Jerry & Grover

Goliath groupers can be terrifying.

To be fair every animal on Earth (including humans) can be dangerous… especially humans. Anything with a mouth can bite, okei guys?

Goliath groupers can weigh up to 800 lbs and grow to over 8 ft long. These babes are protected and it is illegal to harvest them in Federal or State waters. It’s actually illegal to even lift them out of the water once they are big since they can crush themselves with their own weight (like most large fish\marine mammals). Goliaths can swallow sharks whole (google it) and they make a deep barking noise that has had me drop Bullet (what I affectionately call my GoPro) more than once.

But they are cute and have adorable bulldog faces. Don’t fight me on this.

There are two Goliaths I am particularly fond of in the lower keys.  Jody & Jessica Westbrooks of Livin’ the Keys Life (subscribe to their channel it is aaamazing) let me know that the locals call them Jerry & Grover ♥

Here is a shot of them from the boat:

Goliath groupers approaching boat

Jerry is very friendly.
Here he is saying hi to each member of the family:

Grover is much bigger and much more shy (the big fish always are, amirite?)

The first time I met these two it was a really bad weather day. Not sure how I convinced my dad to take us all the way out to the reef… #daddysgirl ♥

Rough chop, awful visibility, and the current was roaring… needless to say I was the only one in the water. I know, I know my mom tells me all the time… I’m a problem.

It’s never not been worth it.

Anyway, I am going up & down fighting all elements of nature – happily – and as I am heading into the boat I see two big brown masses hanging out underneath her.

My little heart drops for .5 seconds. If you couldn’t tell already from my first post I am 10/10 dramatic. But I bounce back faster than I fall so it’s fine.

So heart drops and I pop my head out of the water and yell for Bullet.

Most of my videos of Grover are me chasing him down and quickly giving up… because they only look slow and lethargic…

Can you tell how murky it was?

SIDE NOTE: did you catch this little piece of fire coral in the video? Rewatch. He stung me to high hell. He deserves his 5 min of fame. Does anyone else ALWAYS get hit by fire coral or just me?

They were both apprehensive the first day we met. Even Jerry kept a safe distance. However, every time after that he has been all up in my face & making my mom scream through her snorkel because she swears he wants to eat her toes. I’ve read they like crabs the most and I know they will swallow a fish whole while it struggles on a line… I should look into their affinity for toes.

big Goliath grouper swimming away

One of the more recent times we ran into the duo, Grover gave me another heart attack. I was swimming along minding my business when he barked from behind me. I promise I felt my brain rattle. We probably scared each other . I grabbed some air real quick and dove down again to catch this little video:

Forever avoiding me but Jerry is at a point where he begs for pets. He rubs up on our legs and fins and gets all up in our faces. It’s endearing… Friends and family we have taken do not initially agree.

I think that was roast beef one of my little cousin threw over the boat. He didn’t like it either. He needs a taste bud adjustment. I love roast beef.

Jerry is a total babe though so he is forgiven:

Goliath grouper face
Goliath grouper and yellow tail
adolescent Goliath grouper next to boat
Goliath grouper fish
goliath grouper swimming below
goliath grouper

Keep coming back and together we will vanquish all your preconceived notions about the “monsters” of the sea. Sharks, Goliath groupers… what do you guys want to see next?

Stay Fascinated.

My First Shark

Shark week is upon us. 

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& although I watch very little TV and am not a huge fan of Shark week (forgive me) … I will happily jump on the bandwagon – or dive into it.

Sharks are most likely my favorite animal. Don’t quote me on that.  I love alligators too… Don’t quote me on that either – I love all animals OKEIII. I remember my first time running into a shark in the wild (that I can recall anyway).

I was a tiny little thing, maybe 4 years old (don’t quote me on that either), in the middle of the ocean kicking away with my ranas (pata ranas… fins in Spanish… ranas for short) when someone yelled “shark!” & even though I sympathized with the shark in the movie “Jaws” (“he’s just hungry mommy” I would say through streaming tears), I was struck by fear… I still didn’t want to be dinner. That fear redirected me to the boat ..and COMPLETELY paralyzed me about 5 seconds later when suddenly something took hold of my little fin and pulled me backwards.

I thought I was dead.

Shark won.

Nicole dead.

Luckily, it was my dear old dad. He grabbed my fin, swung me around and pointed.

I will remember that hammerhead for the rest of my life.

It was enormous. His dorsal fin was as tall as I was. It moved so slowly, so gracefully towards us. I looked at my dad through my mask, his one arm wrapped around my torso held me in place. He pointed again to the shark. I was so grateful to my father in that moment.

PAUSE: Before I continue with the story you should know something about my father and I. We have quite the unspeakable bond, we understand each other… & I am telling you that so you understand that what my father did next… I knew he was going to do… and he knew how I was going to react…:

As this giant glided below us he grabbed the back of my bathing suit and pushed me towards it, (the shark was a good 10 – 15 ft under us so CHILL) and I used the momentum to dive down as far as my little sausage legs would take me. He pulled me back up by my tiny fin.

We watched the shark fade into the blue, it swam away with all my nonsensical fear.

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Haven’t seen a hammerhead in the wild since but here are some other sharkicle encounters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also proof that I am part shark:

 

 

 

Stay Fascinated

2.5 Seconds of Denver

My best friend moved away from Miami. Just typing that made my stomach hurt. She at one point or another fell in love with Denver, CO. So she and her boyfriend packed their bags sold their cars and took the plunge. I hate how much they are loving it.

Aaaanyway. It was her birthday and so me and another friend spent about two months slapping ourselves on the wrist for CONSTANTLY… C O N S T A N T L Y almost giving away the surprise… that we would be going to visit her! We arrived late Thursday night & intercepted her as she came home from bar hopping across the city.

We terrified her:

Excuse the unprofessionalism in the video, we were crazy excited.

Now let me be honest with everyone real quick… I am no party animal. I prefer day drinking and house parties to running around town. It’s a once a week at most occurrence for me. But anything for my friends…. I was ready for bed – but my girl pulled the “it’s my birthday” card and I obliged. (good karma)

The gang

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It was Denver … what did you want from me?

 

Day 1

Woke up and went to straight to Union Square, gorgeous:

We had a lit breakfast at Snooze.

And although I usually just say that

I am NOT just saying that.

We all agreed it would be awesome to work there. All the waiters clearly – not just got along – were friends. They were having fun. I promise you it made the already delicious food, taste better.

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Ignore me I know nothing about celebrities/pop culture/music (save Steve Irwin, Drake, Bad Bunny, & POUYA)…

 

 

Then we went for a light walk.

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JK it was a three-hour ordeal and our experience could easily merit an episode of I Shouldn’t Be Alive.

Okay no but we were expecting a casual stroll and got to walk through an uncovered trail through red hot sand…. through some of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. (Keep up I am 100% hot and cold like that all the time) Also when you are scoffing thinking it wasn’t that hot please keep in mind that you are hearing this from a cold-blooded human being that frequently falls asleep in gym saunas and didn’t bother to get her air conditioning fixed in the dead of summer when it broke for two weeks.

So yes, I am being A LITTLE dramatic… But only a little.

Released my weight in sweat.

Stopped to take pictures for the sake of stopping.

There were some cool flowers. The long ones are Spanish Bayonets. And those are not just regular dandelions… they are Hulk Dandelions… okay that’s a lie but it shouldn’t have to be… They are huge!

Puppy paws were burning. He had to be carried.

I tried to carry him for a bit but that lasted all of 10 minutes. Props to Robbie who carried for about an hour.

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My legs were shaking by this point.

I died and was sent to hell but they sent me back because I was too hot and it was disturbing the other demons.

 

Worth it.

We reached civilation. Hydrated, napped, showered and went out for another night of debauchery. Which started with…

FlOwEr ShOtS:

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They make your mouth feel like it’s full of minty \lemony pop rocks for all of one minute. And then you take a super sweet shot, because idk? … I’d be fine with just the flower.

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Day 2

We ate at home. They don’t have a cafetera (Cuban coffee maker… spanglish will be a thing here) and it hurt but we resolved with Starbucks.

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Then we went to a reservoir…  -_-

Look. I am going to be harsh here because I love the water. I love being in water and if this is 5 years in the future you probably think this post is super weird because WHERE THE FISH AT?! WHERE THE WAVES BE?! I will explain at the end.

BUT I’d be lying if I said the reservoir was in itself fun… there was a makeshift beach area with all of 3.6 inches of water roped off and that was the only place people were allowed to swim. Did I say people because I meant kids. Thousands of them packed in 2.3 inches of beach water space with an adult here and there. OH and 5 life guards every inch. It was awful. And the water was -67 degrees. Okay no but it was soooo cold and the atmosphere was sooooo hot that I am sure it exaggerated what we were feeling.

Worse was that every 30 minutes or so the lifeguards would start blowing their whistles which marked what one of them playfully called “Adult Swim.” Sounds good right? No kids just a bunch of sexy adults swimming sans children. Well you are wrong. No one is sexy at the reservoir. The water is too cold and the air too hot. There is no swimming during adult swim. Everyone has to get out of the water…  It’s just break time for lifeguards I guess… I don’t know we didn’t get a clear explanation.

Nonetheless, it was a great time. The reservoir was a fail but the friends made it awesome. There is no such thing as not having fun when you are with friends… and food… no particular order tbh.

We were all dead so no party tonight (jumps for joy on the inside)… Instead we had a birthday dinner at Texas de Brazil (jumps off a cliff from joy on the inside) and ate ourselves into a coma.

 

Day 3

We started the day with mimosas and guac. It was a good day.

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Nina’s mother came to town and we went to a Brewery for breakfast\brunch… Blue Moon Brewery. I got queso dip, a steak flat bread and a beermosa to make it breakfasty.

You- what’s a beermosa

Me – it’s in the name.

You – that was bitchy

Me – heres a pic!img_4846.png

… it is a mimosa made with beer.

So Nina’s little brother is an AMAZING rapper. And he coincidentally was in Denver for a (sold out) show. We did another round of flower shots and then joined him backstage for his concert. Absolutely phenomenal.

Reading this it probably seems like we were there forever but it really felt like 2.5 seconds. Time flies when you love everyone around you.

 

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Strange that my first blog post would be about my time spent on land instead of with water. But HEY when inspiration kicks in don’t fight it, right?

It’s taken me a long time to start this blog. Maybe I am so passionate about the ocean I can’t write my first post about it because if this is a huge flop (pun intended) it will be easier to handle if it isn’t because I was lackluster in writing about the love of my life… the ocean.

 

Stay tuned. Stay fascinated.

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