Once the kiddos got moving, we prepared for a morning of snorkeling and swimming. We had stopped and got bread, chips and goober grape jelly and we're going to have a picnic lunch as well.
We went to Long Key State Park to snorkel. It was fairly clear- kinda grassy- but not nasty like some places get. We all put on our mask and snorkels and headed out. I don't know how far we ended up going out- at least Samantha and I. They guys were probably a half mile out. They were still about waist deep. We saw some cool things underwater and found a coral pile. It too us a minute before we were brave enough to dive down and touch it, but once we got a piece back to the top, we figured out it was coral. It was in a weird pile, like it had been dumped there, not growing or whatever like you think of when you hear coral. There were some cool shells in the pile as well.
While we were WAY out in the ocean, I noticed someone moving by our table, so I had a weird feeling and we started swimming back slowly - still peeking underwater - but making our way back. About halfway in, someone sat down at our table... That really concerned me. All of our stuff was on the table - including car keys - where our wallets were. They moved along, but when we got to the shore and table- there was a different guy laying on the ground right by our table! We were the only ones there, there were other tables, no one else around and he was laying that close to our things! We stayed close to the shoreline and watched the crabs run along the bottom.
They had a bag full of shells they had collected and tons of pics of things that they were able to see underwater - including an octopus! After they ate, Sam wanted to go back out. They didn't get as far (we were on a time crunch). They found a chest of some sort that when they moved it, it was full or lobsters. Roger got some pics and tried to get a video of it.
We finally got them to come in and got the car loaded and we're off to the next adventure! A friend had told me about a place down in the Keys that she was calling the Dolphin Lab. We found it- it's called Dolphin Research Center and they have about 25 dolphins and a few sea lions. They have several dolphin interaction choices and we signed the kiddos up for the Dolphin Experience. The information said - 20/25 minutes in water with dolphins- high fives, kisses, instructions and a dorsal pull. They were in a group of 6 and they were in the water for much longer than that. Probably close to an hour. They got to swim with Santini and Gypsy. When it was their turn for instructions - Samantha had them bob up and down out of the water and Riley chose to have a splash fight with them. They both loves the pull - the kiddos swam out a ways and both Dolphins came up behind them and the kiddos grabbed a hold of their dorsal fins and they were pulled around the lagoon that they were in.One of them also gave Samantha a gift - weeds they picked from the lagoon floor.
Aside from the fact that the kiddos got some really cool time with the Dolphins, we were pretty impressed with the facility overall. There were workers/volunteers were very interactive with all of the dolphins - there were people everywhere that were in uniform roaming around. And I know it sounds silly, because I know Dolphins are social animals - but these guys all seemed happy! They were very social and came right up to where we were, they would chatter with you if you made noises and they would turn where they had their eye on you and would watch you. Very fun because it was very interactive.
We got some great photos while there also - Riley had his GoPro on, they had my water camera in the lagoon with them, Roger was above them taking photos with my big camera and I was on another dock taking photos with my camera. And we bought a thumb drive with all of the professional pictures on it - my kiddos and some great dolphin shots!
When we got back to the resort, we had just a few minutes left at the lagoon for the 'toys', so both kiddos got another cool experience today - SUP! They both got to Stand Up Paddle board. Wasn't as hard as they thought it was going to be! They both thought it was pretty fun!
Sadly, time to head back to the room, shower and pack up to start the long journey home.