2011 Sea Camp Day 4
The bright hot sun light that tore through the marine layer yesterday at Sea World struggled today when the marine layer blanket arrived this morning with reinforcements. The moisture hung over our heads like the human body project and with much effort we took leave of our beds and lethargically shuffled to the outdoor common area that doubled as the mess hall. The pace of the first three days just north of the border was visible on each half closed eye and threatened to force each sea camper back to the comfort of their bucks. If not for the savory aroma emanating from the kitchens, there would be no hope of waking in time for the much anticipated boat trip.
Dobby, Kreature, and the rest of the Sea Camp house elves out did themselves again when baskets of Danish, fried egg and cheese English muffins, and potatoes appeared from no where as if summoned. Ravenous, we ate more than our fill and hoped that our gluttony wouldn’t cause us to charge the gunnels of the Sea Watch at the first swell the way our classmates did yesterday. (I am relieved to report that as of the time that I am writing this we haven’t had even the slightest shade of green color the faces of group A.) Once the gear bags were packed, team A shoehorned themselves into the familiar white and silver Sea Camp vans for the ten minute drive to the marina. Unlike previous years we weren’t limited to the typically monotonous offerings on San Diego radio thanks to the Sea Camp staff who generously (perhaps a bit selfishly) had burned CDs for each of the vans, so we where treated to the 1980s classic cold war song 99 Red Balloons and the boys favorite classic rock anthem We Are the Champions (I’m hoping that this will be applicable to the cross country teams in ten days) so we disembarked the crab and shark vans feeling like we could wrestle a shark with our bare hands.
As we emptied onto the dock, gear bag in hand, the gloom caused everyone to utilize the often neglected hood of our standard 8th grade issued navy blue Sea Camp hoodies and we hoped that it wouldn’t obscure the sea life that was promised us. At least there was no prospect of rain since a rainy two and a half hour boat trip one way to Mexico’s off shore islands would test even the most enthusiastic Sea Camper. For the second year in a row we where greeted by, Phil the senior adult male California Sea Lion, who has been adapted into the Sea Camp staff. Phil has meet Sea Camps voyagers on the boat the Sea Watch so frequently that he has been now allowed to present the safety first demonstration from the harbour waters, and with help from the lovely Brandon, who modeled what everyone will be wearing in New York this season (an neon bright life vest) showed how to exit the boat in case of emergency. Once all the prerequisites were completed, we were off to explore the big blue.
At first the only nautical excitement was a US naval submarine. In reality sightings of exotic naval vessels can be a bad omen since they tend to scare sea life away. We all did have a laugh through when one student inquired if this is how the United States now patrols the maritime border between the US and Mexico. Fortunate for us, common dolphins show uncommon disregard for submersibles and came to join us for part of our motor through the border waters. Other sea life to view was few and far between until we saw a mola mola who then called to his friends the blue whales. We were lucky enough to chase a dozen blues for half of an hour just of the Coronado coast. The largest animals to ever live on planet Earth were feeding, swimming, and just plain frolicking for us until we realized that we must put them to the stern if anyone was to snorkel.
Once we arrived at the four islands that compose the Coronado Islands we were treated to an unexpected sea life. We had a chance to see so many things that in my short five years of coming to Sea Camp, today was my favorite day of snorkeling. Are you ready for this? Everyone got to see Orange ochre sea stars, orange, purple ochre sea stars. Bat sea stars, knobby sea stars, sea hares, Purple sea urchins, red sea urchins, octopus, brittle stars, lighting welks, sea snails, chitons, sea lions, harbor seal, (take a breath) garibaldi, opal eye, senerita, kelp bass, sheep heads, blacksmith (blue), navanax, and Hermit crabs. What a snorkel! But wait, that wasn’t the best part! The most memorable event of the dive was when I, Mr. Framke, caught a horn shark by the tail and dragged it kicking and screaming to the surface for everyone to pet. True story honest. I have never seen out outside of an aquarium let alone touch or catch one. What a thrill.
To finish our stay at the islands, the students challenged each other to a contest of king/queen of the raft. The teams were simple, boys against girls and you would think that Kyle (both), Ian, Brandon, Jared, Fabian, and Dylan would have no problem in holding their ground against Emma, Maura, Hailey, Melissa, Jemma, and Audrey, but you’d be wrong. In another Sea Camp first, I haven’t seen such a convincing defeat in king of the raft as I witnessed today! Again you’ll have to watch the video to believe it. The undisputed Queen was defiantly Audrey who was Beast! She will, she will, rock you!
As soon as everyone got back on the boat and changed, they were treated to chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate. Once the anchor was aboard we set off for home and there were naps all round. Another exciting fast paced and exhausting day at Sea Camp is in the books.
Or so I thought.
Upon returning to camp, we learned that we were going to be the first group in Sea Camp history to go to the beach at night to watch the bio-luminescent red tide that has infected the shores around San Diego. At its height, the algae bloom when caught in breaking waves, will light up the ocean as if it were a pool with lights and you can see fish swimming in the back light. Unfortunate, there was too much ambient light coming from the city that was reflecting off of the clouds to see the fading red tide. We did get to see the bio-luminescent algae in the wet sand when you disturbed the sand by scuffing your feet. It looked like you were on the planet Pandora from the movie Avatar and the ground that you walked on would sparkle. Although we missed the this unique condition at its best, I am so grateful to Sea Camp for allowing us to experience an event that none of us have seen before.
Kirk and Kathy
Red Tide rolling into La Jolla