Thursday, December 27, 2001

Log Book: Key West Florida, USA

Key West Florida, USA - December, 2001
Snow Birds Like to Study Coral in the Winter

One of things homeschoolers can do with ease is to add travel to our school schedules. At the beginning of the year I look at what sort of topics we plan to explore during the school year, and then my student and I plan our field trips.

One of the subjects we have studied, in December and January in the past is coral reefs. Coral reefs in themselves can be fascinating, but think of the possibilities as far as travel goes! We have one of the best reefs in the world to study right here in the United States. The Florida Keys can be studied for one or two days or for an entire week (that depends on the level of snow in your area!) Our agenda included a glass bottom boat ride to view reef life, a dolphin encounter, a sunset and sunrise walk at the shore (there are no beaches, as it is all reef in the Florida keys).

We stayed at a place called Hawks Cay Resort (90 miles (145 km) south of Miami and 60 miles (98 km) north of Key West) on Duck Key. We chose this place because it was situated in the heart of the keys. It also offered the glass bottom boat rides and the dolphin encounter. It is also near the Florida Dolphin Research Center .

Hawks Cay offered a glass bottom boat ride out to view the reef. Before we went we determined what animals we might see on the reef at that time of year. Before we set out on the boat ride we made a check list of the animals and checked them off as we viewed them in their natural habitat.

The Dolphin Encounter at Hawks Cay helped us to learn about the Florida Keys’ sensitive Eco-system and marine life in an up-close encounter with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. There were three programs we chose from, one activity was an actual swim with the dolphins, but that was too scary for my student! We chose the dockside encounter where we got to meet the dolphins and interact with them.

Our sunset adventure(s) at the shore proved to be more interesting than our sunrise walks. At sunset we saw many crabs, jellyfish, pelicans and other creatures doing what they do on the reef at sunset. We drew pictures, took notes and photographs.

We also stopped at the The Dolphin Research Center (DRC). The Dolphin Research Center, is a not-for-profit education and research facility, home to a family of Atlantic bottle nose dolphins and California sea lions. They are located on Grassy Key. This facility was also very interesting.

The Heart Of The Florida Keys was an educational and good escape in the winter. When we returned home, we wrote a report did some more study on the things we saw and we grew our own coral!