Phil Foster Park is one of my favorite places for snorkeling. Now that I have expanded my snorkeling adventures to some other sites around Florida, my appreciation for this place grows. I love not having to worry about boats, the chances of a big hungry shark is low, there is a variety of reef structure to making things interesting, and there are so many colorful fish and other critters concentrated in this small park. It is a way to have a beautiful reef adventure for free, and if you go during the middle of the week in the late spring (warm water, kids in school, snowbirds have gone North), it’s like the entire reef is just for you.
Today, I convinced Jeff to come out with me and he hung in there longer than I though he would 🙂 The water was warm and the tide was relatively quiet. While this made for a comfortable swim, you can tell that it’s late fall and not summertime anymore. The sky was cloudy and the water was hazy with silt, so the conditions weren’t great for visibility and photography. This is the weekend I learned about the ideal time of “slack high tide”. I knew that high tide was better in this area than low tide, but hadn’t considered there was more than just overall ocean surf, wind, and cloud conditions to consider. I think I must have lucked out in the past and accidentally timed the trip within the slack tides for water clarity. Next time!!
I saw lots of cool fish like always but also got to see several spotted moray eels which I haven’t noticed before. They usually live out in deeper waters but this year anglers are noticing them inshore – wonder if that’s unusual for Phil Foster? I may have just not noticed them before. This is also coincidental since I just listened to a very interesting podcast about eels – their gonads and reproductive habits have apparently been a centuries-old mystery.
I also saw this enormous hermit crab shuffling its way across the sand. This camouflaged shell was as big as a basketball!
I saw my pufferfish friend but he was hiding in his little cave, totally obscured from the scuba divers around him. Just imaging his big cute puppy face in there:)
I also came across the scorpionfish. It’s amazing how well he blends in. I noticed the frill along the edge of the reef and realized it was him and made sure to keep my safe distance!
I didn’t stay too long today. The light was dim, the water cloudy, and the scuba divers were starting to crowd the reef while leaving their fin tracks in the sand under growing clouds of silt obscuring the view. Next time = week day, high slack tide, 10a-2p sun.
When I came to shore to meet Jeff, I got a few dino pics in – I had to clarify to Instagram and Facebook that the Nautilus is a toy and not real:)