, pinfish, juvenile grunts and snappers, pistol shrimp, popping shrimp, seagrass shrimp, smooth trunkfish and even a checkerboard pufferfish which delighted the group by puffing up with air for a quick photo op! On the way home that day we stopped by Starfish Prairie and hurriedly picked up a few large Cushion Starfish for another quick photo opportunity then released them unharmed exactly where we found them. They were everywhere to be found! Really nice to have nearby…
And of course, its had to match the fun and excitement of our FISHING DAY!!!. Always non-stop action from start to finish and everyone caught a mixed bag of snappers, tomtates, caesars grunts, sailor’s choice, margates, spot-tail pinfish, porkfish and AdventureNeil caught one scorpionfish which I was happy to get back in the water as quickly as possible. You definitely want to stay away from the venomous spines on those!!! I learned that the hard way many a year ago and don’t want to repeat that EVER again! OUCH!!! All in all, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I NEED MORE BAIT!!!” over and over and OVER!!! Good thing AdventureNicholas from last summer came to give me a hand helping to bait lines, unhook fish and clean up, and even still, we were running deep in the hole behind this gang trying to keep up with all the fish they were catching!!!
All in all, it was a fabulous first week!!! When it was time to head back, no-one was ready to call it a day!!! We were just too busy having fun!!! And Just the way I love it!!! And lucky for me, I got to do it all over again with the second group of Adventurers for the afternoon session!!! Doesn’t get any better than that!!! Wish you could have joined us!!!! We had a BLAST!!! I just couldn’t wait for the second adventure session to begin!!!
All you guys will be missed, and I can’t wait to see you again!, but it was time to…
Go Have Some More Fun!!!
Hi Everyone, Welcome Back! We just finished up the first day of another new and wonderful adventure session and as usual we had an absolutely fantastic time! It was perfect from start to finish! Just the way I love it!!! AdventureJonah, Annie, Allison and Nicholas came back for some more adventuring and the four of [...]
Welcome Back! We just finished up the first day of another new and wonderful adventure session and as usual we had an absolutely fantastic time! It was perfect from start to finish! Just the way I love it!!! AdventureJonah, Annie, Allison and Nicholas came back for some more adventuring and the four of us were joined by five new adventurers, Adventure Emily, Katie, McKenzie, Megan and Joseph. Everyone was excited and ready to start the day. I quickly gave a run down on what we were going to do and we loaded up, donned life jackets and off we went.
We went straight to the Rock Garden, dropped anchor, readied our gear and in we went. From the very start I could tell this was going to be another great group. It didn’t take them long to get ready and they could swim like fish! Just great!!!The minute we got in we were surrounded by parrotfish, surgeonfish, doctor fish, porkfish, pinfish, grunts, snappers, wrasse, menhaden and hundreds of tropical fish too numerous to mention. We saw some barracudas, snook and large houndfish chasing menhaden with blue runners quickly following. It was wonderful to see so many fish in such shallow water and as usual the visibility was almost perfect.
We swam from spot to spot chasing fish, catching hermit crabs, finding queen conchs and looking for “treasures”. We covered almost every square inch, stopping here and there to check out something new, answer questions and look for more. It was non stop fun for two hours and we finally headed back to the boat for some snacks and drinks and take a quick breather. The wind was out of the west today and the ocean flat calm so we pulled anchor and decided to motor around the south jetty and park right next to the beach. What a great decision that was!!!
We didn’t even have a chance to drop anchor before we spotted two large manatees coming right towards us. They stopped in three feet of water not far from the boat and just laid there and nibbled algae off each others backs for half an hour. We had such a fabulous time watching them from 3 feet away. You just wanted to swim up and kiss one! Well actually, both of them! They didn’t even mind that we were there watching and smiling the whole time. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!!, and boy were we lucky to have that opportunity in crystal clear water! What a way to start the first day!!! Right on!!!
A while later they swam into deeper water and we spent some time swimming along the shoreline looking for shells and watching juvenile permit and pompano search for sand fleas in the shallows. We just could not have had a more wonderful first day than this! With only a short time left we loaded up, motored to the sand bar and searched for fighting conchs, mantis shrimp and what ever else we could discover. We found both Florida and West Indian fighting conchs and watched as many were laying eggs. We found one conch that was extremely beautiful! Instead of being solid orange or dark brown inside, it had a pure white interior that was outlined in bright purple.
Absolutely gorgeous! I have never seen one like this before, really a nice discovery! Everyone took a look, then we put it back where we found it and swam back to the boat. It was time to go, and I can tell you nobody wanted to head home yet! I had heard it all before, ” AdventureMike, why can’t your camp last till 3 or 5 instead of 1, why do we have to go back so soon?” Oh boy, I still haven’t come up with a good answer for that…. and most of the time I don’t want to go back either. Oh well…
All of us had such a wonderful time! You could see it in our smiles and hear the excitement in our voices! We just couldn’t wait to do it all over again! Each one of us was looking forward to tomorrow! We just can’t wait!!!
Stay tuned….. We are going to have some fun!!! I can guarantee it!!! Right on!!!
Welcome back all, We just finished up the first day of a new adventure session and as usual we had a fabulous time! I was joined by a whole new group of adventurers today, AdventureSeth, Michael, Darby, JC, Andrew and Lauren from the Weiss School. This group was well acquainted, extremely comfortable in the water, [...]
Welcome back all,
We just finished up the first day of a new adventure session and as usual we had a fabulous time! I was joined by a whole new group of adventurers today, AdventureSeth, Michael, Darby, JC, Andrew and Lauren from the Weiss School. This group was well acquainted, extremely comfortable in the water, and they could all swim like fish. All the makings for a wonderful week! I just love it like this! AdventureNicholas, who joined me a few weeks back, came along to give me a hand and help find unusual creatures to share with the group.
After introductions, the group of adventurers boarded my 26′ Island Runner, “Dream Chaser”, donned lifejackets and off we went. We were all excited and in a hurry to get to the Rock Garden and start the days adventure! After a few minutes getting the masks cleaned and ready we got in. In seconds everyone was pointing at different fish, searching for crabs and finding “treasures”. We saw parrotfish, sheepshead, wrasse, bermuda chub, porkfish, pinfish, snook, barracudas, snappers, lizardfish, grunts and an assortment of tropical fish all around us. The usual here! Many times we were completely surrounded by schools of menhaden so thick you could not see thru them. AdventurersDarby, JC and Lauren found all kinds of corals while AdveturersAndrew, Michael and Seth were finding tunicates, crabs and some strange types of tube worms that had long thin stringy tentacles filtering thru the sediment on the bottom. Some of these tentacles were 2 or 3 feet long and the second you touched a tip of one, the whole thing would race back into the hole and disappear in a split second. It was neat to watch them go!
While we were snorkeling a barge came in carrying a load of large rocks to place around the perimeter of the snorkeling area to increase habitat for fish and stop erosion along the south east side of the island. I never saw this here before and it was neat to watch the back hoe operator pull the barge into shallow water and begin dropping off his load. We moved further south along the snorkeling area to get out of his way and check out some new area so we did not swim in the same places I usually go. Even the life guards didn’t know he was showing up till 10 minutes before he arrived.
AdventureNicholas found us crabs and sea urchins and caught a few fish in his hand net to show the gang. He caught a small scorpionfish in his net and brought it over to show us. I wanted everyone to see what they looked like and how well they camouflaged on the bottom. I mentioned how they could deliver a potent sting and to just let them be should you encounter one. I just wanted to make sure everyone new what to be aware of and how to recognise them in case they saw one.
A short time later AdventureNicholas returned with the smallest yellow stingray I had ever seen. It was only about 3 inches wide and cute as can be!!! It had one very tiny little barb that was hung up in the net and preventing it from swimming away. Everyone wanted a closer look so I carefully removed the barb from the ray and gently lifted her out of the net for everyone to see. Since she no longer had any barbs she was totally harmless and I could hold her without worry. This was a great opportunity for everyone to hold a ray and feel how it would suction itself to the palm of their hand as it pumped water thru its gills on the underside and out the sphericals on the top side of the head. It didn’t even try and get away and we all took turns holding it. It was a great experience for all of us and I could tell by the giant smiles all around that everybody was enjoying this encounter as much as I was. I just love it when there is nothing but smiles!!!
From here we swam back to the boat and found some really nice fossilized worm tubes and quarts crystals along the shallows. We discovered a few jawfish burrows with the tiny jawfish peeking up at us from within their shell lined homes. These are one of my favorite fish that actually carry their fertilized eggs within their mouths until the babies hatch. When danger comes near the young swim back into their mothers mouth and hide till the danger has passed. Always wonderful and fascinating to see this take place. Just love it!
From here we loaded up and went to the sandbar and found West Indian and Florida fighting conchs laying eggs and swam in the Deep Hole looking for fish. For the first time this summer, the skies began to darken overhead and the rain storm was inevitable so we motored over to the Blue Heron Bridge and played around by the life guard stand and stayed out of the rain for the last half hour till it was time to go. We even had fun doing that! I was with a great group, and we had fun no matter what we were doing and that’s what counted. I would liked to have spent more time in the shallows around the sandbar but didn’t want to stay out in a storm. I knew there was always tomorrow, and with this group, there is no doubt in my mind, We are going to have some Fun!!! I can’t wait!!! Stay tuned…..
We just finished up the first day of a new summer camp adventure session and as usual, we had a blast! I had a whole new group of adventurers today, AdventureJason, Jordyn, Brian, Carolyn, and Dakota, and let me say, we had fun, non stop! AdventureChaz from a couple of weeks ago came along for [...]
We just finished up the first day of a new summer camp adventure session and as usual, we had a blast! I had a whole new group of adventurers today, AdventureJason, Jordyn, Brian, Carolyn, and Dakota, and let me say, we had fun, non stop! AdventureChaz from a couple of weeks ago came along for the day and gave me a hand with the boat, anchor, creature collection and more. When I met the group at the ramp, not only were they early, they were eager and ready to go!
It didn’t take us long to load up, organize our snorkel gear and get on our way. I could already tell this was an enthusiastic bunch and we were going to have some fun today! We rounded the corner and decided to stop at the sandbar for an hour instead of going straight to the Rock Garden. The tide was incoming and only a small part of the bar was showing and we wanted to hurry up and check it out while we still could. We grabbed our gear and a couple of nets and hopped out. In seconds, AdventureDakota, Jason and Brian found both Florida and West Indian fighting Conchs and AdventurersCarolyn and Jordan found some buried in the sand laying eggs. In no time at all we had our hands full of them and I began showing them the difference between the two. A few of the conchs didn’t want to be held and they tried to shove our hands away with their operculum’s. This gave us a great opportunity to really check out the animals inside as they would crawl halfway out and try and dislodge our fingers. It was really neat to watch those in the sand actually lay eggs. I don’t see that too often, always is fascinating to me to watch as each species of shell lays its own identifying egg mass. Cool…
We then took a quick jaunt around the sandbar and I watched as AdventureJason, Brian and Dakota caught some nice blue crabs and the rest of us checked out Mantis Shrimp holes hoping to find one inside. No luck, they are shy, intelligent, nocturnal creatures that know when we are there and hide way before we know where they are. We took a swim in the Deep Hole which was full of menhaden and a couple of nice barracudas and snook, then headed back to the boat to have some snacks and drinks. We scooped up some Sargasso seaweed along the way and found some filefish, shrimp and crabs that camouflaged perfectly with the weeds.
While we were sitting in the boat, I spotted a nice Porcupinefish in the shallows and I quickly grabbed a net, hopped out of the boat and ran after it. I’m sure everyone in the boat thought I had lost my mind as they watched me scramble back and forth trying to net something they didn’t see. Finally I was able to net it and as I held it up to show everyone it began to suck in air and balloon up. Within a second or two it became firmly stuck in the net and I brought it back to the boat to show them and let each one touch it and feel the short spines. I made sure to tell them about the mouth and how well it could take that “perfectly clean round bite” out of a finger or hand if they weren’t careful. Remember that important lesson I spoke of in a previous post that I learned as a child and never wanted to repeat! Will never forget that!
I told the story that as a child, when we would catch fish bare-handed we would make a wish, give em a kiss and let them go for good luck, just in case. In case of what, I was never sure. AdventureBrian decided to give it a kiss, on the backside of course, and make a wish for good luck before releasing it. Hope his wish comes true! I could never remember if mine ever did but it was always fun and it put a smile on my face every time! I never minded a mouth full of fish slime either as a child but I think the porcupinefish was a bit “fishier” tasting than AdventureBrian actually thought it was going to be. Live and learn, right on… yumm! Or in his case, Yuck!!! I don’t think he has the same enthusiasm for “fish kissing” as I had when I was a child. Maybe he just needs more practice?
We started up the Dream Chaser, motored over to the Rock Garden, dropped anchor and got in. The water was perfectly clear and full of fish! Absolutely perfect and the way I love it!!! We had large schools of parrotfish, doctorfish, bermuda chubs, jack crevalles, blue runners, menhaden, snook and barracuds all around us! It was great!! We felt like we were in a giant aquarium and the best thing about it was that we were! Our very own! AdventureDakota, Brian and Jason caught all kinds of crabs. Big ones, little ones, round ones, thin ones, short ones, long ones. You name it, they caught it. It was just great! AdventureJordyn hung on my back for a ride and learned about fish while AdventureCarolyn caught things on her own and found out that some crabs can pinch well! Even while in the boat and right thru the net! AdventureChaz came to the rescue and dislodged that nice crab claw hanging to AdventureCarolyn’s finger while I tried not to laugh. Been there, done that a thousand times, and yes, “I could feel her pain” too. As I have said before, I was a slow learner!, but in reality I just loved grabbing everything and didn’t mind if I got pinched or not. I just knew I was having fun!!! There was so many fish to see we didn’t know which direction to go first. It was just great to watch the thousands of menhaden try and hide all around us while the snook and jacks chased after them. At times the they were so thick you couldn’t see thru them. I just love it like that! Non stop constant action all around us, just great..
We were having so much fun we didn’t want to quit! When I looked at my watch and it was 1pm I couldn’t believe how quickly the day had gone. When I called everyone back to the boat said it was time to go, no-one wanted to leave. Nobody was ready to quit and neither was I, but the parents were waiting, there was always tomorrow, and I knew we were going to have Fun!!! Our adventure was just beginning and we were going to make the most of it!!!
Stay tuned to see what we discover, or better yet, come join us, share in your own adventure and “Lets go have some Fun”!!!
Hi Everybody, Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session and as usual, what a great day it was! Adventure David and Dina from last week had so much fun they decided to join me for this week too. Alright! I just love it when kids come back! After [...]
Welcome back! We just finished up the first day of another new adventure session and as usual, what a great day it was! Adventure David and Dina from last week had so much fun they decided to join me for this week too. Alright! I just love it when kids come back! After a weekly session of adventuring you almost feel like you’ve become family. We have that great a time! I’m going to miss them when they go back home to Hungary. Today the three of us were joined by 4 new adventurers, AdventureCorey, Hannah, Parker and Maxwell, and I can already tell its going to be another great group!
We left the dock and headed out to do the normal first day adventure going to the Rock Garden and checking out the hundreds of fish that call this place home. When I came around the bend I noticed the sandbar was already exposed and dead low tide wasn’t till around noon so I knew it was going to be an extreme low tide. When we arrived at the Rock Garden the water was only about 2 feet deep instead of the usual 4 to 5 foot range so we anchored out a bit further than normal got our snorkel stuff together and got in. The large schools of menhaden, parrotfish and sheepshead were still there. We all took little collection nets and spent the first hour catching blue crabs, hermit crabs, swimming crabs, arrowcrabs, rock crabs, brittle starfish, blennies and a variety of pistol and popping shrimp. I think each one of us caught something different. After a while, the water level got so low we could walk from place to place without getting deeper than our knees. I have never seen such a low tide here. It has to be an unusual planetary alignment or moon phase or both to cause this extreme low tide. We decided to go to the sandbar to check that out.
When we arrived, we were amazed by what we saw. The whole north side of the island was exposed for hundreds of yards. It was just so unusual to see this much area out of water. We could already see shells and starfish popping out of the sand. We hurriedly grabbed our nets, masks and a bucket and headed out to explore. By the time we got to the sandbar, AdventureCorey, David, Parker and Maxwell had nets full of crabs.
We found some really unusual box crabs, egg masses to moon snails and fighting conchs and lettered olives were popping from the sand by the hundreds. We discovered them in all sizes from tiny to gigunda. I had never seen this before. It was just fabulous and AdventureDina and Hannah had handfuls to observe and let slither around before letting go. We had to find at least a dozen beaded starfish that we let go in deeper water so the birds wouldn’t eat them and some very large baby’s ears snails that were coming out from the sand. We explored the whole area and found so much. It was great to search the exposed areas I had never seen out of water before and even the sea grasses were high and dry.
We came to a large swimming pool sized hole that was around 8 feet deep in the middle with a dry bank all around it and full of fish. We would take turns running off the bank and doing cannonballs to make the biggest splashes and see who could jump out the furthest. We had a ball.
Before we knew it the day was over and we had to head back to the boat. On the walk back along the sandbar AdventureParker found a very large nine armed starfish crawling out from beneath the sand and showed us all. It was a nice find! We took some photos then he moved it to deeper water also so it wouldn’t dry out in the sun or get eaten by a bird. Just as we were coming to the end of the sandbar we spotted something crawling towards the water and ran to see it. It was a very large and beautiful Rooster Crab, one of the largest members of the box crab or shame-faced family of crabs.
They get their name from the way they hold their claws folded in front as if they are “ashamed” to show their faces. The Rooster Crab gets its name from the raised edge of this folded claw that looks like cackles on a rooster. This is the only one I have ever seen here and a real beauty to find. We were lucky! It may be many years before I see another one like this, and especially one this large. Just great! Thank you…
From here we climbed back aboard the “Dream Chaser” and headed back. And on the way I was again asked, “why don’t I end the camp at 5pm instead of 1pm? We don’t want to go back yet!” and I mumbled something about how the weather gets worse around 3pm and didn’t want anyone out in lightning or thunderstorms, etc. but at that moment I don’t think they seemed to care. They were too busy having fun and its hard to quit while your still smiling! I know all about that, and it seemed like we just started. Oh well…
and there’s always tomorrow, and who knows what we may discover then, but one thing is certain, “We’re going to have Fun”!!! Stay tuned to see what we find… or better yet, come join us for your own adventure!!! Have a story to tell of your own and memories to share forever.
See you on the return,
Hi everyone, I just got back in from the second day of another new and wonderful adventure, and let me tell you it was another great start! We started the week off with a few repeat adventurers; Adventure Jonah, Adventure Annie and Adventure Jake, and one new adventurer, Adventure Javier. Adventure Jake’s dad, Adventure Paul [...]
I just got back in from the second day of another new and wonderful adventure, and let me tell you it was another great start! We started the week off with a few repeat adventurers; Adventure Jonah, Adventure Annie and Adventure Jake, and one new adventurer, Adventure Javier. Adventure Jake’s dad, Adventure Paul decided to join us as well for some much needed rest and relaxation but I’m not sure if he got any, looked like he was too busy having fun to me!
On Monday we started off the adventure session with a trip to the Rock Garden. The water conditions were unbeatable. Crystal clear, calm ,warm, fish in every direction and best of all, no-one else around! Just the way I love it. Our very own piece of paradise! Sometimes its just hard to leave this spot! We began by doing a little bit of collecting and identification, found 6 different species of hermit crabs alone. The most common ones being the Giant Hermit, Stareye Hermit, Red Reef Hermit and the Red-Stripe Hermit. There were hundreds with beautiful blue legs and some with long green slender legs, but at this time I am not sure what species they are. I will have to find out. We collected 3 different species of Blennies, the Hairy Blenny, Seaweed Blenny and the Molly Miller. I saw a few others but couldn’t catch them bare-handed. We saw numerous species of tropical fish, angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, snook, jacks, lizard fish, porkfish, seargent majors, wrasse, sheephead, snapper, grunts, and large schools of menhayden, etc. A virtual bonanza of fish in every direction, the usual here. We didn’t get out of the water for 3 straight hours. Like I said, sometimes its just hard to leave…
With one hour left we headed over to the sandbar to play in the shallows. We looked for conch and mantis shrimp and found juvenile blue crabs galore. We talked about the differences between Florida fighting conchs and West Indian fighting conchs and even found a few hawk-wing conchs as well, not too common around here anymore. It was a nice find! We spent the rest of the time looking for pelagic tunicates, a translucent type of free swimming ascidian that looks similiar to a jellyfish, but without the stinging tentacles, and came up with a few. They are almost transparent in the water and difficult to see. From here I headed back with the sounds of, ” Do we have to go back already?” echoing from all sides. The usual…
Today we loaded up and again headed back to the Rock Garden. The conditions were just as perfect as yesterday, and everyone raring to go. Same beautiful scene, different day!!! In seconds, Adventurers Annie, Jonah, Jake and Javier were in the water and telling me and Adventure Paul to “hurry up” and “don’t take so long”. I thought I was quick to get in. About got trampled underneath by 8 tiny feet all in a hurry to be the first ones on the dive platform. Whew, that was a close call…
Once in we headed towards the shallow rocks. Everyone was pointing in different directions for me to look. “Adventure Mike over here, over here, a snook, a snook… No, no, over here ,over here, a barracuda, a barracuda… Look here, Over here, a parrotfish, a parrotfish… Adventure Mike, Adventure Mike…and on and on…” Shortly after this I put Adventure Paul to work giving me a hand, so much for his rest and relaxation.
A few moments after this I heard Adventure Jonah yell, “A manatee, a manatee” and I thought he might be mistaken.
I turned around to take a look and sure enough, there was a young manatee swimming right beside us looking us right in the eye! He wasn’t 4 feet away! Could of smooched him on the nose if I wasn’t in a panic hurrying to turn on the camera to take a picture. At times like these no camera turns on quick enough. By the time I got ready he was passing us by and I hurriedly pointed and hit the shutter button once or twice.
I was so excited I don’t even remember looking in the view finder. I don’t think professional underwater photographers are supposed to make that mistake. Oh well…
After another hour or two swimming we headed back to the boat, had lunch, reapplied sunscreen and headed to Little Munyon Island to try some cast-netting. Everyone took turns, but Adventure Jake, under the fine tutelage of his dad, Adventure Paul, was already a pro! It didn’t take him long to fill a bucket with Killifish, sometimes called mud-minnows, mullet and moharras, also called sandperch. It was great fun! Adventure Jonah, Javier and Annie were quick to learn but by now we had spooked most of the fish so there wasn’t much around. Adventure Annie began playing in the shallows and she came up with a nice nine-armed starfish, Adventure Jake found a nice horseshoe crab molt and plenty of short spined urchins and Adventure Javier and Jonah continued practicing throwing the cast net until it was time to leave. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my watch and it was already 1pm. We were almost running late, we had to hurry, it was time to go. And once again I thought, “Time does fly when you’re having Fun!!!
Can’t wait till tomorrow!!! Wonder what we’re going to see next? Stay tuned for the next adventure… Better yet, come join us!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!