Sundiver Snorkeling and Kamping in the Keys

Jan 17

Nathan Brophy- first year

As the sun rose so did thirteen Earlhamites, after a quick breakfast and packing of tents plus other camp supplies, we were ready to hit the road. Due to the shoreline, it took us around two hours to cover approximately 20 miles. Our first stop was “SUNDIVER- Snorkeling Tours” (which you can visit at wwwsnorkelingisfun.com.) There, we found a pick nick table to have lunch, which consisted of our classic assorted sandwich toppings on either a bagel or bread. Changing into swimwear, we first encountered the issue of there being only one bathroom, causing a bottleneck in the changing process. Afterwards snorkels were passed around. COVID meant we had to purchase the snorkels instead of renting them.

After some waiting we, along with around fifteen other tourists, boarded the SUNDIVER III, a 40 foot converted snorkeling vessel crewed by Captain Rob, First Mate Tim, and of course, Greg. Departing from the dock, it took us 30 minutes to reach the reef. There we noticed that the sea was very choppy and shallow, and the tide was only falling. Parts of the reef itself were sticking out of the water. The shallowness of the water combined with Captain robs warning that the coral was “Sharper than a box of new razors” made some of the Earlhamites anxious about jumping in. Nevertheless, with snorkel in hand and flippers on feet, we made the plunged into the cool waters. Opening our eyes, we were transported into a new alien world of colorful mounds and structures of coral and sponges. Darting in and out of these formations were a plethora of fish. Gliding over this ecosystem we observed and explored the fish city. Our resident aspiring marine biologist, Nathan Brophy, was able to provide some possible identifications for few of the fish that were seen. The most common were assorted grunts, most likely bluestripe and french. A few tangs were spotted as well. Some highlights were; a type of pipe fish encountered by Thea, some “stripey bois” observed by Josh, and a very curious puffer which swam alongside Brophy until a wave shot him towards the puffer, making it flee and disappear into the reef. Additionally a grunt was spotted by many which had a second fish, probably a cleaner wrasse or goby, attached to its back, most likely feeding on dead skin and Algae. A few minutes before exit, Brophy and Chris discovered a beautiful Queen Parrot Fish, well over a foot long. With brilliant iridescent blue and purple scales, the fish was a sight to behold. Climbing back on the SUNDIVER III, thirteen shivering students excitedly discussed what they saw in their brief view into the watery world. Even discussing with First mate Tim, who was clad in Sponge Bob socks, crocs, blue shorts, and pink shirt, all topped with a tie-die bucket hat. Conversations with him were just as unique and colorful as his attire.

Back on dry land, we disembarked and changed, some of us scrambling to find a bathroom after consuming a little too much sea water on our snorkel adventure. Once refreshed, we hit the road to our next campsite on Key Largo. En route, Kokomo by The Beach Boys blasted within van thirteen. After a bit of driving, we arrived at Key Largo Kampground, where we found it was much nicer then we expected. Containing not only laundry but also a whole plethora of recreational activities, including: volleyball, Corn-hole, shuffleboard, a heated pool, and Bingo from 7 to 8pm! Once camp was settled we went on our ritualistic voyage to the closest Publix, which was actually within walking distance! Later the ingredients purchased at Publix were used to create one of the best meals we have ever made: quesadillas. After eating our fill, laundry was done, conversations and showers were had (although separately) and a handful of individuals decided to splash about in the heated pool. Eventually we all gathered back at the campsite and headed to bed, wondering what the next day will bring.

Posted by crsmithant crsmithant, January 20, 2022 14:18

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