Friday, January 2nd, 2009
I planned a special trip for just Gary, Mark and I to Cantarell to see the schooling eagle rays. I hired a friend of Carlos to drive the boat so that Carlos could come diving with us too. We dropped down to 50-feet that dropped off to 90-feet in about 7 minutes. We hung out for a while waiting for some eagle rays to go by. After about 10 more minutes everyone started getting bored, so we moved on. Then we found the schools of rays. The first group had about 5 or 6 large rays. There was a second group of six rays. Way out in the blue, I saw some more in the distance. As I approached them the group just got bigger and bigger. The group overhead had ten and the group just to the north and below had another five big animals. Mark was low on air and I had a headache so we headed up to the surface. I could tell that Gary didn't want to go up. Carlos waited for Gary patiently. :-)
Gary wanted a picture of a seahorse so we went to Paradise. I told Mark that the plan was to go down there and watch the other dive masters at work. When I found a dive master pointing out a seahorse, we would move right in J :-) That is exactly how it went down. There was some guy showing his group the baby seahorse and we swam right over for a looksy. We spent about a half an hour looking for our own seahorse but to no avail. After Mark went up I found a splendid toadfish for Gary and I succeeded in getting it out of the hole for him!
Saturday, January 3rd
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall by special request. My divers were Gary, Daniel, Mike, Xheila, Steve and Ellona. We had a bit of a current but it was a fun dive. A big nurse shark dashed around underneath us at 100 feet. We swam through tunnels and on the last safety stop a humungous spotted eagle ray swam by.
Dive two was on Cedral Wall in search of big critters. The small nurse sharks were in their usual hiding holes. We saw countless turtles, but the divers couldn't stop talking about the big loggerhead that was off on the wall. I saw Gary, Mike and Xheila take off towards the shallow water and I presumed it was after the big spotted eagle ray that I could just barely make out in the distance.
Sunday, January 4th
Denise, Lester, James, Candy, Debbie, Scott, Daniel and Gary came with me to Palancar Gardens. Someone on the boat asked me if we would see a turtle and I told them that the turtle was going to be on the second dive. We got to the bottom and I found a furry sea cucumber. Everyone took pictures of it. They are so soft and squishy. We also saw a big fire worm crawling along the bottom. At the very end of the dive we found a turtle. That was a nice surprise.
I took them to Colombia Shallow for the second dive in search of more turtles. We saw a couple of them including one small green turtle, which is uncommon. A small nurse shark was on the hunt with the school of greater amberjacks. I showed Gary a slipper lobster in a hole and we saw a few big crabs and normal lobsters too. Denise pointed out a southern stingray off in the sand.
Monday, January 5th
We decided to do two shallow easy dives this day beginning with Paradise. My divers were Denise, Lester, Scott, Candy and Kathy. Denise requested a hammerhead and a seahorse. Right after we got down a group of 8 or 9 greater amberjacks were hunting in a pack. They had to be at least 3-feet long and very aggressive. After they were gone, Denise requested my slate and asked it they were tunas. I told her no, that they were all hammerheads. It was really funny, but I guess you had to be there......... I searched for about 20-minutes for the seahorse before I just gave up. We did see a huge green moray eel, a lobster and a crab with immense claws. It was a great dive despite the fact that we didn't get to see a real hammerhead or a seahorse. Oh well!
I took them over to Tormentos for the second one. I found a huge snapper to distract Denise. As she was watching the snapper I hovered over her and attached a chicken bone to her regulator behind her head. She had no clue that I had done that. We stopped to look at a splendid toadfish. Later when we discovered an 80-pound black grouper under a ledge. I got behind Denise and wiggled the chicken bone at the big fish. The grouper was totally not interested. But Denise did get a heck of a laugh when she got back on the boat and Carlos showed her the chicken bone. We also saw a spotted moray eel swimming about.
Tuesday, January 6th
Tony came along and helped me with Mike, Rickey and Bob. The reason being is that Mike had an Open Water Referral and was doing his first Open Water training dive. Ricky and Bob are certified. So Tony took Rickey and Bob down the wall while I stayed up in 40-feet of water with Mike. They had chartered the boat privately just for them. I pointed out a big crab to Mike. It was hanging upside down under the reef. Rickey and Bob chose their very own cave and they saw a big spotted eagle ray on the safety stop. I swam off with Mike and we missed it completely. Boo-hoo.
Then I took them over to Colombia Shallow where we had idea conditions. I was surprised that we didn't see any turtles or nurse sharks and we were down there for an hour!
Wednesday, January 7th
Tony came with me again. He is a big help. We took Elizabeth, Todd, Gary, Mark, Will, Terra, Jim and Daniel diving on Palancar Horseshoe. A hawksbill turtle kind of swam through our group. Terra and Daniel took pictures. Elizabeth was kicking herself for leaving the camera on the boat.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. Todd snorkeled above us with his wife and Elizabeth's husband. The snorkelers saw a big spotted eagle ray and Todd got a good picture of it. Those of us that were diving saw lots of big groupers. One was bothering Terra. It kept swimming up to her. Tony and I thought that she must have had a piece of fish in her pocket. I showed them a splendid toadfish and at the very end of the dive we saw a 6-foot nurse shark swimming around.
Thursday, January 8th
Tony came and helped me again. I did a resort course for Joey, Penny and Boo. Greta was doing her first dive for certification. Kim and her boys came along just for fun. After completing the skills at Paradise we packed everyone up and took them out to Palancar for the first dive. It was a tad chaotic but everyone had a ton of fun. Greta lost a weight pouch from her new BC. During the dive we saw a southern stingray go by and Tony pointed out a humungous lobster.
For the second dive on Paradise, Greta had to wear a weight belt since she lost one of her weight pouches. We saw a big lobster and some tiny red and white shrimps. The Discover Scuba Diving participants described the experience as AWESOME!
Friday, January 9th
I dived Palancar Caves with Ursula, Greta, Mika, Kenny, Roger, Gary and Mark. We saw so many turtles that I lost count after seven! I swam right past the second turtle that was really big. Ursula had to point it out to me. The best turtle was the one that was hanging under a ledge making a meal of a sponge. We got to sit and observe it for a few minutes.
I took 'em over to San Francisco Wall, Gary's favorites spot. We saw lots of big black groupers on that dive. There was a big fearsome looking barracuda that got a little close for comfort. Right after signaling to Gary and Ursula that it was time for a safety stop, I spied a green moray eel with a grouper. I had been looking for Jaws for the last 30 minutes so I swam back down for a look. It wasn't Jaws but it did have a strange looking bump on its lower lip on the left side. I am not going to forget that detail and I will remember that profile when I see it again.
Saturday, January 10th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens again because that is where I like to take everyone on their first day of diving. The initial descent is shallow and easy and the divers are usually "WOWED" by the dive. Clark and Mike brought their wives on a cruise and while the boys dived, the wives snorkeled. David, Vernon and Brooke came over from Playa Del Carmen to start their open water certification. We didn't see any big critters but Brooke sure had fun exploring the canyons and wishing that he could go through the caves. I told him that I would take him through the caves the next day.
Dive two was at Paradise where we did lots of training exercises and saw a big spotted moray eel completely out in the open. There was a red and white banded cleaner shrimp eating all the dead scales off of the moray and cleaning him up. The moray seemed to be enjoying the process and paid no attention to us whatsoever.
Sunday, January 11th
Gary, Paul, Ursula, Michael, Annie, David, Vernon and Brook were my divers on Santa Rosa Wall. That dive site was by special request. We had absolutely perfect conditions but the only big critters that we saw were a bunch of huge black groupers. One was at a cleaning station with its mouth open.
San Francisco Wall was the next stop per Gary's request. We saw a bunch of groupers. I heard Paul through his regulator when he shouted, Alison, I turned my head to see a small hawksbill turtle cruising the top of the reef.
Monday, January 12th
Tony came along to help me while I completed some referral training dives for Kjerstin and Karianna. Tony took Gary, Annie, Michael, David and Jill on a normal dive at Palancar Gardens. On top of the reef we were approached by a huge spotted eagle ray. Gary took off like a bolt of lightening after it with the video camera. He was really stoked up. I pulled up about 100 feet of rope that had been caught on the reef. It had a couple of small buoys attached to the top of it and the bottom was wrapped around the coral. Carlos and Tony didn't want to take it out of the water because it had so much stuff growing on it. So they tied it to the back of the boat and drug it out to deeper water where it wouldn't create a hazard to boaters and was not on the reef.
Then we all went over to Colombia Shallow. We had a great dive, complete with 3 nurse sharks and a few turtles. Annie wanted to know what the sharks feel like but didn't work up the courage to try and pet one :-)
Tuesday, January 13th
It was a dark gray and cloudy morning. The seas were calm and flat. I took David, Christian, Kjerstin, Karianna, Annie and Michael to Palancar Bricks. We hung out on top of the reef and that is where we got to watch a big, graceful spotted eagle ray glide by. We watched for a few minutes as it slowly disappeared off into the distance. Then as we were hovering around a small hawksbill turtle we discovered that it was not alone. There was another small hawksbill turtle nearby. We had a very nice morning.
We went to San Francisco Wall by special request. I thought about Gary and how he would have loved the eagle ray and the going to San Francisco Wall again. The only big critter that we saw was a pretty little green turtle up on top of the reef.
Thursday, January 15th
Dive one was at Colombia Deep with Michael, Annie, David, Jill, Kjerstin, Karianna, Karin and Christian. We didn't see any large critters but we had beautiful conditions. Karin worked up the courage to swim through all of the caves.
Dive two was at Cedral Wall. Christian saw a swimming nurse shark and I found a big green moray eel where the small nurse sharks usually hide out. I stole a beautiful seashell from the octopus. We also saw a couple of turtles. Fun was had by all.
Saturday, January 17th
The waves were still pretty big when I took Annie, Michael and Bernardo out to Santa Rosa Wall in the morning. We had a magical dive. Swimming below us (we were at 80 feet) was a very large nurse shark. A lobster wiggled its antennas at Annie and me. I chanced upon a big green moray eel out swimming around. The eel disappeared into the reef and I darted into a cave. I came face to face with the green moray as she was lying on the sand with sunshine streaming down from a hole above. There were black groupers everywhere. It looked like breakfast time. They seemed to be hunting.
The waves got even bigger when we got in at Cedral Wall. We saw a couple of turtles munching happily away at some sponges. An angelfish kept stealing scraps from the turtle. Then I crossed everyone over to see the octopus. I poked around a bit and discovered that there were actually two octopi within about a foot of each other. A large spotted eagle ray glided by as we watched. Then I took everyone over to see the little nurse shark huddling in its favorite warm water hole. Later we saw another spotted eagle ray and few more turtles. Cedral Wall is always such a beautiful dive.
Sunday, January 18th
Since it was everyone's first dive of the week I took JF, Nathalie, JP, Stephanie, Kevin, Carmen and Austin to Palancar Gardens. At first everything was just grand. There was no current and we were happy and content. Then the cattle boats arrived and dropped tons of divers on top of us. There were groups in front of us, groups behind us, and to further complicate things I even encountered a group or two in the caves. Only once did we get mixed up with another group...but it was complicated. The good thing about all those other divers down there was that a particularly sharp-eyed dive master found a white pipefish in the sand that I had never seen before. I went slow and looked at all the little stuff like anemones.
To avoid the crowds we went to Cedral Wall for the next dive. We had a fantastic dive. We started off with a turtle feeding on a sponge with a couple of angelfish at its side. Then we looked at the octopus in his den. After the octopus, we found three nurse sharks. All were pretty small. Later, we saw another turtle and JF swam over and made friends with it.
Monday, January 19th
They wanted to go to a deep wall so I took J.F., Nathalie, J.P., Stephanie, Kevin, Carmen, Austin, Jose and Gary to Santa Rosa Wall. The boys went to 130 and I stayed at 70 feet with the women and children. We saw a medium-sized nurse shark swimming around with a grouper. We swam through caves and there seemed to be big black groupers everywhere. Gary and I hung out with a big male hawksbill for about 5 minutes. It was totally disinterested in our company.
I took them to Gary's favorite, San Francisco Wall. We saw a couple of southern stingrays and the current was pretty swift.
The third dive was at Chankanaab because I didn't feel like flying around in more current. We saw three different big crabs. J.F. showed us a lobster. As Kevin was just floating about, a midnight parrotfish popped out from under the reef and posed for his camera. I showed the guys an arrow crab and a brittle star. When only J.F. and I were finishing up the last gulps of air we came upon a small nurse shark, maybe 3 and a half feet long, under a small coral head.
Thursday, January 22nd
The wind had calmed and conditions were perfect at Punta Sur. I took J.F. Nathalie, Kevin, J.P. and Gary to the Devils Throat. Carlos dropped us off exactly where he should have and we went straight down and into the cave system. As we came up to the throat, I used the flashlight to show Nathalie where we were headed and she tried to swim out of the cave. She did not want to go into that little hole. I gave her a minute to collect herself and coaxed her down. She was so proud of herself when we popped out on the wall. I made a "goal" sign and she did too. It was a big deal for her. After checking out the cross and a lobster right above it, Kevin jigged when we jagged and went the wrong way. I left J.F. watching Nathalie and J.P. while I rounded up Kevin and Gary and brought them back to the rest of the group. That was an interesting moment. Then we crossed over to the more shallow reef and after taking photos of a turtle, we came upon a big long piece of fishing line caught on the reef. It took J.F. and I about 5 minutes to disentangle it and get it off the reef. That sent my computer into decompression. Oh well. It was worth it.
Carmen, Stephanie and Austin joined us for a dive on Colombia. We saw a big lobster and another turtle. Everyone hung out by the anchor and did a little reef monitoring project. We swam through my favorite cave. Nathalie swears that the cave was just as long as the Devil's Throat.
We did a third dive on Las Palmas. I showed them three different splendid toadfish. I convinced one of the toadfish to come out for the cameras. I woke up a rather large sleeping turtle and scared it off. We found a whole bunch of lobsters, maybe ten of them, all huddled together under a small coral head.
Friday, January 23rd
J.F. Nathalie, J.P. Stephanie, Kevin, Carmen and Austin came diving with me on Palancar Horseshoe. I stayed shallow with the women and children. The boys went deep and chased that school of Caribbean reef sharks down there. Kevin only saw one but J.F. said that he saw four or five. The smallest was 4-feet long and the biggest might have been 6 or more feet. I would much rather have been down there with the boys J :-) We also saw a turtle on that dive.
The girls were fed up with the current, so I took them all over to French Reef. We had a nice easy dive. It was almost like a night dive, since we saw a few lobsters, a couple of big crabs and a huge octopus out and about puffing up trying to look bigger than it really was.
We did our last dive on Paradise because I thought that Nathalie would enjoy a visit with Spike, the sail fin Blenny. It has been a while since I have gone over to bug him. Nathalie pointed to a hole in the bottom with what looked like smoke to her and she asked me what it was. I dug around in my pocket, pulled out my lure and dangled it in front of the hole. Out popped a splendid toadfish. It had stirred up the silt in its den and it looked "smokey". Nathalie pointed to a tiger's tail sea cucumber. I went over and tickled it as it retracted back into the reef.
Saturday, January 24th
This day started off just like any other ordinary day. I took J.F. Nathalie, J.P. Stephanie, Kevin, Carmen and Austin to Palancar Caves. We swam through some tunnels and saw a turtle. Same ol, ame ol.
I let Stephanie pick our second stop and she chose Dalila. That dive was fantastico! As soon as we arrived at the reef, Nathalie showed us a big lobster out for a stroll. It was not shy or skittish. Then we drifted over a turtle that J.F. discovered and made us all aware of his presence. Then as we drifted a few more feet, we cruised right over a sleeping nurse shark. Everyone stopped to take pictures and check it out. Then we found a second shark. As we were watching it just lay there, another larger one swam by us. Next, we saw yet another turtle and then one more sleeping nurse shark. While I was taking Stephanie and J.P. up toward the surface, Nathalie discovered a big octopus in its den surrounded by an impressive pile of seashells. OH! And I almost forgot that we saw a huge spotted eagle ray. We didn't approach it or make any noise so it sat still for a minute or two before it took off. What a dive!
Then I went back to the marina, dropped everyone off and picked up Bob and Kitty. Kitty was a bit unsure if she could clear her ears. I suggested that we start in 10 feet of water at Paradise. She agreed. A minute or two later she asked me if there was a place that we could go to that started shallow and that she could go deeper, maybe 80 feet if her ears cooperated. Well Palancar is the obvious choice. So I agreed to take them to 20 feet first and if all went well, deeper. Why not? They did a shore dive on their own the day before and found a huge seahorse. So they were refreshed and ready to go. We had a rather uneventful dive up until minute 52. We saw a small golden tail eel and a turtle. Kitty was having a good time, I could tell. Then at 52 minutes she gave me the up sign. I didn't hesitate for a second. I was cold and more than ready to get on the boat. One minute into the safety stop she just didn't look right so I asked her if she was OK. She answered by writing on her slate, Short of breath. We finished the safety stop and we got her on the boat. When Carlos didn't come back for Bob and I, I began to worry. So I called out to Carlos and he answered, Get on the boat fast!. I asked Bob to move over and let me up the ladder. I tried to analyze Kitty's problem and determine the gravity of the situation. Carlos got Bob on board. As soon as Bob was on board I got out the oxygen and she very willingly took the mask. She was coughing and said that it felt like there was water in her lungs. She was able to breathe in and out but she was coughing up stuff. She was able to talk so we just raced back to the marina as fast as we could. While Bob held her in his arms and she breathed oxygen I got on the phone and called the hyper baric chamber and asked them to call the doctor and get him to come in. I also called my new helper Orlando and asked him to be waiting in the marina for us to take Kitty to the chamber.
The doctor could not explain why there was fluid in her lungs but she most definitely did have a lot of fluid in her lungs. She had to stay in the hospital overnight for observation. The strangest things happen without explanation sometimes. Thank goodness that Kitty is just fine.
Sunday, January 25th
As is my tradition, I took Patti, Andrew, Rich, Elaine, Ron, Kathy and Tom to Palancar Gardens because it was the first day and we had to work the bugs out. After some minor equipment repairs on board we rolled in and had a good time. We saw a turtle off in the distance and the guys found a big crab. I was too lazy to swim back for a look.
I was in the mood for a little excitement so we went to Dalila. Tom took out his regulator and gave me a big smile when I showed him a splendid toadfish. He was so pleased that I felt compelled to go find him another one. The second one had a big arrow crab sharing its hiding hole. We saw two turtles and Elaine spotted the first nurse shark out swimming about. No one paid any attention to Elaine...so she was the only person who saw it. Then someone found a nurse shark lying on the bottom so the group swam back against the current to take pictures and check it out. I once again hung tight until they were done taking pictures. (Boy, I am getting lazy in my old age.) Had I swam back with them, I might have warmed up a bit. The water was 77 degrees according to both of my computers and also with Ron's computer.
Monday, January 26th
I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy, Elaine, Rich and Tom. We had wonderful conditions with hardly any current. We saw a small nurse shark right at the beginning of the dive. Later, Ron showed us a big nurse shark. He took off when everyone swam over to enjoy seeing it. We also saw a few small lobsters and a few large black groupers.
I decided that the conditions were so good that San Francisco Wall would make a nice second dive. We saw numerous southern stingrays, that were both swimming over the reef and also in the sand. I found a couple of spotted morays and spotlighted them with my dive light. My mask was fogging up most of the dive and I had to keep letting in water to rinse it and then blowing out the water. It was so irritating.
Tuesday, January 27th
It was a tad bit warmer this morning on Palancar Caves with Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy, Elaine, Rich, Bob and Tom. It was definitely a good turtle day. We saw a turtle at the surface as we waited for Carlos to position the boat for the entry of the divers. Then we saw a group of turtles throughout the dive. Once I was pointing upward at a turtle above us and next, Drew pointed at another one right over my head. There was almost no current and the dive was slow, easy and enjoyable.
I asked where everyone wanted to go. Someone picked Cedral Wall. We had a great time. We started off with a guy from the group in front of us chasing a turtle over to us that swam right at Drew. He had to back paddle to get out of the way. Then the dive master from the group in front of us pointed out a splendid toadfish and a juvenile spotted drum. I waited for his group to move on before I showed them to my divers.
Next, we proceeded to check in on the octopus. It was gone. All the seashells had been removed from his den and scattered around and there was no sign of the octopus. I wonder if a diver pulled out all of those seashells and tore down his house or if a predator had done that. Oh well, in any case, my octopus is now evicted and moved on.
Then I went over to the warm water holes where the small nurse sharks hide. I grabbed a hold of the side of the hole. I leaned over and tried to stick my head in the hole to look for a shark or a green moray eel. I was startled to death when a big head poked out of the hole and right in my face. It was a turtle and I had frightened the poor thing. I don't know who was more freaked out, me or the turtle. He kind of wiggled and made like he was going to take off but when he saw our school of humans surrounding him, so he wiggled back down in the hole. I thoroughly checked the hole. I also found one of the small nurse sharks in the hole. It was about 3-feet away from the turtle. Last but not least, as I was pointing out another turtle, Rich discovered a rather large nurse shark lounging in the sand. He made animated gestures to get our attention, but by the time we all headed over the big boy was swimming off away from us and over the wall.
Wednesday, January 28th
Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy, Elaine, Rich and Tom dived Colombia Deep with me. We once again had beautiful conditions with little or no current. Elaine made friends with a big turtle that her husband Rich pointed out to her. As I took everyone through the cave, Rich and Elaine had a photo session with the turtle. It was as if the turtle was frolicking and posing for Rich's camera. That turtle followed us for almost the entire remainder of the dive. As we were ending the dive we drifted over a 6-foot nurse shark. We chased a southern stingray in the sand.
We played a little trick on Patti at Colombia Shallow. Earlier in the year Patti lost her wedding ring on Colombia Shallow and we went back a day or two in a row to look for it. Kathy had bought a big, tacky diamond ring on a cruise and brought it along. I planted it on the reef. Look Patti! We found your ring! We compared it to Kathy's diamond and it was bigger. Then Patti swam over to show Elaine her beautiful new ring. All kidding aside, we had a ton of fun. Drew spotted the big stingray buried in the sand and I coaxed it out for his camera. We saw several small nurse sharks and a bunch of turtles. Maybe I counted four turtles on that dive. We also saw a big crab and a lobster.
Thursday, January 29th
The day started off wonderfully at Palancar Horseshoe. Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy, Elaine, Rich, Bob and Tom let me choose the reef and I wanted to go look for those little sharks down deep. I spent the first 15 minutes looking downward and when I saw one of them, I began to descend down to get a better look. When I arrived at 100 feet and the shark was still WAY far beneath me and I could hardly see it, I decided to just forget the mission. It was a 4-footer. I have been hoping to see one of the big ones that Chucho and J.F. told me about. I turned around to check and the only person who followed me down was Ron. He is an adventuresome spirit. We also saw a turtle on that same dive.
Elaine chose French Reef for the next dive. She said that it had a lot of color. We saw TONS of turtles on that dive. One sat very still eating a sponge while everyone with a camera had a go at it. There were several others but that turtle really stood out in my mind. I found the empty shell of a crab that had molted. Then I found a live crab plucking off pieces of the reef and shoving them in its mouth. We also saw a big lobster. I swam over and asked Bob to loan me his flashlight so that I could show Tom an adult phase spotted drum. Tom is interested in the more ornate, uncommon fish.
In the afternoon Chuck, Moni and Jason joined us for a dive on Palancar Gardens. We had a spectacular dive. Since it was afternoon and there were less divers out there, I think we just plain saw more. First we had an encounter with a turtle. Then I swam them through some tunnels. Emerging from a coral canyon we came face to face with a gi-normous spotted eagle ray. It was feeding on the bottom. As it swung around and came straight at us, Chuck tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out a second big spotted eagle ray in the deeper water. We also spent some quality time with another turtle. The guys told me when we were back on the boat that they saw a big green moray eel swimming around in one of the caves. I missed it completely.
Jason had requested a wall dive so I took them over to San Francisco Wall. On the way down I was facing the group when Moni started pointing wildly below and behind me. I turned around to discover a huge green moray eel stretched out in the sand. It looked like it had been hunting with the pair of groupers that I had just seen. The eel seemed a bit timid so I did not try to touch it or molest it in any way. After spending about 3 or 4 minutes with the eel, it seems to feel threatened and it came at me with its mouth open. It swam right at me in a menacing way and I quickly back paddled with my hands to back away from it. When I had distanced myself sufficiently from the eel, she turned around and found a hole to hide in. We still remained galking at her but with a little more reverence.
On the wall we had a head on encounter with another 8-foot spotted eagle ray. As it realized that we were on a collision course, it changed course and cut over to the shallows to avoid us. Jason followed for a good look! We ended the dive with another little turtle.
Friday, January 30th
We had a fun day on the boat with Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy, Elaine, Rich, Vitek, Paula and Leigh. Our first dive was on Palancar Gardens to give Patti and Paula's ears a chance at equalization. Both girls dropped like a rock and we had a lovely dive. Conditions were perfect and we found a large lobster and a crab.
Our second dive was on Cedral Pass. I scrubbed Nick's marker stone with a brush and we saw tons of barracudas. Some were enormous and close to us. We saw the smallest turtle that Vitek has ever seen and we also saw the biggest turtle that he has ever seen.
I did a third dive with Moni, Chuck, Jason, Carol, Deanna and Vitek on Palancar Caves. We swam through lots of tunnels and saw tons of turtles. While only Deanna, Vitek and I were still down, Carlos positioned the boat over us and revved the engine about 5 times loudly. That is the emergency recall signal. I called everyone up to find a black, ominous sky. We high tailed it back to the marina and it was a rough ride. Back in the Caleta Marina, we listened to the weather report and the harbor master closed the port to boats less than 50 feet long so we did not go out and do our last dive. The sea calmed down right afterward, but since the port was closed and we were already in the port, we just couldn't go out again. Oh well.
Saturday, January 31st
I had told everyone the day before to turn off the alarm clocks and sleep in since the port would be closed the next morning. When the port opened up at 7:15 I could not believe it! I called everyone on the phone, woke them all up to tell them to go to the marina at 9:00 am. My divers were Carol, Deanna, Vitek, Paula, Leigh and Gary. Wow! Was it cold! We did our first dive on Colombia Deep. We went south to get out of the big waves. We spent the entire surface interval huddled in the cabin with jackets on.
The second dive was at Colombia Shallow. Carlos dropped us off in the wrong place, but there were big southern stingrays everywhere. Guess we dropped in a mating party or something. The photographers had a field day with the stingrays. Then I crossed everyone over to the correct place and our photographers spent 5 minutes with a turtle dining on a sponge. Gary got some really good video of the meal. We stayed down for an hour and a half and until Paula's fingers and toes were blue.
Sunday, February 1st
It was warm and sunny and the sea was rather flat. I took Paula, Vitek, Leigh, Gary, Carol, Deanna, Ted and Jeannie to Palancar Horseshoe. We had very calm conditions underwater and the dive was nice and easy. We saw two different turtles. At the end of the dive, the photographers had a field day with a small nurse shark I discovered hiding under a big coral head in the shallow area. Deanna discovered an uncooperative little peacock flounder. It kept swimming away from her camera.
No one was cold when we got in at Tormentos. We had a very mild current and we drifted around looking for little stuff. We found some big banded cleaner shrimp and a juvenile spotted drum.
Monday, February 2nd
Paula, Vitek, Leigh, Gary, Carol, Deanna, Ted and Jeannie came with me to Santa Rosa Wall because we had a south wind and Palancar was choppy. We had a lovely dive. When Gary and Vitek went deep, Deanna and I saw a couple of big spotted eagle rays off in the distance. I took out my slate to write a note to Carol and a big black grouper thought that it was going to get fed. So it stayed up close in my face. I could hear Carol screaming through her regulator when I reached out and petted it. A big, lazy turtle posed for the cameras as it sat in cubbyhole. We swam through the big cave and went upward.
Gary loves San Francisco Wall so we dove that next. The small stuff that we found were a fire worm and a juvenile smooth trunk fish which looks like a little marble bouncing around. Gary discovered a pair of big octopi. One was completely out in the open and allowed everyone to photograph it. The other was well hidden in the den. It seemed that the big one was wooing the one in the den.
Ron, Kathy and Larry joined Carol, Deanna, Vitek and I for a resort course at Paradise. After the training session near shore we took Larry over to the reef. On the way I found a baby seahorse. Carol was so happy that she took out her regulator and kissed me on the cheek. That was not enough though. Then I had to go find her a splendid toadfish and get it out of the hole for her camera. She was absolutely ecstatic.
Tuesday, February 3rd
I expected the port to be closed due to the north wind. Unexpectedly, it opened up and I rushed to the marina. Carlos met me at the gas station and the boat broke down so I grabbed the Enigma II and took Paula, Vitek, Gary, David, Jacob and Jennifer diving on Colombia Deep to get away from the big waves. We saw a bunch of good stuff there, including the turtle with the funny domed shaped shell. There was another turtle before that, but I missed it. In fact, there were quite a few turtles and I can't remember exactly how many that we saw on that dive…..
Then I took 'em over to Colombia Shallow for the second dive in search of good dive conditions. We didn't see any big critters to speak of, but David got a spectacular shot of a flamingo tongue on a gorgonian.
That afternoon I took Ted, Jeannie, Vitek, Denis, Carol and Deanna to Palancar Caves. We saw literally countless turtles! That dive is one of Jeannie's favorites. Deanna pointed out a big spotted eagle ray down deep below us.
On Dalila, Vitek lagged behind the group taking pictures of a big sleeping nurse shark. We also found a second one, but it was only about 5 feet long. We also saw a bunch of lobsters, crabs and turtles. We actually came up when it was dark. First of all, we saw a big spotted eagle ray. Later we saw another smaller spotted eagle ray that circled around and made a second appearance. Vitek got a nice shot of the slipper lobster.
Wednesday, February 4th
Trying to stay out of the big waves, we went down to Colombia Pinnacles. It had been a while since I visited there. My divers were Ted, Jeannie, Carol, Deanna, Paula, V, Leigh and David. Everyone kind of did their own thing and we had a tranquil dive. We only saw one turtle and I was surprised that we didn't see more big animals at that particular spot.
It was Leigh's last day and she asked to go to Dalila. I tried to coax a few splendid toadfish out of their dens with my lure but none of them would take the bait. We saw several lobsters. Deanna showed Vitek a nurse shark and he took forever just sitting there and taking pictures. When we saw the second nurse shark, I told Deanna not to show V but it was too late. He parked and shot pictures until we couldn't see him anymore. We laughed and goofed around on the safety stop. When we got to the surface we could not stop laughing and no one wanted to get on the boat.
Thursday, February 5th
The north wind kept blowing and we went south to Palancar Bricks for our dive. My divers were Denis, Gary, V, Paula, Ted, Jeannie and David. Vitek and Gary went deep. Paula tried to follow them, but I stopped her at 80 feet. We saw a few turtles and that was about it.
Jeannie requested Colombia Shallow. V found an interesting shrimp hiding inside of a corkscrew anemone. I pointed out a rather large lobster and we saw a southern stingray.
We went back to the marina to unload the empty tanks and load new tanks to take Ron, Kathy, Larry and Vitek to Chankanaab. V had been asking me to find him a mantis shrimp all week. He found one himself in the sand and waited for 15 minutes for it to come out of its hiding place. It just did not want to have its picture taken. Meanwhile, I entertained Kathy and Ron with a juvenile spotted drum.
Friday, February 6th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with V, Paula, Ted, Jeannie, Dave, Kelly, Dave and Tawni. We had a wonderful dive and swam through the archways. We saw a small, shy turtle that tried to hide from us.
Dive two was on San Francisco Wall per Vitek's request. We saw a majestic pair of spotted eagle rays on the top of the reef. The ray closest to me had a big conch shell in its mouth and the pair took off as soon as they got near to us. We also encountered a big turtle having lunch with a French angel and a queen angel. I showed V a spotted cleaner shrimp on a carpet anemone.
Saturday, February 7th
Vitek found his mantis shrimp! We were on Palancar Horseshoe and I was taking Art, Vicky, Amanda and Denis up when V discovered his shrimp in a hole near Martin's cross. Paula and Gary stayed with V while I took the other divers up. We had seen a big turtle and a baby turtle but I could not find the Caribbean Reef sharks. I went back down and got to play with the shrimp a little. I have a small lure on a piece of fishing line and I dangled it in front of the shrimp. He quickly snatched it up and tried to drag it back into his den. I pulled it out and dangled it again and out he came trying to get at some breakfast. It was like playing a video game. Then I passed the lure over to Paula so she could have a go at it.
We did our second tank on French Reef where V pointed out a pair of lobsters in a crevice. A really big lobster was out prancing about. At the end of the dive Gary and V took a video of a turtle. The turtle was so close it looked like it was going to push Gary out of its way.
Sunday, February 8th
Art, Vicky and Amanda came diving with me on Palancar Gardens. We swam through a bunch of caves. Coming out of the first set of caves, I bumped into "Buo" and he was looking at a small dead viper moray in the sand. That is the second one that I have seen in the last couple of months. How strange. What is killing these young viper morays? We also saw a couple of turtles much to Vicky's delight. One went to the surface, took a gulp of air and then swam back down again.
Vicky loves turtles so I promised them a turtle on Cedral Wall, money back guarantee. The first turtle was napping and it was wedged under a coral outcropping. The second turtle was cruising the bottom. Art was ecstatic when I found a good-sized nurse shark that swam around a little bit and then settled down nearby.
Monday, February 9th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Paula, Vitek, Gary, Denis and Pete. Pete was the dive master because he found everything on that dive. First, he showed us a lobster, then a small turtle. He also pointed out a big turtle.
We went to Punta Tunich for a change. We saw a ton of good critters on that dive too. The first turtle was a pretty little green turtle. Pete found a very large turtle. We also hung out with another hawksbill that was pigging out on a sponge. I frightened a small nurse shark that swam away from us. When Paula and I were making a safety stop I spied a huge spotted eagle ray over the wall but I was the only one who saw it. I showed Pete a big bristle worm and a juvenile spotted drum.
Tuesday, February 10th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Amy, J.T., Paula, Vitek and Gary. We searched for V's mantis shrimp and found it in a different hole. It was not as excited about the lure as it was the other day. We did get to see it a bit, but it would not come out of the hole. We saw a little turtle in 70-feet of water and Amy took a bunch of pictures of it. When only Gary, V and I were still down, Gary found a small nurse shark and Vitek bothered the poor creature.
Dive two was on Colombia Shallow. First we saw a small nurse shark and later I found three small nurse sharks all huddled together at a coral head. They took off when the cameras started flashing. Towards the end of the dive, I found a big nurse shark hiding under the reef. We saw a bunch of southern stingrays too.
Wednesday, February 11th
Paula, Vitek, Gary, Denis and Pete were my divers on Palancar Gardens. As we reached the bottom, I almost bumped into a squid. Vitek wanted a photo of it but it scooted away. We saw a little baby turtle at the beginning of the dive. I showed V a thorny oyster. He likes to take pictures of those kinds of things. The guys chased around a peacock flounder in the sand.
Ryan joined us for the second dive on Paso Del Cedral. We saw a small nurse shark in the hole where the green eel used to be. I showed Denis a juvenile smooth trunkfish. They are sooooo cute. Gary found a toadfish while we were hanging out with the shark. We followed another small turtle and later saw a large nurse shark swimming past. A huge barracuda was hovering over a cleaning station. It had two eight inch gashes in its body. I wondered what did that to him. Was it another barracuda or a boat propeller? The wounds were very large. It was having them cleaned out at the station.
Thursday, February 12th
I went to Bolones de Chankanaab with Pete, Amy and J.T. We found an uncooperative splendid toadfish. There were loads of big lobsters actually out on top of the reef. Pete was in front of a big coral mound when a green moray eel came out and almost swam around. When Pete pointed his camera at the eel it went back under the reef. It was so close to him that it was very exciting.
Carlos told me that the current down south had been strong and going the wrong way so I decided that another dive on Chankanaab (shallows this time) would be a good idea. Another dive master showed us a rather large octopus out in the open. When it felt threatened by our presence, it slowly made its way back to its den where another big octopus was hiding behind a pile of conch shells. It was very cool! We also stopped and took photos of the juvenile spotted drum. J.T. later found a mature spotted drum.
Saturday, February 14th
Pete requested Palancar Gardens and I thought that was a good choice for Andy and Tracy's stubborn ears. Gary didn't get a say in the matter. J.T. and Amy didn't care where we went. The current on Gardens was loco that morning. When we descended it was thankfully calm. But as soon as we got over the top of the reef, the current kicked in. To start with, the current was pushing us backward toward the shallow area over the top of the reef. Coming out of the first set of caves the current was reversed and headed southbound but quickly changed to a downward push. After the down current which by the way, was not strong, nor a problem, the current picked up speed and whisked us northbound as we would normally proceed. The big critters were seen after Amy, J.T., Alan and Tracy were back on board the boat. I showed Gary a big crab crawling around the bottom. Pete took a picture of a southern stingray and there were more of those in the sandy area.
The current was better over on French Reef. We descended upon a hawksbill turtle, but Pete missed the shot because he forgot to burp the wide-angle lens. He got three more chances at different turtles. The second one he corralled over to Tracy and Andy. I stumbled upon a 5-foot nurse shark resting on the leeward side of a coral structure. It was getting out of the current the same way that one would get behind a building to get out of the wind.
Sunday, February 15th
I had the same dive team as I did on Saturday. When I asked where they wanted to go Gary spoke up for Colombia Deep. Thankfully the current was kind when we first got in. During the dive it slowly picked up and was a little weird but nothing really difficult. The first turtle we was saw was a rather large hawksbill. It was down in a gully with about 5 or 6 angelfish feeding on something. We squeezed in and Pete got a good photo. Pete found the second turtle large green turtle. She was napping on top of the reef kind of clinging to the side of a coral head. Pete swam right up for a picture and the same green turtle swam off. The last turtle that we saw was when Gary and I were doing his safety stop. It was a hawksbill coming up from the deep for a gulp of air at the surface.
I picked Dalila for the second dive. There we saw tons of nurse sharks. The current was about 2-knots and the first three sharks were backed into protected areas on the reef to get out of the current. The last two sharks were at the end of the dive...when only Gary and I were still down. Both were swimming and they were fairly close to one another. We also saw a quite a few turtles on that dive.
I'm off to begin a new Divelog !!! Alison
Monday, February 16th
We had an amazing turtle experience on Palancar Bricks with Gary, Martha, Pete, Tim and Ericka. Right after we got down and we were skimming the top of the reef we encountered a turtle party. There was a small hawksbill and a big hawksbill kind of playing around together. There was a big green turtle right behind them too. I swear that green turtle was the same animal that we saw the day before at Colombia Deep. The hawksbills were swimming in little circles around each other and they approached us very closely. After the little one got bored and swam off we went over to check out that fancy green turtle with it's pristine shell. It sat around for a few minutes and then headed towards the big hawksbill. The big hawksbill responded by attacking the green turtle by nipping it in the head. When the green turtle tried to get away the big hawksbill followed it and started biting it on the rear. What a show! Pete took pictures of the whole thing. We also saw a huge lobster out strutting around. Gary tried to keep it from disappearing under the reef but did not win the chase. Pete pointed out a big crab on the bottom. When only Gary and I were still down we saw 2 more huge lobsters out walking around on top of the coral. That is so weird to see all those crustaceans out and about in the daylight hours. When I got back on the boat Ericka was mad at me because I had told her that since it was the first dive of the vacation she should leave her camera on the boat. Oops! I told her that if she had brought her camera we probably would have missed all that good stuff ?
Since the current was so calm I chose Cedral Wall for the next dive site. There is always some current there but since the current had been so wild in previous days I figured that this might be our only chance this week to get out there. I found a splendid toadfish in a hole and showed it to Martha. I forgot to tell her when we got back on the boat what that was and that it is endemic to Cozumel. When I found the green moray eel I went over and stole Gary's flashlight to show everyone the eel in the dark recess. I tried to get Ericka over to take a picture but her memory card was full! What a frustrating day for Ericka! We also saw a decent sized nurse shark swimming around. I chased it for a while and we found it feeding on something that we could not see. It shook and wiggled it's body with the head in a hole. We could see big clouds of sand coming out of it's gills as it sucked at lunch. It was a really cool dive.
Tuesday, February 17th
Oops! Dave, Mona, Martha, Gary and I had a screwed up dive. They had all gone to Palancar the day before so for a change I offered to take them to Punta Sur or Santa Rosa. I am not completely sure how we ended up on Punta Sur but Gary said that it was my idea. When we got to Punta Sur Carlos and I noted the current so I asked him to go drop me off where there was no current. Oops! I got in to check the current and sure enough there was no current at that moment. The bottom looked pretty far down but we were planning an 80 to 100 foot dive anyway so I figured it would be OK as long as we stayed on top of the reef. Well, the divers dropped straight down to the bottom which was 120 feet deep. I hovered around 60 to 80 for a while and finally gave in and joined them. The current kicked in and it was heading Southbound. The reef was north of us. Since the current was week I opted to swim against it. When the current got to be work I decided to turn around and head south and look for another reef. Gary kept swimming north. Dave entertained himself with a small turtle while Martha and I tried to get Gary's attention and get him to come back. We finally all wound up on the shore side of the reef and by then Dave was low on air. So as I took Dave up for a safety stop Gary started swimming towards shore. He claims that I told him to do that. I probably did because I remember pointing in a direction but by the time that I couldn't see them well I was irritated. I got Dave safely on the boat and I dropped back down to round up the group. I swam them over to the reef which is when Martha was at her NDL and Mona was low on air. So up we went. After the girls were on the boat I dropped back down again and followed Gary around a little. He got bored so we went up. That was not one of my best dives. Guess they can't all be perfect…………..
I wanted to make it up to Mona and Dave since they had precious few dives this week in Cozumel. I took them to Colombia Shallow for the second tank. Dave stayed down an hour and the rest of us stayed down an hour and a half. We saw TONS of stuff including a couple of turtles, a nurse shark that hung out with us for a while and a spotted eagle ray. We saw lots of little critters as well like flamingo tongues, Christmas tree worms, arrow crabs, yellow stingrays, a southern stingray, queen and horse conches. After that nice dive I think that all was forgiven from the first dive.
Wednesday, February 18th
I had an exciting morning on San Francisco Wall with Neil, Mary, Dave, Gary, Ericka and Tim. As we began our decent it became apparent that the current was gently carrying us out to sea away from the wall. Meanwhile Neil had trouble getting down and Dave's inflator button got stuck in the inflate position! Dave shot right to the surface and I was there waiting for him with Neil. I had to get back down to the other 4 divers on the bottom so I just sent the boys to get on the boat. I felt bad about it but I just didn't see any other options. Once we were down things were pretty calm and we saw a goldentail moray eel and a big turtle.
I wanted something really easy for the second dive so I picked Chankanaab. Usually there is no current or very mild, light current there. It was a very popular site that morning and there were other dive boats with the same idea as mine there. Surprisingly the current was a bit strong as we arrived on the bottom and continued to speed up through out the dive. The whole dive was a challenge. We did stop and take pictures of the juvenile spotted drum. Dave found a humungous lobster for us. Gary lost his mask and a dive sock at the surface. He was juggling a bunch of stuff and dropped the mask. He was a little irritated when he got back on the boat……….
Thursday, February 19th
The current was mucho better on Palancar Gardens. My divers were Gary, Martha, Alan, Bruce and Dave. I showed the guys a brittle star and the field of yellow headed jawfish that stand out against the red algae growing on the bottom. Up on top of the reef two large lobsters did battle and chased each other around.
The second dive was on French reef. A small hawksbill swam right up to Martha's camera. Dave discovered a big nurse shark resting in a dark recess under the reef and he pointed it out to all of us. We also saw another dinner sized lobster.
Friday, February 20th
Martha, John, Dave, Neil, Mary, Tim, Ericka and Andy came with me to Palancar Caves. We had ideal conditions on that dive and we saw a few turtles. Dave showed us a southern stingray swimming over the reef and then it took off into the blue.
Since the current was almost non-existent on Caves I picked Dalila for the second tank. There was a good current going on there. But it paid off. We saw 4 or 5 splendid toadfish, 3 nurse sharks and a few turtles. Everyone came up happy from that dive.
Saturday, February 21st
My divers were Andy, Dave, Robert, Bruce, Callie and Vladimiro. I took them to Palancar Gardens. Although there were no big critters we enjoyed watching a school of blue tangs swarm and algae patch, consume the algae and move on. We saw a pair of stoplight parrotfish swim up high in the water column to release sperm and eggs and make new parrotfish. Several trumpet fish were observed as well. Everyone was very happy because it was such a relaxing dive.
Andy selected the second site which turned out to be an excellent dive. We went to Colombia Shallow. We dropped in over a pair of 4 foot wide southern stingrays buried in the sand. One was disturbed by our arrival but the other remained still and everyone took photos. I pointed to a large turtle off in the distance but it was kind of far away. Then we came upon a 4 foot nurse shark which swam ahead of us for a while. As the divers were following the nurse shark a pair of big spotted eagle rays graced us with their company. After they departed we drifted over a medium sized hawksbill turtle feeding on the bottom. We saw several big lobsters on that dive as well. Callie was enthralled by some pretty orange crinoids.
Monday, February 23rd
The current was gently pushing Angela, Thomas, Gary, Mike, John, Andy and I out to sea on Palancar Gardens that morning. Once we got down over the drop off we could hardly feel the current. Angela and I were observing the small sponges that have come back since Wilma hit in 2005. I showed her a crab in a hole and she made a signal for eating. I don't know if the crab was eating or if Angela wanted to eat the crab ?
Mike and John were in a hurry to get back to their cruise ship. Andy wanted a picture of a splendid toadfish and Angela was happy to go to Paradise. I found a couple of toadfish and Andy found one too but I couldn't get any of them out of the hole. We drifted past a huge barracuda. Andy took pictures of a yellow stingray and a flounder. We had a brief visit with Spike, my little sail fin blenny. The current was clipping along heading south that morning instead of north as usual.
Tuesday, February 24th
I had a boat full of divers that came on the Carnival Fantasy. Andy was our only land based diver that day. My boys from the cruise ship were Brien, Paul, Keith, Gene, Nicholas, Howard and Jeremy. Since two of the boys are only 13 years old I chose French Reef for the first dive. That is 60 feet or less and usually has good conditions. I think that it was Keith who pointed out the pair of lobsters sharing the same den. Andy saw a big crab and a green moray eel. I saw neither of them and was a little disappointed. I did see a turtle at the end of the dive.
We kept it easy on Yucab and the dive went much more smoothly. We were drifting along and I made Jeremy laugh when I reached out at a school of fish and they scattered. Then a big southern stingray glided by and delighted Jeremy.
Wednesday, February 25th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Gary, Steve, Jacque, Robbie and Barbara. We had weird current that was pushing us out to sea but thankfully it was not very strong nor problematic. We saw a big turtle at the end of the dive and all was pretty peaceful.
Melinda and Wayne joined us for a dive on Colombia Shallow. Wayne had some trouble equalizing and only dived for about 10 minutes. Gary showed Barbara and I a big crab in a hole. Gary saw the biggest lobster that he has ever seen. I was busy keeping track of everyone and I missed it.
Thursday, February 26th
I brought Tony with me because Waylon was working on Open Water training dives # 1 and #2. I worked with Waylon one on one while Tony took Blair, Maica, Bob, Gary and Andy on a normal dive at Palancar Horseshoe. After everyone else was back on the boat Gary found a small nurse shark. I know that we are not supposed to molest the wildlife but Gary and I just could not resist petting the little guy. Gary and I also played with a squishy furry seacucumber.
I took 'em over to Colombia Shallow for the second tank. It was Andy that kept finding all of the turtles. He showed me 3 turtles. I found a spotted drum and Tony found another one. There were lobsters abound and the certified divers saw a southern stingray when they first got in. On the ride home Carlos stopped the boat and everyone got to snorkel with some passing dolphins. I think that was the highlight of the day!
Friday, February 27th
Andy, Andy, Kathy, Joel, Theresa, Don, Michael and I had a pow wow and decided to dive Colombia Deep but in the shallow area. Most of the action was at the end of the dive. I spied a turtle and called the group over for a look. Then I noticed a second turtle. I got excited when I realized that there were 3 turtles all hanging out together and socializing. The guys got right down there with their cameras and got pictures. Before the turtle show I guided everyone over to a huge lobster. When Andy and I were on our way up we found a huge turtle that was leaving some angels to ascend for a breath of air.
We saw 5 more turtles on Dalila. Each of them were just sitting on the bottom eating stuff. I think that it was Turtle Day.
Saturday, February 28th
I took Andy, Kathy, Blair, Waylon, Joel, Theresa and Michael to Palancar Gardens. I saw Jorge down below me and I swam over and gave him a big hug and a kiss. When we went through the first archway I looked down and found a snake eel. Blair showed me a free swimming golden tail moray on top of the reef. The current was a little hard to deal with.
For the second dive I took them over to Colombia Shallow for an easy dive. The first shark was small and it was swimming around being followed by a big black grouper. It was Andy that found the other sharks. They were all sleeping in hiding holes in the reef. One was big and one was just a little baby. We also saw an eagle ray swimming off in the distance. Someone pointed out a second eagle ray much closer and it was feeding on something. Both eagle rays must have had an 8 foot wingspan. They were just immense After we saw the second spotted eagle ray we bumped into a hungry little turtle munching away on lunch.
Sunday, March 1st
I got 2 dives in with Gary, Michael, Joel, Theresa and Julie before the north wind blew in. I was worried that it may come in while we were diving so I stayed right in front of their hotel Wyndham. I dived San Francisco Wall. The current was ripping and we had to work hard. We were rewarded with lots of baby peacock flounders and a big lobster.
The current was reversed on Yucab. Michael showed me a huge grouper hiding under an overhang on the reef. At the end of the dive I almost bumped into a fat 4 foot long barracuda. It was kind of ominous looking too………
Tuesday, March 3rd
It was a bit choppy but I took Joel, Theresa, Mike, Pat, Jason, Brian and Erin to Palancar Gardens. We had really nice diving conditions and the biggest critter that I saw down there was Jorge. I went over and gave him a big hug and kiss.
We did our second tank on Dalila which was wonderful. A big green moray eel swam around and then dodged under a coral overhang. When I poked my head under the overhang looking for the eel I discovered a small nurse shark hanging out. As everyone was looking at the nurse shark Theresa was swimming against the current to get back to a turtle that was sitting on the bottom about 100 feet away.
Thursday, March 5th
Dive one was on San Francisco Wall with Gary, John, Melissa, Eric, Kitty, Ryan and Nicola. We had a nice easy dive and I found a splendid toadfish in a hole. Ryan was excited about a huge snapper. It must have been a 50 or 60 pounder. A big spotted eagle ray was just on the edge of visibility out in the blue. It took off when it saw us and we saw it again later in the dive.
Dive two was on Yucab. We concentrated on the little stuff. I found another splendid toadfish and Melissa put her light on it. We could see it so much better than the first one.
Friday, March 6th
My divers on Horseshoe were Joanne, Sherri, Scott, Mike, Pat, Brian, Gary and Adon. We had very little current and Gary went deep again. At the beginning of the dive I bumped into a dinner sized lobster out for a stroll. After the first swim through I looked up to find a king crab hanging upside down on the reef. The first turtle was way off in the distance but everyone got a look. The second turtle was swimming down after going to the surface for a breath of air. We also saw a southern stingray on top of the reef.
Then I took them over to French Reef where Joanne pointed out a huge spotted eagle ray scooping up a conch shell in the sand. Gary chased after it and brought it back around to us again a few minutes later. Brian showed me a small turtle and it was very close. After everyone was already back on the boat Gary and I saw a 6 foot nurse shark swimming below us.
Saturday, March 7th
John was getting married that afternoon so we decided to do 2 dives close to his hotel to get him back early. The first dive was on the shipwreck with John, Eric, Kitty, Melanie, Dave, Eric, Amy and Robert. We had really nice conditions and everyone really enjoyed the dive.
They requested Paradise for the second dive. I had to get in and check the current several times before we decided to just dive in the middle of the reef and see where the current took us. It was totally funky. First we drifted southbound and then the current changed directions and we went northbound. We saw a big spotted eagle ray and a huge lobster. I found several crabs and there were some small eels on that dive too. Everyone commented on how relaxing it was.
Sunday, March 8th
I dived Palancar Caves with Niklas, Kris, Lyndsay, Maria, Mike, Gary and Adon. We had a special request to see a turtle and Gary found us a great one. We got right up close and everyone took pictures. Maria says that Caves is her favorite dive in Cozumel.
The second dive was on Dalila. I went looking for sharks. We found a few turtles, a couple of southern stingrays and Gary got a video of a free swimming green moray eel. The eel got into a tiff with a fish on the video before it swam off. After everyone else had gone up Gary and I found a small nurse shark. Adon got to see the shark from the surface so I consider it mission accomplished ?
Monday, March 9th
Mike, John, Gary, Adon, Kris, Maria, Lindsay and Nik were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe. We saw many turtles. I stopped at the cross to look for Vitek's mantis shrimp but didn't find it. The boys found a juvenile spotted drum and the all took pictures. Gary pointed out a southern stingray that took off for the deep water.
Cedral Wall was the second stop. First I showed them all a splendid toadfish. Then I found a small nurse shark in a hole but I didn't bother showing it to everyone because it was hard to see and there was significant current. I know that we saw at least 3 turtles on that dive but I don't remember exactly how many there were. We also saw a big barracuda.
Tuesday, March 10th
I had a nice, easy, uneventful dive on Palancar Gardens with Mom, Gary, Adon, Monte, Kris, Maria, Lindsay and Niklas. The most excitement that we had was watching the little yellow headed jawfish bob up and down and in and out of their holes on the bottom. We did see a couple of lobster but that was about it. We had a nice, relaxing dive.
Adon requested a big shark with a little seahorse riding on it's back for his last dive of the vacation. All he got to see were a few turtles and a couple of southern stingrays. After Adon was already on the boat Gary pointed out a rather large nurse shark going by underneath us. The shark had a 4 inch remora stuck to it's head. If Adon had been there I would have convinced him that it was a seahorse. Oh well. His computer made him go up early on that dive. It was beeping and telling him, "time up!"
Wednesday, March 11th
I took Ken, Anita, Gary, Trish, Gary and Mom to Colombia Deep. Everything was going well until we came out of the cave and I decided to take them over to see the anchor. We had to swim against the mild current and no one seemed interested in the anchor. We did really enjoy the turtle feasting on the bottom and the pretty swim throughs. Over all it was a great dive.
Anita's favorite is Colombia Shallow. I showed her 3 christmas tree worms together on a brain coral. I also found a flamingo tongue. We all huddled around a turtle and Gary took a video. We didn't see any nurse sharks and I thought that was a bit strange. The visibility was not up to snuff either. I think that with the south wind the water was a little stirred up.
Sunday, March 15th
John and Mike made a request to do Colombia Shallow since Lori, Laurie, Jamie and Maggie had not been diving for a couple of years. Scott brought his son Brian for his open water training dives so that was a good spot for Brian too. Scott took lots of pictures of the blue striped grunts. One of the girls went swimming away fast from the group. When I signaled to her to come back she made the shark sign so I raced over for a look. It was a big one too. John showed us an 8 foot spotted eagle ray. The current was a little wacky on that dive but it was cool.
We got in at the very end of Palancar Gardens but the current was swift so we ended up diving mostly French Reef. John and Mike are veteran advanced divers so they were the ones pointing out all of the turtles at that place.
Monday, March 16th
I dived the beginning of Palancar Gardens with Mike, John, Jamie, Maggie, Brian, Scott, Anne and Peggy. I was so grateful to have nice conditions and an easy dive. I pointed out an adult phase spotted drum and a lizardfish.
The girls wanted to go to the closest reef from the pier so we went to Dalila. The current was a bit swift but nothing difficult to deal with. We saw 3 different turtles. The first 2 turtles were hawksbill and the last one was a very small green turtle. I think those are my favorites. As the boys and I did the last safety stop one of them pointed out a humungous spotted eagle ray below us. I could not resist swimming over for a good look.
Tuesday, March 17th
Dive numero uno was on San Francisco Wall with Mike, John, Laurie, Lori, Jamie, Anne and Peggy. I scared the doo doo out of a turtle which took off down the wall. I have no idea what I did to the poor thing but it was totally freaked out. We had a bit of current but it was nice not to have to swim.
Wednesday, March 18th
Scott and Brian wanted to go through some caves. Kathy, Alan, Anne and Peggy were happy to do the swim throughs. Anne had heard that Colombia Deep was a beautiful dive so I took them through all my most spectacular tunnels there. Alan pointed out the first turtle that went to the surface and came back down. It was Kathy that showed me the turtle coming back down. Kathy pointed out a second turtle at the end of the dive that was on it's way back down from the surface as well.
We had a fabulous dive on Colombia Shallow. We got dropped off in the wrong place again and had to swim for about 15 minutes to get to the beginning of the reef. On the way to the reef we woke up a 4 foot nurse shark that had been hiding from divers. We also found a big, fat spotted moray on our way to the reef. Once we arrived on the reef we were greeted by a southern stingray just swimming along. Later in the dive a second southern stingray swam right up to Kathy. She and I had fun swimming through the schools of blue striped grunts. I showed her a scorpion fish. She showed me another turtle. It was Anne who found the big green moray eel hiding under a rock. We all swam back for a looksy. About an hour into the dive we came upon a rather large nurse shark swimming around on the hunt with several greater amberjacks. When I got back on the boat Peggy thanked me for such a wonderful dive and said that she would be happy to do that dive again every day!
Thursday, March 19th
I dived the very end of Palancar and the beginning of La Francesa with Mike, John, Maggie, Jamie, Kathy, Alan, Debra and Katrina. We couldn't have asked for better conditions. We enjoyed the unique coral formations and glided around observing lots of fish. Although we did not see any big critters it was a very scenic and enjoyable dive. Debra wanted a picture of a splendid toadfish but I couldn't get the stubborn little bugger out of it's hole.
The girls wanted to see a shark and I had a splendid toadfish up my sleeve on Cedral Wall. The little 3 foot nurse shark was right where it was supposed to be and so was the splendid toadfish. The bonus was my favorite sweet green moray eel in the shark feed spot. She let me pet her on her soft little head.
Friday, March 20th
Alan, Kathy, Mike, John, Laurie, Peggy and Anne all had a good time on Santa Rosa Wall. We started the dive off with a very large turtle dining on a breakfast of leathery sponge accompanied by the usual harem of angel fish. A splendid toadfish was half way out of it's hole. We went through the big swim throughs and came on up.
The last dive of the vacation for Anne, Peggy, Mike, John and Laurie was on Paso Del Cedral where we saw yet another big turtle pigging out. Alan and Kathy shared a juvenile spotted drum with us and a big lobster wiggled it's antennas at us. Kathy was a bit nervous when a large barracuda was in our path as we drifted along in the current. She moved over so as not to bump into it. The grand finale was when we finished the safety stop. I looked up to find 3 or 4 BIG marlins cruising by. After they were just on the brink of visibility Alan pointed out another marlin coming from behind. It made me wonder just how many there were that I didn't see…….
Saturday, March 21st
I let Kathy and Alan pick the reef. They chose Palancar Horseshoe. Joe had not been diving with me for 6 years so it didn't matter to him. Karin snorkeled over us while we dived. Alan highlighted a big crab for us with his flashlight. I found a turtle in a recess and as it swam away off into the blue I saw a huge silvery fish. The fish was pretty far away and I couldn't catch up to it. At first I thought that it might be a shark but the tail was not shaped like a shark. Then I wondered if it was another marlin. It was a little deep for a marlin. Maybe it was a cobia. It seemed to be at least 5 feet long. Hmmm
Kathy picked Tormentos reef for her 300th dive. She took photos of the pretty red and orange sponges. Mid dive I had an itch on my right eye so I took off my mask and rubbed my eye. When I put it back on again and blew all the water out I looked down to find a big octopus right below me. I pretty much screamed in my regulator and Kathy was right there. She got a picture of that too. Someone was asking me every day last week to show them an octopus and I kept telling them that they had to go on a night dive to see one. What luck, huh? That shouting at Kathy through the regulator trick worked so well that when a rather large hogfish swam by I launched a "KATHY" at full volume. She turned her head and that hogfish was in her face. She hears well underwater!
Sunday, March 22nd
It was raining when Kathy, Alan, Tim, James, Robert, Julia, Judy and Rich all got in the water at Palancar Gardens. There was absolutely no current at all. We saw a grand total of 5 turtles on that dive. I think that we saw so many turtles because Kathy left the camera on the boat. We also saw a dinosaur sized lobster out prancing around in about 80 feet of water below us.
The dive on San Francisco Wall was great! Rich and Judy found a big green moray eel. I found a juvenile spotted drum and we all hovered around it for a while.
I did a third dive on Las Palmas with Tracy, James, Robert and Julia. We saw a splendid toadfish, a lobster and an adult phase high hat. Those are very uncommon and quite beautiful like the juvenile spotted drums. We also saw a goldentail moray.
Monday, March 23rd
Ted and Ian came off of a cruise ship and they were kind of in a hurry to get back to the ship. Tracy, James, Judy, Rich, Julia and Robert didn't have much to say so I took them to Santa Rosa Wall because it is close and we would get Ted and Ian back to the ship sooner. The only really big thing that we saw on Santa Rosa was a few black groupers.
The second dive was Yucab and Tormentos. We saw a humungous lobster out in the open with another normal sized one close by in a hole. I pointed out a little goldentail eel too.
The third tank was on Chankanaab. James loved that dive because it was very, very relaxing. There was no current and we just puttered around a lot. We saw a gorgeous juvenile spotted drum and a big southern stingray.
Just before dusk Tracy, Orlando and I started on the divemaster training. We reviewed the rescue skills and started on the "stress test" where the boys have to swap mask, BCDs and fins while buddy breathing. Aack!
Tuesday, March 24th
Rich and Judy were pretty happy to get to go to Colombia Deep. James, Tracy, Robert, Julia and Bob didn't seem to care where they went. We had a very beautiful dive and I took them through my favorite swim throughs. We saw a couple of nice turtles and James saw a big nurse shark in a hole 20 feet below him.
Staying south we went to Colombia Shallow. Robert took lots of photos of the big schools of fish. I pointed out a big crab and a small lobster.
The next dive was on Paradise. I got a splendid toadfish all the way out of the hole for the divers. I came upon a loggerhead turtle under the reef. When I got close it didn't move at all. I got up close and looked at it's eye and that eye just didn't look right. I gave it a little jiggle and it didn't respond. I jiggled it a harder and that is when I started to think that it was dead. When I got back on the boat I told Carlos and we called the marine park boat. They came over and I went back down to show the guy where the turtle was but the turtle was gone. I felt so stupid. I guess it was asleep after all!
Wednesday, March 25th
Since there is a south wind coming I was trying to cover all of the southern reefs first. I took Tracy, James, Robert, Julia, Rich, Judy and Bob to Palancar Caves for the first dive of the day. We saw a gorgeous turtle way below us at 85 or 90 feet and it had a couple of pretty angels sharing its meal with it down there. Twice I pointed out some huge lobsters out strutting around on the reef. It is so weird to see them out like that during the day. It makes me wonder if it is mating season or something….
Sticking with the south plan I took them to French Reef where we saw a couple of turtles and we had good dive conditions underwater.
The last tank of the day was on a reef that is new to me…. Villa Blanca Wall. We had quite a bit of current. I found a pair of juvenile spotted drums flitting around a leathery sponge. We saw several big groupers and it was interesting to see those cables that feed the island with electricity underwater.
Thursday, March 26th
I only did 2 dives this day with Tracy, James, Cindy, Michael, Rich, Judy and Bob. The south wind was getting pretty bad but we were still able to get out to Palancar Horseshoe. We had a very beautiful dive. We saw a baby hawksbill turtle and a southern stingray out swimming around. Tracy saw a 6 foot green moray eel but I missed it. That bummed me out.
We went to one of James' favorite reefs for the second dive, Dalila. The first nurse shark was really big and impressive. It wouldn't sit still for the cameras though. We saw a second nurse shark that was not quite so big and it sat still for Rich's camera. Rich found a hungry turtle that just sat there eating a sponge with a pair of gray angels scavenging it's left overs. Up on the boat I told them that I had saved the best for last!
Friday, March 27th
We had very, very strong southeast wind so we did our first tank on San Francisco Wall. My divers were James, Tracy, Chris, Jenny, David and Bob. We had a fantastic dive! First we saw "Jaws" the green moray eel with the crooked mouth swimming around like a maniac. Then we saw a splendid toadfish in it's den. We also saw a bunch of groupers before we saw another big green moray in a crevice. There seemed to be southern stingrays everywhere. I was wondering if there was a stingray convention or something.
Then I took them over to Yucab. Jenny was the first to discover a big spotted eagle ray. We later saw another one that was eating a conch and you could see that it had a big one in it's mouth. We saw some lobsters too.
Saturday, March 28th
The southeast wind continued so I took Tracy, Chris, Annie and Michael to the shipwreck. There were some big waves when we came up but I imagine that anything south of there would be barely dive-able. We saw the world's biggest barracuda. I was really impressed. The school of sardines is coming back and there was a medium sized lobster living under the ship.
I was sick of the waves so I took them to Paradise. In southeast wind Paradise is pretty calm. We saw a splendid toadfish. They found out why it is called a "splendid" toadfish too. The Cozumel toadfish has beautiful yellow fins that run the length of it's body and frame it's face. I looked for Spike and couldn't find him. I am worried that I will never be seeing Spike again……………
Sunday, March 29th
Michael, Annie, Tracy, Carrie, Jim, Al and Melanie came with me to Palancar Gardens. We had calm seas finally and little current. After some minor problems I bumped into Jorge down there and gave him a smooch. We saw an extremely large turtle go to the surface and then come on back down again but it was off in the distance so we couldn't get a good look. There were schools of humans everywhere and I spent most of the dive trying to keep my divers together and navigating away from the other groups.
Al wanted to see a shark so I took them to Dalila. Upon reaching the bottom we were presented with an enormous spotted eagle ray munching up a conch. I did find one small shark for Al and when we were on our way up a turtle swam right at Melanie and I. It got all in my face and I told Mel that the only reason that it did that was because her camera was on the boat with a full memory card!
Monday, March 30th
I had 2 classes going on so I combined them. Tracy was working on his divemaster certification so I assigned him to Carrie and Jim who were working on their deep diver specialty certification. Tracy took them down to 100 feet on Palancar Horseshoe and did skills with them. I took Laurel, Don, Al and Mel on a shallow dive up at 40 to 60 feet. Well, that was the plan. Laurel and Don did go a bit deeper than planned but not more than 65 feet. Anyway, we saw lots of Echinoderms. The first was one of my favorites. It was a furry sea cucumber. The second were a bunch of sand dollars which Melanie took lots of pictures of…… The last was a tiger's tail sea cucumber that Tracy showed me.
Tim joined us at Colombia Shallow for the second dive. The only divers that saw that 8 foot spotted eagle ray were Al, Tracy and I. Then Al pointed out a small nurse shark swimming around and we saw a couple of turtles too. I had fun showing them the yellow headed jawfish that swim up out of their burrows and then hide again in the their little holes.
Tuesday, March 31st
Dive one was at Palancar Caves with Tracy, Laurel, Don, Al, Melanie, Michael and Annie. We saw tons of turtles including that big green turtle that I saw last month. I think that we saw 4 or 5 turtles in all. We swam through some caves and fun was had by all.
Dive two was on French Reef where we saw a lot more turtles and some seriously big black groupers. There must have been at least 8 or 9 different big groupers on that dive. After a while the divers were not impressed any more!
Wednesday, April Fools Day
I asked everyone where they wanted to go and someone answered, "Palancar Bricks". So I told Carlos to take me there. He said that it was going to be a long slow trip because there was a problem with one of the motors and it was not accelerating. So I shouted out, "Change of plans! We are going to Santa Rosa Wall!" Al and Mel had gotten some bad tacos the day before and neither was feeling in tip top condition. I was working on the Deep Diver Specialty for Carrie and Jim so I brought Tony along with me to split the group. I went down to 120 with Carrie, Jim and Michael. Tony stayed shallow with Tim, Annie, Al and Mel. I handed them colored pencils at depth and they wrote down what color they saw. They had some fun with that exercise. We saw a big, huge turtle off in the distance. I think the only diver that got a really good look at it was Al.
They wanted to see sharks so Annie suggested Dalila for the second tank. We went there but we didn't see any sharks. We didn't see any turtles, no green eels and no big stingrays. Boy, I really bombed out this day! :-( That's OK. Everyone still saw plenty of fish and we had a good time.
Thursday, April 2nd
We had strong south wind again and the starboard motor was still acting up. The mechanic was supposed to have fixed the problem the afternoon before but it obviously was not resolved. Al wanted to go to Palancar Bricks so Carlos tried to get the motor running properly to no avail. It bothered me to tell Al no, I wasn't good with going to Bricks in big waves and strong wind with an "iffy" motor. Since we were right in front of San Francisco Wall that is where we dived. Jim and Carrie were working on their Deep Diver Specialty and I brought Tony with me to care for Tim, Annie, Michael, Al and Melanie. I spent the first 15 minutes thinking of Gary since I was down at 130 feet on San Francisco Wall. That is HIS spot. When we came up to 40 feet I spent the whole rest of the dive looking for a shark for Al. We only got to see a turtle.
Al repeated his request for a shark so I opted for Cedral Wall. Annie spotted the first 6 footer as soon as we hit the bottom. After that we saw a big, old turtle and then we found another good sized nurse shark swimming. There were several more turtles including a small green turtle which is the less common type. Once we crossed over to Paso Del Cedral we found one more 5 foot nurse shark parked behind a coral head in the sand. That was the perfect photo op for Mel and Al. When we got back on the boat after that dive I had some very, very happy customers.
Friday, April 3rd
We had such a good dive on Cedral Wall the previous day that I asked everyone if they would like to go back. I went in with the goal of having everyone come out saying, "WOW!". I got it too J Mandi, John and Scott came in on the cruise ship and they had been diving in Belize the day before. Michael, Annie, Carrie, Jim and Tim were happy to go back and see some more turtles and sharks. They said that we saw more turtles on this dive then the day before. But we only saw one shark. The good thing is that the shark settled down on the bottom and let Mandi take it's picture. I showed them a green moray eel too. I borrowed everyone's camera one at a time to take a photo of the eel in the cave.
Yucab had more current than normal but everyone was already used to the drift so it was not a problem. We saw another turtle that Michael pointed out. It was amazing just how many big black groupers were around too. We chased after a big southern stingray and I hope that Mandi got a good shot of that. She said that her favorites were the queen angels though.
Saturday, April 4th
I took Tim, Doug, Michael, Annie and Panchito to Palancar Horseshoe. Hercules the big barracuda was back and hanging out in about 80 to 90 feet of water. We had perfect diving conditions and I pointed out a couple of big black coral formations to Panchito.
During the surface interval I said that I wanted to go somewhere easy and Michael said that it had to be Colombia Shallow so that is where we dived. Annie showed me a sweet little turtle napping while completely hidden under a small coral head. I took a picture of an extremely large barracuda. I think that the gang was worried that it might bite me. I found a southern stingray buried beneath a layer of stuff on the bottom and it was well hidden. I got a few photos of a spotted drum before the battery went dead on my camera.
Sunday, April 5th
The surface was choppy at Palancar Gardens but it was not bad underwater. We had a nice dive and a huge turtle followed Michael, Annie, Chris, Angie, Tim, Doug and I around for about 10 minutes. Tim liked the yellow headed jawfish that popped out of the holes on the bottom.
I wanted to get out of the waves so we went to Chankanaab. We saw one lobster and a huge barracuda. The dive was easy and uneventful which was very nice for me J
Monday, April 6th
The south wind let up long enough to take Karl, Brittany, Tim, Doug, Doug, Erin and Alex to Karl's favorite dive site, Palancar Caves. We had a lovely dive. We dropped down on a turtle and little Alex (11 yrs old) wrote on his slate: "I got to see a turtle!" That was one happy kid. We saw another turtle at the end of the dive but Alex was already back on the boat by then.
Tormentos was our second stop and I thought it was strange that we dropped down right on another turtle. Alex's dad Doug swam over and got a picture of it for Alex. We saw a few big black groupers and a couple of tiny goldentail eels.
Wednesday, April 8th
The surface was still choppy when I took David, David, Chris, Debbie, Tim and Craig to Palancar Bricks. We saw 9 turtles! I could not believe it. Turtles were just everywhere. Two of which were green turtles which are uncommon. I think that the reason that we saw so many turtles is because there were thousands of thimble jellyfish at the surface and the turtles eat them.
Tim asked to go where the eel is so I took them to Cedral Wall. Unfortunately the eel was no where to be seen but we did see 5 more turtles and a big nurse shark. Everyone was extremely pleased.
In the afternoon I took Guillermo, Maribel, Santiago y Paula on a resort course at Paradise. Guillermo found a couple of big crabs and a spunky goldentail eel. We saw a lot of goldentail eels too.
Thursday, April 9th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Alex, Avery, Nick, Paul, Cathy, Tim and David. There were loads of other divers on the reef that morning. We saw a turtle and a juvenile spotted drum. We had some excitement when we were finishing our dive. We were hanging in about 25 feet of water when some divers tried to come out of cave underneath the reef and they were trying to come out of a very small hole. Two of them got stuck. Their divemaster helped the first guy by pushing him back down into the hole and then following him out another exit. The kid tried to get out and got stuck. By then his divemaster had moved on so David pushed him down to unstick his tank from the reef and then David pulled him up through the crack so that he could escape. I was really worried that the kid would panic when he got stuck.
We did our second dive on French Reef. There we saw a couple of turtles and some big crabs. Paul found a goldentail moray but I missed it because Paul was in the back of the group and I was in the front.
Monday, April 13th
That southeast wind was still howling and Palancar Gardens was very choppy. I probably should have chosen a different reef that morning. Getting Mom, Jan, Terry, Steve, Steve, Paul and Orlando in the water was not a problem. Getting back on the boat in those waves was. The reef was beautiful but we all agreed that the following day we would head north to dive instead.
Our second dive was on Cedral Wall. Mom wanted to go to Paradise but I told her no. We got to see 3 turtles and all of them had their own private harem of angelfish around as they sat on the bottom tearing off hunks of delicious sponge. I found a big green moray eel in a dark little cave. Only Paul and I were down when we drifted over a 7 foot nurse shark. It swam off when Paul went to take a picture of it.
Tuesday, April 14th
No one wanted to go out in the waves again this day so I took Paul, Gary, Jan, Terry, Steve, Steve, Jay and Susan to San Francisco Wall. Gary spotted a rather large nurse shark down at 100 feet. When Jan went down for a look it has begun swimming and she went deeper than our dive plan. She was quite content with a deep dive though. We also saw 3 turtles. Paul ventured out into the big blue for an interesting shot of the bigger turtle.
We did our second tank on Tormentos. We didn't see anything any bigger than a lobster out in the open. There were plenty of fish for us to enjoy and the conditions were relaxing.
Wednesday, April 15th
The wind had calmed down quite a bit so I took Gary, Paul, Jan, Terry, Steve and Steve to Colombia Deep. We had a rather uneventful dive and almost no current. I was very grateful for the nice conditions. Gary and I saw a bunch of turtles including that pretty green turtle that I like so much.
Per Paul's request we went to Dalila. We had such a nice dive there. We saw lots of turtles and a couple of nurse sharks. The first nurse shark was on the small side and just napping away the morning. The second one was quite large and it took off when the divers came over with their cameras. It was a nice dive to end the vacations with.
Sunday, April 19th
The wind had calmed down considerably and I decided to take everyone to Palancar Gardens for the first dive of the vacation. Jeff and Lanna were trying out some new BCDs. Kristi and Charlie hadn´t been in the water for a while and Al, well Al didn´t really seem to care where we went. Al was just happy to be going diving. We had some washing machine type current. It wasn´t strong but it seemed to be a little weird and going in different directions sometimes. The first juvenile spotted drum was pointed out by another diver from another group. I found the second one by myself. It was one of those dives where everyone had to work the bugs out of the dry gear that had been in the closet for a while and fooled around with new gear.
Lanna wasn´t feeling well so she got off of the boat before we went to Las Palmas. We dove the wall at Las Palmas. I didn´t even try to find a splendid toadfish. We drifted through a squadron of 7 squid. There was a rather large turtle and Jeff burned up all his air trying to keep up with it while taking video but I think that he got a good shot of it.
Monday, April 20th
I took Al, Susan, Jeff, Lanna, Kristi, Charlie, Ashley and Jason to Palancar Horseshoe. The current was a bit difficult for the first 15 minutes but everyone settled in and the current relaxed and it turned out to be quite a nice dive. About 40 minutes into the dive Kristi showed me a small hawksbill turtle having breakfast under a ledge. Jeff squeezed under and shot some video of it. I was surprised that Ashley´s air lasted 70 minutes. It was her first dive in two years!
I wanted to go to Tormentos for the second dive but the current was going southbound so we ended up going with the flow and diving Yucab backwards. I saw something that I have never seen before and didn´t know what it was. I looked like it belonged in the phylum cnidaria because it was disc shaped, had a ring of tentatcles and a mouth in the middle. It was dark green. I looked it up in Paul Humann´s Reef Creatures book and it appears to be some type of corallimorph. When Charlie reads this he will know exactly what I am talking about. We also saw a few lobsters.
Tuesday, April 21st
The wind changed direction and started coming from the north so Al asked to go to Colombia. Jeff and Lanna emphatically agreed. I asked Susan, Justin, Lee, Kristi and Charlie if that was OK with them and they didn´t seem to mind at all. We had a very lovely dive. The first turtle was in a narrow passage way at about 70 feet. It had the usual company of several angels as it dined. The second turtle was not sitting still. The third was pretty big too. Everyone loved the swim throughs.
I gave them a choice of Colombia Shallows or Cedral Wall for the second dive and the vote was unanimous for Cedral Wall. We didn´t see the usual bunch of turtles but we did see 3 different nurse sharks all lying around on the bottom. The last shark only Kristi, Charlie and I saw as we headed up to the boat.
Wednesday, April 22nd
Per Al´s special request Kristi, Charlie, Susan, Al and Orlando dived the Devil´s Throat with me. Orlando in particular was excited. He had never been there before. The sponges were reproducing which cut down on the visibility a bit. We also had some current so I had a hard time finding the right spot on the first drop. When Carlos dropped me off the first time I couldn´t see the bottom from the surface so I dropped down to 40 feet but I knew that I was not in the right spot. I didn´t know if the cave was north or south so I just swam north with the current. After 10 minutes I gave up and got back on the boat. I told Carlos to take me further south. The second drop was exact and dead on. Upon reaching the bottom in a protected area we saw a small turtle. The gang found a huge lobster in the cave system. Orlando was totally excited when he came back up and said that it was ¨Chido¨ which is Mexican for cool ?
Since it was Earth Day, we wanted to do something special. Parque Marino was hosting an underwater cleanup so I called them and asked which reef we should clean. Carolina told me to clean Cedral or Santa Rosa or Chankanaab. So we did our second dive that day on Chankanaab. We recovered 3 large sheets of fiberglass from a broken boat. Al found some guy´s marine park credential and his Caleta marina credential. We also brought up a small piece of fishing line, a soda pop pull tab and a piece of aluminum foil. We all got a certificate from the National Marine Park for our participation. I almost forgot to mention that while we were all chasing a spotted eagle ray Charlie was checking out a dinosaur sized lobster under the reef.
Thursday, April 23rd
Jeff and Lanna got to pick our dive site and they chose Colombia Deep. My divers were Al, Susan, Arik, Katie, Kristi and Charlie. We had a bit of current but nothing difficult. We swam through all of my favorite caves. I was surprised that we didn´t see any turtles. There was one huge lobster out strutting about and Jeff got it on video.
Dalila was voted our second dive. We found a turtle there for Arik. That was his special request. There was another group of divers that just plowed right into us and confused poor Susan. She didn´t know which group to follow….
Our night dive was on Paradise with Jeff, Kristi, Charlie, Orlando and Susan. We saw 4 octopi and more spotted morays than I can remember. There were a few lobsters and a few crabs. The most memorable moment was when Orlando pointed out a big green moray eel. Jeff was taking a video of the tail and I went and got him to show him the face. It´s big smiling face was sticking out of a hole surrounded by a bright red sponge. With those big lights that Jeff had the video must have come out spectacular.
Friday, April 24th,
I dived Palancar Caves with Jeff, Lanna, Kristi, Charlie, Chase, Susan and Orlando. We saw one beautiful hawksbill turtle on the wall and Jeff got some good shots of it. We later saw a little baby turtle up on top of the reef. Lanna had an up close and personal experience with it.
Dive number two was on French Reef. The first turtle was up on top of the reef with a green moray eel. The big eel zipped down into a hole and came out the other side in the deep area. We chased it a bit and it swam into a cave. It sat there for a minute and then continued on southbound to escape us. We saw loads of turtles. I didn't bother counting them. But I found it funny when Orlando said to me, ¨We saw so many turtles! Could it have been the same turtle over and over?¨ I laughed at him. I guess that wasn´t very nice. He is soooooo naïve.
Saturday, April 25th
We debated a little before the dive about where to go and we ended up on Palancar Gardens. My divers were Kristi, Charlie, Susan, Bruce, Steve, Chase, Karen and Joseph. The visibility was not up to snuff but we did have easy conditions and that was pretty much my goal on that dive. We got to see a turtle go to the surface to take a few breathes of air and then swim back down again.
We took a vote but no one voted so we went to San Francisco Wall for the second tank. A big school of bar jacks were being pursued by 5 big amberjacks. They put on quite the show. It was a predator/prey competition. First, the school of jacks swam southbound trying to get away. Then they went north bound. The last time we saw them they were swimming very fast southbound again trying to get away from the big fish that wanted to eat them. The best part of the dive was the big green moray eel swimming around. The eel was fine until we started after it. The eel then starting heading deep to get away from us. The tactic worked splendidly. We stayed up in 60 feet of water and waved goodbye as it headed down….
Sunday, April 26th
The first dive of the day was on Colombia Deep with Kristi, Charlie, Chase, Karen, Joseph and Orlando. We saw so many turtles that I lost count. I am sure that we saw all of those turtles because Chase left her camera on the boat. We even saw 2 hawksbills playing together in 70 feet of water. I teased Orlando and told him that it was the same turtle over and over and over again.
The second dive was on Colombia Shallow. Only Orlando, Kristi and I saw the 4 foot nurse shark swimming around. I found a little baby nurse shark hiding under a small coral mound. It was too cute for words. At the very end of the dive I found a green moray eel well hidden under the reef.
Sunday, May 10th
My first day back to work after my trip to England and France was on Palancar Gardens with Paul, Rick and Alicia. We swam through all the lovely archways and tunnels. We had very nice conditions. It was Rick´s first dives in the ocean and he described it as one of the most amazing experiences of his life!
I decided to wow them on Cedral Wall. I think that the current was a bit much for them but we sure did have fun chasing a 5 foot nurse shark around that was out hunting with 4 black groupers. The second nurse shark was in a hole and only Rick got a look at it. Rick and Alicia saw a small turtle but I missed it because I was taking Rick up to the boat. When I came back down I showed them a lobster. As I was taking Rick and Alicia up I spied a big green moray eel out swimming around below us so Rick went back down for a photo. Then Alicia showed us a big southern stingray which Rick swam over and took a picture of. We came back up and started our safety stop all over when Rick and I drifted over a 7 foot nurse shark lying on the bottom so we went down again for a shot. Then about 50 feet away there was another nurse shark on the bottom. That last one was about 6 feet long and after a quick photo of it we went up and did our safety stop properly and got on the boat. Neither of us wanted to go up ?
Monday, May 11th
My divers were Paul, Rick, Alicia and Bruce. Orlando snorkeled over us with Helen and Randy. We all went to Palancar Horseshoe. Becky stayed on the boat with Carlos and as it turned out, they saw 2 different turtles at the surface and the divers and snorkelers didn´t see any! Maybe it is better to stay on the boat sometimes?
We took them over to Colombia Shallow for the second stop. I saw that same little nurse shark that I always see there in the usual spot just swimming around. There was a second nurse shark that had to be at least 6 feet long. We followed it around for a little while. By the time that the nurse shark found a resting place, Rick´s batteries were dead on his camera. We saw a pair of big rainbow parrotfish and were entranced by a school of blue tang descending down upon algae patches and feeding on it.
Tuesday, May 12th,
Per special request I took Rick, Paul, Alicia and Bruce to Santa Rosa Wall. We dropped down on a big nurse shark swimming around. We could not get to the bottom fast enough to catch up with it. Then we immediately drifted over one of the largest turtles that I have ever seen. It was just lying there so Rick and Alicia could take nice pictures. We also saw a dinner sized lobster crawling around in a hole. After I took Paul and Bruce up we saw a small green turtle. We finished our dive in a school of small barracudas.
There was a bit too much current for us on Punta Tunich. We did get to stop and have a good look at a big crab with enormous pinchers. A pair of big lobsters had a dual but it was hard to stop and watch. As I was making a safety stop with Paul the other divers drifted right over a big turtle. The turtle could not have been more than 2 or 3 feet away from them and they missed it completely! At the very end of our dive a huge hawksbill turtle dived down from the surface and passed us on the way to the bottom. It´s carapace was covered with big barnacles.
Wednesday, May 13th
I made Alicia, Paul, Rick and Bruce choose between the shipwreck and the Devil´s Throat. I was glad that they picked the shipwreck. The Devil´s Throat would have been a very short dive for them. Becky and Randy snorkeled over us with Orlando while we dived the shipwreck. The poachers had been there. We found the head and antennas from a huge lobster lying in the sand. I was surprised at the size of the snapper living in the dark areas. We saw a big grouper. Rick and Bruce took pictures of the brittle stars on the bright red encrusting sponges.
On Paradise we saw a display of white grunts ¨kissing¨ each other. Two fish swim at each other with their mouths open and bump into one another. Scientists are not sure if that is a territorial display or some sort of mating display. I showed Rick a pike blenny sticking out of the sand. I spent most of the dive looking for a splendid toadfish and couldn´t find a one. We saw a couple of spotted morays. As we reached the surface Alicia commented that what she liked so much about that dive were all the red and orange sponges. It is a very colorful place!
Thursday, May 14th
Dive one was on Palancar Caves with Alicia, Rick, Paul, Ken, Judy and Bruce. Bruce practiced swimming through the caves without touching anything for his Peak Performance Buoyancy Control course. We didn´t see any turtles until the end of the dive. The first one was really big and it swooped down from the surface next to us all. Then we proceeded to find 2 small turtles that were in close proximity to one another. Judy pointed out a medium sized nurse shark swimming around off in the distance.
Our second dive was on Dalila where we had some good current. Once again, all of the turtles appeared at the end. We saw quite a few. I can´t remember how many exactly but Ken said that the big one surrounded by angelfish and a queen trigger looked like the same one that they saw back in December J
Friday, May 15th
I took Ken, Judy, Tyler and Jennifer to Palancar Gardens. I told Orlando to stay with Ken and not to piss him off. Fairly simple instructions I think. Well Orlando followed Ken into a cave. Ken came out and Orlando did not. I waited and waited and waited. I asked Judy if she knew where Orlando was. We both started looking around. Finally I found him a hundred yards away coming out on the wall. I went over and thumped him upside the head and motioned him over to Ken. Some divemaster Orlando is going to be. He is going to need more training! I do have to say one nice thing though. He has sharp eyes and he finds good stuff. He showed Jennifer a big turtle that I didn´t even see.
All four of them really wanted to go to Colombia Shallow. It was Tyler who spotted my little nurse shark that I always see there. I think it was also Tyler who showed us the 3 nurse sharks all huddled together under a rock. It made Jennifer nervous enough to back paddle out and cut her finger on a piece of sharp coral. Ouch. I told her that they are not dangerous but she just insisted that they are sooooo big! J Orlando showed us a spotted moray eel too.
Saturday, May 16th
Ken and Judy were my only 2 divers this morning so I loaded my new camera with some rechargeable batteries and invited Orlando to come diving with us. Ken and Judy were willing to work with me since there were only 2 of them so they picked to reefs close to the marina. Our first photo shoot was on Las Palmas. I took a ton of photos of a 6 foot green moray eel. Only one picture came out good. Orlando was transfixed in front of a small coral head with at least 20 lobsters living under it.
Then we went over to Paradise where I got some shots of a few goldentail morays and a banded cleaner shrimp. I didn´t bother with photos of the big grouper or the huge barracuda. I like the colorful stuff. What I really wanted was a picture of a splendid toadfish out of it´s hole but I have not been able to find one on either Las Palmas nor Paradise. They used to be very common……..
Sunday, May 17th
It was Ryan and John´s very first ocean dives and Ken and Judy love shallow dives. Ryan is Ron and Kathy´s son. John was here with Marlene so everyone was happy to go to Palancar Gardens and Colombia Shallow. The surface of the water was flat and calm. First we saw a big crab under an overhang. Then Kathy showed me a small turtle on top of the reef. Ken and Judy found a couple of huge lobsters just out and about on top of the coral. They must have known that they are in a national park and no one can touch them J
At Colombia Shallow we dropped down a little turtle. I saw my friend the 4 foot nurse shark out swimming around as usual. I also found another small nurse shark taking a nap under a small coral head. Ken and Judy saw some dolphins swim by but I missed them. I was pissed.
Monday, May 18th
Carlos called in sick so his friend Titino took us out to Palancar Caves. My divers were Ron, Kathy, Ryan, Ken, Judy, Marlene, John and Nate. A turtle kept posing for Ken´s camera but I don´t think that anyone else really saw it. The divers pointed out a few lobsters and we had a nice, easy, uneventful dive.
John wanted to see more fish so we did our next one on Paso Del Cedral. We drifted with the current and floated over a big turtle at the beginning of the dive. I stopped behind a big coral head waiting for the divers to catch up and regroup. I looked down and found a little pipehorse hanging on to the algae on the bottom. Kathy found the first nurse shark. I was too lazy to go back and have a look but everyone was making the ¨big¨ sign so I guess it was a good sized shark. I found the second one which was much smaller. It was swimming around. When Kathy, Marlene and I were on our way up first I spied a big nurse shark swimming around off to the East side of the reef. As soon as that shark disappeared we drifted over another 5 footer just lying on the bottom having a snooze.
That afternoon we went back to the marina and picked up Denise, Lester, Kyle, Rod and his friend. Nate stayed on the boat too and we went to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a big, fat nurse shark swimming below us. Orlando found the weirdest thing. He found a horseshoe crab in 30 feet of water on Santa Rosa shallow. First of all, that is the only horseshoe crab that I have ever heard of in Cozumel. Second of all, they are normally right on the beach. How strange.
My last dive of the day was on San Francisco Wall. We saw another nice sized nurse shark and Lester found a big green moray eel. I showed Denise a couple of stingrays and a bunch of sea cumbers. She had fun with those!
Tuesday, May 19th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Ken, Judy, Ron, Kathy, Ryan, Nate, Marlene and John. I chose Colombia because we had northwest wind and it was really choppy. A couple of the divers were feeling green before we got in. Once we got to the bottom everyone was OK again. We saw a couple of turtles. The first turtle was a green turtle which is less common here. The big one was a hawksbill. Judy pointed out a big southern stingray swimming at Ken.
Dive two was on French Reef. The wind had died down a little and no one was seasick. We saw another turtle and Nate explored a cave and found a huge crab hiding in there. I thought of Vitek when I saw a mantis shrimp in the sand and then it darted into a hole. I was so pleased when Ron said that he saw it too.
Wednesday, May 20th
In the morning I took Ron, Kathy, Ryan, Nate, Loyd and Chelsea to Palancar Horseshoe. Once we got under water we had terrific dive conditions. We saw a big southern stingray and grouper. Kathy pointed out some coral bleaching and when we got back on the boat I gave her a 15 minute lecture on Coral Reef Ecology 101. I kind of felt like I was on a soapbox but she said that the mini class was interesting.
Then I took them all over to Dalila. We got lucky and saw a lot of nurse sharks. We also saw a hawkbill turtle and a green turtle. Kathy described the turtle as brown and white which is a more accurate description. I told her that the Mexicans call it a white turtle. Either way, they sure do have a pretty shell J
Thursday, May 21st
Ron really, really, really wanted to go to the shipwreck. Kathy, Ryan, Loyd, Chelsea and Joanne didn´t mind obliging him. We had a bit of current but we dived it anyway. Ron and Ryan thought it was totally cool and were 2 very happy campers. The others just thought it was OK.
Kathy said that they had not dived a wall all week so we went to San Francisco Wall. We had a good current going there and we drifted along at a rapid clip. We saw a big turtle up on top. Kathy and I saw a southern stingray after everyone was already back on the boat. I showed Ryan a box crab that burrowed down into the sand to hide from us.
Friday, May 22nd
I did 3 dives beginning at Palancar Gardens with Joanne, Matt, Max, Monica, Jen and Jim. They practiced Peak Performance Buoyancy Control and we swam through the caves and tried not to touch the sides or the bottoms. There was some current and it made it kind of difficult to get through the tunnels without touching anything. Even I bumped the reef a few times and I was supposed to be setting the example.
We went over to Colombia Shallow for our navigational dive. There was a mild current and we saw a turtle. The dive was pretty easy and went well. They all navigated a nice square despite the current.
In the afternoon I hired Tony to take Geoff, Kate and Joanne diving on Horseshoe while I gave a class to Stacey, Chris and Frank. Then I took them all over to Colombia Shallow for the most exciting dive of the day. We saw 4 small hawksbill turtles, 4 small green turtles and 1 humungous hawksbill turtle that swam away as we approached. We found my little nurse shark that I see there all the time. It was out cruising around looking for dinner.
Saturday, May 23rd
We did our deep dive for Matt, Max and Monica´s advanced course on Santa Rosa Wall. I would rate that dive as fairly difficult too. We had plenty of current. At one point it felt like it was pushing us down while we were at 90 or 100 feet. Both boys may have had a touch of nitrogen narcosis too.
The next stop was on Paradise. I got in to check the current and it was going southbound. So I got back on the boat and Titino moved us to the north end of the reef to begin the dive. It only took 25 minutes to reach the end of the reef. By then I noted that the current was pushing us out towards the wall. I surfaced and I shouted at Titino that I was going to bring them to the wall. It took a while but when we got there the current changed direction again and started pushing us back northbound. I swam them back to the safety of the reef. We spent most of the dive flying around in the current so we didn´t get to stop and look at much. I hope that Orlando learned something from that dive.
Sunday, May 24th
I only had one paying customer and that was José. Orlando came along to hang out with José while I took pictures with my new camera. I was really glad that we didn´t have much current. The day before had been pretty difficult but the current had just about disappeared.
We had another calm dive on San Francisco Wall. I shot tons of pictures of a yellow and black rock beauty. It posed for me in front of some lovely red sponges making a very colorful background.
In the afternoon Marc and Ana joined us. Marc was working on dives 1 & 2 for his open water certification and Ana was taking the resort course. I showed Ana a pair of goldentail morays but I don´t think that Marc saw them because his mask was all fogged up. José chased around a peacock flounder. Ana seemed more excited about the dive than Marc did.
We put tons of toothpaste in Marc´s mask and the mask didn´t fog so much on the second dive but maybe that had something to do with the fact that it was leaking on the second dive. How frustrating for poor Marc. I lagged behind for a while and took a picture of a splendid toadfish.
Monday, May 25th
Yeah! Carlos came back to work. He couldn´t lift anything heavy so Orlando was elected to lift all the tanks and equipment. I took Bob, Patsy, Matt, Max, Jim, Jen and Marc to Palancar Horseshoe for the first dive. As soon as we hit the bottom I discovered a big lobster in a cave. We had fun playing with a furry sea cucumber by the cross. As I was taking Bob and Patsy up I looked down and could see the poor cucumber slinking away.
Then I took them to French Reef. We had gorgeous conditions there. We saw a big turtle and Patsy swam after it for a photo. There were several big black groupers. One was parked at a cleaning station with his mouth wide open. He was getting his teeth cleaned. It was fun to watch. The size of their mouths is impressive.
Tuesday, May 26th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Patsy, Bob, Jim, Jen and Mike. Patsy got a shot of the yellow headed jawfish as it wavered over it´s hole on the bottom. We saw a huge grouper and we swam through a lot of beautiful caves. Jim said that it was his favorite dive.
They wanted to see a lot of fish and Patsy asked if we could go to Paradise. We didn´t have very much current on Paradise at all this day. I showed them a splendid toadfish and I even coaxed it out of the hole for them so that they could see why it is called ¨splendid¨.
That afternoon I took Sean, Adam, Sheree and Paul to Paradise for confined water training dives 1, 2 and 3. As we were swimming around the hard, flat, empty bottom in 6 feet of water Orlando started motioning me over. I told him no and kept swimming. He made the signal for seahorse. I didn´t believe him. He made the signal again. Reluctantly I went over to see what he was so excited about. I was going to read him the riot act if there was no seahorse. Low and behold he had found a big orange seahorse. It was just crazy! In all these years I have never seen a seahorse right there in the training area. I wondered if someone had picked it up and brought it over there. I just could not believe it! I also found my absolute favorite, a chain eel. The other divers were not impressed. But I have not seen one in maybe a year. I was really excited!
Wednesday, May 27th
I spent the whole day with Paul, Sheree, Adam, Sean and Orlando. In the morning we completed confined water dives 4 and 5.
That afternoon I took them to Palancar Gardens for their first Open Water Dive. We wound up right behind another group of divers who so kindly pointed out a big southern stingray in the sand. When we got back on the boat Sheree said that the dive made all that mask clearing worth it!
I took them back there for the second dive. Paul showed us a big lobster sitting out in the open so everyone got a good look at it. Sheree mastered mask removal and replacement too.
Thursday, May 28th
I let Patsy pick the reef for Paul, Sheree, Adam and Sean´s next check out dive. Bob was not too thrilled about seeing a shark and neither was Sheree. However Patsy and the boys were eager to get to see a shark. Seeing sharks is what they got! Paul was having a hard time with his ears so he was above everyone on the way down. It was Paul who pointed out the monsterously huge nurse shark lying in the sand. As we approached it took off and swam away. Then Paul spotted the small turtle and we all swam over for a looksy. Then I spied a big octopus crawling over the surface of the reef. Only Orlando, Sean and Adam saw the octopus I think. Later during the dive a rather large nurse shark swam past off in the distance. I wondered if it was the same one that we had already seen. When I found the 3rd nurse shark I was sure that it was a different shark because it was only 5 feet long. The fourth shark was really big too but I am still not sure if it was the same big boy. Patsy parked near a big turtle as it dined on a sponge for breakfast.
At Paso Del Cedral we followed a big blue midnight parrotfish around and we drifted into a small sleeping nurse shark behind a coral head. I spent a minute or two looking for that pipehorse from the other day but couldn´t find it.
Friday, May 29th
I finally got to take Matt and Max out to the shipwreck for the final dive of their Advanced Course. Patsy and Bob were working on their Advanced as well so it was a good choice for them. Unfortunately we had a bit of current so we had to do some serious kicking most of the dive. But at least we burned a bunch of calories J There was an enormous grouper hanging out at the stern. Bob pointed out a big snapper too. I think that the snapper may have weighed 60 or 70 pounds. Patsy and Matt got lots of photos of the spiny brittle stars living on the red encrusting sponges. The shipwreck makes for some colorful photography.
Per Patsy´s request we went to Tormentos. I really love that place when there is no current. We saw tons of banded cleaner shrimp on sponges and I saw a couple of corkscrew anemones acting as hosts to some bigger shrimps. I found a couple of dinner sized lobsters hiding in some holes. We had a great dive and I want to come back with my camera sometime when there is no current.
Monday, June 1st
I only had 2 divers, Patsy and Bob. So Orlando and I took them to Palancar Gardens. Orlando hung out with Bob while Patsy and I ignored the boys and took lots of pictures of the turtles. We had a lot of fun.
The second tank was on Yucab since Patsy had never been there. The current was ripping. We spent the dive jumping from one hiding spot to another trying to stay out of the current. All the sand was whipped up so my pictures had a bunch of backscatter. In case you don´t take pictures and don´t know what that is…. When there is sand or particulate matter in the water the flash from the camera reflects off of the bits of sand and causes white squares all over the photos. Patsy and I didn´t seem to mind too much but the boys thought that it was an adventure.
Wednesday, June 3rd
Thankfully the current had calmed down for everyone´s first day of diving. I took Gene, John, Meagan, Chris, Serena, Robert and Stephany to Palancar Gardens. We had a nice easy dive and at the end of the dive in the shallow water we saw a big, huge loggerhead turtle go by. The loggerheads are more shy than the more common hawksbills. They are also much more impressive.
We decided to do our second dive on Dalila where I think that I saw at least 5 different turtles. We also saw 2 splendid toadfish and a lobster. Serena kicked back against the current and convinced Chris to come back too. She had found a big nurse shark lounging about on the bottom. She said that it was 10 feet long but remember that everything underwater appears 25% larger and closer so I bet it was more like 7 feet J Anyway, I am sorry that I was too lazy to swim back for a look. That would have been cool.
Thursday, June 4th
Orlando and I took Chris and Robert to the Devil´s Throat. We had picture perfect conditions. The surface was flat and calm. The visibility was good and the current was weak. I brought my camera but I did not get any good pictures on that dive, not even of the green turtle.
On the second tank at Colombia Shallow I took a hundred pictures. Half of which were of a juvenile spotted drum. The spotted drum pictures didn´t come out so well. I did also take some shots of one of the 3 nurse sharks that we saw and a few shots of one of the turtles. Mostly I concentrated on the schools of blue striped grunts and a flamingo tongue that Robert pointed out.
Friday, June 5th
I took Chuck, Doug, Jody, Robert, Stephany, John and Meagan to Palancar Horseshoe. Orlando hung out above us with Bob snorkeling. The first turtle I saw was early on in the dive and very small. It was up over our heads on the top of the coral formation that we were touring. The second turtle was towards the end of the dive and it swam down from the surface after taking a few breathes. Chuck and I saw a southern stingray swimming around too.
French Reef was our second dive. The boys saw more sharks snorkeling than we saw diving! They saw 2 six foot nurse sharks on the bottom. Chuck and I saw a six footer lying in the sand after everyone had already gone up.
Saturday, June 6th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Chris, Robert, Stephany, Doug, Jody and Bill. Right before we arrived at the second cave I spotted a good sized hawksbill turtle resting in a hole. All we could see from the wall side was the tail part. So I swam the group around to the other side of the coral head and we found that darling turtle perched on it´s front flippers and it looked like it was just posing for Doug´s camera.
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral in search of that little pipehorse for Chris. I searched for that frickin´ thing for 5 minutes to no avail before I gave up. But I gave it my best shot! During the first 5 minutes we saw a baby turtle and a big turtle on the bottom as we drifted past. Towards the end of the dive I found a gorgeous turtle nestled down into a niche under the coral. Right after the turtle I found a nurse shark hiding too. The shark was frightened when I drug Doug down for a photo and it swam away.
Sunday, June 7th
I took Gary, Chuck, Doug, Megan, Jody, John, Lauren and Don to Gary´s favorite dive site, San Francisco Wall. It is always a better dive when we do it as a first tank. I busied myself showing them arrow crabs and a goldentail moray until I spied the turtle. I grabbed Lauren´s hand and drug her back against the current to show her the turtle just lounging about on the wall. I also drifted up to a 6 foot nurse shark that was feeding on something when I arrived. It was accompanied by a pair of black groupers. As the school of humans arrived the shark took off. I showed Chuck a southern stingray buried in the sand. It was very hard for him to see it. Only the tail was sticking out. As I did a safety stop with Chuck I saw Gary stop and swim back to take pictures of a big green moray eel.
I had promised John a trip to Dalila. There was plenty of current and also plenty of critters. We flew around and stopped at a turtle. There were loads of lobsters and Gary saw 3 sharks. I only remember seeing a shark while I was taking some people up on a safety stop and a small nurse shark in a hole that I showed to Chuck and Gary.
Monday, June 8th
I had a mixed group. I wanted something easy for Kim, Jerry and Shawn. I wanted something with spectacular formations for Chris and Serena. I needed something deep for Gary. I think that Don and Lauren would have been happy just anywhere. I chose Palancar Horseshoe. We had a terrific dive! We started our dive with 2 really, really big lobsters out strolling the bottom. Then we saw 2 different turtles. One was eating and just ignored us completely. Then we saw a third huge lobster. While I was taking Kim up I noticed the tail of a big green moray eel sticking out from under a rock. After sending Kim to the surface and making sure that Carlos picked her up, I went back down for a better look at the moray´s face.
I was in the mood for an easy dive so we went to Colombia Shallow. Chris and Serena hung way back from the crowd and missed my little nurse shark that I always see. They also missed the spotted moray and the big barracuda. Gary and Chris checked out that spotted drum that I took so many pictures of the other day. Right before we went up I saw that yellow fin grouper with the huge bite out of it´s back. Gary and I debated but we came to the conclusion that Ken and Judy´s big hammerhead must still be around somewhere…………….
Tuesday, June 9th
Gary, Chris, Serena, Don, Lauren, Jerry, Shawn and Kim came with me to Santa Rosa Wall in search of the ever elusive seahorse. All we found was a strong current. Oh well. Gary, Chris and Serena dived a little deeper than the rest of us and they saw a big loggerhead turtle.
Chris decided that the seahorse was not that important and that he would like to see French Reef. I was grateful. On French Reef we had a nice easy dive and we saw several hawksbill turtles. When Jerry and Shawn were making their safety stop we floated past a decent sized nurse shark sucking it´s lunch out of a hole. Gary took video as it thrashed and showed us it´s white belly.
Wednesday, June 10th
I only had one customer, Gary. My friend Michaela only had one customer too so we went up to Barracuda for fun on her boat. We saw 5 hawksbill turtles. Two of which were really, really big. Michaela was spearfishing and she got a crab for dinner.
Our second tank was on San Juan where the current was really strong. It reminded me of a bad day on Punta Tunich. I was saddened to see that all the finger coral had been taken out by Wilma but there were patches where it was starting to grow back. I haven´t been up there for about 6 years now. I found a big green moray eel that posed for Gary´s camera and we saw a few more turtles and one lobster.
Thursday, June 11th
Gary and Orlando went TOO DEEP while I stayed in 60 feet of water with Matthew, Michael, Rick and Susan. We saw a bunch of hawksbill turtles and they seemed to enjoy the cave very much.
On Colombia Shallow we surprised a big nurse shark and it woke up and swam around us a bit. We saw a few more turtles and the spotted drum that Gary and I keep taking lots of pictures of. It was an easy dive.
Friday, June 12th
Per special request I took Rick, Susan, Michael, Matthew and Gary to the shipwreck. I did a 15 minute search and recovery dive when Susan dropped her mask. I found it but the current had carried it quite a ways. I had Carlos change my tank before I brought the group down because I only had 2200 psi after my search and recovery mission. We swam around the bottom and took pictures of the colorful stuff growing on the sides and the propeller. We swam through a couple of times and took pictures in the wheelhouse too.
Gary asked for Tormentos for the second dive. Carlos dropped us off in between Tormentos and Yucab. The current was reversed and it carried us to Yucab, not Tormentos. But it was a nice dive. I took a camera with me to test it out before I sell it. I took a picture of a big grouper and shot lots of photos of angels and rock beauties.
Saturday, June 13th
I needed somewhere easy since Michelle and David had not been diving in 3 years. Plus I didn´t want much current since Rick and Michael take a while to get down. Matthew just plommets right to the bottom and starts taking pictures. I took them to Palancar Gardens. We first spotted the turtle while it was up at the surface taking a few breaths of air. It was a sillouette above us. Then it dived down and went into a light filled cave. It was very beautiful to watch.
I was in the mood for big stuff so I took them over to Cedral Wall. There was absolutely no current at all for a change. The little nurse shark was snuggled in it´s normal hiding hole. I took Matthew´s camera from him and stuck it in the hole to get a picture of the shark. Later in the dive we saw a hawksbill turtle with a harem of angelfish sitting on top of the reef. At the same time we disturbed a 6 foot nurse shark that swam off as soon as it saw us coming.
Sunday, June 14th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Kim, Jerry, Shawn, Linda and Peter. I think it was baby turtle day because we saw 4 small turtles throughout the dive. Orlando was the one who pointed most of them out. Carlos said that a little tiny one about 6 inches across popped up to the surface while we were diving. I found a gaudy clown crab on a purple vase sponge. I had seen two of them the day before on the same sponge. The second one was missing this time. We played with a few silver dollar sized peacock flounders in the sand.
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral. We found big and small critters on that dive. I was surprised that everyone seemed more excited about the furry sea cucumber than the pair of pipehorses, the two nurse sharks and the baby green turtle. I thought that the tiny seahorse look alikes would be more exciting than the cucumber. Hmmmm……..
That afternoon I picked up Nicholas for his open water training dives 1 & 2 on Paradise. Orlando snorkeled with hi s mom and her friend. Nicholas and I saw a spotted moray eel and a school of French grunts in a cave. On the second dive we found the huge school of big eyed scads and swam through the magic silver wall that they create. A large, well fed barracuda lurked just off to the side. Nicholas like the eels and the sea shells the best.
Monday, June 15th
Steve, Jenn, Linda, Peter, Kim, Jerry and Shawn came with me to Palancar Caves. We always see turtles there and this day was no exception. We also had fantastic conditions with very light current.
Dalila is always so nice with light current. Within the first 5 minutes I discovered a big green moray eel under a ledge. We saw the usual bunch of turtles and as we were doing our safety stop we looked down to find a nurse shark just lying about on the bottom. Right after that a big hawksbill glided below us.
The current was heading southbound when I took Marina, Roger, Nicholas, Rick, Susan, Michael and Matthew to Palancar. We dove the first part of Gardens backwards and we also dived Horseshoe backwards. Then we cut over to Colombia Shallow where Orlando and Susan saw a humungous nurse shark. They were both totally awestruck at the size of it.
On Colombia Shallow Marina got my attention when a pretty little green turtle swam by. We also saw a few hawksbills. We saw an immense lobster on the bottom that did not seem in the least bit intimidated by our presence. The current was strong and reversed which cut the visibility down to 60 or 80 feet.
Tuesday, June 16th
On the way to work I tried hard to think of a place that I hadn´t taken Linda, Peter, Rick, Susan, Michael and Matthew yet. Mike and Penny had never been to Cozumel before so they could go anywhere. I came up with Palancar Bricks. The current was very mild but kept switching directions on me. So it was embarrassing to be taking them around in circles but the other option was to swim against the current which I just wasn´t into. When we got back on the boat Penny and Linda complained that I didn´t show them any bricks!
I asked Rick and Susan if they had been to French Reef yet this week and they said no. We had a beautiful dive there. The boys showed us a huge lobster cruising around. I pointed out a crab with big claws on top of the reef. It was strange to see those critters out in the daytime. We also saw a big turtle and a large nurse shark. When we got back on the boat I asked Susan if the shark that we saw was as big as the one that she and Orlando had seen the day before and she thought that it might have been.
The last dive of the day was the most exciting. I did a resort course at Paradise for Yvette and Phillip who are friends of Jenn and Steve. Orlando came along too. First Yvette went up and soon after Phillip was low on air. I sent Phillip up with Orlando. Steve still had 1400 psi so I stayed down with him to let him finish his tank. We swam around for a while and I found a LIONFISH! Yup, that´s right! A lionfish. I went up and asked the boys to hand me a transparent plastic bag and the Marine Park cards so that I could push it into the bag with the cards. I went back down to where Steve was waiting for me. He had a flashlight. We tried to get that bugger into the bag but I only succeeded in scaring it into a hole that we couldn´t get it out of. Carlos called the National Marine Park on the radio and they brought us to nets and a long, thin stick. Guess they have done this before. We tried for a while but when I got to 500 psi I told Steve that we had to go up.
I got back on the boat and Yvette was anxious to get back to the hotel and Happy Hour so we changed our tanks, drove Yvette and Phillip back to the hotel and dropped them off. When I got back to Paradise the biologist from the National Marine Park was all suited up with a tank and ready to get in. Steve, Orlando, the biologist and I rolled in and swam down to the bottom armed with 2 nets, a long thin stick, a snorkel, a set of big plastic cards and a flashlight. It only took Steve and I seven minutes to get that little critter out the second go around and we trapped it in the net. Steve brought it up and we all admired it in the bucket before the biologist took it away. We were kind of sorry to see it go………
Wednesday, June 17th
Steve requested the wreck C53 and Linda, Peter, Mike and Penny said that they were good with that. There was a little more current than I prefer but it was OK. The problem was the huge schools of humans that decended upon us about 10 minutes into the dive. They were everywhere and we couldn´t seem to get away from them. We saw a 50 pound snapper with big pointy teeth. The brittle stars on the red sponges always gets a ¨wow¨ from the divers too. We picked up 2 extra divers that lost their group. Carlos didn´t want to let them get on the boat and he told them to go hang out on the buoy while he called their boat on the radio to come and get them. We could not say that it was a boring dive J
I was not into chaos so I took them over to Chankanaab. We saw 2 big crabs and a lobster. I love the beautiful sea whips and gorgonians at Chankanaab. You just don´t see them anywhere else in Cozumel. When I got back on the boat the ladies told me that it was going to be hard to beat that dive.
Thursday, June 18th
I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Linda, Peter, Michael and Penny. We had a bit of current but everyone managed it well. At the beginning of the dive a big turtle swam up from the depths below and perched about 30 feet below us and began scarfing down a big sponge. We had to swim against the current to watch it. Then we saw a dinner sized lobster above us just posing in the sand. We swam through the big cave and I looked for the seahorse but bombed out again.
Janice, Rick, Hannah and Heidi joined us on Colombia Shallow. When I jumped in I looked down and saw a nurse shark swimming around below me. What a shame that the divers were not in yet to see it. That´s OK, another nurse shark came along about 10 minutes later. I think it was Peter that showed us the cluster of small lobsters all gathered together under a small coral head. We saw 2 different spotted drums too.
Friday, June 19th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Linda, Peter, Jerry, Kent, Cheri, J.W. and Tim. We had a great time swimming through caves and tunnels. I was surprised that we only saw one turtle.
Dive two was on Dalila. There was almost no current at all. It was an easy dive. I think it was Jerry that spotted the first nurse shark. It was a small one, curled up in a hiding place. The second shark was much bigger and swam past Orlando, Linda, Peter and I. There was a nice sized turtle just sitting still on the bottom waiting to have it´s picture taken. The guys explored some tight caves that I have never swam through before.
Saturday, June 20th
Per special request I dived Colombia Deep with Tim, J.W., Jerry, Kent, Cheri, Luis and Jacob. I took them deep and swam them through all of the best caves. We saw a huge barracuda and Cheri got some photos of it. We also saw a turtle. At the end of the dive a large southern stingray entertained us while we did our safety stop at 15 feet for 3 minutes.
Colombia Shallow was the logical place for the second dive. We saw a turtle that was so sweet and mellow that it allowed us to hang out with it for about 5 minutes. It didn´t seem to mind our presence at all. We saw lots of big groupers and schools of blue striped grunts.
Sunday, June 21st
First I took Grace, Mike, Lauren, Brandon and Chace to Palancar but the waves were really big and Grace hadn´t taken the full dose of seasick medicine that morning. I decided to turn the boat around and go back to Yucab where the seas were flat. We did a nice, easy dive on Yucab and Chace practiced Peak Performance Buoyancy Control for her Advanced course.
Carlos and I decided on Tormentos for the second dive since the wind was from the south and Tormentos was in the north. Well the current was reversed and we ended up back on Yucab. But we dived the part of Yucab that we didn´t get to on the first dive so it was not as if they were looking at the same stuff both dives. The current just kept picking up until we were flying along in a sand storm. It kind of sucked. We came to the end of the reef and everyone still had a half a tank of air left but we went up anyway because there was nothing to look at. Oh well, tomorrow is another day……
Monday, June 22nd
Grace, Mike, Lauren, Brandon, Yumi, Bob and Kay made it out to Palancar Gardens with me this time. We had a very lovely dive with light current. We saw a turtle which was what Grace wanted to see. Lauren, Brandon, Bob and I saw a second turtle after everyone was back on board the boat. It swam right up under us.
I let Kay pick the second dive site and she chose Dalila. Bob showed us a hawksbill turtle and a green turtle too. I pointed out a rather large nurse shark hugging the bottom with a big black grouper by it´s side. The current was pretty fast on that dive.
Tuesday, June 23rd
I was determined to have a nice, easy day with Mike, Grace, Lauren, Brandon, Bob, Kay, Yumi and Chace. I took ´em all to Colombia Deep for the first tank. Coming out of the first cave everyone saw the baby nurse shark but me. Bob pointed it out as he does everything J We saw lots of turtles because Chace didn´t bring her camera. Everyone really enjoyed the cave too.
I wanted to have another nice, easy dive so the second one was on Colombia Shallow. As soon as we got to the bottom we disturbed a big southern stingray which immediately took flight. The next big sea creature that we saw was an extra, extra large nurse shark swimming off to the East of us. Later we spotted a smaller nurse shark and turtle. When we came back to the end of the reef we saw my favorite little nurse shark swimming around hunting with 3 big jacks and later a small spotted eagle ray. I hadn´t seen any spotted eagle rays for months.
Wednesday, June 24th
First we checked Punta Tunich but it looked like there would be a lot of current. Then we stopped at Cedral Wall but once again, I was worried about the current. So I settled on French Reef for my first tank with Bob, Kay, Yumi, Chace, Mike, Grace, Lauren and Brandon. There was plenty of current there but at least we had the safety of a hard bottom and coral to hide behind. We hid behind the reef in a sandy area when I found a 6 foot nurse shark doing the same. We also saw a few turtles and a couple of big lobsters.
Kay loves Paso Del Cedral. Aside from both the hawksbill and green turtles that we saw, Kay found the little pipefish in the sheltered area where we used to feed the groupers. Speaking of groupers, we saw a few whoppers on this day. At the end of the dive we ended up on Santa Rosa Shallow. I could not stop thinking about the seahorse on Santa Rosa Wall. The current had begun to calm down and everyone was diving well so I crossed the group over to the wall. I stopped in the algae patch and it only took me about a minute to find the big yellowish-greenish seahorse hanging on the algae. Everyone was thrilled. We had two great dives.
Thursday, June 25th
We had absolutely no current at all on Punta Tunich. Bob, Kay, Yumi, Mike and Orlando were my divers. We saw 7 turtles! Some were small but one was just huge with about 10 barnacles growing on it´s back. I don't know how old turtles live to be, but this one must have been a grandma. Yumi showed me a spotted eel and I showed her a golden tail eel. Bob showed us a nurse shark swimming over the wall.
We did have plenty of current on Cedral wall. Two nurse sharks and 30 minutes later I crossed them over to Santa Rosa Shallow to get out of the current. Then I decided to have another go at the seahorse. I found it and this time Yumi´s camera was working! J
Friday, June 26th
I asked Kay, Bob, Yumi, John, Jenny, Vince, Ken and Linda where they wanted to go and they said that what they wanted to see was big critters. So I named 5 sites to choose from and they picked Cedral Wall for the first dive. We had a strong current which was disorienting to say the least for our ¨first day¨divers but boy, did we see A LOT of critters. There were plenty of extra large turtles grazing on the bottom surrounded by loads of angelfish. Then we came upon a 70 pound black grouper that John pointed out. When I saw the second grouper with the first one I knew there was something going on there so I called the group over. Sure enough, we had a 6 foot nurse shark sucking breakfast out of a coral head. It flipped over and we all stared at it´s white belly as it dined on some scrumptious sea creature that we couldn´t see. Then another equally big shark swam past at that moment. We drifted around and saw lots of smaller turtles and everyone was excited when we got back on the boat.
I was so happy to do an easy dive on Colombia Shallows with a small nurse shark, a couple of small turtles, that nice little spotted drum and some lobsters. I think it was Bob who showed us the spotted eagle ray with no tail. I showed Orlando Gary´s grouper with the big chunk missing out of it´s back. Orlando swam over for a closer look. I got to wondering what creature ate the tail off of the spotted eagle ray and the foot long bite on the grouper´s back. The bite came from a really, really big mouth……………..
Saturday, June 27th
My divers were Suzanna, Julie, Polly, Kristin, Annette, Elizabeth, Briana and Cassie. It was a girl´s group from Silver Divers in Virginia. Cassie was working on Peak Performance Buoyancy Control with everyone so I took them through the swim throughs at Palancar Gardens. I think only a couple of girls saw the turtle at the beginning of the dive. They saw a big lobster but I missed it.
The second dive was on Colombia Shallows. We saw 3 small nurse sharks and we are still not sure if we had seen the same one twice or not. There were a couple of turtles on that dive too. Cassie loved the spotted drum and said that it was her favorite fish. We saw that grouper again with the bite on it´s back. I think I am going to name it ¨Gary the grouper¨ since I think of Gary when I see it.
In the afternoon I picked up Tim, Kori, Denise and David and went back to Colombia Shallows because Tim and Denise had not been diving in 5 years and I wanted to make it easy on them. We saw only one small nurse shark and 2 turtles. There were loads of lobsters everywhere.
Then we were off to French Reef where I saw 2 dinosaur sized lobsters out and about. I also saw one of those extra grande turtles that I had seen the day before on Cedral. It was huge and David took off after it for a photo.
Orlando and I took the Silver Divers on a night dive at Colombia Shallows. PADI says that you are supposed to dive the site during the day to get familiar with it. The girls had a wonderful dive! We saw several lobsters. One of which was out in the sand and it was big enough to feed a family of 4! We saw lots of octopi and 2 green turtles. There were a couple of free swimming spotted morays too.
Sunday, June 28th
My morning divers were Linda, Ken, Randy and Susan. We went to Randy´s favorite, Palancar Horseshoe. We saw a couple of very small turtles and one big turtle. We saw a small lobster and a medium sized southern stingray.
Our second dive was on Paso Del Cedral where we encounted a small nurse shark and a few very large groupers. I could hear Randy saying something in surprise through his regulator when I showed him the first pipehorse. The second pipehorse was bigger and we could see it better. Then Susan found a pipefish. It was really cool to see all those little critters. We also saw another turtle.
My Silver Divers Girls came out with me in the afternoon. Polly asked to see a seahorse so we took her to Santa Rosa Wall. Upon reaching the bottom we ran smack dab into a good sized turtle. It swam away and within minutes another normal sized one appeared. After we swam through the caves I parked everyone in a protected area and sent Orlando out to find the seahorse. Polly was so excited when I brought her over for a look!
When we came up Carlos told me that the harbor master had closed the port. It had been raining off and on for days and a tropical wave was nearby. I was worried that perhaps it had turned into a tropical depression or worse, a tropical storm. I struggled with the decision as to whether or not to go back to the marina or stay out and do the last dive. I decided to stay out. I figured that the harbor master was just taking precautions so that no one would go out on a night dive. We got in at Paso Del Cedral and promptly drifted over a lobster and a small nurse shark. It was not the same one as the morning dive because we saw that one too later in the dive. Then I stopped and showed them the bigger pipehorse and then the rain started. I looked up to see the rain coming down hard and waves rolling overhead. Then Carlos gave us the emergency recall signal. He revved the engine a couple of times. We went to 15 feet and did our safety stop. There were 2 sharks swimming below us. One was big and one was the small one that we had seen on the morning dive. It was a shame to have to go up but I was also a bit nervous as to whether or not we would be able to dock on the pier at the Occidental Grand and let the girls off. Fortunately it was only a good, strong rain and it calmed down enough on the surface so that we could dock at the Grand and drop the girls off. The ride home was a little bumpy but nothing difficult. I was glad that Carlos called us up early, even if the storm never did hit. Better safe than sorry!
Tuesday, June 30th
I was feeling very refreshed after a day off and I took Randy, Susan, Linda, Ken, Bruce, Garth and Vianey to Santa Rosa Wall. The current was nice and calm. Coming out of the first cave we encountered a southern stingray. When I was making a safety stop with Bruce and Vianey Orlando found 2 seahorses in the algae patch. One was the yellow one that we found before and the other one was brown. At the very end of the dive Randy, Susan, Orlando and I saw a giant nurse shark out patrolling the shallows.
The second tank was on Cedral Wall per special request. We found a turtle nestled into a cozy little nook in the reef and Susan showed us a 5 foot nurse shark lounging about in the sand.
Wednesday, July 1st
My divers were Randy, Susan, Sebastian, Rick, Krista, Bryan and Ron. We tried to get out to Colombia for Randy but the waves were too big so we stopped at Palancar Gardens instead. We had a very nice dive once we got to the bottom and out of the swells. It was Susan that pointed out the huge lobster out for a stroll. We saw a turtle up on top of the reef having a leisurely lunch. It was a very relaxing dive.
I wanted to get out of the waves so I took them all over to Chankanaab for a nice, easy dive. Orlando pointed out a spotted drum. He also found a slipper lobster under the reef. He didn´t know what it was so I told him it was a big cucaracha.
Thursday, July 2nd
Carlos took the day off so Tony drove the boat for us. Melissa, John, Mike and Christi got on at the hotel Presidente. Randy and Susan got on at Fiesta Americana. We picked up Danette and Steve at the Iberostar. When we arrived at the pier all I could say was, ¨Oh my God! Oh my God! How are we going to dock?¨ There were big rollers and we had to time it just so on the pier. It was very stressfullPalancar and south. They couldn´t see anything down there. So I convinced everyone to go to San Francisco Wall. Well, I guess they didn´t have much choice……….. But I was sooooo glad that I made that call. There was almost no current and the water was gin-clear. I was the only one that saw the 2 nurse sharks swimming way below us in a hundred feet of water or more. But Mike pointed out first a huge turtle and then later a really big nurse shark swimming around in the sandy part. for me. We got them on safely and Randy requested a dive on Colombia. It was his last day of diving and I was really sorry to tell him no. Not only were the waves huge and everyone would get seasick, but also the captains were chatting on radio about how bad the visibility was at
After an hour we went over to Tormentos after calling other boats on the radio and checking the conditions at various sites. We had more perfect dive conditions. There were no big critters except a southern stingray, but we found a cool little flounder in the sand. Randy and I tormented a sailfin blenny. My friend Eduardo showed us a juvenile spotted drum. We are so easily entertained J
Friday, July 3rd
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Melissa, John, Mike, Christi, Danette, Steve, Katrina and Jon. The visibility had cleared up and the current was mild. We drifted up to a turtle on top of the reef eating a sponge for breakfast. It remained there without being bothered by our presence in the slightest. While I was making a safety stop I looked down and saw a huge black grouper on the bottom acting strangely. That drew my attention and I discovered a 7 foot fat nurse shark hiding under the reef right next to that grouper. It was the grouper that gave away the shark´s location. I went back down and convinced the shark to come on out and swim around for our safety stoppers.
Melissa and John had never been to French Reef before so that was where we did our second dive. I found a cluster of 5 small losters huddling together in a niche. We saw several big grey southern stingrays swimming around too.
Saturday, July 4th
Per special request Orlando and I dived the C53 wreck. Mike, Christi, Danette and Steve absolutely loved the dive. Katrina and Jon were very quiet and I don´t know it they enjoyed it as much as everyone else. The nice thing was that the conditions could not have been better. There was absolutely no current at all and there were no other dive groups on the wreck with us. We had the place to ourselves. You could tell that Mike and Danette were having a great time taking pictures. Danette said that when we swam through the wreck the first time it was almost spooky or eerie like in the movies. She just loved it!
We did our second dive on Chankanaab. Christi pointed out an upside down crab with immense claws. We saw a bunch of lobsters. I told Orlando that he had to find that little spotted drum again. He swam right past it so I pointed it out. I am so mean. I get my kicks out of torturing poor Orlando J Naughty me.
Sunday, July 5th
I dived Colombia Deep with Jon, Katrina, John, Melissa, Danette, Steve, Wayne and Jennifer. We picked Colombia because DanetteDanette get a little too close and another turtle as we were doing our safety stop. Danette could not have been happier. I was feeling bad about not letting Orlando come because we saw a furry sea cucumber too. That is his favorite sea creature. wanted to see a turtle and see a turtle we did! There was a nice, calm turtle that let
Melissa had never seen a sea horse and wanted to see one so I had Carlos drop us off on Cedral. I found the little pipehorse but everyone got low on air about 5 minutes before we reached the big yellow one at Santa Rosa Wall. We also saw a few more turtles which made Danette´s day J
Monday, July 6th
I was on a quest to find a seahorse for Melissa. I did not give my divers, John, Tracy, Andy, Kevin or Jeff any choice in the matter. We dived Santa Rosa Wall. Immediately upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a nice swimming nurse shark below us. We later saw a second nurse shark. I heard John banging on his tank. I turned around to discover him pointing to a big loggerhead turtle swimming out into the blue. It´s shell was all covered with barnacles. Just as we could see that algae patch where the seahorse lives off in the distance…….. Melissa and Tracy got low on air. We went up and I told Carlos to change Melissa´s tank and give her a new one. I took her and John back down and showed them the seahorse. Melissa was not going home without seeing that seahorse!!!!!!!!
When I came up I thought that Kevin was mad at me for making everyone swim so much. It turned out that the unhappy face was because his computer flooded. That was a big bummer. So to cheer him up I took them over to Kevin´s favorite reef, Colombia Shallow. Kevin saw a nurse shark upside down wiggling around but I missed it. I think my little spotted drum moved to a new rock. John found it about 50 feet away from where it had been. We saw tons of small lobsters and huge black grouper too.
Tuesday, July 7th
Tracy got on the boat at Caleta. We picked up Andy on the way to the Iberostar pier where Kevin and Jeff got on. I asked them where I was going to take them and Kevin shouted out, ¨Palancar Caves!¨ It took about 15 minutes to get to the first cave but after 30 minutes I think they were ¨all caved out¨ J
Then Kevin requested a splendid toadfish. I took them to French Reef. I spent an hour swimming around looking for a toadfish for Kevin but I didn´t find it until he was already on the boat. We did see a big green moray eel, a turtle, a huge southern stingray and a gigantic black grouper. So it was a great dive!
Wednesday, July 8th
Tracy and Orlando are working on their divemaster certification so I had Tracy give the briefing to Dave, Anna and Andy at PalancarBoy, was my day easy! We swam through caves and we saw a turtle go up to the surface for a gulp of fresh air. Orlando found a tiny little pipehorse that Tony had showed him earlier in the week. Orlando also pointed out a splendid toadfish. Gardens. I just followed them all around and watched.
At San Francisco Wall Orlando had to give the briefing and lead the dive. He swam slowly and I pointed out a hungry turtle below us with a pair of queen angels sharing lunch. I also showed them a southern stingray buried in the sand. There were lobsters everywhere and Anna kept pointing to her tummy so I guess she likes to eat lobster. It was Anna that found the bit spotted moray eel and showed it to us.
Thursday, July 9th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Tracy, Alaina, Sandra, Mike, Andy, Charlie, Kevin and Jeff. We saw a baby turtle that fell in love with Kevin. We swam in between all the pinnacles of coral and had a very pretty dive.
The second tank was on Paso Del Cedral. I found a huge green moray eel. I tried to coax it to turn it´s head and smile for the divers but it insisted in hiding it´s little face. I also found 2 of the little pipehorses. Everyonereally liked those.
Friday, July 10th
Dive one of the day was on Palancar Gardens where Kevin showed us all a big, fat free swimming green moray eel. I was turned around doing a head count on Jeff, Tracy, Alaina, Sandra, Mike, Charlie and Suzie when I heard Kevin shouting, ¨Alison!!!!!¨ through his regulator. It was clear as a bell. I found him pointing at the big eel and then it started to swim all around us. It was really exciting. I hope that Mike and Sandra got some good pictures of it!
Kevin once again found something spectacular on Dalila. He found a lionfish! Orlando kept the group together while I went up to the surface and got a long tube and Sandra´s mask box. I went back down and scooped the little bugger up and brought to back to Carlos who put it in a bucket. Carlos has a couple of fish tanks at home so he is going to keep the lionfish. I only found one thing………. A watch. I gave it to Orlando and he was very pleased.
Saturday, July 11th
Charlie, Suzie, Tracy, Alaina, Sandra, Mike, Kevin and Jeff came with me to Colombia Deep. I skipped the first two caves but took everyone through the last one which is the best one. We saw a couple of turtles and fun was had by all.
The guys wanted to go to Colombia Shallow. When I got in to check the current 2 big greater amberjacks were swimming below heading southbound in a hurry. They were being followed by a good sized nurse shark. I told everyone to hurry up and get in. It turned into a shark parade. I pointed to the second shark in the line and Sandra noticed the third shark. During the first half of the dive the two big jacks came back and were followed by the smaller nurse shark. Mid way through the dive I saw one of the sharks swim off in the distance. As Sandra and Mike were getting ready to head up one of the really, really big ones came by. So it was ¨shark day¨ on Colombia Shallow.
Sunday, July 12th
Orlando and I took Greg, Lauren, Mark, Sandra, Mike, Keith and Patrick to Palancar Gardens. Mike says that Gardens is his favorite reef and that he dreams about that place. Gardens is also Orlando´s favorite reef. As we swam through one of the last big archways I stopped to look for Tony and Orlando´s little pipehorse but I could not find it. We did see on turtle and we had a close encounter with a curious barracuda. That reef is sooooooo beautiful. There are big openings overhead where the sunlight comes streaming down in beams. It is full of mysterious little hiding places and little critters everywhere.
I wanted to keep it easy for the second dive so we went to French Reef. We had one turtle go by but it took off pretty fast. I showed Greg a small lobster that had it´s antennas broken off. It looked like someone had tried to pull it out of the hole and did not succeed. At the end of the dive I grabbed Orlando´s butt to get his attention and I showed him a nurse shark just lying about on the bottom. Good thing that he can not sue me for for sexual harassment J
Monday, July 13th
Debbie, John, Mark, Brooke, Lisa and John arrived on the Carnival Glory. Debbie requested a dive on Palancar Gardens. We had a picture perfect day with lots of sunshine, calm water and good visibility. Debbie really was excited to go through those tunnels again. We had a very nice dive.
Then she requested Paradise reef for the second dive. I found the most adorable little juvenile smooth trunk fish. They look like little brown marbles with yellow spots on them and they just bob around in circles all day. I pointed out the usual array of lobsters and a peacock flounder. Another divemaster showed us the 4 foot nurse shark taking a nap in a dark niche. I took John´s camera and stuck it in the hole and took a photo.
Tuesday, July 14th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Tracy, Greg, Mark, Lauren, Shannon and Pat. We had absolutely perfect conditions. There were no waves, no current and great visibility. Everyone enjoyed the enormous towering coral formations. Pat says that they just don´t get to see that in the Florida Keys.
I was in the mood for a little action so I took them to Cedral Wall for the second dive. On our way to the bottom we saw a big nurse shark being followed around by a grouper. The first big thing we saw was the 6 foot green moray eel that Orlando showed us. Then we drifted right over a napping turtle. While I was taking Shannon up we saw another really big nurse shark swimming around below us with a grouper. It was a really great big critter dive.
Wednesday, July 15th
In the morning Tracy and I took Angela over to Paradise for confined water training. She wasn´t really enthusiastic about diving so we just took her back to the hotel and waited for our afternoon group.
Cris wanted to see a seahorse so I took her over to Cedral. Not only did I show her the pipehorse but we saw several swimming nurse sharks, a huge green moray eel, a baby green turtle and a goldentail eel. At the end of the dive when only Cris and I were still down I swam her over to Santa Rosa and showed her the big yellow seahorse. I think that made her day.
Thursday, July 16th
It had been a whole year since Debi and Kelley´s Open Water certification dives and they needed a little refresher. So I sent Cris, Lee, Pat and Keith with Tracy down to 60 or 70 feet while I stayed shallow for a while with Debi and Kelley at Palancar Gardens. Our first turtle was small and swimming past overhead. Our second turtle was small and had wedged itself under a coral head and it was sound a sleep. It barely stirred as we all gathered around it for a look. The last turtle was small too. It soared to the surface for air and then after a couple of minutes rejoined us on the bottom. We saw quite a few black groupers. A pair of them was making an interesting display for us. Lee and I decided that they were ¨doing it¨. We also saw a bunch of lobsters. At the very end of the dive in the sandy area we observed 3 southern stingrays feeding on the bottom. One could only be described as jumbo extra large. I would guess that from wing tip to wing tip it must have been 6 feet. Lastly we found a big green sea star. I picked it up and passed to the Cris so that she could check it out.
Lee said that Dalila was his favorite dive so far. I showed everyone a big green moray eel in a dark cavern. Tracy lent me his flashlight to help everyone to see. I think that thing that Lee liked best was the fish life. Cris spent time showing Debi all the little stuff.
Friday, July 17th
I dived Colombia Deep with Debi, Kelly, Chase, Rachel, Debbie, Cris and Lee. There were a few small turtles and everyone loved the cave.
Dive two was on Tormentos along with half of all the other dive boats in Cozumel. Everywhere we looked there was another group of divers. But it didn´t bother us because there was no current and everyone puttered around. Another divemaster from another group showed Cris a pipefish. We found a spotted moray eel with it´s tail sticking out of a hole. It was an easy dive.
Saturday, July 18th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Sam, Eric, Trish, Chase, Rachel, Chris and Lee. We had a lovely dive with perfect conditions. The only big animal that we saw was a turtle at the very end of the dive.
Then we went to Chankanaab. On Chankanaab with looked for little stuff like the Peterson´s cleaner shrimp and the banded cleaner shrimp.
Monday, July 20th
Laura, Russ, Chase, Debi and Kelly were my divers. I asked Carlos to take me to Palancar Horseshoe because I didn´t want everyone getting sick of Palancar Gardens. Well Carlos dropped me off on Gardens anyway and I didn´t realize it until we got down over the wall. Oh well. I don´t think that they even noticed the difference. We had a great dive and we scared a big crab under a ledge as we approached for a closer look. As I was coming up the ladder I told everyone that a turtle was surfacing and they all watched it from the boat.
Orlando found a BIG lionfish on San Francisco Wall. Right after 3 big groupers disturbed a group of school masters he started pointing wildly at the reef. I came over and decided to go up to get something to catch it with. I came back with a ziplock bag, a tube and a set of cards. That thing was as big as the opening of the bag. I was scared that Orlando or I would get stung so I decided to leave it for another dive. I know exactly where to find it again.
Tuesday, July 21st
Laura and Russ didn´t want to go back to San Francisco Wall to get the lionfish so I took Gayla, David, Chase, Laura and Russ to Santa Rosa Wall for a great dive. Aside from the schools of humans everywhere, a big male, hawksbill turtle practically bumped into a neighboring divemaster. Chase learned how to tell the difference between hawksbill and green turtles. We saw 2 huge crabs in a cave and we stopped to take pictures of the seahorse.
We found 2 juvenile smooth trunkfish on Yucab. One was bobbing around the opening to the den of a splendid toadfish. I got it to come out and swim. I showed Gayla some rough file clams and some brittle stars on bright red sponges. Both make really spectacular photos.
Wednesday, July 22nd
Orlando and I went back to San Francisco Wall with Gayla and David to hunt the lionfish. We equipped ourselves with fishnets, a long tube, a transparent gear bag and a set of stiff cards. We rolled in and there was a decent current going on. Orlando shouted shark while we were still at the surface. There was a big nurse shark swimming around below us. We descended, we found the area and parked. We searched and searched and searched for 20 minutes and never found the little sucker. Guess we need Chase there to help us out………….. Well after 20 minutes I imagined that our customers were sick of waiting so we moved on and finished the dive. Orlando found a hawksbill turtle napping under the reef. We accidentally woke it up and it surfaced next to our boat.
Gayla asked for a reef with less current so that she could take some photos. I took her to Chankanaab. We saw a bunch of lobsters and crabs. Orlando found a pair of turtle eggs on the bottom. That happens sometimes during this time of year. Orlando´s little spotted drum has gone missing. I told him something must have eaten it. I am so mean J
Thursday, July 23rd
Tank # 1 was on Colombia Deep with Paul, Laura, Russ, David, Gayla, Mike, Debbie and Vladimiro. Orlando took off like a bat out of hell as we reached the bottom because he spotted a big turtle. I told him to come on back and relax. The second turtle was on it´s way up to the surface for air when I saw it. As we came out of the first cave Paul showed us a big spotted eagle ray. As soon as the big boy spotted us it turned around and took off. I didn´t even see the last turtle. I was at 15 feet when Mike pointed it out.
Tank # 2 was on Paso Del Cedral. We had a little shark fest. The first shark was that little baby one and it was behind a sponge that blocked the current so that it could lounge about at it´s leisure. Then I found a big lobster in a hole. We all stopped and I found 3 tiny pipehorses. Two of which were clinging to the same piece of algae and were very, very cute. Right at the pipehorses we encountered a 5 foot nurse shark which when disturbed swam off with David right on it´s tail. The very last shark was pretty darned big and I tried to lay down next to it for size comparison. That one took off too.
Friday, July 24th
My divers were Paul, Vladimiro, Gayla, David, Mike and Debbie. They picked Palancar Caves for the first immersion. We saw turtle after turtle after turtle. None were big but some were eating, some were swimming and some were just hanging out taking a siesta. We swam through a bunch of caves and we had a good time.
As soon as we hit the bottom on Dalila a big grouper swam by. It wasn´t long before we swam up to a HUMUNGUS nurse shark in the sand. It swam away as we got close. Then Dave found the lionfish. I went to the surface to get the net, tube and bag. Orlando and I worked together to try and catch it but it scooted away into a cave and we could not even see it again. So now we have changed our strategy. Before we attempt to catch the lionfish we are going to try and block off all possible escape routes before we begin our attack. It is time for a strategy change.
Saturday, July 25th
Gordon, Ashley, Carol and Deanna were very happy to go look for the seahorse on Santa Rosa Wall. As we descended a 7 foot nurse shark waited patiently for us on the bottom. I think Gordon may have gotten a couple of good shots of it. Then we went through a few swim throughs on the way to the seahorses. Carlos got some stunning shots of both the yellow seahorse and the brown one.
No one complained when I said that I wanted to go to San Francisco Wall to hunt the lionfish. Orlando found the little bugger and we could not get it out of the hole. Orlando and Deanna worked really hard at it but we now have a new plan/strategy. We are going to bring a bunch of plastic bags down with us and block off all of the surrounding holes in the reef so that the little bugger has nowhere to hide when we flush him out. I am not giving up on it! During the safety stop a big black grouper gave away the hiding place for my favorite green moray eel. It was the one with the crooked mouth. I dropped back down to say hello to it for only a minute and then I went back up and got on the boat.
Sunday, July 26th
Alison with just one ¨l¨ and Curtis were newly certified so I picked Palancar Gardens for the first dive. Mike N. was happy with that choice. Carol and Deanna will go anywhere. They are so easy to please. I promised Mike and Debbie that I would take them somewhere that they wanted to go the next day. We had almost no current at all. I was so thankful. The visibility was a bit limited due to the sponges reproducing. I found a couple of turtles for Deanna so the dive was a big success.
In keeping with success I made it easy on Alison and Curtis and took everyone over to Colombia Shallow. Carol got a thousand pictures of the flamingo tongues. She and Deanna persued a rather large swimming nurse shark. I liked the big school of blue tangs best. There were lots of small lobsters everywhere too.
Monday, July 27th
I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Carol, Deanna, Deborah, Miguel 1, Miguel 2 and Jorge. Most people didn´t see the enormous turtle that Miguel pointed out. The turtle went straight up to the surface. We found both of those beautiful little seahorses and amazingly we had the reef to ourselves! Usually there are huge crowds on that reef but I don't think that we saw any other divers during our dive that morning. While Deanna, Miguel and Orlando were still down we saw a big spotted eagle ray go by. Orlando was thrilled when I found a furry sea cucumber for him.
Punta Tunich (Piedras) was by special request. I briefed everyone on current before we got in. When I first got in the current seemed very calm. But it didn´t take long to pick up speed and soon we were flying. After the first turtle sighting we found a juvenile spotted drum and Carol took pictures. Then we stopped in a hole and found a green moray eel. Carol, Deanna and I were wedged in the hole with the eel when it spun around and headed at us. Carol said that she was so scared that she peed her wetsuit. She bravely held the camera out. I thought that she was taking pictures but later she explained that she was fending off the eel! I have to admit that I was a wee tad nervous myself when it came at us. The poor thing just wanted to get away from us but we were blocking the escape route. If that was not enough excitement, Carol and Deanna parked next to a big turtle on the bottom as Miguel floated away in the current. Orlando stayed with the girls and worried about Miguel but Orlando didn´t know that I was hanging out at 15 feet with Miguel 2. Then I went back down and brought up Carol, Miguel 1 and Deborah. As we did our safety stop I looked down to find a big nurse shark swimming below. Orlando brought up a beer bottle. Deanna and I brought up a piece of fishing line. It was an exciting dive.
Carol, Deanna, Miguel 1, Deborah, Miguel 2, Paul, Alison, Curtis, George, Orlando and I had a very exciting night dive. It was Deborah who found both of the octopi. The first one that was spotted was near the beginning of the dive and the second was at the very end of the dive. Crabs were everywhere and the spotted moray eels were out in force. Someone discovered a slipper lobsters and I don´t know who it was that pointed out the splendid toadfish. There were not too many lobsters but no one noticed that. Everyone had a great time J
Tuesday, July 28th
I decided on Palancar Bricks since Carol, Deanna, Allie, Curtis, Mike, Deb, Miguel and Paul had not already been there this week. Wow! I stopped counting turtles after 5 or 6. We had a regular turtle party! The first one was exceptionally friendly and everyone violated the dive plan going deeper to play with it. The rest of the turtles did normal stuff like swim away. I found a pair of beautiful banded cleaner shrimp inside of a couple of yellow tube sponges. I hope that Carol got a good picture of them!
I was feeling tired and worn out from the previous night´s dive so I picked French Reef for the second tank because it is an easy dive. Mike showed Deb a big turtle swimming off into the deep water. I pointed out a bristle worm and a flamingo tongue for Carol´s camera.
Wednesday, July 29th
After a bit of debate on the boat we settled on Palancar Caves for the first dive. My divers were Carol, Deanna, Paul, Mike and George. I only recall seeing one turtle on that dive. I think all the turtles moved down south to Bricks! Orlando loved that dive and said that it is the best reef ever. Guess that is his new favorite…….
We went back to Dalila and searched for that lionfish for 20 minutes to no avail. I just hope the reason we didn´t find it was because someone else may have taken it out. After everyone else was up on the boat Deanna, Orlando and I watched a huge octopus make a very impressive display for us for about 5 minutes. Deanna shot loads of pictures. The octopus turned sea foam green and splayed out. It crept over the reef slowly with tentacles spread and changed colors to match its background as it passed over different reef structures. We were just fixated and didn´t realize that our air was down to 700 psi and we had to go up.
Thursday, July 30th
I went to Palancar Gardens with George, Gloria, Mike, Allie and Curtis. Orlando snorkeled around with Gloria while we dived. George pointed out a small hawksbill turtle that went to the surface for air. As I was coming around a large coral formation I saw a huge loggerhead turtle that took off as soon as it saw me. I think it may be the same one that I have seen in that area before.
Paradise is always good for snorkeling. We saw a huge grouper and a snapper with big teeth. There was a normal sized snapper that had a fish hook in it´s mouth. George discovered a little brown balloon fish.
Friday, July 31st
The first thing that Kim did when she arrived at the Caleta was that she asked Orlando if he could find her a seahorse. He told her yes and that was how we decided on Santa Rosa Wall for the first dive. Her husband Tom took pictures and her son Trey just hung out. As soon as we hit the bottom we saw a huge nurse shark just lounging about on top of the reef. It took off and swam down deep. That seemed to be the pattern because the next 2 sharks that we saw did the exact same thing. Tom took some photos of a turtle up on top of the reef and we also saw a couple of big groupers. Orlando missed the first yellow seahorse but I found it. Orlando found the second brown one. The divers were elated!
Then we went looking for our lionfish on San Francisco Wall. We bombed out. It must have moved. We did see my favorite green moray eel with the crooked mouth out swimming around and a couple of baby peacock flounders skittering around in the sand.
Sunday, August 2nd
It was Ted, Diana, Tim, Darenda, Jaime, Allison and Dylan´s first day so I tried to make life easy on them and took them over to Palancar Gardens. We had a nice, easy first dive of the vacation. Ted and Diana practiced Peak Performance Buoyancy Control as we swam through all the archways and tunnels. We saw a little lobster at the very end of the dive.
Paso Del Cedral was action packed. First we checked out another lobster. Then we drifted up to a 6 foot green moray eel. Then we stopped and found the little pipe horses. The a really big southern stingray swam right below everyone as we watched a baby turtle surface for air and come back down again. Later in the dive we saw a few more southern stingrays and some barracudas. Dylan particularly enjoyed the lizard fish scooting around.
Monday, August 3rd
I dived Palancar Horseshoe. Ted and Diana were doing their deep dive for their Advanced certification. I took them to about 95 feet. Orlando stayed up in 60 to 70 feet of water with Noah, Darenda, Jaime, Tim, Allison and Dylan. When Ted, Diana and I ascended and got back together with the group Darenda pointed out a huge turtle swimming below us. It actually came up and joined us for a bit. Then a southern stingray swam by.
For the navigational exercises we went to Colombia Shallow. We saw a couple of turtles and a few lobsters but the excitement started when Orlando found a lionfish. I went up and got the new nets that Carol brought and we actually scooped it up on the first try. Everyone was fascinated.
We also had a night dive on Chankanaab. Tim thought that the night dive was the best one yet. I think it was Orlando who found the really big octopus that put on a show for us for about 5 minutes. I found Tim taking pictures of a baby octopus that was very cute. We saw tons of big crabs with huge pinchers and a few lobsters. There was a spotted moray eel that swam around and seemed to be following us for a while. We saw a couple other spotted morays and a tiger´s tail sea cucumber. There were 4 yellow stingrays huddled together that caught our attention too.
Tuesday, August 4th
Darenda, Tim and Dylan were into caves. Nate and Melissa seemed open to just about anything. So I took them to Palancar Caves. We saw quite a few turtles. I spent a lot of time hanging out with Melissa. Amanda and Orlando took good care of everyone while I concentrated on Melissa. It had been 2 years since her last dive.
I wanted to go somewhere easy for the second dive so I picked French Reef. We saw a couple more turtles and a pair of amazing lobsters. One was huge and it was out strutting around. Then we saw what it was after, another big lobster. We didn´t even see lobsters that big on our night dive!
Wednesday, August 5th
Dive one was on the ship wreck per special request. Dylan and Ted really wanted to go there. Amanda seemed happy about going there too. Diana and Allison didn´t want to go inside the ship and we planned to have them stay out with Orlando. Tim and Darenda just went along with what everyone else wanted to do. The beginning of the dive was very chaotic with huge clusters of divers everywhere. After about 10 minutes they all disappeared and we had to wreck to ourselves. We had good conditions and a smooth dive there.
Dive two was on Tormentos. We went in search of Jorge´s seahorses. After a few beers a week before, Jorge told Amanda and I about the seahorses on Tormentos. He told me to find the hole or the little swim through and then about 20 feet before the hole to the south in on the deep side we should start looking. It was Orlando who found them. I floated over the first one and missed it completely. Orlando yanked my fin and told me to look down. It was right below me! It was a big orange one. Then I told him to go find it´s mate. It didn´t take him more than a minute to find the other orange seahorse. Amanda was absolutely delighted. We also saw some lobsters on that dive and when we came to the end of the reef everyone was ready and willing to go up.
Thursday, August 13th
Well it felt strange being back in the water even after only a week off. I took Amanda, Mom, Phoebe and Dave to Gardens which is my favorite spot for the first day of diving. We didn´t see a whole lot but we had a nice, easy dive. I appreciated that because even I had ¨the first day floaties.¨ Dave and I saw a southern stingray at the end of the dive.
Phoebe asked about sharks so I took her to Dalila. I found 2 for her. The first one was small and asleep under a coral head. By the time that she got over there with the camera it had taken off and she got to see it swimming away. I found another big shark swimming around in the deeper water. Amanda followed after it and she found a big light blue/turquoise octopus stuck to the side of the reef. As I was pointing out a splendid toadfish Orlando discovered another one about 15 feet away. Orlando had never seen my little lure and was delighted when the toadfish came out snapping at it. The toadfish that Orlando found had 2 big scarlet lady cleaner shrimps in the hole with it. As Orlando brought Dave up for the safety stop he looked down on a hawksbill turtle. He banged on his tank and got my attention so that Amanda, Phoebe and I could go take a picture.
Friday, August 14th
The surface of the water was like a mirror on Santa Rosa Wall. Carlos and I teased Phoebe and Dave that we could see a turtle on the bottom. Orlando went over for a look. He is so naïve. We had light current and we saw a big green moray eel in a hole on the wall at about 70 feet. We took pictures of the eel but there were baby fish everywhere that looked like gnats and they got in the way. We swam through a few nice caves. I only found the brown seahorse. It was trying to blend in with the algae and doing a really great job.
There was almost no current at all on Cedral Wall. I actually did some kicking at first. As we descended Dave pointed out a small turtle on it´s way up to the top for some air. I found the little nurse shark in the hole but I had to turn the camera upside down to get a photo of it. We saw several turtles more at a distance but they all seemed to be swimming away and we had to swim against the current to check them out.
Saturday, August 15th
The surface of the water was like glass again at Palancar Gardens. It was Jeannette, Gary, Garrett, Sam and Pat´s first day of diving and we had a nice, easy dive. Gary showed us an electric ray in the sand as we landed on the bottom. It wasn´t long after that we saw a big southern stingray glide by. A big hermit crab crawled around the bottom. I showed Gary a brittle star wrapped around a lavender colored vase sponge. Near the end of the dive I found a big crab clinging to the side of the wall. While the divers were starting to head up Orlando found a lionfish. I went up and got the nets. It only took him one scoop to catch it. The new lionfish is going into Carlos´ fishtank.
After a little debating we decided to do the second dive on Cedral Pass to find some pipehorses for Jeannette. I only found one but that was enough. We found a couple of splendid toadfish, loads of barracudas and a baby lobster. I drifted right over a small green turtle and would have missed it completely if Jeannette had not pointed it out.
Sunday, August 16th
Jeannette wanted to see seahorses so I took Gary, Garrett, Jeannette, Mom, Sam and Pat to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a family of 6 cute little lobsters all huddled together in a hole. Jeannette pointed out the little turtle that swam by. I found the yellow seahorse and Orlando found the brown one.
The dive on San Francisco Wall was really easy and nice. I used my flashlight to highlight a spotted cleaner shrimp giving a coney a very thorough once over. Gary took a picture of an arrow crab and I made sure that they saw the goldentail moray. Orlando and I looked for the lionfish but I think someone must have taken it out or it must have gone far away because it just isn´t in the area anymore.
Monday, August 17th
Mom got on board at Caleta. Steve & Jen got on at Casa Del Mar. We picked up Jeannette, Gary and Garret at Iberostar. I asked everyone where they wanted to go. Jeannette fancied the swim throughs so I took them over to Palancar Caves. Unfortunately every other diver on every cattle boat on Cozumel wanted to go to Palancar Caves that day too. We spent a good portion of the dive trying to get away from the herds of humans everywhere. The dive wasn´t all bad. We did see a couple of turtles and a big lobster. The coral formations there are so dramatic that you couldn´t NOT have a good time J
We avoided all other divers completely on French Reef. I found a gigantic loggerhead turtle sleeping under the reef in about 60 feet of water. I showed it to mom and she thought that she was hallucinating. We saw another small hawksbill or two plus a nice big southern stingray too. It was a great way for Mom to end her diving vacation.
Tuesday, August 18th
Kathleen, Kurt, Ryan, Rachel, Kathy, Bruce and Steve left the decision of where to dive up to me. I picked Palancar Horseshoe. Not long after we reached the bottom we bumped into a big hawksbill turtle. We followed it around for the first 30 minutes of the dive. It was always kind of off in the distance ahead. We also saw a big southern stingray flapping around over the top of the reef. At the end of the dive we saw another turtle.
Dalila was action packed. We saw a 6 foot nurse shark swimming around and right after it took off we discovered a turtle dining on a sponge surrounded by colorful angelfish. As I was showing the family the turtle, Steve had an octopus encounter. Orlando joined in the fun and showed Bruce and Kathy. They all liked the tiger´s tail sea cucumber that I showed them. When only Steve, Bruce and I were down I saw a flipper sticking out and waving from behind a coral head. I called them over to watch a turtle wake up and wiggle out from under the rock that it was sleeping under and swim off. That was a nice ending to a fun dive.
Wednesday, August 19th
I dived Palancar Caves with Steve, Jenn, Roland, Lorraine, Jen and Rod. They kind of did their own thing and I just followed them around. We saw a big turtle and a small green turtle. We saw lobsters and I saw a crab but no one else was around to see it.
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral. We saw loads of nurse sharks. I can´t remember how many but I would guess about 5. One swam just in front of us for a while and didn´t seem to mind us being around. Everyone even lost interest after a while. We also saw a huge grouper. The little pipehorses were gone. I looked for about 5 minutes and everyone just wandered away.
Thursday, August 20th
Orlando and I searched for 20 minutes on Santa Rosa Wall for the little seahorses and we never found them. The interesting thing is that I saw 4 different mantis shrimp actually out and about. It was weird. Our divers were Steve, Jenn, Roland, Lorraine, Rod and Jennifer. They saw a juvenile spotted drum but I missed it. We did see a big turtle that hung out with Jenn for quite a while. We saw a second small turtle too.
Friday, August 21st
My divers were Kathleen, Kurt, Ryan, Rachel, Kathy, Bruce, Colleen and Gil. They requested Santa Rosa Wall so we went back there. Upon reaching the bottom we discovered a sleeping turtle in a dark crevice. Then we drifted along to the cave and swam through it. After the cave we observed a rather large nurse shark just lying about in the sand. The dive was an hour and 10 minutes long and we ended up swimming from one reef to another just to have something to look at.
I took them to Paso Del Cedral and we had ¨octopus day¨. First I found 2 big octopuses in holes about 6 feet away from one another. Later in the dive I spotted a big octopus completely out in the open. It stuck to the reef and tried to blend in but everyone got a really good look. We sure got our exercise swimming against the current to check it out. The first nurse shark was way off in the distance and I don´t think everyone saw it. The second one was lying under the reef and I unsuccessfully tried to take a picture of it with Colleen´s camera. The third nurse shark was lying in the sand and I was comparing it to Ryan and decided that shark was longer than Ryan if he didn´t have his fins on. We also saw a bunch of lobsters on that dive.
Saturday, August 22nd
I went to Palancar Gardens with Carmen Jeff, Gil, Traci, Bruce, Kathy, Dan and Allie. We had great conditions when we started out but as the dive progressed the current got stronger and stronger until we were just gliding along in the shallows. While the current was still calm we checked out a big lobster and a crab too. Traci chased after a big turtle at 85 feet but I didn´t point it out because I didn´t want everyone following her down there. It was a really big turtle too.
I picked French Reef for the second tank because I wanted to avoid strong current. We had a turtle fiesta on French Reef. Jeff saw 5 different turtles. We had an exciting moment when we were watching one turtle go to the surface and then Carmen realized that there was another turtle right below. It was really cool!
Sunday, August 23rd
I let Carmen pick the reef. Her favorite is Horseshoe. It was she and Jeff´s 23rd anniversary. Allie and Brent didn´t seem to care where they went. We saw a nurse shark immediately upon reaching the bottom which promptly found a hiding place in the reef to get away from us. Later we saw Hercules, the big barracuda down at about 80 feet. Allie went down there for a picture and Brent went down for a good close look too.
I figured that they were 4 good divers and that Cedral Wall would be fun. I was not prepared for the wild ride that we got. The current varied between 3 and 4 knots. We swam as hard as we could but still flew backwards. I didn´t see the humungous turtle until Carmen drifted right over it and pointed it out. That was lesson number one in how to stop in current. We proceeded to see turtle after turtle after turtle. I found a 5 foot nurse shark sleeping in a cave but no one else could see it. As I was taking Allie up for a safety stop I looked down and saw a 7 foot nurse shark lying on the bottom. It was an exciting dive to say the least.
Monday, August 24th
Carmen and Allie wanted to see seahorses and Allie also wanted to see the wall. The guys didn´t care where we went. So Santa Rosa it was! I asked Carlos to drop me off in my favorite spot at the end of Cedral Wall which is a few hundred yards south of the drop off for Santa Rosa Wall. We landed on 4 huge groupers and a nurse shark lying on the bottom. There were big schools of grunts and we woke up a sleepy turtle that swam off against the current. All of that was in the first 5 minutes of the dive. Then we went over to the wall and drifted around some more. We saw a lot more turtles including one turtle that had a bunch of barnacles on it´s back. We got lucky and I found the brown seahorse. I had forgotten that I had my camera in my pocket and I never took a picture of it! Allie was very pleased and took lots of photos.
I wasn´t done with the seahorses, especially since I had forgotten to take a picture of one. So we went to Tormentos for our second dive. We only found one seahorse but I took plenty of lousy pictures. The little orange bugger was very uncooperative and kept turning it´s back to me. Jeff showed me a juvenile spotted drum and I found a splendid toadfish. Both are subjects of photos that I really love but I don´t think that I got a good shot of any of them :-p………………..
Tuesday, August 25th
I dived Colombia Deep with Carmen, Jeff, Brent, Dan and Allie. After checking out an electric ray in the sand we followed a small turtle over to the wall. Then we went a little deeper than the dive plan to observe a big lobster out strutting his stuff. I took them in the first cave and showed Jeff and Carmen a big crab clinging to the side of the cave. Then we came out and found the best cave to go through. As we ended the dive in the shallower area we found a couple of big gray southern stingrays.
After a surface interval at Hollywood where Carlos got in the water and snorkeled with everyone showing them starfish, a moray eel and a baby nurse shark we headed over to Colombia Shallows for the second tank. We woke up a small turtle that Allie fell in love with. We swam with the turtle for a while and I pointed out a 6 foot nurse shark lounging under the reef. Much later during the dive the small turtle came over for another visit with Allie. As we ascended I spotted a big southern stingray buried in the sand. I went back down to point it out and I accidently disturbed it and is swam off.
Wednesday, August 26th
The first tank of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Astor, Jim, Jeff, Carmen, Brent, Allie and Dan. We had the weirdest halocline. The current was not strong but it was almost like being in a washing machine because it pushed us not only north but also up, down and sideways. But it was very gentle so it didn´t bother us. The weird thing was the wavy water and compromised visibility due to the mixing of warm water from the surface and cooler water from down deep below 300 feet that came up in an upwelling. We saw a small turtle and a huge lobster out prancing around up on top of the reef.
The second tank was on Dalila where I was surprised by a very, very fast current. We were flying along and no matter how hard we kicked we were still flying backwards. I tried to duck into every protected area big enough for all of us so that we could rest and catch our breath and look around. It was amazing how many turtles we saw on that dive including a small green turtle. But we didn´t get to spend any time with any of them.
The current was much better in the afternoon on Palancar Gardens when I took Carol, Bob, Carol, John and Janet to Palancar Gardens. We had a nice relaxing dive with a couple of small turtles and a swimming nurse shark in the deep water below us.
I wanted to keep it easy so I took them all over to Colombia Shallow. The current was mild and we saw a few more turtles there. We also saw a southern stingray, a bunch of small lobsters and one big crab. Everyone enjoyed the big schools of yellow fish.
Thursday, August 27th
Thankfully the conditions were back to normal on Palancar Horseshoe. Orlando helped me with Dan, Allie, Brent, Carol, Bob, Carol, John and Janet. When Janet got sick Orlando was right there with her and he got a gold star. We saw a small turtle and a couple of southern stingrays. As we hung out at 15 feet for a while I spied a spotted scorpion fish or stone fish as it is commonly called. Allie got a bunch of pictures of it.
To ensure the least possible current I took them to French Reef. The first turtle was resting on the bottom but took off as we approached. Someone pointed out a turtle that was off in the distance. Carol realized that there were actually 2 turtles over there. We later saw a couple more turtles, one of which was just a baby. It was a good turtle day. We also saw an unusual amount of southern stingrays and they were all swimming around.
Friday, August 28th
I asked Carol and Janet where they wanted to go and didn´t get a straight answer out of them. Bob suggested Santa Rosa Wall and that is where we went! Carol L and John didn´t have a preference. About 10 minutes into the dive a big male turtle swam right into our group and joined us. It was just amazing. Carol said that there was another turtle close to the first one but I never saw it. I was mesmerized by the big boy at close proximity. Orlando found the brown seahorse for Janet as I was taking everyone up.
Janet told everyone about the seahorse which prompted the Carols to ask for a seahorse. So the next stop was on Tormentos. Orlando and I searched for 15 minutes before we gave up. Both of the orange seahorses have disappeared. We did get to see a spotted moray, an adult spotted drum and a splendid toadfish and Carol was impressed. Everyone enjoyed the colorful sponges under the overhangs.
Saturday, August 29th
I took Janet, Carol, Carol and Bob to Dalila. No one ever does Dalila as a first dive so I figured that there wouldn´t be anyone else on the reef and none of the critters would be scared away yet. We did not see another diver the whole dive. We did however see a pair of huge crabs having a Mexican stand off with both pinchers fully extended face to face. Carol said that their arms were as big as her own! There was some current on that dive so Carol and Bob got separated from Janet and Carol. I made a sign on my slate asking them to stop and wait for Carol and Janet. As we faced into the current Carol looked down and then I heard her shout through her regulator, ¨SHARK!¨ There was a 6 foot nurse shark snoozing on the bottom right below us while we hung out and waiting for the girls to catch up.
We finished their week of diving on San Francisco Wall with a golden tail moray and a spotted moray that Carol showed us. We glided up to a big turtle munching away on a sponge. There was a very happy angelfish at its side eating the table scraps. Everyone was very happy when they got back on board the boat.
Wednesday, September 2nd
I only had 2 divers, Brook and Keith. They said that they had never been to the wall in Cozumel so I took them to Santa Rosa Wall. We had a wonderful dive. Although there was significant current both divers did very, very well. They were not the least bit intimidated either by the parade of nurse sharks. I have no idea why we got to see so many but it seemed like ¨shark day¨ at Santa Rosa. The current was too strong to hang out and look for the little seahorses.
Friday, September 4th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Andy, Curtis, Libby, Donn, Cindy and Tommy. We got up close and personal with a turtle that was just puttering around looking for some grub. Then we swam through a bunch of tunnels and came upon a huge, frisky green moray eel out swimming around. I was not sure if she was looking for lunch or just getting some exercise. We really had to kick to catch up with her. Right before we went up Tommy showed us a small lobster waving it´s antennas as us.
They needed to get back to the cruise ship soon so I picked Tormentos for dive two due to it´s proximity to the marina and the cruise ship. Upon landing on the bottom I looked down to discover a small pipehorse clinging to a hydroid. I got out my big magnifying glass since I am getting old and can´t see small stuff so well anymore. I passed the magnifying glass around and everyone got a peek. I spent 5 minutes looking for the orange seahorses but they were nowhere to be found. I give up. I guess they have moved on to get away from all those flashing camera strobes……….. There were several impressive groupers and we checked out a big barracuda´s teeth. Those teeth sure are big and pointy. It gives one pause.
Saturday, September 5th
Jason was getting certified and Eric was working on his Advanced certification. I took them to Palancar and practiced Peak Performance Buoyancy Control with Eric and did some skills for Open Water Certification with Jason in 20 feet of water. Then we all ducked over the drop off. I hung out in 35 feet with Jason and Orlando took Eric down to 60 or 70. Down in the deeper water they saw a couple of nurse sharks. One was big and one was small. The small one was in a cave. We all saw a big free swimming green moray eel. I was wondering if it was the same one that we had seen the day before.
Eric picked Paradise for the second dive. I showed them a splendid toadfish. When it came out of the hole they found out why it is called a ¨splendid¨ toadfish. It has beautiful long yellow ribbon like fins. Orlando found a pipefish and a gold spot eel. I bet the boys thought that it was a snake. They look a lot like snakes. I showed them a crab and a lobster in different holes with my flashlight.
Sunday, September 6th
It was only Eric, Jason, Orlando and I again. We went to the Gardens. Orlando took Eric down 93 feet for his deep dive and I stayed up in 60 feet with Jason. I busiest him with a turtle and Jason took a million photos.
Monday, September 7th
We had a Discover Scuba Diving adventure this day with Jim, Ben, Christian, Trevor, Bobby, Sean and Landan. They came on the Carnival Glory. Orlando and I taught them how to dive. We took them to Paradise and we showed them how to get water out of the regulator, how to recover the regulator from behind their backs, how to get water out of the masks and how to use the octopus. Speaking of octopuses, as we started the tour we found a dead octopus on the bottom in about 8 feet of water. It was missing a couple of legs and there was a bite out of it´s head. It really got me wondering what did that to it……….. During the dive we saw a few crabs and a barracuda. I was surprised that we didn´t see any eels or any lobsters. Everyone did a very good job and dived well.
That night Orlando and I took Eric to Paradise for a night dive. Eric had to do a night dive to complete his Advanced certification. We had a fantastic night dive. We had perfect conditions and we saw everything! We saw plenty of octopi, the usual crabs and lobsters and best of all were the squid. We saw individual squids on 3 separate occasions and got to spend some time with them too. I pointed out a Spanish lobster that looks like a cucaracha and we also saw 2 different crabs that I have not seen for years. One was a decorator crab with 4 anemones stuck to it´s back for camouflage. The other crab was small with pointy angles to it´s shell and long, spindly legs. We had an exception night dive.
Thursday, September 10th
I did another Discover Scuba Diving class for John and Wendy. On Paradise after the skills were completed we swam over to the reef. Wendy was so easy to please. She was absolutely fascinated with the colors and marine life that she saw. Her favorite were the queen angels. John pointed out a couple of lizard fish too.
We did a second dive on Chankanaab. We saw tons of big black groupers and one Nassau grouper too. Wendy described one big crab like a giant tarantula. I thought that was a funny description. She said that the crab could have fed a family of 11. We saw 3 small lobsters huddled together under a rock and another daddy sized langosta out on top of the reef.
Friday, September 11th
Things got back to normal this day. I took Brad, Sonja, Amanda, Leslie, Gerardo and Aranche to Palancar Gardens . Orlando took it upon himself to give the tour and he was sooooo proud of himself when he got back on the boat. He took the girls through lots of caves. I stayed out of the swim throughs with those who did not want to go in them.
The second dive was on French Reef. We had very mild current and the dive was relaxing. Orlando pointed out a turtle overhead. Orlando found the first lobster and I found the second. I found a pair of crabs embracing one another. I made a dirty gesture to Orlando and he filled his mask laughing. Orlando also discovered a small sleeping nurse shark. Everyone really liked that.
Saturday, September 12th
I went back to Palancar Gardens with Sonja, Brad, Aranche, Gerardo, Wendy and John. This time I carefully checked the current and it was southbound again so I had Carlos drop me off at the beginning of French Reef and we dived Gardens backwards so that they would get to see the best part of the reef this day. Sonja and Brad wanted to stay shallow where all the pretty fish are and the best light is for photography. Brad says that he found a green frogfish. He promised to send me a photo when he got home and downloaded the photos. I have never seen a frogfish before.
We had some stubborn ears and I really wanted Wendy to get to see the schools of grunts on Colombia Shallows. Carlos dropped me off north of the part that I like but I didn´t complain. During that dive we saw a huge puffer fish, a small turtle wedged into a crevice on the reef and a couple of nurse sharks hiding in dark crannies. The first shark was at least 6 or 7 feet long. The second shark was only about 4 feet and looked tiny in comparison. My newbies were quite excited back on the boat about what they saw.
Monday, September 14th
It was back to my favorite ¨first day spot¨ Palancar Gardens. Everyone loves that place and it was an easy start to the diving week for Pamela, Mark, Bill and Debbie. Pamela was so busy taking pictures that she would have missed the little hawksbill turtle if I hadn´t grabbed her by the hand and drug her over to see it. Then on the boat she asked me, ¨Did you see that turtle?!?!?¨ Well, yeah…………… I also took a picture of a spotted moray eel with Pamela´s camera. She never came back to see what I took a picture of so when she gets home she will be surprised. She was so fun.
Then we went to Paso Del Cedral. I had a dream about my friend Nick the night before so I decided to go scrub his marker stone. There was a big green moray eel in her usual cave. I took the camera away from Pamela and stuck it in the hole and got a terrific shot of the eel. Then when we came upon Notchka, the nurse shark (who by the way has grown a lot in the last couple of years and now is quite impressive looking) Pamela looked at me like she was not getting near that thing. So once again, I borrowed the camera and took a bunch of nice pictures of my sweet nurse shark up close. When Pamela saw that it was not dangerous she just came right up and started snapping away herself. As we were doing our safety stop we saw another smaller nurse shark swimming around in the distance.
Tuesday, September 15th
I lost my red, white and green necklace on the bottom of the sea at Colombia Deep with Debbie, Bill, Diane, Tal and Graham. Debbie got to see one of the turtles but really most of the turtles were at the end of the dive. Orlando pointed out a small one going up for a breath of air and then I found two turtles kind of hanging out together and foraging. Then a third turtle, much bigger than the other two joined the party. That was about the time that I looked down and saw a big black grouper and a 6 foot green moray eel hunting below us. I didn´t want to come up!
Debbie loves turtles so I found her two more turtles together on Dalila. I could hear her screaming through her regulator because she was so happy to see them. Bill found a nurse shark and he stopped to film it. Orlando went back and checked it out. Orlando said that it was Notchka because the shark had the tell tale notch in her dorsal fin. It is interesting to know that Notcha was on Paso Del Cedral the day before and that she swam against the current maybe 2 miles and settled down on Dalila the next day. I used to see her on San Francisco Wall years ago. It is interesting to study their territorial boundries. There were tons of huge black groupers on our second dive. Tal and Diane were impressed and want to come back for a week.
Wednesday, September 16th
Orlando, Bill, Debbie and Graham came with me to Santa Rosa Wall this Independence Day. I was a little worse for the wear after having enjoyed the fireworks the night before and got home after midnight. So I was very pleased to have Orlando along to do all the work J I just napped on the way out and between dives. We had a very nice dive on the wall. Orlando and I observed some interesting things in the sand. We noticed that a very strong current had passed through during the night or the day before because about 4 inches of sand had been sucked off the bottom and off of the reef. We also noticed turtle paddle marks in the sand under a coral head where a turtle had apparently spent the night. Also in the sand we saw a juvenile peacock flounder. Those are such cute little critters. There were lobsters throughout the dive and I thought that we could open a restaurant with that much lobster. We also saw lots of big black groupers and a turtle for Debbie.
The next one was on San Francisco Wall where we saw 3 different southern stingrays and more groupers. The interesting and fun thing was the turtle that posed for the video camera and wedged itself under the reef for a nap. It was demonstrating exactly the behavior that I had been teaching them about on the last dive.
Thursday, September 17th
I asked Carlos to drop off Orlando, Debbie, Bill, Sussan, Gary and I at Palancar Horseshow which he did. But the current was going the wrong way so we ended up diving Palancar Caves instead. Our first creature encounter was with a small hawksbill turtle. About half way through the dive Orlando and I were surprised to find a big black grouper swallowing up a fish. We went over for a closer look and discovered another grouper and a big green moray eel hunting together. Orlando is learning about hunting behavior this week. Bill got it all on video too! At the end of the dive when Bill and Debbie were headed up Orlando found a big nurse shark napping under the reef. I took Bill´s video camera down and made a mess of filming it. Bill is going to laugh when he sees it!
I needed a nice easy dive for the end of their vacation so I took them to French Reef. We saw a pair of turtles taking turns going to the surface to breathe. We later encountered a lazy turtle on the bottom snuggling up under a barrel sponge. Bill got to film his own shark on the end of that dive. It was a small one where I usually do my ¨moon walk¨. Orlando discovered on that dive that if he is not wearing a wetsuit he doesn´t need a weight belt.
Saturday, September 19th
I went down to Xcalak (you can Google it) and dived with my old friend Benny. The first reef was called the chimney and it was a hole in the top of the reef that dropped down to 80 feet or so. Benny had a little pipefish friend down there and when we came out on the reef we were greeted by 4 good sized tarpons. I was overcome with the health and the beauty of the reef there. The whole reef was covered with big gorgonians and fans. There didn´t seem to be an inch of bottom that didn´t have something growing on it. The reef itself seemed so much more healthy and alive than the reef in Cozumel. However, the fish life was scarce. Between both dives I only saw 2 queen angels and one rock beauty. I can´t recall seeing any other angels and no parrot fish nor trigger fish. The diving was beautiful and interesting and a special treat for me because it was something different. A rather impressive sized nurse shark was nestled down in a crack at around 50 feet and we didn´t disturb it.
The second tank was on a reef called Pozos I think. The shape of that reef was like nothing that we have in Cozumel either. The sandy bottom was 70 to 80 feet deep and the reef grew upwards in the shapes of fingers. The top of the corals was at about 45 to 65 feet depending on if you were swimming closer to shore or further from shore. Benny showed us a green moray eel that poked it´s head out of it´s hiding hole. It is good for me to get out and dive elsewhere once in a while. The release that they had me sign asked me how many dives I had. I wrote down about 10,000. No one asked me a thing J I figure that I do an average of at least 550 dives per year times 17 years. It has got to be around 10,000 ish. There is no way that I am going to go back and count them all but the last 8 years are posted for the world to see!
Monday, September 21st
Back to my usual at Palancar Gardens with my dear friends Patti and Andrew who brought their son David and their daughter in law Rachel too. I had taken David and Rachel diving about 2 years prior. It was Nicki and Bill´s first time diving with me. Nicki had been out of the water for 2 years following a car accident and it was important to us to start slow and easy. We saw a couple of small turtles and a huge lobster. It was Patti that found the lobster. We had a nice easy dive.
Patti loves Dalila so that was dive number two. It started off great when I found an octopus for Patti. If you read previous logs you will see how crazy Patti is to see an octopus. She is always bugging me to find her one. We also saw dolphins! Yes, dolphins. A dive boat passed over our heads at high speed with a pair of dolphins following it. I didn´t see it but you should have seen Orlando´s face! I think that may be the first time that he has seen dolphins. I wrote on the slate to keep looking and maybe we will see more. Well there was one more. It was a big boy too. I chased after it but never got very close. We also saw the required turtles. Orlando showed Patti and Drew a shark or two and some eels. Patti got back on the boat and shouted, ¨That kid can really find stuff!¨ I told her, ¨Yeah, I know. He has young eyes.¨ It´s true. Orlando finds all the good stuff.
Tuesday, September 22nd
Dive one was on Palancar Bricks. My divers were the same crew as the day before. We had some significant current and I spent a good portion of the dive trying to stay in the valleys and canyons of coral to help break up the current a little. We saw a couple of turtles and as I was taking David up for a safety stop I looked down to find a huge nurse shark hiding in a crevice below. The shark had a big remora stuck to it.
Dive two was at French Reef because it tends to have less current and Nicki had never been there before. I pointed out the first turtle as we descended. It was dining on the reef and a pair of queen angels were scarfing up the scraps. Everyone kept showing me good stuff. It was Bill who showed me the first big turtle and then Rachel discovered a huge lobster under a small coral head. We saw so many turtles that I lost count. There were 2 together and a third one very, very close by. Patti said that there were 15 turtles but I am not so sure of that count! A long, dark barracuda lurked in a dark recess and I had to point for a while before Rachel finally distinguished what I was pointing at. I think that Bill liked that dive best so far.
Wednesday, September 23rd
Patti, Andrew, Nicki, Bill, Catherine, Ted, Steve and Gerri came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. We had very little current but what little current we did have was going all over the place. Sometimes it was heading north, sometimes south and at the end it was pushing us out to sea. We swam with Hercules, the huge barracuda and Steve went down deep to get a few good shots of him. We saw a little turtle too.
As Catherine, Ted and I reached the bottom she discovered a turtle hiding from the divers under the reef. I took the camera from Ted and went right down in that hole and started taking some pictures. We ended up seeing a ton of turtles and Ted got a great shot of Catherine with a little turtle swimming right in front of her. The first nurse shark was lying on the bottom and I spotted it´s tail sticking out from it´s hiding hole. We swam over for a look at the full Monte. The second shark was swimming around and the last one was huge and just lounging around on the bottom. We got some good pictures of that one too. Orlando showed us a southern stingray too. Patti, Andrew and I floated over some starfish during our safety stop.
Thursday, September 24th
I dived Colombia Deep with Patti, Drew, Rachel, David, Nicki and Bill. We had an action packed dive. Arriving on the bottom we were greeted by a pair of big black groupers. Then I took them over to the first swim through. I looked down and discovered a pipehorse. Orlando was quite impressed that I had found that all by myself. Coming out of the swim through a small nurse shark hid under the reef. Then I bumped into a small turtle feasting on some tasty tidbit above us. We saw several big southern stingrays. After the cave and the anchor photo shoot I took Bill, Nicki and David up. I came back down and joined the gang. Patti pointed to something humungous in the sand. From a distance I thought that it was a spotted eagle ray because it was so big. Then I realized that it was a giant loggerhead turtle. We all decided that it was the grandpa of all turtles. The remora stuck to it´s belly was at least a meter long and you couldn´t see it most of the time because the shell covered it up. The head on this beast was the size of a watermelon J Then I ducked down to show Orlando a furry sea cucumber. That is his absolute favorite critter. Lastly we checked out a big green starfish before we went up.
We picked Paso Del Cedral for our second dive. There wasn´t much to see in the way of big critters at the beginning of the dive. About half way through we saw one of the little baby green turtles. Rachel swam towards David making the shark sign. By the time that she got his attention the shark had swam off. I saw it way off in the distance so no one else saw it but she and I. Then she spotted a big one lying in the sand as we waited at the surface to board the boat.
Friday, September 25th
I took Patti, Drew, Steve, Gerri, Bobby and Debbie to Palancar Caves for our first dive. Steve described it as very scenic. We saw a few small turtles. Orlando took them through tons of caves and did an excellent job of helping Gerri with her welt belt when it fell off at 60 feet. Orlando got a gold star for that one.
Patti chose Colombia Shallow for the second tank and we had a whopper of a dive. I am not sure who it was that pointed out that first enormous nurse shark but it was unbelievable. Unfortunately it was swimming away. The second nurse shark looked so small because it was only 5 feet long. Then I found a tiny baby nurse shark under a small coral head. I am guessing that the little one was only about a foot and a half long. The last shark swam around a bit before settling down and letting everyone take it´s photo. We saw a bunch of turtles too. Most were small. One medium sized turtle sat in the sand taking big bites of something on the reef. Everyone got to sit with that one and take pictures. Patti was the lobster queen. She showed us individuals and also about 5 lobsters all huddled together under the reef. We also saw big groupers hovering around the schools of French and blue striped grunts. Everyone was very, very pleased with that dive.
Saturday, September 26th
Patti, Drew, Gerri and Steve came diving with me on Santa Rosa Wall. I had Carlos drop me at the end of Cedral wall first so that we could go see the nurse sharks. The first one was about 4 feet long and lying under an overhang. The second one was swimming off in the distance and the third one was really big and resting in the sand. All these sharks were within about the first 3 minutes of the dive. Then we drifted over to Santa Rosa Wall. A big group of divers from Aqua Safari descended upon us about 20 minutes into the dive and they found a lionfish and captured it. We also saw a small green turtle. Orlando scoured the algae for seahorses to no avail. Those little guys are gone!
I took them to Patti and Andrew´s ¨suck me down¨ wall. Once, several years ago we got sucked down in a down current at San Francisco Wall. The current was pretty normal this time around. We saw a few more turtles and Drew made the shark sign. I swam back and tried to see what Pattie was taking a picture of. It turned out to be a friendly turtle. I asked Drew where the shark was and he pointed at me! We saw a couple of huge lobsters too.
Friday, October 9th
Well the Maximus is finally back in the water. She has a new coat of paint from top to bottom and all the dings have been repaired. Carlos worked from 6:00 am until after dark every day trying to get the boat finished in time for our first day out. We took Lee Anne, Dale and Brian to Palancar Gardens for our first dive. We swam through those lovely archways and observed a colony of yellow headed jawfish poking their heads out of their dens. As we did our safety stop Orlando showed us a nice sized hawksbill turtle.
Lee Anne wanted to see a wall that dropped down into the abyss so I took them to San Francisco Wall for our second dive. We saw a big southern stingray foraging in the sand for some lunch. Lee Anne pointed to every pretty fish we saw. When we got back on the boat I asked her how she liked the dives and she said that they were the best dives that she had in her whole life! Now that is an impressive comment J
Saturday, October 10th
Orlando and I took Rich and Fred to San Francisco Wall. Orlando showed us a turtle with a bunch of pretty angelfish sharing breakfast together. My camera wouldn´t turn on so I couldn´t get a shot. The current was pretty fast for the first 30 minutes but then it slowed down and the boys just sat on the bottom sometimes.
I took a gamble on Punta Tunich and lost. The current was pretty fast. We only saw one turtle too. Normally we see lots of turtles, a green moray and/or nurse sharks there. It was not the best dive but it wasn´t terrible either. We did see lots of rainbow parrotfish and midnight parrotfish which are always fun.
Sunday, October 11th
Rich and Fred were my divers. Raul brought Lou along for the ride and we went to Cedral Wall to look for the lionfish that stung Raul 3 weeks before. We saw 3 gorgeous turtles. Each were accompanied by a small group of colorful angels and they were sitting still for Fred´s camera. While I was taking Fred up I looked down to discover a nurse shark swimming around below and later while making a safety stop with Rich we saw another nurse shark lying in the sand. Raul never did find that lionfish again.
Raul had heard that there are a lot of lionfish in Bolones de Chankanaab so that is where we went. I was happy to be going somewhere with less current. I was getting fed up with the swift currents. Raul found a lionfish within about 15 minutes. He spent the whole dive hunting them. I used the tube that I keep in my pocket to coax it out in the open. When Raul tried to snap it up in the mask box the little bugger scooted away. I did manage to get it out just one more time but Raul missed again and the lionfish disappeared into a small, deep cave. Lou showed Rich and I a big crab. It wasn´t moving much so at first Rich thought that it was dead until he noticed the mouth moving. Near the surface we had a minor jellyfish encounter.
Monday, October 12th
Rich, Fred, Chuck, Jen, Orlando and I had an interesting morning. Chuck wanted to go to the shipwreck. Orlando wanted to get in and check the current. I told him OK. Big mistake. The whole time I was thinking that I should get in myself and check it anyway. Orlando did get in and check it. He said that it was ¨tranquilo¨. By the time that I did get in and look down Orlando, Rich and Fred were already at the bottom. There was a good current running. Oh well. Down we went. We had to do lots of swimming against the current and that made for a short dive. Fred was mad but Jen really loved the dive anyway. Chuck seemed to enjoy it too. It was kind of funny actually. I hope that Orlando learned a good lesson this morning.
We had a fantastic second dive on Paso Del Cedral. The current was much lighter than the 2 previous days and we saw 4 different nurse sharks. The first one was way off in the distance as we made our way to the bottom. The second one was just lounging in the sand and we sat and watched it for a good while. The third one came swimming out of the cave straight at Rich and I. That was an impressive sight. The fourth one was sitting on the bottom as well but swam off immediately as we approached. During the surface interval I told Jen and Chuck that spotted eagle rays were not in season until winter and that is one of the very first things that we saw! I also told Jennifer to start looking for a baby turtle in a certain area and it only took me one minute to find that pretty little baby green turtle that is always in the same area. Jennifer and Orlando showed me a really weird worm thing. It was about 4 inches long with a soft, transparent rounded body. The body was about ¾ of an inch thick. The body was translucent and opalescent and shimmered colors like a squid. But it had brown blotches all over it. It quickly buried itself in the sand. It went under apparently digging in one end first and pulling the other end in after. If anyone knows what this is please send me an email and let me know. I have never seen anything like it. Orlando always finds weird stuff that I have never seen before like a horseshoe crab on Santa Rosa Shallow once.
Tuesday, October 13th
Alison brought me an SSI Open Water Referral. I sent her mom and dad and Rich, Fred, Jen and Chuck with Orlando to 60 feet on Palancar Gardens while I stayed shallow with Ali working on skills. When we saw the first turtle she got really excited but the turtle was pretty far away. When we saw the second turtle it was shallow and close by. She took off after it like a rocket. We had a good time!
Since Ali couldn´t go deep our second dive was on Colombia Shallow. Ali got to see a swimming nurse shark up close. She missed the first one when we jumped in. We also saw another small turtle and a couple of big crabs.
Wednesday, October 14th
Dive one was on Palancar Caves by special request with Nils, Pam, Alison, Fred, Chuck and Jennifer. We had some complicated current so I wrote Orlando a note on my slate and asked him to keep everyone away from the drop off. It was better to be in the caves because in the caves we were protected from the current. At the end of the dive Orlando snuck up on a little turtle digging into a sponge on the side of the reef.
Dive two was on French Reef. We didn´t see any big creatures there at all. Just a few crabs and lobsters. But when we got to the surface everyone was ranting and raving about what a gorgeous dive it was and how relaxing the reef was. They said that it was just like swimming in the aquarium. Chuck said that it was his favorite dive yet!
Thursday, October 15th
I wanted to impress Nils, Pam, Alison, Jen, Chuck, Fred and Lance. I took them to Colombia Deep. Ali didn´t want to go through the caves so I sent her over the top with Orlando. Everyone else was very impressed. We saw a big southern stingray in the sand right next to the reef. The only turtle that we saw was off in the distance. Everyone was pretty impressed with the coral formations on that dive.
Since Jen and Chuck did a night dive on Dalila the night before I thought that they should see it during the day. We had a fantastic dive! We saw several turtles. Pam and I giggled as Alison took off like a bolt of lightning after one of those turtles. We saw several nurse sharks too. It was a great last dive for a good week of diving for everyone.
Friday, October 16th
Lance, David, Bill, Crystal and Brenda accompanied me to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw a little turtle and had a pretty uneventful dive. Lance was particularly surprised at the size of the coral formations and marveled over how many years it must have taken to build a structure that high.
On Paso Del Cedral I scrubbed up Nick´s marker stone with scrub brush. I think he would be pleased to know that a pretty yellow sponge is starting to grow on the side of it. We only saw one small turtle. I got to fulfill Lance´s request for a swim through. The biggest fish we saw was a 15 pound hogfish. It was eating something so we watched it open and close it´s mouth. We also saw a yellow fin grouper about the same size at a cleaning station with it´s mouth wide open getting it´s teeth cleaned.
Saturday, October 17th
Melanie had not been diving in years and had never dived in warm clear water before, neither had Ray. But Steve had dived Cozumel before many, many years ago. I wanted to keep it shallow and easy for Melanie so we went to Palancar Gardens. We saw three turtles. Ray was very enthusiastic and took lots of pictures of the turtles. The first one was pretty far away. The second was a little closer but Ray had to go pretty deep to get a good picture. The third turtle sat still and posed for Ray´s camera.
The wind had changed direction and was coming from the north. The surface was getting choppy so I decided it was best to stay south for the second dive and hang out on French Reef. We saw more turtles, a bunch of lobsters including one monster out strutting around on top of the reef. Orlando pointed out a big gray southern stingray in the sandy area. When we got back on the boat Ray was amazed at how beautiful that site was. It is the second time this week I have had divers just blown away by the beauty (not the current J ) on French Reef. I guess you will be seeing French Reef more often in the dive log based on the reaction that divers are having to that site!
Wednesday, October 21st
Ron, Zach, Jaime and Chace came with me to Palancar Gardens. Thankfully we didn´t have strong current and we had a nice easy dive. Chace, Orlando and I saw tons of turtles after the boys were already up on the boat. Chace´s tank lasts longer than mine and Orlando´s! So we stayed down an extra half an hour after the guys were up.
I let Orlando pick the second reef and the current was anything but ¨tranquilo¨. Orlando chose Tormentos. I knew that we would have some current but I didn´t count on that strong current that we got. Upon arrival at the bottom we were greeted by a big black grouper and everyone took pictures. I pointed out a splendid toadfish. The guys took my advice and they shot photos angled up at the pretty sponges growing on the underside of the overhangs. The guys were real troupers. Not one of them complained about the current. I told them that they could go home and tell everyone that they did a real live Cozumel drift dive.
Thursday, October 22nd
We just did a night dive on Chankanaab with Chase, John, Melissa, Pam, Steve and Mike. We were really lucky and we had no current at all. It was Pam who found the first octopus and it was big. Melissa found the second octopus which was just a baby. We saw a squid swimming around. Mike took video of the squid. We also saw lots of crabs and a few lobsters too. There were 2 free swimming spotted moray eels and loads of sea cucumbers too.
Friday, October 23rd
I asked John, Melissa, Pam, Mike, Steve and Meagan where they wanted to go diving. They picked Palancar Gardens. We had beautiful conditions this day. A hawksbill turtle followed us around for about 10 minutes. It actually seemed like it was enjoying our company !
Someone requested Cedral Wall for the second dive. About 8 minutes into the dive we found a lionfish. It was completely out in the open on the surface of a star coral head. I told Orlando that we would go back and get it after the dive. I pointed out a splendid toadfish in a hole. I found a big green moray eel in a hole too. It was really funny because I called Pam over for a look. She was looking in the hole when out popped the eel´s head and she screamed. That sent me into hysterics. Orlando found the little nurse shark in it´s hole. We saw a jumbo sized turtle wedged into a crevice and we woke it up. It surfaced for some fresh air and then came back down again and re-joined us. usual
After we all got back on the boat Orlando and I grabbed our used tanks and went back down after that lionfish. We saw a couple of humungous turtles with swarms of angelfish all around them but that lionfish was gone! I looked up under the coral head and didn´t see it. I took out a long, black tube and filled the underside of the coral head with air. A big crab came crawling down from the roof but no lionfish appeared. The only logical conclusion would be that another group of divers that arrived after the initial siting had scooped it up. At least that is what I want to think J
Saturday, October 24th
I asked Chace, John, Melissa, Pam, Steve, Meagan and Mike where they wanted to go and they picked Palancar Caves. The conditions could not have been more perfect with sunshine, flat seas and no current. We savored every moment of the dive. We saw several turtles and a small lobster.
They picked Dalila for our second stop and we had a bit of current there but nothing intimidating. We had the pleasure of hanging out with several turtles on that dive too. A big, black grouper called my attention and I knew that there was something interesting nearby. I went over to investigate and found a 6 foot nurse shark. The group was pretty spread out at that moment so some really had to swim a ways to see it. I showed John and Melissa a big splendid toadfish that was half way out of it´s hole. It was really cool!
Sunday, October 25th
Tank number one was on Punta Tunich with Chace, John and Melissa. We had surprisingly light current for Punta Tunich. We just drifted along checking out the turtles and the green moray eels. The first eel was in the back of a hole. When I first spotted it I could see it pretty well. Then when everyone else arrived she shrank back against the back of the cave and I don´t think anyone else saw her. I figured out that John had his flashlight so when I found the second eel I went straight over to John and just grabbed his flashlight and passed it around so that everyone got a good lookJ No one can call me shy!
Sarah, John, Kim and Jim got onboard for the next dive. I let John pick our next dive site since it was his last dive of the vacation. He chose La Francesa. I was surprised that we had a bit of current on that dive because normally that is one of our calmer sites. We saw more turtles and Chace found another big green moray eel. She got a beautiful shot of that eel.
John, Melissa, the other John and Chace got off of the boat and I took Sarah, Jim and Kim to San Francisco Wall. I waved my hands at Sarah trying to get her attention when the first southern stingray went by but she never once saw me. I did get her attention for the second stingray but by the time I turned around to point it out the ray had disappeared behind the reef. Sarah did see the third southern stingray which was below us off of the wall. I saw a 6 foot nurse shark swimming around. I watched it go towards the shallow area behind a coral head. I swam over really fast making the shark sign and everyone followed. When I got to the other side where the shark should have been coming out there was no shark! Sarah accused me of being narc´ed. But Jim saw it too so at least I have a witness !!!!!!!!!
Monday, October 26th
Sarah requested Santa Rosa Wall for our first dive. Our divers were Chace, JF, Nathalie, Sarah, John, Jim and Kim. We drifted along at a fast clip. Several groups of divers dropped down all around us. There was a group in front and a couple of groups in back. It was rush hour on Santa Rosa!
After a birthday party on the beach we went to Paso Del Cedral. There was a fast drift there too that dive. We saw a small turtle and a barracuda that was so big that I thought it was shark at first. I showed John a big crab clinging to the side of the reef. Then we chanced upon a small nurse shark that was hunkered down against a small coral head to get out of the current. We all stopped for a long while and took loads of pictures.
I took JF and Nathalie to Las Palmas for a third dive. We saw gazillions of turtles. Well, maybe not THAT many but there was a moment when JF was chasing a big one in front while Nathalie was swimming back to a smaller one right at the end of our little group. There were a bunch of turtles on that dive. Nathalie was surprised at how many donkey dung sea cucumbers there were and how big that they were. JF kept looking at his computer and I figured that his NDL was getting close so I headed off to the shallower water towards shore. I was surprised to see a beautiful black and white jackknife fish. I followed it slowly around a coral head and that is where I saw the lionfish! I went to the top and got some nets from Carlos. Orlando scooped it right up and we took it home. It is now in Orlando´s fish tank!
Tuesday, October 27th
I didn´t give anyone a choice on the first dive. I wanted to go find some lionfish so I took JF, Nathalie and Chace to Bolones de Chankanaab. JF found the firs t lionfish and Orlando scooped it right up. Orlando found the second one right after the submarine went by. The submarine was impressive. It was fun to watch that big white whale slowly approach. It is funny to watch the people inside of the submarine taking our pictures as we are taking pictures of the sub as it goes by. The second lionfish was a fighter and my arms got tired holding the 2 nets together as we made the safety stop.
We picked up Sarah, John, Kim and Tim for our second dive and I let them pick the reef. They picked Palancar Gardens. It was a stunning dive with swim throughs and a green moray eel on the hunt that pretty much followed us for a good 20 minutes. As we leveled off in 30 feet of water Orlando found a second green moray eel and everyone took pictures. We also saw a few turtles.
Jim asked about toadfish so I took them to Dalila for the second dive. Not only did I show them 5 splendid toadfish half way out of the holes, but we also saw several turtles and a medium sized nurse shark taking it easy on the bottom. It could care less that we were all around taking pictures.
Wednesday, October 28th
Nathalie, JF, Sarah, John, Jim, Kim and Tanya were my divers on Colombia Deep. It didn´t take long to find our first nurse shark. It was 6 feet long and lying in a dark recess in the first swim through that we went in. We all swam past but couldn´t get close enough for a good picture. At the end of the first big coral head someone found a lionfish. It was a big dark one. The current was too strong to stop the group and it was too deep so I told Orlando that we would go back for it later. Some funny person, I think maybe John pulled a plastic lion out of his pocket and planted it on the reef in front of Orlando. When Orlando found the plastic lion he was laughing so loud that I could hear him from 15 meters away! He giggled uncontrollably like a little kid. We saw a few turtles and went through all the cool caves. JF showed me a free swimming green moray eel as we did our safety stop.
Orlando and I went back down alone to catch the lionfish but we were unsuccessful. It was very frustrating and the fish was a big one. Orlando swiped at it with the net and missed. The animal darted towards me. I swiped maybe 5 times and it kept getting away. It zipped into a hole and that was the end of that story.
Dive number 2 was on Colombia Shallow where we saw a few turtles and a nurse shark. I found a stonefish and so did Nathalie. We saw a couple of electric stingrays too. Our dive was an hour and 30 minutes long. That is why I think that Sarah, John, Kim and Jim got off of the boat and decided not to do the last dive.
Dive number 3 was on Chankanaab. On the shallow reef we saw a reef monitoring project underway. A few big crabs and one dinner sized lobster were pointed out before we changed course and headed over to Bolones in search of another lionfish. We found a baby lionfish there and brought it up. Those little buggers are so beautiful………..
Thursday, October 29th
I dived Palancar Caves with Sarah, John, Kim, Jim, JF, Nathalie and Richard. We had a gorgeous dive and saw lots of turtles. There were two that were swimming right up to our group together. They were very cute.
Then we went to French Reef where we had a little bit of excitement. We ran into Raul who had a lionfish in his mask box. The Raul pointed out another lionfish and a turtle. We all swam hard against the current to get back to them but some of us never made it back to the lionfish. We saw more turtles along the way.
The last tank was just JF, Nathalie, Orlando and I on Villa Blanca Wall. The first lionfish that we saw was really big and in a little cave. We tried to net it but the bugger hid in the back of the cave behind some lobsters. Nathalie also saw an eel there. She took some nice photos of a peacock flounder as well. We had a couple of empty nets when Orlando found the next lion fish. We scooped it up and put it on the boat. Then JF found another lionfish which we were again successful at catching. It seems like if we don´t get them on the very first swipe then they dart into a cave and get away.
Friday, October 30th
After a chaotic start in the marina I took JF, Nathalie, Marla, Marty, Meggin, Brian and Margie to Palancar Horseshoe. We didn´t see anything bigger than a barracuda but fun was had by all.
Dalila was a much more exciting dive. We saw 4 different nurse sharks. Some were swimming and some were just lying about the bottom. We got lots of photos. I found a splendid toadfish for Brian and Margie per special request. We saw countless black groupers. One was huge. Another was chasing a nurse shark around. Orlando found a tiny, baby lionfish. He netted it and I took it up.
We went back to Villa Blanca Wall in the afternoon since Nathalie liked that place so much. It was gorgeous. We also scooped up 2 more lionfish and I reeled in a bunch of fishing line.
Saturday, October 31st
Halloween dive numero uno was on San Francisco Wall per special request. My divers were Chace, Nathalie, JF, Doug, Meggin and Marty. We had a fast current but no one complained. There was a grand total of 4 different nurse sharks swimming around below us throughout the dive. Doug even went down to 90 or 100 feet on more than one occasion to get a photo. We also saw a turtle up in the shallow area and a few lobsters. It was a good dive.
Dive numero dos was on Yucab and Tormentos. We ran into various groups of other divers. The small group from Aldora was nice. The divemaster showed me that wonderful orange sea horse. I thought that they were gone! I had given up even looking for them. Another divemaster from Aldora showed us a big green moray eel. There was a huge school of humans that descended upon us from Sand Dollar Sports. We ducked into a hiding hole and waited for all 20 of them to pass.
Meggin, Marty and Doug got off of the boat and Sarah, Natasha, Allannah and Elizabeth got on board. We went over to Paradise and did a resort course. We saw a few lobsters, a goldentail eel and some yellow stingrays. Oh, I almost forgot about the balloon fish too.
Sarah, Natasha and Elizabeth were my only takers for the last dive. We went back to Paradise and did another dive. We saw a ton of crabs, loads of lobsters and quite a few eels.
Sunday, November 1st
Chace, Elisa, Don, Meggin, Marty, Doug, Brad and Dave came with me to Colombia Deep. Carlos dropped us off about 20 minutes south of where he normally drops us off so it was DEEP. We swam through some beautiful canyons and sucked up our air really fast. So I will nag at him not to do that againJ Orlando and I went back looking for that big lionfish that got away the week before. It was nowhere to be seen. It is apparent that once we frighten them they disappear.
Elisa loves Colombia Shallow so that was our second dive. As soon as I hit the bottom I saw a nurse shark swimming in the distance but I don´ t think that anyone else saw it but me. I saw Don swimming after something and I went over to investigate. It was a turtle. I spoiled his private moment by calling the group over for a looksy. It was Brad who pointed out the huge spotted eagle ray passing behind my head. We had to swim hard for a good look. It just took off. Orlando showed us a big green moray eel swimming around. I realized that I was hogging the eel when I felt Doug below me trying to get over to it for a picture. I couldn´t resist. I swam with that beautiful, graceful critter for a few minutes. I had to resist the temptation to reach out and pet it´s soft head.
Monday, November 2nd
Jeremy did dives 1 & 2 of his Open Water Referral with me. Michael, Michelle, Greg, his wife, Don, Elisa and Warren went deeper on Palancar Gardens with Tony. Tony showed them a small nurse shark and a couple of turtles. Jeremy and I followed along above them in 20 to 30 feet of water.
I took them over to Colombia Shallow for the second tank. There we saw more turtles and those beautiful schools of blue striped grunts. Tony found that green moray eel again but this time it was hiding under the reef. Greg got some good pictures of it.
Tuesday, November 3rd
Jeremy did dives 3 & 4 of his Open Water Certification. Michael, Millie, Jeff, Don, Elisa, Dave and Brad were my certified divers. We went to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw loads of turtles there. One little one swam right at me. Elisa saw a southern stingray go by.
Then we went to French Reef where we saw a huge southern stingray right off the bat. There were more turtles too.
The night dive was on Paradise with Warren, Don, Brad and Dave. Dave didn´t like being blown around in the current at all. We saw tons of crabs everywhere and quite a few big lobsters. One just walked right up to us. Only one small octopus was seen. It changed colors to blend in. Orlando was excited about a big cowrie that he found. He had never seen one with the animal out of shell before.
Wednesday, November 4th
Tommye, Greg, Michael, Elisa, Don and Warren came with me to Cedral Wall. We had a really great dive. The current was moving along pretty good but it was fun. The first big critter we saw was a big green moray eel kind of coiled up like a snake. A pair of big black groupers werehanging out after a coordinated hunt. There was a family of 4 lobsters all wiggling their antennas at us and then we saw a nurse shark swimming around. Then I found a second green moray which was even bigger than the first one. It was too hard to get my hand back in there to give it a little pet. The other divers saw another nurse shark lying on the bottom but I missed it. I did see a 3rd shark swimming below us as I did a safety stop.
Elisa loves Dalila and we saw lots of turtles there. One was sitting still eating a sponge and another went to the surface for a breath of air. The splendid toadfish were all half way out of their boroughs because it was a dark and rainy day and they mistook it for twilight.
Thursday, November 5th
I dived Palancar Caves with Michael, Michelle, Jeremy, Jeff, Brad, Dave, Ashley and Susan. We had perfect conditions underwater despite the choppy surface. The current was light and we had a fantastic dive. Everyone was very impressed with the massive coral formations and biodiversity.
Brad requested a wall dive so we went to San Francisco Wall for our second tank. Once again we had idea conditions. Jeremy discovered a sleeping turtle way back in a hole. I can tell that he really loves diving now. Orlando disturbed a huge southern stingray as it foraged for food in the sand. It swam off and Michael took off after it and caught it on video.
Friday, November 6th
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Don, Elisa, Michael, Millie and Michelle. We saw a couple of turtles, a shark and a big grouper too. There were a couple of friendly toadfish too. The amazing part of the dive was the huge orange and black lionfish that Elisa found. After everyone was back on board the boat Orlando and I went back down with nets and fished it out. Orlando was so proud of it and so impressed that he brought it home to put with his collection in his fish tank.
Dive two was on Tormentos. I found a tiny pipehorse and showed everyone with my magnifying glass. I also pointed out a juvenile spotted drum. I think Don got it on video. We searched for 10 minutes for the orange seahorses but couldn´t find them. Oh well. I won´t give up on them now.
Saturday, November 7th
I pulled the Maximus out of the water and rented the Estrella del Mar. I forgot how much I like that big tub. My divers were Lori, Deb, Sue, Randy and Devin. We went to Palancar Gardens. The water was like glass and it has a murky green layer of fresh water at the surface from all the rain run off. We saw a darling turtle up close and personal. Devin missed the turtle so I promised him that I would find another one for him.
I found two more turtles for Devin on Paso Del Cedral. I also found a bunch of big groupers around an outgoing green moray eel. We saw a huge lobster that waved us off with it´s antennas. Fun was had by all.
Monday, November 9th
Hurricane Ida blew in and out very fast and I took Paul, Dave, Mike and Marissa to Chankanaab for our first dive. It was very choppy down south and I opted for a couple of dives up north. The water was pretty cloudy after the storm but at least we didn´t have any current. We saw some huge groupers chasing around a school of snappers and a pair of 4 foot Spanish mackerels swam past. I showed everyone a pair of Peterson cleaner shrimp on a corkscrew anemone and a bouquet of white feather dusters.
There was more current and more visibility on Villa Blanca Wall. Paul described the dive as a very colorful, shallow dive. We hunted for lionfish but came up with empty nets.
Tuesday, November 10th
Jason, Jeremy, Mike, Chris, Paul, Dave, Mike and Marissa were my divers and Mike requested Palancar Caves. We had a gorgeous dive. I got to fulfill Marissa´s request to see a turtle. There were two actually. She was one happy camper! The boys loved spending a half an hour floating around in 15 feet of water at the end of the dive.
On La Francesa we saw another turtle and a lobster. Paul took pictures of the biggest nudibranch that I have ever seen in Cozumel. Usually they are less than half an inch long. This one was a couple, maybe 3 inches long and at least an inch and a half wide. It rolled around a bit so that everyone could see that it was an animal and not just a chunk of sponge. It was a reddish, maroon color and blended in perfectly with the sponges. I pointed out a family of 5 small lobsters all hiding together in a hole.
Only Jason, Jeremy and Mike did the third tank with me. Carlos dropped us right on top of a pair of nurse sharks accompanied by a frisky grouper. One shark got up and swam away as the other swam right at the boys. First I saw a small lionfish. Then I realized that there was another tiny little one right beside it. I went up for the nets. Orlando and I worked together and caught both of them on the first try. As I was on my way up to take them to Carlos, Orlando signaled to me to bring back the nets because he found a third lionfish! By the time that I got back down they had found a fourth one. While Orlando took up the third and fourth lionfish another small nurse shark swam by us. We saw a ton of big crabs and some lobsters too. About half an hour into the dive Orlando found a fifth lionfish. In total we caught 5 lionfish. Two were adults and three were babies. Wow. I think that may be commonplace in a year or so. It amazes me how fast they propagate.
Wednesday, November 11th
Orlando caught another lionfish on Cedral Wall. Don had never seen a lionfish before. Paul had seen us try and catch one before but miss. It was Roben and Leona´s first lionfish as well. We saw several huge groupers and the diving conditions were ideal.
Don got seasick so we went back to Caleta to let him off before we did our second tank on Paradise. The current was reversed but it didn´t seem to matter. We saw TONS of small lobsters. It has been a long time since I have seen so many lobsters at Paradise. We saw a couple of crabs and a few goldentail morays as well. It was a nice, relaxing easy dive.
Saturday, November 14th
Kaley and Paul wanted to see turtles and sharks. Leona wanted a fishy dive. Paul and Joe love Colombia Deep. There was a north wind so that was the perfect choice. We saw more turtles than I could count and there was one big, fat nurse shark lounging about in a dark recess. We had a perfect dive!
For more fish and maybe a shark I chose Dalila for our second stop. I found a couple of splendid toadfish right before the first nurse shark swam right up to us. The second nurse shark was swimming away from us. There were a couple more turtles on that dive. Paul and Kaley were convinced that they absolutely have to come right back and stay for a week!
Sunday, November 15th
Wow! I rented the big slow boat for Denise´s Group. They were Denise, Lester, Mary, Krissy, Debbie, Scott, Candy, James, Lew, Greg and Michelle. Paul and Joe came along for the party. There were two lovely ladies who snorkeled as well but I have forgotten their names. Our first stop was on Palancar Gardens where Chucho caught a big lionfish. As he was swimming around with the lionfish in the bag he pointed out a huge green moray eel swimming around on the hunt.
At Colombia Shallows we saw a zillion turtles. Krissy was so happy when she found her very own turtle. A friendly nurse shark swam through the group. Mary and I admired the pillar coral and the sea cucumbers. Chucho caught another lionfish at the very end of the dive.
Monday, November 16th
I dived Cedral Pass with Paul, Joe, Joe, David, Lance, Jean, Ron and Chris. We had an amazing little dive. Once we reached the bottom we saw our first little nurse shark swimming along. About 10 or 15 minutes into the dive is when all the action started. We saw so many nurse sharks swimming around that I couldn´t tell if any were the same ones that we just kept seeing again. We had about 7 or 8 sightings. Some just swam off, some swam along side of us and one swam in and out of the reef. A huge barracuda charged a pair of gray angels at high speed. It just so happened to bolt right in front of Chris who´s eyes looked like to fried eggs on a glass plate. It was extremely impressive. We also saw a few lobsters here and there and there seemed to be more schools of pretty yellow fish than usual. The baby green turtle was in her usual spot.
Paul wanted to go to a wall so we went to San Francisco Wall. At first the current was too strong and it was hard for Orlando and I to keep the group together. But half way through the dive everything settled down and Chris was very excited to see a big turtle swimming slowly over the top of the reef. At the end of the dive Orlando found the beautiful green moray eel with the crooked lower jaw. I just love that animal. It was hard for me to leave her.
Tuesday, November 17th
Paul wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall. My divers were Paul, Joe, Jean, Lance, David and Peggy. Right off the bat Orlando pointed out a swimming nurse shark. Then we took our time going over to the wall and drop off. We drifted along and swam through a cave.
Then Paul wanted to go to Yucab but we told him no. The wind was from the north and it was too choppy. Carlos recommended Dalila but I veto´d that and we went to French Reef. I got a terrific shot of David with a turtle and another cute shot of David up close and personal with a 4 foot nurse shark. I also got a picture of a spotted moray eel and a lobster in a dark cave.
Wednesday, November 18th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with John, Peggy, John, Deborah, Lance and Jean. We had such a gorgeous dive. We saw our first turtle off in the distance right after we sank over the drop off. Later in the dive we saw 2 turtles almost together. Orlando showed us a couple of southern stingrays and John chased after them.
I chose Dalila for the second dive and it was simply perfect. We started off with a splendid toadfish followed by a Caribbean reef squid. Then Orlando started finding nurse sharks and turtles left and right. Oh, and I almost forgot about that big green moray eel poking it´s head out and smiling for the cameras. There were tons of big black groupers. In the end I think that the final count of nurse sharks was 3 and I have no idea how many turtles everyone saw.
Thursday, November 19th
For our first dive with John, Lance, Jean, Ron, Chris, John and Deborah we went to Palancar Caves. Chris wanted to see a turtle and we found her a good oneJ We swam through a bunch of caves and at the end of the dive Orlando and I caught a small lionfish. Deborah couldn´t understand why we had to trap such a beautiful little fish. We ended up turning it over to the National Marine Park when we got back to the marina.
Our second dive was on Colombia Shallow. John didn´t want to dive there. He doesn´t like that site. I felt bad about insisting but we had a great dive. We saw a big green moray eel accompanied by a very fat black grouper. They were obviously hunting together. We saw several more turtles for Chris. She followed the baby one for quite a while until Ron went and drug her back to the group. Orlando found a tulip shell snail eating a small queen conch. I didn´t know that snails would eat other snails. It was weird looking. We also saw 3 lobsters together and right in front of them was a pair of lizard fish. It was a very long dive at over an hour and a half.
Friday, November 20th
I took David, Jeff, Barbara, Jean, Lance, Deborah and John to Colombia Deep. Deborah had been avoiding the swim throughs all week by going around then or over the top. Deb was feeling brave and when we came to the very last swim through she thought, ¨what the heck, I´ll give it a try.¨ Well she picked the longest, darkest swim through of all week! Oops. Needless to say that she did not like it one bitJ She survived without too much emotional distress but I don´t think that swim throughs are her thing. Orlando found a lionfish and I went up for the nets and came back down. It was very easy to bag it.
Then I took them all over to Cedral Wall. We had a beautiful dive with not much current. There weren´t a lot of big critters. We usually see tons of big stuff when there is strong current. But we did see one impressive turtle that couldn´t care less that we hung out with it while it dined.
Saturday, November 21st
I chose Palancar Horseshoe for the first dive with David, Jeff, Barbara, Sonja, Brad, Matt, Max and Peggy. David wanted Jeff and Barb to see the towering coral formations. I don´t remember much of the dive except that we did see one small turtle that Sonja had a photo shoot with. The reason that I can´t remember much of the dive is because Orlando and I became obsessed with a big lionfish that David pointed out. After everyone else went up we stayed down trying to catch it. It lived under a huge, round rock. When Orlando´s air gauge read O we went up and he changed tanks. I went down with my tank that still had 500 psi. When that was empty Orlando stayed down and I went up and got another tank with 500 psi in it. Orlando found a big stick, about 7 feet long and he used it to poke the animal out of it´s hiding spot and through to the other side. We hunted that poor creature for an hour. Finally we succeeded in chasing it out of the protection of the rock and while it was out in the open I netted it. It was a battle that both Orlando and I were set on winning. We could not quit. We could not give up. Once the fish was up on the boat in a bucket I felt a little bad for it. The poor thing put up one hell of a fight for it´s life. I just keep telling myself that I HAVE to take them out. I love my reef more than the lionfish that will eventually demolish it.
The second dive was on Cedral Pass. David vowed not to point out any more lionfish. I found a huge green moray eel in the old feeding spot. I took Max´s camera and stuck it in the hole for a photo. We also saw 3 lovely lobsters all crammed together waving hello as we passed them.
Sunday, November 22nd
David, Jeff, Barbara, Steve and Ayla were my divers on Palancar Gardens. We had flat seas and almost no current. It was just perfect! Linda snorkeled over us. I got a kick out of dragging Ayla over to see the baby 2 foot nurse shark that Barbara found under the rock. Something amazing to see was the big school of sardines at the beginning of the dive. They was forming a bait ball just past the big brain coral that resembles a Volkswagon Beatle. First we observed them from a distance, then we all swam right through the middle of the swarm. It was magical. Orlando gave us a nice tour of all the caves. He kept looking back asking me if he should go in the cave and I kept telling him to go for it.
After a surface interval at Hollywood, the place of the stars, we dived Colombia Shallow. The first turtle was having lunch on the bottom and after he finished he swam up to join Linda on the surface. We saw a swimming nurse shark and another turtle later in the dive. There were plenty of lobsters around too. That was nice to see so many lobsters having returned to Colombia Shallow.
Monday, November 23rd
We had beautiful conditions on Palancar Caves. I let Larry pick the reef. My divers were Larry, Betty, Rusty, Michelle, Matt and Max. We swam through a ton of caves and there were several other groups of divers around us. Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest weeks of the year for us because everyone combines their long weekend to use less vacation time. So we spent part of the dive trying to figure out which way to go to be alone J
We had Colombia Shallows all to ourselves. We also had a grand slam. First Rusty showed us a big spotted eagle ray. It was Orlando that pointed out the turtle. Then Michelle discovered a frisky green moray eel out swimming about. At the end of the dive Orlando tried to get a nurse shark to come out so that everyone doing a safety stop could see it. He only succeeded in scaring it further under the reef. I only saw its tail. If I wanted a good look I could have gone down and poked my head underneath but I was feeling lazy.
Tuesday, November 24th
The first tank was on Palancar Caves with Justin, Tim, Neil, Julia, Martha, Ian and Tommy. Justin shouted out on the boat that he wanted to go through some caves and that is exactly what he got. We also saw 4 turtles I think. They were all hawksbill turtles.
The second tank was on Tormentos. Orlando found the little orange seahorse. I was very impressed and happy to see it. I think that it was Neil that pointed out the huge spotted eagle ray. He, Martha and Orlando chased after it for a better look.
Wednesday, November 25th
It started out just like any other day with Betty, Larry, Michelle, Rusty, Matt and Max. We went to Palancar Gardens. The surface was calmer than I had thought that it would be but there was a weird current going on. It was like being in a washing machine. At first we had to fight the current (not hard) to get to the reef because it was pushing us towards shore. Then the current sometimes would push us up and then later down. Sometimes I could see our exhalation bubbles going down. It was a strange dive but uneventful which is good J
During the surface interval we could all see a storm approaching from the north. I didn´t want a lot of strong current so I took them to French Reef. I wanted to get them into the water before the rain started. Larry asked about the Splendid Toadfish so I spent most of that dive looking for one. A lot of crabs were out because it was kind of dark. I finally found the splendid toadfish at the end of the dive. Actually I found two. I had a strange encounter with one and I could even hear the other divers laughing at me when it happened. I am not going into any details because I may have been bending a marine park rule……… But in the end the toadfish made me look like a fool! When we came up the storm was still going on but had calmed a bit. It was still very rough and it was touch and go as to whether or not we would be able to dock on the Iberostar pier to drop the divers off. We did dock safely in the end. On our ride home we passed a friend of ours whose boat had sank near Tormentos. We saw lots of boats going out into the storm that could only be going out for only one reason, rescue. There were a total of 4 boats that sank in that storm.
Thursday, November 26th
When Betty, Larry, Michelle and Rusty got on board I asked them if they were ready for another storm. They all laughed a bit but confessed that it had taken the rest of the day to get over the sea sickness from our rolling ride back the day before. They picked the shortest boat ride for the first reef, Santa Rosa Wall. We had a lovely dive. There was an enormous lobster out patrolling the top of the reef that greeted us as we arrived at the bottom. Later we saw another one but it was normal sized. We saw several 80 pound groupers and some greater amberjacks hunting.
They all discussed it and decided that the second dive should be on Colombia Shallows again. They really loved that dive. We had another grand slam. We saw one big turtle and one small turtle. We saw a big green moray eel and Betty found that same little baby nurse shark. Rusty, Michelle and I saw a spotted eagle ray. Rusty loved the biodiversity there. He pointed out all sorts of stuff like long spined black sea urchins, juvenile yellow tail damsel fish and I showed them flamingo tongues and sea pearls. They pretty much like everything that they see down there J
Saturday, November 28th
After a day off due to the cold front that blew through I was back at work with Matt, Dave, Kathy, Allan, Veronique and Mike. Alan requested Palancar Horseshoe which was a very beautiful dive. We hung out with a turtle or two and at the very end of the dive Matt, Orlando and I went over and played in the school of sardines.
Then Alan asked for Cedral Wall which suited me just fine. With the north wind, the current calms right down. We had a gorgeous dive. While Dave and I were at the surface with a minor regulator problem, the rest of the divers were checking out a humungous hawksbill turtle and a baby green turtle. By the time we got Dave´s new regulator off of the tank and a rental on him we arrived to find the group hanging out with a big green moray eel and a few big groupers. Later we discovered several groups of lobsters. They must be coming into season now. Then a very large turtle sat still on the bottom just below us and we got to stay with it a while. There were 2 small nurse sharks in the 5 to 6 foot category swimming around. When Orlando, Matt and I did our 15 foot stop we saw another group of divers below checking out a giant nurse shark with a few black groupers. The giant nurse shark was obviously hunting and after some prey.
Sunday, November 29th
Dive 1 was on Santa Rosa Wall with Kathy, Alan, Ted, Jeannie and Mike. It seems like every time Kathy is on the boat we see good stuff. First Orlando pointed out a huge spotted eagle ray off in the blue. Then he discovered a big nurse shark down below us hunting with a grouper. I am pretty sure about 2 things. First of all, I think that the shark was Notchka, the one with the little bite out of her dorsal fin and boy, Notchka sure has grown. Second of all, I feel fairly certain that she is the same one that we saw yesterday during our safety stop. Notchka swims around more than most nurse sharks and doesn´t seem to be bothered by humans.
Dive 2 was on San Francisco Wall. We saw lots of neat little stuff: a juvenile smooth trunkfish the size of a pea, a spotted cleaner shrimp, a Peterson´s cleaner shrimp and a golden tail eel. We saw a spotted scorpion fish and loads of lobsters. There were several southern stingrays and a yellow ray too. San Francisco Wall is becoming very colorful again.
Monday, November 30th
I had a mixed group of snorkelers and divers so Palancar Gardens was the best choice. Kathy, Alan, Ted, Jeannie, Marcie and Chris dived with me and their family snorkeled over us. We dropped in on the big school of sardines. Alan and I acted like little kids playing in them. Jeannie and Ted just dropped back and took pictures. There were two turtles on that dive. Kathy pointed out one of them as it hid under an overhang. The little turtle came out as we approached and hung out with us a while.
Paradise was the logical choice for the second place because the wind was from the south and the divers were all staying up north. We saw tons of curious things like a juvenile smooth trunkfish and a bright red hermit crab with yellow eyes. We also saw lobsters, crabs, black groupers, a spotted moray eel and a bunch of golden tails. I teased a splendid toadfish that was pretty hungry.
Tuesday, December 1st
I have been watching the weather reports and it looks like the wind is going to pick up from the south so I decided to get Ted, Jeannie, Alan, Kathy, Marcie, Chris and Mike out to Colombia Deep while I still could. As we came out of the first cave Alan clapped to show how much he loved it. As we came out of the second cave Ted was the one clapping. Everyone loves those beautiful caves with the sunlight streaming down in through the roof. We had a couple of close encounters with turtles and it seemed almost like breeding time for southern stingrays since they were just everywhere.
Colombia Shallows got a unanimous vote and as we fell in the water we woke up a rather large turtle that swam off. Later we observed a medium sized hawksbill munching away on a sponge. It was an easy and relaxing dive.
Wednesday, December 2nd
We had very strong south wind so I made a recommendation to Bob, Deborah, Kathy, Alan, Ted, Jeannie, Chris and Marcie that we pick a couple of reefs closer to the marina on the north end. It was still choppy but not too bad at Bolones de Chankanaab. We had a really cool dive because while we were trying to catch the really big lionfish that Chris pointed out, the submarine came by. Unfortunately the big lionfish got away but we got to check out the submarine which is always fun. Orlando found another lionfish and the sucker got away too. They are fast, crafty little devils that are hard to catch. Orlando and I have been able to catch them lately so I think that we just got a little too excited and missed. It was very frustrating. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the turtle that Jeannie pointed out at the end of the dive. It was a big, friendly turtle and really left an impression.
I just did not want to go south so we did our second tank on Las Palmas. We spent about a half an hour on the wall with a few big black groupers. The dive got interesting when we went over to the shallow area and after the splendid toadfish completely ignored my lure we stumbled upon hundreds of small lobsters all huddled together under the little tiny coral heads in the shallows. Bob said that the only time that he had ever seen so many lobsters in one place was in a fish market. There were so many that we couldn't possibly count them all.
Thursday, December 3rd
The south wind had died down so I took Ted, Jeannie, Glen, Lisa, Mike, Tracy, Ken and Judy to Palancar Gardens for the first dive. Trey snorkeled over us. The visibility was only about 50 feet or less because the water was all stirred up from the day before. But we did have a nice calm current and no waves. We ran into other groups of divers. That dive was just OK.
The second dive was on Dalila where even Orlando was impressed with how much stuff we saw. We saw several nurse sharks, several turtles, a big lobster out prancing around and a few stingrays. That was a really great dive and the visibility was much better too. It was strange to be on Dalila with almost no current.
Friday, December 4th
Trey was working on Open Water training dive #1 so I stayed shallow with he and Tracy. I sent Doug, Laura, Ted and Jeannie down to 60 feet with Orlando. Ken and Judy just hung out and did their own thing. The dive did not get exciting until the end when I showed Tracy, Trey and Orlando a small nurse shark under that rock that Orlando and I spent an hour at a few weeks before fishing out a lionfish.
Trey bailed on us for the second dive but I went to French Reef anyway. Laura had asked for an eel during the surface interval and Orlando found us a whopper. She was green and about 5 feet long. She was hungry and on the hunt. She kind of appeared and disappeared many times throughout the dive. The divers thought that they had seen 2 or 3 eels and I didn´t bother to correct them. There were plenty of big black groupers and a stingray thrown in for good measure.
Saturday, December 5th
It was very, very choppy so we all took a vote in the Caleta; Ted, Jeannie, Ken, Judy, Tracy and Trey that we would go to Paradise for the first dive because it is such a short boat ride. Then if anyone wanted to get off before the second dive then they could at the surface interval in the marina. We had a great dive and everyone was pretty excited when we came up. We saw a ton of lobsters. I guess it is a seasonal thing. I spied a 3 foot nurse shark hiding behind a small coral head and a fat spotted moray eel. Trey said that the sea cumber looked like a big turd. When we came up the waves were even bigger than when we got in and the harbor master closed the port so we cancelled the second dive.
Sunday, December 6th
I chose Palancar Caves for the first dive with Tracy, Trey, Jeannie, Ted, Tim, Laura, Doug, Ken and Judy. We saw loads of turtles but my favorite was the medium sized hawksbill that was sitting in the sand in the cave that we swam through. Laura pointed out a large southern stingray in the sand. I don´t remember who it was that pointed out the big spotted eagle ray in the blue. The really cool thing about the spotted eagle ray is that it looped back around and came at us for another slow pass.
I took them all over to Colombia Shallow for the second dive. We saw more turtles and another smaller spotted eagle ray. I think the ray on that dive only had a 6 foot wing span. As Laura floated on the surface waiting for Carlos to come and pick her up her nurse shark swam by underneath. I went to the surface and told her to look down so that she wouldn´t miss seeing the shark.
Monday, December 7th
The first of four dives this day was on Palancar Bricks with Marshall, Tim, Judy, Ken, Tracy and Judy. We had ideal conditions and a gorgeous dive. We saw several turtles throughout the dive and Marshall was very impressed with the reef formations.
The second dive this day was on Dalila. We saw several nurse sharks and a really, really big turtle. While I swam back to check on Ken and Judy I got distracted by a huge spotted eagle ray foraging for lunch on the bottom. I was so caught up in watching the eagle ray that I forgot all about Ken and Judy! What a graceful and majestic beast.
The third of four dives was on Colombia Deep with David, Patrick, Tracy and Trey. We swam through the caves and had a good time. David found a big lionfish but did not want to tell me. I guessed what he was looking at and came back for a good look. It was in a hole and pretty much impossible to get out. So I just looked around and tried to memorize where it was so that I could come back with nets another day. At the end of that dive I saw another spotted eagle which seemed even bigger yet that the one on Dalila. I tried to decide if the wingspan could possibly be 10 feet wide. I tried to imagine myself on it´s back for comparison.
Tim joined us for a night dive on Dalila. The current was light and the dive was easy. We saw 2 small octopuses and tons of lobsters and crabs. Tim asked Orlando to find an eel for him. We must have seen at least 3 or 4 spotted morays. Several of them were out swimming around. It was a great dive.
Tuesday, December 8th
After much debate and discussion dive one was on Cedral Wall with Tracy, Trey, Judy, Ken, Scott, Tim, David and Patrick. It took a while for the action to start but when it did, it was great! I drifted up to a big nurse shark lying on the bottom sharing a resting spot with a 6 foot green moray eel. The 3 immense groupers nearby are what tipped me off to their presence. The shark swam away but the eel stayed there for a long time and everyone got a good look. Later we happened upon another smaller green eel on the hunt with 4 black groupers. She swam through the thick schools of fish looking for some breakfast. It was pretty exciting. As we floated along on the safety stop I pointed out a complete lobster shell on bottom. David asked me if it was dead. I wrote on my slate that it had molted. That started a long translation for Orlando on the word molt in Spanish. All this conversation was done with hand signals and the slate.
I spoiled Ken and Judy by taking them back to Colombia Shallows. We found a baby nurse shark and Scott found a really big nurse shark under a large coral head. Orlando chased a turtle around and David picked up an empty shell from a slipper lobster that had molted. Scott also woke up an extra large gray southern stingray that was lying on the bottom.
Wednesday, December 9th
Tracy, Trey, Patrick, David, David, Tim and Vince came diving with me at Santa Rosa Wall. As soon as we hit the bottom David pointed out a big turtle cruising past. As usual there were plenty of other groups of divers on Santa Rosa Wall but we just avoided them and did our own thing. On top of the reef in 50 feet of water was a big black grouper hanging out with a 5 foot nurse shark. That was a fun discovery.
I picked the second dive site at San Francisco Wall. There were no turtles, no sharks, no green morays and no rays. But it was a beautiful dive with lots of colorful reef and some assorted small critters like a spotted moray, a golden tail eel and plenty of lobsters everywhere. I was very grateful for the nice dive conditions this day.
Thursday, December 10th
It was a little choppy on Palancar Gardens and I dived with Carol, Deanna, David, Patrick, Mike, Mona and Tim. Orlando took the certified divers down to 70 feet and I stayed up in 35 to 40 with Mike. We swam past the big school of sardines. We saw a few turtles and Orlando found a small nurse shark. The excitement began when Orlando did a stupid thing and took everyone into a cave that he did not know. The cave got longer and narrower and he began to wonder if there was an exit. It ended with a small people sized hole overhead in the shallow water that everyone practically had to squeeze out of. He deserved a good knock upside the head for that one. I hope he does not go and repeat the same mistake. Back on the boat everyone was ranting and raving about how cool that last cave was. I asked them if they were being sarcastic but they swear they were not. I guess they loved it and had fun but Orlando is going to eat a ration of shit for that one.
Things were calm on French Reef up until I heard Deanna screaming into her regulator. There was a big nurse shark swimming right up to them. It was strange to see a nurse shark swimming so fast and so far off of the bottom. It veered off at the last minute and went out to the deeper water. I showed Deanna a humungous crab with it´s claws fully extended and she ducked down to take a picture. At the end of the dive Deanna and I stayed down and played with a pair a turtles. At that point the camera´s battery had conked out and she was bummed.
Friday, December 11th
Carol, Deanna, Tim, Mona and Mike were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe. Orlando took the certified divers down and I hung out up top with Mike for a while doing skills. We saw a cute little turtle pigging out and at the end of the dive we finished on Gardens with the school of sardines.
I did more skills on Colombia Shallows to complete Mike´s certification dives. We saw some more turtles there. There was one small nurse shark swimming along at the end of the dive. I think Mike was already back on the boat and missed it.
That afternoon I picked up Mark, Robert, Fulvio, Bob and Kay. I asked everyone where they wanted to go and the only one that spoke up was Kay. She picked Dalila. I sent Fulvio and Mark off to do their own thing. Bob, Kay, Robert and I stayed on the shallow reef. We saw a nice turtle and a huge crab hiding inside of a big sponge. I didn´t see what Mark and Fulvio were doing but Carlos had the good sense to check Mark´s computer during the surface interval. They went way too deep.
So I told Mark to stay with the group on the second dive at Punta Tunich. Good thing. We did see some nice turtles. The last one was immense. Mark had some mask problems so Orlando lent him his mask. We saw loads of rainbow parrotfish and midnight parrotfish on that dive.
Saturday, December 12th
My divers were Carol, Deanna, Ron, Erica, Albert, Larry, Jodi and Terry. Carol asked to see a seahorse so we went to Tormentos. The dive was a little chaotic but Orlando did a sweep for the seahorse to no avail. It was still a very nice dive. We saw a big southern stingray and Deanna pointed out a huge spotted eagle ray off in the distance.
I needed something easy for the second tank so I took them to Chankanaab. We saw some lobsters out and about and Orlando found some friendly Nassau and Yellow Fin groupers. We had fun and everyone talked about how delicious it would be to have some garlic butter for that grouper.
Sunday, December 13th,
Carol´s ears were not cooperating so I took everyone over to Colombia Shallows again so that Carol could take her time going down. It was Johann who accidentally kicked the nurse shark and woke it up. It swam off like an animal under attack. We also saw a turtle up close and personal plus we saw a big crab. At the end of the dive we all enjoyed the company of a little tiny baby turtle.
Monday, December 14th
I dived Colombia Deep with Deanna, Carol, Bob, Kay, Mike and Dylan. We were fortunate to have very little current and a nice relaxing dive. The only turtle that Mike and Dylan saw was a small one but after they went up we saw a few more bigger ones. Mike really enjoyed the cave. I searched for David´s lionfish but never found it.
Bob requested Paso Del Cedral for the second dive. I found one small nurse shark in a cave towards the end of the dive and everyone got a good look and took pictures. Mike and Dylan got to see one more small turtle. They probably think that all the turtles in Cozumel are small. After Mike and Dylan were back on the boat all the action started. First we saw a huge nurse shark patrolling the reef. Then there were a few more turtles, another medium sized nurse shark swimming around and we lost Bob when Deanna and I stopped to take pictures of a free swimming 6 foot green moray eel. We finished the dive with yet another nurse shark. It was an action packed ending to a dive that started off as tranquil.
That afternoon we went back to the marina and picked up Brooke and Chad who were doing their open water training dives 1 & 2, Navid who is already certified and our snorkelers were Chad´s mom Colene and her and sister. Orlando snorkeled with the girls on Paradise as I dived and did skills. We saw a big crab, a bunch of lobsters and a spotted moray eel. The highlight was when Brooke pointed out a big spotted eagle ray cruising by.
Navid and Chad´s sister got off of the boat and we went back out again. We did some more skills and had another good dive. Brooke had fun chasing after and taking pictures of a queen angelfish that had swum right up to her mask.
Tuesday, December 15th
I picked French Reef for the first dive for Carol, Deanna, Bob, Kay, Ken, Rick, Susan and Mike. French Reef is easy on the ears and light on the current. We saw a couple of turtles. Someone pointed out a matched set of big eagle rays off in the distance. At the end of the dive I chased a 6 foot nurse shark around a bit. It was a good dive.
We had a very long dive on Paso Del Cedral. We had some substantial current. Kay pointed out the first nurse shark swimming around. Then I told Orlando to look in the hole where we used to feed the green moray eels. There was a small nurse shark hiding in there. The last nurse shark was at the end of the dive. Orlando showed Carol and Deanna a small lionfish but I was not able to stop the group for 10 minutes, go get the net and come back. Impossible! So the lionfish stayed put. Oh well. It was nice to see the baby green turtle in it´s usual spot. It went to the surface to breathe. Most divers didn´t see it.
Wednesday, December 16th
Rick, Susan, Mike, Greg, Liz, Jim, Mike and Dylan dived Palancar Caves with me. We swam through a bunch of caves and everyone was impressed with the gorgeous reef formations. We didn´t see any big critters but the reef is so spectacular that no one seemed to mind.
We got our big critters on Dalila. The current was hauling butt and we drifted up to a nice sized hawksbill turtle. Then a rather large nurse shark swam past. It was a thrilling dive.
Thursday, December 17th
Chad and Brooke were completing their training dives. Orlando came along to help me with the group because Rick, Susan, Mike, Liz and Greg joined us there. We had a load of fun swimming through the tunnels. The conditions were perfect and everyone enjoyed the dive.
I didn´t want to go far so I took them all back to French Reef. I can not remember who it was that pointed out the spotted eagle ray way off in the distance. We also saw a bunch of turtles and one nurse shark. It was a nice, easy dive.
Sunday, December 20th
Most of my divers opted out of diving this day because the north wind was causing high seas and cold wind. We didn4t go out at all for 2 days prior. My cold resistant divers were Rick and Mike. We braved the waves and went out to Palancar Caves. We were rewarded with several turtles. Some were big and some were small. There seemed to be little cooler patches of water here and there as we swam along.
We went to (Al4s favorite reef( for the second tank. For the first 35 minutes we glided slowly along enjoying the colorful tropical fish. It was at the end of the dive when the action started. As I was bringing Rick up for a safety stop I looked down to find a pair of huge spotted eagle rays below us. When they noticed Mike they swerved off course dipping down over the wall. Then after passing us divers they came back to the top of the reef and carried on their way. After the eagle rays we saw a 5 foot sleeping nurse shark. We woke the poor thing up and it swam away. Then we drifted over a school of fish and I noticed a big fat nurse shark lying on the bottom and a big hawksbill turtle right behind it. It was hard to decide which creature to look at. Then a small nurse shark swam right past a yellow fin grouper having it4s teeth cleaned at a cleaning station. We swam to the next coral head where a small turtle munched on a sponge over a bunch of lobsters under the reef. It was a beautiful dive.
Monday, December 21st
The surface was still rockin4and rollin4but not quite as bad as the previous day. I went to Palancar Gardens with Doug, Nathan, Ryan, Mike, Rick, Susan and Jorge. The current was slightly wicked. It pushed me up, it pushed me down and of course it pushed me towards town. But we didn4t let that stop us from having a fun dive! We saw several turtles of varying sizes and went in a bunch of caves.
I wanted a long bottom time, an easy dive with lots of light and marine life for our photographers so I took them all over to Colombia Shallows. Jorge said that it was his longest dive ever because he was so relaxed. We saw a lot of turtles again. Doug found a small nurse shark. We swam through countless schools of blue striped and French grunts. We had a great dive and everyone went home happy.
Tuesday, December 22nd
We went to Palancar Brick per special request with KC, Daniel, Doug, Burt, Glenna and Julie. We had calm seas on the surface but underwater we had a bit of current. It was nothing that they couldn4t handle though. We got to fulfill Julie4s request for turtles. We saw one at the beginning and one turtle on the safety stop.
I wanted something a little calmer for the second dive and there are ALWAYS turtles at French Reef. We saw 3 or 4 on this dive. It was a nice, easy dive and everyone really enjoyed it.
Wednesday, December 23rd
The day before someone asked to go to San Francisco Wall and Tormentos so that is where I took Burt, Glenna, Julie, Steve, Ben, Sarah, Ryan and Nathan. Everyone loved the wall. Burt did summersaults over the blue abyss and pretended to fly along. We woke up a 5 foot nurse shark in a cave and we saw a few southern stingrays too.
On Tormentos Orlando showed us a big green moray eel. It was under an overhang together with a rather large black grouper. We all gathered around and after a minute or so the eel decided that she was fed up and she swam away. Steve said that it was the first time that he had ever seen one out swimming around. We also saw an enormous lobster. We had no luck finding the seahorse.
Thursday, December 24th
Bjorn, Karin, Burt, Glenna, Julie, Doug, Doug and Ryan were my divers on Palancar Gardens. Orlando led the tour and took everyone in WAY too many caves. Finally I got fed up and told him to get on top of the reef and call it a day. Orlando just loves those caves but you never know if the divers love the caves as well! One of the Dougs found a lionfish. Everyone stopped to look in a dark crevice. I was too lazy to go have a look. I didn4t find out until we got back on the boat that it was a lionfish. Had I not been so lazy I could have gone and got the nets and took it out. I also missed the turtle at the end of the dive. Guess it just was not my day
On Dalila we found another very small lion fish. Orlando went up and got the nets and we caught it. Then Julie found another lion fish but everyone was far away and it was at the end of the dive so we just left it for another day. We saw a 6 foot nurse shark sleeping in the sand. I got too close and it woke up and swam away.
Saturday, December 26th
After a day off, the seas had calmed down and I took Bjorn, Karin, Dave, Steve, Vladimiro and Harry diving on Palancar Horseshoe. There was a strange current and the visibility was a little murky but all went well. The cement block with Martin4s cross is starting to look like a junk yard now. There are 4 or 5 memorials to the deceased including one to someone4s dog. There is dust and algae on the memorials and they are all falling apart. I would think that the National Marine Park would have something to say about it?
We saw a lot of good stuff on French Reef. First it was a big stingray in the sand on the way down. Then when we got down we saw a little turtle feeding on the bottom. The second turtle was right next to a big slipper lobster and I bet that Steve got some good video of that turtle. Later I saw a black grouper acting strange like it was getting ready to hunt so I started looking around for a green moray or a nurse shark. I found the raggedly looking shark hiding in the dark and when we all went down for a better view it got nervous and swam off. Towards the end of the dive I spotted a huge eagle ray off in the distance and we all swam out to see it better. It was graceful and majestic to watch it swim by.
Sunday, December 27th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Sandra, Bobby, Vladimiro, Vladimir, Steve, Bret and Tom. Sandra4s family and friends snorkeled over us while we dived. The sea was amazing. It was flat, calm and there was no current. It was like swimming in a big swimming pool. The conditions could not be better. The most amazing thing was all the other divers on the reef. The week between Christmas and New Years is the second busiest week of the year for us.
Since we had 4 snorkelers the logical choice was to go to Columbia Shallows. Only Vladimiro, Vladimir and I saw the 5 foot nurse shark swimming along the bottom. Everyone got a good look at the southern stingray, the two turtles and of course the schools of blue striped and French grunts everywhere. I showed them a poisonous stone fish on the bottom and a small goldentail eel. The guys swam through the school of southern sonnets which look like little tiny barracudas. I was not the only one to notice that yellow fin grouper with the big bite out of it4s back. It is finally starting to look like it is healing.
Monday, December 28th
The surface was very choppy so I picked Colombia Deep for our first dive. The further south we went the better to get out of the waves. My divers were Chuck, Tom, Sandra, Bobby, Vladimiro, Vladimir, Cathy and Julia. It was not an easy dive. Once we got below the surface and out of the waves things were going well until we got over the drop off. Some divers went a little deeper than planned and it took a bit to re-group. This is the second busiest week of the year so there were various other groups of divers and we had to weave around a little to keep our group separate. In the end they did get to go through some swim throughs and it was a pretty dive.
The second stop was at Dalila. Cathy asked for a splendid toadfish. Someone else asked for a shark. First I found a toadfish, but it wouldn4t come out of the hole. That4s OK. At least I found it. We saw a couple of turtles. Later I heard another divemaster shaking a noise maker like mine. I looked up to see him at his safety stop pointing down at something on the other side of the reef. I called the group over and we saw a black grouper nose to nose with a big, fat green moray eel. Only Cathy, Julia, Chuck and Vladimir were still down when we finally found the shark. It swam over and laid down under a ledge. Orlando tried hard to get it to come out and swim again but the shark just didn4t seem to be bothered.
Tuesday, December 29th
Well the sea had calmed quite a bit after a very windy night and I took Bret, Tom, Cathy, Julia and Allison to French Reef for our first dive. They wanted to see a shark but only got a lionfish and a big southern stingray. Orlando found the lionfish and took it out. Tom had seen another lionfish earlier on but we missed it. We also saw a couple of hawksbill turtles. Allison wandered off after the second one. It was her very first dive after certification and she was entranced with that turtle.
We kept looking for that shark and found it on Paso Del Cedral. Unfortunately the shark was swimming away when we were on our safety stop so not everyone got to see it. But the girls that did see it were very pleased. Orlando went after Allison when she strayed again and they found a big spotted eagle ray while I was busy trying to get splendid toadfish out of the holes for Cathy. We saw several lobsters on that dive and Cathy practiced Peak Performance Buoyancy Control by trying to get through the cave without touching anything and hoveringly nicely on the safety stop. You could see that she was really trying and working hard on it J
Wednesday, December 30th
The conditions were sooooo much better when I took Cathy, Julia, Harry, Bret, Gordon, Mary and Allison to Palancar Caves. It wasn4t as choppy as the weather report had predicted. We had very light current and it was a beautiful dive. I took Cathy to 100 feet for her advanced certification while Orlando guided the divers through the caves. We had a wonderful close encounter with a turtle on the wall. It was a really nice dive.
Cathy was working on navigational skills so I took everyone over to Colombia Shallow. The shortest bottom time was an hour and 10 minutes. The longest bottom time was an hour and 50 minutes. I went up and left Orlando down there with the light breathers. On that dive we saw a few turtles, a spotted moray eel and a spotted scorpionfish. That was on Cathy4s list of critters that she wanted to see. Yellow stingrays and lobsters seemed to be everywhere. Mary took a picture of a tiger4s tail sea cucumber.
Thursday, December 31st
I took Terrell, John, Cathy, Rob, Susan and Megan to Palancar Gardens. While Orlando was goofing around on the sand looking for seahorses he looked up to find an immense spotted eagle ray right in his face. He was startled and he says that it looked like the eagle ray was startled too by his presence. Cathy and I took our time checking it out. The eagle ray had 2 big remoras stuck to it4s belly and didn4t seem to mind at all. Melanie and Hannah were snorkeling over us and they saw a turtle. We saw a couple of big crabs on that dive. I guess the crabs came out because the sun was not out.
The last dive of the day was on French Reef. The sun came out for that dive and we had a good time. I showed everyone a pipefish in the sand and we used my magnifying glass to get a better look at it. We saw more crabs and lobsters too. Orlando pointed out an eel but I don4t know if it was a big one because I couldn4t go back to get a look.