Category Archives: beaches

Tropical travel ideas, in Florida and other beach locations.

A Beach Without Shells

Disappearing Island at Ponce Inlet is a beautiful place to hang out and enjoy Florida nature at it’s best. But it is not the place to go to collect seashells.

Truly, I have only been to this area a few times, but on our recent visit I walked all over the soft sand and found nothing to collect.

The only seashells I found were a crown conch shell being carried along by a hermit crab, and this cute little Florida cerith with the snail still inside.  This photo was taken while the snail was under the water right along the shoreline.  The shell has interesting bumps around it’s tight spiral.

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Florida cerith

Our boat was anchored at the edge of a narrow canal and this little crab came crawling along the waterline. He just took his time and was unafraid of us.

My son thought he might be a baby Stone crab, and after looking it up in my book, I think he’s right. My book says that juvenile Stone crabs are deep purple in color.

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Little Crab

If this little guy is a Stone crab, he may be caught in someone’s crab trap one day. When that happens, and if he is the right size, his big claw (only one) can be broken off and taken home to eat. The crab will grow a new claw back eventually. The whole crab is not used, just his claw.

For more information on catching and eating Stone crab, read this article at the Florida Sportsman site.

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The Guy Who Caught The Bluefish

One late afternoon we headed over to Ponce Inlet so the boys could fish and I could search for some good seashells. It was a successful visit (for me), as I came home with lots of nice shells. I have some pictures of the seashells that I collected on my post, Take a Closer Look When Seashell Collecting.

The tide was going out, which is perfect if you are a beachcomber. The water was very rough, and the only people in the water were a couple of surfers, and some fishermen who stood thigh deep. My boys fished from the shore – and caught nothing.

One man, who was fishing out in the channel, did catch a nice big fish, and I asked his permission to take this picture. He was proud to show off his catch, and rightly so! What a gorgeous Bluefish he had!

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This man caught a big bluefish

I’ve cut off his head on purpose to show the fish, yet keep his identity private. It was a long walk back to the cars, but he didn’t seem to mind that.

Now we have a boat and will be out fishing from the boat more so than onshore.  On our  second day of boat ownership, we lounged in the water around Disappearing Island which is in this same general area of this inlet.

Second Day on The New Boat Spent at Disappearing Island

Finally the day arrived, and we picked up our new boat. It’s a flats boat, Hewes Redfisher and we are loving it! Our second day out found us behind Disappearing Island at Ponce Inlet in New Smyrna Beach. (That’s in Florida, in case you weren’t sure.)

The reason we chose this type of boat is because it can get into (and out of) shallow water, like this canal. We were able to gain access to the backside of the expansive sandy island, and stay a few hours, while the tide continued to go out.  Parts of the canal were very shallow and the tide still had a couple of hours to go out.  It would be easy to become stranded.

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Feet up and floating in the beautiful ocean water around Disappearing Island.

We arrived at the Inlet around noon on a Friday, so it was not overly crowded. On weekends I wouldn’t attempt to visit this place, as it is a madhouse from what I hear. But if you love the party atmosphere, and love to party with lots of happy strangers, who also enjoy the sun and sea, this island is the place to be.

The little backwater canal where we parked was not big, and we shared the space with only 2 other boats. A pontoon was pulled up onto the beach and he was obviously staying for the day. Once the tide was partially out, he was for sure stranded until the next high tide.  The group had rafts, a smaller boat, and were doing some fishing.

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Beached Boater Gets Help

The other boat near us suddenly realized they were stuck in the sand. As I was coming back from my walk across the island, I could see them rocking the boat trying to get it to move into the water.

A group of people from across the way came over to help, and so did my son. They got the boat free of the sand so the grateful boaters were able to leave.

Whenever the tide is going out, keep a careful eye on the water depth, or you’re stuck until the water comes back in again!  Unless some friendly (strong) folks come by to give you a hand.  I have a feeling it happens a lot.

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Looking across Disappearing Island to the Inlet

We did some fishing as we left the area and traveled down the canal. We also saw sea turtles popping up for air. I caught a catfish (ugh) and some kind of little silver fish which got off the hook. Then I had a good bite, but the fish bit off my hook and got away. I don’t know my saltwater fish yet, but my son does. He thought it may have been a Bluefish.

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Hewes Redfisher 18

It was a wonderful way to spend a Friday. Now I must work all weekend to make up for my time off.

By the way, I saw almost no seashells on the island. The crown conch I found had a hermit crab inside. I did find a cute little cerith seashell, and a little crab walked past us near the shoreline. Pictures on my next post.

jellyfish on beach

New Smyrna Beach Jellyfish, Seaweed, and a Bumpy Beach Drive

We are still waiting for the boat we ordered to come in and I’m dying to get out on the water.  For now I must be content with visiting the beach and river.

This morning I headed over to Flagler Ave. to see how the ocean looked.  There have been beach advisories lately because of the high winds, which cause high tides and rip currents. And sure enough, the waves were crashing and the beach was a mess.

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Messy Beach and Rough Surf

The tide was going out, so I decided to drive down Penninsula Ave. and get onto the beach from one of those drive-on spots.  The one I chose had a big puddle of sea water at the bottom of the ramp.  The toll-collector and I watched the car ahead of me navigate it along the edge, and he made it.  I have a 4-wheel drive Subaru, which always handled very well in the snow, so I was not afraid of a sea puddle (it was a BIG puddle).  I slid around a bit but made it out to the beach traffic lanes fine.  But the driving was very bumpy because of all the ruts in the sand.  For that reason I didn’t go very far before parking.

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Portuguese man-o-war 

The first thing I noticed, besides all the seaweed, was the blue jellyfish.  Yes, man-of-war jellyfish were scattered along the beach.  I got a couple of pictures and didn’t know what type they were until I got home and showed the picture to my son.  He knew right away it was a man-of-war.  Believe it or not, people (tourists?) were still going in the water!

I walked the high tide line of sand hoping to find some cool shells, but all I found was the regular variety.  My goal was to get close to the jetty and boardwalk of the Smyrna Dunes Park down by Ponce Inlet, but it was too far to drive on that bumpy sand.  I may end up getting a pass so I can drive to the park and walk along the boardwalks.

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Sea Bird in the Sand

I did see something odd though.  A sea bird was plopped down in the sand.  At first I thought it was dead, but it wasn’t.  I’ve never been to the beach when a bird was nestled in the dune area.  I snapped a photo without getting too close.

beach shells

The shells I found were the regular arks.  I was hoping to find some unusual seashells because of the high tide and rough surf.  I didn’t find any super unique shells, but I did collect a little slipper shell, a black rock, and a Sea Purse Bean (photo below).

There are a lot of sea beans mentioned in my “Florida’s Living Beaches” book.  Some have a much thicker ring, but they are all hard and roundish in shape.  This is the first time I have collected a sea bean.

sea bean

 

Sharks Along the Coast of Florida and Why We Don’t Care

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Shark (photo: derwerbepool @ Pixabay)

You may have heard the recent story of a half eaten shark washing ashore on New Smyrna Beach, in Florida. This is where I live, and it’s the beach I visit most often.  Usually shark stories involve people being bitten, but this time the shark got chomped, presumably by a much larger shark. And he did not live to brag about his shark bite scars!

The story was out there to read on many sites. Some made a big deal out of it, and others (mostly Florida based) did not.  That is wildlife for you.  The bigger stuff eats the smaller stuff.  This time the smaller stuff was a five-foot shark.

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-10-11-04-amI have a friend who finds it difficult to believe I will go swimming at Florida beaches. (He lives in Michigan) He’s read all the stats about Florida having the most unprovoked shark attacks, and (incorrectly) believes anyone who ventures into the ocean, or any water, in and around Florida will be putting themselves in danger.

Florida is full of creepy stuff. Animals AND people make up that category. We live among alligators, poisonous snakes, and big nasty spiders, and yes, predatory ocean life. But, just like the land creatures don’t keep us out of our yards, the sea creatures don’t keep us from swimming, surfing, and waterskiing.

We have to be careful and observant. Sharks can be found close to the coast all around Florida, but the bites tend to happen in certain spots more than others. The jetty, where the waves break, attracts surfers, and surfers tend to be the ones who get bit.
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I have been lazing about in the warm ocean water just offshore only to see a large fish silhouetted in a wave.  It’s pretty cool really. Or suddenly we spot a fin only a few yards away… is it a shark fin? We are not sure, so we hightail it out of the water. But we can’t stay out.  And that fin may have been a dolphin or some other non life-threatening fish.  We splash back in, our fears forgotten.

The weather is too hot to NOT go swimming. The water is too beautiful and warm to NOT enjoy it. The beauty and wonder overtakes the fear. So we swim and don’t worry about what might be out there swimming around near us. For the most part we are left alone and get back home unscathed, except for the sunburn where we missed with the sunscreen.

As I float in the unbelievably warm ocean, and feel the waves roll me up and down, it is my own little paradise.  No negative thoughts allowed, and that includes sharks!

I can only pity my friend who does not know what he is missing.

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A New Love

(All photos on this page came from the free, public domain site, Pixabay)