Friday, 25 June 2010

Day 5: Final day of the Youth Summit, but still time for a dive

Hi all

Today is the last day of the Youth Summit. Unfortunately the plan had been for the last dive of the week to be at a underwater sea laboratory called the Aquarius .The Aquarius is run by NOAA and NURF.

Aquarius is in 60 feet of water and is protected, you can not drive a boat or fish within 5 hundred yards of Aquarius. You also have to have special permission to dive there. We had permission but mother nature would not cooperate. The waves were 6 feet, too high for the Youth divers. So we went to a very popular reef called Molasses Reef. Under normal circumstances this is a great dive, with visibility 70 to 80 feet , every kind of marine animal you could think of is there. Again Mother Nature was not as kind as this day. Molasses Reef the visibility was way down to 20, 25 feet. We made the best of it and dove. I went down in my diving bubble and Ken Stewart filmed some video footage. I will add it too my blog later.

After the dive everyone had the afternoon off so they could get ready for the Banquet.
The Youth Summit always ends with a closing banquet so the youths can be presented with different awards.

Jessica Silk was awarded Female Diver of the Summit. Seen here with Ken Stewart, Dan Orr CEO of Divers Alert Network and Cathy Sakas of NOAA.
Martin Lampkin awarded Male Diver of the Summit with Ken Stewart, Dan Orr CEO and Cathy Sakas.
Evan Mann receives his Master Diver certification with Ken Stewart, Dan Orr CEO and Cathy Sakas.

Guess what, I got a certificate too, for being an outstanding marine Environmentalist.
Here I am receiving my certificate from Lisa
I did not expect that, I was speechless which is very unusual for me. We had quite an honor Dan Orr CEO of Divers Alert Network{DAN} was our guest speaker.
A group from Africa

During the week Ken was told there were a group of folk from South Africa , who where invited to the banquet, including a Representative of the South African Government {Ratanang Maremane}
Ratanang Maremane
There was a great excited buzz in the air. But eventually it was time for everyone to go off to bed ready for an early start back home. I had an amazing time at the youth summit and made lots of friends and they all looked after me. I must give a special thanks to Lisa who took great care over the last couple of days - you may have noticed Lisa in many of the pics of me.
The Youth Summit Banquet Group 2010

It will be sad to leave but I also must be on my way. Next stop for me and Sam is the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Bye for now, Ed

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Day 4: Coral reef diving, exploring an Indian village, alligator wrestling and airboat ride

Hi all

Another fun packed day of very different experiences; diving, a visit to a Miccosukee Indian village, alligator wrestling (luckily this was an activity we watched and did not have to participate in) and an airboat ride. Mario wrote a great blog that sums up the day perfectly. So just sit back and enjoy.

Mario's Blog
Today I started off heading toward Bache bay to scuba dive in the coral. It was about an hour ride out to our dive spot.
Due to the windy weather and turbulent winds we had to choose another spot. Bache had an average depth of 10-13 feet. The visibility was low but the dive was still enjoyable.
I dived about 29 minutes on my first dive, but the adventure didn’t stop there! We navigated our way to another dive spot called the shrimp boat. A nurse shark lived here but neither my friends or I was able to spot it. The surge continued its turbidity in this dive as well. The shrimp boat wreck could be found just off the anchor line of the boat. This dive was shortened because of the lack of remaining air in our tanks(we dived two areas with one tank). The coral reefs found in both of these areas were very colorful and abundant. To abstain from causing harm to the reefs I had to stay a good distance above the reefs.

The following photographs of undersea life were taken by the NAB Youth, I think they did a great job, Ed
Beautiful coral and sea fans
Brain coral
 More coral
 Sea fans

French angelfish
Two French angelfish
More corals
A small grouper lurking
Lobsters on the shrimp boat site

After diving and getting some lunch, we headed over to the Miccosukee village to learn about the heritage and history of the Miccosukee Indians.
Our tour of their village started off with our guide starting a fire the traditional Miccosukee way! We all sat around in a Chickee as our guide set up a pyramid of cut wood and our guide started a breeze to incite the embers.
It wasn’t long before we were being warmed, not only the growing fire but the passionate past and the current struggle of the Miccosukee Indians to remember to not only remember their ways but to pass it along for the centuries to come. Miccosukee women spent most of the village teaching the daughters and cooking the animals hunted by their husbands and the growing sons.
Miccosukee women with different things to sell
The Miccosukee people use sewing machines to sew fabric

Miccosukee hand made dolls
Me with Sam and Lisa by a beautiful totem pole

I was shown the unique way in which a canoe was crafted, if done right, it would last over 25 years.
Miccosukee canoe

A conch shell was wedged and driven into a tree until the tree split in half. Afterwards the center of the tree was burned to make it easier to carve.
It would usually take an average of six months to finish, but if done right, it was worth the time and effort. This same skill was set upon carving toys for the little boys and girls of the village; I was shown a toy boat and a training boy for young boys.

The girls of the village didn’t get off easy though! We were shown many patterns unique to the tribe. These were done by hand in the older times of the village. The triangles represented the water and there were bird designs as well. We were also shown the crops native to the land and the crops that were brought by the Spanish.
Me and Lisa

We finally made our way the alligator show. Here the alligator wrestler performed feats that defied logic and our wildest imaginations.
We were shown the ancient way in which the Miccosukee Indians captured the alligators and took them back to the village. The wrestler straddled the 250 lb. alligator and grabbed the mouth and placed it between his chin and chest, simulating a way to free the hands and tie up the alligator.
The wrestler also opened the jaws containing 80 teeth and placed his hand in the alligator’s mouth. He withdrew his hand with a split second to spare as the jaws snapped shut with a pressure so great, it’s thump was heard throughout the stadium. He continued to do this trick three more times! Finally the wrestler performed a trick called the face-off., meaning that if there was one false move the alligator would snap his face off,.
We all trembled on the edge of our seats in anticipation as the alligator wrestler placed his face and hand into the gaping jaws of the beast. The stadium erupted as the audience clapped and took pictures of the amazing feat.

Finally, my trip ended with an airboat ride.
Putting cotton wool balls in our ears

The boat was able to reach speeds of 35 mph! As we ripped through the water, glimpses of the beautiful view flashed through my eyes.
Thanks to the cotton balls in my ears, I was able suppress the sound of the boat.

As I headed home I reminisced on the fascinating memories I had made an the change that occurred within in me as I added to my knowledge, but most of all my experiences and the wisdom it wold provide me in the future.

Wow, another amazing day and all the more enjoyable being with my new friends. I enjoyed the diving and seeing all the beautiful coral and fish. The visit to the Miccosukee was also very special. As you know I have also visited other Indian villages on my tour, in particular the Port Gamble S’klallam Tribal Reservation (Washington State) with friends Ron Hirshi and Fred the Monkey and also Taholah in the Quinault Indian Nation during my trip to the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The crocodile wrestling was fascinating but a bit scary. The airboat ride was amazing skimming over the water, I'm glad they gave us ear plugs because the airboats are really noisy.

Bye for now, a very tired Ed.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Day 3, Martime history, Gold and African-American history


Another early start and a busy day ahead. Today we are off to visit a marine heritage museum. As you know I am fascinated by maritime history. My home town back in Shoreham in the UK, has a lot of connections to maritime history. It has been a very important port town for hundreds of years. It has also been important as a ship building town, for hundreds of tears until recent history. Ships built here were for many uses such as trade, Man O War ships which fought in many famous sea battles and vessels that protected the south coast from pirates. These are some of the last vessels made in the town, back in the late 18.00's
So as you can imagine, I was really pleased to find out where today’s destination would be.

We departed Florida City for the 3 hour ride down to Key West , which I visited last time very quickly on my last day. (The Southern most point of the US.90 miles south of Key West is the island of Cuba). However this time I would get to visit the Mel Fisher Museum.
Mel Fisher was a treasure hunter who spent most of his adult life looking for the Spanish galleon Atocha. This is the most famous of a fleet of Spanish ships that sank in 1622 off the Florida Keys while carrying copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, jewels, jewelry and indigo from Spanish ports at Cartagena, Colombia.
Here I am with Lisa next to a replica of the Atocha.
Tim Runyon, Jerald Jones, Lisa and me with a cannon from the Atocha

Mel Fisher finally locates the ship in the nineteen eighties. He then establishes a museum to house some of the artifacts from the wreck.
A gold spoon from the Atocha. To date they have recovered almost four hundred million dollars in silver, gold, and other precious metals.

Mel Fisher divided the bounty up between the state of Florida and his investors. The rest is in the Museum.

He also started the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society, a not-for-profit organisation set up with the aim of accumulating and disseminating information; providing educational services to the public on maritime and colonial activity in the New World and preserving maritime culture resources.

I toured the museum with the NABS/YES and we also got to see what the public doesn't see. A behind the scenes tour of the Heritage Society with archaeologist Corey Malcom.
Corey showed me a page out of his daily log. He told us about how the artifacts are treated when they are recovered form the ocean floor.
This is the electrostatic process used to remove debris from artifacts. Metals like iron and copper take many years to remove the debris from them, precious metals like gold and silver only take a few days.

We left Mel Fisher and walked over to NOAA welcome center called Eco-Discovery center. I had been here before, but I did not tell anyone and enjoyed my second visit here too.
Me and Lisa (you may have noticed that Lisa has been giving me a lot of extra special care).
Jessica studying some fish

We toured the center then we went over to an African Cemetery located on Higgs Beach in KW. The cemetery has a story all by itself. We were very fortunate to have Ms Norma Jean Sawyer give us the history of the cemetery.
We left the cemetery and went shopping and we ended our evening at Mallory Square.

Some of my friends wrote up some of my blog entry for me, I hope you enjoy what they have written.

Chanel McFollins- Ed the Bear with Team Le-mon

Today was my third day with the NABS/YES program. Luckily, it was dry day because my fur takes long to dry! It was a beautiful day, the weather was great: strong winds, no rain, and mild temperatures. After eating breakfast, we started off on the journey to Key Largo, passing several other keys long the way, such as Key Conch, Key Torch, and Key Pigeon.
Our destination, the Mel Fisher Museum, was reached finally and we received a special behind the scenes tour from archaeologist Corey Malcolm.
He showed us the art of salvaging artifacts from the ocean on land, and how to carefully preserve them, and appreciate their value.
This process can take several years, for example, two cannons he believes may have been Christopher Columbus’ has taken nine years to completely clean. After presenting him with a certificate of appreciation, we continued on to the Eco Discovery Center where we ate delicious sandwiches and watched an interesting film showing how the ocean is not only valuable for its beauty and food, but also helps a young woman to mature with the environment.

We then went to the Memorial Ceremony on Higgs beach to learn and appreciate the African who were abducted and tried to be forced into slavery, but were saved ad brought to Florida for protection. It taught us to be grateful for their trials and tribulations, and make your life the best it can be. Next came shopping!! We were able to walk around and experience life on Key West before meeting at Hard Rock Café for dinner, which was yummy.
After eating, we needed to work off that food somehow… I sure did, so we walked around Mallory Square, browsing and listening to the talented musicians, while also viewing the Disney Wonder. What a great day! I can’t wait to hit the cave for some sleep.

Ashley Hilbert Yellow Group Le-moon

Hello everyone it’s Ed the bear here and today we took a long road trip on the bus down to the southern most point of Florida. We saw a lot of things while in the keys!

We first went to the Mel Fisher Museum we got a behind the seen tour and we also toured the actual museum.
More gold from the Atocha, this time a gold cup.
Gold bars
Here I am lifting a gold bar
Once we left there we had our tasty subs for lunch. We then headed over to a memorial sight for African Americans that were almost slaves but were intercepted before that occurred.
We learned a lot about Africa American history while there. Once we were done with that we went shopping in the keys everyone got some cool souvenirs to take home with them. We then eat at he Hard Rock Café. We also got cookies for desert while there. It general it was a very eventful and fun filled day. I really enjoyed my self!

Well to start it off, my name is Jeremiah, I’m with the lemon group and I’m blogging about what we did today (June 23,2010). Today I learned a little more about African-American history. One thing that stuck out to me was how the African-Americans were treated differently in Florida than in other parts of America during the 1900’s.
I learned that our ancestors were treated with care and giving shelter and hospitalized in Florida while in other states, we were being shipped to the United States to be slaves and treated harshly.

I also learned about shipwrecks. At first I was skeptical about shipwrecks and their importance in our history. Shipwrecks are like missing pieces of a puzzle. When we find them, we can connect them to a story that would make us have a better understanding of our history. I didn’t think that shipwrecks were interesting until today at the museum. What really got me interesting in shipwrecks were pirates and what they left for us to discover underwater. What really astonished me were the weapons and treasures left behind by pirates. A lot of pirate ships had large canons that varied sizes from eight feet to about eleven feet. Well I’m keeping this short and brief. Those were the main focuses of my interest today.

Wow what an amazing day. We did not get back to Florida City till well after midnight , so we were all very tired. Ed