Thursday, April 12, 2012

Snorkeling in Shark Infested Waters

Sunshine Key Rv Resort, Florida Keys

WOW….what an amazing day we had on Wednesday!

The winds, currents, and tides cooperated and finally gave us a perfect day.

We started our day early and walked up along the fishing bridge.  The Spotted Leopard Rays were swimming all around.

leopard ray video (10)

leopard ray video (23)

They are amazing creatures and we felt very lucky to be able to see them so clearly.  We’ve seen a few while scuba diving, but this was by far the best view.

I have a video on You Tube that I will post at a later date when I have more time.  Right now, we’re trying to get going and go back out kayaking.  We’re hoping for another day just like yesterday.

We got the kayaks into the water about 10:30 am.  It was a perfect day.  We headed out under the bridge to search for Rays.  I love the view from under the bridge.

kayaking around sunshine key

We did see the Leopard Rays briefly and here you can see one right under my kayak.

kayaking around sunshine key, leopard ray

My pictures from the bridge were much better.

The tide was coming in, but it wasn’t so strong that you had difficulty paddling.

kayaking around sunshine key

I tried to capture the sparkling water.  It was amazingly beautiful.

kayaking around sunshine key

kayaking around sunshine key

We stayed in this area for a while.  It was fairly shallow so Al decided to get out and walk.  Our neighbors John and Janet were out as well looking for shells.

Al found a lot of  live Conch Shells.  We didn’t keep them.

When he got ready to get back in the kayak, he realized his paddle was missing (can you say up a creek without a paddle?)

We both went on a paddle search.  We have spares…but they were back in the motor home.

He found it, but not before another paddler pulled it out of the water.  A nice find for him?  These paddles cost well over $100.  He got his paddle back, thankfully!   Lesson learned!

kayaking around sunshine key, looking for paddle

We went back to the same area and met up with John and Janet.  They have a unique kayaking style.   They start out together in the boat, then John gets out and pulls the kayak (with Janet inside) around looking for shells.   It’s a good gig if you can get it!

kayaking around sunshine key, john and janet

We found a lot of pretty conch shells, but if they had a critter inside they got thrown back in.

I spotted a large Horse Conch, a crab and a conch shell.

kayaking around sunshine key, conch and horse conch

Here is John with the Horse Conch.

kayaking around sunshine key, john

and the regular Conch with the crab inside.

crab in conch shell with john, kayaking around sunshine key

A pretty empty conch shell


John and Janet continued their trek around the island and Al and I headed a little further offshore, looking for interesting things.


A few minutes later Al called to me that he had a Loggerhead turtle with him.  I paddled over as fast as I could and saw the turtle but didn’t get a very good picture of him.  It had sat right under his kayak for about 5 minutes.  The water was only 3-4 feet deep and it was a fairly large turtle.

We paddled around on the Atlantic side for  several hours and then paddled back to the bay/gulf side.


kayaking around sunshine key,

We saw quite a few starfish on the bottom.

kayaking around sunshine key, starfish

We found a nice little ledge, so Al got back in and did some snorkeling.  The water was warm.

Before he got into the water we noticed about 3-4 small sharks swimming on the flats.  Mostly all we saw were their dorsal fins (small ones) but I did get a good view of one shark.   It was a baby.  One dorsal fin we saw was a little larger though.  We paddled over to try to get a better look at them but they must have gotten scared off.

(no, we’re not crazy or foolhardy, they were small sharks and more afraid of us then we are of them)

kayaking around sunshine key, snorkeling

Soon, he came up with another pretty Starfish.  (we threw him back)

kayaking around sunshine key, starfish

He saw some pretty tropical fish and a few lobsters….that was enough for me.  I decided to get in and do some snorkeling as well.

I hadn’t been scuba diving or snorkeling for years and once I got in, I was comfortable immediately, and I felt right at home.

I saw some juvenile, Goat fish, Rock Beauty, Sergeant Majors, and some Tangs.  I also saw the lobster, but missed the large barracuda that Al had seen earlier.  Neither of  us saw the sharks again.

We joked that we were in “shark infested” waters.  We always get a kick out of news reports saying people were in “shark infested waters.”   They are always shark infested waters when some one’s boat capsizes, or something like that.  However when they show beach go’ers at the beach swimming they never use that term.   Hello…you are in the ocean…there are sharks out there.

We snorkeled for a while then decided to just swim the kayaks back in.  When we snorkeled it was shallow and we could have touched bottom.  We decided to just swim the boats back to shore (we have a rope that we hold on to so that we have our kayaks with us).  We ended up in water over our heads and it was further to shore then we realized, so we decided to just get back into the boats and paddle to shore.

I didn’t know if I could get into the boat or not, but it was the day I was going to find out.  With my swim fins on, I was able to get back into the kayak (without turning it over).  It wasn’t pretty, but I “got her done.”   Smile

We finally gave up about 4:30 pm.  It had been a long day and we were hungry and tired.   We hit the sheets pretty early.  6 hours in the sun kayaking and snorkeling and we were exhausted!

Today is another day!   It looks like it might be another nice day, so we’re going back again today!


  1. What absolutely awesome photos. Thanks for taking me along on your underwater adventure. I love the picture of the star fish...just awesome. You captured the sparkling water perfect. Great job! ~wheresweaver

  2. You're brave, swimming with sharks. Next I'm expecting to read that you're running with the bulls!

    Living life on the edge? ;c)

  3. Sounds wonderful! I know how "graceful" it can be to get in or out of a kayak at water's edge, but I can not imagine getting in it from the water.
    Beautiful pictures of the water blending in to the horizon.

  4. Wow, it's so beautiful there. Galveston is not a bit like that. There are sea critters, but you can't really view through the waters here.

  5. OMG don't you know I just love every bit of that! I would love to try doing that, but don't know if Hubs would be up for it or not with all of his issues! Hope you are out having another great day... or an even better one! so that there will be more photo's coming up!!!

    Have an awesome time!

  6. Now THAT was the ultimate kayaking experience. Terrific photos, terrific day! I'm definitely going out by the bridge next time we are down there!

  7. What a great day and beautiful photos! Sharks? Get me outta there!

  8. I especially enjoyed the conch shells. :)

  9. What a wonderful adventure you shared with us... thank you so much for taking us along!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  10. You guys had a great day! Thanks for sharing the details AND the pictures-awesome.

  11. You guys had a great day! Thanks for sharing the details AND the pictures-awesome.

  12. I was really trying to adjust to the idea that we just can't seem to be able to get reservations in the Keys and then you go and post this great blog with these fabulous pictures of something I would LOVE to do. SIGH........... eating my heart out, lucky you!!

  13. what an awesome day you had!!! And awesome pictures!! Thanks for sharing....gorgeous water-I would have loved to see you getting back in the boat tho...

  14. I am amazed at how many Spotted Leopard Rays you saw. They are so awesome to watch. I have a T-shirt with one on it and bought it after we saw them in the keys last winter. Wearing this shirt always makes me smile. We really are blessed to be able to enjoy this life style.

    I'm pround of you getting out into the water and snoreling. You go girl!

  15. I was stalked by a LARGE Bull shark between the "beach" and the mangrove islands while shelling.

    I was in waist deep water and had a large staff with me and fended him off for 15 minutes while attempting to reach land with BOTH legs.

    The waters around Sunshine Key are CRAWLING with Bull sharks(worse than Great Whites) and whatever you do DO NOT go into the water at dusk or early morning.

    If you want to commit suicide go in at night-WORSE than New Smyrna Beach.

    Everything's a joke until someone gets a leg or arm RIPPED off.I NEVER go in shallow water in the Keys without a shark billy-bang stick combo.


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