This morning, for some, started at 6 with a morning run and swim. Renee, Wilson, Caleb, Kristie, Sarah, and Randi swam out to Poopy Rock in Little Lameshure Bay and back and watched the sunrise. Wilson startled and was startled by a Southern stingray, again. An attempt was made to take pictures of a group shot with everyone jumping on the beach, but it failed miserably, and eventually everyone gave up and came back for breakfast, but Wilson got left behind at the beach, and when “No man left behind” was mentioned Renee said to leave him.
Luckily, no tarantulas were seen on the paths today. The lovely VIERS staff made us French toast for breakfast, and we packed our lunches before heading out to the dock at Yawze Point to meet our charter boat, the Sadie Sea. We ran out of time to do our recapture of the land crabs, so they escaped being captured again, at least until tomorrow morning.
We walked down to the dock to await the Sadie Sea, with Wilson and Kristie already having taken their Dramamine, although Wilson’s didn’t seem to be fully successful. We boarded the Sadie Sea and headed to Booby Rock, which had choppy and deep water, and made everyone’s hearts race a bit. Today we had to get into swimming buddies, and make sure to stick with our buddies because we were swimming in more difficult areas. At Booby Rock, some of us got to see a Green Sea Turtle, but it was swimming fast and deep, and did not stop or pose for pictures. We then headed to Flannigan’s Island via a very bumpy boat ride, where we got to see some of the best rocks and reefs of the trip thus far. While not as rough as Booby Rock, it was still a bit turbulent, especially near the rocks (more about that in a minute). There were so many fish that it was difficult to see what you were actually looking at, because the sheer volume was so distracting, and we got to see lots of species that we hadn’t seen before, including a Queen Triggerfish and three cuttlefish. Shiloh and Kristin saw a Great Barracuda that was about two feet long, and they went to go get the rest of the group to come see. However, after getting the group, the barracuda was nowhere to be seen, until Shiloh turned around and found it right behind her. Our group got spread out because we were so focused on the fish that we forgot to pay attention to each other, and it took some prodding from Wilson to get people moving. To get back to the Sadie Sea, we had to pass through one of two channels between rocks. The first group went through a channel (we were led by Shiloh) and while it was narrow enough that we had to go through one at a time, the current kind of sucked you through so it wasn’t that difficult. The other group went through a channel that was wider but very shallow, and all the rocks were covered in fire coral, which made it very nerve-racking since the wave action pulled people back, making it impossible to go forward, and pushing you closer to the fire coral.
Our next stop was the Glove in Hurricane Hole, which is the bay that everyone anchors their boat in during hurricane season since the bay is so protected. This area was mangrove lined, and incredibly calm and still. We had to take off our flippers for this swim, since the water was so shallow that any flippers would have stirred up the sediment. The mangroves act as a nursery for juvenile fish, so we got to see lots of juvenile fish of many different species, as well as a few bigger fish lurking in the roots, like a very large Porcupinefish. And Kristi got to see her favorites – the trunkfish, like the smooth trunkfish swimming here.
Only ten people were allowed in the water at a time, and it seemed to be a very fragile ecosystem, one that we were all afraid to disturb. It was also found out that it is nearly impossible to swim while laughing, as Kristie and Cassidy discovered when Kristie accidentally kicked Cassidy several times while swimming, and then Cassidy, while trying to swim, backhanded Kristie and knocked the snorkel right out of her mouth, making them both dissolve into laughter.
After we all re-boarded the Sadie Sea and ate our lunches, we stopped at Le Duck, where we got to see trumpet fishes in their hunting camouflaged state. The ecosystem at Le Duck was mainly rocky, with a few patches of coral. We then headed to Tektite, which is a rocky point near VIERS that used to be home to the aquanaut program. All that’s left of the aquanaut program is a few concrete pilings left from the buildings, since after the program was closed the National Parks service reclaimed the land and restored it to its natural state. Here there were lots of fire corals and larger parrotfish that were lurking in the depths. We saw a triggerfish here as well, and several more trumpetfish. After we got back to the Sadie Sea, Captain Tom and First Mate Amy encouraged us all to jump off the top level of the boat into the water, which was fun and scary. Mostly fun!! We headed back to VIERS and all booked it for the showers, and collapsed into heaps around the camp. If you want to learn more about the fantastic charter boat, Sadie Sea, visit http://www.sadiesea.com!! Hollins out!
Kristin and Kristie