Tag Archives: rooster crab

Starfish Starfish Everywhere!

Hi Everyone!!! Welcome Back!!!

We’ve just finished up the third day of Fun and Adventure for the first week of August, and let me tell you it had been absolutely GREAT from the very start!!! Just like every week this whole Summer!!! I just can’t say it enough, “We’ve had FUN FUN FUN from start to finish! Day after day after day… All Summer long…”. It just doesn’t get any better than this! And I know I’ve said that before!!! 🙂 This week I have another great group of kids that are ready for Adventure the very minute they come on board! And that’s just the way I love it!!! They’re ready to go go go with or without me! Good thing I keep the keys to the boat in my pocket!

group of 10

We began the week going to the Big Sandbar since dead low tide was occurring just about 9 in the morning. Lucky for us we had the whole sandbar to ourselves and not another boat full of people in sight. I love it like that. If there is anything to be discovered, we are going to be the first to find it and you never know what you might find. On this morning there were starfish starfish everywhere, and did we ever have fun running from one end of the sandbar to the other picking up starfish and checking them out! We saw beaded starfish and cushion starfish lying out on the exposed sand of the bar before we ever left the boat. You should have seen how fast the kids unloaded from the boat. AdventureLorenzo sure had Fun coming up with a couple starfish of his own to share with us. We loved that!

Lorenzo and a pair of starfish

When we weren’t picking up starfish, we were checking out the fighting conchs, moon snails and the olive shells that were leaving long trails thru the sand as they burrowed back towards deeper water. We found quite a few baby ear mollusks that were just beginning to pop out of the sand and we all took turns letting them slime thru our finger tips before letting them go. As the sand got warmer from the sun beating on it, blue claw crabs, box crabs, lady crabs and dozens of hermit crabs began to crawl out from underneath the sand just at our very toes. AdventureSydney came up with one big giant rooster crab that was blowing bubbles out his mouth and we all loved that too!!!

Sydney with a rooster crab

As the tide came in we decided to head to little Munyon Island to do some exploring in the shallows. It took me a bit to get everyone back in the boat. Nobody wanted to leave until they had put all the starfish left exposed on the bar back in to deeper water, and let me tell you that was a LOT!!! It was also a lot of FUN! I think we found the most beaded starfish I have ever seen, and the cool thing about that was not only did we find a ton, but we found a few different species of them too that I haven’t seen in quite a while. AdventureRylee came up with one nice big one that I know she wanted to take home as a pet, but she let it go all the same. Nice find too!!!

Rylee's beaded starfish

When we arrived at Little Munyon Island the whole south side of Sea Urchin Shoals was totally out of water. There were hundreds if not thousands of short spined urchins literally covering almost every square inch of the shoal. We had so much Fun searching and finding every color phase of sea urchins you could imagine. My favorite was the one with a pure white body and dark purple spines. We came up with some beautiful bright pink ones and a few pure white ones too. We found some big black round ones that would cling on to your hands with thousands of tiny tube feet. You could lift them out of the water and hold them upside down and even then they wouldn’t let go. It was just great!!! Everywhere you looked there were short spined sea urchins and AdventureJosh was picking them up by the handfuls! I know he was loving that!!!

Josh with a handful of urchins

As we left Little Munyon Island to head back to the dock a pair of bottlenose dolphin swam right up to our boat and road the bow wave for a while. We watched as they would dart back and forth in the shallows chasing mullet, and then come right back to our boat and swim beside us. They seemed to be as excited checking us out as we were checking them out! We had so much FUN watching them we were late getting back to the dock! Oh well…. I’d love to be late for that reason every day!!!! We all would have!!!

Bottlenose dolphin encounter

The next morning we stopped by the Rock Garden to do some snorkeling. The tide was a bit low and the water was not as clear as I would have liked to do some underwater photography of the group but we had loads of FUN all the same. I don’t think the kids cared whether I took underwater photos of them or not. They were so busy chasing fish and turning over rocks looking for hidden treasures I could hardly get any one of them to look at me! Oh well, so much for underwater photography and those great shots I envisioned…, needlessto say, we had a blast all the same!!! AdventureLianne came up with a really cool brittlestarfish that was about as delicate as you could imagine and that was a great find too. We all loved checking this one out before she let it go.

Lianne with a brittlestarfish

The rest of the gang spent a good bit of time chasing swimming crabs that could be found under every rock. They came in all sizes from tiny to gigunda and every now and then I would hear a squeal of laughter as one crab would swim out of the net of one adventurer and right under the foot of another! It was great to see that! It kept them right on their toes so to speak paying attention to all the fun that was going on around them! AdventureBeau thought it was cool to check out one big swimming crab underwater up close and personal!!

Beau checks out a swimming crab

From here we decided to head to Little Munyon Island to do some seine netting in the shallow grass flats. On the way we stopped for a quick romp around the Big Sandbar to see what we could find. And of course, we found beaded starfish from one end to the other. Did we ever love that!!! AGAIN!!! I was hoping we would find a 9 armed starfish but no luck. Maybe tomorrow! As we were walking from one exposed bar to another, AdventureFaye found the smallest, most tiniest beaded starfish I have ever seen! It wasn’t much bigger than her pinky fingernail and we all thought that was really cool! How she saw it, I will never know! Nice Job!!!

Faye finds the smallest starfish

When we arrived at Little Munyon Island, we grabbed the seine net and a few buckets and within seconds we were seining the shallows. We all would take turns pulling the net and with every pull we would find something cool! We started from one end of the island and worked our way to the other side. Over and over and over..As soon as one group would come in and the net was sorted, the next was raring to go! I loved the enthusiasm this group had, Reminded me of myself. Sometimes its just hard to stop having FUN…

Josh and Faye seining

As soon as the net was pulled on to the beach we would hurriedly sort thru our catch of “treasures”. We would put anything special in our specimen tank to be checked out later, and let the rest go. We caught all kinds of juvenile fish from grunts and snappers to baby barracudas and pipefish. We caught an assortment of shrimp and crabs too. With every pull of the net another treasure was discovered! You should have seen the excitement on the kids faces every time the net came in and how quickly they wanted to sort thru the catch. It was just great!!!

net clearance

Everyone was hoping we would catch some pufferfish and lucky for us we did! On the very last pull of the net we came up with a beautiful striped burrfish that puffed up the minute it was out of water. It became such a spiny pin cushion we could hardly hold it. We all took turns checking it out and I was careful to make sure everybody kept their fingers away from the toothy end of the fish. This little fish can give a painful bite. AdventureSeth sure had fun gingerly holding this burrfish as best he could! No bite either! Nice Job!

Seth and a burrfish

Seine netting always seems to be one of the most fun things the kids like to do. You never know what you may come up with, how many different things you may have or if you have anything at all. Sometimes we get juvenile sea horses, barracudas, pipefish, yellowtail snappers, grass shrimp, cow fish, etc. A plethora of cool things just waiting to be discovered!!! It always seem though that a nice big spiny burrfish or a slippery blown up pufferfish puts a smile on a kids face everytime! I know it does mine!!!

Burrfish and rabbit ears

And of course, today was our fishing day and it’s always 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! On this day it was no different!!! We spent a little bit of time fishing the artificial reef and caught porkfish, grunts, snappers, tomtates, porgies, sailors choice and more! IFrom start to finish we caught fish non stop!!! can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, ” Mike, I need help taking off my fish”. I just love it like that!!! Everybody caught some nice fish but I think AdventureBeau caught the biggest grunt that gave him a good fight! Way to go Beau!!!

Beau's big grunt

At the end of the day we stopped by the Big Sandbar for another quick romp of exploration then hurried over to the Rock Garden to spend the last hour snorkeling. We spent some time searching for crabs under rocks and along the way found some very cool green mantis shrimp and some big queen conchs. AdventureJosh caught a nice juvenile flounder that we all checked out, then we spent some time chasing sharpnosed pufferfish just for FUN!!! AdventureJake sure had FUN holding this nice puffer all “blown” up!

Jake's pufferfish

Whenever we would find something cool or catch a pufferfish we would all take turns checking it out and sharing it with the whole group. Many times the pufferfish would wiggle and deflate, and out of your hand they would go! It was amazing how quickly they could disappear right before your eyes! I can’t tell you how many times that happened today! No problem though, it wasn’t long before someone had another and enjoying it all over again! You can see how much FUN AdventurePetey was having with this puffer! Me too of course…

Petey and a pufferfish

Before we knew it the day had come to an end! I don’t know how the time flew by so fast, but when I said it was time for us to head back, nobody was ready to go! Not even me… on the way back to the ramp we had one more cool adventure! And did we ever love that!!! Just as we were slowly coming around the end of the Big Sandbar in the boat, a huge dark shape appeared right beside us. I put the boat in nuetral and we watched as a big friendly manatee swam right up past us, stuck his nose out of the water and took a good look at us, then took a breath and disappeared. How cool is that!!! What a way to end the day!!!

A manatee ending

One things certain, it sure left me looking forward to tomorrow and doing it all over again!!! Needless to say, we didn’t make it back to the boatramp on time again… Oh well, we were just too busy having FUN!!! I can’t wait till tomorrow! i know it’s going to be great!!! Hope you’ll join us!!! See you soon!!!

Let’s Go Have Some Fun!!!

AdventureMike

Pool Hopping Near Munyon Island

Hi Everybody,

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

Group Photo

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

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

I Found a Brittle Starfish!

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

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

Jump into the Pool

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

Group Photo with Rooster Crab

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

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

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

See you on the return,

AdventureMike