Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: Self Isolation (long for nature lovers)
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 > Self Isolation (long for nature lovers)

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Guy Roan

Florida

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Posted: 05/25/20 04:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nanci and I have been self- isolating for quite a few years now, so it is very easy for us.
We own our own RV lot in Key Largo where we snow bird every year and either kayak, paddleboard or canoe on a daily basis. Over the years we have explored just about every offshore Key not only on the Atlantic side, but also on the Bayside.
This year has been the windiest that we can remember so for the most part we have stuck to paddling our paddleboards in the wind protected crystal clear mangrove creeks, tunnels and small salt ponds.
From our place where we launch we have to paddle just a few hundred feet in open water to reach the first sheltered mangroves, and then we can pretty much take one of a variety of routes, which are completely bounded by dense mangroves, but our favorite is as follows: We enter what can best be described as a hundred foot wide mouth of a funnel and paddle for a few hundred feet to its narrow end where we enter a twenty foot long, by six foot wide tunnel that has a mini reef bottom with tiny caves and grottos, the depth depending on the tide ranges from about three feet to about five feet. It is home for two Four Eyed Butterfly fish, (which we have seen for several years), a few Sargent Majors, star fish and a handful of other baby reef fish.
We exit this tunnel into our secluded sandy bottom thirty foot long by fifteen feet wide salt water jacuzzi which once again depending on the tide that gushes through is between two feet and four feet deep. This exits at its far end to another narrow tunnel and this one has for the most part a sandy bottom that is home to some starfish along with a lot of transients.
While paddling these tunnels I am always looking for the many shy small inch and half long Mangrove tree crabs that crawl up and down the dense mangrove roots and branches and try to hide on the back side of them as we approach. I have learned that if I grasp their root with one hand below them and my other hand above them, and slowly move just one hand toward them they will crawl away from it and thinking my other hand is just another offshoot root, quickly hop on thinking that it is a good escape route. Then they panic and will crawl up and down my arm until I grab hold of another branch and let them escape.
I'll get back to our jacuzzi and isolation later, but continuing in this tunnel for about another hundred feet or so there is a tunnel off to the right that leads out to the main boat channel zoo out of Largo sound. where we turn around and retrace our route back to our wilderness. This tunnel is also home to Sargent majors, Four eyed Butterfly fishes and Parrot fish and where I saw for the first time in my life a free swimming large Moray Eel.
If We don't take the above tunnel and continue straight the water way makes a sharp left turn after just a short distance and narrows to just about a three foot width and after a few tight turns dumps us into a long several hundred feet with varying widths salt water pond where we have seen many young Hawksbill and Green sea turtles, Nurse and Lemon Sharks, Parrot Fish, Gray and mangrove Snappers and Grunts.
At the very end of this pond, we enter another creek/tunnel about the same width and depth as the others and this one has starfish,, Parrot fish, etc. as well as a young Moray Eel which we have seen with its head out of its hole four or five times, and I was lucky enough to get a few pictures of.
This tunnel ends at a small boat channel that leads to and from our Camp ground to the main boat channel, and we have the choice of crossing it and entering the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park canoe trails; returning home via it, or retracing our trip back, which we prefer.
Now back to our Jacuzzi and its 81 degree gin clear with natural jets water. We normally pull our boards up into the Mangroves where we dock them, get off them and feed the fish before sitting down to enjoy our "self -isolation". At the beginning of the season back in October there were two tiny Sargent Majors, a few small Parrot Fish, and a hand full of small Gray and Mangrove Snappers. We experimented and found that the Parrot Fish and the Sargent Majors like raw oatmeal and the Snappers like whole wheat bread bits. Every day the amount of fish increased and they showed less fear of us and now after seven months, There are too many of each species to count. The Sargent Majors, (there must be fifty or more) are all about five inches long, and there is a large school of Parrot fish with a harem of smaller females. Some of the Snappers are a foot long. It is interesting to note that as we enter the pool there is not a fish in sight and then all of a sudden from under the overhanging mangroves at the far left end they all come charging out to meet us and before we can even get docked they are circling all around us. They are so tame that I have two Gray Snappers, (one bigger than the other) that will take the small bit of bread right from my fingers.
After we finish feeding them we just sit in the middle of them, and if you every wanted to sit in the middle of a salt water aquarium that is what it is like. The Parrot Fish have a personal space and will only come within a foot and a half, but my two snappers come right up and brush against me. If I have my knees bent they will swim under them and if I have my arms down with my hand in the sand they will swim back and forth between my body and my arm.
Nanci has taken a zillion pictures and has some great movies of the Parrot Fish and Sargent Majors that I am trying to get her to put on U-tube
We have had a few exciting moments when once while sitting a good size Nurse shark came cruising on by me just a foot away and another time while I was standing, A green sea turtle came straight toward my legs and when it realized it couldn't fit between them did a ninety degree turn and headed for the exit
So this is self- Isolation at its best!

Guy

jetboater454

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Posted: 05/25/20 07:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice area there. I used to scuba dive at John Pennekamp Coral Reef area back in the 80's.


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Guy Roan

Florida

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Posted: 05/25/20 07:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

jetboater454 wrote:

Nice area there. I used to scuba dive at John Pennekamp Coral Reef area back in the 80's.


You would not be too happy there now!

The reefs are like a zoo with a zillion power boats.

An interesting article just came out in the local news: The water has always been crystal clear, but slowly over the years has degraded due to the quantity of Power boats. Since they closed all the ramps and waterways; in testing they have found that the clarity is now the same as what it was twenty years ago.
that will change in a week or so, since they just opened them back up

Guy

donfla

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Posted: 05/25/20 07:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Guy, just a thought. Share some pictures and I’d bet everyone would enjoy seeing them, I know we would. My wife was born and raised until an early teen in Key West. We leave tomorrow for 6 nights in St Augustine and have the fishing gear packed hoping to surf fish Matanzas Inlet that is close and have before but might not happen because we’re not taking my 4x4 truck and the sand is rough.

Here’s a link to the RV.net picture hosting site and it works well if you don’t already have a host: http://photoposting.is-great.net/?i=2


Excellent rundown on current conditions, btw. I’ve read several articles on the positive impact this lockdown is showing so far on crime and the environment.

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