Day 4

DAY 4 – Tuesday, August 1, 2006:
Munson Island Nature Hike and Mangrove Maze
– I got up pretty early this morning.
The stars are still out and the breeze feels great. I decided to take a sponge bath while
everyone is still asleep. Then I went down to the beach to catch up on my log and to
watch the sunrise. The Key Deer are all around and a white Ibis, thehurricane bird, is feeding on the Sand Flees in the Sargassom along theshore. After Katrina blew over the island lastyear many trees were lost and the beachbecame much wider with a lot more sand thanprevious years. The Sargassom drifts in from the ocean and gathers on the out-island side along the sandybeaches. It then begins to decompose giving off a somewhatrotten smell. I sat and looked out to sea and realized that thenext stop would be Europe or North Africa. There are cloudsto the north but the rest of the sky is blue. It should be another beautiful day in paradiseand that means lots of sun screen and water.
Today is our island day. We will take the kayaks out to explore the lagoon andMangrove Maze. STOP – it is time for the sunrise – Oops, I was trying to time it justright and when I got up to walk around a Mangrove that was in the way of the sunrise, itwas already above the horizon. Actually the clouds were blocking the sunrise anyway. Iguess I’ll have to see if tomorrow provides better luck.
There are three species of Mangrove on the island. The first to arrive is the RedMangrove which lives at the edge of the beach and is the colonizing species. It begins theisland building process by catching sand and debris in its aerial roots that go down intothe sand like legs on a stool. Soon a hammock begins to appear and the sand begins risingabove the water line. At this point the Black Mangrove takes hold growing near the waterwith its trunk down in the sand and small aerial roots sticking up like needles to get airfor respiration. As the sandy beach continues to form the White Mangrove grows alongthe upper beach area with normal subterranean roots where it is able to get air through theloose sand and soil, I digress.
After a breakfast of pancakes and pears prepared by our crew leader Joe and Josh, we took off for a nature hike along the beach into the center of theisland. Anna was a good interpretive guide introducing many of theisland species we had not seen or recognized. At one point all thecrew had their picture taken on one of the largest Buttonwood treesin the world; that is until last year when a lightning strike broke offabout a third of the tree. The scouts were also having a lot of funchasing the truly illusive Iguanas that are fair game to remove fromthe island. Another very important stop was the pile of rocks that welearned was the burial site of thecamel found on the island andshot (and we thought that the picture of the camel was a joke). Tim and I were nottaken in so easily. We remembered that the camel wasnext to a road that doesn’t exist on the island. Nice tryAnna! We were pretty sure that the stack of rocks came from clearing the helipad. We also paid a visit to the shrine to the Conch where scout crews make sacrifices to theConch God for good luck before they head out for their deep sea fishing. We are told thatthree and a third Conchs bring the best luck. Oh, by the way, if any of the Conchs areremoved from the shrine it will bring bad luck. I wonder why? After the nature hike we returned to camp and Anna suggested that we take the 3-mankayaks over to Picnic Island for lunch and some swimming. That sounded like fun so wewere off for a new adventure. We expected to head out from the beach to paddle around the island but to our surprise we carried them through a hole in theMangrove to the inner island lagoon. Our course was to traverse the lagoon and poke out through another Mangrove cave on theinland side of the island. We could see our destination; two smallislands about a half mile away. The wind was blowing but not toobad and after a few minutes we were there. Anna said that we werelucky because this is a popular spot and there were very few boatsaround when it is usually much busier. We were lucky to get the only table on the island and settled right into lunch. Then it was time for a swim Evanthought the water wasn’t very deep. I still can’t get use to how warm the water is. Whenwe came back to shore Tim was taking a cat nap under a Mangrove. When the scoutswere ready we paddled back to Munson Island – “MUNSON”.
Anna decided to take us into the Mangrove Maze to see if we could find our way out.
The Maze is a natural series of tunnels under the canopy that winds through the aerialroots. The kayaks just fit through the interconnecting passage ways and quite often wehad to duck under low branches. Actually we did pretty wellmaking it through as one of her fastest crews. Now, I know that we are good but I am suspicious that she tells this to all hercrews. After this we returned to camp and the scouts decided togo shark fishing. Tim and I stayed back to work on our triplogs.
Today we have been very lucky again with such a nicebreeze that helps to keep the No-see-ms from beingtroublesome. My only mishap to this point has been a blister inthe middle of my back from the kayak seat. Tim bandaged it up and I am as good as new.
When the scouts returned from their shark fishing the fish stories were flying all around.
As it turns out Evan caught a Sand Shark about 6 feet long. Not bad if you ask me. Iknow that it’s true because they took a picture with Anna wrestling it on the platform. Itwas strictly catch and release so we didn’t get to see it. They all agreed that this was thebest activity yet. They should really enjoy tomorrow’s deep sea fishing day and with anyluck we will catch a dolphin for dinner.
Tonight our dinner was ravioli and mixed vegetables with vanilla pudding for dessert,most of which we gave to our neighboring crew. I was hoping that the telescope wasavailable but it has been abused by an earlier crew and wasn’t functional at this time; somuch for our star gazing. Tim decided to sleep outside on the sand at the top of the beachtonight hoping that the breeze would make it a little easier to sleep. I, on the other hand,don’t like the breeze so I will try to stay in the tent.
Tonight everyone took their Dramamine for the fishing trip tomorrow. This will helpthem to keep from getting sick. We are supposed to be out about twenty six miles for about seven hours. There is no reprieve for one who gets sick; they just have to ride itout. I put a patch on and it should keep me safe for the next three days including oursnorkeling at Looe Key. All of the scouts finished the day with a game of cards beforeturning in. Tomorrow our day is to begin at 7:00 AM


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