Lobster Traps By Dorothy Sprague 26 May 2016

Boat cleaning crew (photo by A. Ropp 2016).

Today was another day out of the water due to weather. The day began slowly, with copious amounts of coffee. We then broke up to clean the boat some more, as our initial conquest was truncated by the loss of sunlight. Around this time an opportunity arose to go to Soldier Key for an unspecified project. I chose to capitalize on this opportunity which turned out to be a lobster trap recovery mission. Guided by Joshua Marano and with the help of park intern Caleb and a crew chief Allyson Ropp, I made my wait out to Soldier Key. Our first obstacle was tying up the boat, as the former dock was a historical site in a state of disrepair and covered by bird droppings. We watched Josh creatively generate three points of contact for our boat using a series of high-level knots, and managed to secure the boat to the Key. With a secure mooring, we set off to locate the lobster traps!

Soldier Key is a bird nesting site and so vast quantities of the island were covered in bird droppings. The key is also covered with numerous types of archaeological sites, including prehistoric shell middens, historic shell middens, and twentieth century building remains. The key is the most northern key within park boundaries before reaching Cape Florida between Miami and South Beach. We sallied forth into the wild brush while carefully avoiding the small grenades that were being rained upon us by the unsettled island inhabitants. Thankfully Josh had been here previously and knew to ensure that the birds flew away in front of us, without scaring them, thus ensuring that we would avoid any direct hits and emerge unscathed. We quickly found the lobster traps which contained embedded concrete as a weight, making removal slightly more difficult. Having survived the perils of the journey in, we chose to cut straight across the Key, instead of venturing back the way we came. Needless to say, the trip back to the boat was much faster than our journey in. With our mission a success, we returned to Broad Key with our lunchboxes still full and enjoyed a victorious feast of crushed sandwiches and sun-warmed, tepid, water. After lunch we personally confirmed the existence of current by swimming in a protected area near the channel, experimenting with drifting from one swimming entry point to an exit point down-current. The day concluded as slowly as it began with pasta and meat sauce with home-made bread to sleep on.

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