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June 9, 2003
After about 45 minutes with the dolphins, we rode over to a small island where we could snorkel. The captain explained all about snorkeling and what types of sealife we would see underwater. He explained that many fish all gathered near the reef during low tide an waited for the tide to come back in so they could go home. He warned us that we would see several sting ray and that the place we were snorkeling was like Key West’s "sting ray city". He also warned us that we may be able to see sharks because they usually come out in the afternoon.
We all got in the water and swam our separate ways. On the way out to the reef we passed several sting ray. This was a great reef to snorkel because there were places where the reef would drop off and there were several clearings. It was like turning a corner and not knowing what you would find. It was at one of these clearings when I was snorkeling along and as I looked at the bottom of the reef where it cleared I found a large nurse shark about five feet long resting at the bottom under a cliff of coral (as if he was in the shade). I saw another shark earlier when he swam under me. I think that one was not a nurse shark because he looked different. That was the first one I saw and it scared me a bit because the water was only about six feet deep and when he swam under me he was only about three feet below me. Besides sharks and sting ray, we also saw a lot of barracuda and they made me the most uncomfortable because there were so many of them. One kept following me around and he was at least the size of my entire leg. Of course we saw many different types of colorful fish as well. The most unique fish I saw was the parrot fish. They were about the size of basketball and were mainly orange in color, but they had turquoise lips, eyelids and part of their scales went from orange to turquoise.
From journal Key West Fiesta
New York, New York
March 10, 2003
The captains take you out to places near Key West where dolphins are and, supposedly, if the dolphins signal to you, you can go in and swim with them. No such thing happened with us, and after not getting an "invitation", we went to some "nursery" area to snorkel. Water was shallow, about six feet, so you were able to dive to the bottom with ease and inspect the marine life. I saw all sorts of fish, some lobsters, crabs, and a baby stingray. Chased him 'round for about 10 minutes till he got bored and swam off.
I definitely recommend "swimming with the dolphins", but realize that in all likelihood it's just snorkeling.
From journal Key West