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Snorkeling and Diving At Phil Foster PArk Blue Heron Bridge

Snorkeling Safe: Phil Foster Memorial Snorkel Trail

It is a place that diving enthusiasts travel from near and far to experience and it just so happens to be right in our backyard! Phil Foster Memorial Park Snorkel Trail is one of the most famous diving reefs in Florida and features two bridges thriving with life, shipwrecks, and even some underwater sculptures! Starfish, schools of colorful tropical fish, sea horses, and manatees are some of the creatures that can be seen while snorkeling the trail. When i was there last, i had the pleasure of seeing a spotted eagle ray flying swiftly through the water and then disappearing into the darkness under the fishing bridge. It was one of the largest eagle rays i had ever seen in person, with a wingspan well over 3 feet across. To help protect these animals and this environment for years to come, there are some things we must do when snorkeling and diving to ensure its conservation. These tips are very important, not only at Phil Foster Park, but everywhere!

  1. Tides: One of the most important things to be aware of while snorkeling and diving is changes in tide. Tides greatly affect visibility and current and can make it difficult for even the most experienced to see and swim. The best time to snorkel is within 2 hours before and up to the slack tide.
  2. Choose a Buddy: Like they say never to surf alone, the same applies to snorkeling! Conditions can change quickly, especially in Florida and accidents happen. This can make it dangerous when snorkeling or diving alone. Plus it is more fun to experience the trail with others!
  3. Do your Homework: For a safe and fun snorkeling adventure, you should always!…
  • Apply Sunscreen: Always wear sunscreen, especially on your back!
  • Research: Knowing what you’re going in to will make snorkeling or diving more enjoyable. Learn about the fish coral reefs, and ecosystems before your trip.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it is always okay to ask about conditions, visibility, or anything else!
  • Stay in Control: Be in control of your fins and buoyancy as kicking up sediment or reefs can decrease visibility and hurt the coral. Controlling buoyancy can help avoid disturbing the bottom.
  • Observe: Observe the natural habitats instead of trying to stimulate them to entertain yourself. Never touch, just observe!
  • Do Not Step: Try not to step unless you are on a sandy bottom and even then, be careful!
  • HAVE FUN!!!

Learn more about Lake Worth Lagoon at www.LWLI.com or to schedule a Snorkel Tour at Singer Island Outdoor Center, visit us at http://singerislandoutdoorcenter.com/snorkeling/snorkeling-tours/

Jim Abernethy: Conservationist & “Shark Whisperer”

You may have seen his footage on the popular Discovery Channel event “Shark Week” or somewhere on National Geographic, but Jim is much more than a marine life cinematographer. Considered one of the top shark behaviorists in the world, Jim Abernethy is often times called the “Shark Whisperer” for his pioneering of the cageless shark dive and the remarkable amount of in-water time he has accumulated with these large predatory animals. Jim’s primary focus on shark conservation arises from his decades-long interaction with these beautiful, and highly endangered, creatures. Abernethy is an award winning underwater photographer, filmmaker, author, business owner, public speaker and philanthropist who works relentlessly to change the perception of human interaction with sharks. Author, publisher, and photographer of the book “Sharks Up Close”, Jim’s work has been used as an educational tool for lobbyists, congress and the US Senate on the topic of shark finning and over fishing. Jim has been featured on many of the world’s top nature filmmakers and magazines such as IMAX, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channels popular event “Shark Week”. In fact, one of the films produced by Abernethy “This is Your Ocean: Sharks” was a winner of the 2012 New Port Beach film festival and 2011 Award Winner for Special Achievement in Environmental Filmmaking.

Abernethy also works with non-profit organizations and his efforts have resulted in the creation of WildlifeVOICE and Operation Blue Pride. Through each of these organizations, Jim works with veterans, children and those who are disabled by helping them experience and learn about the beauty of our oceans. WildlifeVOICE seeks to engage and educate youth, as well as physically challenged people, (Project Seahorse & Rising Tide) by introducing them to our oceans and inspiring them to become “ocean ambassadors.” The mission of Operation Blue Pride is to save both veterans and our ocean’s creatures through in-water activities, wildlife encounters, education, outreach and direct action. On top of his philanthropic efforts, Jim has been an instrumental advocate in getting the Blue Heron Bridge recognized as a marine sanctuary. His efforts have resulted in a massive amount of Diving and Snorkeling Tourism in the town of Riviera Beach. In 2008, Abernethy, in collaboration with Shawn Heinrichs, discovered the world’s largest aggregation of whale sharks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico . This helped an impoverished fishing village become a bustling area sustained by ecotourism.

Jim is an inspirational figure for shark & ocean conservation around the world and has worked diligently to ensure that these valuable natural resources remain in tact for future generations to come. Thank you Jim Abernethy for your astounding efforts in Palm Beach County and around the world!

Check out his video about the Amazing Creatures Under the Blue Heron Bridge above…

 

SIOC camp

Sign up for Summer Camp!

The Singer Island Outdoor Center, located in Phil Foster Park, will be hosting 2 weeks of their Summer Adventure Camp during the weeks of June 12th and June 19th.  Kids ages 6 – 14 will enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling while learning about the tides and marine life of our amazing waterways.

The Summer Adventure Camp began with the Jupiter Outdoor Center, which has been operating their summer camp program since 1998 and is the only American Camp Association Accredited aquatic camp in the area. The Singer Island location utilizes the same model and many of the beloved counselors from JOC’s camp will be on staff at SIOC.

The Singer Island Outdoor Center will provide staff to camper ratios that are appropriate for different age groups, goals for camp activities that are developmentally based, and first-aid, lifeguard, and CPR/AED trained staff available when campers are present.

“Not all camps operate out of an abundance of caution, so be sure to ask the right questions when enrolling your kids in a summer camp program.  Ask about staff to camper ratios, staff training or experience, what an average day at camp is like, and really anything else you would ask someone taking the lives of your children into their hands.  Safety and fun can go hand in hand, and should.” Commented Ryan Sullivan, Director of Operations

We asked former campers and their parents to share their experiences with us. One mom said: “My 10 year old daughter attended summer camp here and had an amazing week! She spent her days kayaking and paddle boarding around Peanut Island. Every day she came home with stories of the sea life she saw and the fun she had! The staff is incredible and I highly recommend them for camp or just daily recreation!” A camper from Arkansas who attended SIOC’s Summer Adventure Camp while visiting her grandmother here made memories she’ll never forget: “It was a great experience and so much fun. I got to see and learn about a lot of Florida sea life and water activities that I would never have been able to experience otherwise. The staff was really nice and I met a lot of friends to share the experience with.”

Registration is now open for the Singer Island Outdoor Center’s Summer Adventure Camp. Call us at 561-460-3048 for more information.

About the Singer Island Outdoor Center

Located at beautiful Phil Foster Park at the base of the Blue Heron Bridge, the Singer Island Outdoor Center boasts quality and easy to use kayaks and paddleboards for rent, so you can explore Singer Island, Peanut Island, and the Lake Worth Lagoon with your family and friends. The SIOC staff prides themselves on ensuring everyone has a good overview of paddling techniques, safety instructions, and a trip plan so that you can explore the area with confidence and ease, no matter your experience level. The center also offers lessons with talented instructors who will give you an in depth formal training session and provide you with the tools you need to feel comfortable and confident on the water.  Even experienced paddlers can benefit from one of our lessons.

In addition to paddle activities, SIOC offers guided snorkeling tours right off of our beach. The 800 foot long snorkel trail is lined with 600 tons of artificial reef that is home to hundreds of species of tropical fish, octopi, eels, and more. Spotted eagle rays, starfish, and sea turtles are also commonly encountered. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned snorkeler, SIOC’s guides will help you have an amazing underwater adventure. Snorkel gear is provided, so don’t be shy, jump on in on one of our guided snorkeling tours! Kids are certainly welcome!  Check our event calendar for tour dates and times.

snorkel tour

My dreams of being a mermaid for a day come true

If you had told me a few months ago that my English degree would have me exploring reefs and swimming with fish I probably would have laughed. But that’s exactly what I got to do this week as part of my marketing internship with SIOC.

Throughout my first week on the job, I’ve been constantly learning new things about the place I’ve called home for over 20 years. Did you know a sea urchin’s closest relative is a starfish? I sure didn’t, but now I am prepared with this very important piece of trivia. As I sat behind my computer writing press releases and doing other things that marketing interns do, our knowledgeable manager and tour guide, Matt (he’s TripAdvisor famous; check it out!), was helping people plan their perfect kayaking trip or telling snorkelers about his favorite spots and pointing out the kinds of fish they might see. And I soaked it all in. I was gaining a whole new perspective on the world of Florida’s waterways.

When I was asked if I wanted to go on one of the snorkel tours to see what it was all about, I jumped at the chance. Any day I get to take my work outside the office and try something new is a good day, so I was humming tunes from Little Mermaid about flipping ones fins as I headed to the back to get out the snorkel gear. I hadn’t been snorkeling since I was about 10, so I was definitely in need of a refresher. Luckily, the other members of the tour were first time snorkelers, so I wasn’t the only fish out of water.

We got down to the beach and Matt showed us the trick of the backwards shuffle to get into the water with fins on. I was grateful there were other divers all doing the same thing, because I definitely felt a little ridiculous. Once I made it through the shock of cold that always comes with getting in the water past your torso though, those fins weren’t so clumsy anymore. There’s no description that quite captures what it feels like to dive under the water, gliding effortlessly, surrounded by the vast silence of blue. But it was magical. If you move just calmly enough, the fish will swim right up to you. I had a parrotfish brush against my fingers while several yellow grunts swam inquisitively up to my mask. Angelfish and sheepshead abounded. Under the water, the rest of the world disappears for a little while and you feel weightless, every movement graceful.

After we got back to the shop however, is when I discovered the greatest part of this whole experience and every millennial’s dream: Instagram worthy photos! Matt had been capturing photos and videos of the tour on his GoPro and was in the process of uploading them to Facebook for us. After all, what good is being a mermaid for a day if you can’t make all of your friends jealous?

lake worth lagoon

Lake Worth Lagoon

The Lake Worth Lagoon is teaming with life. There is an entire community that most people do not realize is swimming just under the busy waterways we drive over every day. I have had a chance to swim in this thriving ecosystem and find it to be enchanting. As I learn the role each type of fish plays in the reef structures found at Phil Foster Park and Peanut Island I begin to personify their jobs. This may seem senseless to some but they all have a niche in this world as do we.

Take for instance the filefish. It is a detritivore or in other words it eats dead coral and barnacles which provides room for new life to grow. There is also the sea star, crustaceans, and worms that help to clean up the reefs. These guys can be thought of as the sanitation workers. Then there is the coral which provides the protection to the fish. It is the home builder of a reef. Their structure creates terrain that can only be traversed by the smaller species.

There are so many roles that are portrayed by the fish of a reef. But the Lake Worth Lagoon community as a whole is a magnificent sight to me. I really enjoy leading snorkeling tours to show others how this unique symbiotic relationship has developed into a community teaming with life. If you haven’t snorkeled the Lake Worth Lagoon yet, come down to Phil Foster and take a swim along the snorkel trail. You will not regret it.

how tides work

How Tides Work

The Earth’s oceans are constantly going through changes. One change that is most noticeable are the tides. The tide changes are caused by the rotation of the earth and the gravitational pullhow the tides work from the moon and sun. The type of tide most of us are familiar with is known as a semi-diurnal tide meaning there are two high water cycles and two low water cycles each day. When the moon rotates around the earth its gravity pulls water towards it. The reason for the high tide opposite the moon is due to bathymetry. This means when water is forced in one direction it also travels in the opposite direction.

Because there are two main gravitational forces on the ocean, tides usually are not the same height each cycle. For instance, have you ever seen a solar eclipse? During an eclipse the sun and moon are pulling the oceans stronger in one direction causing the tide to be much higher than normal. This would limit the amount of water forced into high tide on the opposite side of the earth causing different water levels in a tide cycle.

The shifting of tides also form natural currents that pull and push water through intercostal waterways. This can be noticed on Lake Worth shortly after a low tide. The green brackish water from the rivers is forced back up the waterway and the clear blue ocean water fills up the lagoon. Knowing how the shifting tides affect our waterways is important for any recreational paddler or snorkeler. It allows us to anticipate when the water visibility, levels, and currents are going to work in our favor or hinder our progress.

Singer Island Outdoor Center Now Open at Phil Foster Park

Singer Island Outdoor Center Logo 2SIOC Building

RIVIERA BEACH, FL — Residents and visitors to Singer Island and the greater West Palm Beach area now have another outlet to get outside and enjoy the waterways that make the area so appealing in the first place.  The Singer Island Outdoor Center, in a partnership with Under the Bridge Watersports, Little Deeper Dive Charters, and Scuba Ventures Management has, been awarded the Park Concessionaire rights for Phil Foster Park, one of Palm Beach County’s public parks and a jewel for the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman that is part fish!   The new location will offer a plethora of activities including, kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling lessons, rentals and tours.  The new retail shop located at the Northernmost end of Phil Foster Park, will also boast a fully outfitted dive shop along with daily dive trips on Little Deeper, a seasoned dive boat with veteran dive professionals.  The amazing snorkeling and diving to be found under the Blue Heron Blvd bridge has already established Phil Foster Park as the go-to spot for divers, and now they have an official dive shop at their doorstep.  The park’s close proximity to Peanut Island also offers paddlers the chance to paddleboard or kayak very easily to the historic and beautiful island, while exploring the other sites throughout the northern end of the Lake Worth Lagoon.  If the Outdoor Center name sounds familiar, it is because the Singer Island Outdoor Center is the second location for it’s parent company, the Jupiter Outdoor Center located just 25 minutes north of the new location on the Jupiter Inlet.

Quote: “This was a very natural pairing of like-minded individuals, companies, and community resources, all coming together to really offer people in the area a safe and friendly one-stop-shop to experience the outdoors and marine life that abounds here!  So come out and paddle, snorkel, or SCUBA with us, and see what it is all about for yourselves!” – Ryan Sullivan, Director of Operations. Singer Island Outdoor Center.

The Singer Island Outdoor Center will be open for rentals and lessons open 7 days a week, 9:00am to 5:00pm and the retail shop, dive charters, and snorkeling tours are open 7 days a week, depending on the tides. For more information, you can call the Singer Island Outdoor Center at 561-839-5130, email them at singerislandoutdoorcenter@gmail.com or stop by Phil Foster Park located at 900 E Blue Heron Blvd, Riviera Beach, FL 33404.

About the Jupiter Outdoor Center

Founded in 1997, the Jupiter Outdoor Center provides quality outdoor adventures and a place to rent kayaks, paddleboards, and embark on guided eco-tours. Located at 1116 Love Street, Jupiter FL 33477, with its beach located directly across the waterway from the Jupiter Lighthouse, the Jupiter Outdoor Center is the perfect spot to launch a kayak, take a Stand Up Paddleboarding Lesson, enjoy a guided tour and even send your kids to camp. Contact the Jupiter Outdoor Center at 561-747-0063 or book your rentals and tours online at www.jupiteroutdoorcenter.com.