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Old 03/16/2018, 09:32 AM   #451
GoNoles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahud View Post
Ron,

Thank you so so so so so much for this thread. I am truly thankful. I am visiting the keys for the first time in September and my wife for our three year anniversary. We have never snorkeled, so this will be our first time. We are either going to shoot for a rental house or I may go for the Blackfin resort! I hate to spend a lot of money as I doubt we will ever be inside.

I recently started a small reef tank so I hope to collect some green zoas and maybe a few little critters. Is there any hope of finding pistol shrimp and shrimp gobies anywhere in the keys? I have loved catching and viewing wildlife since I was a kid. I am lucky that my wife enjoys accompanying me. The keys sound like my paradise.

Luckily we have plenty of time to plan and acquire gear. I think we will buy our own mask, fins, and whatever else needed. I'm going to try to get the Akona gloves you wear as well.

Again, thanks so much. I can't wait to get out there and snorkel! I am tempted to try the canals around Miami for cichlids as well!

Be careful! Many areas in the Keys are Marine Sanctuaries, and as such, are no-take zones. Also, check with Florida Fishing laws as to limits/prohibitions on taking wildlife.

https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/regs/welcome.html

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Old 03/16/2018, 10:17 AM   #452
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Thanks!

I am studying those regulations, I don't want to get in any trouble. I bought an ID book as well so I can throw that in my bag and reference in case I am unclear on anything. From what I gather, as long as I recognize the take limits (5 polyps per person for zoas) and do not collect in sanctuaries then I should be golden. I'm a legal eagle lol, not a fan of breaking rules when it comes to wildlife.

I'm sure we will spend the first half of the trip exploring and getting everything figured out before we decide to collect anything. I'm worried about navigating the waters via kayak. Is there any good information on tides? The rivers and lakes where I live are very calm, I have not kayaked choppy water. It looks like all of the areas you can collect from need to be accessed via boat/kayak. Do you recommend a sit on top kayak for easy in and out at the cost of padding ease, or a sit in sea kayak?

I'm coming up short on any type of shrimp goby in Florida. The popular websites list "Indo Pacific" as the area the fish are from, which is not helpful. I know KP Aquatics collects in the Keys and they do not list any shrimp gobies on their website.

Another thing is we are trying to decide how long to stay. We are a 12.5-hour drive so two days will be spent traveling.

I'm a huge cichlid fan and one of my dreams is to go collect in Peru. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to collect and keep critters. I'll cherish those Zoas if I am lucky enough to collect and transport them safely!


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Old 03/17/2018, 05:10 PM   #453
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Thanks!

I am studying those regulations, I don't want to get in any trouble. I bought an ID book as well so I can throw that in my bag and reference in case I am unclear on anything. From what I gather, as long as I recognize the take limits (5 polyps per person for zoas) and do not collect in sanctuaries then I should be golden. I'm a legal eagle lol, not a fan of breaking rules when it comes to wildlife.

I'm sure we will spend the first half of the trip exploring and getting everything figured out before we decide to collect anything. I'm worried about navigating the waters via kayak. Is there any good information on tides? The rivers and lakes where I live are very calm, I have not kayaked choppy water. It looks like all of the areas you can collect from need to be accessed via boat/kayak. Do you recommend a sit on top kayak for easy in and out at the cost of padding ease, or a sit in sea kayak?

I'm coming up short on any type of shrimp goby in Florida. The popular websites list "Indo Pacific" as the area the fish are from, which is not helpful. I know KP Aquatics collects in the Keys and they do not list any shrimp gobies on their website.

Another thing is we are trying to decide how long to stay. We are a 12.5-hour drive so two days will be spent traveling.

I'm a huge cichlid fan and one of my dreams is to go collect in Peru. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to collect and keep critters. I'll cherish those Zoas if I am lucky enough to collect and transport them safely!
I don't have a answer for all your questions but I prefer a sit on to kayak for ease of getting on and off. My wife and I use Hobie kayaks which have flippers that you operate with foot pedals and steering is controlled by a rudder or you can use the kayak paddles and we love it. We've only been down about 5 different times now but it's always pretty obvious what the water conditions are like as to wether you want to go out usually if it's rough in one area you can find another spot that's fairly calm by going to the other side of that island at least that's been my experience.

A 12hr dive is easily doable in 1 day my drive is about 21hrs without including stops and we get there in 2 days.


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Old 03/18/2018, 06:11 AM   #454
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Just get a shorty it helps in the months before and after the summer around $60 at Amazon, I also got a full size Lycra to fend off Jellyfish and it also helps with cooler waters
Ha! I have a full dive skin and wet suits in several thicknesses already. But if you want to be in the water for long periods of time, even good wet suits leave me wanting better (cold hands, cold face...). And cooler or cold water and short days make for far less interesting life on the sea floor (especially shallow reef areas). If you want to go see the big reefs for 60 to 90 minutes, cool water isn't much of an issue. But shallow, near shore wildlife just doesn't come out much until it gets warmer.


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Old 03/18/2018, 06:14 AM   #455
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Originally Posted by ahud View Post
Thanks!

I am studying those regulations, I don't want to get in any trouble. I bought an ID book as well so I can throw that in my bag and reference in case I am unclear on anything. From what I gather, as long as I recognize the take limits (5 polyps per person for zoas) and do not collect in sanctuaries then I should be golden. I'm a legal eagle lol, not a fan of breaking rules when it comes to wildlife.

I'm sure we will spend the first half of the trip exploring and getting everything figured out before we decide to collect anything. I'm worried about navigating the waters via kayak. Is there any good information on tides? The rivers and lakes where I live are very calm, I have not kayaked choppy water. It looks like all of the areas you can collect from need to be accessed via boat/kayak. Do you recommend a sit on top kayak for easy in and out at the cost of padding ease, or a sit in sea kayak?

I'm coming up short on any type of shrimp goby in Florida. The popular websites list "Indo Pacific" as the area the fish are from, which is not helpful. I know KP Aquatics collects in the Keys and they do not list any shrimp gobies on their website.

Another thing is we are trying to decide how long to stay. We are a 12.5-hour drive so two days will be spent traveling.

I'm a huge cichlid fan and one of my dreams is to go collect in Peru. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to collect and keep critters. I'll cherish those Zoas if I am lucky enough to collect and transport them safely!
ahud, I saw your PM and replied with my phone number. Call and we can talk.


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Old 04/06/2018, 04:46 AM   #456
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If you do not want to invest in a wetsuit you can always rent one
from any dive shop . The current water temp on the reef is 75-76
degrees . Have a good time on your trip .
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Old 04/09/2018, 11:10 AM   #457
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Give Ron a call, he'll hook you up with some good info. I'll try to answer a couple of your questions:
Quote:
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I'm worried about navigating the waters via kayak. Is there any good information on tides? The rivers and lakes where I live are very calm, I have not kayaked choppy water.
If you're kayaking pay attention to the NOAA tides for the specific area you are in. The current can run pretty good around the bridges so getting in or out through there at tide changes can be difficult. If I'm fighting the tide in a kayak I'll usually go right to shore instead of through a pass and then carry it along shore. The chop shouldn't bother you... you'll get a little wet when its choppy, but you're getting in the water anyways.
Quote:
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It looks like all of the areas you can collect from need to be accessed via boat/kayak. Do you recommend a sit on top kayak for easy in and out at the cost of padding ease, or a sit in sea kayak?
I've done quite a bit of snorkeling and even some diving from a kayak and paddleboard, and I would defiantly recommend a sit-on over a sit-in. If you get swamped with a wave or two (which can happen even in good weather) your sit-in will be full of water, but with a sit-on or a paddleboard the water goes right off. With that said, there are places that you can defiantly collect right from shore depending on what you are looking for and your comfort in the water. Ron can hook you up with some good spots, and I know quite a few that you can do some collecting from a kayak or shore as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahud View Post
I'm coming up short on any type of shrimp goby in Florida. The popular websites list "Indo Pacific" as the area the fish are from, which is not helpful. I know KP Aquatics collects in the Keys and they do not list any shrimp gobies on their website.
There are no native symbiotic shrimp gobies in the Caribbean. There are pistol shrimp, but as far as I know they wont pair with the pacific shrimp gobies. That's not to say that fish don't ever pair with a goby in the Caribbean, but it's not a normal thing like it is in the Pacific.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahud View Post
Another thing is we are trying to decide how long to stay. We are a 12.5-hour drive so two days will be spent traveling.
Whatever you decide, it's better to book early. September is towards the beginning of Lobster season, so thing can fill up pretty quickly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahud View Post
I'm a huge cichlid fan and one of my dreams is to go collect in Peru. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to collect and keep critters. I'll cherish those Zoas if I am lucky enough to collect and transport them safely!
Is it just zoas that you are mainly looking to collect? Between Ron and myself we should be able to give you all the advice you need for some fun, legal collecting. PM me if you have any questions after talking to Ron.


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Old 04/12/2018, 12:46 PM   #458
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Any special places in the tortugas? We r doing a day trip there in a few weeks. I know what the tour groups say to snorkel. Any good spots that they are not advertising we can get to from the beach?


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Old 04/17/2018, 07:05 PM   #459
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Any special places in the tortugas? We r doing a day trip there in a few weeks. I know what the tour groups say to snorkel. Any good spots that they are not advertising we can get to from the beach?
No collecting in the dry tortugas it is a national park, the whole thing is a no take zone.

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Old 04/18/2018, 05:13 PM   #460
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Any special places in the tortugas? We r doing a day trip there in a few weeks. I know what the tour groups say to snorkel. Any good spots that they are not advertising we can get to from the beach?
There are small coral heads in shallow water all around the fort, even on the old coal dock pilings and the moat wall (ocean side). But NO collecting.


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Old 04/18/2018, 05:13 PM   #461
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One of the coolest things that has ever happened to me in my almost 15 years in the hobby, happened today. I was doing some maintenance in my 125g DT (I have an algae issue). I went to grab a wad of hairy algae off a rock that has a couple of RBTA’s on it. As my hand got close, I saw something move and disappear into the sand next to the rock. It happened so fast and I wasn’t really looking at the sand, but at the algae on the rock, that I had no idea what it was. I took a small frag out of the tank and went to the spare room where I do fragging and other maintenance. When I came back out with the cleaned up frag I looked to see if there was anything there… or if my mind was playing a trick on me. But no, it wasn’t my imagination. It has a central disk that’s about 1” or a little bigger and has 7 to 9 VERY branchy legs that when fully extended make it about 3” to 4” in diameter. I didn’t get to see it very long as it disappeared into the sand again pretty quickly, but I was pretty sure it was a basket star! BTW, I've NEVER put a basket star in my tank on purpose! It must have hitchhiked in on something I collected in the Florida Keys or the beaches of Sanibel! Here is a very short You Tube video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIID...ature=youtu.be


Here is a still of it.



And the next time it was out I got a real treat! I was ready to shoot more video and I got over a minute of it eating! The video is a bit choppy as it had to be reduced in size to email from my cell phone to my computer. Here is a 90 second You Tube video, I hope you enjoy it!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clun...ature=youtu.be


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Old 04/19/2018, 07:50 PM   #462
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One of the coolest things that has ever happened to me in my almost 15 years in the hobby, happened today. I was doing some maintenance in my 125g DT (I have an algae issue). I went to grab a wad of hairy algae off a rock that has a couple of RBTA’s on it. As my hand got close, I saw something move and disappear into the sand next to the rock. It happened so fast and I wasn’t really looking at the sand, but at the algae on the rock, that I had no idea what it was. I took a small frag out of the tank and went to the spare room where I do fragging and other maintenance. When I came back out with the cleaned up frag I looked to see if there was anything there… or if my mind was playing a trick on me. But no, it wasn’t my imagination. It has a central disk that’s about 1” or a little bigger and has 7 to 9 VERY branchy legs that when fully extended make it about 3” to 4” in diameter. I didn’t get to see it very long as it disappeared into the sand again pretty quickly, but I was pretty sure it was a basket star! BTW, I've NEVER put a basket star in my tank on purpose! It must have hitchhiked in on something I collected in the Florida Keys or the beaches of Sanibel! Here is a very short You Tube video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIID...ature=youtu.be


Here is a still of it.



And the next time it was out I got a real treat! I was ready to shoot more video and I got over a minute of it eating! The video is a bit choppy as it had to be reduced in size to email from my cell phone to my computer. Here is a 90 second You Tube video, I hope you enjoy it!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clun...ature=youtu.be
Interesting. They look a little like stinging hydroids.


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Old 04/20/2018, 08:02 AM   #463
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ace, I also posted this in the 'Inverts" forum and mndfreeze suggested that it might be, and I think I agree, that it's a sea cucumber. The mouth/feeding parts that this kind of cucumber puts up out of the sand looks very much like the basket star, so they could easily be confused. The way they eat and clean off the tentacles is the same.

But the research I did says basket stars tend to find a place to attach and stay put for long periods of time. The sea cucumber moves around under the sand. The star can curl up into a ball and make itself small, but the cucumber can pull in all the feeding tentacles into it's mouth and disappear into the sand, which is exactly what this one did in the first video.

I'm cleaning up an algae issue in the 125g tank so I can start selling off the corals (I have tons of zoas) in the tank that this animal is in. I want to downsize by selling off the 125g and just keep the 50g cube that is currently sharing the same sump. So I'd love to 'collect' this guy and move it to the 50g which has a deeper sand bed that is newer and sugar fine rather than the older and very crusty sand that is in the 125g.


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Old 05/10/2018, 05:28 AM   #464
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Looking forward to our first Keys snorkel trip of the year in 2 weeks. I hope the weather is good as we have a couple of new sites we want to check out. A friend turned me on to a shallow area with a small island that he says is loaded with rock flower anemones.


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Old 05/12/2018, 11:05 AM   #465
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What dates exactly? We are going to be down from the 25th-2. Going to the dry tortugas on the 29th I can't wait for that it'll be our first trip out.


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Old 05/14/2018, 05:25 AM   #466
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We're driving down to Marathon on the 22nd and driving home the 25th. So it sounds like we'll be tourists passing each other on Friday.

Where are you guys staying in the Keys? We will be at the Blackfin Resort in Marathon (it's a clean mom & pop type of motel with a very tiny beach and a small marina with a boat ramp.

I hope you get good weather and have fun at the Dry Tortugas and Ft Jefferson. The fort is an amazing old place and the snorkeling around the fort is fun, lots of small coral heads full of gorgonians and sea fans! We're planing a trip out there to spend a couple of nights camping out so we have more time to explore and get to see the night sky while 70 miles away from the lights of Key West. Looking forward to seeing the Milky Way stretched out across the sky on a moonless night!


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Old 05/14/2018, 03:25 PM   #467
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The wife and I stayed a few days down at Bahia Honda a week ago. Their snorkel trip boat isn’t up and running yet, so we decided just to snorkel around just off the beach side campsites.

Here’s a little video I shot with a couple GoPros.

https://youtu.be/jyartZnIZLQ


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Old 05/15/2018, 04:00 AM   #468
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The wife and I stayed a few days down at Bahia Honda a week ago. Their snorkel trip boat isn’t up and running yet, so we decided just to snorkel around just off the beach side campsites.
[/URL]
Nice video clips. Lots of fish and fun with the juvenile lobsters!

Did you try snorkeling on the ocean side or was the visibility bad on that side? We like it because there is a lot more sponges and gorgonian corals. But we've also snorkeled where you did when the ocean side visibility was worse.


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Old 05/15/2018, 04:02 AM   #469
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Nice video clips. Lots of fish and fun with the juvenile lobsters!

Did you try snorkeling on the ocean side or was the visibility bad on that side? We like it because there is a lot more sponges and gorgonian corals. But we've also snorkeled where you did when the ocean side visibility was worse.
I believe the ocean side of Bahia Honda is still shut down from the hurricane.

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Old 05/15/2018, 04:07 AM   #470
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I knew that SandSpur beach, oceanside toward the SE part of the island, was closed. But I didn't know the better snorkel area at the SW part of the island was closed as well. Thanks.

I'll be there in a couple of weeks and will report back about everywhere we go (or can't go).


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Old 05/15/2018, 04:31 AM   #471
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Here are some photos I took of the Key West side of Bahia Honda channel bridge.
I am 6' 10" tall for a hight reference.

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Old 05/15/2018, 06:03 PM   #472
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We're driving down to Marathon on the 22nd and driving home the 25th. So it sounds like we'll be tourists passing each other on Friday.

Where are you guys staying in the Keys? We will be at the Blackfin Resort in Marathon (it's a clean mom & pop type of motel with a very tiny beach and a small marina with a boat ramp.

I hope you get good weather and have fun at the Dry Tortugas and Ft Jefferson. The fort is an amazing old place and the snorkeling around the fort is fun, lots of small coral heads full of gorgonians and sea fans! We're planing a trip out there to spend a couple of nights camping out so we have more time to explore and get to see the night sky while 70 miles away from the lights of Key West. Looking forward to seeing the Milky Way stretched out across the sky on a moonless night!
We were originally going to be staying at sunshine key RV resort and marina which is right next to Bahia Honda but they are still renovating so they transferred us to their sister park at Fiesta Key.

I've been watching the weather report down there and we are considering rescheduling for later in the year. Since most of Bahia Honda is closed and the rv park we like canceled it's making me think we may just do that.


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Old 05/16/2018, 06:28 AM   #473
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We were originally going to be staying at sunshine key RV resort and marina which is right next to Bahia Honda but they are still renovating so they transferred us to their sister park at Fiesta Key.

I've been watching the weather report down there and we are considering rescheduling for later in the year. Since most of Bahia Honda is closed and the rv park we like canceled it's making me think we may just do that.
That may not be a bad idea. Things are still in recovery mode. And we are going because we have places to go that don't require infrastructure as we get there in an 11' Zodiac. LOL! And the water is only now starting to warm up, thus the start of the rainy season. In July and Aug the water is way more comfortable and the corals and other inverts are way more plentiful and active.

The down side to the delay is the weather. Starting about now is the rainy season and afternoon thunderstorms become fairly common. Even here in Cape Coral we had close to no rain at all in April and the first 2 weeks of May. But just like somebody threw a switch, it's the rainy season. Sunday we had 2" of rain, Monday we had 1/2" and Tuesday night we got 2 1/2" of rain. And after months of 0% to 10% daily chance of rain, we now have anywhere from 30% to 90% chance until late October! But they aren't all day rains, they are usually smaller thunderstorms in the afternoon and the usually are gone by midnight. We go in the summer and snorkel all morning and then watch the weather radar on a smart phone as small storms pop up in the area.


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Old 06/08/2018, 10:30 AM   #474
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Ron, did you end up going? I rescheduled for October.


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Old 06/09/2018, 02:51 AM   #475
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Originally Posted by water is wet View Post
Ron, did you end up going? I rescheduled for October.
No, the predicted weather was not at all favorable to snorkeling (rain and high wind). October should give you a good chance at good weather and warm water. We still need to reschedule our Dry Tortugas trip that we had to cancel last fall due to Hurricane Irma. We intend to camp out there for 1 or 2 nights so we can snorkel a lot, have lots of time to see Fort Jefferson and maybe get a clear night to get a good view of the Milky Way (Key West lights are 70 miles to the east).

We are going to the Middle Keys next weekend with about 12 to 15 members from our local aquarium club. We do this as a club 'field trip' almost every year. We do some collecting at 'off the beach' sites and also make a trip out to the big reef on a charter. This year I think we'll have several members with small boats so we can try doing some snorkeling at islands that are off shore and have more pristine conditions.


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