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Old 05/29/2017, 07:03 AM   #376
Ron Reefman
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Thanks again for sharing, Ron!

What gloves do you wear while snorkeling?
Hi Sam,

Elaine and I both wear scuba diving gloves made by Akona. I've handled fire worms, jelly fish and long spine urchins and never had an issue. And they are thin enough that I can pick up even tiny things.


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Old 05/30/2017, 12:01 PM   #377
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Hi Sam,

Elaine and I both wear scuba diving gloves made by Akona. I've handled fire worms, jelly fish and long spine urchins and never had an issue. And they are thin enough that I can pick up even tiny things.
I'll be looking into​ getting some of those gloves.

What do you use for transporting everything? From collection to tank.


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Old 05/31/2017, 04:55 AM   #378
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Great question. This process has changed a lot since I first started collecting about 7 or 8 years ago. I used to lose a few animals in the early days, but now I have it down so that like this last trip, every single animal made it into my tanks at home.

In the water I use a plastic peanut butter jar! I've drills a lot of small holes in the upper half so water can flow through it while I'm snorkeling. I drilled a hole in the lid and put a small rope through it. Tie a knot under the lid and create a loop above the lid and have 2 feet of line. That way I can hang it off my wrist and let it go.

Back on the beach or in the boat I have a couple of systems. We have a big orange 'gatorade' cooler to keep things in for travel back to the motel. I drilled a small hole in the lid and attached some velcro as well. I drop an air line through the hole and add a weight and airstone inside and attach a battery operated air pump with more velcro on the outside of the top. Now I can keep the water well oxygenated which is very important. We also have a 5g mesh cylinder from Bass Pro that fits inside the cooler perfectly. If we are going to be snorkeling for a long time, I'll put collected animals in the mesh bag and hang it off the side of the Zodiac in the water. When we get ready to leave, I can push the cooler underwater so it fills up and then bring it up under the mesh cylinder and that way nobody is ever even out of the water for a second!

Back at the motel I have a 32 quart cooler that I fill half to 3/4's full of ocean water. There is a plug-in air pump with an airstone and a weight and a small powerhead to have some better water movement. The collected animals go in there for the rest of their trip home. I also have a small heater if it's cool outside or we bring the cooler into the motel room (which is always cooler than the ocean water). I also do a 50% to 90% water change every day that we stay in the motel. Hey, the water is free right off the beach.

I switch out the plug-in air pump and powerhead for the battery powered air pump for the ride home. No need for a powerhead as the water moves around a lot from the motion in the car. We also have a BIG plastic bag that goes under the cooler and up the sides to contain any possible spillage, but we leave it open at the top. We also put a towel over the airpump to help muffle the noise and also help mop up any small spills.

At home I do a 50% water change with water from one of my tanks and start sorting everything out. I have 4 tanks at home, 125g DT, 50g display refugium, 65g shallow reef local only tank and a 25g frag tank. Animals go into 100% tank water for 10 to 20 minutes while sorting. Then they get added to whatever tank I want them in.

The 65g shallow reef is local stuff only. Everything in that tank is either from the Gulf of Mexico which we find on beach walks or from snorkel trips to the Keys. So if I have something I'm at all concerned about, it goes in there as it's kind of a quarantine tank. But to be honest, in all the years I've been collecting, I've not found any sick animals or brought in any pests with any of the wild caught things I add to my systems.

I hope that helps?


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Old 05/31/2017, 02:56 PM   #379
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I hope that helps?


Thanks again!

Here's another.. Lol
What are your different methods of collection?
Fish- dip net, slurp gun, seine?
Coral- putty knife for zoas?
Etc..


I do something a little similar.

I've been using an old drawstring snorkel kit bag to collect during snorkeling. One side is fabric and the other is mesh with a cross shoulder strap. I need a new system. I don't like putting stuff in and worrying about it jabbing or poking me in the side since I don't wear a suit.
Plus, when I forget to cinch it shut, well, I'm sure you can figure out why that's irritating.. lol

I leave a 2g bucket and air pump on the beach in the shade for anything I find to bring back to the house/hotel.
I really like the baby bubbles aerator since it's tiny and runs on either one or two AA batteries.

I have a travel tank I bring to display some of the cool stuff I find. I just recently bought an aqueon mini bow 1g to replace the old one. It has a filter and light built in and I just add a heater. The family likes to see the cool stuff so having a little display is cool, and educational. My father in law called me an oceanologist last week. Lol

I use a 2g Lowes blue bucket with the white leakproof lid with a quarter sized hole cut out for the airline/airstone. That bucket then gets dropped into a 5g Lowes blue bucket with white leakproof lid. It leaves room for splashes and other damp stuff / tools or powerheads in the empty space inside around the 2g. Plus it muffles the air pump and somewhat insulates the critter bucket.
The key to survival is making sure you have the bucket INSIDE the car. One year I put it in the bed of the truck. It was completely surrounded/ covered by bags, chairs, etc so there wasn't any sun hitting it. What I didn't think about was the fact that even though the bucket was shaded and out of the sun, the air pump was still pumping hot 85 degree air into the water... that was disappointing.
Second tip is not to overcrowd the bucket.

I try to bring a small container of salt mix to make fresh saltwater for everything. The ocean water usually has dead stuff and organics that will eventually foul the water. Having a boat and regularly getting fresh saltwater further out also works. The water that comes in with the surf generally isn't the cleanest.


I'll be stealing/incorporating your methods for future collections!


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Old 06/01/2017, 04:14 AM   #380
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Sam, the whole idea behind starting this thread was so we could share/steal/incorporate each others ideas and snorkel locations. I lover the small bucket in a bigger bucket idea for transporting home. Thanks for sharing.

I used to use a net/mesh bag with a draw string for collecting when I started. But I didn't like that it collapsed and jammed critters together and some were a lot more difficult to get out of the bag. A friend of mine used the plastic jar with holes idea and I liked it. Sometime I even use a 1g bottle that calcium comes in from BRS. It works better for bigger stuff like a gorgonian.

I guess I'm lucky that Blackfin's 'beach' has a lot of flow due to tides and just 50 yards off shore there is a small coralhead island with lots of 'stuff' growing and living out there. So the water I use at the motel is almost as good as the water I collect when we are out on the boat. But you are right about water collected most of the time at a beach. When we do the Sanibel beach walk on the Gulf of Mexico, it's cold, and the water is very stirred up. So I take a couple of gallons of water from my aquarium rather than try to get water at the beach.

I love that you set up a small tank in the motel room. If I had kids, that would be a serious teaching moment, very cool. I've always ended up with people staying in rooms near us asking me about what I'm doing with the cooler and stuff plugged in to an outlet that end up in the cooler. So I get to do an occasional teaching moment that way. This last trip the guy in the room next to us was shocked when I explained what we were doing. He said he has been going to the Keys for many years to go fishing and he figured that's what everybody there was doing (or just sight seeing). He'd never held a live urchin in his hand and felt it move. He was totally blown away! That was a fun moment for me.

BTW, our June trip to the Keys is probably off because I screwed up and damaged our Zodiac. I left the full 3.5psi air pressure in the boat and between the afternoon sun and the black sunbrella boat cover, the pressure built up and one of the tubes exploded! I dropped it off yesterday to have it repaired. For a variety of reasons it's going to take 2 to 4 weeks to repair and cost... well... let's just say, way more than I need to spend to learn my lesson about caring for the Zodiac better!


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Old 06/01/2017, 04:37 AM   #381
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Thanks again!

Here's another.. Lol
What are your different methods of collection?
Fish- dip net, slurp gun, seine?
Coral- putty knife for zoas?
Etc..
Lets see. Snails, urchins, emerald crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers and other slow moving critters are all caught by hand. Even some of the anemones I've collected have been easy enough to collect without tools.

The zoas at Little Money Key are all growing on small bits of dead stony coral and/or in small sponges. So they are easy. I don't often carry a dive knife with me unless I think I'm going to need it. But then it's always in my dive bag on the beach or in the boat. I use the flat tip of it for anything I need to scrape lose, like zoas, palys, clams, some anemones and chitons. More often than not, when I collect a gorgonian I use the knife and just cut a 6" to 12" 'branch' off a bigger colony.

I almost never try for fish because they can be very difficult to collect and I very rarely see a fish that I would put in my tank. And the only shrimp we see regularly are small mantis shrimp. A, they move way too fast and B, I don't want one... even in my 65g shallow reef, local only tank. I do have a net that is rectangular in shape and the sides are clear plastic and hold the rectangular shape of the net open for a foot before you get to a black mesh bottom to the net. The idea is the net goes down behind the fish that you are trying to collect. Then you make some move in front of the fish so it will turn and try to swim away. It doesn't see the clear plastic as a threat and the black bottom looks like a dark hole it could hide in. A friend of mine uses his to great advantage and catches quite a few fish. He has used the same net to collect coral banded shrimp in the one location where we have found them regularly. I get to see him every year when our local club does it's annual trip to go snorkeling in the Keys.

So what techniques do you use? I'm always looking to learn new methods.


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Old 06/01/2017, 04:19 PM   #382
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So what techniques do you use? I'm always looking to learn new methods.


I've never found any zoas (haven't been to the keys in a few years and didn't know they were there then) and most of the stuff I have collected are by hand. Flipping rocks is always fun and exciting!
Slurp guns are a good way to look, and feel, like an idiot. Lol never had any luck using one for much of anything.
I've seen those dip nets before, but never used one.

Check out this video by Cairns Marine collecting lemon peel angels. It's almost like they want to swim into his barrier net!

https://youtu.be/CWy3I2MUUzM

I made my own barrier net similar to the one in the video except smaller scale and cheap materials. I think I ended up spending $20 for everything and it worked great! I only got to use it once in shallow water, but night and day difference to other methods for free swimming fish. I think it measured about 5'x8'.




What I really want is a good method to collect fish like blennies from holes in rocks..


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Old 06/02/2017, 06:05 AM   #383
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I've never seen the barrier net method for collecting before. The video was really interesting. I know a few places where we snorkel that that kind of barrier net around a rocky outcropping or even a big ball sponge would work. In fact, if you remember my writing about the 2' nurse shark that was under the rock and I 'spooked' it out with the flash from my camera? Well, that rock had all kinds of juvenile tropical fish swimming around it. Of course the shark would probably have been able to swim away with the entire net!

Like I said before, I haven't been big on catching fish. But then I'm to the point that many of the things I used to collect, I really don't need any more, like sea cucumbers (I have 2 in both big tanks), or urchins (I just collected 2 and now have 3 total). But some things like the zoas with such low limits (5 polyps per day per person) means that my wife and I can only collect 20 total zoas over 2 days. So maybe I'll start going after some of the harder to catch things, like fish and shrimp. But the reality is, I think I'd just as soon use my new camera and take better underwater photos!

I took this one out at the Dry Tortugas (70 miles west of Key West, also known as Ft Jefferson).




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Old 06/02/2017, 06:29 AM   #384
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I always look forward to when this thread gets updated with your adventures, awesome thread!


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Old 06/02/2017, 12:22 PM   #385
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Thanks! We were going back in June but our Zodiac has an 'issue' that will take 2 to 3 weeks to fix so we may do something else in June and go back again in July.

If anybody has questions about snorkeling or trips to the Florida Keys, I'm always happy to try and offer advise. I haven't found anything as relaxing as snorkeling over a shallow reef. Most of the snorkeling we do is in 2' to 4' of water.


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Old 06/03/2017, 06:36 AM   #386
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ill be there in marathon next week, can any one share any good spots to go to or guides? im so excited and cant wait! whag about collecting j know you have to get a permit dont you?


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Old 06/04/2017, 05:43 AM   #387
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Marathon is a great jumping off point. And if you are going to collect anything, you need a Florida Saltwater Fishing license which is fairly cheap. And you also need to be aware of what you are allowed to collect, how much you can collect and what is strictly off limits. FWC has a list at their website and they do monitor, we've been checked 5 or 6 times now over the past few years. And fines for having illegal critters are substantial, as in many hundreds of dollars for a small infraction to multiple thousands for serious ones.

You can download the regs at this website:
http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/

As for snorkel sites, there is a lot to cover. Rather than try to cover it all, I'll ask questions.
1) Are you interested in fun sites for off the beach snorkeling?
2) Do you care about collecting? One of the very best off the beach sites is a State Park and there is no collecting allowed.
3) Do you want to go out 5 miles to the big reef and see the big corals in water that goes from very shallow (but covered with corals so no standing up) to 20 feet deep?

Bahia Honda State park has great snorkeling off the beach, but I can help you find the better sites at the park (they have multiple beaches and some are great for snorkeling and some aren't worth putting the mask on).

Near by I know several other 'off the beach' snorkel sites where collecting is allowed.


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Old 06/04/2017, 01:39 PM   #388
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This is a great thread very informative!


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Old 06/05/2017, 05:21 AM   #389
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This is a great thread very informative!
Thanks, and in a couple of weeks it will be 2 years old and still going strong.



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Old 06/06/2017, 11:44 AM   #390
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what animal that you caught would be really expensive if bought in a lfs? most expensive?


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Old 06/06/2017, 06:55 PM   #391
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option 2 and 3 lol, if i could just do the 2 spots id be fine with that


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Old 06/07/2017, 03:39 AM   #392
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what animal that you caught would be really expensive if bought in a lfs? most expensive?
Wow, I never really thought about the most expensive thing I've collected because almost all of it is $5 and $10 stuff. I guess the most expensive would be a good looking rock flower anemone that would retail in a store for $25. On the other hand, between my wife and I we are allowed to collect 20 animals each per day. So if we snorkel and collect for 2 days that 80 animals and even if they are all $2 snails and $5 emerald crabs and $10 feather dusters, it adds up to a $200 to $300 retail savings. But a typical 2 day snorkel I'll only collect 1/3 to 1/2 of our limit because we don't need that many animals. However, I do end up selling the Little Money zoas I collect after I grow out the 5 polyps I collect into a nice colony.

There are some juvenile tropical fish we could collect that sell for $50 to $100 like some fancy angel fish. But most aren't reef safe, they grow too big for our aquariums and they take real patience to catch. And we don't collect anything to sell. Everything we collect goes in our tanks.

But we don't do it to save money, it's more the fun of seeing the things we collect in their natural environment, being able to pick and choose the critters we want like good looking serpent stars or anemones, and the fun of finding critters that are difficult to find or ones that are far less common even if we don't want them like small octopus, reef squids and moray eels... not to mention small sharks.


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Old 06/07/2017, 04:01 AM   #393
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option 2 and 3 lol, if i could just do the 2 spots id be fine with that
IMHO, Bahia Honda State Park is the best off the beach snorkeling in the entire Florida Keys. Go 100' off the beach at the southwest end of the island on the ocean side and you'll be in 3' deep water. There are lots of very cool sponges, juvenile tropical fish and lots and lots of gorgonian corals. Less common stuff we've seen there are moray eels, queen conch, reef squid, cowfish, stingrays if there are a lot of people in the water, sea biscuits, some stony corals and more.

While you are there, the park runs a big pontoon boat out to Looe Key which is 5 miles off shore and only breaks the surface of the water at low tide. It's one of, if not the best, snorkel site for seeing what the big reefs with huge stony corals is like. There are lots of big purple and blue sea fans and schools of tropical fish. In our trips there we've seen a shark most trips, a big barracuda every trip, and one time we saw a 6' to 8' Goliath Grouper hanging out in the shade under the boat just a couple of feet deep.

BTW, I see from your avatar that you live in Westerville. I lived in next door in Worthington for about 20 years when I was in my 30's and 40's. Back then I raced sports cars at Mid-Ohio for a hobby.


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Old 06/07/2017, 06:51 AM   #394
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IMHO, Bahia Honda State Park is the best off the beach snorkeling in the entire Florida Keys. Go 100' off the beach at the southwest end of the island on the ocean side and you'll be in 3' deep water. There are lots of very cool sponges, juvenile tropical fish and lots and lots of gorgonian corals. Less common stuff we've seen there are moray eels, queen conch, reef squid, cowfish, stingrays if there are a lot of people in the water, sea biscuits, some stony corals and more.

While you are there, the park runs a big pontoon boat out to Looe Key which is 5 miles off shore and only breaks the surface of the water at low tide. It's one of, if not the best, snorkel site for seeing what the big reefs with huge stony corals is like. There are lots of big purple and blue sea fans and schools of tropical fish. In our trips there we've seen a shark most trips, a big barracuda every trip, and one time we saw a 6' to 8' Goliath Grouper hanging out in the shade under the boat just a couple of feet deep.

BTW, I see from your avatar that you live in Westerville. I lived in next door in Worthington for about 20 years when I was in my 30's and 40's. Back then I raced sports cars at Mid-Ohio for a hobby.

nice, yeah right next door to worthington!!!! small world, i will be doing what you mentioned above. im super excited to actually get tk see this stuff in the wild! i can see myself in the next 5 years moving down there!!! thanks for all the info will be paying for my liscense this afternoon on the net then start reading on what to take and what not, honestly prolly wont collect anything but if i see something and would like it in my tank would like to have that option just incase


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Old 06/07/2017, 12:53 PM   #395
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IMHO, Bahia Honda State Park is the best off the beach snorkeling in the entire Florida Keys. Go 100' off the beach at the southwest end of the island on the ocean side and you'll be in 3' deep water. There are lots of very cool sponges, juvenile tropical fish and lots and lots of gorgonian corals. Less common stuff we've seen there are moray eels, queen conch, reef squid, cowfish, stingrays if there are a lot of people in the water, sea biscuits, some stony corals and more.

While you are there, the park runs a big pontoon boat out to Looe Key which is 5 miles off shore and only breaks the surface of the water at low tide. It's one of, if not the best, snorkel site for seeing what the big reefs with huge stony corals is like. There are lots of big purple and blue sea fans and schools of tropical fish. In our trips there we've seen a shark most trips, a big barracuda every trip, and one time we saw a 6' to 8' Goliath Grouper hanging out in the shade under the boat just a couple of feet deep.

BTW, I see from your avatar that you live in Westerville. I lived in next door in Worthington for about 20 years when I was in my 30's and 40's. Back then I raced sports cars at Mid-Ohio for a hobby.

What car did you race?


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Old 06/07/2017, 02:59 PM   #396
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What car did you race?
Ahhh... the good old days! I raced 5 different cars in 7 different classes over the years. Fiat X1/9, Toyota MR2 (2 of them), SCCA Spec Racer and believe it or not, a Geo Prizm.

I made the National Championships in 1995 (back when qualifying was difficult).


The Fiat was my first race car. How do you like the 1950 GMC school bus converted to a motorhome with a Chevy 327ci V8.



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Old 06/07/2017, 03:14 PM   #397
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nice, yeah right next door to worthington!!!! small world, i will be doing what you mentioned above. im super excited to actually get tk see this stuff in the wild! i can see myself in the next 5 years moving down there!!! thanks for all the info will be paying for my liscense this afternoon on the net then start reading on what to take and what not, honestly prolly wont collect anything but if i see something and would like it in my tank would like to have that option just incase
The Horseshoe is a good place to find critters.



Inside is deep. The area around the outlet on either side is the best, but be careful, that's a boat channel running from left to right just out from the Horseshoe. That shows you haw shallow it is in the area! And off to the right just past the turtle grass and it's white in the pic and then turns blue. At low tide that area might only be 1 to 2 feet deep. Look under loose rocks and you'll find lots of stuff.

BTW, just on the other side of the island (over the road) is also good snorkeling and more like Bahia Honda. More gorgonians and lots less rocks.

Getting it home will be the issue. Call or email KP Aquatics in the Upper Keys. Maybe they would pack whatever you collect and ship to your home. Otherwise it will be a huge PITA!


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Old 06/07/2017, 06:05 PM   #398
jrdonnellyjr1
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Originally Posted by Ron Reefman View Post
Ahhh... the good old days! I raced 5 different cars in 7 different classes over the years. Fiat X1/9, Toyota MR2 (2 of them), SCCA Spec Racer and believe it or not, a Geo Prizm.

I made the National Championships in 1995 (back when qualifying was difficult).


The Fiat was my first race car. How do you like the 1950 GMC school bus converted to a motorhome with a Chevy 327ci V8.

I went a quite a few years to the runoffs at mid ohio


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Old 06/11/2017, 08:32 PM   #399
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are the currents strong around there, was there the past few days abd honestly was a little scared to walk threw the turtle grass lol, will go back tommorow though and get out there, sombreo beach has a really cool rock formation thats exsposed at low tide, will be going back there in the morn at high tide, lots of limpets i think there called and tons of the small zebra striped snails, some smaller crabs that kinda look like emeralds crabs but i know there not they have black tips on fhere claw. but yeah ill definately be taking the boat out cause i can see them and they look like nice spots to crawl around on. the mangrove areas look like they be fun to swim around to.

there is a coral reef research center at kemp channel bridge, will be stopping in there in the next few days also


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Old 06/12/2017, 05:28 AM   #400
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Bill, the current can be treacherous between tides, especially near the ends of the islands where the tidal flow wraps around. We try to make low tide or high tide the middle of our snorkel time if we are working an area like that. Out from shore or on the lee side (away from the tidal flow direction) there is far less current. You have a boat? There is a boat ramp at the very end of the Seven Mile Bridge and just 1/4 mile to the north east is Little Money Key. The entire north side of the island is fun to snorkel, especially in near shore over toward the dock and even under it.

I'll be VERY interested in reading what you have to say about the area out from Sombrero Beach. The shallows off to the south west and the small island (West Washer Woman Key I think?) out there have our interest as well. We were going to go there last trip by the oceanside of the Keys was just too rough. And you are right, emerald crabs are very green (or ruby red) and they don't have black tips to their claws.

We'll also be interested to read what you have to say about the coral reef research center. We are unfamiliar with it... unless it's the Mote Research facility. Our club did a tour there some years ago in conjunction with our annual Keys field trip. Unfortunately, we were unable to participate that year due to work schedules.

Thanks a ton for any info. We are always looking for new possibilities. BTW, if you are down in that area, you might look for the No Name Pub (good lunch spot... or even dinner) and over the bridge to the east you can look for Key deer. The one time we did it there were 3 of them feeding right at the side of the road. They see a lot of tourists and didn't seem very skittish.

Have fun!


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