Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by Ron Reefman, Feb 5, 2019.

Personal Experience Snorkeling in the Florida Keys

An introduction to snorkeling in the Florida Keys written by someone who has been doing it for years.
  1. Ron Reefman

    Ron Reefman Lets Go Snorkeling! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Snorkeling in the Florida Keys

    There are really two kinds of snorkeling that people do in the Keys.

    The most common is taking a charter boat out about 5-10 miles offshore to one of a dozen nice sections of the barrier reef that has large coral colonies and lots of tropical fish. These are very protected and the water varies from 5 to 30 feet deep at most sites. Typical charters will give you about 90 minutes in the water. Some do two sites and 45-60 minutes at each site. These are very interesting and what most people want to see.

    My wife and I do one of these every couple of years. We think of these as being like going to the movies. You get to see some very cool stuff like big stony coral colonies, lots of sea fans, lot of tropical fish and maybe even a shark, a giant grouper or a big stingray. But there is very little touching of anything and very little personal interaction with sea creatures. You can take some great photos. But it’s mostly visual… like going to the movies.

    A slow day at Looe Key Reef moorings. Some days this five acres of water looks more like a boat parking lot!
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    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Corals 10 to 15 feet down at the big reef.
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    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    The other less common snorkeling is in much shallower water and off the beach. Rather than being like going to the movies, these are more like going on a safari or an expedition of exploration. Now the sea floor can be as close as 1 foot to about 5 or 10 feet if you want to wander out from the beach. Now you can touch things. You can roll up a rock and see the creatures that live underneath during the day.

    Bahia Honda State Park has a huge area off an oceanside beach that is a great place to snorkel. It’s especially good if you keep your eyes open and are interested in less ‘big reef, big coral, big tropical fish’ and are more into ‘up close and personal’ encounters with smaller ocean creatures. Although some big creatures come in near shore on occasion.

    At the State Parks everything is still protected, so there is no collecting of live animals, but at least you are allowed to pick them up, look them over, photograph them and put them back. And there are lots of other locations that are not state parks and that have similar environments and ecosystems that are open to limited, regulated, licensed collecting. We do this kind of snorkeling 95% of the time because we find it way more entertaining. In my opinion, once you have seen a big reef in the Florida Keys it’s a ‘been there, done that’ kind of experience. But snorkeling in unprotected shallows is more of an exploration of discovery and a chance to get up close and personal with very alien looking creatures.

    Snorkeling in less than two feet of water just off shore at Little Money Key.
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    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    So what kinds of things do we see during these ‘off the beach’ snorkel trips? The list is long, but the more observant you are and the more you spend time looking closely, the more you’ll see. Quickly skimming over shallow areas can become boring as so much of it looks the same. But if you slow down and just drift with the current, or even hold a position for more than a few seconds, you start to see more activity and diversity. And yes, sometimes knowing where to look can be helpful.

    Some of the most common things we see are big vase sponges, large ball sponges and lots of other variously colored sponges. We’ve seen red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and black sponges. Some areas have lots of gorgonian corals, so many it almost becomes a forest! We find a wide variety of mollusks, crabs, anemones, sea cucumbers, sea stars, juvenile tropical fish, sea biscuits, macro algae, urchins, lobsters, upside down jellyfish, spaghetti worms, big bristle worms and even some zoas, sea fans and even some nice small SPS corals. And to be perfectly clear, it’s 100% illegal to collect any LPS or SPS corals or sea fans!

    If you’re really lucky you might see a flamingo tongue, small octopus or squid, a small mantis shrimp, a small nurse shark, a stingray or even a moray eel. We once found a 2 foot long green moray eel living in/under a big black ball sponge just 50 feet off the beach in less than 3 feet of water at Bahia Honda State Park. And with a dozen snorkelers and even some youngsters just splashing and playing nearby! I’ll add a bunch of photos we’ve taken at various sites we’ve snorkeled right off the beach in shallow water in a few posts after the article.

    This bright yellow stony coral with feather dusters attached was found in about 2 feet of water and 15 feet from dry land!
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    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    The following is an outline of what goes into a typical weekend snorkel trip when we go to the Florida Keys. We live about four hours from the Middle Keys by car, so it’s not expensive or difficult for us to do a long weekend. Here is the basic timeline for our travels:

    A weekend in the Keys starts about 10 to 14 days ahead of the weekend. We try to do trips when there is less going on in the Keys like lobster season, lionfish tournaments, speed boat races or on-shore festivals. It makes boat ramps more accessible and restaurants less crowded. We make motel reservations because they can easily get booked full but can be cancelled 24-hours before check-in if the weather turns bad.

    The most important thing we do is continually watch the weather predictions for the area. Winds for the weekend and even the day or two before the weekend are most important. Winds that are less than 10 mph make for the best visibility in the water which should be almost clear. Winds of 10 to 15 mph can stir things up and make visibility less than desired as well as making actual snorkel time a little less comfortable due to the water getting choppy. When winds get over 15 mph we are looking at aborting the trip altogether or looking for other things to do while we’re there. It’s really a very good idea to have at least one or two side trips picked out in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. There is more about other activities at the end of the article.

    An afternoon shower passing by well to our north. It's about a 50% chance thing, sometimes they miss you and sometimes you have to move.
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    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    By the time we get down to a few days before the weekend, we have a pretty good handle on what to expect, and we’ve kind of roughed out our weekend. But we are always keenly aware that a snorkel weekend in the Keys is a very fickle thing and that we have to keep a very open mind to every aspect of the trip. Where we snorkel, even if we snorkel and what we do if we don’t snorkel is always open to change on the spur of the moment. A simple little afternoon thunderstorm cell that is headed at our snorkel site can dramatically change our afternoon. And a shift in weather patterns can disrupt the entire weekend with only one or two days' warning.

    We try to do at least a trip or two before the rainy season starts brewing up afternoon thunderstorms. Those become a little more frequent during June and become a semi-regular afternoon forecast from July through September. But even during the rainy season we usually can get in a before-noon snorkel and 50% of the time even an afternoon snorkel.

    Thunderstorms in south Florida and the Keys are very spotty and not at all like big fronts that create lines of thunderstorms in other parts of the country. But even the small (in area) thunderstorms can be severe and need to be taken seriously. But if you have a weather radar app on your cell phone, you can see more or less where that nearby storm cell is headed. We’ve snorkeled in sunny conditions where we’ve watched thunderstorm cells approach from near the horizon and past by 5 miles away and cause little more than some closer watching on our part.

    The day or two before the trip involves getting all our gear packed and ready to go. That involves things like checking the Zodiac and trailer from top to bottom and end to end. BTW, we snorkeled off beaches that were accessible by car for many years before we got the Zodiac so we could get away from the shore and visit smaller uninhabited islands that lie just off shore.

    Then I’ll gather up all the livestock collecting and holding gear. We use a 5-gallon Gatorade cooler (because it’s insulated) with a lid and a battery-powered bubbler for holding livestock in the boat. I use a small container like a plastic peanut butter jar with holes drilled in it to allow water to flow through and a hole in the top so a string can be attached with a loop at one end so I can fit it over my wrist and not lose it. We spend time charging batteries for cameras, VHF radio and GPS for the boat, prepping laptops, packing a power cord to run the a/c powered bubbler we use at the motel. Finally, Thursday evening we fill our tow vehicle, a Scion xB, and the boat with gas, check the tire pressures as well as water and oil levels so we are ready to leave bright and early the next morning.

    Our old soft-floor dinghy and 5hp Honda outboard. The dingy would roll up and fit in the trunk of our car.
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    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    We usually drive to the Middle Keys (the city of Marathon on Vaca Key) on Friday morning, arriving at our motel, usually the Blackfin Motel & Resort, after stopping for a relaxing lunch along the way in the Upper Keys. Once we get to the motel we unpack and then decide what kind of ‘test’ snorkel we’d do in the afternoon. Test snorkels allow us to determine what we’ll want to wear when we do all day snorkeling on Saturday and Sunday.

    If the water is 85 degrees or more, all we need is a dive skin to keep the sun off and prevent sunburn. If the water is cooler we need to decide on the light-weight or medium-weight wetsuits. But lots of people just wear a bathing suit a t-shirt and lots of sun tan lotion. These short test runs would typically be just snorkeling out 100 yards from the motel beach to a small island. But if we knew the water was going to be really warm and a dive skin is all we would need, we’d drop the Zodiac in the water at the motel boat ramp and ride out to islands or shorelines that were further away from the motel.

    The view out from shore to the island we snorkel to for testing the water temperature. The tiny island at the left edge of the photo has hundreds of shallow-water rock flower anemones.
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    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Saturday morning we would have a very light breakfast under a thatched roof canopy out on the beach. We enjoy getting outside and being close to the water and this also allows us to see first hand the wind and water conditions. Then we can discuss locations to snorkel based on observed conditions.

    Some locations are very open and exposed, so the wind can make the water choppy. The direction could determine which side of any island would be the lee side (the side down wind) and therefore calmer and more comfortable to snorkel. If the wind was toward the high end of acceptable, we’d pick a location that was better protected from the wind. We even have a couple of spots that are very well protected from the wind and waves and then only visibility becomes an issue. Waves that stir up sediment and find sand on the windward side of an island reduce visibility just about equally everywhere. Waves can be blocked by an island, but poor visibility spreads everywhere.

    After breakfast we would tow the boat to the boat ramp closest to where we wanted to snorkel and launch from there. There aren’t as many public boat ramps in the Middle Keys as I would like. On days that were calm with no serious threat of afternoon thunderstorms, we would usually plan two snorkel locations we could get to by boat. We would snorkel one for a couple of hours, take a lunch break in the Zodiac and then move to a second location and do another couple of hours snorkeling. Then back to the boat ramp, pack up our gear and anything we collected, pull the Zodiac and tow it back to the motel.

    At the motel we would shower and get cleaned up… and rest. I would also set up a cooler (rather than an aquarium) with the 120 volt powered bubbler, a small powerhead and maybe even a heater. If we kept the cooler in our room the A/C cooled air going through the bubbler would lower the water temp from the mid 80’s to the low 70’s overnight, thus the need for a heater. If there was access to electricity outside and the weather was good, I could leave the cooler outside with just the bubbler and the powerhead. The overnight temperature would only get down to about 80 so no need for the heater.

    Sometimes we’d go out for dinner. But sometimes we’d both be exhausted from the snorkeling (neither of us is as young as we wish we were) and we would make a meal with food we would bring with us and have more time to look at photographs we took during the day. Underwater photographs are usually kind of ugly until you do some computer enhancements. Most of the time our photographs just need the basic auto-correct by simple computer software. But some photos need special enhancements due to lighting issues or poor water clarity. We usually get to sleep early because we are tired from the day's activities and to help us prepare for Sunday’s snorkeling.

    If things are going well, like good weather, then Sundays look a lot like Saturdays. However we do sometimes cut down to just one location and stay there longer. After the day’s snorkeling is done, I always do a 75% to 100% water change to the cooler at the motel that is holding Saturday’s livestock. Natural sea water is only a short walk from our motel room. There is no filtration on our transport cooler so the big water change covers for that and it helps with keeping the water temperature about where the livestock is used to. We do try to get out for dinner on Sundays as a way to top off the weekend.

    Mondays we have yet another breakfast on the beach, this time just to enjoy the weather and the view! Then we pack up all our gear and the cooler gets loaded into a big plastic bag to protect the car in case of any leak or spill. The 120 volt bubbler gets switched out for the drive home with the battery powered unit we use while out on the boat. The drive home is usually uninterrupted by a stop for lunch as we are both looking forward to getting home, cleaning the boat, washing up snorkel gear, sorting out livestock and spending more time looking at and playing with photos on our laptops… oh, and getting home to our cat!

    So that’s an ideal weekend.

    But there are times when the weather just doesn’t cooperate. It can be a nice warm, sunny day, but if the wind is blowing the water could be rough and the in water visibility could be terrible. Although it’s perfectly okay to snorkel on overcast days, sunny ones make for much better photos. Light underwater gets dim pretty fast and starting with an overcast sky just makes it worse. And that’s a curiosity because when you aren’t underwater many times an overcast sky will make for better photos (softer shadows) than a bright sunny day. The sun also makes the colors pop more underwater so it makes looking for things easier.

    Afternoon thunderstorms and overcast skies can make snorkeling less fun.
    [​IMG]
    This photo is courtesy of @Ron Reefman, ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

    Okay, it’s a bad day for snorkeling, so what do you do? We’ve been to the Aquarium Encounter, the Turtle Hospital, the History of Diving Museum, the Shady Palm Art Gallery and the Rain Barrel Artisan Village to name a few. We also look for photography opportunities that we can take advantage of even if it’s raining. And of course there are a host of other possibilities in all the Keys and especially in Key West. We also take advantage of these days to find new places to eat. We’ve found the variety of venues for food and drink are just about limitless. From small mom & pop diners to high end dining, from sports bars to quiet hideaways and from cheap fast food to reasonably priced restaurants with some kind of special atmosphere.

    I moved to SW Florida in 1999 and met my wife about nine months later. She already enjoyed snorkeling as much or more than me. So we started doing a trip to the Keys that first summer. The next year we did two trips and went along with our local reef aquarium club when they did a weekend ‘field trip’ to snorkel and collect.

    From that point on we get to the Keys to snorkel at least three times and occasionally even 4-5 times over a year. I guess to me it’s a combination of a chance to enjoy a totally alien environment, have some quiet time away from people while relaxing out on the water, explore and interact with various sea creatures, take some very cool photos, and collect a few critters I can take home to my reef tank. And over the winter, by February, we’re both anxious to get back to May and a snorkel trip to the Keys!

    If anybody is interested in asking questions about anything related to this article, please ask in the discussion here or go to my thread about snorkeling and collecting that I try to keep updated after every trip. There is a link to that thread in my signature file below.

    Over the next week or two I will post a lot of photos from our snorkeling trips. So check back every few days.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

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    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    Author Profile: @Ron Reefman

    @Ron Reefman has been keeping saltwater aquariums for almost 20 years. A few weeks ago, there was a profile of him. He lives in Florida and is happy to share his ocean adventures with us all.
     

  2. dansreef

    dansreef Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Great Post Ron. Thanks for sharing.

    I have found that grabbing a mask, snorkel and fins and taking to the water right off the beach is a lot of fun and something many people overlook. I have been to the USVIs, BVIs, Hawaii, the Florida Keys and have found really cool stuff from a quick shore excursion. I try to pack gear as often as I can. Other times, I check out what is available to rent.

    A couple of years ago I was down in Palm Beach staying at The Breakers (a story for another day) and rented some gear at the close of a business event I was attending and jumped in the water and paddled out to a small area where I was told a small reef was. It was awesome. The first 20 or so minutes I saw all sorts of fish as well as some transient deep water fish. I was so engrossed, a couple of small sharks kind of snuck up on me. Needless to say I quickly found my way back to the jetty where I continued to observe! It was a totally awesome spur of the moment snorkel and one of my favorites to this day.

    Thanks again for sharing your post.
     
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  3. Gonebad395

    Gonebad395 Anemone hound R2R Supporter

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    @Ron Reefman hey like always great write up really envious of you right there lol. Looks like so much fun man living that dream. 15 more years and we will be too. Love how much enjoyment I can tell you get out of it just by reading your words. Always know it’s going to be something cool with photos of your posts. Keep them coming buddy I know I speak for others as well.
     
  4. ca1ore

    ca1ore Valuable Member R2R Supporter CTARS Member R2R Excellence Award R2R TV Featured Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    I’m curious to what degree you can take animals out of the ocean for your own tank? I imagine some things are protected/forbidden and others not? Could you, for example, collect turtle grass or is that verboten? Regardless, very cool.
     
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  5. vetteguy53081

    vetteguy53081 Well known Member R2R Supporter Partner Member 2019 R2R Secret Santa Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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    Went snorkeling on July 7th last year. Very disappointed as the water was choppy and there was loose seaweed everywhere. I was so looking to seeing beautiful specimens and using New Underwater camera.
    Fault of the weather. It was Hot and sunny and the cruise was nice though. We had a carnival ship go right past us.
     
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  6. sarahwoods

    sarahwoods Member

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    I live in Big Pine Key. Some stuff is actually legal to take for your tank... including Zoanthids, you just have to have a recreational fishing license and follow the rules on the FWC website. They are extremely strict so don’t get caught with the wrong stuff and be super sure in what you take that it is legal... but there are SOME corals you can legally take here in the Florida Keys.
     
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  7. sarahwoods

    sarahwoods Member

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    Check the FWC website. I live in Big Pine Key... there is a lot that is legally okay to take if you have a recreational fishing license. Zoanthids are on the okay to take list. Just follow the rules exactly because FWC down here loves to fine people for taking the wrong stuff but if you know the rules and follow them it can be really great!
     
  8. sarahwoods

    sarahwoods Member

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    https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/marine-life/

    Also there are some protected reefs that can never be collected from. Including Loee Key.
     
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  9. Ron Reefman

    Ron Reefman Lets Go Snorkeling! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    The link is the 'official' list for the entire state of Florida:
    http://www.eregulations.com/florida/fishing/saltwater/marine-life-regulations/

    So the 20 animal limit is fairly strict. Take 5 polyps of a zoa, 5 gorgonians, 5 snails, 2 stars, 2 anemones and a sea cucumber and your done!

    However, some local ordinances can be even more restrictive. Lee County (Fort Myers) doesn't allow collecting of any live mollusks, and Sanibel Island (part of Lee County) doesn't allow collecting of any live echinoderms (sea stars, sand dollars, sea biscuits). So it pays to check because fines can be substantial.

    I've never considered collecting turtle grass, but it's not on the list so I think the one gallon limit applies. In Florida all lps and sps corals and all sea fans are an absolute never take. Soft corals have a 5 polyp per person per day limit. Condy anemones used to allowed but a few years ago we had a very cold snap in the winter. That caused a huge fish kill, which added nitrates to the water and an algae bloom which lasted an entire summer and choked out a lot of things. Condy seemed to be hit hard and are now protected. So are long spined urchins.
     
  10. Suzzie

    Suzzie Member

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    I haven’t been snorkelling in the US however I frequently snorkel in the Maldives. Someabsultely stunning sights - both corals and fish.
    And there’s nothing quite like swimming with the black top reef sharks!
     
  11. Captain Quint

    Captain Quint Plank Owner of the Orca R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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  12. Ron Reefman

    Ron Reefman Lets Go Snorkeling! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Can you take me and my wife with you the next time you snorkel the Maldives. That's on my bucket list!

    You are welcome Captain, it's a labor of love!
     
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  13. MichaelClark55

    MichaelClark55 Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Wow what an inspiring article. I too meet my wife in SW FL and still live in Milton. It's been on my bucket list for a long time to go to the keys. Now you have inspired me to buy a Zodiac and plan a trip.
     
  14. SDK

    SDK Reef Diver R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Great article, and thanks for providing in on a cold winter day in New England.

    My wife and I have discovered the same thing in our aquatic travels. Even in full dive gear we often have the most fun mucking around in just a few feet of water. Mangroves, inlet's and near shore transition zones are always loaded with interesting stuff.

    One of my favorite dives of all times happened as I was about to get out of the water. We noticed about 25 large hermit crabs having an insane free for all fighting over a shell. This was in about a foot deep seagrass bed. We laid out on the edge of the grass and must have watched for a half hour. It was late in the season off of Long Island, NY, so I got hypothermic and did not get to see who won lol...
     
  15. shred5

    shred5 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    What amazes me is the limit on gorgonias ... They have really become weeds down there..
    Also the no go on sea fans. Not like they are in any short supply in the Caribbean....

    Have you heard of any tighter limits on fish or an outright ban?
    I have been hearing a little chatter that due to the lionfish ornamental fish populations are in decline..
    I have not been diving in the Caribbean for a while.
     
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  16. jimk60

    jimk60 Member

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    Thanks for the post!
    I'm going to be staying in Marathon at the end of March. I want to take at least one trip to a reef. Can you give me any specific locations for snorkeling off the beach other than the park. It's been about twenty-five years since my last trip there and I imagine it's built up pretty good since then!
     
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  17. Ron Reefman

    Ron Reefman Lets Go Snorkeling! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks for the kind words. Snorkeling has been a passion for my wife and I for over 15 years and writing is a way to remember it during the winter when it's too cold to snorkel (without a heavy cold water wetsuit!).

    It's kind of a long drive for you now, but you are still way closer than almost anybody who lives outside of Florida. And you can rent a small boat for a day or two in the Keys, no need to buy a Zodiac unless you have other ways to utilize it.

    You are very welcome, thanks for sharing the hermit crab story!

    We once saw just two hermits fighting. One had a pretty nice huge queen conch shell and the other had a very beat up and broken queen conch shell. We assumed the one with the beat up shell wanted the nice shell. So we watched for about 10 minutes and then picked up the one in the bad shell and found him an empty queen conch shell. We watched and in less than 30 seconds he switched shells!

    The limit on gorgonians is pretty liberal at 8 colonies and they don't limit the size. One big gorgonian colony could be cut down into a hundred one foot mini colonies for aquarium use. And most sea fans are on protected reefs, fewer have survived in unprotected water and virtually none in shallow water.

    I have not heard of any steps to ban collection altogether. But then I don't follow what is happening behind the scenes at FWC, I just stay abreast of the current rules.

    Lionfish are a big issue and there isn't much more that can be done beyond allowing unlimited fishing and collection as well as running a long term bounty on them.

    The water is still pretty cool in March. I'd say it's cold, but then I've been in Florida for 18 years now and I'm completely acclimated to being warm! For many from up north the 65 to 70 degree water seems perfectly OK. Personally, I'd be wearing my thickest wet suit! If you have a wet suit or a dive skin, you'll be happy you brought it, if not, wear dark long pants and a dark long sleeve shirt, hope it's sunny and look for shallow places where the water will have warmed up some.

    Marathon has several sites available. It's just my personal opinion, but I think Looe Key is the best one to snorkel as it has some very shallow areas and some 15 foot deep valleys. There are other reefs that are a bit deeper and have more corals, but they are really better for scuba divers than for snorkeling if getting close is important to you.

    Probably the best place is the Horseshoe and the beach area just over the road on the ocean side of the island. The Horseshoe has shallows and is typically quite calm. Inside is 40+ feet deep and the water is 5 degrees colder than the water outside. There is some cool stuff inside if you can free dive 15 feet deep or more. I can't but a friend can and he collected 2 coral banded shrimp and 2 flame scallops on one dive. I suggest you explore around and out away off either side of the walls, there are a wide variety of shallow water environments. On the other hand, off the beach on the ocean side has an environment more like Bahia Honda but smaller (Bahia Honda has a HUGE area worth snorkeling) and more exposed to the prevailing winds from the southeast. If the winds are low it can be a beautiful spot to snorkel, but if it's windy it gets pretty choppy and visibility can become an issue.

    Screenshot 2018-10-28 06.01.54.png
     
  18. Steve_Mac

    Steve_Mac Member

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    We vacationed in the Keys in August of 2017 (2 weeks before Irma) and went to John Pennekamp and had an incredible time. A couple days later we went to Bahia Honda and I had an even better time just snorkeling in the 2-4 feet of water off the beach. The highlight was seeing a sea turtle! My wife is taking me in April for my 50th birthday - can't wait to get back there! Thanks for such a great article!
     
  19. Ron Reefman

    Ron Reefman Lets Go Snorkeling! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Thank you. And I'd 100% agree that Bahia Honda has it all over Pennekamp in terms of off the beach snorkeling. Rent a kayak and go out to Little Bahia Honda Key, the tiny island just off shore. The side away from the channel is crazy with rock boring urchins and juvenile tropical fish and it's really shallow. Out on the side away from shore it gets deep, but there are some nice big coral colonies. You can also go southwest to the next island from Bahia Honda which is Spanish Harbor Key and visit the Horseshoe (see post 17). You might find some other good info in the "Snorkeling & Collecting Discussion" thread. There is a link in my signature below. And I'll be posting more photos there.

    Your visit in August would have been a really warm, almost bath water, temperatures. Be prepared for MUCH cooler water in April. And the underwater life is just starting to get that Spring look as things start to become more active. We usually wait until late May when the water has had a chance to warm up a bit more.

    BTW, happy 50th birthday to you. I turn 70 this April!
     
  20. Jim Fox

    Jim Fox Member

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    Thanks so much for sharing Ron!!! I really enjoyed your article and pictures.
     
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