Sunday, April 27, 2014

Shark Infested Waters

 

Cudjoe Key, Florida

 

The wind gods shined on us again and for the fifth day in a row, we were back out on Looe Key Reef.  What a spectacular place it is and what an amazing day we had.

We are both pretty pooped and have almost been hoping for the winds to pick up (just for one day) to give us a rest.  If the seas are calm, we’re going out to the reef, tired or not!  

We were able to to get back to buoy 5, which is where we saw the giant jewfish.

We didn’t get into the water right away,  hoping for the seas to calm down and the sun to get a little higher in the sky.

While we were waiting, we noticed a shark by the side of the boat. 

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As we sat there, we noticed him again, and again, and again. Soon, he started circling our boat.  Round and round and round, always in a counter clockwise pattern.  

He always circled very close to the boat.

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A few times, he came up closer to the surface.

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We kept hoping to see the jewfish, but only this darn shark.

The shark circled our boat for a good two hours before we finally decided to move!   Al wanted to snorkel, but we considered this shark behavior to be abnormal, so we were a little leery.

We decided the shark wasn’t going to go anywhere else, so I convinced Al to move the boat to another buoy.  (It wasn’t too hard)

The shark was still circling the boat when we moved. We were hoping he wouldn’t follow us!

We moved up to buoy 3  and watched to see if we saw the shark.  When he didn’t appear after a few minutes, Al got in the water, and immediately saw a shark there too!   This one swam on by as they normally do, so it wasn’t a problem.  He saw 3 different sharks before I even got in.  As Al snorkeled around (being the test diver),  I slowly  got ready.

I handed him my new video camera, only to realize that some dummy (me) failed to put the SD card back into the camera so we couldn’t take pictures.

I mentioned on a previous post that I found a great deal this tiny underwater video camera.   It is so small that it fits easily in the palm of my hand.  It takes 1080p hd video or snapshots.  It’s an Intova.

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I bought it on a whim at a local dive shop that had great prices on everything else, so I figured the $129 price was a good deal.  I did absolutely no research, or price comparison, but I wanted to film my snorkeling adventures at the reef.

I think I am going to like it real well.   It’s easy to use, but I can’t see much in the small viewfinder, unless it’s a really big fish. It has a nice wide angle lens, so I just point it in the right direction and shoot, and hope for the best. 

Here    Is a link for more info if anyone is interested.  Sherry, this might be something you’d like when you’re in the springs with the manatee!

Before I got in the water, Al saw the big jewfish.  I wished he would have had a working camera because he saw him roll over on the bottom, like he was trying to scratch his back!  DARN, I missed that!  Jewfish remind me of manatee.  They are gentle giants.

I finally got into the water after using Al as test bait.  No sooner than I got in the water than I also started seeing sharks too.  I was a tad nervous, but they all went about their business and pretty much ignored us.  No more of Mr. Circle the Boat guy.  

After we got out of the water, Al worked on a few things on the boat and I watched  the action around us.

This boat appears to be a little small for the ocean, don’t you think? 

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Lots of charter dive and snorkel boats.

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I wish I had better underwater pictures to show you this amazing undersea world..  There is a woman that works on the boat in the picture above by the name of Karen Walker.  She takes amazing underwater pictures.

The  Link  here is for the dive shop.  I encourage you to click on the link and look at her underwater photos.  If you scroll through them you will see a smiling parrotfish, a school of spotted eagle rays, and much more.  I had an encounter with a smiling parrotfish later in the day, so I hope you’ll look at her pics.

 

Later in the afternoon, we decided to head over to another buoy that appeared to be on a very shallow part of the reef.  We hooked up to buoy 36 and found ourselves in 7 feet of water.  We saw some dark blackish spots on the sand and they were moving, so we figured they were fish.  There was enough of a ripple to distort the image.

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It didn’t appear to be a very nice site, so I sent my test diver in to check things out.  As soon as he got in, he was met by a decent sized barracuda, and a huge school of beautiful dark blue tangs. 

I decided to get in and check it out.  No sooner than I put my head in the water than the barracuda greeted me as well.  I looked over and saw the most amazing sight.  There was the huge school of fish 20-30 feet from me. There must have been a hundred or more of them.  I think they were tang. They were dark in color with an iridescent blue outline.  The barracuda was in front of them and we were all just drifting in the current.  It was a sight I’ll always remember. Too bad I don’t have a picture to show you!   grrrrr

The barracuda accompanied us the entire time staying 4-5 feet away most of the time.  It was like he was our tour guide.    I was close enough to him to notice the beautiful detail on his skin.  I estimated him to be at least 3 1/2 feet in length. 

The highlight of this trip for me, was after Al got back into the boat.  A beautiful green and orange parrotfish came swimming over.  He was 6-8 feet away and looked straight up at me and smiled!   Yes, he did.   He sat there looking and smiling for a minute or so and I couldn’t help but to smile right back at him.   I could have taken the most amazing picture if I had only remembered to bring the SD card for the camera.

The next picture is one I borrowed from the internet.  It’s similar to what I saw, but my fish was cuter, different color, and was facing me head on for a better picture of his amazing smile.

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Parrotfish have big teeth that they use to chomp on coral  as they look for algae.  They chew pieces of coral, then excrete is as sand.  The next time you’re laying on a beautiful white sandy beach, just remember  that a lot of that sand is made from parrotfish poop!

 

Here a a few pictures from our day.   The reef police.

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Al getting ready to snorkel with NO wetsuit. You’re the man Al!

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The beautiful water.

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And I know God is going to get me for taking a picture of this female snorkeler, but I couldn’t help myself.

 

the end

 

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19 comments:

  1. What a great day you had snorkeling. Loved Al's smile.

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  2. Great pictures of a fun day. Not sure I would be snorkeling with sharks in the water but glad Al did! Got some great pictures. Those are some big teeth on that little guy!

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  3. Such a fun day in the water, too bad about the SD card though.

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  4. I still find it hard to believe that you and Al would get into the water with sharks everywhere!

    That little boat looked dangerous with that big motor weighing it down in back. Also, no one, including the small boy up front, were wearing life jackets. Crazy stuff.

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    1. I didn't realize there was a child on that boat. Crazy.

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  5. Beautiful. Bummer about the SD card. We hiked 11 miles to the top of a Glacier in Alaska ,only to discover I forgot film. Catherine had a hard time forgiving me for that one.

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    1. Ha ha, I bet she did!

      Al still reminds me of the first jewfish we ever saw after years of diving. We went down onto a wreck and this beautiful huge jewfish was just hovering in the water. I went to snap a photo and had no film.... That was years and years ago, but now I have finally redeemed myself on the jewfish anyway.

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  6. Loved your post todaBeautiful pictures! Did you retrieve your anchor?

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  7. Wow another fabulous day. Those folks in that little boat and no jackets are nuts. Unfortunately for me, most springs do not let you swim in them if the manatee are there. Your only chance is out in the rivers if you happen upon them. We usually aren't in Florida when it's warm enough to do that. But thanks for thinking of me. Those pictures on your dive shop site are fantastic. I know you'll get great ones once you get your act together. LOL (just kidding)

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  8. I would want a bigger boat and would stay in it.

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  9. There is no way on God's green earth I would get in the water with a shark near by!

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  10. Never knew that Parrotfish had lovely smiles!

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  11. About 28 years ago, I towed in a 22' boat with three fisherman in it that broke down fifty seven (!!!) miles offshore.

    Looking at that picture of the small boat tells me people still haven't learned to respect the ocean. :c(

    We Coasties call it: "Saving the boating public from themselves".

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    1. The CG also saved us one time, right here in the Keys when we also went offshore in too small of a boat and without the proper equipment. We learned major lessons from that experience though and never made the same mistake again, after it very nearly cost us our lives.

      Thanks Coast Guard!

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  12. Love the way you send Al out first. Sharks....I don't think I could get in the water.

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