Boy Scout Troop 103 of Hanover, Pennsylvania attended the Eco Adventure program at Florida Sea Base located in the Florida Keys. During the week-long adventure the Troop was aboard two 41′ Morgan Out Island sailboats named Morning Dance and Island Dreamer. We sailed about 96 miles, kayaked over 5 miles, and snorkeled 2 miles of reefs while discovering areas in both the Florida Bay and the straits of Florida.
From the sailboats we explored marine fish, animals and plant-life by snorkeling and sea kayaks. Our journey included exploring and learning about the various types of mangroves and sea grasses that populate the Florida Keys. During the super-moon phase we kayaked at night to Channel Key. This small mangrove island is home to herons, cormorants, turkey vultures, and white ibis. The key was added to the Florida Keys Ecosystem Project in 2003.
Dive spots include places with interesting names like Coffins Patch, Sombrero Reef and Lignumvitae Key. The captains and first-mate aboard the vessels had vast experience of the area. Each evening every participant would report on at least one significant fish, plant, bird or animal they saw during the day’s exploration. Materials were available on the boats to do additional research on things they saw.
Some of the marine life seen by the group included Great Barracudas, Green Sea Turtles, Stingrays, Spiny Lobsters, Needlefish, Moray Eels, Bluehead Wrasses, jellyfish, Sergeant Major fish, Bermuda Chubs, Yellowtail Snappers, Parrotfish, Blue Tangs, and many more.
We kayaked from our sailboats to the Dolphin Research Center. There we were given a tour of the facility and learned more about the anatomy and habits of the dolphin. The dolphins demonstrated their intelligence and abilities by doing acrobatic tricks and flips.
Daily temperatures ranged from 83º to 91º. The snorkeling activities each day kept the scouts cool.
We finished up the the week by exploring the everglades full of alligators, snakes and Great Egrets while on a airboat that glides along the shallow swamps propelled by a giant rear propeller fan.
Although the Troop began the week knowing little about sailing and the ecology of the Florida Keys, we returned as seasoned explorers with lasting memories and greater appreciation for the environment, marine and wildlife that populates the tropical keys of Florida.
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Florida Sea Base – The Adventure Begins
Exploring the Matecumbe Mangroves by Kayak
Snorkeling at Craig Key; Night Kayaking around Channel Key
Sombrero Key Sanctuary Preservation Area
Coffins Patch Sanctuary Preservation Area
The joy of Sailing – The Troop Sailing as viewed from the air