Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 85, low 78)
Well, our heat wave has broken, but only because of a “cold front” that actually made it all the way down to the Keys. There is a strong squall line passing over us right now. So far there has been just a little thunder, lightning and wind, but we’ve gotten a lot of rain.
I guess we won’t be going out in the boat today.
The good news is that the owner of the house behind us has offered to let us park our boat on his seawall in the canal behind his place. As soon as the weather passes by we will have a place to dock our boat in the water. Yay!
I was going to post about our evening in Key West for the Annual Conch Republic days, it’s more fun to post underwater photos.
We’ve had a few days out in the boat on the Atlantic side at Looe Key Reef National Marine Sanctuary. It’s a not to be missed place to visit if you are in the lower Keys. (Sherry and David, did you hear that?)
We also discovered some nice spots on the gulf/bay side near the area where we almost spent the night. :)
Come along on a snorkel trip with us.
This fish looks like two fish, but it’s actually only one. I think it is a deformed angel fish. It seemed healthy.
This is a group of large yellowtail snapper, which are my second favorite fish to eat. I wish we could catch some this size. We were in the marine sanctuary, so no spearing or catching these guys!
This is a typical plant that waves back and forth in the ocean currents. I am not sure of the name of it. If you’re inclined to be seasick, this doesn’t help.
This big rock like structure was probably a large piece of brain coral. The Keys had a massive coral die off years ago and this is all that is left of this one. If you look on the top it appears some type of coral growing on the top. The orange stuff is a sponge. The fish in the bottom center looking at me was a gray angelfish.
Here is a close up of his cute little face.
Here is a better picture of the old piece of coral with new coral growing. Coral is very, very slow growing. Mote Marine Laboratory has discovered a way to speed up the process and they have planted “coral farms” in various places here in the Keys.
This next picture shows a typical reef scene with the purple sea fans. They used to be abundant in the Keys, but not so much anymore.
This next picture shows a fish cleaning station. The big blue and purple fish is a tang. He is waiting patiently for the tiny yellow fish to clean his skin. The tang seems to be in a sort of a trance. Symbiosis between the two fish. I’ve seen large grouper with their large mouths wide open, while cleaner crabs or small fish clean the inside of their mouths. They make a deal., I won’t eat you and you’ll get a free meal inside my mouth. The yellow cleaner fish is tiny and hard to see but he’s there on the back side of the middle fish.
I watched this for several minutes.
This is a typical shallow reef scene. We were snorkeling in only about 4 feet of water. That’s a great depth for snorkeling. If you go over 6-8 feet without a scuba tank, you can’t see nearly as much and you lose a lot of color. We didn’t have good vis that particular day.
This is a hogfish (my first favorite fish to eat). They change color all the time. Sometimes they are white and sometimes black head with white body.
This next one is a juvenile that is orange and white striped.
This hog fish appeared almost white. He blends in with the sand.
This is a school of Sergeant majors. The visibility (vis) wasn’t very good that day.
Out of the murky water came this nurse shark.
She came right towards me for a minute so I backed off a little and turned and swam on down the reef.
Lobster season ended March 31, but look at all these lobster!
I found that I could stick my camera down into the hole and the lobster would touch my lens. This guy touched my camera, got scared and scooted back into his hole. Notice the scattered sand?
There are plenty of lobster everywhere. It looks to be a good season coming up, but we won’t be here.
This is a sea cucumber.
This is a parrot fish. They are large fish, probably about 24 inches long.
They chomp on coral and poop out sand. Remember that the next time you’re laying on a white sand beach. :) If you look carefully at the fish in the photo above, you can see some newly minted sand.
The green appears sort of iridescent.
There are always plenty of curious barracuda.
I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get back out on the boat. The cold front is bringing some wind for the next few days.
Sorry for so many photos.