A few days ago I put a message in a bottle on a crossing from Norman’s Cay in the Exumas to the Eleutheras.
Me with the message in a bottle I made.
I threw my bottle out to sea.
In less than a week, I received an email from a girl on a yacht. My message had been found!
Katie who found my message at Hawksbill Cay.
I released the message half way from Norman’s Cay to Eleuthera and it drifted 17 nautical miles to a beach at Hawksbill Cay. On the picture below the straight line is the course we took our boat on. The dotted line is where the bottle must have drifted. It was really cool to know that someone found my message. I’ll probably send out another message on one of our other crossings. I hope someone finds my next one too!
The reef rover is a miniature submarine that I made in the Bahamas. It is made of a small plastic bottle with a cap, flexible tubing, small rocks, waterproof tape, and caulking or modeling clay. You need a drill and water to test it in.
Cole with Reef Rover he made.
- Put enough rocks in the bottle to make it sink.
- Drill 2 holes in the cap for tubing.
- Cut a piece of tubing about twice the height of the bottle. Push it through one of the holes until it reaches the bottom of the bottle. Take the top half of the tubing, bend it down and tape it to the side of the bottle.
- Take about 4-5 feet of tubing and push it down the other hole about an inch.
Put your submarine in water. To make it sink, suck air through the tubing. To make it rise, blow into the tubing.
The same place where I tested my submersible was also the location of the Perry Institute for Marine Science on Lee Stocking Island. The labs are abandoned but we can still explore the site. We found the Reef Ranger on a runway at Perry Labs.
This is a real submarine called the Reef Ranger that we saw at Lee Stocking Island.
This is the Reef Ranger when it was working.
Perry Institute provided the underwater car for the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me.
The Checkered Puffer lives in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and Florida. It usually appears in shallow bays, inlets and protected inshore waters with sea grass beds. They usually rest on the bottom.
A Checkered Puffer we caught.
The Checkered Puffer fish usually isn’t on reefs. Most puffer fish have red eyes. The Checkered Puffer will inflate if disturbed. The Porcupine fish lives in the same areas and usually lurk near cave openings. They often peer out crevices where they can be closely observed. They have little black spots all over their body. It can change from a light color to a dark color. The porcupine fish will inflate if disturbed.
This is a Porcupine fish we saw snorkeling.
If they inflate, they have big spines that will stick out.
A sextant is a tool that can help you calculate your position. Our friend David brought a sextant to our boat and taught us how to use it. You use mirrors on movable arms to bring the sun down to the horizon to get your fix.
Our friend David from s/v Mist teaching us to use a sextant.
Here is me using the sextant. You use the colored filters to make the sun darker, otherwise it will blind you.
Me using the sextant.
When we were at the beach at Warderick Wells we saw the Hutia. They look like guinea pigs with a rats tail. The hutia are nocturnal and you can get a little close to them.
The hutias are vegetarians. Usually rodents become aggressive when they are living in crowded conditions. Bahama hutias can live close together without getting aggressive.
People used to think they were extinct but really they were alive. They are the only land mammals native to The Bahamas. Hutias are an endangered species and the reason they are endangered is because the Indians that used to live here ate them.
Their scientific name is Geocaptomys ingrahami.
The Exuma Iguanas are among the world’s most endangered lizards and are found nowhere else. They live on two islands in the Exumas. We went to the beach on Allen’s Cay and saw the iguanas. When we pulled up in our dinghy, a bunch of iguanas ran out of the trees towards us.
Iguanas on Allen’s Cay.
The iguanas look like dinosaurs and can live to be 80 years old. They can weigh up to 24 pounds.
Here is a picture of me on the beach with the iguanas.
Cole with the iguanas.
They can lay up to 10 eggs in the sand and hatchlings emerge from the nest after 80 days.
The Everglades is a vast area of swamps and marshes. There are a lot of hammocks. Hammocks are a group of trees that are home to many animals. There are 3 kinds of mangroves. A white, a black and a red. We saw all 3 of them. We also went on an air boat ride. They are powered by fans and go pretty fast.
Plume hunters used to come to the Everglades to shoot birds for their feathers to put on lady’s hats. They do not do it any more.
More than 30 different species of birds have been recorded here. There are bald eagles, osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, brown pelicans, egrets, herons and many other species.
The Everglades are from Lake Okeechobee to the southern tip of Florida. Florida gets lots of hurricanes that will destroy some of the Everglades.
We went to an alligator farm. That is where we took the air boat ride. We got to hold baby alligators. Luckily their mouth was taped shut. Its belly felt like a snake.
Cole holding a baby alligator.
Alligators in the Everglades.