Tag Archive: snorkeling


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Each day we have  new discoveries during our  yearly Baja Adventure to the Sea of Cortez and Magdalena Bay. Our Baja programs are offered each year late January through February.

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Today we snorkeled among 100’s of Golden Cow Nose Rays…..simply magnificent!

Capable of detecting the weak bioelectric fields of their prey such as benthic clams, these incredible cartilaginous fish are amazing to observe at such close range.  Related to the majestic spotted eagle rays, the golden cownose  rays  have a defensive spine at the base of their tale.

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There are those teachable moments be it in a traditional classroom or in an outdoor setting, that both student and teacher will never forget. On the final day of Coastal Kayak Explorer’s Camp we shared one of those moments.

Each summer Blue Water Ventures  based in Santa Cruz, CA  offers a variety of marine science camps. Kim Powell, owner of Blue Water Ventures leads our summer camps.  Kim has been conducting wilderness expeditions for students since 1985. She is a certified sea kayaking instructor through the American Canoe Association and Wilderness First Responder.  Kim loves sharing her knowledge of the marine world through a fun and informative approach. She has been the Director of Marine Science Camps in several  Caribbean locations in addition to Central California.

Here we go down under in Search of Sea Creatures.

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In 1988, I was traveling through southern Belize and visited the remote Mopan Mayan village of San Antonio. It was there that I was mistaken for a Duende, a forest dweller, trickster and dwarf. Duende lives deep in the jungle. He is thought to slumber in a forest cave and emerge during daylight hours to sheepishly observe humans. Two legged kinds be weary if the trickster appears near the sacred Ceiba tree. Perched among the buttressing roots, Duende may strum his guitar for you, an intoxicating ploy. It is highly recommended to respectively wave your four fingers but hide your thumb. Duende may wish to acquire your opposing appendages as he is missing his own. The forest dweller often wears a wide brimmed hat and stands a mere three feet tall which accounts for my mistaken identity.

Encouraged by the peace corp volunteer, my traveling companions Korinn Saker, Patty Smith and I threw together a skit for the Mayan Community. We chose a childhood favorite of mine that I fondly remember as “Little Nemo”. Concealed by a sheet, Korinn wrapped her arms around my waist becoming my arms, my arms were my legs and my head sported a wide brimmed hat. Voila, a tiny little creature had emerged on stage and sloppily performed such antics as brushing one’s teeth.

Korinn, unable to see my face kept missing the teeth and polishing the brow, an act which I alone found hilarious. After having my brows polished and my composure retrieved, I glanced out at the audience expecting cries for an encore. Instead, I was met by a solemn crowd. There was not a smile, snicker or unpolished eyebrow raised in an exclamation point among the 100 or so brows in the audience. I felt like shrinking, but that was part of the problem so I quickly took a bow and retreated behind the makeshift curtain. Tucked away in our hammocks that night, we were told by our host family that Little Nemo was thought to be a Duende. Ah…..it all made sense now as I instinctively checked in with my thumbs!

Kim Powell is owner, operator and head naturalist at Blue Water Ventures in Santa Cruz, CA. Offering naturalist-led field trips for students and adventurous vacations designed to be relaxing with an educational component for women. Kim has been organizing single and multiple day excursions to extraordinarily beautiful places since 1985

Sincerely, Kim of Blue Water Ventures

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Join Blue Water Ventures every february in Baja  as we explore the underwater world of  gray whales and other marine wonders.  We’ll seek eye to eye encounters with California gray whales, snorkel with sea lions and offer an opportunity to swim with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.

 

For centuries, California gray whales  have traveled 10,000 miles round trip between their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and their winter breeding/calving grounds in the Pacific lagoons of Baja. Traveling in small skiffs into Magdalena Bay, we will wait for the whales to approach us. Close encounters are a common occurrence and quite thrilling. Naturalist-led beach hikes and kayaking excursions through the mangroves of Magdalena Bay will also be offered. In the ruggedly beautiful Espiritu Santos Island in the Sea of Cortez we will kayak, snorkel, fish, hike and relax from our dramatically scenic beach camp. At both sites, we have the comfort and ease of boat supported base camps.


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As I pack up for our upcoming Baja Adventure, I reflect upon what an amazing year we had in 2011. There were so many outstanding highlights some captured in these photos. I have led trips to Caribbean Reefs for decades and was extreme tidepooling as a kid long before I coined the term. What fuels my soul are the people who join my Blue Water adventures.

Taking 10 year olds snorkeling with eye level views of sea otters or plunging into a Sierra stream is pure bliss, medicine for the soul. I’ve shared Elkhorn Slough with wonderful families who really care about the ecological wonders of one of California’s last wetlands.

My trips for women are more like adventures with great friends. I feel so lucky to have an amazing following of women, many who return for every adventure I throw their way. We have spent a day underground kayaking below the Belizean rain forest, snorkeled at night with bioluminescence draped over the reef, sailed the blue and thrown ourselves off granite rocks in the Sierras. Its been an unforgettable year of wildlife encounters……baby manatees, massive whale sharks, gray whales and tiny frogfish, all so awesome in their own right. Kayaking among the Humpback Whales of Santa Cruz last fall was a lifetime high point.

Funniest trip moment? Dr Ruth finding herself trapped in a broken elevator with a keg of beer, Florida Springs trip. The Ocala firefighters were on it!

I am faced with some personal challenges as I care for Mama Bear and juggle time spent with her and travel. My trips are healing during this challenging journey. I treasure each day I have with Bear. Having her in my life is truly a gift. On my Blue Water adventures, I am rejuvenated by sharing the wonders of the world with those who follow.

In 2011, I loss a dear friend, Jim Bitler who I dedicate this year to. Jim was one of the greatest naturalist and historians of modern times. Jim was an inspiration, friend and devoted partner who enriched my life and countless others.

I thank my Blue Water Ventures community for these memories and lessons I’ve learned from each of you along the way.

May the Wild-Life be with us in 2012!

Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator & Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: 831-459-8548
www.bluewaterventures.org
email: bluewaterventures@sbcglobal.net
108 Mason St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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Looking for a really unique experience for your students? During our adventurous field trip, we’ll slide off our sit on top kayaks to have an eye level experience with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Using goggles or a mask/snorkel, take a look at the kelp forest or choose to remain dry and simply glide over the forest canopy searching for sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and sea birds. Encompassing 5,322 square miles of ocean, our remarkable sanctuary supports one of the planet’s most biologically diverse marine ecosystems. The use of sit on top kayaks with the option to submerge into the water gives us an entirely different perspective on our ocean world.

This is a great fall field trip! In the spring, we’ll launch our closed deck boats searching the water for migrating California Gray Whales with their plump babies in tow.

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Join Blue Water Ventures as we travel the world teaching coral reef ecology in Belize, Baja, British Virgin Islands and beyond!

On our recent “scouting” trip to Oahu, we were just finishing up a kayak surf session off of Kailua Beach, when a Spanish Dancer stole the show! These flamboyant sea slugs are amazing swimmers that feed on toxic sponges. Their scientific name, Hexabranchus sanguineus literally means “six-gills blood-colored”. As a type of nudibranch, their gills are exposed on their dorsal side and they enjoy a hermaphroditic life style. Lurking within the velvety tissue of the Spanish Dancer lives The Emperor shrimp, Periclimenes imperator which earns its keep by cleaning the “naked gills” of this “nudibranch”.

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Join Blue Water Ventures every September as we explore the sea caves, rock gardens and rivers of the Mendocino Coast. Our next 2011 program is designed especially as a trip for women.

Using Sit-On-Top kayaks, we’ll paddle into caves, rock archways and over kelp beds as we look for local residents such as harbor seals and river otters. First time kayakers with a sense of adventure welcomed! Join us! You will not regret it!

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The key to successful kayak rescues for 8-10 year olds is making it FUN and having them feel comfortable with their gear…..jump on!
Blue Water Venture’s Marine Science and Kayaking Camp offered through Gateway School’s Summer Program, Santa Cruz CA

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Join Blue Water Venture’s Marine Science and Kayaking Camp based in Santa Cruz, California. During our daily educational adventures, we’ll explore the tidepools of Natural Bridges, hike among the elephant seals of Ano Nuevo, learn kayak rescue skills and enjoy a kayaking expedition to Elkhorn Slough. Our naturalist-led program includes a scavenger hunt through the touch tanks and aquarium of the Seymour Center, home to the stealthy Red Octupus!