Sunday, January 2nd
The sun was shining and sea was flat and calm. It was a beautiful day for Amanda, Todd, Christian, Jeanne, Brian, Margie, Dave and Dan. I took them to Palancar Caves. We had really good conditions and we swam through lots of tunnels. We were approached by a small turtle that got a little friendly with us.
Margie loves Dalila. We saw a big lobster and a splendid toadfish in a hole. The big find was the octopus scooting across the reef in broad daylight. Everyone took lots of pictures. Margie saw 2 more turtles too.
Monday, January 3rd
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Margie, Brian, Chace, Steve, Dave, Christian, Jeanne and Dan. The first 10 minutes of the dive was a bit chaotic because there was enough current that we couldn’t stop and admire the large turtle on the bottom, the tiny little lionfish nor the big nurse shark. We just drifted past all of the critters and waved. Once we were on the wall, things slowed down a bit and we could stop to watch the juvenile spotted drum and swim through all the good caves. We saw a couple more lionfish on that dive too. I didn’t have my nets so I couldn’t catch the little guys.
I wanted to go to San Francisco Wall for the second dive and we had really nice conditions. I did bring my nets and I caught 2 lionfish, 1 big and 1 small. I am not sure if everyone got to see the big nurse shark when it swam past us down below in the deep water. I did try to point it out.
Tuesday, January 4th
The first stop was on Palancar Gardens with Margie, Brian, Dave, Elsa, Jeremy, Dan and Gary. We had lovely dive conditions. Only one lionfish was seen. We saw lots of lobsters and one big turtle.
Everyone raved about Colombia Shallows. I counted 7 turtles in all. I found a baby nurse shark napping under a small coral head. I heard Margie’s tank banger and came over to see a huge octopus that Dave had found. It was even bigger than the one on Dalila and it was putting on a show for us.
Wednesday, January 5th
My divers were Brian, Margie, Elsa, Jeremy, Gary, Dan and Sarah. When I asked everyone where they wanted to dive they all shouted out, (Back to Colombia Shallow!( I told them that could be the second dive so I let Gary pick the first place. He picked Colombia Deep. When we got to the bottom a sweet turtle was wiggling around under the reef trying to scratch his shell clean on the coral. That was fun to watch. The only lionfish that we saw was too small for Gary to shoot so it got to live.
On Colombia Shallow the beginning of the first dive was the exciting part. We were greeted by a sleepy turtle upon arrival and we saw a huge black grouper at a cleaning station. The big barracuda that swam through our group made everyone nervous. We saw another little turtle about 15 minutes later. I found a good sized lionfish. Gary didn’t have a spear to take it out with so I took care of it. Yuck.
Thursday, January 6th
I had a mixed group of certified and non-certified divers. Dave and Dani have been diving with me for 10 years but I took Dave’s daughter Katy, and boyfriends Cody and Garrison on resorts courses. Joining the resort course were Brett and Samantha. Chace came along for the hell of it. I hired Tony to take the certified divers down on a normal dive at Palancar while I stayed up top in 20 feet of water with the resort course divers. Chace and Tony said that the current was crazy down there but I had an easy dive.
Brett and Sam got off of the boat at Caleta and I took everyone else out to Paradise for the second dive. We saw some golden tail eels, a few spotted eels and some lobsters.
Friday, January 7th
David, Chace, Will, Terra, Christine, Barry and Sarah came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. David said that he saw a couple of lionfish but I never saw them.
Christine asked to go to the wall so I took them to San Francisco Wall. At the end of the dive Chace, David and I found my favorite green moray eel with the crooked mouth. She was hiding behind a big grouper. Chace took a bunch of pictures. They came out beautifully! She also saw a lionfish together with the eel and the grouper. She made the signal for lionfish but I couldn’t find it.
Saturday, January 8th
Loki and Dave got on and asked to see turtles, eagle rays and sharks. Chace and David did not get a say in where we went. I asked Loki and Dave if they were OK with a bit of current and they said yes so I took them to Cedral Wall. The current was about 2 to 3 knots at times but we saw 3 different big turtles. I found a small shark for then in the hiding hole where there is some warm water. My favorite big old green moray was waving her head around with a big grouper in her face. I stopped for a little pet and some affection. She is just so sweet. After Dave and Loki were already back on the boat we saw a couple of big southern stingrays.
Back on the boat I asked them if they liked the dive and if they wanted to do another one just like it. They said yes so I took them to Punta Tunich. We flew around at times in the current but we were rewarded with a small green turtle and another green moray eel. The moray was not in the usual spot with the glassy sweepers. Chace, David and I took turns swimming through the school of coppery glassy sweepers. When we came out of the hole I spied a huge eagle ray ascending. We watched it’s white belly as it swam up towards the surface. Later in the dive Dave and Loki found a big nurse shark lounging about. They said that it was the closest that they had ever come to a shark. During the safety stop I looked down to see an immense spotted eagle ray on the bottom below us. Everyone was thrilled with the dives.
Sunday, January 9th
We had a special group, Terra, Will, David and Chace so we went up north to see the spotted eagle rays. Carlos got in and dived with us while Titino drove the boat. The current was pretty strong when we first got in and it was pushing us out to sea. After about 7 minutes the current slowed up a bit and it was just going north as normal. That is when we saw the first group of 12 big rays all gliding slowing southbound against the current. They were not moving fast so we were able to spend several minutes with them. The second group had about 5 big boys and we hung out with them. Later we saw several groups of 3 or 4 so it was a really successful trip. As we made our safety stop I swam the group towards the shore and Chace pointed out yet another pair of big eagle rays. Everyone was amazed.
I wanted something easy for the second dive so I took them to Chankanaab. We saw a few big crabs, lots of big groupers and the current changed direction once. A man who was diving with the group in front of us pointed out a small pipefish and a tiny little lionfish on the bottom.
Wednesday, January 12th
A north wind was forcasted to blow in mid day and I was a little unsure about taking Mike and his family out. Mike was the diver and the rest were snorkeling. When they arrived at the marina I told them that it was going to be rainy and that it would get choppy later on. I let them know if they wanted to cancel that it was fine with me. The decided that since it was flat and calm at the time that they indeed wanted to go out. I took Mike to Palancar and we had a turtle following us around the whole dive. It was really fun because every time we came out of a swim through or a cave the turtle was just above and ahead of us. Maybe we were following the turtle?
Then I took them all over to Paradise. Mike and I saw a couple of big black groupers, a pair of lobsters and a big barracuda. When we came up Carlos told me that the harbor master had issued a small craft warning and that everyone had to go back to the marina. Hmph! We got out just in time :)
Monday, January 17th
I went back to work with Niki and Injue on Paradise. The girls completed dive #1 for open water certification. We had some strong current which Niki didn’t like but their skills were really solid. We saw a small yellow stingray that scooted out from below a big rock. We saw tons of purple sea fans and loads of colorful fish.
Tuesday, January 18th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Tish, John and Chuck. We had a bit of weird current but nothing difficult. We were about to go into my favorite cave when I found a big turtle. Tish took off after it so I decided to skip the cave. We ended up sharing the next 10 minutes with that big turtle as it puttered around looking for a late breakfast. I also found a big crab in a dark crevice.
Dive two was on French Reef. The first turtle was small and it swam right up to me. The second turtle was pretty big and it was napping on the bottom. I found a dinner sized lobsters under an overhang and used my flashlight to point it out to everyone. Chuck saw a big stingray but I missed it. My favorite was the 4 foot nurse shark lounging around on the bottom.
Dive three was near shore at Paradise with Niki and Injue. The current was a lot more forgiving and we completed a lot of skills. Injue found a fat spotted moray. I showed her a free swimming goldentail eel. Niki had a lot more fun on that dive. Injue took a picture of a lionfish.
Wednesday, January 19th
We had nice weather on Palancar for Chace, Cliff, Holly, Injue and Niki. I spent most of the dive looking for a turtle to show Niki. She had been asking to see one every day. I got lucky at the end of the dive and found a big one. Injue took pictures.
Tom joined us on Paradise for the second dive. Chace and I found 4 lionfish. Injue found a big crab.
Thursday, January 20th
Chad, Curt, Kara, Injue, Niki, Courtney and Ladinia were my divers this morning. Kara and Curt requested Palancar Horseshow which is a very impressive reef. Most of us got to see both of the turtles and everyone had fun.
The first half of the dive on French Reef was uneventful. I saw a small lionfish that darted into a hole. We did get to see a couple of turtles and a crab. The action started when it was only Chad, Injue and I down there. First Chad pointed out a huge lobster out for a stroll. Then I found a medium sized green moray eel swimming around like crazy.
Friday, January 21st
Mike and Terri requested a wall dive. Russ, Keith, Joan, Courtney and Ladinia didn't seem to care where they went so I took them to San Francisco Wall. We had perfect conditions and a very nice dive. Mike and Terri saw several lionfish but I didn’t see a one.
Since the current was light I took them to Cedral. I asked Carlos to drop me off on the pass but when we got in there was no current at all so I changed my mind and swam them over to the wall. We were immediately greeted by a snacking turtle that didn’t mind us hanging out with it at all. Then I found a small sleeping nurse shark. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a big spotted eagle ray and swam them over for a look. Then we drifted up to another big turtle. While I was doing a safety stop with Courtney and Ladinia I looked down to find everyone else chasing after a big swimming nurse shark. Everyone was pretty stoked up when I got on the boat.
Sunday, January 23rd
The wind calmed right down for my mom, Chace, Nancy, Pete and Paul. I let Pete pick the reef and he chose Colombia Deep. We had a very nice dive but my poor mom’s mask was all fogged up the whole dive. It was really bugging her. The worst part was that Pete found a huge turtle just as soon as my mom went up. Mom loves turtles.
I told them to pick between Dalila and Cedral and they decided on Dalila. Mom’s mask was only a little better because she could see out of one side. She saw all five turtles on that dive with her one good eye! We also parked next to a sleeping nurse shark too.
Monday, January 24th
I picked Palancar Gardens for Mom, Nancy, Pete, Paul, Courtney, Ladinia, Tom and Donn. The ocean was like a giant swimming pool this day. We had a nice, easy dive. A giant green moray eel swam right between Pete’s legs and he just kept taking pictures. Then Pete showed us a big nurse shark out swimming around. Pete spots all of the good stuff. The shark stopped swimming for a minute and parked under a small coral head. Pete got down there and took some photos. Then I asked to see the photo of the green moray so he took the wrist strap off and turned the camera around to show me a picture. A little later in the dive he accidentally dropped it and didn’t realize it. When we got to the surface he said, (Hey! I dropped my camera!( so I went back down to look for it. I swam around for 15 minutes and when I was out of air I came up empty handed. Pete looked like he had just lost a puppy dog or something.
After the surface interval I told Carlos to drop us off a little to the south of where we had come up. After about 5 minutes I showed Pete that we arrived at the place where he was taking pictures of the shark. Then I started the search. Ten minutes later I found the camera in the sand on the shallow side of the reef. I swam over, picked it up, turned it on and then swam over and took a picture of the surprised look on Pete’s face when he realized what I had in my hands. It was really fun! We also saw a few more turtles which made Mom happy. A big gray southern stingray swam right past us too. We had a good day.
Tuesday, January 25th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Pete, Paul, Chace, John and Glenn. Chace pointed out a small hawksbill turtle having breakfast way below us in 100 feet of water. Then Paul showed me a family of 5 lionfish. I only got 2 of them. The other 3 got away. The boys made fun of my marksmanship when we got on board the boat.
San Francisco Wall was our second stop. There were 2 more lionfish and I only got the big one. I missed the little one and it slipped into a hole. We saw a couple of big southern stingrays too.
Wednesday, January 26th
Chace, Donn, Tom, Pete, Paul and Nancy were my divers at Palancar Caves. There were loads of other dive groups there but we managed to avoid them for the most part.
I picked Paso Del Cedral for the second dive. On the platform we saw 2 different green turtles. Both were parked on the bottom in the current and Pete burned up a bunch of his air stopping to take pictures. I scrubbed up Nick’s stone. Then we drifted around for a half an hour before Pete found a big hawksbill. Nancy waved her hands wildly when she found the sleeping nurse shark. Chace found a really big lionfish which promptly darted into a hiding hole.
Thursday, January 27th
Pete had been requesting to go to the Devil’s Throat all week. Finally the conditions were right. The wind was from the North East and I only had 4 good divers: Pete, Paul, Nancy and Chace. When we got there Carlos dropped me off right on top of the spot. I swam back a little against the current for the drop off. We had light current and good visibility. We could not have asked for better conditions. Everyone really enjoyed that dive. We saw 2 lionfish. I only got the big one.
Colombia Shallow was the second site. Carlos dropped us off in the wrong place and we discovered a little mini reef full of big schools of fish, lots of small lobsters and loaded with lionfish. I can’t remember if I got 2 or 3 lionfish on that one but most of them got away. Honestly I am starting to not want to kill them. They are so beautiful. My heart just isn’t in it sometimes. After about 40 minutes we still did not find the reef so I surfaced to ask Carlos where the reef was. During the 5 minutes that we were at the surface we actually drifted over to the reef so we all dropped back down and continued the dive. We saw a couple of turtles and lots of flamingo tongues.
Friday, January 28th
Glen, David and Cynthia wanted to go to the ship wreck. Chace said that it was OK. Pete didn4t look too happy about it but we went where he wanted to go the day before so he was a good sport about it. When we got there we had 2 other boats ahead of us so we didn4t get to tie off to the mooring. Carlos dropped us a little north and we drifted over to the down line. We did have some current on that dive but everyone managed quite well. Pete busied himself taking pictures of the garden eels, the spotted moray and a lobster. Cynthia liked swimming through the ship.
Chankanaab was nearby. Chace found a tiny little lionfish which escaped my nets into a hole. I saw a goldentail moray. Pete pointed out a huge southern stingray and a couple of spotted morays.
Saturday, January 29th
I asked Sonja and Brad where they wanted to go and they picked Yucab. Chace didn4t mind where we went. We saw a small green moray eel followed by a couple of huge groupers. We also saw a splendid toadfish. Sonja got pictures of it.
Then we went to one of Sonja’ favorites, Paradise. We found another splendid toadfish and a yellow stingray. Sonja loves that dive because it has so many colorful fish.
Sunday, January 30th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Liz, Carmen, Jeff and Chace. I got 2 lionfish. I missed one. Jeff seemed to enjoy the show. I fed them to some yellow tail snappers and a queen trigger fish. Carmen saw a turtle on that dive but I missed it.
I picked the second dive site at Cedral Wall. I love that place. We saw my favorite big green moray but she wasn4t in a good mood so I didn4t pet her. Jeff found the first big nurse shark hidden in a cubby hole. I think it was Carmen who found the second smaller shark. That second one was only about 5 feet long.
Monday, January 31st
Chace, Kyle, Lisa, Liz, Carmen and Jeff were my divers on Santa Rosa Wall. We had a bunch of current but everyone managed it well. We saw a big lobster out patrolling the reef and I swam through Orlando’ favorite cave.
They wanted to see big critters so I found them a turtle and a big green moray eel at Punta Tunich. Once again we had a lot of current but after having briefed them all on how to go slow and stop we were able to peek under the ledges and see all of the cool juvenile spotted drums. We saw a few lobsters and some really big parrotfish on that dive.
Tuesday, February 1st
We had a bumpy ride down south with Carmen, Jeff, Liz, Kyle, Lisa, Mike, Sandy and Jason. Jeff requested Colombia Deep but we only made it as far as gardens because of the big waves. We did have a nice dive once we got down.
When we came up the waves were smaller so I took them to Colombia Shallows. We saw a few nice turtles and a small sleeping nurse shark. Carmen found a lionfish and I caught it.
Thursday, February 3rd
My divers were Susan, Carmen, Jeff, Liz, Mike, Sandy, Jason and Tom. I got Jeff out to Colombia Deep but the current was pretty strong. We enjoyed going through the caves because there was no current in the caves. Mike and Sandy really liked the big coral formations.
I picked the next dive on French Reef because I didn4t want to be in current. There was still a little current but nothing like Colombia. We saw a few more turtles. Every time I noticed Susan looking at something it turned out to be something really good. First she discovered a swimming nurse shark below her. Then she found a huge spotted eagle ray off in the distance. A black grouper hovered in the shadows looking like it was ready to ambush something. Susan found a lobster and we saw a few big crabs. The best moment in the dive was when Carmen rattled her noise maker and showed us another spotted eagle ray swimming past but much closer than the other one earlier in the dive.
Friday, February 4th
Carmen, Jeff, Liz, Jen, Mari, Tammy, Scott and Joe and I had an amazing dive! We chose Palancar Gardens because the current had been strong on Colombia the day before and we wanted something more relaxing. Upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by our first turtle which was making a head first dive for the deep blue water. Then we swam through the first archway where we found our second little turtle perched on the reef top. About half way through the dive Carmen found a big lionfish and I killed it. A yellow tail snapper ate it right up and Scott got the whole thing on video. As I was doing a safety stop with Jen I heard Jeff’s rattle and turned to find him pointing at a big dolphin. The dolphin came a little closer to check us out, got behind us for a minute and then decided that we were not so interesting and took off. While I was doing a safety stop with Mari I heard Carmen rattling and even from 15 feet I could see the juvenile spotted drum below us. The best part is when I found a big octopus blending in with the bottom. When I showed it to Tammy I could hear her screaming in her regulator she was so impressed! Needless to say I had a bunch of very happy divers on the boat.
Our second tank was on San Francisco Wall. We saw lots of little stuff on that dive. We saw a crab, a splendid toadfish, a jumbo sized lobster and another lionfish. The current was a little wacky on the end of that dive.
Saturday, February 5th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Chace, Mari, Jen, Sandy, Mike, Rachel and Mark. We had gorgeous conditions. The ocean was like a giant swimming pool. I went back to the same spot and saw 2 big lionfish. When I got the first one the second one darted into a hole. The snappers didn4t eat the big lionfish and I am not sure if that is because it was too big for them to eat or if other snappers that ate the lionfish had gotten sick and the remaining snappers don4t eat lionfish now. I guess I will never know.. There is still one left there and I will try and get it next time I am there. When only Mike, Sandy, Chace and I were down we saw a rather large turtle sharing a sponge with a few pretty angelfish.
Dive two was on Dalila and we had a bit of current. Everyone managed it well. Mike found a good sized nurse shark sleeping under the reef and Chace got some pictures of it. At the very end of the dive Chace took off after a huge turtle but didn4t get close enough for a good shot. Then we drifted over another nurse shark and another big turtle as we made our safety stop.
Sunday, February 6th
The sun was shining and the sea was flat on Palancar Gardens. Joining me on the dive were Mark, Rachel, Jason, Tom, Louise, Matt, Gen and Jan. We swam through all the good swim throughs and saw a few turtles. It was a good dive.
The second one was on French Reef where we saw more turtles and a humungous lobster on the bottom. A big rainbow parrotfish wow-ed everyone.
Monday, February 7th
I picked the reef for Mark, Rachel, Jason, Michael, Thomas, Kim, Matt and Louise. I chose Palancar Caves. Jason said that it was the best dive that he had ever done in his life! Now that is impressive. Mark liked it so much that he asked if we could go back there again. Wow! They were so impressed with the scenery there. We found a darling turtle sound asleep nestled under a coral head. The turtle was in 70 feet of water. We had only planned the dive to 60 feet because Thomas is 14 years old but I think our brief dip down to 70 feet to see the sleeping turtle was definitely worth breaking the dive plan for.
The second dive was on Chankanaab which Matt described as (relaxing and peaceful(. We saw a huge barracuda so not everyone was as relaxed as Matt :) We also saw a pair of huge groupers, a big crab and a large, orangey lionfish.
Tuesday, February 8th
My divers were Mark, Rachel, Jason, Louise, Matt, Jan and Gen. We all went to Colombia Deep. Louise wanted to see eels and an octopus and all I could find for her were more turtles. At the beginning of the dive I saw Louise and Matt checking something out. It turned out to be a huge spotted eagle ray! Everyone enjoyed the beautiful caves.
I went to Cedral to look for a big green moray for Louise. I had no luck at the green moray but we dropped down on a green turtle. As soon as the turtle disappeared we floated over a big nurse shark napping out in the open. Later in the dive we found a large hawksbill munching on some part of the reef. Mark took a video of it. Jen found another small nurse shark and everyone burned up a bunch of air swimming back to see it. At the end of the dive the little turtle with the dent in it’ shell swam up to the surface for a breath of air. Jen found another big spotted eagle ray too.
Wednesday, February 9th
I did a resort course for Donny, Michelle, Jeremy, David, Sheila and Kristy. Ryan’ ears were all blocked up from the flight down so he had to snorkel over us. We did our skills near shore and then I swam them over to the reef at Paradise for a dive. Eduardo came along with me to help. He found a big crab and pointed it out.
Once everyone figured out how to clear their ears and masks we went to Chankanaab for a second dive. Donny and David were being nice and they stayed up top with Ryan. We saw few more big crabs and a dinner sized lobster. While I was pointing out a crab I saw Jeremy’ eyes get huge and he was pointing behind me. A six foot green moray eel swam by. After all the shark talk on the boat I think that eel made the girls nervous but when Eduardo and I took off after it the girls realized that there was no danger. It was hard to keep up with it as it swam away. It is such an amazing creature to watch. They are my very favorites.
Thursday, February 10th
I took Eduardo with me to help again because I stayed in 20 40 feet of water with Karen and Don. Eduardo took Chace, Jason, Kat, Russ, Jan and Gen down on a normal dive at Palancar Gardens. After we completed skills and got comfortable we met up with Eduardo for the end of the dive. Eduardo showed everyone a big crab and he found a lionfish but I saw neither up in the shallow water.
The second dive was on Colombia Shallow where we saw a turtle and a big stingray. It was a very easy, relaxing dive.
Friday, February 11th
Dive on was on Paradise with Karen, Don, Jessica, Kayle, Angela, Julie, Keith and Kim. Eduardo came along and helped with the big group. Some were doing the resort course, Karen was doing her 3rd dive towards certification, Kim and Don are certified. It was a mixed bunch. I showed them a big spotted moray eel and we swam over to the reef at Paradise.
Carlos was surprised when I told him that we were going to Palancar Gardens for the second dive. There we saw 2 turtles and a big puffer fish. It was an exciting dive.
Sunday, February 13th
Lou, Gary, John, Mike, Don, Jeff, Scott and Deb had a pow wow and agreed on Colombia Deep for our first tank. Normally I wouldn4t take 8 divers to Colombia Deep on their first day but I knew everyone for years and we had a boat full of really good divers. Gary and I took turns with the lionfish. Two got away and we caught three. We saw a couple of turtles and I took Scott, Deb, Gary and Lou through a bunch of caves.
Everyone agreed on Dalila for the second dive. We had an action packed dive there. When we got to the bottom we practically landed on a huge southern stingray. While I was pointing out the stingray John was pointing at a big nurse shark hiding under a ledge. When everyone went over to the nurse shark it swam off. It had two details of note. It had a little chunk missing from it’ dorsal fin and a small parasitic animal clinging to it’ rear dorsal fin. We dropped down to 60 feet and saw a turtle. It went to the surface for some air. Then while I was showing Deb a splendid toadfish in a hole with my flashlight the turtle came back down to the bottom and practically bumped Deb in the face. It just swam right up to her. She looked up from the hole to find a turtle in her face. It was really funny to watch. Then we drifted along where one of the boys pointed out another big nurse shark swimming by. I found a big octopus in a den surrounded by conch shells. Next we found that first shark again in a new hiding hole. We saw a couple more turtles and as Gary, Lou and I were doing a safety stop we saw one more big nurse shark with it’ head in a hole. I noticed it because of the big grouper hovering over the shark. Lou dropped down for a quick photo.
Monday, February 14th Valentine’ Day
John, Mike, Don, Jeff, Scott, Deb, Chace and David picked Santa Rosa Wall for the first dive. I had Carlos drop us off a little before that on Cedral Wall where we saw 2 big turtles and a nurse shark all in the first 5 minutes of the dive. Then we dropped down to 70 feet and swam over to the Santa Rosa Wall. We went through a few caves. Scott liked the 6 foot tube sponge that I showed him.
Since we had seen so much good stuff over at the end of Cedral Wall I decided to do the whole second dive there. The first green moray eel that we saw was just a baby and it was in it’ usual spot. The next 30 minutes were uneventful with the exception of a spotted drum and a splendid toadfish. The action started when we got to the bigger reef area with a crab and some big lobsters. Then I swam them over to the wall and we saw a huge spotted eagle ray swimming slowly over a grazing turtle. As Chace swam after the spotted eagle ray I checked in on my favorite soft green moray. I could hear Deb scream through her regulator when I gave the moray a little pet and a caress. Then John found another spotted eagle ray and I showed Chace the same nurse shark in the same hole that we had seen at the beginning of the first dive. It was an action packed ending to a nice dive.
Tuesday, February 15th
I went to Palancar Horseshoe with John, Mike, Don, Jeff, Don, Karen, Scott and Deb. We had ideal conditions and a lovely dive. A little turtle swam right up to our group and visited with us for a while.
We did our second dive on French Reef where we saw more turtles, a nurse shark and a bunch of lobsters and crabs. The lobsters were huge and they were out walking around patrolling the reef.
Wednesday, February 16th
I was planning on diving Palancar but when we got there we could see that the current was really, really strong. I told Carlos to drive around and drop us (John, Mike, Don, Jeff, Bob, Deb and David) off where there was no current. He picked Colombia Deep. First we saw a sleeping nurse shark in a little cave. Then a turtle paid us a visit. We swam over and took pictures by the anchor. I avoided the wall because the current picked up and I was not into worrying this morning.
Bob asked for a splendid toadfish so I took them to Paso Del Cedral. I didn4t have any trouble finding the toadfish. I also had a small nurse shark swim right up to me. We saw another little turtle and at the end of the dive I found a green moray eel but only it’ tail was sticking out. It’ head was in a hole. Everyone chased the big spotted eagle ray at the end of the dive. I think they used up all their air doing it.
Thursday, February 17th
Since Kristen brought a couple of her friends over from Playa to snorkel with her I took Bob, Gary, Mike, Don, John, Jeff, Deb and Kristen diving on Palancar Gardens. Carlos got in and snorkeled with the ladies. Titino drove the boat. I know Carlos got in and snorkeled because the girls were very, very pretty! As I was coming out of the first cave one of the boys pointed out a turtle. Later in the dive when only Gary, Jeff, John and I were still down we saw about 4 more turtles.
We went to Colombia Shallow for the second dive because that is always good for snorkelers as well as divers. We only saw one turtle but at least it was very close to Carlos and the snorkeling girls. I showed Kristen a lobster too.
Friday, February 18th
It was Carmen, Ron and Rick’ first dive of the week and I wanted it to be easy. Mike, John and Jeff had mentioned Tormentos and of course Bob didn4t seem to mind where we went so that is where we dived. The guys were a little disappointed in the dive. I told them next time go down to the bottom and look under the ledges where all of the colorful sponges are. Oh well.
To please the boys I took them to Punta Tunich for the second dive. John had been anxious to see the glassy sweepers. We all stopped in the hole and had a look for a few minutes. The big green moray wasn4t there this time. I did get very lucky though. I saw the group in front of us looking at something and I called everyone over. I figured it was a turtle or something. It turned out to be a big orange seahorse! Mike has been asking for a seahorse for years so finally I got one for him. Yeah!
Saturday, February 19th
First I went to Palancar Caves with John, Jeff, Gary, Chace, Ron, Rick, Nora and Carmen. We saw a few turtles and Gary had a (go( at a few lionfish that escaped him quickly.
Then we went to French Reef where Gary got a few lionfish. One was gigantic. We saw lots of turtles and a big lobster out walking around in the sand.
Sunday, February 20th
It was Lori and Chuck’s first dive in years and it was Vladamiro, Mike and Marissa’s first dive of the vacation so I chose Palancar Gardens even though Mike, John and Jeff had already been there earlier in the week. Lori is Mike’s wife and John’s sister in law so I was sure that the boys would not complain. We had perfect dive conditions and I took them through some swim throughs. We saw a turtle or two and had a nice dive.
The second dive was on San Francisco Wall with a little bit of current. I found a tiny juvenile spotted drum flittering around. John found a big stone fish. At the end of the dive my beautiful, sweet green moray eel with the crooked mouth was shadow hunting with a black grouper. I decided that it is time to give my eel a name. I decided to call him Buster.
I did a third tank on Palancar Gardens again with Chace, Ron, Rick, Carmen and Nora. Nora was brave and swam though the archways and tunnels. She was surprised at how easy it actually was. We saw a couple of crabs and a turtle there.
Then I took them all over to Colombia Shallow where we had a good time. Rick found a gorgeous green turtle hunkering down for the evening. Right next to the turtle I found a small nurse shark resting on the bottom. We saw a huge lobster out walking around and a couple more under the reef. We also saw a couple of crabs. Chace decided that she likes afternoon dives better than the morning dives.
Monday, February 21st
Chad, Sandra, Wendy, Alisha, Kathy, Vladimiro, Mike and Marissa were my divers. I let Sandra pick the first reef which was Palancar Horseshoe. That is her favorite. We saw a turtle swim up to the surface for a gulp of air. I waited for it to come back down again but it was taking too long so I just moved on J
I let Marissa pick the second dive. She chose Las Palmas. She loves to putter around in the sand and look at the little stuff. We found a pair of big lionfish. I caught the first one but the second one got away. We found a rock with maybe 30 small lobsters all huddled around the bottom of it. There were other rocks with lobsters but not in such a big group. Wendy said that the dive was way cool. I took them over to the wall for the last 30 minutes where we saw 3 huge black groupers chasing around a school of shiny silver fish.
Tuesday, February 22nd
Dive one was on Horseshoe with Mike, Chuck, Vladimiro, Nora, Rick, Ron and Carmen. We had a nice, relaxing dive and the girls really enjoyed themselves. We saw maybe 5 different turtles on that dive.
I took them to Dalila for the second dive. We saw a splendid toadfish in it’s hole and a big barracuda. The only turtle we saw was at the end of the dive when I was doing the safety stop with Mike and Chuck.
Wednesday, February 23rd
I picked Palancar Caves for the first dive with Stan, Linda, Marissa, Mike, Rick, Ron, Carmen and Nora. We swam through a bunch of caves and I teased them when we got back on the boat. I told them that it was their crash course in buoyancy control. While Marissa was floating around at the end of the dive a little tiny turtle swam up from underneath us and practically pushed her out of the way. We saw another bigger one going up for air and I told Mike to take a silhouette photo of it.
Our next stop was at Paso Del Cedral. Our first turtle was a pretty green one. We drifted past a huge lionfish on the platform but no one could stop so I had to let it go. Mike asked me how I found the splendid toadfish and I confessed that it is always there. We saw a big hawksbill turtle, a fat barracuda and a pair of greater amberjacks. A dinner sized lobster waggled it’s antennas at us. When we got back on the boat Marissa commented on how everything was really big on that reef.
Thursday, February 24th
My divers were Mike, Marissa, Mikey, Lori, Ron, Rick, Nora and Carmen. Mike picked the reefs this day. He picked French Reef and Cedral. We went to French Reef first. We saw several really big lobsters out walking around in the open. It was really weird to see them out like that in the daytime. We also saw a few turtles. The current was very mild and it was an easy dive.
Mike and Marissa had liked Paso Del Cedral so much the day before that we went back again. The first shark was swimming around on the platform. I think Mike might have got a photo of it. It swam right past Mikey too. Then we saw the splendid toadfish in the same hole so I could show Mike that I can find it every time. We parked at the ex-grouper feeding station to pose for a group photo. We saw another big turtle and Mikey found a sleeping nurse shark. Only Mike and Lori saw the second shark. At the end of the dive we drifted over the empty shell of a giant lobster that had molted. Everyone was confused by the empty shell and I forgot to tell them when we got back on the boat about lobsters molting.
Friday, February 25th
I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Sandra, Chad, Wendy, Chace, Mike, Marissa and Russ. Since Sandra could not get down on Monday we went back there because it is her favorite reef. We saw a couple of turtles, one of which was that little baby turtle from the other day that almost bumped into Marissa. This time it was lounging around on the top of a coral head and Chace got a good picture of it.
Marissa is a sand dollar freak so I took her to Colombia Shallow and showed her my secret stash of sand dollars. We saw 4 turtles on that dive. Wendy liked the long spined sea urchins sticking out of the holes.
Saturday, February 26th
Rick, Ron, Nora and Carmen wanted to go somewhere that they hadn’t been yet. I offered Colombia Deep or Santa Rosa Wall. Andy suggested Colombia Deep and Chace doesn’t care. So that is where we ended up that morning. Chace and I petted a furry sea cucumber. It stuck to her hands. The girls liked the caves.
Carmen asked about Cedral Wall. When we got in we had plenty of current. I wonder how they felt about that current. We saw (Bell Shell( the hawksbill turtle with the funny bell shaped shell. Chace and I were trying to remember where we had seen that turtle last time. The shell is very uniquely shaped and very memorable. We saw a few more turtles on that dive and a big lobster strutting his stuff. I drug Nora and Carmen over for a good look at a 5 foot nurse shark hiding in a crevice. That was the highlight of their dive.
Sunday, February 27th
Tank one was on Yucab with Carol, Dan, Bruce, Andy, Nora, Carmen, Ron and Rick. We didn’t see any big critters but we did see a huge lobster out and about. There were plenty of pretty fish and Andy took a picture of a spotted moray.
Tank two was on Chankanaab where we saw tons of crabs everywhere. We also saw one good sized lobster and a pretty golden tail eel.
Monday, February 28th
Ron, Rick, Carmen, Nora, Andy, Bruce, Alex and Savannah were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe. Savannah could not clear her ears so she ended up getting back on the boat. She had wanted to see turtles and we saw 2 on that dive. Bruce followed the turtle down to 75 feet for a good look J I pointed out a huge lobster on the dive.
I wanted to stay shallow for Savannah’s second attempt at clearing her ears so I took them to French Reef and stayed on top in 30 40 feet of water. It was Carmen’s longest dive ever, over an hour. We saw 4 turtles and a pair of large lobsters doing something weird. Andy took pictures of a school of smooth trunk fish at the end of the dive.
Tuesday, March 1st
I went to Palancar Gardens with Savannah, Alex, Erin, Mark, Dan and Bruce. We swam through a bunch of caves. Erin said that it was much nicer than her dive in Grand Cayman the day before. We had ideal conditions too.
Then I went to Dalila where I found a big lionfish but it got away. It was way back under a dark ledge and it scooted away quickly when I approached. We saw one small turtle up on top of the reef. I found a big octopus hiding behind a pile of empty conch shells. We could only see one eye and a tentacle.
Wednesday, March 2nd
The conditions were perfect for Liz, Randy, Andy, Marcus, Janie, Bill, Candace and Christopher. I took them to Palancar Gardens. Liz was newly certified and Marcus was doing his open water training dives so I wanted something really shallow. Eduardo came along and we split the group. Eduardo took the certified divers down 60 feet and swam them through the caves. I stayed up top in 20 feet of water with Marcus and we worked on some skills. Twenty minutes later Marcus and I swam over to the group and we stayed above them. Andy found a big lionfish and Eduardo caught it. He fed it to an anemone.
The second dive was on Colombia Shallow. We saw a couple of turtles and Eduardo got another lionfish. He found a big crab. I found a juvenile spotted drum with a couple of baby lobster. I pointed out a spotted moray hidden in the coral. Someone else said that they found another little eel on that dive too.
Friday, March 4th
My divers were Chace, Dwayne, Susan, Rick, Andy and Marcus on San Francisco Wall. We saw a ton of good stuff. First we saw a huge turtle munching on a tasty sponge. Then a 6 foot nurse shark swam below us. I found a big lionfish and I killed it. Chace and Dwayne found a whole bunch of little lionfish but I didn’t have my nets with me so they got to live. I found a second big turtle that was napping and we accidentally woke it up and it swam away. A smaller nurse shark swam way below us in about 90 feet of water. At the end of the dive I found a huge spotted eagle ray cruising the blue in about 100 feet of water. No one went down for a better look J
Beth and Guidion joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallow. They didn’t stay long but they did get to see the first little turtle at the bottom. Rick found a tiny little lionfish the same size as the juvenile spotted drum that I showed them. Chace was carrying the nets for me so I got the little bugger. They are so pretty that I hate to kill them though. Dwayne found a big old lobster in a hole and we saw another turtle on that dive.
Sunday, March 6th
It was Brad, Cassie, Katherine, Tom and Dan’s first dive of the vacation. Rick and Susan didn’t really care where we went so when I brought up Palancar someone said, (How about Horseshoe?( We had some waves but almost no current. Brad showed me the first turtle and Katherine showed me another at the surface. It was an easy dive.
I had Carlos drop us between French Reef and Dalila. A big nurse shark swam out in front of our group. Only Brad, Cassie and I saw it. Then Cassie found a big turtle dining a leathery sponge. We saw another turtle and then a good sized nurse shark swam by while being followed by a black grouper. I found that same octopus in the same hole. Susan got a close up of it. A splendid toadfish came about half way out of it’s hole while trying to catch a little yellow wrasse.
Monday, March 7th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Brad, Cassie, Tom, Dan, Katherine, Erin, Susan and Rick. We had excellent conditions but there seemed to be divers just everywhere. When Pedro brought his group out towards the wall I ducked into a canyon or a swim through. When Pedro came over towards us I headed out towards the drop off. We managed to keep the groups separate and out of each other’s way. There was a lobster big enough to feed a family of four at the end of the dive. I think Rick and Susan got a picture of it.
There was utter chaos on Paso Del Cedral. There were BIG groups of divers everywhere. We had a couple of groups in front of us and a few behind. I tried to cross everyone over to the wall but half way there I discovered more divers right where I was headed so I parked everyone behind the reef at the old grouper feeding station and waited 10 minutes for them all to go away. Despite the crowding we still managed to have a good dive. Rick found a pretty green turtle right off f the bat. Cassie showed us a swimming nurse shark. I pointed out a splendid toadfish. Someone from a group in front of us was taking pictures of a big octopus in it’s den. He poked at it a bit with a stick and 2 tentacles unrolled out of the hole and grabbed the guy’s camera. He fought and tugged to get his camera back and then swam away. Cassie thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Tuesday, March 8th
I took Brad, Cassie, Tom, Dan, Katherine, David, Susan and Rick to Santa Rosa Wall per special request. We saw some immense groupers on that dive and a bunch of southern stingrays.
Brad also requested San Francisco Wall where we saw lots of cool little stuff. As I was pointing out a spotted cleaner shrimp on an anemone I was about to put one finger down for balance on a dead area of the reef and a little brownish thing scooted away. It was a mantis shrimp. I found a couple of spotted morays and a couple of golden tails too. Brad found a huge lobster that made me think of what was on Rick and Susan’s plate the other day at the cantina.
Wednesday, March 9th
My divers were Chace, Dwayne, Tom, Dan, Katherine, David, Susan and Rick. Even though we had south east wind we went down to Palancar Caves because we wanted a good dive site. We saw more turtles than we could count and the current was a little weird. Getting back on the boat was not easy but overall it was a really good dive.
I didn't want a bunch of current for the second dive so I took them to Rick’s favorite reef, French Reef. Rick saw the biggest lobster in the world. He also saw the biggest spotted drum in the world. It was all in that big, long cave. We also saw smaller lobsters, a crab and a bunch of humungous groupers. Dwayne tried to show Chace a flounder but she totally missed it! Rick took pictures of a mantis shrimp doing weird stuff and hamming it up for the camera.
Thursday, March 10th
We had beautiful, calm seas at Colombia when I took Andy, Derrick, Chris, Levi, David, Katherine, Tom and Dan diving. We saw more turtles than we could count and we went through the long, dark cave.
I chose Dalila for our second stop and we saw a ton of turtles again. I was surprised that we didn’t see any nurse sharks. Lobsters and crabs were found and someone pointed out a really nice little golden tail moray.
Sunday, March 13th
Chace, Ann, Todd, Megan, Levi and Chris accompanied me on Palancar Horseshoe. The sea was flat and calm and the current was just about non-existent. We saw more turtles than I could count. One was a little baby turtle and many others were small too. Chace checked the lionfish hole and didn’t see a one.
I took them to Yucab for the second dive. We saw 2 splendid toadfishes there. One came about half way out of the hole. That was really cool. We saw several big groupers and we had very little current again. Levi found a big lobster on that dive.
In the afternoon I took Catie and Kim to Paradise for dive 1 of their Open Water certification. We saw 2 different huge spotted morays completely out, head to tail. We saw a family of lobsters but the really curious thing was the biggest mantis shrimp I have ever seen. It was white and at least an inch and a half in diameter. Only it’s head and pinchers were visible in it’s hole. I killed one lionfish and one got away. We also found that school of big eyed scads. The girls liked the school of fish the best.
Monday, March 14th
I told Carlos to take us (Chace, Ann, Ian, Dillon, Derrick, Tanner and Kevin) to Palancar Gardens because the boys only had 2 days to dive and I wanted them to get to see the best spots. When we got there Carlos said to me, (Look at that current!( I told Carlos that I didn’t want to take them all in strong current their first day of diving and I told him to just drive around until he found a spot with not too much current. Carlos dropped us on French Reef. The current was very fast but not unmanageable. The boys caught on to drift diving quickly and we had a good time. We saw a ton of turtles and we swam through that really long cave.
I decided that Chankanaab would be the best choice for our second dive since there isn’t a lot of current there usually. We had a very easy dive. We saw lobsters, a big crab and loads of huge black groupers. A big barracuda was patrolling the reef and everyone gawked at it. Chace didn’t find any little lionfish on that dive but she sure did look for them.
Tuesday, March 15th
The boys really liked the cave at French Reef and since the current had calmed down I took Chris, Levi, Dillon, Derrick, Tanner and Kevin, Brent and Troy to Palancar Caves. Everyone enjoyed the tunnels and we saw a turtle too.
Since the current seemed to be behaving I took them to Cedral. Carlos said that the current was mild on the wall so I told him to drop us there. The current was actually kind of swift so about 30 minutes into the dive I crossed everyone over to the Paso where it would be easier to do the ascents. On the (wall( area we saw the first swimming nurse shark off in the distance. Then I stopped at the hole where the water is always a few degrees warmer than outside. In there I found a pair of big green moray eels huddled up together. Someone kept pointing to my hand where I was hanging on to a non-living part of the reef. I looked down to find a small nurse shark 6 inches below my fingers J We observed one big turtle and when we crossed over we saw another 6 foot nurse shark swimming around. This one was a little closer so everyone got a good look. A dinner sized lobster was prowling around and making a big show. It was a cool dive.
Wednesday, March 16th
Brent asked for Colombia and Troy, Megan, Todd, Chace, Ann and Chris didn’t seem to have any special requests so that is where we dived. I found a small (4 foot ) nurse shark napping under an overhang. We saw a big lobster and everyone really liked the caves.
I picked San Francisco for the second place because Megan wanted to see a moray eel. I spent the last 30 minutes of the dive looking for Buster to no avail. I wonder if he has gone off and found a mate? Chace found a couple of tiny lionfish but couldn’t get them in the nets. She is still learning how to catch them. There was plenty of current on that dive so it was very a drifty dive.
Thursday, March 17th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Troy, Brent, Kim, Carie, Chace, Chris and Levi. We had washing machine like current. It pushed us up, down and all around. It was hard for Kim and Carrie to learn buoyancy control in that current. Chris found a big green moray eel under the reef. A divemaster from another group was banging on his tank and pointing off in another direction and making the shark sign. I never saw it though.
The second dive was on Paradise. I told everyone to go really slow and look in the holes for little stuff. Levi found a fat spotted moray. I found a golden tail moray. We saw crabs and lobsters and I also saw a mantis shrimp. I think that Carrie is the only other one that saw it.
Friday, March 18th
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Brent, Troy, Kim, Catie, Chace and Chris. Kim was extremely impressed with the drop off and the cave. The ladies were captivated as a turtle surfaced to breathe and later re-joined us on the bottom.
I dropped Chris off between dives. I think he ate something bad at Rolandi’s the night before. Villa Blanca wall is right in front of Casa Del Mar so that is where we did our second dive. Chace found a teeny tiny lionfish and netted it. I smashed it for her. I found a huge green moray eel in a hole and Troy pointed out a huge lobster. The current was cooking and the girls learned Cozumel drift diving!
Sunday, March 20th
There were schools of humans everywhere on Palancar Gardens. Everywhere we looked, behind us, in front of us, below us there were groups of divers everywhere. Chris, Loke, Dave, Mary and Chuck managed to stay together really well and follow me. I was looking off into the deeper area and I was shocked when I saw a small Caribbean reef shark. It was not far away and it was not swimming fast. I am guilty of bolting after it. The divers were slow to follow and didn’t see it. I took out my slate and wrote (small reef shark( on the slate and then I turned around to find two of them off in the distance. We all swam quickly to get a glimpse but a glimpse was pretty much all we got. It was really gratifying anyway. I just love to see those little guys.
We poked around a lot on the bottom at Colombia Shallows. While I was looking for sand dollars a big spotted eagle ray swam by. I found 2 big yellow starfish and a helmut conch. While Chris was showing me a small lionfish Dave, Loke and Mary swam after a turtle.
Monday, March 21st
Eduardo came and helped me with the group. Eduardo took Terry, Matt, Joyce, Carlton, Mark, Chace and Chris down to see the big brain coral at Palancar. I stayed up on top with Mary doing some skills for certification. Eduardo killed 3 lionfish on that dive. They saw a big green moray eel shadow hunting with a black grouper and we all got to see the turtle. It was a really good dive.
At Colombia Shallow Eduardo found a tiny baby nurse shark hiding under a coral head. That was a cool experience for Mary during her training. We also saw another turtle and a bunch of little stuff.
Tuesday, March 22nd
I took Terry, Mary, Matt, Joyce, Mark, Carlton and Chris to the swim throughs at Palancar Gardens so that Mary could practice her buoyancy control. She did a splendid job of it. We saw a southern stingray and a turtle when we came out of one of the archways. Mary was thrilled.
Terry asked for splendid toadfish and we found 3 good ones at Paso Del Cedral. We also had an up close and personal experience with a turtle.
Wednesday, March 23rd
My divers were Terry, Mary, Matt, Joyce, Mark, Carleton, Mike and Rachel. Joyce asked to see garden eels so I told Carlos to take us to Colombia Deep. I have no clue or idea why, but he dropped us off at the very end of Colombia Deep. He offered no explanation after the dive and I didn’t even bother asking. Therefore we only saw a grand total of 3 garden eels. I suspect that he dropped us off at Bricks instead because there were a lot of divers on Colombia but we ended up weaving our way through many schools of humans anyway. High season in Cozumel is amazing. I think the last count was somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 divers per day on the reefs. We saw a good percentage of them on the Bricks :)
There were no other groups of divers around on French Reef. I picked it because I wanted less current on the dive. We still had some current but it was manageable. We saw tons of turtles and a huge crab on that dive.
Thursday, March 24th
Ann and Peggy asked to see an octopus. Terry, Mary, Matt, Joyce, Mark, Carleton didn4t have any special requests except that they like shallow dives with lots of marine life. I told Carlos to drop me off between the pier and the restaurant at Palancar to find an octopus in a hole that I knew would be there. I found a splendid toadfish for Terry and we saw some really big black groupers. I did find the octopus but Ann couldn4t see it in behind it’ protective barrier of sea shells. Peggy did manage to make out that there was something back there but she didn4t see much detail either. We also saw a couple of turtles and a spotted moray eel on that dive.
Friday, March 25th
Ann, Peggy, Terry, Mary, Matt, Joyce, Mark and Carleton were my divers at Palancar Caves. We saw a bunch of lionfish. I managed to kill the first 2, seriously wound one that got away but there was one really big one and one really small one that escaped. Wow! I was surprised at how many lionfish there were! We practiced buoyancy control in the tunnels and had a good dive.
On Dalila I found an empty shell from a crab that had molted. At first I thought that it was alive but after it didn4t move for a minute I realized that it was just an empty shell. We saw several turtles and a big nurse shark swam past us slowly. Big groupers were everywhere and we saw a few juvenile spotted drums as well.
Saturday, March 26th
Sandy, Jim, Matthew and Claire were starting their open water training dives. I needed 20 feet of water for them. I hired Luis to take John, Melissa, Anne and Peggy on a normal dive while I stayed up top with my students on Palancar at (the student place(. We had big waves and it was a tough start for those guys but they were troupers and did a good job. Our certified divers saw a turtle and some lobsters. Everyone got to see the big southern stingray in the sand.
Carlos said that Colombia Shallow would be OK so I took them over there. Thankfully the wind had calmed a little bit and I actually had them do some surface skills there. Claire was thrilled to see a 4 foot nurse shark swim around. Matthew was impressed with the huge barracuda. I was surprised that we didn4t see any turtles at all.
Sunday, March 27th
John and Melissa got on the boat at the Caleta. Peggy and Anne got on board at Allegro which is a good, sturdy pier. Jim, Matthew, Sandra and Claire got on at Iberostar and after a discussion with Carlos we opted to turn around and go north to dive because the wind was sooooooooooo strong down south. It was very wavy and choppy and we had a bunch of current. My student divers learned how to get out of the current by hiding behind the reef in the sand and Sandy pointed out every single pretty fish that she saw.
I wanted less current so I took them to Chankanaab for the second dive. It was a nice, easy dive. Anne requested a spotted drum and a hog fish. I found a big adult spotted drum. Melissa found a juvenile. I found a medium sized hog fish but the big ones are much more impressive. The navigational skills went well too.
Monday, March 28th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Peggy, Anne, John, Melissa, Terry, Craig and Troy. Troy and Craig’ wives snorkeled over us while we dived. We saw a big southern stingray and a huge turtle. We also saw a big lobster and a crab.
We went to French Reef for the second dive. I only saw one turtle on that dive but apparently I missed a couple more. An enormous lobster crawled around under the reef and John highlighted it with his flashlight. Melissa found a lionfish but I was too busy to go back and get it.
Tuesday, March 29th
Dive one was on the Horseshoe with Anne, Terry, Troy, Stephanie, Renee, Ford and Bryce. Anne found the first turtle which was eating a sponge on the underside of the reef. Then a second turtle swam right up to Anne and got so close that I was wondering if she would have to push it away! Renee’ family snorkeled over us and they saw a big spotted eagle, a swimming nurse shark 2 huge lobsters walking around and three turtles. I guess the snorkelers saw more than the divers?
Dive two was on Dalila. The current was kickin4. I killed a lionfish. We saw a beautiful green turtle, a big nurse shark that Terry got a picture of and we also saw a large southern stingray.
In the afternoon I took Patrick, Beth, Taylor and Katelyn to Paradise for training dive number three. I found a big spotted eel but Beth didn4t see it because she was too far from the bottom. Katelyn pointed out a yellow stingray.
Dive four was also on Paradise where we saw a few really big crabs.
Wednesday, March 30th
Terry, John, Melissa, Troy, Patrick, Beth, Katelyn and Taylor came with me to Palancar Caves. Once we got down below, out of the waves we had beautiful dive conditions. We saw a turtle on the reef. John found a sleeping nurse shark in a dark crevice.
Paso Del Cedral was exciting as usual. We started off with a 6 foot swimming nurse shark and we saw a big lobster. Melissa pointed out a huge spotted eagle ray. She and Terry were very close to it but the rest of us saw it from a distance. Barracuda were everywhere and one very large, menacing barracuda made more than one diver in my group a little nervous.
Saturday, April 2nd
We had perfect conditions on Palancar Gardens for Chace, Sam, Dan, Patrick, Patrick, Katelyn and Camilla. The current was very light and there weren4t any big waves. Coming out of the first swim through I saw a big spotted eagle ray. Dan was the only other diver who saw it because he was closest. We also saw an enormous lobster crawling around and showed Sam a nurse shark that swam under the reef.
On Cedral Wall the current was really, really light and it was an easy decent. We saw 4 turtles I think. I found a small green moray hiding behind an elephant ear sponge. I wiggled my fingers and it stuck it’ head out for everyone. At the end of the dive a small nurse shark swam in front of us, settled down under the reef and when we caught up to it again she took off swimming away.
Sunday, April 3rd
Ken, Anita, John, Bette, Trish, Gary, Jeannie and Camilla were my divers. I asked them what they wanted to see and they shouted out, (Lionfish and toadfish!( There was only one choice for me, Las Palmas. It has plenty of both. Carlos dropped me and I checked the current. It was going the wrong way so I had him throw me a rope and he drug me south on the rope until I told him to stop. When the divers got in the water the current changed. It started pushing us toward land. That is not good. We swam against it for a while and I found one little lionfish. After everyone took pictures I caught it in the nets and I killed it. John said it was his first ever underwater murder that he had witnessed. I think some were bothered by it but Ken thought it was interesting.
We had a much better dive on Paradise. John was set up for macro but big stuff kept swimming by. Everyone enjoyed the 3 huge greater amberjacks hunting a school of shiny silver fish. We saw two of the biggest barracudas in the entire world together at a cleaning station. I saw big crabs and lots of little stuff too like a secretary blenny and a flamingo tongue.
Monday, April 4th
I took Ken, Anita, John, Bette, Trish, Gary, Jeannie and Camilla to Colombia Deep for the first dive. I found a little turtle in a channel and everyone stopped to take pictures. The current was very cooperative. I also saw a swimming nurse shark below but I am not sure if anyone else saw that shark but me.
The second dive was on Colombia Shallow. I found a small nurse shark and showed it to Bette. I also pointed out more flamingo tongues and a lizard fish. I was surprised that I didn4t see any turtles on that dive.
Tuesday, April 5th
In the afternoon I took Ken, Anita, John, Bette, Trish, Gary, Jeannie, Chace and Camilla to Paso Del Cedral. We saw all kinds of good stuff there including a big nurse shark and a turtle.
We did a night dive on Chankanaab which turned out great. We had very little current. Jeannie found a big, fat green moray eel. Chace said that she could hear me screaming through my regulator when I saw it. Chace found the first octopus and she also found a slipper lobster. I found a huge octopus at the end of the dive. We saw the usual crabs and lobsters. When we got on the boat Trisha told me that it was a wonderful dive and that she was just about ready to throw in the towel on night diving until this night. She said that she won4t be giving it up after all.
Thursday, April 7th
Although I was still recovering from a bout of stomach flu I managed to get on the boat and take everyone to Palancar Gardens. John took 75 pictures of us going through the archways and tunnels. At the end of the dive a big green moray eel swam around below us.
I took them over to San Francisco Wall where we were greeted by a swimming nurse shark below us. We got to see 3 different turtles. Everyone really liked that dive.
Friday, April 8th
I picked Palancar Horseshoe for the first dive with Ken, Anita, John, Bette, Trish, Gary, Jeannie and Camilla. Everyone was very impressed with the gorgeous reef. Betty took video of a couple of turtles and a big lobster strutting his stuff.
They asked for Dalila for the second dive. The only big critters that we saw were a large nurse shark swimming around with some miscellaneous big black groupers.
Sunday, April 17th
It was the first day of diving for Shelah, Oliver, Alex, Jan, Terry, Linda and Peter so I took them to Palancar Gardens because the initial decent is to 20 feet. After everyone was down we dropped to 50 or 60 feet and swam through the archways. We saw a turtle that was totally pigging out on tasty sponge. A pair of barracuda patrolled the reef close by. When only Linda, Peter and I were still down we saw a 5 foot nurse shark swim past and I found a big lobster in a hole.
To keep things easy we went to French Reef for the second dive. We all stayed up on top in the shallow water. I saw a total of 4 turtles but the dive was a little chaotic with leaky masks and new BCDs so not everyone saw all those turtles. One was huge and off in the distance and one was (Bell Shell( that I had last seen on Cedral Wall. I was surprised to see her on French Reef.
Monday, April 18th
Dive one of four was on Colombia Shallows with John, Casey, Davis, Gage, Ward, Ally, Gillian and Fred. We only saw one green turtle but somehow I think that was enough to please the group. Davis is only allowed to go 40 feet max since he is 10 years old. No one wanted to go deep so it worked out perfectly.
The next shallow dive was on French Reef. I will give credit where credit is due. Davis found the first turtle. Ward pointed out a rather large swimming nurse shark, Fred found the second turtle. I found a few turtles too and I was the only one that saw the green moray eel slither under the reef and hide.
Dive three was on Palancar Horseshoe with Oliver, Shelah, Alex, Linda and Peter. I was worried how Alex would react when the nurse shark swam past us well below in the deep water. It didn4t seem to bother him though. Later in the dive Linda, Peter and I saw a huge lobster out walking around and we swam through a cave.
Dive four was on Dalila and wow! What a dive! We saw a couple of turtles and a big green moray eel sat really still on top of the reef with it’ entourage of groupers. I got up close enough to pet it but I didn4t because I don4t know that particular eel. We saw a whole bunch of nurse sharks. The first one was small, maybe 4 feet and had it’ head under the coral. The second one was lying on the bottom and everyone got a good look. A pair of them were together in a little cave. We also saw a big southern stingray. That was a great critter dive.
Tuesday, April 19th
Per special request I took Linda, Peter, Oliver, Chris, Quyen and Wayne to Palancar Caves. Orlando came along and he led 4 of the divers through the caves in 60 to 70 feet of water while I stayed up in 40 feet of water with Quyen and Wayne. Everyone was very happy with that arrangement. We saw a turtle and we had a long dive.
They wanted to see fish so I took them to Paso Del Cedral. There were plenty of big groupers and barracudas. We saw one swimming nurse shark and one small nurse shark sleeping in a hole. We also saw a few lobsters and a big crab on that dive.
Wednesday, April 20th
Alex, Oliver, Shelah, Wes, Paula, Chaz, Linda and Peter were my divers on Palancar Gardens. Luis took everyone down 60 feet but I stayed up top with Alex in about 40 feet. We saw a turtle. Linda saw a big stingray too.
On the end of French Reef we saw another big southern stingray digging around in the sand for something to eat. We also saw a pretty green turtle that went up to the surface to breathe. Linda showed me a big crab and I was fascinated watching it pluck up clumps of Y branched algae and stuff it in it’ mouth. There was a swimming nurse shark on that dive too. Luis pointed it out.
Thursday, April 21st
I brought Luis along to watch the group again while I watched Alex. We went to Colombia Deep but stayed in the shallow area so that Alex could always see the bottom. Luis found a pipefish right next to the old anchor. He also pointed out a small turtle. We saw several large southern stingrays in the sand.
Keeping Alex shallow we went to Colombia Shallow. We saw a small turtle napping which woke up when we all came over for a look.
Friday, April 22nd
I took Casey, Davis, Gage, Ward, Ally, Gillian and Fred to Paradise first because it was early in the morning and there wasn4t much boat traffic at that hour of the day. They found a few little eels, one golden tail and one spotted eel. They were very impressed by the number of fish on the reef.
Then I took them to Chankanaab. It was a little deeper that 40 feet but Davis was fine there. We saw 2 southern stingrays, 2 lobsters out walking around in the open and a big barracuda. I showed them a few queen conches too. They are a happy bunch, that family :)
Sunday, April 24th
After a nice relaxing day off I took Doug, Charman, Gary, Joe, Amy, JT, Dave and Fran to Palancar Gardens. We didn4t get off to a good start because no one had their weighting down but after a while everything (clicked(. However, when Gary was pointing out a turtle I was too busy to bring the group back for a look. Amy and JT practiced Peak Performance Buoyancy control by swimming through tunnels without touching anything.
Our second dive went much better on French Reef after we got the weighting problems and mask problems worked out. I think it was Charman that pointed out the swimming nurse shark. JT got my attention with his tank banger when Gary found a big turtle. We had a bunch of happy campers when we got back on the boat after the dive.
Monday, April 25th
I had a beautiful, relaxing dive on Palancar Caves. A small nurse shark paid us a visit 3 times on that dive. The first time that it swam by Amy pointed it out when the shark was well below us in 90 feet of water. The second time it came back it was swimming the opposite direction and much closer to us. The third time it came by it was pretty close again. It was really fun to have that shark following us around.
At Dalila a much, much bigger nurse shark swam right under Amy. A hawksbill turtle swam right up to Joe’ camera and smiled for the picture. J.T. loved that dive.
Tuesday, April 26th
I took Bill, Kathy, Charman, Doug, Gary, Kay and Joe to my secret spot right in front of the restaurant at Playa Palancar. We had a wonderful dive. We saw gazillions of turtles that swam right up to everyone. When one got in Charman’ face you could see how startled she was it came so close! We also saw a few southern stingrays and lobster there.
I took them to Paso Del Cedral for the second dive where I found a pair of rather large nurse sharks together. We also saw another turtle. It was almost as exciting as the first dive
Wednesday, April 27th
The south east wind was so strong we couldn4t get any further south than San Francisco Wall. Taylor, Tami, Terri, Perry and Kyle were visiting on a cruise ship. My land based divers were Carol, Bob and Joe. On San Francisco wall we saw a small turtle, a big lionfish (which I missed by the way) and some big southern stingrays with bar jacks hovering over them.
I kept north on Chankanaab. We saw evidence of poaching there. An enormous lobster head was lying on the bottom with no tail. Someone took the good part and left the head. It was a monster and it was sad to think that such a big lobster was no more.. I found a juvenile spotted drum. Joe got tons of photos of that and we also saw a big crab with huge claws. The visibility was not as good as normal due to the big waves.
Thursday, April 28th
I dived Yucab with Kay, Bob, Carol, Bill, Kathy, Carol and Deanna. The southeast wind was still howling and I didn4t want to go south. Deanna filmed a big spotted eagle ray. It was off in the deep area to the west so she didn4t get a close up on it. She did however get some good footage of a southern stingray and a yellow stingray. She got shots of each size of stingray that we have in Cozumel. (Spotted Eagle Ray, Southern Stingray and Yellow Stingray) The only ray she didn4t get this morning was an electric ray.
We did our second dive on Paradise. I was amazed at how many baby fish (fry) there were. It seemed like everywhere I looked I saw schools of teeny fish. At first I thought that it was wonderful that these babies have a chance since we almost never see lionfish on Paradise. But later I asked myself if those babies could be lionfish fry I hope not. Deanna got some good footage of a squid and later of a balloon fish. Both sat still for her video camera.
Friday, April 29th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Carol, Deanna, Carol, Bob, Kathy, Bill, Joe and Dan. We saw a small turtle and a small nurse shark swam around us. The nurse shark had a little notch in her dorsal fin which made me wonder if it was (Notchka( a nurse shark that I hadn4t seen in quite a while. The way that it swam around us ignoring the divers made me think that it just might be Notchka again.
Dive two was on Cedral Wall. We had a bit of current but we saw tons of turtles including one green turtle, one loggerhead with a shark sucker stuck to it’ under belly and a bunch of hawksbills. The first one was very, very big. Deanna and I also saw a big nurse shark lounging on the bottom and another small shark swimming around.
Saturday, April 30th
I was moving a little slow after my birthday party but I managed just fine with Elizabeth, Carol, Deanna, Bob and Dan on Palancar Caves. We swam through lots of pretty archways and tunnels. I took a shot at a lionfish but missed again. Carol made a signal that I am zero for three. I gave her the finger. We were visited by a turtle at the end of the dive. It glided up to the surface for a gulp of air and then came back down again and let Deanna film him.
On Dalila I found a small lionfish, too small for my spear so I went to the surface and came back down with some nets. I caught the little bugger and Carol didn4t get to make fun of me. I counted 6 turtles on that dive. The fifth turtle was a green turtle. The rest were hawksbills. There were 2 swimming nurse sharks. The first one was extra large. Everyone liked that dive a lot.
Sunday, May 1st
My divers were Chuck, Carol, Deanna, Carol, Bob and Dan. Carol asked for no current and I said a little prayer before we dropped in on Horseshoe. I got lucky and there was no current indeed. We saw one small turtle and a big lobster crawling around. Carol thanked me afterward J
Keeping on the (no current( plan we went to French Reef. We saw big crabs and lobsters. At the very end of the dive I saw a 7 foot nurse shark lying on the bottom. I made the shark signal to Deanna and she swam over and immediately began filming the small turtle in front of the shark. She never saw the shark until she got so close that she frightened it away. By then it was too late to film it. She was flabbergasted and I just made fun of her and laughed the whole ride home!
Monday, May 2nd
I dived Colombia with Todd, Tracy, Carol, Deanna and Dan. We saw a small turtle on our way down. We parked and watched a southern stingray digging around in the sand for some breakfast. When we came out of the swim through we happened upon a group of 10 garden eels. Deanna stopped to film them. The last half of the dive was spent floating around up on top of the deep reef and we saw a few more turtles. One promptly scooted into a hole to hide.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. We drifted up to a big turtle having a meal on the platform. Tracy got my attention and showed us all a 6 foot swimming nurse shark that actually made 2 passes. I showed the ladies a furry sea cucumber and a juvenile spotted drum. Deanna and I stayed down and finished our tanks while watching a large turtle share a tasty sponge with a queen angelfish.
Tuesday, May 3rd
We had perfect conditions on Palancar Gardens with Jordan, Don, Ethan, Linda, Gerry and Dan. Linda had requested the swim throughs so I went through every single one of them! We saw a big green moray eel swimming around and at the end of the dive Jordan got to swim with a turtle.
Everyone really enjoyed Colombia Shallow, especially Dan. We got to see another turtle. There was a school of huge barracuda just over head for a while. We found another mammoth barracuda sharing a hiding hole with a big crab. It was a good dive.
Monday, May 9th
My first day back from vacation went smoothly when I took Chuck, Corkey, Alan, Jen and Alex to Colombia Deep. We swam over to the wall and a huge loggerhead turtle swam right up to us. It was a big male turtle and it was missing the left, rear flipper. As soon as that turtle took off Corkey pointed out a nurse shark swimming in the deep water below us. The second turtle we saw was a hawksbill and we finished the dive with a green turtle. It was unusual to see one of each on a dive. Loggerheads are very uncommon but it is breading and nesting season so it makes sense to see them.
Corkey said that she likes current so I took them to Cedral Wall. That is one of my favorites. First Jen got to sit with a hungry turtle taking pictures for a few minutes. Then we drifted up to a pair a big nurse sharks that were hanging out with a pair of big black groupers. One shark swam away and the other just sat there. I found a baby nurse shark in my favorite hole. Jen swam after another big one and as we came around a mound Corkey was shocked to find one more just lying there on the bottom. We also saw a couple of big lobsters. It was a good day for nurse sharks!
Tuesday, May 10th
Jen and Alex requested Palancar Horseshoe. I asked Corkey, Alan, Susan and Jim if that would be OK and they said that it was fine. We had nice, calm water. After 5 minutes a big hawksbill swam right up to us. It was moving slowly and let Jen take lots of pictures. I noticed that her strobe wasn4t firing so I took the camera, aimed it at her and pointed to the internal flash which was working. I took her picture. She nodded her head because she already knew. At that moment Alex got our attention and pointed out a big spotted eagle ray swimming right up to us. Corkey and I let out a little squeek of delight and the ray turned around and swam off. As soon as it was gone I noticed another hawksbill lying on the bottom having a snooze. Jen got lots of pictures of that one too. I took a shot at a lionfish and missed. It was kind of half hearted.
Jen wanted to go to Dalila for the second dive. As soon as we reached the bottom Susan pointed out a lionfish. I got that one. I was wondering if Susan was horrified when I killed the pretty fishy. She probably was thinking that she shouldn4t point out anything else! The big stuff came at the end of the dive when we were doing our safety stop. I looked down to find a big spotted eagle ray feeding on the bottom below us. Then we saw another nice turtle.
Wednesday, May 11th
I took Corkey, Greg, Jim and Susan to Santa Rosa Wall for the first tank. Upon reaching the bottom we encountered a good size nurse shark lounging on the sandy bottom. I showed them a tiny goldentail eel and a huge black grouper swam right up to us. We also saw a few lobsters on that dive.
Susan really liked that dive so I took them to San Francisco Wall for the second tank. The current slowed down about half way through the dive and a big turtle swam slowly up to us from below. As soon as that turtle was gone Greg pointed out another small one on the reef. A six foot nurse shark made a slow pass below us in about 100 feet of water. Everyone was very pleased.
Thursday, May 12th
Julie, Greg, Susan, Jim, Corkey and Alan were my divers on Palancar Gardens. Julie asked to see a stingray, any kind of ray would do. First we happened upon a turtle but during the safety stop a southern stingray swam by below us. Mission accomplished!
Julie wasn4t feeling well so we dropped her off at the hotel and we went to Paso Del Cedral. A nice big nurse shark swam past in the distance. I scrubbed Nick’ marker but it is hard to make out his name now. There is a bunch of stuff growing on it and the bite marks from the parrotfish make it impossible to read now. There is a big clump of hydroids growing where I used to put my hand to hold on in the current while scrubbing. When we got to the coral formation we discovered a medium sized nurse shark taking it easy on the bottom. After we saw the third shark I found a large lobster. While Corkey, Alan and I were making a safety stop a pretty hawksbill turtle appeared.
Saturday, May 14th
Julie, Greg, Becky, Larry, Leanne and J.P. came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. We had a rough start of it. Larry lost his weight pocket twice. The first time Greg went to recover it. The second time I didn4t see where it fell so it was lost. About 20 minutes into the dive another group of divers passed us. They were moving right along. When we got to the big block I discovered Larry’ weight pocket sitting right on top of the block. The divemaster that passed us obviously found it, picked it up and then got tired of swimming around with it so he left it on the block. It was kind of funny to find it there but it was a bummer that Larry had to spend the dive sitting on the boat.
After switching Larry to a weight belt we went to Colombia Shallow. We woke up a sleepy turtle that appeared to yawn at us when we hovered around him. Leanne found a (Stevie Wonder Fish(. I found a juvenile spotted drum. We played and laughed a lot underwater and had fun.
Sunday, May 15th
Tank one was on Palancar Caves per Leanne’ request. She had already been there earlier in the week and loved it so much that she wanted to go back. Larry, Becky, Greg and JP didn4t seem to mind. She got very friendly with a little turtle and found a lionfish for us.
Tank two was on French Reef where we saw so many turtles that I lost count. A big, fat green moray eel swam around below us and gave us a thrill. Becky wanted to go in the caves but was worried that I would give her a hard time about it so she stayed out. I told her when we got back on board the boat that there are lots of big, long caves there and next time I promised to take her through them.
Monday, May 16th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Denise, Lester, Mary, Scott, Candy, Debbie, Kyle, Kim and James. We all went a little deeper than planned when Scott found a nurse shark in about 90 feet of water. My maximum depth was around 75 feet but Lester went to 85 feet. We dipped down one more time to around 70 feet when Scott found a turtle. Then Scott pointed out a big black grouper. When we were back on the boat I told Scott that he could be the divemaster on the next dive since he finds everything J
Our next dive was on French Reef. I found both turtles. I had to show Scott up! Lester found a big lobster just prancing around up on top of the reef. Fun was had by all.
Tuesday, May 17th
Denise, Lester, Mary, Scott, Candy, Kyle, Kim and James were my divers on Palancar Caves. We bumped into a few groups of other divers down there. It was a little confusing for the first 10 minutes. Then the other divemaster and I coordinated directions and it all worked out. We saw a turtle and after I dropped James off I came back down on top of a nurse shark with it’ head in a hole.
Dalila was our second stop. It was Kim who pointed out the big nurse shark that swam right underneath little Mary as she took a picture. We also saw a green turtle and Scott found a hawksbill turtle hanging out on the bottom with some pretty angel fish. As Lester and I did our safety stop I looked down and saw a big grouper together with a 6 foot green moray eel.
Wednesday, May 18th
My divers were Lynne, Jeff, George, Barbara and Larry. Lynne requested Palancar Gardens so that is where we went. We had wonderful sea conditions. We saw a huge crab and a lobster. At the end of the dive we hung out with a pair of big black groupers and Jeff took lots of pictures of them.
Per Lynne’ request we did our next dive on Colombia Shallow. The first 10 minutes of the dive were action packed. We descended to 20 feet with 3 big, fat barracudas. Then we saw one turtle swim up for a gulp of air, then woke up two more turtles that were hunkered down under the reef snoozing. A pair of rather large lobsters seemed to duke it out right below us. I remembered where the juvenile spotted drum was and I showed it to everyone. Barbara found the king of all crabs. We had a really long dive.
Thursday, May 19th
Denise requested Santa Rosa Wall. Lester, Mary, Scott, Candy, Debbie, Kyle, Kim, Lou and James got no say in the matter. Queen Denise rules all J Lester pointed out a big lobster when we first hit the bottom. Then Fido, the huge grouper started following us around. I shot a medium sized lionfish and Fido came over and sucked it right off the end of my spear! The impact of the big fish against my metal stick was quite impressive. Fido seemed quite proud of himself for stealing my catch and he followed us around for a long time hoping for more.
Staying with the (Wall( theme we went to San Francisco. We saw a small hawksbill and a very friendly loggerhead turtle that swam right under me. He didn4t seem afraid of me at all. A splendid toadfish wiggled half way out of it’ hole after some breakfast. Almost everyone got to see it.
In the afternoon I took Lynne, Jeff, George, Barbara and Larry to French Reef because they asked to see turtles. After about 30 minutes we arrived at the cave and still no turtles yet. I was getting worried and thought that we might not get to see any turtles. Well as soon as we got in the cave I found a big green moray eel. Barbara said that it looked yellow in the light from Jeff’ halogen flashlight. Then a big nurse shark swam by us. At the very end of the dive I got lucky and a turtle appeared. Then another one and then another one appeared. I was really happy to have 3 turtles on that dive.
They liked that spot so much that we got back in where we had come out and continued to dive the same reef until we ran out of coral. We saw the same shark swimming around and we found a second smaller one lying in the sand. We saw a few yellow stingrays. We saw more turtles too and a few crabs.
Friday, May 20th
Dive one was on San Francisco Wall because we had some serious south east wind. A rather large nurse shark passed us by several times but only Karla, Barbara and I saw it. Larry, George, Jeff and Lynne didn4t get to see the shark at all. We saw a hawksbill turtle and it sat still for Jeff’ camera.
Dive two was on Yucab. When Larry came up he said that it was his favorite dive ever. He said that next time he comes he wants me to take him there again. I was a little baffled. The current was strong and we didn4t see any turtles or sharks and the biggest eel we saw was a small spotted eel in a hole. But for some reason Larry just LOVED that dive!
Saturday, May 21st
I took Peter, Barbara, George, Lynne, Jeff, Martha and Dave to Palancar Caves. Upon descending we almost landed smack dad on a humungous southern stingray which posed for Jeff’ camera. We swam through lots of caves and we saw three turtles. The first two turtles were off in the distance but the third turtle sat still while Jeff took pictures.
I picked Dalila for the second dive. Jeff found a big lobster out and about at the beginning of the dive while Peter and Martha were working on their ears. After 45 minutes I got to thinking that it was really weird that we didn4t see any sharks or turtles. Well during the last safety stop we drifted over a big nurse shark just lying out in the open which was closely followed by a hawksbill turtle. Peter and I got the best show.
Sunday, May 22nd
Peter, Barbara, George, Denise, Carlos, Martha and Dave came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. The first little turtle was at the beginning of the dive and it sat really still while Peter swam around it taking video. Then Peter found a big lionfish and I shot it. The yellowtail snappers ate it all up. Martha pointed out a big lobster and we saw one more small turtle at the very end of the dive.
We had a shark fest on Paso Del Cedral. The first shark was parked under the reef and it was kind of hard for Peter to film it. The second shark was huge and it was way out in the open and didn4t even fidget when we came by. There was a current so no one wanted to stop for too long. The third shark we saw on the safety stop. That was the small one, maybe 5 feet long and it was swimming around off in the distance. I found a darling pair of spotted drums and I remember where I saw them so I can find them again.
Wednesday, May 25th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Andy, Vonnie, Marina, Roger, Carlos, Peter, Denise and Ryan. Coming out of the first archway Marina tried to show me a turtle. I never did see it. About 5 minutes later I tried to show her a turtle but she didn4t see it. Coming out of the very last swim through a huge turtle was sharing a meal with about 5 brightly colored angelfish. I grabbed Marina’ hand and drug her over to see the turtle. We were both smiling at the end of that dive.
Colombia Shallow had all of the usual schools of bright yellow fish. We saw several small turtles and lots of lobsters. I found that spotted drum in the same spot. We found a crab that some animal had eaten. The top of the shell was broken off and separated from the bottom half of the shell with all the legs and pinchers still attached. The inside of the crab was all sucked out. The highlight of that dive was the big nurse shark that made a slow pass and said hello. For some reason all the barracudas made Marina nervous so I just shooed them away.
Thursday, May 26th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Peter, Denise, Carlos, Patsy, Bob, Marina, Roger, Andy and Vonnie. We had excellent dive conditions. I showed Marina a tiny turtle and several garden eels.
On French Reef I found a peacock flounder. A good sized turtle was munching on a sponge surrounded by 5 angelfish. When Andy went to take a picture it swam off. It went to the surface for air and came back down for a second visit with our divers. Back on the boat Patsy showed me photos of 2 lionfish she saw but I was ahead of her and I never saw them.
Friday, May 27th
My divers were Cuyler, Patsy, Bob, Marina, Roger, Andy and Vonnie. Patsy wanted to go to San Francisco Wall so we did our first dive there. We saw a small turtle sharing a meal with some pretty angelfish. I found a small lionfish and I went to the surface to get the nets. It took me a few minutes and when I came back down the current felt stronger. I took a swipe at the little bugger and missed. I tried again and it darted into a hole. Game over, the trip to the surface was all for nothing On the safety stop Marina showed Bob and I a big nurse shark swimming around.
We went to Yucab for the second dive. The only critter of note was a big lobster that Cuyler highlighted with his dive light. We saw plenty of fish and the current was nice so we had a good dive.
Saturday, May 28th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Patsy, Bob, Andy, Vonnie, Dave and Jenna. First I pointed out a big lobster in a dark overhang. Then I discovered a crab clinging to the wall. After the crab a spotted moray was poking it’ head out and watching us go by. We also saw one turtle and I shot a small lionfish. I carried that lionfish around for about 20 minutes looking for something that would eat it but I finally just gave up and left it on the bottom. I didn4t see any mutton snapper, yellowtails or groupers until the end of the dive after I had already ditched the little lionfish. There were 3 huge black groupers hovering around in about 40 feet of water at the end of the dive.
Patsy asked to go to Dalila. We had almost no current at all. It was a really easy dive. Patsy took pictures of the first turtle but I think I am the only one who saw the second turtle about 30 minutes into the dive. We saw a few lobsters on that dive too.
Tuesday, May 31st
I only had four divers; Patsy, Bob, Page and Chris. Page requested turtles. Patsy suggested Dalila. There was almost no current on Dalila. It was very pleasant. The first turtle that we saw was a small green turtle way off in the distance. I shot a lionfish and fed it to a waiting mutton snapper. After everyone else was already up, Page and I stayed down to see a swimming nurse shark and a big turtle parked on the bottom sharing breakfast with some pretty angelfish. Page was excited because we were only a couple of feet away from the turtle. I have seen that turtle lots of times before. I recognize the small dent in the portside of her shell.
I took them to Punta Tunich because the current was light, Patsy has never been there and because Page wanted to see a turtle. We dropped down over a HUGE hawksbill on the bottom. Chris swam back against the current for a good look. The rest of us didn4t bother. As we came over the top of a hump I spied a big nurse shark lounging on the bottom. When Page passed over the shark her eyes looked like 2 saucers. A five foot moray eel was in a dark hole. Patsy couldn4t get in there for a photo.
In the afternoon I took Cody and Brooke to Paradise for a couple of check out dives. We started in the shallow part and after doing skills I showed them 2 big, fat spotted morays. When we swam over to the reef I was waiting for some feather dusters to come back out of their tubes when Cody pointed to a big male loggerhead turtle. When it realized that we were right there it came out of the hole and practically pushed Cody out of it’ way. It was almost as big as Cody anyway. We hung out with that turtle for a good ten minutes. It was amazing!
On our second dive at Paradise we saw more spotted eels but none as big as the first time around. We saw lots of lobsters and crabs too. A few big black groupers made a slow pass but our big turtle was gone.
Wednesday, June 1st
Cody and Brooke were now certified so I took them to Palancar Gardens with Patsy, Bob, Page and Chris. Cody and Brooke were amazed. They loved the caves and swim throughs. We saw big lobsters and crabs. One lobster was out parading about in the sand. A good size nurse shark swam below us in about 80 or 90 feet of water. Brooke’ eyes were huge when I pointed that out. We saw hundreds of clouds of baby fish fry everywhere on that reef. It seemed to screw up the visibility at times.
Patsy’ favorite reef is Colombia Shallow. I had been promising to bring her there all week. I picked a good day because the wind was from the north. We saw 2 small turtles wedged under little coral heads napping. We saw tons of lobsters and crabs. Chris discovered the 4 foot nurse shark near my favorite hole. A group of divers were huddled around looking at something in the reef. I stopped to wait my turn. The divemaster made a signal for a speargun asking if I had one. I nodded my head and swam over. I shot it but it was not a good shot so I pinned it to the sand and got out my metal stick. I stuck the stick through his gill and poked around in his head and after a puff of blood came out I thought it was dead. So I took it off of the spear. The little bugger swam away! I shot it again, poked my stick in it’ poor little head on the other side and did it again. Then I took it off of the end of the spear and put it in the sand again. It didn4t move. Bob was looking at it after I swam away and he swears that it swam away again after I left! Those things are harder to kill than cockroaches. Yuck. The whole thing was gory and ugly but when I saw those huge clouds of baby fish everywhere I decided that it is totally worth it. Sometimes I wonder though if those thousands of babies might be little lionfish. That is not a nice thought
Thursday, June 2nd
The current was forgiving at Santa Rosa Wall where Matt, Max, Bob, Patsy, Page, Chris, Cody and Brooke dived with me. At the beginning of the dive I found a 2 inch lionfish against the reef in a cloud of baby fish. I went to the surface to get the nets but the boat was too far away. Fido, the big grouper followed us around for a while even though I didn4t get the lionfish for him. We saw a lot of big groupers on that dive.
Patsy had been asking to go to Tormentos so that is where we did our second dive. There were 3 other groups of divers in the same area but we managed to stay separate from them and we enjoyed ourselves. There was very little current and we stopped to look at stuff that we normally drift past. A lady from the group in front of us showed me a pipefish and a sail fin blenny. I picked up a big horse conch and pointed out 3 juvenile peacock flounders in the sand. At the very end of the dive a small turtle posed for Patsy’ camera.
Saturday, June 4th
Four divers canceled so that just left me with 3 good divers, James, Matt and Max. I told the boys that since they were all qualified to do any dive on the island that they could pick where they wanted to go. I told them that I would take them anywhere they want. James was on 36% nitrox so he was limited to 95 feet. Matt decided that it would be fun to go to the shipwreck. There were 2 other groups of divers on the wreck so it was a little crowded at times but other than that it was a good dive.
I picked the second dive at Las Palmas. I don4t know if Matt and Max had ever been there before. They really liked it. I caught 1 really big lionfish and 3 baby lionfish. The second lionfish that I killed split in half and a small fish that it had swallowed whole swam out of it and took off. We saw loads of lobsters, 2 spotted morays, a golden tail moray and an octopus. The big spotted moray swam out of it’ hole and charged me, Max and later Matt. It actually scared me with it’ aggressiveness.
Sunday, June 5th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Cody, Brooke, James, Susan, Jay, Ken and Mary. We had almost no current at all and the group moved at a snail’ pace. The girls went through the archways even though they had said that they wouldn4t during the briefing. Guess they looked at the archways and decided that they were not as bad as they had thought :)
Our second dive was on French Reef and we saw a ton of good stuff. It started off with a medium sized nurse shark swimming around behind Jay. Then I found a turtle. After the turtle we found a ton of baby lionfish all in the same area. I was bummed out because they were too small for my spear and I had not brought the nets with me. After pouting about the lionfish for a while a big nurse shark swam just ahead of us. At the very end of the dive I found a pair of turtles both just sitting on the bottom as we drifted over them doing a safety stop.
Monday, June 6th
Tank one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Matt, Max, James, Katherine, Jay, Susan, Ken and Mary. The girls don4t like swim throughs. That is why I chose Horseshoe. I found and killed a small lionfish and fed it to the yellowtail snappers. That made Jay happy and Katherine clapped. Finally Jay wasn4t making fun of me :)
Tank two was on Cedral Wall. The first shark was just laying there posing for the cameras but the there was a little current so we didn4t stay long. Then we saw a second shark swimming around. We also saw a turtle on that dive. Near the end of the dive I saw Fido and a few other black groupers hanging around and I knew there was a green eel somewhere nearby. When I finally saw the green eel Ken had found a big lionfish but he was low on air. I didn4t find out about the lionfish until I got back onto the boat.
Tank three was on Palancar Gardens with Matt, EJ, Jim, Amy, JT and Logan. I found a big lionfish on the bottom and shot it. EJ passed me a big rock to smoosh it with but I think that she was a bit freaked out. We swam through all the good caves.
I went back to Cedral Wall after that lionfish. First we found a big nurse shark napping in the sand which is exactly what Matt had asked to see. Then I found a big macho turtle munching on a sponge. Then we found a second nurse shark behind a coral head hiding from the current. We saw huge lobsters several times. I stopped and found that big lionfish but as soon as it saw me it darted into a hole.
Tuesday, June 7th
James, Jim, EJ, Matt, Gerry, Neil, Marco and Chris came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. It was Gerry, Marco and Chris4 first dive in the ocean so it wasn4t hard to please them! Fortunately we had ideal conditions with no current. We saw one small turtle and a pair of big lobsters. Only a couple of us saw the little nurse shark that was feeding on something in the reef. It kicked up a big cloud of silt as it thrashed around. When only James and I were down I peeked into a dark recess and found a rather large barracuda with big white pointy teeth staring back at me. It was hovering next to a huge crab on the wall.
Neil requested his favorite, Dalila for our second stop. Everyone got to see 2 different nurse sharks. One was pretty big and didn4t move at all even when we all surrounded it and I used Chris4 camera to take pictures. We also saw a couple of turtles on that dive.
Wednesday, June 8th
Mary needed to do her deep dive for her advanced certification. Matt, EJ and Jim were doing about 6 days of diving and I didn4t want them to have to repeat a bunch of places. Ken, Max and Matt didn4t really have an opinion so I picked Punta Sur for the first dive. We dropped down about 80 feet and immediately Max pointed out a big lionfish. I shot it and we moved on. I took them through some of the great swim throughs and after EJ; Jim, Matt and Ken went up I crossed the remaining divers over to a shallower reef that was 70 at the bottom and 40 at the top. I found a pair of huge lionfish together. I picked the easiest one and shot it. The other one escaped into a hole. We also saw a few southern stingrays.
Some didn4t seem very happy with the deeper dive so I took them to Colombia Shallows which is the exact opposite. We piddled around in 25 feet of water for an hour and a half. We saw a turtle or two. Matt found a 3 inch lionfish which I netted. When I had it in my net I had also trapped 30 or so baby fish. That little lionfish was sitting right in the middle of a cloud of baby fish. Guess I saved a few hundred fish :)
Thursday, June 9th
Our first stop was at Santa Rosa Wall by special request. My divers were Ken, Mary, Neil, Gerry, Marco and Chris. Fido came and swam with us for a while and there were other really big groupers on that dive too. We saw enough lobsters to open a restaurant. We saw one lone turtle too.
Neil asked for Dalila as our second dive. We saw more than one nurse shark there. We also saw a turtle having breakfast and more lobsters.
The lionfish came out in the afternoon. First I took EJ, Jim, Matt and Jackson to Santa Rosa Wall. I found one little lionfish but it got away because there was a hole in my net. We saw another turtle and EJ noticed some reddish algae growing on the butt end of it’ shell.
The lionfish were everywhere between French Reef and Dalila. I killed 4 small ones and one big one. While killing the third one I brushed my hand through some stinging hydroids and spent the next 15 minutes rubbing my hand. We saw a couple more turtles and while the boys were doing a safety stop EJ chased after a 6 foot nurse shark. The shark was bigger than her!
Friday, June 10th
Matt asked for Palancar Caves so I took Matt, Max, JT, Amy, Logan, EJ, Jim and Matt S. there for our first dive. We had to weave around a little bit to avoid other groups of divers but it was a lovely dive. EJ braved the caves. We saw another divemaster take a shot at a lionfish and miss. We saw one turtle when the whole group was down and later I sat and watched a baby turtle up on top of the reef feeding with a pair of angels.
There were more amazing critters on Paso Del Cedral than I can remember. We started off with a baby lionfish that Matt found. When I netted the lionfish a big mutton snapper charged it and scarfed up the fish and my nets at the same time. I fought with the snapper for my nets because they are BRAND NEW! I just took them out of the package that morning because my other nets had holes in them. Well I won the fight and after I killed the little lionfish I shook it out of my net and the snapper just snapped it right up! Bon appitit. Next I found a big lobster in a hole and wiggled my fingers to get it to come out. While Matt, Jim and EJ were way up ahead of me I found 2 splendid toadfish and a baby octopus. Then the first shark swam by. It was a big one and it flipped upside down to scratch it’ head and back on the ground. When it swam off I spotted a small green moray eel. After Amy finished taking pictures of the moray another smaller nurse shark swam by and did the exact same thing! It flipped over and rubbed it’ head on the bottom. How weird! Later during the dive we saw 3 more nurse sharks and a turtle. Matt took video of the fourth shark until it was joined by the fifth shark and they swam in tandem. It was a really good dive.
Saturday, June 11th
Matt, EJ and Jim requested swim throughs. JT, Amy and Logan had already been to Palancar Gardens and Caves so I recommended Colombia. We had a gorgeous dive. When Jim and Matt went up, JT found 3 baby lionfish all huddled together. I caught 1 but the other 2 got spooked and slipped into a hole. JT and Amy saw a turtle but I missed it.
I let JT pick the second reef and he chose Colombia Shallow. We had ideal dive conditions. We only saw one green turtle off in the distance but we concentrated on the little stuff like juvenile yellow tail damsels, juvenile spotted drums, long spined sea urchins and brittle stars. EJ loved the empty heart urchin shell that I found so I made them all swim over to the East side of the reef and I showed her a lot of live heart urchins and a few empty shells as well. Over in that area I also found a helmut conch. That was very pretty!
Sunday, June 12th
It was the first dive of the vacation for Brian, Michelle, Kathy, Jordan, Patty, Ashlee, Kat and Angie. A couple of them had never even been in the ocean before. I took it easy on them and dropped them off in 15 feet of water at Palancar on the tip of the Horseshoe. After about 15 minutes I gradually worked them down to 40 – 60 feet. After everyone except Angie and Kathy were up on the boat we found a turtle. The girls were delighted. I also killed a small lionfish. When I netted it and proceeded to put it out of my misery a small fish swam out of it´s mouth and took off! I saved one life while taking another. I guess it was a fair trade...
I was hoping for turtles on French Reef but all I got were a bunch of sharks. The first shark was spotted when Brian was taking video of a huge rainbow parrotfish. Michelle really wanted to see a shark and that is exactly what she got! Later when my two girls were still down Pingo pointed out 2 more nurse sharks that got spooked and swam away off into the blue.
Monday, June 13th
Brian, Michelle, Kathy, Jordan, Patty, Ashlee, Kat and Angie dived Palancar Gardens with me. Kevin and Sarah snorkeled over us. The first turtle that we saw was a loggerhead and it was pretty far away in the blue water. The loggerheads are usually the shy ones. We saw two more turtles on that dive and they were both hawksbills. Ashlee was a lot braver on that dive and went all the way down to the bottom with us.
Colombia Shallows was good for combining divers and snorkelers. We saw a small nurse shark and Sarah got to see it too from the surface. Someone found a tiny turtle napping under a small coral head. The schools of pretty yellow fish seemed bigger and more abundant this day.
Tuesday, June 14th
I dived Palancar Caves with Brian, Michelle, Kathy, Jordan, Patty, Ashlee, Kat and Angie. It turned out to be their favorite dive yet. Ashlee didn´t like the first set of caves but later in the dive I took her by the hand and swam her through some more and she was good with it. She really liked both turtles. We saw one small one surfacing and later diving back down. There was a big one below us and I think everyone went deeper than our planned maximum depth of 60 feet.
Chankanaab was our second stop. We saw a big crab in a dark recess. I showed them an arrow crab. Jordan found a yellow headed jawfish that entertained the group. The dive was easy and relaxing.
Wednesday, June 15th
Dive one was on my favorite spot for caves with Brian, Michelle, Kathy, Jordan, Patty, Ashlee, Kat and Angie because everyone on the boat was shouting to go through more caves. We also saw a few turtles up close and personal. A large lobster was sitting on the reef next to a small lobster and we swam through an archway right next to it. Angie said that the lobster looked ¨creepy crawly¨ and she didn´t like getting so close to it!
I went shark hunting on Paso Del Cedral because Patti had not seen a shark yet. We only found one but it was swimming right under me. We also swam back against the current to watch a really docile turtle share a meal with a bunch of angelfish.
They weren´t tired so we did a night dive on Paradise. We saw the usual assortment of crabs and lobsters plus one spotted moray. Kathy is afraid of snakes so the snake eel kind of freaked her out. We got very lucky and we saw 3 different octopi. It was a good night dive.
Thursday, June 16th
It was Brian, Michelle, Kathy, Jordan, Patty, Ashlee, Kat and Angie´s last day of diving. They asked to go to the shipwreck. When we got there I got in to check the current and it is was strong so we went over to San Francisco Wall instead. We still had current but at least we didn´t have to kick against it. We saw 5 turtles in total. Some were big, some were small but they were plentiful. We saw the biggest nurse shark of the week. Jordan took off like a bullet after it to get a video.
The second dive was on Yucab. Angie got within 2 feet of a baby turtle and as soon as it swam away a big midnight blue parrotfish swam past her. I have been seeing a lot of those midnight parrotfish this week.
Friday, June 17th
I had a cancellation so Rick, Brenda and Michael had the boat all to themselves. I took them to my favorite part of Palancar. We saw a big turtle and a 5 foot nurse shark. It was hard to tell which was bigger, the nurse shark or Michael. We also saw a lobster in a hole.
Our second dive was between French Reef and Dalila. It was Brenda who spotted the turtle going up for a breath of air. Michael showed us when the turtle came back down. We saw tons of lobsters on that dive and during our safety stop we looked down on a HUGE nurse shark swimming below us.
Saturday, June 18th
It was Jennifer, Ken, Linda, Jim and Russell´s first day of diving so I took them to the same spots that I went the day before. We did the swim throughs and saw a big turtle. After Jim and Russell had gone up a small nurse shark swam by. We also saw crabs and lobsters.
We saw a few more turtles on the next dive. Two of which were just huge. The first one was the biggest and it was just sitting on the bottom so we kicked against the current to check it out. Everyone got to see the nurse shark on the second dive. It was sleeping under the reef under I went and sat down next to it. It didn´t like that so it got up and swam away. We saw more lobsters on that dive too because it was overcast.
Monday, June 20th
I asked Chace, Jenn, Ken, Linda, Rick, Brenda and Michael where they wanted to go and they requested shallow dives with a lot of marine life. Carlos dropped us off on French Reef. The current was cookin´ and we drifted past a total of 3 sharks, one of which swam with the group for a few minutes. We also saw 2 turtles. The last one was while we were on the safety stop and Chace noticed that the back of it´s shell looked bleached out, sort of white.
Lots of divers complained about the current and asked for something shallower. Colombia Shallow had NO current at all. We lucked out! We saw some little stuff like that spotted drum and a yellow stingray but we didn´t see any big critters. It was an easy dive though.
Tuesday, June 21st
I took Chace, Jenn, Ken, Linda and Jon to San Francisco Wall because they didn´t want to do the swim throughs and they wanted to see a lot of marine life. The current was haulin´butt at San Francisco but I had 5 good divers and it wasn´t a problem. On more than one occasion the current was actually pushing us down so we spent a good part of the dive up on top of the reef. We saw one turtle and flew around a lot.
I asked them if they preferred a dive with less current and less animals or if they wanted to fly around like crazy and see the turtles and sharks. They debated a lot and we decided on the flying around with the sharks. Carlos suggested Dalila so that we wouldn´t run out of reef to look at. We saw 4 different sharks and a huge turtle. Everyone had fun once they got comfortable with the fast drift.
Wednesday, June 22nd
My divers were Ken, Linda, Chace, Jon and Kim. It was Kim´s first day of diving in a year. I took them to the caves to try and hide from some of the current. We didn´t really feel the current until we came up to the top to do the safety stops. We saw a few turtles and the current was significantly kinder than the previous day.
Our second dive was on Cedral. It would not be an over exaggeration to say that the current was WICKED. We flew over the entire site in 19 minutes. We also covered all of Santa Rosa Shallow. We flew over several turtles and some baby lobsters. I was very impressed with Kim for diving so well after having gone an entire year with no diving and then getting that current!
Thursday, June 23rd
The current calmed WAY down for Jon, Matt, Dale, Jody, Douglas and Hunter on French Reef. Hunter is just barely 10 years old and newly certified so I brought Eduardo with me to help so I could focus my attention on Hunter. Thankfully the current was mild and Hunter did a great job! We got to see a turtle and a stingray. Eduardo took Dale, Matt and Jon through the big, long cave and they saw a large lionfish. The dive was a big success.
Ashley and Ashley joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallow. We had a nice easy dive with no current at all! We saw a baby turtle, a big crab and that spotted drum. It was a good day!
Friday, June 24th
It was another perfect diving day with Jon, Matt, Dale, Ashley, Ashley, Jody, Douglas and Hunter. Eduardo took the boys down deeper through some caves at the Gardens and I stayed up top with Hunter and the Ashleys. Eduardo killed a little lionfish and during the end of the dive we saw a small nurse shark swimming around with a big black grouper following it.
I picked Dalila for the second stop and unbelievably there was almost no current at all! We saw a huge southern stingray and a giant nurse shark swimming away. Eduardo got another lionfish and fed it to an anemone. Douglas showed me a dinosaur sized lobster crawling around in a hole. I pointed out a small crab to everyone. We saw lots of good stuff on that dive.
Saturday, June 25th
Unfortunately the current was ripping on Palancar Horseshoe for Tom and Mike´s first dive of the vacation. I was very glad to have Eduardo along so that I could focus on Hunter, Jody and Doug while Eduardo hung out with the Morrison boys. Once we got down and hugged the reef the current was not so bad. Tom and Mike saw a big barracuda. That was about it...
In hopes of less current I took them all to Chankanaab. I got in to check the current and it was headed the opposite direction of normal so I got back on the boat and we drove to the other end of the reef to start. The current was a little fast but much better than on the first dive. We were greeted by a tremendous nurse shark upon reaching the bottom. The 8 footer was swimming against the current so we only got to see it momentarily because I wasn´t going to fight that current :) We also saw an enormous lobster under the reef. Eduardo and I took turns shooting at lionfish. I was worried that I would upset Hunter when I killed the pretty little fish but he was unbothered. I guess it had the same morbid appeal as stepping on a big bug.
Monday, June 27th
We had south east wind on Palancar Gardens. I dived with Tom, Mike, Tasha and Keith. Their 2 teen aged girls snorkeled over us while we dived. We had mild current and a beautiful dive even though the visibility was limited due to the heavy rain the day before. We saw several huge groupers and a crab.
When I got back on the boat we had an extra crew member and a big tub of gasoline on the back of the boat. I was confused. Carlos immediately explained to me that our mechanic’s boat had sunk and that as soon as I got my tank off we were going to go pull it up. So Carlos tied all of our ropes to the back of my boat and we drove over to where the 30 foot boat had the nose sticking up out of the water. It sank stern first with the bow sticking out. The sandy bottom there was only 20 feet deep. Carlos is an expert boatsman and he had no trouble popping that boat right back up and we began the slow trip back to the marina towing the boat behind us. After about an hour and a half Meagan, one of our little snorkelers complained of pain in her lower abdomen. It was not 2 minutes later when she just passed out! She looked ashen and she was unconscious. I asked her mom and dad if she was still breathing. No one was really sure so I shouted to Carlos to call an ambulance and cut loose the boat that we were towing. We cast off the lines to the boat behind us and hauled butt to the nearest pier. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes to get to that pier and the ambulance was waiting for us with a stretcher. She did wake up and she was a bit frightened being hauled off in an ambulance with her dad. Her mom stayed on the boat with the older sister and we drove them back to the hotel. It turns out that this has happened before many times and that the little one has food allergies. Later that afternoon I called the hotel and she was just fine.
Only Mike, Tom and I did the second dive on Paradise. We saw a bunch of huge groupers. Mike got photos of golden tail and spotted morays. I pointed out a yellow stingray and Mike found one too. Everyone was curious about the lizardfish. We saw barracudas, crabs and lobsters too.
Wednesday, June 29th
We had much less drama on Palancar Caves with Chris, Melanie, Tasha, Keith, Tim, Catherine, Ann and David. There were big waves at the surface but I had passed out the Bonine and no one got sick. Underwater it was calm and beautiful. We saw 2 baby turtles, a big lobster and at the end of the dive a small nurse shark was napping under a big rock. It was an easy, fun dive!
Staying on the “easy” theme I took everyone to Chankanaab where the current was mild. We watched as a big crab crawled around on top of the reef. At the end of the dive I caught a small lionfish, permanently stopped it from swimming and then fed it to a big queen triggerfish. Everyone was amazed. The trigger followed us around for the rest of the dive. When we got back on the boat I told Tasha that I am a sushi chef J
Saturday, July 2nd
The current was extremely calm on Palancar Bricks. It was Paul that chose the reef because Marilyn requested turtles. Mike found the first big turtle. Chris and Melanie missed the turtles because they were already up on the boat. I don't remember if Todd and Vladimiro saw the turtles. Anyway, it was a good dive!
Chris had requested nurse sharks. I found the first one swimming around. Chris got a good picture of it. Todd found the second one. When Todd first saw it the shark was lying on the bottom but as we approached it got up and swam away. Both were really big ones. At the very end of the dive I found a decent sized octopus in his den surrounded by sea shells. I took a few photos for Chris.
We had lovely conditions again on Palancar Gardens with Todd, Katherine, Dusty, Vladimiro and Fidel. We went through a bunch of swim throughs and saw a southern stingray swim by. It was an easy, uneventful dive.
Since the current was non-existent I decided to take them to Cedral Wall for the second dive. Todd wanted to see Santa Rosa Wall but I told him that was too deep for a second dive so I took him to see the blue abyss at Cedral Wall. As I was calling the group back after a while of floating over the deep blue water I discovered a big hawksbill turtle sitting still on the bottom. Everyone got a good look. Then a small green turtle swooped down from above and greeted us as well. Todd found a big lobster while I was waiting for the boat to come and get Katherine and Fidel. While doing a safety stop with Todd and Vladimiro I looked down and saw 2 huge black groupers. I knew that meant a green eel or shark was hunting there. It was a nurse shark with it’s head in a hole sucking out some lunch. Fido the grouper sat still right next to the shark waiting to steal the shark’s catch. The shark was lying on it’s side and was motionless. It looked dead but I know better. It was trying to figure out how to get the prey out of the hole and swallowed before the grouper could steal it’s meal.
Monday, 4th of July
We had flat, calm seas and mild current on French Reef. My divers were Penny, Mickey, Rick, Janice, Vladimiro, Mike, Marilyn and Todd. Marilyn found a huge hawksbill turtle just sitting still on the bottom surrounded by a harem of pretty angelfish. Then a big green moray eel swam by and impressed all of the divers. We also took pictures of a large lobster out cruising around. It was strange to see one out walking around like that. I took a shot at a big lionfish but it obviously had been hunted before because it shot into it’s hiding hole before I could get close enough for my shot.
The second stop was on Colombia Shallow where we were greeted by a sleepy little turtle when we arrived on the bottom. The turtle swam with us for a while before going out to deeper waters. A huge barracuda kind of creeped out some of the divers and we saw lobsters all over the place. I caught one baby lionfish but another one got away. It zipped under some finger coral next to a spotted moray.
Tuesday, July 5th
We were not as lucky with the current on Palancar Gardens. It picked up again for Penny, Mickey, Rick, Janice, Carl, Mike, Marilyn and Paul’s morning dives. Everyone enjoyed the swim throughs more than usual because there was no current in the swim throughs. We saw a couple of turtles on that dive. The big one was pointed out by Pedro Pablo as we drifted past his group.
I had already taken them to French Reef and Colombia Shallow the day before so there was really nowhere to hide from the current for the second dive. I decided to take them to the very end of French Reef which tends to have less current and they wouldn’t be covering the same ground. We did have some Cozumel current there but it wasn’t so fast that we couldn’t sit on the bottom and wait for our slow pokes to catch up. No one had to really work hard to stop in the current. Mickey found a tiny baby nurse shark. It was absolutely adorable. Then he swam into a niche and found a turtle napping in the dark protected recess. It was Penny that found the juvenile spotted drum. We saw so much stuff on that dive I can’t remember it all. But there was an extremely large swimming nurse shark in the deeper area and a bunch of turtles and lobsters. Mike described it like watching a tennis match. You look one way and see a turtle, you turn your head and see a big lobster (he said that the lobster looked like it weighed 40 pounds and he thought it was doing ?the Nasty? with another lobster in the hole). You turn you head again and there is a nurse shark. It was a fun dive and we saw a lot of stuff. Rick was frustrated because he is always the first guy to get low on air. It pisses him off to miss stuff?????
Wednesday, July 6th
Dive one was on Palancar Caves with Penny, Janice, Mickey, Rick, Jessica, Fidel and Adam. We had beautiful dive conditions with light current and great visibility. The boys had requested swim throughs so I took them through every cave I could until Rick signaled up. We saw several turtles and I took Jessica’s camera and had her pose with a little baby turtle up on top of the reef.
Mickey requested Chankanaab for the second dive. There was no current at all. It was however raining and we saw a couple of crabs that had come out thinking that it was sunset. A big midnight parrotfish made sand in front of Janice. When she asked what kind of fish that was I told her it was a ?poo poo? fish.
Thursday, July 7th
I picked the reefs that morning for Mickey, Penny, Jessica, Fidel and Adam. Mickey likes marine life so I picked Dalila for the first dive. We saw 2 turtles, a big nurse shark swimming around and I found a green moray eel in a hole. Mickey got out his dive light to see the head which was way back in the dark recess. At the end of the dive Jessica motioned me back because she found 2 lionfish together but I was taking Penny up so I couldn’t go back.
The current was a little strong on San Francisco Wall but we were rewarded with a huge green moray eel accompanied by 2 black groupers. They were hunting. I think that the groupers try to steal the food from the moray. After Fido followed me around last month and stole my lionfish I now understand why the groupers follow the big predators. We saw 2 more turtles. Penny said that it was the prettiest wall dive that she has ever done.
Friday, July 8th
My divers were George, Jared, Jeremy and Courtney. Sarah, Michael, Caleb, Rob and Nathan snorkeled over us. Fortunately we had hardly any current at all. We saw a very large turtle and Jeremy pointed out a swimming nurse shark for us at the end of the dive.
Our snorkelers got in with us for the second dive at Paradise. Due to some uncooperative ears and a sour stomach not everyone made that dive but Nathan came up from his very first dive shouting, ?That was amazing?!!!! Well with the current that we had I found it amazing too J The current started out heading southbound but 15 minutes into the dive it changed directions and went northbound. But it was also sort of blowing us off of the reef so we spent the entire dive kicking against that current. I burnt up a bunch of extra calories on that dive. I think I may have lost 2 more pounds on that dive! It was a good work out.
Saturday, July 9th
I asked John, Melissa, Tony and Cody where they wanted to do their first dive and none of them really had an opinion. I said, ?Good! We will let Paul pick the reef.? So when we picked him up he asked if anyone wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall. No one complained so off we went. During the first 5 minutes I found a small turtle and John found a sleeping shark. Fido, the big black grouper joined us and a big lionfish was in the exact same spot that I had killed one a few months back that Fido had stolen off of my spear. Fido was hopeful of breakfast but I shot and missed. The lionfish slipped into the hole and got away. I don’t know who was more disappointed, Fido or me. We got over the disappointment when I drifted up to a big nurse shark lying in the sand. There was a decent current on that dive but all five of my divers were really good divers and it was an easy dive.
We went to Yucab for the second dive. The mission was to find a blue parrotfish. Tony pointed out a big midnight parrot fish which is indeed blue but it is a darker blue and a larger fish than the one that we are looking for. The current was a little weird on that dive. After Tony and Cody went up I showed everyone 2 sailfin blennies, a tulip shell and a big hermit crab. We were bottom crawling because of the current.
Sunday, July 10th
The current was more forgiving at Palancar Gardens this morning with Paul, John, Melissa, Tony, Cody, Brady, Graham and Julia. We had a beautiful dive and we went through every one of my favorite caves. The first turtle was big and heading up for a breath of air. The second turtle Paul pointed out was moving so fast that I think only he and I saw it. John was at the back of the group and he told me that he saw a lobster and a big nurse shark too.
Tony asked about Colombia Shallows and John helped out by suggesting Dalila. We went to Dalila and we had very light current. We saw several turtles. Melissa said that she saw several lionfish on that dive but she was in the back of the group with John and I missed them.
Tuesday, July 12th
Since it was the first day of diving this vacation for Jon, Rachel, Joe, Rykah, Rob, Linda, Jacob and Alan I took them to Palancar Gardens. We had PERFECT conditions and we got to see 3 turtles. Rachel’s mask was really fogged up so I don’t know how many turtles she saw. We also saw some lobsters and a yellow stingray.
The current was mild but present on French Reef. Coming out of the long cave I shot 2 lionfish. Later I saw Linda trying to get Rob’s attention. Then I saw what it was all about. It was a 6 foot nurse shark that had been lying on the bottom. Linda woke it up and it swam off. Then Rykah pointed out a little turtle sitting on the bottom waiting to have it’s picture taken. We saw some dinner sized lobsters at the end of the dive and everyone was smiling back on the boat!
Wednesday, July 13th
I asked Jon, Rachel, Joe and Rykah where they wanted to go and they asked for something shallow with sharks and turtles so I took them to Dalila. The first shark was lying in the sand and let all of us swim right up to it and take pictures. The second shark was huge and it was swimming around below us. I didn’t find any turtles at all which I thought was strange.
In search of turtles we went to Cedral Wall. We only found one but it was a good one! The turtle was big and it sat still while the boys took pictures. We drifted with the current and the girls described the dive as AMAZING!
Friday, July 15th
I hired Eduardo to come help me with my group because I had 8 divers that wanted to go to the shipwreck and some were quite young and a few were just a little out of practice. We took Rhayne, Talen, Malissa, Carlissa, La Tressa, Skylar, Zshona and Justin down to the C53 in 70 feet of water. Luckily the current was light and we had a really good dive. Eduardo led the tour which was not exactly the plan but sometimes that is just how things work out. It was fun for me to do the tour on the wreck in a different way and follow everyone around at the tail end. I took lots of fun pictures of them in the wheelhouse. They all enjoyed the dive very much.
The second dive was on Chankanaab. A big barracuda made it’s appearance. There was evidence of recent poaching because the bottom was littered with big empty conch shells. It is sad to think that poaching is still going on in the national park.
Saturday, July 16th
Sarah, John, Elizabeth, Doug and Barbara were really lucky and we had no current at all on Palancar Horseshoe. We dropped down on three lobsters all waggling their antennas at us. We swam up to a turtle that was snacking on a tasty sponge and the turtle ignored us completely. Then a smaller turtle surfaced to breath and later rejoined Elizabeth, Sarah and I.
I took them to San Francisco Wall for more fish. Sarah found the first big green moray eel. It was in a dark hole but Doug had a good flashlight and we could see it’s smiling face really well. I found 2 juvenile spotted drums. A big mutton snapper had been following us around for a half an hour and I noticed that it was snapping at something behind an orange sponge. I took a closer look and discovered a huge lionfish! The snapper told me where the lionfish was! Yeah! That snapper is now trained J I shot the lionfish and fed it to the snapper. The divers were amazed. After the safety stop I looked down and saw something shiny on the bottom. It was butter knife. I started to go back down after it but decided that the next person to come along could pick it up since I had already surfaced. That was when I noticed the tail of a second big green moray sticking out from under the coral. I did go back down to check but it was not Buster. I haven’t seen Buster since Chace was here.
Sunday, July 17th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Jairus, Ryan, Reagan, Joe and Tina. Eduardo took John, Barbara and Doug a little deeper. I stayed up on top with the kids. We saw a huge crab just sitting out in the open. Barbara took a nice photo of the yellow stingray. There was a big nurse shark lounging about in a cave but I didn’t see it. Barbara got several pictures of it. During the safety stop Eduardo showed us all a swimming nurse shark. I took Ryan over for a better look. Tina hung out with Eduardo until we got back.
There was significant current on French Reef. We were greeted by a pair of friendly turtles. Jairus wanted to reach out and pet one but I gently touched his hand and let him know that we shouldn’t frighten them. We saw a bunch of lobsters on that dive. There were enough lobsters to feed that whole family!
Monday, July 18th
The first tank was on Colombia Deep. I hired Luis to take Rich, Doug and Barbara over to the drop off while I stayed shallow with Margie, one on one. It had been a few years since her last dive and some individual attention was in order. As soon as we got down to the bottom we found a little turtle and Margie became relaxed and comfortable. We followed that little turtle around for a while. Later in the dive we saw more turtles too. We hung out by the anchor and watched as the divers emerged from my favorite cave.
Doug requested Colombia Shallow for the second dive. We saw sooooo much good stuff there. Upon reaching the bottom a sleepy turtle peeked out at us from under a mound of coral. Then we saw tons of humungous barracudas. I found a 4 foot nurse shark. We saw lobsters, crabs and a spotted moray. Luis found another smaller nurse shark and a few more turtles. Rich just loved that dive.
In the afternoon I took Jairus, Ryan, Reagan, Joe and Tina to Palancar Caves. I swam them through just about every cave that I could find. We saw yet another nice turtle there.
Joe asked for a colorful reef and the kids asked for big fish so I chose Tormentos. I could hear Joe shouting at me through his regulator when he found an immense grouper in a dark recess. We saw loads of big barracudas everywhere and a few more big grouper. We also saw big rainbow parrotfish and midnight parrotfish. I also saw 2 of those blue parrotfish that Paul wanted to see the week before. The mouth was on the bottom of both.
Tuesday, July 19th
I went to Palancar Caves with Teddy, Cybil, Margie, Rich, Doug and Barbara. Jim and Janice snorkeled over us. The only person who saw a turtle was Doug and he said it was a big one. We all missed it. I guess we swam right past it. It was so nice not to have any current. It was an easy, relaxing dive.
Doug wanted to see my favorite spot so I took him to Cedral Wall. We saw several big groupers, one of which was ?Fido? who hung out with us for about 5 or 10 minutes. The other really big grouper was at a cleaning station and Margie snuck up on him for a peek.
Thursday, July 21st
I went to Dalila with Rich, Margie, Doug, Barbara, Nancye, Steve, Teddy and Cybil. We had a bit of current but we saw a ton of stuff. I only saw one really big nurse shark swimming off in the distance but Doug saw 2 more sharks sleeping on the bottom. I counted 3 turtles. I tried to show Margie and Teddy a big green moray eel in a hole but the sand was a little stirred up and neither got to see it.
San Francisco Wall had a gentle current and I found the empty shell of a lobster that had molted. I tried to get a big lionfish but it scooted into a hole and got away. Doug found another big lionfish in a cave but we were all pretty far ahead of him so we didn´t get to see it.
Friday, July 22nd
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Margie, Rich, Cybil, Teddy, Edward, Martha, Bob and Aislinn. We had ideal diving conditions. Everyone was very pleased to see the sedate turtle right at the beginning of the dive. It was Aislinn who saw the big southern stingray first. She was pointing to it as it swam below us.
Dive two was on Rich´s favorite, Colombia Shallow. Both of the turtles that we saw were napping under small coral heads. The first lionfish that I saw escaped but I netted and killed the second lionfish which I fed to a waiting snapper. The mutton snapper had been following us for quite a while waiting for lunch. It gobbled that lionfish right up.
Saturday, July 23rd
Terry, John, Cybil and Teddy came with me to Palancar Bricks. A pair of big mutton snappers followed us around waiting for a lionfish snack for the first 30 minutes of the dive. As I pointed out a turtle the snappers swooped in to see what I was pointing at. Then I pointed out a big crab and they got in the way. Finally I found several small lionfish. The first one I shot at and I think I might have hit it but it got away. The second one was well hidden and by the time I got out my little spear it disappeared into a hole and I never even had the chance to shoot at it. The third one I shot at and missed it flat out. Terry, Cybil and Teddy went up but John and I stayed down. That is when I finally got one. It was a small one and a hungry yellow tail scarfed it right up.
Cybil and Teddy wanted to see a lionfish kebob so I took them to the second half of Tormentos with the hope of crossing over to Bolones to Gary´s favorite lionfish rock. On the way we saw a huge spotted moray. When we got to Gary´s rock there was not a single lionfish there. A short while ago that coral head was FULL of lionfish. We spent another 30 minutes searching for lionfish and couldn´t find a one! I heard the submarine coming and I thought that John would be impressed to see that. So I swam around like a crazy woman looking for that submarine. It just kept getting louder and louder. I was sure that it was close by. We never saw the sub either so when I got back on the boat I felt like an idiot because I bombed out on the lionfish and the submarine!
Sunday, July 24th
David and Rachel had never been deeper than 30 feet before. Angel and Savannah were a wee tad nervous and didn´t want to go deeper than 40 feet. Randy and John explored the deeper part of Palancar Gardens while I stayed up top with the shallow four divers. There was a big lobster right at the beginning of the dive. We saw another nice lobster fully out in the open at the end of the dive. I found a small hawksbill turtle on a corner of the reef. There was a bit of current on that corner so we had to kick a little to watch it. Angel was thrilled with that turtle.
The second dive was on Colombia Shallow. I let John pick that spot. Of the four lionfish I found, I netted and killed three of them. So I felt better about my hunting skills this day. I showed everyone a baby turtle napping under the reef. David pointed out a yellow stingray. During the last 5 minutes of the dive I found a small nurse shark, maybe 4 feet long lounging about on the bottom. Angel and I waved hello to it but it didn´t move.
Monday, July 25th
It was Rick, Susan, Michael, Matt, Al, Deb, Greg and Frank´s first day in the water this vacation. Greg asked to go through caves so I took them to Palancar Caves. We swam through a bunch of them. There was no current at all and we saw 3 turtles. Rick and I stayed down an extra five minutes and he took pictures of a cute little baby turtle in 15 feet of water. We also saw a big crab.
Rick picked the second dive on French Reef. The turtles there were much bigger. They were just sitting around having lunch. A pair of large southern stingrays danced around each other in the shallow sandy area. Deb counted all the fish we saw and she found a black hamlet which is something that I have never seen. Rick tried to take a picture of it.
Tuesday, July 26th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Susan, Rick, Matt, Michael, Al, David and Rachel. Susan saw a nurse shark as soon as she hit the bottom but I missed that one. I did find a big one snoozing in the first cave and we later saw a small one that got up and swam away. ¨Fido¨ the big grouper came over and said hello but since Scuba Tony calls that grouper ¨Troy¨ I am going to start calling it ¨Troy¨ too. It makes perfect sense!
Staying with the ¨wall theme¨ we went to San Francisco wall. Deb saw a few lionfish but I was so far ahead that I missed them. It was a beautiful dive.
Thursday, July 28th
After a day off I took Susan, Rick, Matt, Michael, Al, David and Rachel to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw a few cute little turtles and we had a long dive.
On Cedral Wall the current was cookin´. We saw lots of turtles. One was just huge and sitting still on the bottom eating something. When the boys were doing their safety stop I looked down to find a large nurse shark swimming under Susan. That was a bit exciting. She got tired of kicking around in all that current so she just came up.
That afternoon I took Midge, Lee, Bunker, Ross, Nellsyn and Roxanne to Palancar Gardens. Since we had a lot of waves the visibility was not as good as usual but we sure had a nice dive. There wasn´t much current at all and I took them through a bunch of caves.
On Chankanaab we saw 2 separate lobsters out prancing around. Bunker found a big crab and showed it to all of us. I pointed out cool little stuff like a juvenile smooth trunkfish, bouquets of feather dusters and a tiger´s tail sea cucumber.
Friday, July 29th
At four dives per day it is all starting to turn into one big blur but let´s see……. My divers were Al, Susan, Rick, Matt and Michael on Colombia Deep. Upon reaching the bottom I discovered a small nurse shark sleeping on top of the reef. Matt, my lionfish spotter found 2 small ones pretty close together and I netted them both. Then I rounded up the divers and took them to the wall and through some caves. While we were floating around on top of the reef Susan and I saw a couple of turtles. The first squid was a big one and everyone came over to take pictures. The second squid was a tiny 2 inch baby and it became frightened and scooted away at an amazing speed.
I picked Dalila for the second stop. Both nurse sharks that we saw were very big. As we were drifting along I could hear Matt shouting through his regulator. I looked to see what he was excited about but didn´t see anything. Then I looked in the direction that he was pointing the camera and a big loggerhead turtle swam up over the top of the reef and swam right at us. It was pretty exciting. We saw other turtles during that dive including one really, really big hawksbill but nothing got us going like that crazy loggerhead.
In the afternoon I took Midge, Lee, Bunker, Ross and Nellsyn to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw one small nurse shark at the beginning of the dive and a really big one about 35 minutes into the dive. We saw several turtles but they were pretty far away. One actually surfaced and came back down. The boys pointed out a yellow stingray.
On French Reef we got a better look at a turtle. Nellsyn showed me a pair of big lionfish. I shot the first one fine but I missed the second one on my first shot and it darted into a hole. I did shoot it while it was in the hole but when I tried to pull it out the fish scooted off the end of my stick and got away. I carried that big lionfish around looking for a hungry snapper. First I tried to feed it to a pair of huge lobsters. The lobsters weren´t interested so I carried the lionfish around until I got a low on air sign from Bunker. I put the lionfish on the bottom in the sand and a queen trigger picked at it trying to eat it. As we were floating around up there we looked down to see one of the very biggest southern stingrays that I have ever seen. Everyone came up very excited.
Saturday, July 30th
In the morning I took Rick, Susan, Michael, Matt, David and Rachel to Punta Sur. The first turtle we saw was small green turtle. Then I killed a small lionfish. Later in the dive a big nurse shark swam below us. We were hovering in about 60 feet of water but the shark was a good 80 feet below us. We saw one more turtle during that dive. It was a hawksbill.
For our second dive we went to Chankanaab. There was a grouper fest going on. We saw black groupers, yellow fin groupers and a few tiger groupers too. Rachel watched a grouper at a cleaning station. She was fascinated but I am sure that she had no idea what was going on there. I forgot to explain it to her when we got on the boat. At the end of the dive Rick found a splendid toadfish. As I was checking it out I noticed an octopus in a hole right next door.
In the afternoon I took Midge, Lee, Bunker, Ross, Nellsyn and Roxanne to San Francisco Wall. The current was moving right along but Midge loves floating around like a little leaf in the wind. We saw a small turtle and I caught a baby lionfish at the end of the dive.
On Yucab we saw 4 baby lionfish. I got 3 of them but the tiniest one got away. After Yucab ended we drifted over to Tormentos where Roxanne found a pair of rather large lionfish. Ross was low on air and I was calling the boat for him so I couldn't go back and get them. Bummer.
Sunday, July 31st
After waiting for 2 years I took Rick, Susan, Mike and Matt to the Devil´s Throat. We had wonderful conditions. The surface was flat and calm. The current was very mild. Coming out of the cave system Matt showed me a big lionfish. After I killed it I let the fish sink to the bottom. A big mutton snapper scarfed it right up.
We did our second tank on Las Palmas. I got another big lionfish there. We saw several spotted morays, a big stonefish and a splendid toadfish. Susan really liked crawling around on the bottom on a treasure hunt.
My afternoon dives were with Midge, Lee, Bunker, Ross, Nellsyn and Roxanne. They picked the shipwreck for their first dive. Midge absolutely LOVED it. She floated around watching the groupers scare the school of bogas around. We saw 2 small lionfish but I had left my nets on the boat and I couldn´t catch them. We also saw a pair of spotted morays.
On Paradise we chased a pair of lizardfish for a while. Yellow stingrays were everywhere. I showed Roxanne some Christmas tree worms and some flamingo tongues. I got a lot of ¨what´s this?¨ gestures on that dive.
Monday, August 1st
It was Alicia, Tom, Paige, Rachel and Riley´s first day in the water this trip so I took them to Palancar Gardens. Dan appreciated the refresher of a briefing. David and Rachel just took off and did their own thing. We saw some immense groupers on that dive and Dan was impressed with the scenery on the reef.
The second dive was a fun, easy dive on Colombia Shallow. The first turtle was small and Rachel got right up to it to take pictures. The second turtle Rachel found and it was a whopper. She swam after it for some pics but that turtle was having no part of the photo session J We also saw loads of lobsters, Riley found a huge crab and I found a small nurse shark sleeping in one of my favorite hiding holes.
Tuesday, August 2nd
Katrina, John and Trisha are my veteran divers but Eric was doing his very first dives after having been certified over a year ago in a lake. They are all related so my veterans were happy to entertain themselves on Palancar Gardens while I hung out up top with Eric pointing out turtles and queen angels.
John was happy when I announced that we were going to Colombia Shallows for the second dive because he likes to take pictures and being shallow, it has good light and lots of fish. Both turtles were huddled up under the reef napping. Eric got low on air first so after he went up I checked that same hole and found the same little nurse shark there. I asked John if he got a good picture and he signaled to me that the battery went dead on his camera! Guess that happens a lot. Back on the boat everyone told Eric that he missed seeing a shark. Eric said, ¨I saw the shark!¨ It was under the reef. It looked like a big catfish!¨ I started chiding him for finding a shark and not telling everyone. Apparently when he got back on the boat he told Carlos that he saw a big fish under the reef. Carlos got out the fish card and pointed to the nurse shark and Eric said, ¨That´s it! That´s what I saw.¨ so I told Eric that next time he finds a shark he better let us know!
Wednesday, August 3rd
Dive one was on Palancar Caves with David, Rachel, Katrina, John, Trisha, Eric, Rich and Judy. We had gorgeous conditions but I skipped a lot of the swim throughs. I stayed up on top instead. We saw many schools of humans and we had to stop and wait for the traffic jam to clear once or twice. I wonder why this week is so busy.....?
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral . We saw a turtle surface and then come back down again. There were several large midnight parrotfish and a pair of big rainbow parrotfish too. A huge lobster came out and pranced around for us. After everyone else went up Katrina and I saw a large southern stingray on the bottom and a 7 foot nurse shark. I went and laid down next to the shark and pointed my toes. Katrina said that the shark was about as long as the tips of my fins to the top of my head.
Thursday, August 4th
My morning started out with Rich, Judy, Mike, Heather, Josh and Daryl. Rich requested a dive on Colombia Deep. We planned to the dive to 70 feet but most divers went to 80 feet anyway. I took them through all the good caves and we had very light current and lovely conditions. After 22 minutes Josh was running low on air so I took he and Daryl up to 15 feet where they did a normal 3 minute stop. I watched them climb up the ladder before continuing the dive with everyone else. After about 10 or 15 minutes I got the emergency recall signal from Carlos. I surfaced immediately with no safety stop to find out how urgent the problem was. Carlos told me that Josh was feeling sick and that he had tingling in his hands. I told Carlos to give him oxygen and I went back down to round up the other divers. After everyone else made a safety stop we surfaced and got back on the boat. I talked to Josh and he told me the same thing. It didn´t seem like an emergency so I decided not to call an ambulance, just to take him back to his hotel and let him go to the chamber in a taxi. As it ended up, Julio called me and he volunteered to go pick up Josh in his car and take him to the chamber. So off Josh went. He ended up doing a treatment in the chamber for precautionary measures but his dad told me that he seemed just fine.
I had four more divers to take down again so we went to Chankanaab. I wanted something easy and relaxing. We saw a huge lobster out and about. Rich took photos of Judy behind the huge gorgonians. We found a really big grouper and we had fun with that fish for a while.
In the afternoon I took Katrina, John, Trisha and Eric up north to a spot that a local guy told me about. It was about 30 to 40 feet deep and had tons of lionfish for John to entertain himself with. He was like a kid in a candy shop. Since we were not in the marine park Trisha got to bring back some sea shells too.
The last dive of the day was on Paradise where we found one small lionfish. We also saw a swimming golden tail eel and another goldentail poking it´s head out from a hole. John´s favorite was the sailfin blenny that was absolutely fearless. The afternoon trip was very successful.
I went to visit Josh at 8:00 pm that evening and he was 100% fine and in good spirits. I was very relieved.
Friday, August 5th
We had perfect conditions at the shipwreck. We did have to wait about a half an hour for the group ahead of us to end their dive and go. But it was worth the wait because we had no current and no other divers on the wreck. We had the whole thing to ourselves. I led John, Katrina, Trisha, Eric, Mike and Heather on a tour. Judy and Rich just did their own thing and we met up at the end of the dive. Everyone got tons of good pictures.
Per special request we did our second dive on San Francisco Wall. There were more big black groupers than I could count. Rich had fun taking pictures of the schools of fish.
Saturday, August 6th
I took Mike and Heather down to 98 feet for their ¨deep dive¨ for the advanced course at Palancar Caves. Katrina, John, Eric, Trisha, Rich and Judy hovered up above us in 70 feet of water while we did tasks. After the tasks were done we joined the group and I took them through the swim throughs. I swam right past a big turtle and didn´t even see it. Everyone else stopped and took pictures. Rich burned up a bunch of air chasing a turtle up on top. It was a good dive.
For the drift dive I took them to Cedral Wall. The current was cooking. I found a big green moray in a hole but I needed a flash light to get a better look. While the last couple of divers were having a peek at the moray a big nurse shark swam by. We saw several turtles on that dive too. Everyone was surprised by the current but they learned a lot about drift diving that dive.
In the afternoon I took Echo, Jared, Kelly, Troy, Rebecca, Jenn and David on a resort course at Paradise. It was a bit like hearding cats. I didn´t have a chance to go down and look for lobsters or eels. I was too busy counting heads and fixing minor problems. Despite the chaos everyone seemed to have a really fun time. Go figure!
Sunday, August 7th
My first dive of the morning was on Dalila with Heather, Mike, Katrina, John, Eric, Trisha, Rich and Judy. We had mild current and we saw a lot of stuff. I don´t remember how many turtles we saw but I saw 2 good sized nurse sharks. One was swimming and the other was just lying in the sand. Rich swam back and took a photo of it´s face. I pointed out a splendid toadfish and everyone loved the big barracudas.
The second dive of the day was on French Reef. Katrina showed us another swimming nurse shark and we saw a few more turtles. It was a nice, relaxing dive.
That afternoon I picked up Tom, Karen, Jessica, Kristen and Eric. Carlos and I took them to Palancar Horseshoe for training dives. We stayed shallow and did some skills. During the tour we saw a big grouper and everyone wanted to know if the grouper would bite J
We did our second dive on Palancar Gardens. Eric pointed out a big crab and as we were starting up we found a big turtle which was a special treat for divers in training!
Monday, August 8th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Mike, Heather, Tom, Karen, Jessica, Kristen and Eric. The kids worked on buoyancy control by swimming through tunnels and making a safety stop. We saw a small Caribbean reef shark up on top of the reef. I think they always show up during late summer. The school of sardines was back too.
On Colombia Shallow we saw a green turtle and a 4 foot nurse shark. Kristen found a cool looking starfish and we checked out the queen conches everywhere.
Wednesday, August 10th
Mike, Heather, Tom, Karen, Jessica, Kristen and Eric came with me to Colombia Deep. We saw the anchor and a few turtles. Kristen had a little trouble with her ears on the swim through so I think she is done with the swim throughs for this week.
We checked out the end of French Reef for our second stop. We saw one big turtle lounging about on top of the reef and later saw a smaller turtle swimming around. I caught a lionfish and I pointed out a big crab under a dark ledge. Everyone liked the tiger´s tail sea cucumber and I found a little juvenile spotted drum too.
We all went on a night dive at the same spot. The kids found everything. We saw an enormous nurse shark, a huge turtle, a couple of octopus and crabs everywhere. Not everyone saw the free swimming spotted moray eel nor did they all see the lobsters. Even though Jessica was completely uncomfortable the dive was a huge success. Jess was kind of worried about bumping into stuff and wound up getting something in her eye at the surface while waiting to get on board the boat so she was not a happy camper but everyone else couldn´t stop talking the whole way home.
Thursday, August 11th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Giancarlo, Joel, Chase, Leif, Damien, Mike and Heather. As I ducked into a protected area to avoid another group of divers I discovered a big lobster perched on the wall. I took the flashlight out of Heather´s BCD pocket for a better look. An electric ray was in the sand below us. Heather and Mike saw a turtle but I was a bit too far ahead to see it. We saw a few big groupers hanging out in the blue water with lots of little small, shiny fish all around.
Joel requested a shark so I took them to Dalila. Thankfully Heather pointed one out right away. Mission was accomplished! A huge turtle settled on the bottom and posed for Mike´s camera. While I was making a safety stop another nurse shark swam by below us.
Friday, August 12th
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Giancarlo, Joel, Chase, Leif, Damien, Mike and Heather. Once we were down and drifting the dive went well. Heather is our spotter and she showed us a big turtle and a nurse shark swimming around at the end of the dive.
Mike requested Tormentos and everyone really liked it. At the beginning of the dive a school of humans descended upon us like locust but we waited for them to pass. I laughed out loud as a thin, tanned man in a thong joined our group by accident. Heather found another turtle and I showed everyone a crab. A few big groupers put on a show and one changed color for Heather.
Saturday, August 13th
Giancarlo, Joel, Chase, Leif and Damien were my divers on Colombia Deep. I found a medium sized nurse shark sleeping in about 70 feet of water way back in a deep crevice. I used the flashlight to show it off. The guys really liked the caves. I fed a small lionfish to a hungry mutton snapper.
Per special request we went to Paso Del Cedral for the second dive where I took them through another good cave. We saw a small green turtle, 2 large nurse sharks out swimming around and tons of lobsters. I pointed out a pair of flamingo tongues and Giancarlo took pictures. I found a couple of spotted drums at the end of the dive.
Sunday, August 21st
I only had 2 divers, Cindy and Maria. They wanted to see lots of fish so I took them to Yucab for the first dive. I was surprised that we saw so much. There were 2 nurse sharks, both swimming, tons of barracudas, more lobsters than I could count and a big southern stingray foraging for food in the sand. We had a bit of current but the girls did well in the drift and we had a good time.
The fishiest dive in Cozumel is at Paradise. I found several splendid toadfish. They are more prominent when it is cloudy and overcast. I showed them a juvenile smooth trunkfish which is always fun. Maria took lots of pictures of a juvenile yellowtail damsel. I pointed out a golden tail moray, lots of yellow stingrays and some spindly brittle starfish clinging to some bright red encrusting sponges.
Tuesday, August 23rd
I took Andy, Vonnie, Andy, Marcus, Cindy, Maria and Patrick diving on Palancar Gardens while Emily snorkeled over us. Our first turtle was sitting on the bottom in about 70 feet of water which was 10 feet deeper than our planned depth but we went down there anyway for a looksy. Everyone took lots of pictures. I saw a huge lobster out walking around but it was ahead of us and much deeper so I think that I was the only one that saw it. We saw more lobsters on the dive but they were smaller and under the reef hiding. Up on top in the shallow water we saw several more turtles. We also saw a 6 foot nurse shark out and about. It had to swim right under Cindy who of course is the only one who did NOT want to see a shark!
I took them all over to Colombia Shallows which is Andy´s favorite reef. I found a small turtle nestled under a small coral head taking a nap. I smooshed a small lionfish and we saw a bunch of yellow stingrays.
Wednesday, August 24th
Dive one was on the wreck with Andy, Vonnie, Andy, Marcus, Cindy and Maria. There was absolutely no current at all which made for a perfect dive. Everyone took lots of pictures of the bright colored sponges encrusting the ship and we posed inside the wheel house for some fun shots.
Dive two was on Chankanaab. There was a family of 3 lionfish on a little rock. Unfortunately I had forgotten my lionfish spear-thingy on the boat so I tried to catch them with nets only. They were too fast and darted into a hole before I could get them all. I only caught one and a small grouper ate it. At the end of the dive while Cindy and Maria were doing a safety stop I felt a strong tug on the string of my surface marker buoy. The ladies had spotted a rather large lobster prancing around below us. Andy and Andy spent a good 10 minutes photographing it. There was a second big lobster nearby that wiggled it´s antennas at us from under the reef.
Thursday, August 25th
Andy, Marcus, Andy, Cindy, Maria, Lou and Kat came with me to San Francisco Wall. Maria made a special request for a big green moray eel and I got lucky and found one just sitting around waiting for her to come on over and take it´s picture. Some of us saw a big nurse shark swim by but I had forgotten my little bell on the other BCD so I couldn´t get everyone´s attention.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. All the good stuff was at the end of the dive. We saw a bunch of lobsters and a spotted drum. We floated over 2 nurse sharks. The first one was about 6 feet long and the second one was huge. Maria said that it was the biggest nurse shark that she had ever seen. I think it was the same one that Katrina and I saw several weeks earlier.
Friday, August 26th
I took Andy, Marcus, Andy, Vonnie, Lou and Kat to Palancar Horseshoe for the first dive of the day. We didn´t see any big critters but the reef is so impressive there that Marcus told me it was his favorite dive ever. We had beautiful conditions with almost current at all and the sea was like bathwater.
Per Vonnie´s request we went to Dalila. That was a good critter dive. Marcus pointed out a turtle that swam up to the surface for a gulp of air and immediately following that a small nurse shark swam past. While we were looking at the shark the turtle came back down and joined the shark. I didn´t know which creature to look at. While I was taking Andy and Andy up I saw a huge nurse shark at the bottom. Andy wanted to go back down for a photo.
Saturday, August 27th
I took Andy, Vonnie, Andy, Marcus, Lou and Kat to Palancar Caves. We saw a few turtles. Marcus found a docile turtle that let everyone come right up and take lots of photos.
Since we had Lou´s wife and daughter snorkeling over us Colombia Shallow was a good place. Not to mention of course that it is Andy´s favorite reef…….. We saw a little turtle and a sleepy nurse shark. Andy got about a foot and a half away from it to take pictures. Lou got a good shot of the juvenile yellow tail damsel. Those are almost impossible to get a good picture of. Lou is very patient J
Sunday, August 28th
It was rainy and overcast when I took Sheila, Steve, Amy and David to Palancar Horseshoe. Sheila used her flashlight to show us a big green moray eel that she found right after David pointed out a spotted moray. We also saw a couple of turtles. One was up close and the other was small and drifting over the top of the reef. We saw a pair of big lobsters and Steve got hungry.
It was shark day on Dalila. I saw a total of 4 nurse sharks. Shark number one was lounging on the bottom and was about 6 feet long. Shark number two was also sitting on the bottom but was smaller. Shark number 3 was huge and swimming around past us and shark number four was way off in the distance. David was the one who found shark number four. I caught a small lionfish and fed it to a hungry mutton snapper. Actually, it was the snapper that showed me the lionfish in the first place. The snapper pointed it out and then waited patiently as I prepared his sushi. Steve pointed out the second lionfish but the little bugger got away.
Monday, August 29th
I shot some more lionfish on Santa Rosa Wall. My divers were Sheila, Steve, David, Amy, Michael, Guy, Kim and Thomas. The current was clipping right along. Kim said that she really enjoyed the experience. She also said that it was the first time that she has ever seen a shark. The nurse shark was hidden under the reef and Guy went down for a photo. The shark got up and swam away so everyone got a good look.
I wanted to tone it down a bit for the second dive so I took them over to French Reef. Guy, Sheila and Steve were hanging out in the back of the group and they found 3 lobsters all huddled together. It got Sheila thinking about dinner. We saw another very large lobster strutting his stuff in a cave that we swam through. When we came out I remembered that there was a juvenile spotted drum around there somewhere. It took me a minute to find it but it was there. At the end of the dive we drifted over a hawksbill turtle munching on her lunch with an angelfish accompanying her.
Tuesday, August 30th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Sheila, Steve, David, Amy and Derek. The first turtle we saw was way off in the blue water. David pointed out the second one which was perched on the reef. He also pointed out a mammoth sized lobster crawling around below us in about 70 feet of water. It was Derek´s first real Caribbean dive and he was just excited to see a queen angel J
Haley joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallow. We saw 5 turtles on that dive. There were loads of baby lobsters too.
Thursday, September 1st
I had a day off and decided to go diving……. As a paying customer I went to XCalak which is on the very southern tip of the state of Quintana Roo about 20 minutes by boat to Belize. I will not name the dive operator that I used because I had a less than ideal experience. The weather was windy that morning I really think that they should have cancelled the dive and gave everyone their money back. I had a good time on the dives once I was under water but it was a hair raising boat ride. The boat was about 28 to 30 feet long. It was open with no shade at all. It was like sitting in a bathtub. It only had one motor which was mounted too low on the transom and when the captain accelerated the boat water poured in over the back. Their solution was to put in a good bilge pump to empty the tub of sea water. Good thing that pump never stopped going, otherwise we would have sank. The first reef was called Cuevitas and we had to cross the barrier reef to get to it. Inside the protected area it was choppy but not too bad. When we reached the area to cross the barrier we were faced with 10 foot rollers. They crashed on the barrier reef. I was so terrified that I couldn´t even face the waves and our direction of travel. I just turned my head and looked at the motor the whole time and watched to see if we flipped over. There was one moment where even MY captain thought that the boat would flip over. Somehow by the grace of God we got through that crossing and made it to the reef but suiting up was scary because it seemed like at any second a wave could wash right over the side or the back of the boat and sink us. I spent the whole dive listening for the sound of the boat motor to console me that it was still floating above. After a dive in a lot of surge and poor visibility we surfaced and getting back on the boat was difficult with 6 divers and a guide. The swim ladder was TINY. After the dive we of course had to cross back over that barrier reef but that was a little better (not much) because we just caught a wave like surfers and rode it in. By the time I got back to shore my knees were wobbly. I wanted to throw in the towel and skip the second dive. My dive buddy said that he wanted to stay and do the second one so I conceded. I took all of our belongings off of that boat, stuck them in the trunk of the car and I said a prayer.
Four more divers got on for the second dive. Now our little bathtub was over loaded and other customers were making ¨moo¨ sounds and complaining. They wanted to split the group between two boats. No such luck. So out we went. Crossing the barrier would probably have been impossible in that boat with 10 passengers and two crew members so they opted for dropping us off in 6 feet of water on the sheltered side of the barrier reef and they had us SWIM through the crack in the barrier. The boat was to pick us up on the other side of the barrier at the end of the dive. That was interesting. The dive site was called La Poza and once we were down 45 feet and looking at schools of HUMUNGOUS tarpon I was delighted and I stopped listening for that boat motor. The tarpon were indescribable. Some were 4 feet long but some looked to be a long as me. I was totally and completely awestruck. They didn´t seem at all frightened by us and actually came pretty close and I studied their faces and their large, shiny, silver scales. I had 20 minutes of bliss. After we left the school of tarpon I was cold and bored but we had to surface as a group. It was a coordinated entry and exit so I stayed down with the rest of the cluster F-*%&$#+ Throughout the dive fins were in my face and on my head but I didn´t care because I was so enjoying those tarpon. I must have done a lot of swimming because my legs were sore the next day and I am in good shape for swimming so I wonder how the other divers were feeling J
Friday, September 2nd
I was happy to be back to work, back on my very own boat and back on my familiar stomping grounds. David and Amy requested that we go back to Palancar Gardens. Harry was very easy to get along with and Verna had not been diving in 4 years and had no opinion. So Gardens it was. We played in the cloud of silver sides. Verna was impressed by the 50 pound snapper with fang like teeth. Amy found a gorgeous turtle that played in a big cave with us. We also saw a big crab and a hermit crab too.
Our second dive was on Paso Del Cedral and we had a bit of current. We saw a few huge groupers and Amy found another turtle. That turtle was just a cute little baby about a foot and a half long. I visited the juvenile spotted drum and found a pair of darling little juvenile smooth trunkfish bobbing around. For those of you who don´t know what they are, they look like little spotted marbles and they go in circles. Look them up on the internet!
Saturday, September 3rd
I took Phil, Aaron, April and Mary to Chankanaab to dive. I had originally planned on Palancar but we had south wind and I heard on the radio that it was really choppy out there. We only did one dive because they were in a hurry to get back to the cruise ship. It was an interesting group. Phil and Aaron came on the Carnival Triumph. April, Mary and their friend whom I remember them calling ¨Miss Purple¨ came on the Carnival Elation. ¨Miss Purple¨ snorkeled with Luis. It was a strange coincidence that they didn´t know each other, they came on different ships but it turned out that they live about 5 minutes away from one another back in Florida. The boys were in a hurry to get back to the ship and they forgot their dive booties, (both pairs) a really nice long sleeved shirt and a mesh bag. I gave the stuff to the girls and I gave them the phone numbers for the guys so that they could call them when they got home and return their gear. The funny thing is that Mary is engaged to be married and they are on the cruise as a ¨bachelorette party¨ and the guys were good looking and single. So maybe there might be a Love Connection with one of the guys and perhaps April and/or ¨Miss Purple¨. Strange things happen on dive boats.
Sunday, September 4th
We had southeast wind so it was not a good idea to take Ron, Kathy, Patti, Drew, Rich, Elaine and Jack to Palancar Gardens. I took them north to Chankanaab instead. Rich pointed out the world´s largest lobster out for a stroll. It was Kathy´s birthday and Ron hired a videographer to film the whole thing. I brought a big banner down. Patti helped me hold it open and we gathered around to be filmed. It was a nice, easy, fun dive.
We were a little unsure about going to San Francisco Wall. Carlos said that the current had looked a bit strong. Horacio our videographer checked the current and gave us an OK. We all got in. There was pretty much no current at all and the visibility was not so hot. I was suspicious so I kept the group up on top away from the drop off. After about 10 minutes I started to feel sure about the current and took everyone over the edge to the beautiful part. We saw a huge nurse shark swim by. When we were just hanging out on the wall, all of sudden the current just went nuts and started pulling us out and down. I noticed immediately and called the group away from the wall. Ron was the last to see the signal and subsequently the last to make his way to the shallow, sandy area. So he had to kick a lot harder than anyone else. For about 2 minutes he was kicking as hard as he could and was not going anywhere. Then the current kicked up and got stronger and stronger until we were flying northbound at about 4 to 5 knots. When we got blown off of the reef I finally gave up and called the dive. We had been down for an hour anyway so no sense in fighting it. Up we went and we had yet another adventure.
Monday, September 5th
The southeast wind continued and was actually stronger. I knew that Ron, Kathy, Patti, Drew, Rich, Elaine and Jack wanted to go to Palancar but I told them about the bad conditions and they all agreed that flat seas were more important so we went to Yucab. Ron found a pair of nurse sharks huddled up one on top of the other under a big ledge. Kathy came down for a photo and scared them off. The big one followed us around for a while off in the distance. We also saw loads of big groupers. Towards the end of the dive I realized that I had lost my safety sausage. Fortunately everyone began ascending at the same time together so it wasn´t much of a problem. The only incident of note was while we were all floating around at 15 feet I heard a boat coming fast. I pressed the purge button on my octopus and made a bunch of bubbles and watched as the oncoming speeding boat swerved to avoid us.
I really didn´t want to make the second dive without a safety sausage but after searching by snorkel for half an hour and not finding it I gave up. Everyone on the boat voted to go back and look for it so we did. When we went back in there was almost no current. First we went southbound, then northbound then the current switched again and we ended up spending the last half of the dive going southbound. The current was so slow that we had time to poke around and look at small stuff. Here is what we saw: two splendid toadfish, a juvenile spotted drum, a juvenile smooth trunkfish, a peacock flounder and a bunch of flamingo tongues on a gorgonian. It was like being on a treasure hunt.
Tuesday, September 6th
The south wind continued and I got the bright idea of diving right in front of Ron, Kathy, Patti, Drew, Rich and Elaine´s hotel. Dave had not been to Santa Rosa yet that week so off we went. I got in and checked the current. It seemed calm. We suited up and got in. Within the first 10 minutes we saw 4 turtles. The first was a little guy off in the distance. Once everyone was settled we sat on the bottom in the sand and collected ourselves. I turned my head to discover a big hawksbill turtle sitting right next to Dave on the bottom. After everyone took pictures we advanced about another 15 feet before I spotted the second big turtle just sitting around waiting for us. The fourth turtle was doing a head first dive from the surface and coming down to join our party. As we drifted along the wall the gang stopped to check out a huge green moray eel. I was pissed that I missed it. When the current started picking up speed I called everyone over and we crossed over to Santa Rosa Shallow were the current was calm. There wasn´t much over there except for a small lobster and a small lionfish but we are into ¨easy diving¨ so no one complained about the cross over.
We drove over to Tormentos for the second dive. We suited up and Carlos called his buddy on the radio to find out about the current there. The answer was that the current was really strong so I made an executive decision and had him drive us over to Chankanaab. There we had a beautiful relaxing dive. We saw flamingo tongues devouring a gorgonian, a black grouper at a cleaning station and a brittle star inside of it´s host the vase sponge. It was an easy, pretty dive.
Thursday, September 8th
Carlos called me at 7:00 am and told me that he was looking at the ocean and that it looked horrible. I said that I would go turn on the radio. Within 10 minutes the harbor master declared a small craft warning and didn´t let us go out. I called Suzanne, Scott, Ron, Kathy, Patti, Drew, Rich and Elaine on the phone and cancelled our 9:00 am departure and told them I would call them at 10:30 if it calmed down. As luck would have it the wind died down, the port opened and we had our calmest day yet of the week. We went to Palancar Gardens which is where they had been asking to go all week but we couldn´t because of the wind ironically. The current was a little bothersome but everyone managed it like a pro. Poor Scott had a mask squeeze and came up with puffy eyes. But those puffy eyes got to see a few turtles and the swelling went down in time for our second dive.
We did the second dive on Colombia Shallow. I counted the turtles. We saw 7 on that dive. It was a real turtle day. All of the turtles that we saw were hawksbill. I saw one turtle nip another turtle on the shell. It didn´t hurt the other turtle but did manage to bully it away. The bully had a little chunk missing from the starboard side of it´s shell. I won´t forget that turtle J We saw lots of lobsters and Rich found another juvenile smooth trunkfish. At the end of the dive I checked the shark hole. I didn´t see the shark but when I pulled my head out of the hole I saw the shark swimming away. I am not sure exactly where it was hiding but I had disturbed it. It was a nice, easy relaxing dive. Kathy really likes to go slow and take a good luck at stuff.
Friday, September 9th
Patti´s ears were toast and she asked for something shallow. Ron, Kathy, Patti, Drew, Rich and Elaine didn´t even give Pat a choice in the matter but he didn´t seem to mind! We went to French Reef. We saw several turtles and the current was clipping along. We also found that spotted drum at the end of the cave. Kathy showed me a lionfish and I got it. Rich pointed out a family of 6 lobsters and fun was had by all.
I took them to the end of Cedral and Santa Rosa Shallow for the second dive. Pat found a big turtle sleeping under the reef but I missed it. I showed everyone the juvenile spotted drum but the 2 little baby smooth trunkfish were both gone. Bummer. A pair of mutton snapper followed us around for the last half of the dive. The big one pointed out lionfish for me. It was hungry and wanted me to feed him. I got one tiny lionfish and one small lionfish. The mutton snapper just gobbled them both right up.
Sunday, September 11th
Brent, Jill and Patrick brought their friend April who was newly certified to come diving with me. We took her to Palancar Gardens for the first dive. Luckily the current was very light. Everyone had fun playing in the cloud of silversides and they were impressed by the black groupers hiding behind the big cloud of fish. The only critter of note that we saw was a crab which I pointed out with my flashlight. April was thrilled with every fish that she saw.
I asked Carlos to drop me off between Dalila and French Reef. It usually has less current and big critters there. As soon as we got in Jill found a nice little turtle that was well hidden on the top of the reef. I took a shot at a lionfish and totally missed. Late in the dive we drifted up to a big nurse shark lying in the sand. We saw crabs and lobsters on that dive too.
Monday, September 12th
Brent asked for San Francisco Wall for the first dive because he thought that Jill, Patrick, April and Dale would like that one. I carefully checked the current before allowing them to dive there. It was good and we had a nice, easy dive. We saw a turtle that went up to the surface to breathe and then later came back down and joined us. We also saw lots of big black groupers and a pair of rainbow parrotfish. I took a shot at a baby lionfish but it was too small and too fast. Plus I just flat out missed it J Oops.........
They wanted to see turtles so I took them to Cedral Wall. The current was faster than I had expected but nothing out of the ordinary. We saw two turtles, one of which was HUGE. We also saw one really big nurse shark and another small one with it’s head crammed into a hole in the reef presumably feeding on something. The current was a bit much for April so I promised to tone it down a bit the next time I took them diving.
Tuesday, September 13th
Liz, Laural and Rick came on a cruise ship. They dived with Dale and I while Liz’s hubby and son snorkeled over us on Palancar Gardens. We had perfect diving conditions with little current and clear water. Everyone was awestruck by the huge school of silversides with the groupers swimming in and out. Then I took them through the cave and up to the top where we saw a turtle. Well, Laural and I saw the turtle. No one else paid attention to me when I rang my little bell J
We did the next one on Al’s special spot where we had a current pushing us northbound at a good clip. We did get to see a few turtles, one of which was pretty big and sitting still for Liz’s camera. We didn't see any nurse sharks but the snorkelers did. Lucky snorkelers they were!!!
Wednesday, September 14th
As Dale hid downstairs in the cabin changing into his swim shorts, April, Brent and I debated over where to go diving. Jill got sick of listening to us bicker so she asked to go to the shipwreck. The decision was made! I don’t think that Patrick really cared just as long as he got in the water J We got really, really lucky and there was almost no current on the wreck when we got in. There were a couple of ear and weighting problems but once they were settled we got down and had a nice dive. Fortunately for April the current didn’t kick up until after she was already on the boat. The current hit fast and it hit hard. By the time that Jill and Brent were low on air they could not complete the 50 foot swim back to the ascent line so we just drifted with the current and Carlos came and got us.
Since April is not into current (no pun intended) Chankanaab was the logical choice for the second dive. I found a spotted moray eel per April’s request and we saw the usual crabs and lobsters. When we came up from the dive Carlos informed me that the ladder was broken. Aack!
We got the ladder fixed in time for the night dive. I took Brent, Jill, Patrick and April to my secret spot for night dives. We had very little current. The crabs seemed to be everywhere we looked. We saw a few lobsters and three spotted morays. Pat and Jill pointed out a pair of lionfish. I didn’t even attempt to get them since April was floating away. Luckily I found a pair of octopi right before April signaled that she was low on air. She really had her heart set on seeing an octopus so I found them just in time.
Thursday, September 15th
I let Patrick pick the reef and he made a good choice. He chose Santa Rosa Wall. April, Jill, Brent and Dale didn’t have a suggestion so off we went! The current was significant. The first turtle that we saw swam right up to us and it was really cool. Then we parked behind the coral and the boys tried to trick April with a fake seahorse. Well she caught them in the act and gave them the finger. I was happy and relieved to see Fido/Troy parked in his usual spot at a cleaning station. I hadn’t seen him for a while and I was worried that perhaps poachers had gotten him. Patrick showed us a 5 foot nurse shark in a nook. I took April by the hand and tried to bring her back to see it but she wasn’t interested. We saw a couple more turtles and at the end of the dive Patrick found another larger nurse shark swimming around.
They chose Dalila for the next dive. We had less current there and we saw a lot of turtles. A couple of turtles were all kind of in the same area too. A pair of large intimidating barracudas followed Patrick around and made him a little nervous. We saw lobsters and crabs on that dive too. I think it was the favorite dive of the week.
Friday, September 16th
Nancy, Kandice and James got a later start of it. I set the departure time for 9:30 because the night before everyone was up late watching the fireworks for Independence Day. Nancy and James had not been diving in almost 25 years. Kandice was newly certified so I took them to the shallow area near shore at Paradise for the first dive. There were a lot of boats around so it wasn’t long before I swam them over to the reef. On that dive we saw a goldentail moray, a big crab and a barracuda.
We went right back to Paradise for the second dive but this time we got in on the reef in 35 feet of water. Nancy showed us all a huge lobster out in the open. I signaled to James asking if he wanted to eat it. We chased a yellow stingray and saw another barracuda on that second dive.
Saturday, October 1st
After 2 weeks off and fresh new paint on the boat Angel, Elizabeth and I set out to Paradise so that I could give Angel a class. We did a shallow, easy dive on Paradise. Angel is not certified but has been diving before in four or five other places. She has been on night dives and shark cage dives but I still made her do the class because she is not certified. It was a really easy dive for me!
The second dive was on Chankanaab where we looked for little stuff. Angel pointed out some brittle stars in a sponge. I found another one for her and showed it off. I also displayed a hermit crab to the ladies. At the end of the dive I spotted a turtle off in the distance and I swam Angel over for a look. She loved that turtle and really wanted to pet it but she exercised self control. When she got low on air we waved goodbye to the turtle and went up.
Sunday, October 2nd
Only Fran and Dave were signed up to go diving so we picked a couple of “critter” dives. The first stop was on Paso Del Cedral where we saw TONS of creatures. The first big animal was a lobster hiding in the little cave where the green eel used to be years ago. Dave rubbed his tummy when he saw the lobster and I wondered if he was making dinner plans. I spied a big turtle just sitting on top of the coral having breakfast. It took a while for Fran to make it out because it was kind of camouflaged. While Fran and I were checking out the turtle Dave took off after a big black grouper. He was determined to get a photo. Then I found a green moray eel in a hole. We swam through a small school of barracuda and I found the first nurse shark. It was only about 4 feet long and it was napping. I got close and it swam off. About 5 minutes later I saw a nurse shark swimming around and I wondered if it was the same shark. I had my doubts about 10 minutes later when I saw the bigger nurse shark off to my left. As soon as it disappeared another nurse shark appeared to the right. When that one swam off a really big nurse shark swam right up to me. I think they look bigger when they are swimming right up to you. It veered off at the last second and we watched it for a minute while it searched for a protected place to rest.
The current was calm so I decided to take them to Punta Tunich. They completely missed the first nurse shark which was small and lying still on the bottom. There was a bit of current and they didn’t stop in time. I took them down into the hole with the glassy sweepers and we found a jackknife fish right next to a huge octopus in a hole. I used my flashlight to show them the octopus. The first turtle was behind a coral head and they drifted past it and only saw it swimming away. When I found the second big turtle I grabbed a hold of Fran’s hand and drug her back because I saw a green moray eel under an overhang. The turtle ended up going right in there with the eel and the turtle just sat right down on top of the 6 foot eel. The eel didn’t even react. Fran and I were just fascinated. Even though Dave had floated away in the current it was hard to let go of the rock and leave the unlikely pair. It was just amazing. We had a great day!
Monday, October 3rd
Fran and Dave wanted very much so to see the shipwreck. We had almost no current at all so it was an easy dive. I gave them the usual tour. Fran’s favorite part was the bright red sponges encrusting the ship and the brittle stars that live on those sponges. We saw two big crabs and a lobster on the little reef right next to the ship.
We didn’t see any lobsters on Chankanaab which I thought was strange. Dave found a darling little juvenile smooth trunk fish. It was bobbing around in little circles. My eyes are getting bad now and it was hard for me to tell which was the front of the fish and which was the tail. I showed them the splendid toadfish. Dave really likes the juvenile yellowtail damsels because of the neon blue spots on it’s dark blue body. It was fun to go slow and look at the little stuff.
Tuesday, October 4th
This was Karen’s first ocean dive after having been certified in a quarry. Gerry, Neil and Marco had been diving with me in June. Karen is Neil’s wife and I guess she got sick of being left out! It was Tom’s first dive in the ocean after 22 years but he had gotten recertified 2 years prior in a quarry with Kelly. It had been a long time since either had been in salt water. Dave and Fran had been diving all week but had not made it out to Palancar so I took them to the Gardens because it is an easy one. We ran into a traffic jam at the big school of silversides. It was frustrating because a huge group of divers just parked right there enjoying the show and would not give us a chance to get in there and see the action. There were 8 to 10 black groupers ducking in and out of the swarm of fish and one big, fat Goliath Grouper. I had just told Fran and Dave the day before that I had not seen a Goliath Grouper (formally Jewfish) in years and there it was! I was thrilled. I am going to send Jeremy at Living Underwater a text message and let him know that it is there. It’s Jeremy’s favorite fish and his boat is named after it. That was the high point of the dive for me. Someone pointed out a little turtle too along the way.
Our second stop was on French Reef. I tried to show Marco a family of 5 lobsters all gathered together in the shallow area but I was busy taking someone up for a safety stop and couldn’t go back down to point it out. I found the juvenile spotted drum that is always in the same spot after the cave and I used my flashlight to point out a splendid toadfish.
Wednesday, October 5th
This was Kenneth and Matthew’s first ocean dive so back to Palancar we went. I suggested that we go to caves. Karen, Neil, Gerry and Marco were happy to go just about anywhere. I found a small nurse shark lounging around on the bottom at the beginning of the dive and everyone loved the swim throughs.
They chose Dalila for the second dive. Wow! We saw tons of sharks. The first one was small, maybe 5 feet long. The second was bigger. The best part was when I found 2 nurse sharks huddled head to head and they were surrounded by black groupers. It was a feeding frenzy. I found the first turtle and Kenneth got a good look. Karen found the second turtle and I think Kenneth might have missed it.
Friday, October 7th
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall by special request. My divers were Neil, Karen, Gerry, Marco, Tess and JR. We saw a couple of big grouper and the current was clipping along.
There was a lot more critters on Cedral. We started out in the shallows on the “Paso.» We ended up behind a huge school of humans and Gerry had asked to see a turtle so I swam them over to the wall. There we saw a bunch of turtles and a couple of nurse sharks. Tess found the first turtle. I think Karen found the 3rd or 4th turtle and while we were all swimming over to see the turtle Neil was pointing out a nurse shark. The best nurse shark was at the end of the dive when it swam over and sat down on the sand and we all stopped for a good look!
That afternoon Bob and Susan came to the Caleta marina to meet us and we drove over to the Aura to pick up John, Chris, Amanda and Jill. A few of them had not been in the water for 6 years so we went to the Gardens where we could start out shallow and work our way deeper. On the Gardens we saw one turtle.
On San Francisco Wall we saw a whole bunch of turtles. Susan showed everyone a big spotted moray. We floated past a huge crab, several lobsters and we saw a big green moray eel at the end of the dive. Susan said that those were her best dives ever!
Saturday, October 8th
Jackie, Tess, JR, Amanda, Chris and John were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe. We had perfect dive conditions. There was no current at all, the surface was calm and the water was 85 degrees. Everyone enjoyed swimming between the enormous coral formations.
On French reef we all stopped to watch a turtle feed on a sponge with a couple of angelfish hanging around. I showed Jackie a splendid toadfish and a flamingo tongue. I forgot to check on the spotted drum. We saw several large crabs and a baby turtle at the end of the dive.
Monday, October 10th
I wanted to show Bob, Kay, Jackie, Doug and Cathy those beautiful silversides on Palancar Gardens. It was a perfect choice because Doug and Cathy had not been diving for 6 years and they needed something really easy. We had fun swimming through the wall of little, shiny fish. There were tons of black groupers. Someone pointed out a turtle on that dive too.
We went to the spot between French Reef and Dalila for our second dive. We saw tons of little turtles and I shot a small lion fish. Bob pointed out a big crab and we had fantastic conditions with almost no current and great visibility.
Tuesday, October 11th
Bob and Kay let Jackie pick the first reef. She picked Punta Sur. Carlos loves Punta Sur so we hired his friend Sorullo to come along and drive the boat so that he could dive with us. When we came out of the first cave I turned around to see Carlos with a big lionfish on the end of his spear. While he was disposing of the lionfish the rest of us watched a lazy turtle that didn’t seem the least bit afraid of us. Inside of another cave we saw a huge lionfish. As Carlos approached it slipped into a hole to escape. Up on top of the reef a rather large turtle started to make it’s way to the surface. It looked to Carlos like a child with it’s arms open waiting for a hug so he opened his arms too. It swam right up to him which surprised Carlos (who was just clowning around) and he back paddled to get out of the turtle’s way. It appeared that the turtle was calling Carlos’ bluff.
I let Kay pick the second dive site and she picked Paso Del Cedral. She spent the entire dive showing us nurse sharks. She was our shark spotter. Carlos found a splendid toadfish. Kay discovered a big green moray in a dark hole. We saw a tiny baby turtle perhaps a foot long make it’s way to the surface for a gulp of fresh air and I took pictures of that spotted drum that is always in the same spot. At the very end of the dive three small black groupers gave away the hiding place for a four foot long nurse shark. I think I saw either 4 or 5 sharks on that dive.
Wednesday, October 12th
Jackie had never been to Colombia Deep. Bob and Kay were happy to go just about anywhere. We swam through a bunch of caves. I took pictures of the first turtle but not the second. I showed Bob a big crab clinging to the underside of the reef.
Kay picked Cedral Wall for our next stop. Jackie and I watched as a large nurse shark swam away in the distance. Four big black groupers hung around and did not follow the fleeing shark. Then I noticed the sand cloud and a tail thrashing about near the groupers. Another nurse shark had it’s head in a hole and was feeding on something. I checked the hole for my favorite green moray and she was home. After taking a few photos of her I reached in to pet her. She charged out of the hole and right at me. I later realized that she mistook the diffuser on my strobe for a strip of raw fish. So I wiggled the camera at her and she came right out again. I guess I teased her a little. Shame on me. When she came way out of the hole even Bob backed up a little. Later in the dive I found a more docile green moray really super hidden. At first all I saw was a bit of tail sticking out. Then after a short search I found her smiling face. I took a few pictures of her too.
Thursday, October 13th
Fulvio joined Kay, Bob and Jackie this morning. I asked everyone where they wanted to go and the answer was, “A wall!” So dive one was on Santa Rosa. I always have Carlos drop me off a little to the south of Santa Rosa Wall to start for 2 reasons. First, the descent is easier and second, there is a beautiful patch of reef there with lots of marine life. As we were descending I looked down to see a big black grouper acting funny like he was shadow hunting. I rang my little bell and made a beeline against the current down to the grouper. The gang followed. We discovered 3 nurse sharks all huddled together under a coral head. The grouper was waiting for the hunt to begin. The sharks were just hanging out and napping. It was way too cool! About 15 minutes into the dive I shot a big lionfish. Once I had prepared the sushi a big mutton snapper came along and snatched it right off the end of my stick.
They picked Punta Tunich for the second spot which is Kay’s favorite. It was Kay that found the cute little nurse shark. She also found a green moray eel. I found a big green moray too. During the safety stop I looked down and saw a huge turtle way below us on the bottom.
Sunday, October 16th
It was rainy and overcast when I took Patsy, Bob, Kay and Bob to French Reef. As soon as we hit the bottom Bob found a friendly big green moray eel. By the time that Patsy got her mask adjusted the eel came out and swam around for her camera. She took lots of pictures of that eel. We saw several big crabs and a few lobsters. I found an empty shell that some crab had molted as it grew too large. Kay found a lobster’s head and antennas. I checked on the juvenile spotted drum and found a darling little juvenile smooth trunkfish bobbing around in circles. Patsy took a video of a turtle sharing a late breakfast with some angelfish.
When we came up from the dive Carlos informed me that the port was closed. We cancelled the second dive and headed back to the marina. Three hours later a storm still had not blown in so I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get to do the second dive. But safety is first and if the harbor master wants us back in the marina I am not going to argue......
Monday, October 17th
Natalie, Jay and Laurie arrived on the Carnival Dream. We picked up Patsy, Bob, Bill and Tim along the way out to the reef. We had strong south wind and big waves down south. I gave them the option of going north to dive to get out of the waves or braving it down south on Palancar. They picked Palancar Caves. It was hard getting everyone in the water but once we were down it was calm and clear. There was hardly any current at all which made picture taking really easy.
We went to Dalila for the second dive. When Carlos went to drop us off he couldn’t see the bottom due to all of the dark green fresh water run off from land. We had 4 consecutive days of rain and it created a 10 foot deep surface layer of green fresh water. Once we got below that green layer the water was clear and blue again. Thankfully the current was mild. A big nurse shark swam right in front of us. Tim showed us a small turtle and a southern stingray. He thinks I didn’t see it but I did J It was swimming away from the reef and I didn’t want the divers to stray. When only Bob, Patsy and I were still down we saw an enormous turtle and Patsy got a few shots of her.
Thursday, October 20th
The port opened but it was still really choppy when we left the harbor with Patsy, Bob, Beth, Teresa, Lisa and Mary Lou. When we picked up Bill and Tim along the way the water had settled down a little but it was still really rough. No one complained about the waves at Palancar Gardens and once we got to the bottom we had very calm water. Patsy loved the school of shiny silver fish and the big black grouper feeding on them.
Since Mary Lou was snorkeling we went to Colombia Shallows. The water was dark green from all of the rain and we couldn’t see the bottom from the surface. Carlos dropped me off in the wrong place. I had been to that place once before a year ago with Chace. It was that place with tons of lionfish. Since I was toting Patsy’s camera and I had 7 divers and 1 snorkeler all waiting for me above I didn’t stay and get the lionfish. Instead I surfaced and had them throw me a rope. Carlos towed me behind the boat to what he thought was the right place but it turned out that the reef was a short swim inland. When we finally arrived at the reef we were greeted by a huge southern stingray and promptly after we saw a turtle. I noticed a little bit of it’s shell was missing over it’s right rear flipper so when it reappeared about 15 minutes later I knew that it was the same turtle. We saw tons of little lobsters and a few more turtles on that dive. The girls all LOVED that dive.
Friday, October 21st
We had a full boat and some good sized waves when we pulled out of the marina with John, Jeff, LaCasta, John, Steve, Corey, Liz and John. We headed down to Palancar Gardens. It was such a relief to get in the water and out of the waves. Down below it was warm, clear and calm. LaCasta pointed out a small turtle that swam over the top of the reef. We parked in front of the silversides for a good while. Some one pointed out a big crab on the reef too.
For our second tank we went to Dalila. There was almost no current at all which is strange for Dalila. We had a great dive on Dalila. We saw 2 different big sharks swim by. We saw tons of crabs and lobsters. At the end of the dive we saw a turtle and there were fish everywhere.
We did a third dive on Paradise which is the fishiest dive in Cozumel. I found a big mantis shrimp and John showed us a spotted scorpionfish. He pointed out flamingo tongues and I found a splendid toadfish. Steve and John were very pleased with that dive. It might have had something to do with the really long bottom time too J
Sunday, October 23rd
I only had 2 divers, John and Jeff. John twisted my arm until I agreed to take him to Maracaibo. The surface was very rough but underneath we had good visibility and very light current. On the way down I felt something brush past my left leg and fin. I looked down to see my weight pouch sinking quickly to the bottom. The top of the reef was around 110 feet so instead of going after it I opted to surface and ask Carlos for more weight which I just shoved in my left pocket. Arriving at the bottom we were greeted by a lionfish so I got out my little spear thing and shot it. Not 2 minutes passed when we found a whole family of them in about 125 feet of water. I took a shot at the first one and missed. I did hit the really big one. My little stick in my pocket was not long enough to protect my hands from it’s long spines if I killed the big lionfish so I drug it around on the spear looking for an empty conch shell or something that I could use to make it stop wiggling around. I couldn’t find anything but I got to thinking. At the very least Carlos would like to see this if not eat it. So I drug it around with me for the next half an hour. There seemed to be families of lionfish everywhere. I took a few shots at the bigger ones but the big lionfish on the stick prevented me from catching any more. We also saw a big turtle and a big nurse shark on that dive.
During the surface interval Carlos cleaned the lionfish and prepared it for the frying pan. While we dived on Punta Tunich Carlos saved the fish guts for us. There was a small one inch long fish in it’s entirety in the stomach of that lionfish along with some other unidentifiable stuff. The current on Tunich was really light. We stopped and played in the hole with the glassy sweepers. We saw 4 turtles and John found a big, fat green moray that posed for my camera.
Monday, October 24th
The boat was full and I took John, Jeff, Jim, Virginia, Tal, Diane, Shawn and Leslie to Palancar Gardens for their first day of diving. When we got in the current was pushing us away from the reef towards shore. We had to swim against a mild current to get to the reef. It was probably a good thing because it gave everyone a good chance to get acclimated in shallow water. We saw the big school of silversides and plenty of black groupers around them. There were a couple of big crabs crawling around. I think it was Jeff who found the first small nurse shark under a big overhang. I saw the second nurse shark out cruising around in front of the group.
I didn’t feel like battling more current so we all went to Colombia Shallows. We saw loads of small turtles, tons of lobsters (Tal wanted them on his plate) and I caught a couple of lionfish. One was pretty darned big and the other was just a baby.
Sunday, October 30th
Finally after a week out of the water the harbor master let us back in after tropical storm Rina passed. Matt, Bob and I asked Joe to pick the reefs. His first choice was Palancar Horseshoe. There were 2 big lobsters. The first one was hidden in a crevice and we passed it as we swam through a narrow slit in the towering coral formations. The second one was out prancing around like ¨King of the Reef¨. I was struck by all the dust and silt on the reef. I spent a good 30 minutes thinking about it and came to the conclusion that the silt must have come from the fresh water run off that we had from all the rain a couple of weeks back when the water was dark green and murky.
Joe picked Dalila for the second dive and there was zero silt on the reef. The boys asked to see sharks and the first one only took minutes to appear. It was a good sized shark and it swam by and slowed down as it passed. We saw the second shark on feeding on something in the reef. When I got close it too swam off. We saw 4 hawksbill turtles and 1 gorgeous green turtle. When we were back on the boat Bob commented that the shell on the green turtle looked like a work of art. Half way through the dive a burst of 5 or 6 small black groupers in the 20 to 30 pound range sprinted all around us so I immediately started looking for the big hunter. I found a 5 foot long green moray eel smiling at us from a crack in the reef and she let Joe get close and take lots of pictures. We saw a pair of medium sized lobsters huddled up together in a hole. It was a bummer that Joe was already back on the boat when we drifted up to a huge spotted eagle ray accompanied by a pair of shiny permits. That dive turned into a Grand Slam!
Monday, October 31st
JF and Nathalie joined Joe, Bob and Matt on Palancar. I let Nathalie choose the reef and she picked Caves. Coming out of the first set of caves a graceful turtle glided up and over head. I wrote on my slate and asked Nathalie if she remembered that dangling yellow tube sponge and if has gotten tired of my same old jokes about that sponge. She laughed and filled her mask. Oops!
They chose Cedral Wall for the second dive and were not disappointed. Turtle number 1 was a female hawksbill sharing lunch with some pretty angelfish. Turtle number 2 was really big, male and didn’t seem to mind our presence at all. The next thing we saw was a big spotted eagle ray. When it detected our presence it swam out into the deep blue water. Then another big eagle ray came in from the deep and cruised over to the reef right in front of us and let us get a little closer. Next we were pleased to see a nurse shark that swam out in front of us for a few minutes. The next turtle was just a baby. I think maybe a foot and a half long. Then we stopped at the green moray hole and found her sharing her house with a nurse shark. It was just darling to see the two cuddled up together. Everyone started running low on bottom time but JF and I stayed down and hung out with a huge male loggerhead turtle for about 5 minutes. It had barnacles on it’s back and it was slowly grazing on the bottom. We had another Grand Slam!
Tuesday, November 1st
Jay joined the gang, JF, Nathalie, Bob, Matt and Joe. I picked the reef this time. I chose French Reef. There were no waves and no current to speak of. Since it was a rainy, overcast day there were crabs and lobsters all over the place. I saw 2 different turtles. JF found four splendid toadfish. They like the low light. JF pointed out one 5 foot nurse shark cruising by and I showed them the spotted drum at the end of the cave. Nathalie found an adult spotted drum but I missed it. Speaking of missing it, this time I didn’t! I shot one really big lionfish and killed it. I also shot the second big lionfish but it actually wiggled off the end of my spear and swam away L
I asked Carlos to drop us off on Paso Del Cedral but he accidentally dropped us off on the wall again. Oh well, we had a great dive anyway. We saw a couple of turtles and several nurse sharks. One of which was the same shark in the same hole as the day before. The green moray was gone though......We saw more lobsters and crabs because of the gray skies above.
Wednesday, November 2nd
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Jay, Joe, JF and Nathalie. I thought that the current was very mild but JF disagreed. At the very beginning of the dive we saw a turtle and a big green moray eel that smiled for the cameras. I could hear Nathalie screaming through her regulator and when I turned around to find out why, I saw her pointing out a graceful spotted eagle ray swimming off in the blue. Later in the dive we saw some very large groupers near the cave.
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral. I put some flowers on Nick’s marker stone. I think Nick was with me this morning because we saw a lot of green moray eels. I was swimming around remembering when we used to feed them and pet the eels at that dive site. I still have some old videos of Nick and I with those eels. The first eel swam right at Nathalie and surprised her. The second one actually swam away from Joe with his camera. We saw a big swimming nurse shark too.
Thursday, November 3rd
My divers were JF, Nathalie, Joe, Jay, Terry and Debbie. I took them to Colombia Deep. I sent JF, Nathalie and Terry through the first cave alone but I guided them through the best one. It is a little dark and there are many different directions that you can go so I thought it best to go through it first. We saw a turtle and a big southern stingray on that dive. I took a shot at a lionfish and missed. I took a shot at a second lionfish and got it.
Our second stop was on San Francisco Wall. There we saw one big green moray eel in a dark cave at the beginning of the dive and then at the end of the dive I found ¨Buster¨ the green moray with a crooked mouth. He was hanging out in his usual hole with a big grouper that looked a lot like Troy the grouper from Santa Rosa Wall......We also saw a big turtle surface for a gulp of air and lots of lobsters.
Friday, November 4th
My first stop was on Palancar Gardens with JF and Nathalie. Danny and Nazi snorkeled over us while we dived. Carlos warned me about the current but when we got in fortunately the current was not strong at all. We played in the curtain of silversides for about 10 minutes and I saw that big jewfish hiding behind that wall of little shiny fish. We swam through all of the caves after the current kicked in because in the caves you don’t feel the current. We saw a turtle and some lobsters on that dive.
After an hour and a half on the beach at Playa Palancar, Danny and Nazi joined us for a dive on Colombia Shallow. JF pointed out a turtle, a moray eel and a lobster for Danny. Nathalie found the spotted eagle ray. Danny saw it but I didn’t get to see it. I was hanging out with Nazi and we missed the big ray.
Sunday, November 6th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Joe, Jeff, Helen and Mark. The water was a bit mysterious as it had green patches that were colder than the usual blue water. The blue water was 84 degrees and the green water was 82 degrees. We could really feel the difference when we swam into those big green clouds. The dive group in front of us pointed out a small hawksbill turtle at the beginning of the dive. Later in the dive another turtle swam up to the surface in front of us and then came back down.
Our second dive was on Dalila. The divers were surprised by the current. Once again, I didn¬¥t think it was that strong. They asked me how strong the current was when we got back on the boat. I think it was about 2 to 3 knots. I guess as the water starts to cool off the current is going to kick in.
Monday, November 7th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Vladimiro, Brenda, Shawn, Joe, Jeff, Helen and Mark. Brenda and Shawn had been there before, loved it and wanted to go back. Vladimiro and I swam into the school of silversides and we almost bumped right into the big jewfish who has been hanging out there lately. We saw a 6 foot nurse shark swim by. The highlight of the dive was seeing that HUMUNGUS loggerhead turtle foraging for food in 60 feet of water. It was the same turtle that JF and I had seen the week before on Cedral Wall. It didn¬¥t seem to mind us all around and it looked even bigger this time. Vladimiro was right next to it taking pictures and it looked almost as big as him!
The second dive was on Colombia Shallow. We saw tons of fish and quite a few turtles. One of the turtles was that little girl with a chunk missing out of the lower right side of her shell. She is very distinct looking. Jeff found a moray eel. At the end of the dive a big mutton snapper came over and showed me a lionfish. I shot it, killed it and then I turned around to find the hungry snapper but it was gone.
Tuesday, November 8th
I let Tom, Dot and Chris pick the reef since Shawn, Brenda, Mark, Helen and Vladimiro didn¬¥t speak up. They chose Palancar Caves. So did every other dive boat in Cozumel! When we got in we didn¬¥t see anyone else but it wasn¬¥t long before we bumped into several other groups of divers. I ran into my friend Eduardo down there and he asked me if I needed some help. That was sweet. Then he went over and shot a small lionfish. We saw a couple of turtles on that dive. The current was weird and it made everyone suck more air than they normally would.
It was very nice on French Reef. We saw tons of good stuff too. We saw quite a few turtles, a six foot nurse shark out swimming around and the highlight of that dive was a huge eagle ray with a nubby tail. It looked like something bit off most of it¬¥s tail. Tom and Dot explored the caves and put on an interesting show for the rest of us.
Wednesday, November 9th
Mark and Helen loved Palancar Gardens so much that they wanted to go back. Vladimiro, Dennis, Chris, Tom and Dot didn¬¥t seem to mind the choice at all. The school of silversides was split into two groups with a big hunk of reef between them. The Jewfish started out on the south side but when it got sick of us it went to the north side. We followed him and he just couldn¬¥t get away J One turtle was seen and at the end of the dive. Later Helen and I saw a nurse shark swimming around.
The second tank was on Paso Del Cedral. The first green moray eel was just a baby and in a hole frequented by green morays. The second green moray was full grown and in another spot frequented by the green morays. Eduardo pointed out a rather large nurse shark swimming around and late in the dive another nice sized nurse shark appeared. Dot showed me the spotted drum that I always stop and visit.
Thursday, November 10th
Mark, Helen, Chris, Joe and Dennis had been diving on Palancar every day and I thought that they would like a change in venue on Santa Rosa. Big mistake, I should have stuck to Palancar. There was a bit more current than we were prepared to deal with. Other than the current the dive was good because Mark pointed out a swimming green moray eel, I found a shark also swimming around and at the end of the dive we saw a spotted eagle ray.
I took them to my secret spot for the second dive. There was hardly any current and the dive was shallow. I found a rock with 20 lobsters all huddled together. I counted them all. Chris and Joe stopped to socialize with a friendly turtle. It was a nice, relaxing dive.
Saturday, November 12th
The norte just about blew through and the surface was only a little choppy. Camilla asked for somewhere shallow with no current for Jeannie so that she could take her time with her ears. Alysson and Jeff seemed happy with anywhere. So I took them to Chankanaab. We didn¬¥t see any lobsters at all which I think is very strange. We did see one crab. I looked at the little stuff like the brittle star and a bright red crab hiding in a purple vase sponge.
They picked Tormentos for the second dive. About 15 minutes into the dive I turned my head and saw a big shadow above. At first glance I thought that it was the underside of a boat. Then I did a double take and realized that it was a big eagle ray passing by overhead. We saw lots of big groupers there too.
Sunday, November 13th
Jeannie and Camilla suggested Santa Rosa or San Francisco Wall. Paul and Joe told me that anywhere I wanted to go was fine. Alysson and Jeff seemed happy just to get in the water and see a fish J We ended up on San Francisco Wall. Someone found a small turtle scarfing up a tasty sponge. That was pretty much it for the bigger creatures.
On Yucab I found a family of 4 lionfish sharing a dark recess with a big green moray and a grouper. That was a fascinating sight. Paul found another turtle and a big southern stingray on that dive. I spent the whole dive looking for a blue parrotfish for Paul. I finally found a pair at the very end of the dive when he was making his safety stop so he couldn¬¥t go and get a picture. We will have to go back there again later in the week.
Monday, November 14th
I picked the reef at Palancar Horseshoe for Jeannie, Camilla, Paul, Joe, Alysson, Jeff and Scott. I chose it because Scott was not into swim throughs. In the place where we used to have a family of lionfish living I found a really big lionfish just out in the open. It was weird. I wondered if it was the daddy of them all and I shot it. We saw a lobster, a crab and lots of big groupers on that dive.
I let Paul pick the reef on the second dive. He chose Paso Del Cedral. We started off with a small green turtle. It was Alysson that spotted it first. I found the big green eel in the same hiding hole as the last time that I was there. Camilla loaned me her flashlight to show everyone the eel¬¥s smiling face. After the cave we saw a baby hawksbill and at the very end of the dive we saw a big spotted eagle ray. There were tons of barracuda everywhere on that dive too.
Tuesday, November 15th
Tanque numero uno was on Palancar Caves with Debbie, Rebecca, Alysson, Jeff, Jeannie, Camilla, Paul and Joe. We had lovely conditions with very, very mild current. We didn¬¥t see many critters but everyone enjoyed swimming through the tunnels. Paul was curious about the bleached coral. Since the water has been warmer than usual for a prolonged period of time the coral is bleached. I assured him that the water is now starting to cool and the coral will regain it¬¥s normal brown color again very soon.
Since Paul¬¥s strobe conked out we did our second tanque on Colombia Shallow. We found several small turtles. Jeff was our spotter man. He found a pair of small lionfish and a big sleeping nurse shark.
Wednesday, November 16th
I dived Palancar Bricks with Reggie, Linda, Jeannie, Camilla, Jeff and Alysson. We saw a whole bunch of turtles. Camilla and I saw a hungry green moray eel out swimming around looking for some breakfast. Reggie was speechless when I came up. He said that he had never seen anything like that before and he had just been diving in Roatan and Belize the days before on his cruise.
I took them to my secret spot for the second dive where we saw countless turtles. Really, I stopped counting after the fourth turtle J Another divemaster from the group ahead of us showed me a baby nurse shark well hidden in the coral. Jeannie got some photos of a spotted drum. At the end of the dive Camilla and I found a pretty green moray eel.
Thursday, November 17th
Jeannie, Camilla, Jeff, Alysson, Kathy, Alan, Paul and Joe came with me to Colombia Deep. The current was a little goofy at first but we were hanging out in the shallow area anyway looking at southern stingrays and a nurse shark. After taking lots of pictures around the anchor we swam down through the best cave. Alan came out with a smile on his face and gave me a two thumbs up. Ally came out in agony because her ears wouldn¬¥t equalize. She ascended about 10 feet and was happy again. We saw only one turtle on that dive. Normally we see more turtles there.
Paul wanted to see nurse sharks so I took him to Dalila. I bombed out. There were no nurse sharks, just some more turtles. We had significant current. Alysson made me laugh more than once as she made fun of herself flying around out of control in the current. She referred to herself as a ¬®handicapped¬® diver and she got very creative with her stopping methods. I really did laugh out loud. She wins the Drift Diver Specialist Certification without officially taking the course because she learned so much about stopping in current throughout the week!
Friday, November 18th
I had promised Jeannie that I would take her to Santa Rosa Wall. Jeannie, Camilla, Kathy, Alan, Paul, Joe, Angela and Jeff were all starting to get suited up when I told Jeannie that I would check the current and if it was too strong that we would go to Gardens instead to see the sardines. Jeannie got excited and decided that she would rather go to Gardens so off we went. I had my hands full when we got to the sardines so I left everyone to play on their own. So I don¬¥t know if the goliath grouper was there or not. The current kicked up and we didn¬¥t go through any of the swim throughs. We stayed up top drifting along and looking at the fish and the occasional turtle.
The girls all wanted to go to Colombia Shallow so of course the boys didn¬¥t get a word in edgewise. We saw that little turtle with the notch in the back of it¬¥s shell and a few other little turtles. Alan found a big stingray and took off like a bolt of lightning to see it. We had little current and it was a nice, relaxing dive.
Saturday, November 19th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Kathy, Alan, Darin, Matt and Max. We had some funky current but since it was not very strong it was easy to manage. As we landed on the bottom there were 3 big southern stingrays in the sand. I observed a rather large barracuda as it disappeared into the shadows. Less than a minute later it charged out of hiding right at me and I did a double take. We saw enough lobsters to open a restaurant on that dive. They must have been having a convention. I shot a big lionfish and a hungry mutton snapper snatched it right off the end of my spear. That snapper followed us around for another 45 minutes until we went up.
Dive two was on Chankanaab because I didn¬¥t want to take any chances on the current. An even bigger barracuda swam right past me and up to Darin. That was the first time a barracuda had approached him and I think it might have made him a bit nervous. We saw a bunch of splendid toadfish at the very beginning of the dive. Kathy found a crab and Alan found another one. It was a very relaxing dive except for when Matt made me laugh and fill up my mask!
Sunday, November 20th
Kathy, Alan, Paul and Fulvio wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall. Jim and Susan didn¬¥t seem to mind where we went so it was easy. Upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a 7 foot nurse shark. I shot a lionfish and we saw a bunch of lobsters. The current was really moving fast for about half of the dive.
I stayed on the wall theme and took them to San Francisco for the second dive. The current was a little more cooperative there but still a wee tad fast. I caught another lionfish and fed it to a bunch of hungry queen triggers and some coneys. Paul showed me a small turtle and a big grouper hiding under the reef. I looked for Buster but didn¬¥t see him.
Monday, November 21st
We had nice calm seas as Jim, Susan, Roland, Lorraine, Leslie, Michael, Alan, Kathy and I set out for Palancar Bricks. Underwater was just as calm and gentle. I don¬¥t recall seeing any turtles on that dive which seems weird but we did see some southern stingrays. They found a couple of lionfish. I only got a shot at one but I did get it...
The water was calm at French Reef too. It was good for macro photography because we saw a goldentail moray and the juvenile spotted drum which is almost to the intermediate stage now. We also saw 3 turtles, a bunch of crabs and Michael showed me five lobsters wiggling their antennas at me from their spot on the reef. Kathy found a small nurse shark in a crevice at the end of the dive. She also got lots of photos of southern stingrays too. It was nice and relaxing.
Tuesday, November 22nd
I dived Palancar Gardens with Matt, Max, Jim, Susan, Roland, Lorraine, Leslie and Michael. We had ideal diving conditions and this time I got to play in the ball of silversides. There were more black groupers than I could count. I stayed out of the caves for the most part. Matt showed me a good sized nurse shark swimming over the top of the reef.
We had a bit of current but nothing to write home to Mom about on Paso Del Cedral. That 5 foot green moray was in her usual spot. It was Leslie that pointed out the first swimming nurse shark. Matt showed us another nurse shark later in the dive. I didn¬¥t see it when one of the nurse sharks swam right up to Roland. It got so close that Roland reached out with one finger and poked it on the nose. Then the shark turned around and swam off. That was weird to say the least!
Wednesday, November 23rd
My divers were Matt, Max, Gary, Kenneth, Anders and Susan. We went to Palancar Caves. The current was heading out to sea but we stuck to the inside of the reef and swam through the caves to avoid any problems with the current. In the caves the divers can¬¥t feel the current at all. The highlight of the dive for Kenneth was the turtle on the bottom. He had never seen a sea turtle before.
Gary and I bantered a bit about where to do the second dive and I finally decided to take everyone to my ¬®secret spot¬®. Gary couldn¬¥t bitch about that one because he didn¬¥t know where it is J We saw 5 turtles so Kenneth was busy snapping pictures. After everyone went up we saw 2 nurse sharks. Gary took a shot at a tiny little lionfish but he only got part of the fin. The fish got away.
Thursday, November 24th
I took Gary, Merv, Anders, Kenneth, Lorraine, Susan and Jim to Gary¬¥s favorite reef, San Francisco Wall. Before we got in the surface of the water looked a little uneven and I wondered about the current. When I got in to check it the current seemed OK. It didn¬¥t take long for it to kick up. Within minutes we were gliding along the top of the wall. The boys saw a nurse shark but I missed it. We stopped periodically to let the divers in the back catch up. During one of our stops Kenneth looked up to find a big spotted eagle ray off in the sandy area. Gary shot a lionfish at the end of the dive.
For the second dive we went to Chankanaab for Lorraine. I had been promising her all week to take her there. I found a couple of splendid toadfish for Jim. He was one happy camper. We saw a big grouper with a blotchy bi-colored face and a huge barracuda. Everyone stopped to take pictures of a tiny goldentail eel. It was an easy dive.
Friday, November 25th
I took Gary, Robert, Cindy, Matt, Max, Susan and Jim to Palancar and I told Carlos to drive around and find a spot with no current. He did a great job. He dropped me about half way down on the caves. Matt, Max, Gary, Jim and Susan dropped down and did their own thing. I stayed up on top in 40 feet of water with Robert and Cindy. We saw a small reef shark about 4 feet long. Gary had just asked me if I had seen any lately and I had told him no. Then there it was! We also saw loads of turtles. Cindy and Robert were so impressed that they vowed to come back and stay for a week next time.
Cindy and Robert got off of the boat and we went to Dalila for our second dive. We had a good current there. We stopped a lot in the current to look at splendid toadfish, big king crabs, hermit crabs and an octopus in his den. We saw a couple of turtles as well.
Sunday, November 26th
It was only Gary, Daniel, Tim and I so I let Gary pick where we would go. He picked Colombia Deep. Upon reaching the bottom a big nurse shark swam by off in the distance. We saw a couple of turtles and Gary shot a lionfish. The lionfish wiggled it¬¥s way off the end of the stick and escaped into a hole. We had no current to speak of for the first 45 minutes. When the current did kick in the current was very mild and pleasant.
Gary picked French Reef for the second dive. I was surprised that we didn¬¥t see any big critters. We did see a few lobsters, a crab and the juvenile spotted drum which is just about into the intermediate stage now. It was a nice, easy dive.
Thursday, November 27th
Finally the harbor master let us back out. Tim, Suzanne, Ian, Chris and Marcie were pissed off that they missed 3 days of diving due to bad weather. John arrived via cruise ship and he hadn¬¥t missed a single day. We went to Palancar Gardens because I wanted something easy. Well it didn¬¥t turn out to be so easy. The current was like being in a washing machine pushing us in all directions. Everyone did just fine but it did not make for a relaxing dive.
The current was much calmer on French Reef. We saw 2 turtles. The second one was pretty big. We also saw crabs, lobsters and a huge octopus out in the open. Ian got pictures of of the octopus. I actually started screaming through my regulator when I found it. I was thrilled to say the least!
Friday, November 28th
As we were about to roll in on Palancar Horseshoe Tim accidentally tossed his mask in overboard. I rolled in to go search for it while Lars, John, John, Oliver, Tim, Marcie and Chris waited patiently on the boat. After a 10 minute search I gave up. When I surfaced Carlos had already loaned Tim the spare mask. We all got in and the water temperature had dropped one degree with the north wind. That will help the coral recover it¬¥s zooxantellae and make the bleaching go away. There wasn¬¥t much current which made my job easy. I showed Tim a big green moray eel swimming around. Chris pointed out a big lionfish on the bottom. I helped 3 yellowtail snappers and a black grouper make lunch out of the lionfish. That black grouper was distinctive looking because it had the same blotch of darker color on one side of it¬¥s face like the grouper on Chankanaab.
I told Tim that I would show him a big green eel on Cedral. While I was checking out a huge barracuda one of the boys came and waved his hands in front of my face to get my attention. We had drifted over a big turtle sitting on the bottom. I found a good sized octopus in a hole and showed everyone a lobster too. Later in the dive we found a big turtle and after we drifted past it a huge green moray slithered around below us. She was stunning. The boys played a practical joke on Oliver right before we went up. They stole his fin and then pulled the strap out of it. Oliver was a good sport. He didn¬¥t rip anyone¬¥s mask off. He just re-threaded his fin strap, put it back on and gave Lars a little scare before we all went up.
Sunday, December 4th
Rick, Susan, Miguel, Joe, Craig, Tim and Shelly were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe. Thankfully there was almost no current at all. My ears were giving me a hard time around 45 feet. The divers were all good and followed me so I had no problema. Tim pointed out the first turtle. As I was pointing out the second turtle, a spotted eagle ray glided by. I was so wrapped up in that turtle that I never even saw the eagle ray. I just heard about it when I got back on the boat!
Since the current was forgiving I took them over to Cedral Wall. Rick wanted to see a nurse shark that he had read about on Scuba Board that swims right up to the divers. Well that explains what happened to Roland a few weeks before. We didn’t see the nurse shark but we saw a few good sized turtles and enough lobsters to open a restaurant. I saw the eagle ray on the second dive and I think that the divers in the back missed it. The current was clipping right along so Tim and Shelly got a class in drift diving techniques.
Monday, December 5th
I dived Colombia Deep with Travis, Tim, Shelly, Craig, Joe, Michael, Susan and Don Ricardo. I think it was Joe who found the sleeping nurse shark. We had to swim back a bit against the current to see it. We saw several big southern stingrays. Towards the end of the dive Susan found a big green eel. She scared it out of it’s hiding place and it swam around for about 10 minutes just ahead of us. It was a really cool dive.
I went to Paso Del Cedral looking for Nurse Jackie. I couldn’t find the octopus from the other day but I did find a couple of splendid toadfish, a few lobsters and the big green eel was in her usual spot. We did found a nurse shark which was feeding on something in the cave. It was a friendly nurse shark and didn’t seem afraid of us at all but it didn’t swim right up to us. I think there is a good possibility that it was indeed Jackie but the shark was not hungry because it had just eaten. Guess we need to put a name tag on Nurse Jackie J Some of us had the pleasure of hanging out with that big boy loggerhead that JF and Vladimiro love so much. I have to admit that it was hard for me to tear myself away from that big turtle. I watched as it crunched a conch shell in its beak. I didn’t know that turtles would eat hermit crabs from conch shells.
Tuesday, December 6th
My divers were Rick, Susan, Michael, Tim, Shelly, Joe, Cindy and Patrick on Palancar Gardens. We saw a little turtle go up for a breath of fresh air and come back down again. The big school of sardines have moved to a cave where the divers don’t have easy access to them so you have to look through a little window in the reef to see them now. Susan found a tiny lionfish which was too small for my spear.
Cindy and Patrick got to experience their first current on Dalila. Thankfully it was a mild one. We did see one shark but it wasn’t Nurse Jackie. We floated around with a turtle in the middle of our little group for a few minutes. While Rick, Susan and I were trying to do our safety stop a big black grouper came charging right up to Susan and frightened all of the fish away. It was crazy the way that grouper swam right up to her and got in her face.
Wednesday, December 7th
The sea was a little choppy so I decided that it was better to stay south with Rick, Susan, Miguel, Neil, Joe and Craig. We did our first dive on the end of Palancar Bricks. The first turtle was lodged in a nook on the reef and well hidden. It was taking a nap. Then I spotted the little reef shark swimming around up on top of the reef. Later another turtle surfaced and then re-joined our group after a couple of minutes up top. We had a very nice dive.
There was light current on French Reef. Joe and I found a couple of the old favorites, the intermediate stage spotted drum and a spotted scorpion fish. Joe had asked about the cleaning gobies and I spent the whole dive looking for those neon blue gobies that sit on the star coral and the brain coral waiting for groupers to park and get cleaned. I didn’t see a one. I was freaked out. Joe told me that he hadn’t seen any all week. I was shocked when I couldn’t find one either. This led to an entire chain of thought. How long had they been gone for? How many other species have disappeared from our reefs that I haven’t noticed them being gone? Why are they gone? Is it because of the coral bleaching or could it be because the lionfish ate them all? I wonder if any other fish are declining or gone now…………….?????
Sunday, December 11th
I told Rick, Susan and Michael that we could go back to Palancar Caves to look for that little shark. Amanda, Mike, David, Ken and Judy hadn’t seen it yet as it was their first day of diving this trip. The port had been closed for 3 days. We didn’t see that little shark but we did see a few nice turtles. I shot 2 lionfish on that dive too.
Ken’s favorite reef is Colombia Shallows so that is where we did the second dive. We saw plenty of turtles, even a little baby. Ken showed us a huge spotted eagle ray. Amanda found a small nurse shark sleeping under a little coral head. Everyone enjoyed the schools of fish there
Monday, December 12th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Amanda, Ken, Judy, Mike, David, Jill, Ray and Ballard. We never made it to the sardines or the swim throughs but we saw lots of turtles, tons of black groupers and enough lobster to open a restaurant.
On French Reef I shot another lionfish. Everyone loved the cave there. We saw more lobsters and more black groupers on that dive too. A six foot nurse shark swam right below Amanda and she didn’t even see it until it was swimming away. Later in the dive that same nurse shark made a second pass. It was a very relaxing dive.
Tuesday, December 13th
Aaron, Tom, Amanda, Camelia, Stephan, David, Ray and Jill came with me to Palancar Caves. I had asked Carlos to drop me off at the Horseshoe and I was surprised when I looked down and realized that I was at the caves. Amanda took charge of the group while I worked closely with Stephan and Camelia on their very first ocean dive and the first time after certification. I believe it was Jill who pointed out the big green moray eel swimming around below us. Aaron spotted the shark. It was that same little Caribbean reef shark that I had seen a few days prior with Rick and Susan. This time I bolted after it and studied the anal fin. It was black. When we got back on the boat we all had a conversation about that shark. We all agreed that the maximum length had been around four feet. David was sure that the tail had a black tip and I was sure that the anal fin was black. So the shark was most likely a Caribbean Reef shark. Ray showed us the first turtle and there were several more turtles later in the dive. Camelia really enjoyed herself.
Our second dive was on Paradise. Everyone commented on the colorful fish and the abundant sunlight. My group abandoned me when the big spotted eagle ray swam off to the shallows. They left me alone on the reef waiting for them to come back. Amanda rounded them up and returned them to me. Amanda pointed out a crab that came walking out and about.
Wednesday, December 14th
My divers were Amanda, Camelia, Stephan, David, Ray and Jill. Jill said that she really liked the first dive from the day before so we got in for this dive about where we had come up the day before. Jill really seemed to be enjoying herself gazing down into the deep blue water on the drop off. I only saw one turtle on that dive. I took a shot at a big lionfish but missed.
Colombia Shallow was the best place for the second dive. I saw two lionfish on that dive but only got one of them. I pointed out a spotted scorpion fish for the cameras.
Thursday, December 15th
The surface of the ocean had calmed down a lot when Amanda, Damien, Jill, Ray, Kathy, Joe, Brooke and Anthony jumped in at Palancar Gardens. We had lovely conditions. I took them through all of my favorite caves and highlighted a big crab with my flashlight. It was hiding in a dark nook of the cave. Amanda saw a turtle but I was entering a swim through and missed it.
Jill requested a dive that would make her say, ¨Wow!¨ so I took them to Paso Del Cedral. I used that new flashlight to point out the small green moray eel. Amanda and Damien found a big nurse shark having a nap on the bottom. Then a big turtle surfaced in front of us for a gulp of air. Near the end of the dive I believe that we met Nurse Jackie. A rather ordinary nurse shark swam right up to Amanda then turned around and swam right at me. At first I curled up my fingers and hid my hands but then I remembered that I might need to give her a little poke if she got too close so I kept 2 fists in front of me. Maybe the divers thought that I was going to box her J Everyone did say ¨Wow!¨ when we got back on the boat.
Friday, December 16th
I chose Colombia Deep for Amanda, Damien, Jill, Ray, David, Jill and Kevin’s dive. We had great conditions and everyone loved the cave. We saw a couple of turtles. Jill and Kevin really enjoyed that dive because they were more relaxed than they had expected to be.
I was looking for critters between French Reef and Dalila. I found lots of turtles, a couple of lionfish and more lobsters than the group could eat if we had been allowed to take them. I found a large swimming nurse shark at the end of the dive and a bunch of groupers all hung out in a big hole. There were lots of big, black groupers throughout the dive. We also saw quite a few crabs.
Saturday, December 17th,
The last dive before my vacation was on Santa Rosa Wall with Jill, Ray, Amanda and Damien. It started out with no current and a big green moray eel smiling at us from it’s hiding place. I spied a big lionfish way below us in about 100 feet of water. I got out my spear and went down after it. I discovered that there were actually 3 of them together. They were jumbo sized. I am not sure why but I missed all three. Maybe I had a touch of narcosis? I felt like a moron J Anyway, I came back up to 70 feet and joined the group to play with a little turtle. The turtle had a notch in the port side of it’s shell. We saw tons of big black groupers everywhere. I had a chance to redeem myself. I shot a couple of big lionfish later in the dive. When I had a big one on my stick a fairly large nurse shark swam by. Despite the schools of humans all over the place we had a very good dive.
We went to Damien’s favorite reef, Paradise for the second tank. I found a splendid toadfish for Amanda. I made a short trip over to look for seahorses but didn’t find any. We did see lots of lobsters, crabs and spotted morays on that dive.
Monday, December 26th
I had an exciting first day back to work after Christmas with my dive buddies Jorge, Roberto, Amita, Brenda, Deb, Amy and Brett. Some were newly certified and I wanted to take it easy on them so I took them to Palancar Gardens for a 20 foot drop to a sandy bottom to start off in. Jorge requested to see a shark so I told him that he would have to wait until the next day and that I would take him to see the Caribbean Reef shark on Caves. While I was working with Brenda in 15 feet of water (her ears were very stubborn) she pointed to over my shoulder in the blue water. I turned around to find a seven foot hammerhead swimming right at us. By the time that I rang my little bell and started pointing the hammerhead was on it’s way south. I watched as it swam away and that is when I noticed a long fishing line trailing behind it. Obviously someone had hooked the poor thing and it fought hard enough to break the line. George was thrilled and so was I! Amita had requested a turtle and we found one of those too. George showed us all a big crab and everyone had a good dive.
Since we had some stubborn ears I took them to Colombia Shallow where we saw three more turtles and a big nurse shark swam around under Brenda. I nicknamed her the shark magnet. I found a second baby nurse shark hiding under a small coral head. I used my flashlight to highlight a small spotted moray eel hiding in the reef. I had a boatload of happy divers on the way home!
I took Amita, Jungho, Rebecca, George, Bob, David, Alex and Tim to Palancar Caves in search of the little Caribbean reef shark. We didn’t find it but we did see at least one turtle. George actually saw 3 turtles but I was working hard to keep the group together and I was a little distracted. I told everyone that the shark must have had the day off today.
It was a Grand Slam on Paso Del Cedral. We saw all four big ones: green eel, huge spotted eagle ray, free swimming nurse shark and a nice turtle. The green eel was in her usual territory and there was a big crab right next to her. We saw a big lobster just past them. Everyone enjoyed the schools of grunts and pork fish too.
Wednesday, December 28th
The norte had blown in the night before making for a very rough and choppy boat ride for Deb, Brenda, Brett, Amy, David, Alex, Tim, George and Bob. We went to Horseshoe first. We saw a big crab and a few dinner sized lobsters. George showed us a small turtle up in the shallow area.
The surface had calmed down a bit by the time that we got to French Reef. We had a nice, easy dive there. We saw a huge grouper and a flounder. At the very end of the dive I showed the boys a nurse shark sleeping peacefully under the reef.
Thursday, December 29th
I dived Palancar Gardens with David, Alex, Tim, Ted, Jungho, Rebecca, George and Bob. The current finally picked up and it was present but not problematic. George found us a turtle to look at and they all swam through the caves while Ted and I followed above. He also found a big green moray eel out swimming around. When Bob dipped down to get a better look he discovered a nurse shark down there too. We saw a ton of good stuff on that dive.
I wanted an easy dive so I picked Alison’s secret spot. George was at it again pointing stuff out. He grabbed Rebecca’s hand and helped her swim back and see the turtle that Alex found. George also pointed out a huge spotted eagle ray. It swam off and then turned around and came right back and swam through all the divers. Bob got up close and looked it in the eye!
Friday, December 30th
Teri was newly certified, Kim, Joe and Gay were rusty so I told George, Bob, Jungho and Rebecca that I would stay up on top in 35 feet of water at Colombia and they were free to explore in 60 feet of water below me. We had perfect conditions and George helped me a lot keeping the group together and pointing things out. On that dive he showed us a turtle and a pair of nurse sharks swimming around down below us. I saw another divemaster pointing out a big spotted eagle ray below us on the safety stop. When we got back on the boat George told me that he might like to someday get his divemaster certification. I think that would be a good idea.
I went looking for yellow headed jawfish on Colombia Shallow for Bob. There used to be a field of them there but after searching for a 50 minutes I couldn’t find even one! I wonder if they have gone the way of the gobies. I also wonder if the lionfish boom has anything to do with it……? George found the first baby nurse shark and another turtle. I found a bigger nurse shark asleep on the bottom. We saw another huge spotted eagle ray on that dive. We are having a good season for eagle rays now.
Saturday, December 31st
Conditions were ideal on Palancar Horseshoe which is where I took Mike, Kim, Joe, Gay, Teri, Jungho and Rebecca. Joe asked to see a lionfish. I asked him if he would be mad if I killed it and he said, ¨No, but please let me get a good look at it first!¨ That is exactly what happened. When I found a lionfish I called him over, everyone took lots of pictures of it swimming around and then they took pictures of it being shot...
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. The first shark was swimming off in the distance being followed by a couple of groupers. Not everyone got to see it. When I was showing Joe the green moray eel in the hole I poked my flashlight in the hole to make the eel turn it’s head and smile. I pissed it off and it popped out and scared the shit out of me J We saw lobsters and a crab hanging upside down on the reef. A pair of enormous barracudas had their teeth cleaned at a cleaning station. I told Teri to look at their teeth! The last shark was a big one and it was being followed by a couple of black groupers as well.