A Day in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

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Once a year, the Queen sets up a special weekend for me for my birthday. She books a hotel room for a weekend in Miami, where we cram in as much fun, South Beach, shopping, sushi, pizza and donuts as we can. This particular week happened to have my birthday and Father’s Day fall close to each other, so it was a double dose of what I just mentioned above. Thank you to my Queen for being so sweet. Best wife ever.

This time we decided that instead of fighting the weekend traffic to get to South Beach, we’d see if there was a public beach closer and try that….and we happened to stumble upon this cool little beach/town called “Lauderdale-By-The-Sea” which was only 15 miles from our hotel in Sunrise.

LBTS Map

Now to those in the know, it’s a quaint little quiet hamlet nestled in between Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. It’s well known to those on the East coast. But to those who aren’t local, it’s a blink and miss it kinda place. It has a real Fort Myers Beach feel to it with many many restaurants and shops lining both sides of the street.

It’s also known for a living coral reef just 100 yards from shore – which we didn’t find out about until after we left. :(

The red arrows show where the first and second reef are located.

LBTS Pier

We GPS’d a restaurant on the beach and made our way a few miles from our hotel to a nice sized parking lot right across the street from the beach. Plenty of parking spots were available and it’s $1.75 per hour. We dropped a $10 in the meter and made our way over.

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The sand is soft and brown, and the water – well, it’s beautiful and clear.

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I didn’t waste much time getting in the water either. It was sparkling and warm with visibility over 20 feet. I didn’t find any shells in the deeper waters, so I stayed close to shore and searched for minis in the surf ridges with my mask and snorkel, with the Queen staying close by doing her own shelling.

If you’re visiting the East coast beaches and are afraid to get into the water, searching for minis is great. Strap on your snorkel and mask and stay in the shallows, searching the ridges. You’ll find so many it will make your head spin.

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Like bubbles, nerites and marginellas.

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and murexes, worms and dwarf olives.

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…some baby’s ears and gaudys.

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and yes, you will find cones. I wasn’t even searching for Alphies and this guy just ended up in the sand in front of me.

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you’ll also find a boat load of shells that you may not even be able to identify!

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Like this one above. I’d never seen one of these before. Thanks to Karen V over on Facebook, it’s a Pyramidella dolobrata. Otherwise known as a Ringed Pyramid Shell. Pretty daggone cool.

You’ll also find amazing pieces of coral (which are still soaking in bleach as I type this).

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This really is a beautiful and quiet beach. It wasn’t packed at all, even as time passed. We soaked in plenty of sun (and got a little red in the process) and had a wonderful time together.

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As I mentioned, the coral reef of located just South of the pier, about 100 yards out. I’m kickin myself for not knowing this before hand. However, the next time we visit (and there will be a next time), we’re gonna be out there.

Put this one on your “must visit beach” list. You will not regret it.

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and a Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.

Shark Fishing and Swimmers

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So there’s been some scuttlebutt on the island as of late regarding fishing, shark fishing and swimmers/snorkelers. Now, I’m not privy to the graphic details of conversations, but I am aware of the gist of them. I won’t go into all of that right here, but I will give my opinion on the entire situation and leave it at that.

Let me first say that I love fishing. I grew up fishing. I still fish now and then. I support our fishermen and encourage them to fish. I enjoy sharks – thoroughly, actually. As a child I was obsessed with them. I could tell you anything about any species. If I could have had one in my bathtub as a pet, I would have. Now as an adult, I still love sharks. I still have a respectable knowledge of them. I don’t fear them necessarily, but I do respect them and their habitat.

The backstory:

About two weeks ago, my friend and I decided to go diving for shells. Our first choice didn’t look like a good spot that morning, so we decided to meet at Blind Pass. We’d snorkel the Sanibel side, move across the channel and hit the Captiva side all the way up North. We didn’t find much luck on the Sanibel side, so we moved to the Captiva side.

Within 3 minutes of hitting the water at the Captiva jetty (my friend 5 feet behind me), I came face to face with a Blacktip shark – literally an arm’s length away as I stood in 4 feet of water (see the pic below of the location – X marks the spot, even though this is an older picture and the jetty doesn’t quite look like that now). He was small, maybe 3, 3 ½” feet, but he startled me. I startled him as he darted away quickly. After catching my breath (haha) we dove down and within a few feet from us was a very large ray head. It was a good foot and a half chunk. This was what our shark friend was nibbling on. Disturbing, I know.

How many of you reading this have stood in that exact spot?

I know, right?

As we continued to dive North, we came across quite a bit of bait/chum. Fileted fish, fish heads, chunks of meat, you name it….and the two of us were clearly getting more and more angry as we moved along. At one point (and keep in mind it’s about 8-8:30am now), a fisherman clearly fishing for shark hopped in his kayak and headed out, passing us by no more than a few feet. We continued to dive and collect shells and on our way back I didn’t notice a line in the water. When I came up for air, the fisherman whistled at me and gave me an aggressive gesture to move away from his line….and he was camped about 15 feet from the jetty….a jetty area that’s absolutely crawling with swimming tourists, locals and children throughout the Summer months – and the water isn’t always crystal clear since the Okeechobee overflows. Emphasis on the words “swimming” and “children”.

Now as I mentioned previously, I fully support our fishermen. I just don’t support them fishing where people swim. I don’t support tossing unused bait in the water after a long night of shark fishing and I don’t support day fishing for shark where people swim. It’s asinine. This situation below is an example. Now picture a bunch of children to the left and five more fishermen on the right.

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There is an understanding on certain beaches locally. At Lighthouse Beach, fishermen gather near the pier. They don’t fish along the Western beach where the swimmers gather (as you can see below – no fishermen).

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This goes for Bowman Beach as well. Why this respect is not extended at Blind Pass/Turner Beach is beyond me. Common sense tells me that if someone is in the water swimming, don’t cast a line in the water. But some fishermen still do. Ok, maybe a 3 foot blacktip shark isn’t going to hurt much. Now replace that with a hungry 6 foot bull shark.

Sanibel Island is known for one thing – Shelling. It is the Mecca of the shelling world. It is not however, the shark fishing capital of the world. Sharks in a way are like dogs. If you leave out food in a certain area, they will eventually learn to feed there. Turner Beach is becoming that area.

Some are calling for a buffer zone – 200 yards from the Turner Beach jetty extending North there should be absolutely no fishing. I agree with that view.

I have heard, “But we were here first! If you see our poles in the water, go swim somewhere else!”

Nope. Read up a couple of paragraphs. Sanibel is known for shelling and swimming. That’s what people come here to do. So they were here first. Not you. You wanna fish over the bridge into the pass? Go ahead. No one is swimming there.

One day someone’s going to get bitten at Turner Beach. Perhaps, someone’s child.

At that point everything will change…but then it will be too late.