Monday, January 2nd
My first dive of 2012 was on Palancar Bricks with Miguel, Mike, Kim, Joe, Teri, Gay, Jungho and Rebecca. We had a little bit of current on that dive. Since there had been no current earlier in the week everyone thought that the current was strong but it was really less than 1 knot :) I thought it was cute but we all thanked God that it hadn’t been stronger this week!
Rebecca wanted to see El Cielo so after snorkeling with the starfish we took them over to Colombia Shallow again. We saw a couple of turtles right at the beginning of the dive. Joe found a really big lobster. We also saw an enormous grouper and of course lots of schools of fish.
Thursday, January 5th
We missed a couple of days of diving due to the cold front. I went back to work with Jungho, Rebecca, Mel, Al, David, Justin and Heather. Jungho requested Santa Rosa Wall and we had really nice conditions with minimal current. The first shark was well hidden under the reef but when we all gathered around for a look it got agitated and swam off. The second shark was swimming well below us on the wall. Al went down for a better look. The third shark was also swimming around on the wall and took off fast. When Rebecca went up a turtle paid us a visit. Justin and Heather checked out a southern stingray and found a big black grouper.
We did our second tank on Dalila. We saw lobsters and found another turtle that sat really still on the bottom having a sponge for lunch.
Friday, January 6th
Gary got mugged on this dive. Here’s how it all went down: Steven and Sandra had not been diving in a while. I thought that it would be a good idea to go to the Gardens because usually it is an easy dive. Andrea and Carol said that they had heard good things about Palancar. I told Gary that Gardens was where I saw the hammerhead in December so it wasn’t a hard sell. David, Mel and Al had not been there yet this trip so off we went. The beginning of the dive went well. We all stayed shallow while Gary went deep and shot a huge lionfish. I saw him trying to get it off of the stick and then later saw him swimming around with it. I offered him my stick to use for removing the lionfish and he signaled ¬®no¬® and that he wanted to take it up and eat it. So Gary swam around with his fish-kebob for an hour or so. About half way through the dive the current kicked in and it kicked in hard and fast. We all zipped around in that current and drifted over to the shallow area. After almost everyone made a safety stop and got on the boat I hung out with Al. First a medium sized nurse shark swam right under Al. I thought he might reach down and pet it. While he did his 3 minutes I could see Gary in the distance. Then I saw the nurse shark up in mid water where Gary was. Nurse sharks almost always stay on the bottom. I looked more closely and a battle was going on. First the nurse shark bumped Gary in the leg, HARD. Then it got in Gary’s face so he kicked it a couple of times to make it go away. Then the shark swam right up at him so he tried to poke it with the spear. The shark sucked the prize lionfish right off the end of Gary’s spear and then swam off. I really wished that I had a video of that! I almost soiled my wetsuit.
I took them over to my secret spot for the second dive in search of a turtle for Andrea. We saw several big crabs before the first turtle appeared. Andrea got a good long look at the turtle. Yeah! After she went up we saw 2 more turtles and a small nurse shark. I teased Gary and told him to pull it’s tail to get it to swim. Of course we would never actually DO that :)
Saturday, January 7th
I only had 5 good divers, Gary, Mel, Al, David and Tyler. I took them to Colombia. While we were floating around in about 80 feet of water a rather large eagle ray made a slow pass. We all enjoyed the show.
On French Reef Mel kept pointing out the turtles for me. We saw several large crabs and a few lobsters. I stopped in on my intermediate phase spotted drum. Later I saw a really big adult spotted drum well hidden in the reef. A southern stingray swam under us during the safety stop.
Sunday, January 8th
Gary had been requesting Bolones de Chankanaab for months now. David, Shirley and Paul all got on the boat at Caleta so I finally got to grant Gary his wish. Carlos dropped us off in 100 feet of water by accident but fortunately everyone on the dive was a good diver and it wasn’t a problem. The only hassle was swimming against a mild current to reach a shallower area. Gary shot a huge lionfish and fed it to an eel. David showed Gary a small lionfish that ended up as breakfast for a lobster. Gary likes to feed the fish. Nothing goes to waste.
Then we went to Gary’s favorite, San Francisco Wall. One of the highlights of the dive was a huge school of big yellow fish (schoolmasters) that were being chased around by a pair of hungry black groupers. As Gary and I made our safety stop I looked down to see a fat grouper in a small hole that is frequented by green morays so I sank back down for a look. There was indeed a green moray eel co-habitating with the grouper and the pair was adorable. I insisted that Gary take a couple of pictures.
Monday, January 9th
Finally we had a little southeast wind on Palancar Horseshoe. Not one of my divers: Gary, Shirley, Paul, Paul, Denise, Cam, Mel or Al get sea sick :) We had a nice easy dive and upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a medium sized turtle. Everyone followed after it and took pictures. We saw another small turtle at the end of the dive.
Gary described the dive at Paso Del Cedral as boring. I didn’t think so. We saw some huge groupers torturing a school of yellow fish and I found a splendid toadfish in a hole. There were plenty of lobsters and crabs there too. Gary is getting a little spoiled if we don’t have a shark attack :)
Tuesday, January 10th
I chose Palancar Caves for our first site. My divers were James, Ryan, Andrew, Cam, Paul, Shirley, Mel and Al. I felt blessed to have ideal conditions this morning. We saw several turtles and about 30 minutes into the dive I found a small lionfish. Gary wasn’t around so after a bit of thought I decided to try to shoot it. Something told me to just blow it off but my conscience wouldn’t let me swim away. I got out my spear which had 3 prongs and is designed for an 8 inch fish. This little guy was too small so I used a hair tie wrapped around the end 3 times to make the points come closer together. I took a shot and I thought I missed. The little guy shot into a hole as all the divers looked on. I started to take apart the prongs by removing the rubber bands. I felt a prick and a sting! Yup! I looked down and saw one thin spine sticking out of the rubber band. I had hit the lionfish’s fin and a venom filled spine had stuck in the rubber band! I looked at my left index finger and discovered another spine sticking out. I was really scared. Mel says that my eyes were wide and took up my whole mask. I had no idea what was going to happen to me. At this point it only hurt a little like a bee sting. I pointed to my finger and made a motion indicating that I had been stung but everyone thought that I was joking since I never hit the little bugger. Well to make a long story short, the pain and swelling were minimal. I think that the bee sting I had a few weeks ago was worse. I think that the venom was fired into the rubber band on contact and there was very little venom left in the spine that was stuck in my finger. Or perhaps the ¬®business end¬® of the spine was stuck in the rubber band and the end of the spine stuck in my finger was the ¬®not-so-venomous¬® end??? Anyway, it did hurt, it did swell a little bit and I applied heat when I got back on the boat and took a nap during the surface interval. The whole ordeal was TERRIFYING but not nearly as painful as I imagined. I knew that I would get stung someday. Thank God it was just a little sting!!!!
My hand was fine for our dive on Dalila. Shirley looked me in the eye that morning and told me that she wanted to see a nurse shark before she went home. So I made it my mission to find one. I was floating along when Mel started pointing madly at a big nurse shark swimming right past a turtle. I got Shirley’s attention and she saw it as it swam off. I thought to myself that I would like to find one for her that sits still. I got lucky. In the ¬®green moray hole¬® I found a nurse shark instead. Mel said that she could hear me screaming through my regulator when I found it. I passed Shirley my flashlight and she indulged herself for a few minutes. I was very pleased and satisfied with our dive.
Wednesday, January 11th
Sam got on the boat and I asked him when his last dive was. He told me, ¬®yesterday¬®. I asked how deep he went. He said, ¬®75¬®. I asked how deep he was comfortable diving to and he said, ¬®110¬®. I said, ¬®OK, let’s go to Punta Sur!¬® That made Gary happy. Mel and Al had never been there. Paul and Shirley were good with that. So off we went. I got in to check the current and the drop spot. Carlos dropped me where he is supposed to drop me but I don’t like it because it requires a swim. So I swam over to the wall to have Carlos drop everyone off there. As I was in about 25 feet of water all alone I looked down and saw a HUGE shark swimming below me. It had long pectoral fins and was probably about 10 feet long. I don’t know if it was a reef shark or a bull shark. All I know is that it was not a nurse shark or a hammerhead! I shouted to Carlos to get the divers in the water. Then I told Gary in a low voice, ¬®Look down, there is a big F*#%& shark down there. Gary and Shirley both saw it too. It was awesome! We saw a few turtles and lots of big southern stingrays on the dive. Gary killed 3 lionfish.
Everyone LOVED the dive on Cedral Wall. We had a normal current for that spot. We saw a rather large turtle lounging on the bottom having lunch. Gary showed us a big eagle ray out in the blue. As they were finishing up gazing at the eagle ray a big green moray eel swam under Shirley and everyone took off after it for a photo. We saw more turtles and a swimming nurse shark. The friendly green moray was in her normal spot. She didn’t try to nip at me this time. The last nurse shark was at the end of the dive and Gary is the only one who saw it. Everyone was pretty excited when they got back on the boat.
Thursday, January 12th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Gary, David, Paul, Shirley, Matt, Andrew, Ryan and Jim. We started the dive with a swimming nurse shark for Matt. Later in the dive we saw lobsters, big groupers and a green turtle which is a little uncommon. We finished the dive with a big spotted eagle ray in the shallow area.
For a little adventure we went to Punta Tunich. The current was mild for Tunich which means that it was swift but we could stop and look at stuff. The first thing we stopped for was a big green moray in the hole with the glassy sweepers. Later we stopped to observe a hawksbill turtle with a pair of green angels feeding on the bottom. Then we saw a baby turtle that seemed to be frightened of us. On a safety stop we drifted over a big nurse shark sucking it’s lunch out of a hole. Gary and Shirley saw an immense turtle but I missed that one. At the very end of the dive a medium sized eagle ray glided by us and Gary followed it a bit.
Friday, January 13th
I was extra careful this Friday the 13th with Marla, Amber, Gary, Kevin, Nicole, Jackie and Matt. I took them to Colombia for the first dive. While we were looking at a big turtle in about 70 feet of water a nurse shark swam by below us. Gary and I saw a bunch of turtles on that dive. Gary shot one small lionfish. Nicole really liked the swim through and she thanked me on the boat for taking her there.
Matt did his navigation for the advanced course on ¬®My Secret Spot¬®. It wasn’t so secret though. There was a heard of other divers on the same reef with us :) We saw another turtle and a family of 7 lobsters all waving at us from below a rock.
Saturday, January 14th
I brought Tony to Palancar Gardens with me to help out with Matt’s deep dive. I stayed shallow with Marla, Amber, Eric and Bobby. Gary got lost and we didn’t see him for the first half an hour of the dive. Ten minutes into the dive Matt and Tony rejoined the group. I told Tony to go find Gary and we carried on in the shallows. We were admiring a friendly turtle when a spotted eagle ray swam right up to us. Everyone was amazed and I hope that Matt got some good pictures. Gary appeared later with a lionfish on the end of his spear.
We had quite the dive on French Reef. Matt had requested a shark. We saw a normal nurse shark cruise by and I felt like Matt got his wish. We saw a few turtles and some lobsters. Towards the end of the dive ¬®The Mugger¬® (the shark that stole Gary’s lionfish the previous week) showed up and went after Gary again who of course was carrying around a lionfish. Gary let the lionfish go to the bottom but the nurse shark continued trying to slam into Gary and swam around him in circles. Then the shark went over and started hassling Tony. Tony had never seen a shark do that before and he was really surprised. Then the shark went over to bother Matt who banged it in the head with his camera so the shark went away. I had a bunch of very excited divers when I got back on the boat!
Sunday, January 15th
I took Gary, Joann, Jessica, Bob, Marla, Amber and Matt to San Francisco Wall. It was Matt that pointed out the little turtle at the surface that soon dived down to join us. We saw an enormous lobster too. At the very end of the dive when only Gary and I were hanging out a big green moray swam around with a fat grouper following it.
We saw another big green moray being followed by a grouper on Yucab. We had a nice, easy, relaxing dive.
Tuesday, January 17th
It was an easy day with only three divers: Gary, MaryBeth and Bob on Santa Rosa Wall. We did have good current going on though. Gary found a family of five lionfish and used up all his air trying to eliminate them. A six foot nurse shark swam below us in the blue water.
The current was clipping along on Tormentos too. There we saw a perfect six foot moray eel slithering along the bottom. She didn’t seem to mind us at all and we hung around for a good look. A lovely green turtle swam right behind Gary. He also found a big spotted moray and I found a little goldentail eel. Gary fed a small lionfish to a hungry mutton snapper.
Friday, January 20th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Gary, Teri, Christi, Trish, Jordan, Blake, Shawn and Keegan. We had no current and small waves. We saw a few big barracuda and Gary caught a few big lionfish.
We did our second dive on French Reef where we saw more big barracudas, Gary caught more big lionfish and I swam everyone through the long cave.
Monday, January 23rd
After 2 relaxing days off with Mom I went back to work with Loke, Jan, Ken, Richard and Mike. We had perfect conditions and we saw 3 turtles. The first one surfaced for air. The second one sat still while Mike photographed it. The third one was big and off in the distance. I am not sure that everyone got to see it. A huge barracuda sat on the bottom and everyone was a bit hesitant to swim past it.
On ¨My Secret Spot¨ we saw a family of 5 lobsters hanging out under a coral head. I found the empty shell of a crab that had molted. I pointed out 2 splendid toadfish but since I didn´t have my flashlight I am not sure that anyone knew what I was pointing at. There were lots of huge black groupers on that dive too.
Tuesday, January 24th
The first tank was on Palancar Caves with Mike, Richard and Ken. I saw 3 turtles but I think that the boys only saw one. Maybe Mike saw the last one while he was making his safety stop. I shot a big lionfish on that dive. There were 3 big lobsters all clustered together in about 50 feet of water.
The boys liked the big coral formations so I took them to Santa Rosa Wall for the second tank. Richard really liked the big schools of horse eyed jacks. We saw some big groupers on that dive and I took pictures of them swimming through caves.
Thursday, January 26th
We had strong South East wind and big waves on Palacar Gardens. Susan, Bob, Debbie, John, Joe and Jen didn´t get sea sick so we hurried up to get to the bottom. We swam through the big archways. Only Bob and I saw the big green moray eel swim past. I chased after it and pointed but no one else saw it. They were impressed by the big horse eyed jacks.
I didn´t want any current for the second dive so I took them to French Reef. The first big animal that we saw was a southern stingray with a bar jack following it around as it foraged in the sand for breakfast. When we came out of the cave Joe discovered a hawksbill turtle on the bottom and everyone thoroughly enjoyed turtle watching.
Friday, January 27th
Thankfully the South East wind had died down for Leah, Desiree, Chelsea, Josh, Stephanie, Kyle, Andy, Judy, Jessica and Caleb. They had come all the way over from Akumal for the day to see the world famous Palancar. We had very good conditions for our dive. At the end of the dive we saw a big crab and Andy found a green moray eel.
The second dive was in my secret spot. Upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by an even bigger green moray eel which was about 6 feet long. It swam right under Kyle and I wondered if it would freak him out. He seemed to deal with it well.
Saturday, January 28th
The seas were flat and calm. My divers Jason, Corey, Pete, John, Javier and Debbie had all been diving recently and were all good divers so I took them to Palancar Caves. We saw a bunch of turtles there. One was not afraid of us at all. It practically swam into Jason´s camera. I shot a lionfish in a sponge. When I went to take it out of the sponge it kind of braced itself against the inside of the sponge and wiggled off of the end of my spear and got away. Coming out of the second cave a large lobster pranced around and danced for us.
About 45 minutes into our dive on Paso Del Cedral I started wondering why we hadn´t seen a nurse shark. Not long after I that, a rather large one woke up and swam off in front of us. We saw a lot of big groupers on that dive too.
Sunday, January 29th
Palancar Horseshoe is where I chose to take Pete, Sean, Robin, Susan, Bob, Debbie and John. We saw several lobsters and a few turtles too.
There was light current on Dalila. Finally I got to show them a nurse shark at the very end of the dive. Pete found it and pointed it out. We swam after it but not everyone got to see it.
Monday, January 30th
I took Tom, Donn, Sean, Robin, Jason, Corey and Pete to Colombia Deep. I found a small nurse shark resting peacefully under the reef. Jason decided to wake it up. I took a shot at a lionfish and missed. I took them through my favorite caves and we had a good dive.
We went to Yucab looking for splendid toadfish. Pete found one and when I tried to coax it out of the hole for Jason´s camera it did the opposite and scooted back in further. While I was counting heads I found a really big eagle ray in our group. It was (according to Pete) the biggest one that he has ever seen. It had 2 remoras attached to it´s underside and a short tail. It didn´t seem too bothered by us and it hung around for a minute. Jason took lots of pictures of a yellow stingray and we saw a big nurse shark go by. Pete and Jason took pictures of a big lobster they found.
Tuesday, January 31st
We had calm seas at the surface on Palancar Gardens where I took Heidi, Todd, Justin, Mike, Sean, Robin and Pete diving. Pete showed us a swimming nurse shark at the end of the dive. The current was weird for most of the dive and I think it took most of us by surprise.
The current was nice and mild at Colombia Shallows where we saw a bunch of turtles. The snorkelers over us saw a small nurse shark and a bunch of dolphins. Heidi, Pete and I saw a one eyed green moray eel out hunting for lunch.
Wednesday, February 1st
Pete asked to go to Santa Rosa Wall and since I knew all of my divers: Robin, Sean, Heidi, Todd, Tom, Donn and Phil I figured that this was the best day to go there. Pete found a lazy nurse shark lounging about. He also found a nice turtle on the way down but I missed it. We saw plenty of big grouper and Heidi attracted yet another big green moray eel swimming around.
I picked San Francisco Wall for the next stop. We saw a big turtle just sitting still for everyone´s cameras. I shot a lionfish and before I could kill it a big mutton snapper sucked it right off of my spear. At the very end of the dive Heidi´s green moray eel appeared again and a bunch of us all got to swim with it.
Thursday, February 2nd
Heidi, Todd, Pete and Phil were my divers on Tormentos while Marissa and Adam snorkeled over us. We saw a bunch of good stuff on Tormentos including a lionfish, lots of big groupers, several huge barracudas and a sleeping nurse shark. The grand finale was a hungry spotted moray swimming around after Pete.
Marissa and Adam joined us on a dive at Paradise. We went slow and checked out all the small stuff. We saw lots of flamingo tongues, Christmas tree worms, a splendid toadfish, a few goldentail morays and a spotted moray. The angels were very friendly there and swam right up into Phil´s face.
Friday, February 3rd
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Pete, Phil, John and Michael. All the divers on board were experienced divers and it was a super easy day for me. I was looking at the group of divers in front of us and I swam right past a nice turtle just sitting around munching on the reef. Phil tapped me on the shoulder and pointed it out to me. I found a huge lobster in a dark recess and I saw that big grouper with the black splotch on his face.
The current was cooperative and so were the divers so we went to Cedral Wall. I lost count of how many turtles we saw. They were all hawksbill turtles but some were big, some were small and they were all over the place. Some were on the bottom, one was ascending and some just swam away from Pete´s camera. The usual green moray eel was in her normal spot and we saw another big one swimming around. Pete found a small nurse shark in a hole and we all gathered around for a good look.
Saturday, February 4th
My divers were P.J., Josh, Michael, John, Mark, Rachel, Dave and Susan. Since a couple of my divers were rusty we went to my old standby, Palancar Gardens. We had perfect conditions and everyone really enjoyed the dive. When only John and I were still down we saw a turtle and a nurse shark.
The dive on Paso Del Cedral was action packed. First a rather large barracuda hovered near the bottom and everyone took pictures. Then we drifted up to a huge black grouper. I looked up at Rachel and she pointed madly to a nurse shark that swam right through the middle of our little group. Not long after that another swimming nurse shark appeared. John grabbed Michael´s fin to get his attention so that he could take a picture of it. Near the end of the dive I spied a huge spotted eagle ray munching on a conch. Off in the sandy area a big turtle sat on the bottom. Speaking of bottoms, as we watched the turtle, John watched a bottom in a small white bikini. He was momentarily distracted from the bottom by yet another shark going by. I laughed so hard that my mask filled with water. I indulged John in bottom watching for another 5 minutes before I called the dive.
Sunday, February 5th
John reminded me that I had promised to take Mark, Rachel, P.J., Josh, Michael, Phil, Paul and he to Palancar Caves. It was a beautiful dive. We saw turtle after turtle after turtle. There were some big lobsters too. The divers liked what they saw up on top of the reef in the shallower water just as much as they liked the drop off and caves.
We had more action on Dalila. There was only a mild drift which is unusual for Dalila. We slowly floated along and we saw three or four nurse sharks throughout the dive. We also found more than one big, fat turtle. John and I found 3 juvenile spotted drums fluttering around under an overhang at the end of the dive.
Monday, February 6th
Tank numero uno was on Palancar Horseshoe with Mark, Rachel, Phil, Jolei, Art, Steve and Paul. I shot a decent sized lionfish and fed it to a pair of hungry queen triggers while a mutton snapper tried to get in on the action. The crab was described as ¨on steroids¨ because it was so big but the lobster was huge as well.
Art and Jolei wanted to see a nurse shark so I took them to Paso Del Cedral. I had seen 3 there the other day. I bombed out on the nurse shark but we did see that enormous barracuda again. I was thinking as I drifted past it that it´s head was almost as big as my head. Everyone enjoyed the schools of fish and we watched as a turtle dived back down to the bottom after being at the top for a while.
Tuesday, February 7th
My divers were Mark, Rachel, Liz, Seth, Phil, Steve and Paul on Palancar Bricks. We swam through huge coral canyons and watched a turtle for a while.
Everyone was excited after our dive on Cedral Wall. It was action packed with lots of turtles, a big swimming nurse shark and 3 small juvenile spotted drums that Phil got to see. Rachel was stoked up because she got to see a puffer fish which is her favorite. When only Paul and I were down at the end of the dive we drifted over a rather large nurse shark sleeping a good 30 feet below us.
Wednesday, February 8th
Phil, Steve, Mark and Paul had a lovely dive on Colombia Deep. We saw only one turtle but Paul said that Colombia is one of his favorites because the structures are so magnificent.
They were happy to go back to Cedral Wall for our second dive. Paul and I counted 6 turtles. Most sat very still and were camera friendly. We saw a family of about 20 lobsters all snuggled together under a small coral head. I got to stop and check out those 3 tiny juvenile spotted drums all fluttering around together. I will check on them every time I go there now.
Thursday, February 9th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Josh, P.J., Jolei, Art, LaCasta, Jeff, Robin and Greg. Eduardo came along with me to help out. They saw a huge lionfish at the beginning of the dive but I missed it. Eduardo pointed out a big turtle and a small turtle and everyone had a fantastic time.
I took them to Colombia Shallow for the second dive. Eduardo showed our group turtle after turtle after turtle. He also found a small nurse shark. Everyone loved swimming through the schools of pretty fish.
Saturday, February 11th
It had been a few years since Anthony, Scott and Lacey had been diving. Andy, LaCasta and Jeff didn´t seem to mind where we went. Quyen and hubby had been on Colombia Deep the day before so the logical choice for a dive site was on Palancar Gardens. Aside from a bit of chaos for the first 15 minutes everything went pretty well. Fortunately there was zero current and excellent visibility and every enjoyed the dive. I used my flashlight to highlight a crab in a dark crevice. Someone pointed out a dinosaur sized lobster out for a stroll. I saw Quyen´s hubby off chasing a turtle but not everyone got to see that turtle.
Everyone did get to see the turtle on Colombia Shallows. It was the same turtle that we saw the other day. We saw another turtle that everyone chased a bit and I had to put a stop to the turtle torture by sending up the chasers to the boat. They were low on air :)
Monday, February 13th
We missed a day of diving due to the cold front that blew through. The water felt more chilly than usual when I took Andy, Melissa, Scott, Lacey, Robin and Greg to Palancar Horseshoe. We didn´t see any big critters but we did enjoy the gorgeous reef formations.
I took them to my secret spot for the second dive. A small nurse shark swam right up to our group. We saw a couple of small lobsters and I shot a really big lionfish.
Tuesday, February 14th Valentine's Day
My divers were Andy, Rick, Susan, Matthew, Bob, Maureen, Carol and Deanna. I gave Andy a choice between Colombia Deep and Palancar Caves. He picked Colombia Deep. The photographers had a field day with all of the turtles that they saw. The best was when a pair of turtles swam by. The last turtle was a little green turtle swimming over the shallow sandy area. I looked down to see Susan swimming with her camera out in front of her and then I discovered what it was that she found. It was a sleeping nurse shark. Deanna shot 3 full minutes of high definition video of that shark. Deanna was one very happy camper!
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. I used my dive light to show off a splendid toadfish in a hole and a big lobster. Rick showed me a big green moray eel that swam right past our group of divers. Later in the dive he showed me a nurse shark being followed by a few big black groupers off in the distance.
Wednesday, February 15th
It had been about 5 years since Dave and Shawn had last been diving. Deanna and Chace were feeling a little ¨slow' so Carol, Rick and Susan did not complain when I announced that we were going to Palancar Gardens. I felt a little ¨slow¨ myself when I took a shot at the little lionfish and goofed it up. Dave and Shawn had not been diving here for such a long time and they said that the reef was looking great!
I asked everyone where they wanted to go on the second dive and only Chace had an opinion. I think she picked Dalila just to shut me up. We saw a nurse shark swim by more than once and later I think it was the same shark sleeping in a crevice that everyone took pictures of. Chace showed us 3 darling little spotted drums and we saw a very big turtle too.
Thursday, February 16th
I took John, Rick, Susan, Matthew, Jen, Chace, Deanna and Carol to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw a few turtles and we had an extra long dive.
I let Jen pick the second reef and she picked Paso Del Cedral. We saw a bunch of nurse sharks. The first shark was sleeping but we woke it up and it took off. The second and third sighting might have been the same shark just coming back again and again or it might have been a new one. Jen found a small nurse shark inside the cave. Chace showed us a turtle. I found an octopus in it's den and while Chace, Deanna and I were making a safety stop we found another little baby nurse shark about 2 and a half feet long under a ledge.
Friday, February 17th
I wanted to take everyone to a place that Andy had not already been this week so I took Carol, Deanna, Chace, Rick, Susan, Andy, Bob and Maureen to Palancar Bricks. I shot a medium sized lionfish but when I tried to get it out of the hole it was in, the lionfish scooted off of my spear and swam off. Bummer. We saw TONS of turtles on that dive and the photographers had a lot of fun.
For the second stop we went to San Francisco to look for ¨Buster¨ but the current was so mild that we never even made it far enough North to check out Buster's usually hiding holes. We saw so many spotted drums that we lost count. At the end of the dive Chace, Deanna and I saw a spotted eagle ray. Deanna made a swim for it to film the ray but got tired and gave up. We had been down for more than an hour and a half!
Saturday, February 18th
Carol, Deanna, Chace, Rick, Brad and Sally were my divers on Palancar Gardens. I stayed shallow with Sally while everyone else stayed together below Sally and I. Sally pointed out a dinosaur sized lobster crawling around on top of the reef. Rick showed us a nurse shark that he found in a hole.
Sally got off of the boat between dives and we went to Punta Tunich. We ducked down into the little cave full of glassy sweepers. The big green moray was right where it was supposed to be and had a banded cleaner shrimp crawling around on it's back posing for the cameras. I was hiding behind a little ledge waiting for the group to catch up and Deanna noticed a group of 4 juvenile spotted drums fluttering around under a purple rope sponge. That was really exciting!
Sunday, February 19th
Carlos came diving with us because we went to see the eagle rays. ¨We¨ were Carol, Deanna, Chace, Rick, Susan, Matthew and Andy. The current was strong as usual. As soon as we got in we had to rush to get down into the protected area away from the current. After a slight delay I rejoined the group and asked them if they had seen any rays. They said no. I popped out to the wall and there appeared the very first one. I called them over but not everyone got a good look. They were slow to come join me. After missing the first one, they didn't delay to come see the pair that followed a minute later. We hung out until a couple of dive computers were giving only 5 minutes of bottom time left and then we came out of hiding and drifted with the swift current. That is where we saw the second pair and they were much closer. We swam for about 10 minutes and reached the shallow, grassy area near shore and we goofed around there for a while. I found a baby eel in a bottle and Andy found a hermit crab and a snake eel. We had a lot of mixed comments about the dive back on board the boat but all said that they would do it again. Deanna said that she would do that dive every single day if I let her :)
Our second tank was on Paradise where we bottom crawled and found some really cool stuff. The list included a rare bat fish, three mantis shrimp, spotted scorpionfish, a pike blenny, a sailfin blenny, a pipefish and Deanna got a gold star when she found the pregnant seahorse. Everyone said, ¨Wow!¨ when they got back on board.
Monday, February 20th
When Rick, Susan, Brad, JT and Amy got on the boat I didn't give them a lot of choice. I just told them that we were going to Santa Rosa Wall because we hadn't been there in a while. Arriving on the bottom we were greeted by a swimming nurse shark. The gang didn't even have their cameras ready when the shark showed up. We saw a few big black groupers and several schools of humans on that dive.
The Carnival Parade was on Paradise. We went back so that Rick and Susan could get pictures of the seahorse. It turned out that Deanna's seahorse was well known and that I was the last to find out about it's whereabouts. There was already one group of divers at the seahorse when we arrived and there were three more big groups of divers behind us in line to see the little guy. If we have a parade like that going by daily I am sure that it won't be there long….
Tuesday, February 21st
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Gil, Roi, Elise, Rick, Chace, Brad and Lynne. The first big lobster out walking around was noticed at the beginning of the dive. Towards the end of the dive another huge lobster strutted around in the sand below us. Could it be that they know it's a National Park and that no one will eat them? Chace, Rick and I saw a lazy turtle at the end of the dive sharing a sponge with a queen angel.
I took them to Yucab for the second dive. It was Elise who showed me the 6 foot nurse shark swimming past. Chace had a go at a lionfish and we saw another turtle at the end of the dive.
Thursday, February 23rd
JT, Amy and Scott requested the shipwreck. Andy and Lynne were kind enough to go along with the request. Lynne's turtles will just have to wait another day J We had perfect conditions on the wreck and those who were seeing it for the first time thought that it was really cool. Scott told me after the dive that he had always wanted to swim through a shipwreck and now he could cross it off of his bucket list!
Andy said that he wanted a picture of the seahorse on Paradise. When we got in there was very little current and all started out well. After seeing a splendid toadfish the current started to reverse but we kept swimming in the direction of the sea horse anyway. After about 45 minutes the current got to be so strong we gave up on the seahorse and I turned the group around and we drifted back with the current. The current ended up being really strong and after we finished the entire reef we drifted over sand and algae for a while. That is where I found the spotted scorpion fish. It felt like an adventure.
Friday, February 24th
We had really strong South East wind so I stayed up North at San Francisco Wall with Amy, JT, Scott, Lynne, Mark and Jill. It was choppy but the current below was mild so we were happy. We saw a few big southern stingrays and when the spotted eagle ray glided by Amy and JT were absolutely thrilled!
No one wanted to be in strong current so we went to Chankanaab on the second dive. Mark found a big green eel for us. I saw a small population of yellow headed jawfish which made me very happy. It was an easy, relaxing dive.
That afternoon I split my group with Eduardo. He took Jen, Alex, Brian and Derek diving on Chankanaab to find that eel again. I stayed near shore at Playa Corona with George and Catherine. It was their very first dive towards certification and we did some skills and learned to equalize and swim.
The second stop was on Paradise. Eduardo took my certified divers on the reef where they found a spotted eagle ray. Jen said that it swam right up to her. Near shore where George, Cat and I were we saw a big spotted eel and a crab.
Saturday, February 25th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Brock, Brian, Amy, JT, Lynne, Scott, Jill and Mark. Lynne wanted to go through swim throughs and she wanted to see a turtle. We did both. But we also ended up surrounded by hundreds of other divers. Some were coming at us from the south and some came at us from the north so we just hugged the wall, sat tight and waited for them all to pass. What a cluster F*#¡%.
Dive two was on Colombia Shallow where we didn't see any other divers until an hour and 15 minutes into the dive. How peaceful! We saw loads of turtles there and the little stuff is always fun too.
Dive three was on Palancar Gardens again with Jen, Alex, Brian, Derek, Cat and George. It was George who found the sleeping nurse shark. Jen ducked down for a picture and woke it up. We saw a few nice turtles and some big crabs on that dive too.
Dive four was on Yucab. The current was going the wrong way so I had to get back on the boat and we had to drive to the other end to start our dive. We saw both hawksbills and a green turtle. Jen got up close and personal with the green turtle. I kept seeing all those blue parrotfish with their mouth on the bottom and thought of Paul every time I saw one.
Dive five was on Yucab again all by myself. When we came up from the fourth dive I saw Carlos climbing down the ladder and dipping his foot in the water trying to scoop something up. I knew that something had fallen into the water and he was desperate to get it. He came and picked me up and he told me that his phone had fallen in. He had tossed in a marker buoy so that I could go and get it. I made him go back and pick up all the divers first and then I suited back up and went in again. By then it was getting dark. He told me to look where the sand met the algae on the border. I dropped back down to 55 feet and turned on my flashlight. I checked my depth, I checked my air (1000 psi) and my computer said that I was fine so I started the search. I found the phone about a minute later in the sand. While I was doing my safety stop I drifted into the line for the marker buoy and I lifted that too. Carlos was so happy that I found his phone. It doesn't matter that the phone is ruined. Rick had just given him a new phone a few days prior. The thing that Carlos wanted so badly was that media card. It has all the photos of his grandbaby, videos of special events and all of his music. He dried out the media card, stuck it in the new phone and it worked just fine. Carlos was so grateful.
Sunday, February 26th
My divers were Jen, Alex, Cat, George, Brian, Derek and Mark. Mark requested Palancar Bricks. Cat found the enormity of it intimidating at first but got over and enjoyed the dive. Jen got some close ups of a cooperative turtle.
I asked Jen where she wanted to go on the second dive and she picked Colombia Shallow. We were not down one minute when I found the sleeping turtle. Next we saw another big turtle surface over Cat. I found a pair of juvenile spotted drums fluttering around together. Mark found a baby nurse shark under a small coral head. I shot a small lionfish right before the big nurse shark swam by. Late in the dive a hungry 5 foot barracuda came right up to us. I think it was patrolling for it's lunch. I didn't see as many schools of fish. I wonder if they were avoiding that big barracuda.
Monday, February 27th
Once I got Jen, Alex, Brian, Derek, George and Kim all suited up on the side of the boat I realized that the current had carried us South of Santa Rosa Wall so I asked Carlos to drive us back to the north end of the site to start the dive. I got in and the current was heading North there. So I got back on the boat and he drove us back to the beginning of Santa Rosa. I told him that I didn't care which way the current was going, I would go either direction. We ended up diving Cedral Wall backwards. We saw a ton of stuff because we were the first divers to get there that morning. The first turtle we saw went to the surface and came back down again. While Jen and Kim were taking pictures the turtle actually pooped. It was really funny. We found 2 big nurse sharks lying in the sand in front of a cave where a big green moray eel was hiding. They were all hanging out together. It was really cool. We saw a splendid toadfish with a little spotted drum fluttering around in front of it. I wondered how long it would take for that toadfish to eat the spotted drum. The 3 spotted drums were in the same place too. The current picked up and became pretty fast so we had to kick hard to look at the big hawksbill parked lazily on the bottom. Why is it so easy for them to sit still in that current? Maybe because of the shape of their shell? Maybe they are a little negatively buoyant? Hmmmmm?
We went back to Paradise in search of the big seahorse. I spent 20 minutes in the spot and didn't find it. I didn't feel so bad though considering that 3 other divemasters came by and they didn't find it either, so it's not just me :) We saw some big black groupers on that dive.
Sunday, March 4th
There was a north wind predicted for mid morning. The port was open so I told JF, Nathalie, JP, Louis, Stephanie, Rebecca, Jeff and Lana that I would take them out but I would not go far. I took them to Chankanaab. It was choppy and rough when we got in and I spent the whole dive worrying about the weather and listening for the emergency recall signal from Carlos. Fortunately Carlos did not call us up. The bottom was calm and beautiful. We saw lobsters, crabs, a spotted drum and a bristle worm. JF showed me a small lionfish and I shot it. Everyone looked like they were having a great time. When we got low on air and came up the surface was much worse. I was very nervous and worried about making the second dive. Even though other dive boats were staying out and doing a second dive I opted to go back in and call it a day. I just couldn't stand the idea of coming up to worse conditions and fighting to get everyone on the boat and then fighting for a spot in the marina. No one liked my decision. They all wanted to stay out and dive at Paradise. Even Carlos didn't want to go back in. I was alone in my decision but since I am in charge of the safety of 10 people I have to err on the safe side. To take the bite out of my decision I told everyone that the dive that morning was free. Diving was on me that morning. No one except Carlos seemed angry and we left the morning on a happy note.
Tuesday, March 6th
The harbor master let us out a little late but we got to go diving in the morning. I had the same group, JF, Nathalie, JP, Louis, Stephanie, Rebecca, Jeff and Lana . It was pretty rough and choppy but not as bad as on Sunday. We went to Palancar Gardens first and we had an easy dive. There were schools of humans everywhere so we kind of stayed up on top of the reef and away from the groups. At one point a turtle sat on the bottom in the deeper area but there were other groups of divers looking at it so I decided to skip it. We saw a few big crabs on that dive and everyone had fun.
Our second stop was Colombia Shallow where someone found a small nurse shark with it's head in a hole. Then someone else pointed out a small turtle on napping under a coral head. Nathalie found a spotted drum. Lana showed me a lionfish and I shot it.
Wednesday, March 7th
Dive one was on Palancar Caves with David, Nancy, JF, Nathalie, JP, Luis and Stephanie. Right at the beginning of the dive I crossed over to the drop off and I saw a 4 foot black tip cruise by. It was not the least bit scared of us and took it's time going by so everyone got a good look. We saw a bunch of turtles and a couple of lobsters too.
Nancy liked Dalila better than Palancar. She said that there were more fish and more color there. A friendly nurse shark swam right up to JF. A big black grouper followed us around for a while. Nancy described the turtle as spectacular. Actually, we saw several again. Everyone was happy with the dive on Dalila.
Thursday, March 8th
The wind was significantly calmer when David, Nancy, JF, Nathalie, JP, Luis, Rebeka and Stephanie came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. Rebeka finished up her certification on this dive and she got to see the gorgeous towering coral formations on her fourth dive.
There was significant current on Paso del Cedral but we got to see a lot of big critters too. We saw a couple of turtles. JF pointed out a big swimming nurse shark off in the distance and I found a green moray eel. It was a good dive despite the challenge of the current.
Friday, March 9th
David, John, JF, Nathalie, Louis, JP, Rebeka and Stephanie had nice calm conditions for our dive on Santa Rosa Wall. JF conducted the deep dive for Rebeka's advanced course. Nathalie showed me a big lionfish. I shot at it and I missed. I guess that is good because David doesn't like it when I kill the lionfish. We saw plenty of big groupers and splendid toadfish.
Since the current was cooperating I took them to Cedral Wall. The 3 little spotted drums were still in the same place. Nathalie got close to a big turtle and we saw a few more small turtles along the way. David found the first green moray eel while we were all looking at a splendid toadfish. We all got a good look at the second green moray and the huge groupers getting cleaned up at the cleaning station. JF found a spotted moray eel opening and closing it's mouth. Only Stephanie, JF and I saw the third green moray because I went back down to pick up some weights that I found on the bottom so we over stayed our safety stop. That is when the last green moray swam by.
Saturday, March 10th
I took David, John, Kathy, Alan, Nancy and David to Palancar Bricks. We saw so many turtles I lost count. It was a really beautiful dive.
They all made fun of me when I announced that we were going to ¨My Secret Spot¨. They made funny suggestions. David asked me if many divers had been on ¨My Secret Spot¨. We saw more turtles and a nurse shark there. We also saw lobsters and crabs and everyone liked that site.
Sunday, March 11th
David and Nancy wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall but it was the first day of diving for Ronnie, Craig and Tut. Kathy and Alan love Palancar Gardens so that is where we went. We saw a hawksbill turtle and Kathy pointed out a swimming nurse shark. Alan said that it was his new favorite dive.
Then we went to French Reef where Kathy found another shark for us. Ronnie got to see the shark and the turtle up close. He had missed both on the first dive. These were his first dives after certification so it must have been really exciting to have a big nurse shark swim right below him. I showed Kathy a spotted drum and I showed Ronnie a barracuda. I don´t think that he was impressed with the barracuda after seeing the shark.
Monday, March 12th
It was choppy when I took Tut, Kathy, Alan, Ronnie and Craig diving on Colombia Deep. Underwater there was very little water movement. The first shark was sleeping under an overhang. Everyone dove down and took lots of pictures. The second shark was trying to suck something out of a hole. We couldn´t see it´s head. We only saw the back half of the shark which was about 5 feet long total. We saw a few turtles and I took them through one of the easier caves. Craig says that he remembers that cave from the last trip.
We took Tut´s son Josh to El Cielo and taught him how to snorkel. Then we all went over to Colombia Shallow and Josh snorkeled over us while we dived. We saw a few turtles and many schools of humans. Tut took pictures of the girls in bikinis snorkeling over us.
Tuesday, March 13th
Kathy, Alan, John, Ronnie, Brent and Troy were asking to go to Santa Rosa. Kathy had not been diving for a year so I decided to take them to Alan´s old favorite Horseshoe instead. Troy pointed out a turtle right at the beginning of the dive. John chased it around and got some photos of it. We saw a big lobster crawling around the bottom and a crab clinging to the side of the reef. Later in the dive another turtle paid us a visit and it swam right up to Kathy´s camera and I thought that maybe she might have to gently push it out of the way. I thought that the turtle was going to bump right into her. She just smiled and waved.
John got the big groupers that he had requested on Dalila. Troy pointed out the swimming nurse shark. It took off and then doubled back for a second pass. We found another nice turtle which seemed not to be camera shy. We also saw another huge lobster out for stroll.
Wednesday, March 14th
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall by special request with Troy, Brent, Kathy, Alan, Kathy and Julie. We had hardly any current at all and I thought that felt suspicious. It turned out to be a great dive. First we saw a juvenile spotted drum fluttering around at the end of the first section of reef. Then a good sized turtle sat on the bottom as we approached slowly. I saw big lobsters and crabs. The highlight of the dive was when I heard Brent shout through his regulator. He found a big eagle ray way deep below us and we dropped down for a peek. We stopped going down at 90 feet and the ray was still well below us.
The second stop was on San Francisco Wall. I should have checked the current because when we got down to the bottom I began to ask myself if the current was going the opposite direction of usual. About 15 minutes into the dive the current started pushing out to sea so we avoided it by hiding behind the reef. Forty five minutes into the dive the current picked up enough speed to warrant turning around so we went back the direction that we came from. We encountered many groups of divers doing the same thing so I didn´t feel stupid :)
Thursday, March 15th
It was Mary´s first day of diving and she was hoping for no current. Tut, Brent, Troy, Kathy and Alan are veteran drift divers. Craig wouldn´t know what to do if he actually had to kick. Ronnie got to experience his first real drift dive. Mary did great too! We got in at Caves and at first there was almost no current. It only took minutes for that current to kick up and we floated along. We went through a bunch of caves. Just when Kathy had given up on seeing a turtle along came a nice one that swam right up past the group. We ended up seeing a few more small turtles. The last one was just a baby about the size of a dinner plate. It was really cute. I saw a big lobster that climbed down the reef for a while and then took a leap and floated down another 10 feet or so and landed on his feet and walked away.
I wanted to go to French reef for the second dive but they had already been there so I took them to Paso del Cedral. The current was pretty fast there. Right before we got in someone said, ¨Hey it looks like there are no other divers here!¨ I said, ¨Don´t worry, it won´t take long for them to get here.¨ Sure enough, a group dropped right on top of us within 5 minutes. The good thing is that the divemaster from the group is an old friend of mine and he showed us a pair of spotted eagle rays which thrilled Kathy and Alan to no end. We saw a big nurse shark hiding in a dark crevice avoiding the divers unsuccessfully and a third eagle ray passed behind the group so Kathy and Alan really got a good look but the rest of us didn´t. Despite the current we all had a good time.
Friday, March 16th
It was Brent and Troy´s last day of diving and they requested Colombia Deep. Kathy, Alan and Craig didn´t mind going back. Mary had never been there so off we went. The water was colder than normal. My computer registered 77 degrees while Kathy´s registered 75 degrees. That was the coldest water that I had been in all winter long. We saw a bunch of turtles, the first one was a beautiful green turtle. About 40 minutes into the dive a big spotted eagle ray swam right up to me. When it realized that I was there it quickly veered off but everyone got a good look and Kathy was thrilled!
We took Kathy back to her favorite spot, Colombia Shallows. We saw a bunch of turtles and a lot of big crabs. We stayed down an hour and 45 minutes on that dive. When we came up Mary said that Colombia Shallows is now her favorite dive too.
Saturday, March 17th
The current was going the opposite direction of normal when Carlos dropped us off at the Gardens. So instead of the Gardens, Kathy, Alan, Mary, Julie, Lisa, Mark, Kaiya, Jess and I dived on Palancar Horseshoe. Coming around the first big coral head we had a 6 foot nurse shark swimming below us. Someone pointed out a big crab. At the end of the dive Kathy, Mary and I saw a couple of huge lobsters crawling around on top of the reef.
I didn´t want any current so I told Carlos to drop us off in front of the pier. This way it didn´t matter which way the current was going. We had good reef either direction. We ended up in pretty strong current heading towards town. We saw loads of turtles, a big nurse shark but the best part was the spotted eagle ray which is Kathy´s favorite.
Monday, March 19th
When Jason, Blake, Chase, Mike, Lisa, Mark, Kaiya, Jess and I got in at Palancar Gardens there was almost no current at all. Coming out of the first cave is when the current started up. It began gradually and by about half way through the dive it was really cooking! The divers did a good job of staying together and we had a good dive.
Trying to stay out of the current I took them to French Reef. I would estimate the current at 2 to 3 knots throughout the dive. We saw tons of turtles. I stopped counting after a while but I am guessing that we saw around 8 turtles on that dive. I took everyone through the long cave too.
Tuesday, March 20th
A strong South wind kicked up and Palancar Gardens was choppy. I took John, David, Sean, Robin, Paul, Tanya, Steve and Mary diving. Sean and Robins kids were going to snorkel up above with Carlos. Unfortunately Joseph got seasick and the kids didn´t snorkel. So after the dive we dropped them off at Paradise Beach.
We tried to do the second dive on San Francisco Wall. When we got in I looked down and the current was still. I told Paul, ¨Hey, I hate to say it but the conditions look perfect!¨ Well that didn´t last for more than 5 minutes. The current switched directions and picked up a lot of speed. We hid behind the reef for about 5 minutes during the worst of it and then when it calmed down we started swimming towards the wall. The current slowly got stronger and stronger so I gave in, turned around and headed the other direction. We finished the little bit of reef that we had already seen in about 10 minutes and then we drifted over grass for about 10 more minutes. We saw a southern stingray, a hermit crab and a few fish. Tanya, Steve, John and David went up right about the time that arrived at the next reef. Paul took a bunch of pictures of a white spotted file fish and then he went up. Mary and I stayed down and chased a green sea turtle. It was an adventure to say the least.
Wednesday, March 21st
The south wind continued so I took Paul, Mary, Matt, Louise, Lars, Leslie, Cindy and Mike to San Francisco Wall. The current was pretty strong but everyone managed it well. We saw a bunch of stuff. The visibility was bad due to all the sand and particles flying around so not everyone got to see the first big turtle. Lars pointed out a swimming nurse shark that disappeared and then doubled back. Louise was happy because she got to see the shark too. We later saw another turtle that everyone got a look at. At the end of the dive the green moray eel was under her usual ledge and she stuck her head way out and said hello.
We tried to dive Yucab but when I got in to check the current was HORRENDOUS and the visibility was only about 30 feet so I got back on the boat and made Carlos drive us over to Chankanaab where the visibility was good and there was almost no current at all. Mike found an enormous lobster which was joined by a second enormous lobster a minute later. It was a nice relaxing dive.
Thursday, March 22nd
Paul wanted to go see the anchor at Colombia. Gary, Steve, Louise, Matt and Fulvio were happy with that choice. We had big waves and really strong current on that dive but Paul got his photos at the anchor. Gary and Fulvio took off at the beginning of the dive over the wall. I called the rest of the divers back to the shallow area and we spent the rest of the time worrying about Gary and Fulvio. We saw a few turtles, we went up and then drove around looking for Gary and Fulvio. We found them about a half an hour later. They were happy as clams and they had a good dive so no harm done.
I wanted something easy for the second dive so I took them to my ¨secret spot¨. We had very light current for the first half an hour. We all saw a big crab. Gary saw a really big shark. The current kicked up and we spent the last half of the dive flying around.
Friday, March 23rd
I let Carlos choose where we dived with Paul, Gary, Louise, Matt, Kristi and Roy. We had minimal current and we saw a bunch of turtles. We also saw lots of big lobsters out and about and a crab too.
I let Paul pick the second spot and he chose Paso Del Cedral. We got to watch a really cool show. A young lady from another group of divers waved her camera in front of a big green moray eel and it swam out of the hole and charged her. After she played with it for a few minutes the eel swam right at Matt. I had to smile when he looked a little surprised and backed away. We enjoyed that show for several minutes. We also saw a splendid toadfish and another turtle.
Saturday, March 24th
There wasn´t much current at Palancar Horseshoe where I took Paul, Gary, Ken, Mor and Chen. We had a nice, easy dive. Right at the beginning of the dive I found a crab. At first I thought it was just the shell because it wasn´t moving. I went in closer for a better look and discovered that it was a pair of crabs, one on top of the other. The one on the bottom was upside down with it´s shell open on the bottom and wiggling it´s legs. I figured that the pair were just making more crabs. Gary pointed out a big lobster crawling over the reef. We saw a turtle on that dive too.
Gary picked French Reef for the second dive. The current started out fine but it didn´t take long before that current was ripping. We saw tons of turtles, another lobster or two and at the end of the dive Gary, Paul and I chased a big nurse shark around. By then we were on Dalila.
Sunday, March 25th
For my first dive I took John and Andrew to Palancar Caves. Michelle, Matt, Jeff, Karen, AnneMarie, Carlee and Dana snorkeled over us with Tony. We saw a ton of good stuff starting with a swimming nurse shark. We saw a pair of lobsters out in the open and a turtle swam right up to me.
Tony helped me and I took the snorkelers on a ¨Discover Scuba Dive¨ at Palancar Shallows for our second stop. When we arrived at the bottom we saw a little turtle. There were a few schools of blue striped grunts. I showed everyone a big queen conch and a furry sea cucumber. Andrew liked swimming through the school of horse eyed jacks.
Monday, March 26th
John chartered the boat. I dived with John, Andy and Matt. Tony took everyone else snorkeling. We went to the shipwreck first. When we got in there was no current. We went down and the current started up about 10 minutes into the dive. The snorkelers over us couldn´t stay over the wreck so the boys put them on the boat and took them close to shore to snorkel. When we came up from the dive a different boat was on the ascent line. Carlos didn´t take long to come back for us and it all worked out well.
We all went to Paradise for the second stop. We saw a spotted moray, a goldentail moray, a big crab and a yellow stingray. The current was going the opposite direction of normal on that dive.
Tuesday, March 27th
I took Gary, Allyson, Roy, Haley and Roger to Palancar. I told Carlos to drive around and find a spot that doesn´t have a lot of current and to drop us there. We wound up on the Caves. Everyone had a good time and we swam through a bunch of caves. We saw a big crab hidden in a dark recess. Someone pointed out a turtle too.
I told Carlos that I wanted to check out Yucab. When I got in I looked down and realized that I was on Tormentos. I guess he dropped me between Yucab and Tormentos so that we could go either direction depending on what the current was doing. My divers got a crash course on drift diving. The current didn´t take long to pick up. We learned to hide behind the reef to get out of the current and to stay close to the bottom to go slow. We saw another crab and a couple of spotted morays. Gary showed us a nurse shark near the end of the dive. I didn't get a good look because I was bringing Roy up.
Wednesday, March 28th
My divers were John, Matt, Andy, Gary, Troy and Allyson. Andy requested the wall. I asked Tony (who was driving the boat that day) how Santa Rosa looked. He said that the current was strong there. I told him to go over to Palancar and drive around. He looked for the spot with the least current. There wasn´t one. He picked Horseshoe. There was current everywhere. Going down wasn´t bad. It didn´t take more than a few minutes for that current to whip up and we flew around a lot. We parked behind a big wall of coral waiting for Gary to catch up and we discovered a turtle had the same idea. That turtle hunkered down with us and entertained us while we waited. When only Gary and I were still down we went back down over the wall just a little bit and watched tornados of bubbles spin all around. It was not a boring dive!
French Reef surprised me with almost no current at all. It was such a nice break to have to kick a little. I swam everyone through the long cave. We saw a juvenile spotted drum and a few turtles. There were enough lobsters on that dive to open a restaurant.
Thursday, March 29th
I did the same thing with Gary, Rod, Haley, Roy, Kim, Bryan, Nancy and Kandace. I told Carlos to drive around and look for a spot with no current. Gary had requested Colombia Deep and we suited up there. The current kicked up and Carlos drove us over to Palancar Bricks and dropped us in. The current was about 2 knots and quite manageable. We hid behind the reef, swam through channels, canyons and caves to hide from the current. We saw a turtle, a big southern stingray and a rock with 9 lobsters under it. I had a boat full of happy divers.
For the second dive I took them over to Yucab. We saw a spotted moray. Gary found a splendid toadfish and everyone took pictures. I pointed out a juvenile spotted drum. While Haley and Rod did a safety stop Gary ducked into a hole with a green moray. Every time we saw blue parrotfish I told Gary to take a picture so he got about 20 pictures of the blue parrotfish. Paul will be jealous...
Saturday, March 31st
Once more I left the choice of reefs up to Carlos. He took Camilla, Jeannie, Gary and Troy to Paso Del Cedral. The current was really fast but at least we wouldn´t get sucked down. We saw several turtles and a big nurse shark. There were a few lobsters around too. When only Gary, Camilla and I were still down I crossed Gary over to the wall so that he could go ¨play¨ a little.
We did out second dive on San Francisco Wall. The current was running the opposite direction of normal. We didn´t see anything spectacular but we did have a good dive.
Sunday, April 1st
Finally the current let up and I took Gary, Eric, Jeannie, Camilla, Laurie and Don to Palancar Caves. It was a beautiful, easy dive. We saw a pair of big nurse sharks lying together on the bottom of the last swim through. I scared them off when I got too close and they swam over to say hello to Gary. We also saw a turtle on that dive.
Since the current was cooperative I took everyone to Dalila. Well the current was pretty fast there but manageable. We saw several turtles and a huge spotted eagle ray. I lost Gary again when he swam after the eagle ray for a photo. He got a good picture though.
Monday, April 2nd
Karl, Gary, Jeannie, Camilla, Don, Laurie and I let Carlos pick the reef again. Carlos picked Palancar Bricks. We had very light current and a very beautiful dive. Laurel especially liked that dive. There seemed to be turtles everywhere. Gary finally got to shoot a lionfish too. There was another pair of big lionfish under a rock but as he approached they backed into a safe area and escaped. I found a rock with 11 lobsters under it. That would have fed everyone on the boat plus more!
Don wanted to see Santa Rosa Wall before he goes home. Normally Santa Rosa is a deeper dive and we do that one first. But our conditions were good and I was feeling lucky so I took everyone there for our second dive. I told them all to stay up on top in 40 to 60 feet of water. It turned out very well and Karl showed us a big lobster prowling around.
Tuesday, April 3rd
Jeannie, Camilla, Don, Laurie, Bob and I had another light current dive on Colombia Deep. It is such a relief to have the current back to normal! We saw a couple of turtles and Laurie saw a lionfish but by the time she figured out how to tell me we had drifted past it and she didn´t want to go back.
Per special request we went to Colombia Shallows for our next dive. I found another turtle, a big southern stingray and a small nurse shark sleeping under the reef. We also looked at an arrow crab, lots of flamingo tongues and a lizardfish.
Wednesday, April 4th
It was such a relief to have the currents calm down. Jeannie and Camilla picked Palancar Gardens for the first dive. Diane, Mark, Kim and Mike had never been to Cozumel before and this was the first Cozumel reef they were to see. We had very mild current and Diane got excited when we saw a turtle. We also saw a big lobster out parading around and a big crab clinging to the reef.
There was light current on ¨My Secret Spot¨ too. We had another good dive with lots of turtles, another huge lobster and tons of barracuda. There was one big barracuda at a cleaning station. As the divers approached for a look the barracuda made some sudden movements and took off. I think it made everyone just a little uncomfortable :)
Thursday, April 5th
My divers were Jeannie, Camilla, Karl, Diane and Mark and we went to Santa Rosa Wall. We had some current there but not too bad. We saw a big lobster and a lot of other divers there. But that is normal. We always see crowds at Santa Rosa Wall.
Dive number two was on Yucab. The current kept switching directions on us so we didn´t go very far but we stopped and looked at splendid toadfish, soapfish, flamingo tongues and Diane showed us a green turtle. I discovered a big eagle ray passing over head. Not everyone got to see it because it moved so quickly. It was gone in a couple of minutes.
Friday, April 6th
I took Jeannie, Camilla, Scott, Mark W, Mark R, Diane and Karl to Palancar Horseshoe. We had a wonderful dive. Upon reaching the bottom we found a slipper lobster. Diane said that it looked like a roley poley bug. We observed a huge spiny lobster under a ledge. Everyone really enjoyed the scenic beauty of the reef. At the end of the dive a nurse shark swam under Camilla, Diane and I. Camilla came up from dive and announced on the boat that it was a gorgeous dive.
The best was yet to come on French Reef. Before we got in Diane shouted, ¨I know we are going to see a bunch of really great stuff on this dive! I can just feel it!¨ She was right. We started out watching a pair of hunting buddies. A nurse shark had it´s head in a hole trying to suck out lunch. A big green moray waited patiently by it´s side about a foot away. When the shark gave up the eel moved in quickly to take over and the eel went about 2 feet into the hole. I don´t know if the eel got it´s prey or not because it was a small hole and the eel was pretty far in. There were a bunch of lobsters all around so we assumed it was eating lobsters. Soon after I found a big lionfish and I shot it. After I killed it I looked around for something that might want to eat it. I considered dragging it around on my stick but decided against it. I just put it on the bottom under a big conch shell. Within minutes Nurse Jackie appeared and swam right around us looking for lunch. I started to swim back to the lionfish but decided against it. The nurse shark swam against the current and headed right to the dead lionfish. There is no doubt in my mind that Nurse Jackie found and ate that lionfish. Meanwhile the divers were surprised at how close she approached everyone. We saw a whole bunch of turtles during that dive and later we saw a really big nurse shark swimming around. It was a really cool dive.
Saturday, April 7th
The conditions were nice on Bolones de Chankanaab. Camilla, Jeannie, Aaron and I saw lots of big crabs and lobsters on the dive. After Jeannie and Aaron were up we saw a big green moray eel and a pair of lobsters having what looked to me like a territorial battle. One enormous lobster chased the other around until it gave up and went into a hole. It was fun to watch.
On Chankanaab Reef we saw many more crabs and lobsters. Aaron said that the lobster we saw was the biggest lobster that he had seen in his life. We observed ocean triggerfish guarding nests on the bottom. The eggs were obvious and the nests were about a foot and a half in circumference.
Sunday, April 8th
I took Cornel, Anca, Peter and Aaron to Palancar Horseshoe for our first dive. We had nice conditions with very light current. We saw a turtle, a green moray eel, a juvenile spotted drum and a huge lobster.
The second dive was on Chankanaab where we saw a spotted eel and another dinosaur sized lobster. It must be lobster mating season or something because they are all out walking around this week.
Monday, April 9th
The first stop was on Palancar Gardens with Scott, Austin, Aaron and Wayne. Scott´s wife and daughter snorkeled over us while we dived. We started out with no current. There was another group of divers right behind us. I was turned around looking behind and I saw one diver from the other group shoot up from 60 feet straight to the surface as fast as I have ever seen a diver go. His BCD must have been completely full. I could see his green fins in a huge cloud of bubbles and I watched him at the surface to see if he moved. His divemaster went up to check on him and he seemed to be all right and he got up the ladder of his boat on his own. It scared the hell out of me. Austin saw it too. About 15 minutes into the dive the current picked up and I felt like we were diving in a washing machine. The bubbles swirled around in circles but didn´t go up. We just hid in the canyons and swim throughs until Wayne came over and showed me that his air integrated dive computer was blank. We both agreed that he should go up so I called the group over to the shallow area and we drifted with the current until everyone was low on air. When Aaron and I were still down he pointed out a free swimming green moray. Then I saw a group of divers all looking at something so we went over for a look. It was a medium sized nurse shark. It swam away and we followed it for a few minutes. When Aaron signaled up I noticed a turtle swimming up ahead. Aaron came up with a big smile on his face.
Since we had some snorkelers we did our second dive on Colombia Shallow. Everyone loved that dive. We saw tons of big barracudas. I have noticed that there are less schools of yellow fish and the schools that remain are smaller so I think those big barracudas are just pigging out on the grunts. We saw 2 green turtles and a couple of hawksbill turtles. One hawksbill was just a baby. I found a sleeping nurse shark. I don´t normally disturb them and make them swim but I knew that the girls up top wouldn´t get to see the shark unless I scared it out of it´s hiding hole. The girls were thrilled. We also saw crabs and lobsters. Aaron chased a pair of Caribbean squid.
Tuesday, April 10th
So the currents started up again. We checked Palancar Bricks well before Sandy, George, Aaron, Wayne, Jean, Lance and Victor got in. The current seemed fine. Not 5 minutes later the current got weird. It was like a washing machine again. Fortunately we had plenty of canyons to hide in and I just stayed away from the wall. We saw a ton of turtles and several southern stingrays. That rock with all the little lobsters was still full of lobsters which was nice to see. We had a good dive despite the challenging conditions.
I was hoping for lighter current on ¨My Special Spot¨. I got strong current but at least it was all going just one direction and everyone was a good swimmer :) We saw more turtles there. Aaron waved me over to point out a splendid toadfish and everyone joked that it was a ¨burn up lots of air fish¨. We saw a big crab, a pair of friendly lobsters and we saw a spotted moray too.
Wednesday, April 11th
The current calmed WAY down for Jean, Lance, George, Sandy, Wayne, Aaron, Tammy and Bob. Tammy requested Palancar Caves. We saw yet another big huge lobster cruising around. Lance got some really great photos of it. We saw a couple of turtles and I just appreciated the light current. Sandy did a good job of going through the caves and it was a small victory for her.
Since the current was cooperating I took them to Paso Del Cedral. I found that big green moray in the usual spot. We saw more lobsters and at the very end of the dive Jean, Lance, Bob and I saw a big swimming nurse shark. I told Jean it was a man eater but she didn´t believe me :)
Thursday, April 12th
There was almost no current at all at Santa Rosa. It was Aaron´s last day of diving and he wanted to go to the wall so Peggy, Lance, Jean, Wayne, Bob and Victor agreed. We saw a turtle make it´s way up to the surface for a breath of fresh air. We saw yet another huge lobster out on the prowl. We also saw a goldentail moray and a southern stingray on that dive. There were a million other divers everywhere as always on Santa Rosa Wall.
San Francisco Wall was our next stop with light to no current again. We saw another golden tail moray and Aaron showed me a splendid toadfish. That wall always strikes me as one of the most colorful in all of Cozumel. I am not sure if it is because of the way that the sunlight hits it and shows off the colors of the sponges better or maybe it just is more colorful….?
Friday, April 13th
Well the current kicked up again on Palancar Gardens when I took Peggy, Lance, Jean, Stacy, Mike, Andy, Scott and Bill diving. The current was tricky so I took them through the swim throughs where there is no current. When the first person got low on air I brought everyone up to the top of the reef and we drifted with the current. We found a medium sized nurse shark sucking something out of a hole. It was lying on it´s side so I kind of convinced it to come out of the hole for us..........Stacy liked the shark!
Our second tank was on Colombia Shallows and the current was hauling butt there too. Lance got to take a video of a turtle but we didn´t see the normal good stuff because we were blowing around like leaves in the wind. It was a disappointing dive due to the strong current and lack of visibility.
That afternoon I took Jeff, Barb, Monica, Mary Jo and Chuck to Palancar Gardens again. We saw 4 turtles total and some crabs and a big lobster. The current was still crazy there in the afternoon.
I was hoping to avoid more current on Chankanaab but when I got in to check the current it was going the opposite direction of normal. I told Carlos to put me back on the boat and drive me to the other end of the reef. I got in and checked the current and it was much stronger but we dived there anyway. If the current is strong on Chankanaab it would be horrible anywhere else. We saw a couple of turtles and the current slowed down about 20 minutes into the dive. Then it stopped, changed direction and took us back towards where we started from. Jeff enjoyed taking pictures of the midnight parrotfish and I pointed out one lobster. Usually we saw a lot more than just one lobster there. It was weird but it was also a good dive.
Saturday, April 14th
It was a relief when I jumped in on Colombia Deep with Barb, Jeff, Monica, Mary Jo, Peggy and Wayne. The current was mild and gentle. I took them through three swim throughs. Barb found a big nurse shark lying under the reef. I shined my flashlight on crab hiding in a dark crevice.
Since the current was mild I took them to Dalila. First a big nurse shark swam past. Then as I was watching a turtle I saw Wayne pointing to something back a few yards. I looked more closely and discovered a good sized lionfish. I went back and shot it. We saw crabs and lobster. At the end of the dive a nurse shark posed for the cameras and we got to spend some time with the shark. When we got back on the boat everyone was talking about the schools of trunkfish, the filefish and the yellow headed jawfish. I thought that it was interesting that they were more excited about the types of fish that they saw rather than the big critters. Peggy said, ¨I thought that the current was always strong on Dalila¨. I reassured her that it normally is but the currents have been weird lately.
Sunday, April 15th
Per special request I took Barb, Jeff, Monica, Mary Jo and Peggy to Santa Rosa Wall. At the beginning of the dive we saw a swimming nurse shark up over the top of the reef. Barb and Mary Jo pointed out a lionfish. I shot it and a big mutton snapper snatched it off of the end of my spear. Later in the dive I heard another divemaster making noise and when I turned to see what he was excited about I saw him pointing to another swimming nurse shark. Jeff swam over and took photos. We managed to stay between groups of divers there and not get mixed up with others dive teams.
Since the current was so calm I took them to Cedral Wall. The three little spotted drums have either been eaten or swept away by those horrid currents that we have had lately. But we did see one big turtle sharing a leathery sponge breakfast with several angelfish. I checked the normal spot for the green eel and found a rather large nurse shark lounging in front. When the shark swam away we could all see the eel that had been hiding behind the shark. We saw a second shark moments later that was out swimming around. Everyone like the huge hogfish in the dark recess. We saw another big lobster out walking around and I found a pair of yellow headed jawfish for Barb at the end of the dive.
Monday, April 16th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Roni, Dave, Vladimiro, Barb, Jeff, Monica, Mary Jo and Peggy. We had excellent conditions and we saw a couple of turtles and a big lobster.
I took them to my ¨secret spot¨ for the second dive where we saw countless turtles and a big nurse shark hiding under the reef. Someone pointed out a lionfish but it ducked into a hole before I could get it. We also saw a southern stingray.
Tuesday, April 17th
I took Alicia, Will, Ben, Angela, Sharon, Laura, Peggy and Vladimiro diving on Palancar Gardens. Horacio came along to help out. The dive started out with no current but poor visibility. About 15 minutes into the dive the current picked up and we ended up at a good clip for the rest of the dive. I took them through some swim throughs. Laura´s mask strap slipped out of the clip and she ended up holding the mask on her face while Horacio put the whole thing back together again underwater. That was a bit more excitement than she had bargained for. Good thing she didn´t panic :)
The second dive was on French Reef. We saw tons of turtles on that dive. As we reached the bottom a big green moray slithered over and swam right below me. I had to resist the temptation to reach down and pet it because I don´t know that particular eel and I don´t know if it is temper mental or not. We saw a southern stingray at the very end of the dive and a big lobster out walking around.
Wednesday, April 18th
My divers were Roni, Dave, Vladimiro, Barry, Jerry, Alice and Allison on Palancar Caves. The current was crazy again and I spent most of the dive trying to keep my group separated from other groups, staying in the shallow canyons so that no one would drift out to sea and trying to find places to settle down and rest from the current. I was surprised when I got back on the boat and everyone seemed happy with the dive. No one complained at all. Weird..... :)
The current was RIPPING on Paso Del Cedral. We flew past a big male loggerhead turtle. Soon afterwards a six foot nurse shark swam right under Allison. It was close enough at one point that she could have reached down and petted it. We finished that entire site in 15 minutes and spent the rest of the dive on Santa Rosa Shallow where I found a big green moray being chased around by a pair of big groupers. On the safety stop Vladimiro and I saw a bill fish go by. Since the dorsal fin was down I don´t know if it was a sailfish or a marlin. My guess is that it was a sailfish. Vladimiro had already turned off and clipped up his camera so there is no picture to ID it with.
Thursday, April 19th
I gambled on the current at Palancar Bricks where I took Roni, Dave, Vladimiro, Erica, Casey and Barry. I was lucky and the current was mild. Also we saw several turtles and Erica pointed out a nurse shark swimming in the deep water below us. I checked that ¨lobster rock¨ that had so many lobsters under it a couple of weeks ago but only 3 lobsters remained.
I decided that I was on a lucky streak so I took them to Dalila where we had current that was lighter than normal. My prayer to the Mayan Current God had been granted. Erica and Casey had never experienced current before so they asked on the boat if that was a strong current and everyone that had been diving the day before laughed and told them that it was like a ¨gentle breeze¨. During the first half of the dive a friendly turtle went to the surface for a few breaths of air and then returned to the bottom and sat right in the middle of our group. It was as if the turtle thought that it was just another diver. It was a nice, easy dive.
Friday, April 20th
Once again we had really nice conditions on Palancar Gardens. My divers were Casey, Erica, Al, Maria, Phillip and Barry. We swam through lots of caves. Horacio came along and took a video. He found a nice turtle that posed for the video.
The current was tranquil on the second dive too. Since the divers liked the swim throughs I took them through the longer caves at French Reef. We saw tons of turtles and a big nurse shark. Horacio swam after the nurse shark and got some good footage.
Tuesday, April 24th
The ocean was a bit choppy when I took Al, Nathalie, Heide, Jim and Tony diving on Palancar Bricks. Once we got to the bottom it was calmer. The current was constant but not difficult. We drifted along and found 2 big turtles together. I showed everyone a little black and white spotted drum with ribbon-like fins. Later we found another smaller turtle. Everyone had to swim a bit to see it.
The current started out OK on ¨My Secret Spot¨ but around half way through the dive it picked up speed and we did a good old fashioned Cozumel Drift Dive. I encouraged everyone to stay closer to the bottom to go more slowly. We found another turtle and a big crab in a dark space under the reef. We saw several big black groupers that delighted my dive team. It was a good dive.
Wednesday, April 25th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Joe, Al, Nathalie, Heide, Jim and Tony. We had a bit of current but nothing to write home to Mom about. We saw a big stingray in the sand. As Tony headed down while watching a turtle I yanked on his fin to tell him that I was changing direction and heading shallower. I think I really startled him. Oops! At the end of the dive a big lobster crawled around on the side of the reef.
Trying to avoid current I took them to French Reef. We got current anyway. Everyone was much more comfortable and we had an easy dive anyway.
Thursday, April 26th
The surface of the ocean was flat and the current was very mild on Colombia Deep. I took Glenn, Joe, Al, Nathalie, Heide, Jim and Tony through a couple of swim throughs. We saw a southern stingray with the bar jack following it around. The divers wanted to know what that fish was doing. I think it is scooping up table scraps after the ray eats. We saw a big nurse shark off in the distance. Al said that he saw it first and tried to get my attention. I was pretty focused on getting the group down though.
Since the current was so gentle I chose Cedral Wall for the next dive. A hoard of divers stopped to take pictures of a turtle on the bottom. We just drifted past them to get away. I found a big green moray eel in one of her usual spots and we used our flashlights to get a good look. At the end of the dive Heide pointed to a big spotted eagle ray off in the distance and we watched as it disappeared into the blue.
Saturday, April 28th
Joe, Carl, Al, Nathalie, Heide, Jim, Corine and Sylvain came with me to Palancar Gardens. We had perfect dive conditions with no current. It was lovely. We came out of the first swim through and Corine pointed out a big nurse shark swimming below us. At the end of the dive a six foot green moray eel swam right up to us and parked. She sat still for all of the cameras. Jim pointed out a southern stingray passing by.
Since the current was cooperative we went to San Francisco Wall for the second dive. There we saw some small lobsters and big groupers. The last big grouper was sitting right in front of a five foot green eel on the reef. They made an adorable dive buddy team.
Sunday, April 29th
Horacio took video of our dive on Punta Sur with Rich, Joe, Carl, Al, Nathalie, Heide, Jim, Corine and Sylvain. We had very good conditions for that dive and we swam through a bunch of big caves. I think Heide saw a turtle off in the distance but that was the only big critter spotted on that dive.
To make up for the short bottom time on the first deep dive we went to Colombia Shallow for our second stop of the day. Upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a bunch of big barracudas. Some were in pairs. There was a group of four and there were several big solo barracudas too. They kept coming over and swimming through our group. I think that they are very territorial and that they have eaten most of the schooling grunts at the beginning of the reef. Horacio found a friendly hawksbill turtle that swam right up to me. Just as the little guy took off a green turtle showed up. We saw another hawksbill later in the dive. I frightened a big nurse shark out from it´s hiding place and it swam off. I found the empty shell of a lobster that had molted. There were plenty of critters at Colombia Shallow for my birthday dive.
Monday, April 30th
I took Brad, Price, Sylvain, Corine, Rich, Joe and John to Palancar Caves. Once again we had ideal conditions. The current was really nonexistent. We only saw one tiny turtle at the surface but John was extremely impressed with the reef structure and was absolutely amazed when he got back on the boat. Brad loved all of the swim throughs.
Joe and I agreed that the next dive should be on Dalila. The current was light and we had an easy dive. We saw loads of nurse sharks. The first shark swam past us in the distance. Then I saw a grouper displaying hunting behavior which led me to the pair of nurse sharks together up ahead. By the time that we reached them one had swam off but the other swam ahead of us just far enough ahead that Sylvain could not get a photo. Later in the dive I believe that the big nurse shark finally gave up and let Sylvain get close for a photo. As we were doing safety stops another smaller nurse shark swam by. It was such a sharky dive.
Tuesday, May 1st
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Tim, Kurt, Kyle, Peter, Phil and Claudia. We had gorgeous diving conditions and we saw tons of stuff. We saw several turtles and I found the first sleeping nurse shark up under a ledge. One of the boys found the second shark sleeping under the reef near the anchor.
The second dive was on my ¨Secret Spot¨ which is really not so secret after all. We saw 2 more sharks, both were out swimming around. We had a pair of great dives full of big critters.
Wednesday, May 2nd
First I took Brad, Price, Sylvain, Corine, Rich, John, Ginny and Dave to Colombia Deep. We had perfect diving conditions and we went through the swim throughs. I was surprised that we didn´t see any big critters but it was a scenic dive.
For critters I took them to Cedral Wall. There were more turtles than I could count. Sometimes we were watching one turtle and another appeared. We saw big turtles, small turtles, turtles swimming up to the surface to breath, turtles sharing meals with hungry angelfish and turtles just being turtles J
Thursday, May 3rd
It had been a while since Phillis had been diving. Peter said that he was a little unsure of his ears. So I asked Dave, Ginny, Corine, Sylvain and Ed if it would be OK to go to Palancar Gardens to make life easy for Phillis and Peter. Everyone agreed. We had a lovely dive. We saw a huge lobster out prancing about and Corine wanted to put it in her pocket and take it home to eat. We also saw a big crab and a spotted moray. When someone pointed out the little turtle Phillis took off after it. She was extremely enthusiastic about that turtle!
We found another big turtle on French Reef. We also saw another lobster and a big nurse shark out for a swim. We followed the shark for a little while at the end of the dive.
Friday, May 4th
Fiona was starting her Advanced Open Water Certification so I took John, Dave, Ginny, Colm and Fiona to Palancar Caves so she could practice Peak Performance Buoyancy Control. We saw a little turtle and a big lobster on that dive.
The second dive was to be a Drift Dive so I took them to Dalila. The first shark was pretty big and out swimming around. The second one was just a baby and sleeping under the reef. The third shark was about 5 feet long and also swimming around. The fourth shark was a big one. Ginny discovered a nice sized lobster in a hole and we all swam back for a look. Fiona practiced 3 ways of stopping in current. When we came up Dave re-named that dive site ¨Shark Alley¨.
Saturday, May 5th
Megan, Lynda, John, Desiree, Dave, Ginny, Colm and Fiona came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. We had beautiful weather and perfect diving conditions. We swam amongst the towering coral formations and saw a turtle. Desiree showed us a juvenile spotted drum on top of the reef. A big lobster came out and walked around below us for entertainment. The dive was easy and relaxing.
We went to my ¨Secret Spot¨ for the second dive. There was a really big turtle there and more lobsters. We also saw a big crab at the end of the dive. Desiree found another spotted drum.
Sunday, May 6th
Megan and Lynda had hired Miguel to come along and take photos of them while they dived. Colm and Fiona had a deep dive to do for Fiona´s Advanced certification. Ginny and Dave just did their own thing and I took them all to Palancar Bricks for that. It was fun watching Miguel set the girls up for poses. We saw a small turtle go to the surface, breathe and then come back down again.
I thought that Colombia Shallow would be a good choice for the second dive because there is plenty of natural light for photography. We saw several barracudas and a few turtles. The girls swam slowly through the schools of fish and Miguel shot lots of photos.
Monday, May 7th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Michelle, Chris, Jacque, Steve, Kim and Jerry. It was a gorgeous, perfect day. We saw lots of big lobsters out prancing around and they found a sea cucumber too. Kim´s prescription lens mask works well because she found and showed us a juvenile spotted drum. Jacque pointed out 2 spotted moray eels.
The current was mild so I took them to Cedral Wall. We saw 4 turtles. The first turtle was huge and it was sitting still sharing a meal with a pair of gray angels. The second turtle was off in the distance and it was the uncommon green turtle. Shortly after that we saw 2 more hawksbills. At the end of the dive while making our safety stop a big nurse shark swam by.
Tuesday, May 9th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Judi, Brian, Jodi, Ginny and Dave. We swam through lots of caves. I found a golden tail moray and we saw the usual lobsters and a couple of turtles.
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral. Before we got in Jodi looked it up in her logbook and she said, ¨Oh, we always see sharks there!¨ Once we arrived at the reef we saw a big green moray in her usual spot. We saw several huge groupers and schools of barracudas. About 45 minutes into the dive I turned to Jodi and made signals for ¨Where´s your shark?¨. She shrugged her shoulders and we drifted on. About 10 minutes later a good sized nurse shark swam by followed by five big black groupers. Jodi was right! She found the shark J
Wednesday, May 10th
We had SoutEast wind so I took Steve, Jacque, Dave, Ginny, Jodi, Kim and Jerry to San Francisco Wall. Jacque found a sleeping nurse shark hidden in the reef. Dave saw a big lionfish but when he approached it zipped into a safe spot and disappeared.
Staying north of the wave action we did our second dive on Yucab. Jodi really liked all the big parrotfish. We saw rainbow, midnight and blue parrots. We watched as a southern stingray dug around in the sand for a meal. I showed Jodi a tiny peacock flounder and when she put her finger out it scooted away and buried itself in the sand.
Thursday, May 11th
Steve, Jacque, Dave, Ginny, Jodi, Kim and Jerry came with me to the Horseshoe. We saw tons of huge lobsters and a small green moray eel. Raul´s group was diving right behind us the whole time. Raul came over to me and made the signal for BIG shark and that they took pictures. He pointed behind us. I figured that the shark was long gone. It turned out to be a 10 foot hammerhead and we missed it! It was down about a 100 feet deep and swam over to the shallow sandy area. Raul showed everyone photos after the dive at the pier during our surface interval.
Everyone wanted to go back to Cedral Wall to see the turtles. The current was unusually light and we saw 6 turtles. One was just a little baby but the most impressive was the big loggerhead turtle that swam below us as we made our safety stop.
Thursday, May 24th
After a long 2 weeks off the Maximus was still in for repairs to the bottom of the hull so I rented my friend Michaela´s boat. It was weird going to work without Carlos. Max, Matt, Quentin and Tim all missed Carlos too. Linda, Brittany and Ben didn´t know Carlos so they didn´t care J I took them to Palancar Horseshoe for the first dive. We had absolutely no current at all. As we were bobbing at the surface before the dive one of the girls told me that there was a big stingray on the bottom below us. During the dive we saw 3 different immense lobsters out and about. Well, Linda and I saw them. By the time the boys caught up the lobsters were usually gone.
Since there wasn´t much current I took them to Dalila for the second dive. It was a shame that Linda, Brit and Ben were already on the boat when we started to see the turtles. We saw around 4 or 5 turtles during the end of the dive. I think Ben and Brit got to see the nurse shark swimming around. They were happy about that. They asked why I didn´t show THEM the turtles and I told them that I was saving the best for last. I felt kinda bad actually……………
Saturday, May 26th
I took Avi, Dave, Patsy, Matt, Max, Quentin and Tim to Palancar Caves. We had a great dive. We saw a couple of turtles and I found a sleeping nurse shark. It was in a dark little crevice so I got out my flash light and passed it around so everyone got to see it. Matt showed us a free swimming green moray eel up on top of the reef at the end of the dive.
I picked Cedral Wall for the second dive. I had promised them turtles and we got 3 big ones. We also saw loads of lobsters on that dive.
That afternoon I took Debi, Bob, Mike, Larry, Karen and John to Palancar Gardens. Eduardo came along to help. I stayed up top with Larry, Karen and John. Eduardo took everyone else down through the caves. We saw a huge lobsters and a turtle on that dive.
Our second stop was at Yucab. Everyone liked that dive better because we saw a hawksbill turtle, a green turtle and a big nurse shark. There was so much marine life at Yucab that it was a favorite.
Sunday, May 27th
My divers were Kim, Joe, Gay, Teri, Deni and Patsy. I thought that Palancar Gardens would be a good choice for our first dive. We had wonderful conditions and we saw a little turtle. A big lobster wiggled it´s antennas at us on the bottom.
Patsy asked for Dalila and everyone cheered. While we were looking at a turtle feasting on a sponge, a big nurse shark swam by. Patsy said that that was the first time she had ever seen one swimming. Every other nurse shark that she had seen had been sleeping. We saw another big turtle later on during the dive.
Monday, May 28th
Tank one was on Palancar Gardens. I took Patsy, Matt, Max, Quentin, Tim, Karen and John through all the caves and swim throughs. We didn´t see any big critters but the scenery was so beautiful that it made up for the lack of wildlife.
Madison joined us for the second dive on French Reef. Since Madison was doing a resort course we stayed in 30 to 40 feet of water. We saw a few turtles which made her very happy. Patsy saw a nurse shark but I missed it.
Tank number three was on Palancar Horseshoe with Kim, Joe, Gay, Teri, Deni, Jeff, Dillon and Dalton. We swam around the towering coral formations and had a nice, long dive.
Tank number four was on Yucab. I found a nice turtle for the girls. Jeff described it as a ¨desert¨ because there were vast areas of sand.
Tuesday, May 29th
I picked up Kim, Joe, Gay, Teri, Deni, John, Mark and Carol and we dived Palancar Bricks. The group in front of us found a huge lionfish and the divemaster shot it. I sat and watched as he fed it to a couple of hungry snappers. We saw one very patient turtle and everyone enjoyed themselves.
Before we went to Cedral Wall Carol checked her log book to see if she had been there. She read it out loud to me and it said that she had seen turtles, a shark and a green moray eel. Well that is pretty much what happened again. The first turtle we saw was a little baby. The second one was really big and sharing a meal with a pair of angel fish. It got sick of us sitting there and went to the surface for a gulp of air. Then a couple of sharks swam by. They came together, they parted, they came together again. They just kept doing that for a while and put on a show. Then we found a big green moray in her usual spot. Everyone LOVED that dive.
Later that day I picked up Jeff, Dillon and Dalton and took them to Palancar Gardens. We went through all of the caves again. The boys said that it was the best one yet!
Our last dive of the day was on Chankanaab where I looked for little stuff with my flashlight. I showed them a splendid toad fish, a thorny oyster, a banded cleaner shrimp and a brittle star. It was a slow dive and we did a little critter search.
Wednesday, May 30th
I had another 4 dive day starting on the Devil´s Throat at Punta Sur. It was on Matt, Max, Quentin and Patsy´s bucket list. Carol and Mark had never heard of it before but they loved it. Patsy went in first with her high powered video light and lit up the cave for Mark and Carol. When we came out we saw a big turtle. We swam over to a shallower reef after 35 minutes. Quentin found a tiny lionfish and Matt found a huge lionfish. I took a shot at the big boy but my spear just bounced right off the fish and it swam away. Matt found a small nurse shark sleeping under a coral head. They bugged it with the flashlights, woke it up and it swam away.
We decided on Paso Del Cedral for the next dive. The first 10 minutes were pretty boring. Patsy admitted that she even wondered why we were there. Then it started getting good. We saw a splendid toadfish and a swimming nurse shark. When we got to the reef structure we saw a huge green moray. Patsy´s battery was dead from taking video of the Devil´s Throat so she didn´t get any pictures on that dive. She said that the end of the dive was really pretty and she really enjoyed that spot.
In the afternoon I took Joe, Kim, Gay, Teri and Denise to French Reef. It was my turn to wake up a nurse shark with my flash light and it swam off. I also pointed out a turtle sitting on the bottom. Gay got a couple of pictures of the turtle. We had fun in the cave too.
Joe wanted to go to Paradise which was a good choice for our cloudy day. The toadfish were out and we actually got to see the fish come all the way out. We saw tons of crabs, a few lobsters and two big spotted morays. Kim found a goldentail moray too. Joe showed us a peacock flounder and there were lots of yellow stingrays everywhere.
Thursday, May 31st
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Kim, Joe, Gay, Teri, Denise, Patsy and Ken. It was pretty choppy when we got in. Kim found a pair of turtles and didn´t share with anyone. She told Patsy and I but we never saw them. When we came up we had big waves.
They wanted to go to Colombia Shallow but I told them that it would be really rough and that Chankanaab might be a better choice since there were no waves up north. We had perfect conditions on Chankanaab and we saw a bunch of stuff. We saw the usual crabs and lobsters but we also found a huge green moray and quite a few big groupers. Everyone took pictures of the big barracuda. I showed them hermit crabs, arrow crabs and conches. It was a really nice dive.
Friday, June 1st
Matt, Max, Quentin, Carol and Mark didn´t pick the reef, I did. I figured since we were going to have south wind for the next week that we should go to Colombia while we still could. We went a little deeper than planned when I explored a cave that I have been meaning to check out for a while. Towards the end of the dive I was teasing Carol and I asked her where the turtles are. Not much later we kept seeing turtle after turtle after turtle after turtle. It was really fun.
I asked them where they wanted to go on the second dive and Matt asked for Cedral Wall. Carol and Mark had already been there a few days before but they didn´t say anything because it is such a good dive. Carol showed me a green moray eel and I swam right up to it. The eel reacted by coming out of the hole and swimming right up to me! I backed up and I could hear Carol screaming in her regulator. It was pretty funny. We saw a few nice turtles and at the end of the dive I teased Quentin and told him to pet the sleeping nurse shark. He is not stupid. He didn´t even consider it. I am surprised that he didn´t give me the finger! J
Saturday, June 2nd
I had all regular customers that morning with Cindy, Maria, Peter, Denise, Patsy, Mark and Carol and all were pretty open to where we went. I asked Patsy and she picked Bricks. Not everyone followed me through all the swim throughs but we had a fantastic dive. We saw tons of turtles. When we got back on the boat Peter asked me how many turtles we saw and I didn´t know. I told him that I stopped counting after 6.
I had promised Patsy to take her to Colombia Shallow before she went home. We saw a bunch of turtles there. One was a baby loggerhead. While everyone was making the signal for ¨big¨ I was writing on my slate that it was a baby! They get to be twice that size. We saw 2 different nurse sharks. The first one was hidden under a small coral head. I tried hard to get it to come out and swim but decided not to bug it just in case it got pissed off and bit me. The second nurse shark was bigger and swam away as soon as we approached. Patsy scolded me underwater for flirting with a lobster.
Sunday, June 3rd
It was raining when we picked up Patsy, Peter, Denise, Jan and Kevin. There was thunder and lightning that made Jan feel like a sitting duck J We took everyone to Punta Sur South. We had a very nice dive and went through all of the caves. We didn´t see any big critters on that dive.
The critters were waiting for us at Dalila. We saw a bunch of turtles and two nurse sharks. One was big and swimming off in the distance and the other was sleeping in a hole. Both Patsy and Peter took video of the sharks. There were lots of little lobster clusters and I found a pair of spotted drums flitting around on top of the reef. Everyone was happy when we got back on the boat.
Monday, June 4th
Finally the sun came out for Denise, Peter, Cindy, Maria, Mike and Kathy. We went to Santa Rosa first and we saw 2 different nurse sharks while we were still descending. We also saw immense groupers and enough lobsters to open a restaurant. Cindy showed me a tiny spotted drum coming out of the first cave.
Kathy and Mike wanted to go to Punta Tunich. The current was not too strong although the divers thought that it was strong. I was thanking God that it was only 3 knots or less. We saw a few sharks, a couple of turtles, a peacock flounder and a juvenile spotted drum. It was an exciting and eventful dive. Everyone had a good time!
Wednesday, June 6th
I had a nasty ear infection so I hired Sandro to take Peter, Denise, Maria, Cindy, Joe, Jon, Ryka and Rachel diving. They went to the shipwreck. They came up talking about the starfish and the garden eels that they saw. I just rode around on the boat with Carlos L
They did their second dive on Yucab. I guess they just saw a bunch of fish. They mentioned small eels too.
Thursday, June 7th
I still couldn´t dive so Sandro took Joe, Jon, Ryka and Rachel, Peter, Denise, Melissa and Jim to Palancar Gardens. Two of the girls were seasick after that dive. I guess they had some good sized waves….?
They did their second dive on Cedral Pass. They told me that they saw a shark.
Friday, June 8th
Sandro took Melissa, Jim, Maria and Cindy to Dalila. I rode around on the boat and supervised. They saw a bunch of lobsters and a couple of turtles. They all marveled at the turtle that was pigging out and ripping up a sponge down there.
The second dive was on Yucab. I think they saw a nurse shark on that dive…..
Sunday, June 10th
I was finally back in the water after 5 days of an ear infection. I took Mary, Debbie, Scott, Candy, James and Chrissy to the shipwreck. We saw the garden eels and the brittle stars. Mary said that she got some good shots of the propeller and of the scenery. Scott found a spotted moray under the ship.
On Chankanaab we saw a bunch of big lobsters and crabs. A goldentail moray swam out in front of Mary´s camera. I saw a splendid toadfish but I was behind the group at the time and didn´t bother pointing it out.
Monday, June 11th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Sue, Sharon, Sheila, Steve, Zoe, John, Kathy and Allison. We had nice conditions for the first dive of the day but there were a lot of other divers around. Guess high season has started up again…… I shot a lionfish and we saw a turtle. It was a good dive.
Dive two was on Paradise because they asked to see a seahorse. I looked in the area that Eduardo told me to. It took about a half an hour but I found a nice, big orangey/yellow one for everyone. They were quite pleased. We also saw a splendid toadfish and the usual assortment of little stuff like flamingo tongues and arrow crabs.
Tuesday, June 12th
We had a cluster &%$#/"= on Palancar Gardens. We had a big group with Mary, Debbie, Scott, Candy, James, Sheila, Steve, Kim, Kyle, Jeff and Danika. We came over the top of the reef and there were groups of divers everywhere! We kind of made a spot for ourselves and swam through the caves. We saw some big crabs and a turtle on that dive.
Scott asked to see a shark so we went to Dalila. We only ran into 2 other groups of divers on that dive. Eduardo found the first shark sleeping in a hole. Scott found a big one lying behind a coral head. Mary got some good photos. I also found a splendid toadfish and there were lobsters everywhere.
Wednesday, June 13th
We got a rough start but we went out with Sheila, Steve, Kevin, Brandon, Zoe, John, Sue and Sharon. We went to Santa Rosa Wall. We had a bit of current but nothing unmanageable. I showed them the caves and a big turtle. It was a typical Cozumel drift dive.
We had some current on Yucab too. I felt like I was teaching a drift diving specialty course. We practiced hiding behind the reef to get out of the current and staying low to go slow. I found a cute little secretary blenny and a huge hermit crab. It was a fishy dive and everyone was smiling when they came up.
Thursday, June 14th
The surface was smooth at Colombia Deep where I took Julie, Sue, Sharon, John, Zoe, Brandon and Kevin. Someone had requested a shark and it took me about 20 minutes to find one. It was sleeping under the reef and we all went over and got a good peek. We saw several turtles. While I was looking at one turtle off in the distance someone came over and tapped me on the shoulder and pointed behind me and made the shark sign. By the time that I got all turned around the shark had swum off.
We found another big sleepy shark on my secret spot. We also saw several more turtles and lots of lobsters. One was super big and out in the open. Julie said that you could throw a saddle on it and ride it like a horse!
Friday, June 15th
It was an easy day for me on Palancar Gardens with Corey, Joel, John, Julie, Brandon and Kevin. We saw a bunch of turtles, swam through the caves and had fun. At the end of the dive a 5 foot nurse shark swam by. I suspect that it was the ¨mugger¨, the shark that stole Gary´s lionfish. When only John and I were still down I saw a big green moray dart under the reef and we dipped back down to say hello.
The current was pretty normal on Cedral Wall and the boys fined tuned their drift diving techniques. The first turtle was ginormous. It was a huge old green turtle. Julie said when she first saw it she thought it was a rock until it moved. It moved away from us slowly and settled back down again on the bottom a hundred feet away. We were bugging it. The next 2 turtles were hawksbills, then we saw a pretty little green turtle. Later we saw another hawksbill. We also saw a big nurse shark swimming around being followed by a pair of black groupers and a hungry mutton snapper. John and Julie marveled at a dinosaur sized lobster out patrolling his portion of the reef. It was a really good dive.
Sunday, June 17th
We had a little trouble with the fuel line on the way out to the dive site but Carlos fixed it and we were off to Palancar Caves. I took John, Corey, Joel, Brandon and Kevin. They were a little worried about a leak in my air gauge but I managed a 51 minute dive and it was no big deal. During the surface interval Carlos fixed my air gauge too. I swear he is just like McGiver. He can fix anything!
On San Francisco Wall we saw a small nurse shark nestled in a little nook. We saw a small turtle sharing lunch with a harem of angelfish. I found a small lionfish in a dark recess. Joel held the light on it while I took a shot but it was too small and scooted between the points of my spear and got away. The last turtle that we saw was big. It came swimming up towards us from the dark blue depths below. John told me when we reached the surface that he always just loves that dive.
Wednesday, June 20th
Eduardo came along with me to help because Tony, Tara, Ashlyn, Tyler and Kirsten were newly certified and had never been deeper than 25 feet. Mike hung out with Kirsten but Brandon and Kevin went on down and swam through the caves at Palancar Gardens. We hung out up top in shallow water. We saw lots of fish and a big crab.
The second dive had more critters on Colombia Shallow. The first turtle that we saw was a green turtle. All of the other turtles were hawksbill turtles. We saw lobsters and crabs and Mike found a big green moray eel. I think it was Tony who saw the southern stingray first buried in the sand. As we got closer it got spooked and swam off. Everyone had a good time.
Thursday, June 21st
It was pouring rain when David, Tim, Julie, Michael, Kirstyn and I headed out to San Francisco Wall. I told Carlos to turn the boat around and head back to the marina. He said we should just dock on the pier so we did. We waited about 20 minutes, I told a few stories and then when the rain stopped we headed out. It is so nice to have a cabin on the boat J Because it was a rainy day it was dark and overcast. The nocturnal critters think it is sunset and start coming out. We saw quite a few splendid toadfish and enough lobster to open a restaurant. It was a nice, easy dive.
Since the current was so calm we headed over to Tunich for the second tank. The current was mild for Tunich but it felt fast to Tim and Kirstyn who are not veteran drift divers. Tim used a lot of air stopping and taking pictures. He had David´s camera and he was like a little kid in a candy shop. We saw lots more lobsters of course.
Friday, June 22nd
Justin, Phil, Aaron, Wes, Alanna, Stew, Kimberly and Leslie came diving with me on Paradise reef. We had no current at all. Several goldentail eels were observed but only one sat still for my flashlight. It was overcast and raining so it was almost like a twilight dive in the morning. We also saw a crab or two and half of a lobster. I wonder where the other half went……..
Keeping the dives easy we went to Chankanaab for our second dive. We had no current there either. We saw big groupers, a huge hermit crab, a regular crab and a nice spotted moray.
Saturday, June 23rd
There was strong south wind again so I couldn´t take Julie, Michael, Kirstyn, Mitch, Lisa, Sarah and Joanna to Palancar. We stayed up north at Yucab and Tormentos for our first dive. Michael and Julie found 3 splendid toadfish all within close proximity of one another. I showed everyone a juvenile spotted drum. The girls liked the turtle perched up on top of the reef. We had a bit of current but everyone managed it well.
I didn´t want to deal with current so I took them to Chankanaab for the second dive. Julie and I were on a mission to find splendid toadfish for Lisa since she had never seen one before and we had been talking about them on the boat. The first 2 that I found were shy but Julie found a big one that didn´t mind too much coming out and showing off for the crowd. We saw several lobsters and crabs. I found a fat spotted moray. Julie poked around in the algae looking for seahorses but instead found a well camouflaged spotted scorpion fish on the bottom. She pointed and pointed and it took me forever to figure out that she was pointing at scorpion fish. It blended in perfectly. I don´t have any idea how she found it.
Sunday, June 24th
Michael, Linda and Peter braved the waves with me and we went to Palancar Caves. Down below things were nice and calm. We saw 2 small hawksbill turtles and 2 small green turtles. Michael found a pretty little juvenile spotted drum fluttering around in circles in about 40 feet of water.
Everyone agreed that Dalila would be the second site. We saw one docile hawksbill turtle that just sat around eating and didn´t mind us hanging around. That same little shark was in the same hole from 2 weeks prior. We saw tons of lobsters, a few big crabs and at the end of the dive we saw that big huge green turtle that I had seen a week ago at the beginning of Cedral Wall. We were not far from where we had seen it last time. That turtle is just immense!
Monday, June 25th
Finally the wind died down enough to take Michael, Kirstyn, Peter, Linda, Tim, Tina, Michael and Josh to Palancar Horseshoe. Everyone went a little deeper than the planned depth but it was fine because they all had dive computers. When we were in about 30 feet of water Linda pointed to something behind me. I turned around to find a big loggerhead turtle going up to the surface to breathe. It didn´t take long and it just turned right around and went back down again as we all watched. We were mesmerized.
Tina asked for sharks and I found a pair of them together on Paso Del Cedral. I think that they were probably making more sharks, or at least I hope J As we approached them they swam off. We found a few splendid toadfish on the dive, a huge lobster and the barracuda were everywhere.
Tuesday, June 26th
We had a mixed group of divers and snorkelers. Diving with me were Linda, Peter, Josh, Tim and Tina. The ladies in Tina´s family snorkeled over us with Carlos leading them in the water. They saw a turtle but we didn´t. We went through plenty of caves though.
The turtles were waiting for us on French Reef, two of them actually. Linda found about 20 lobsters all huddled together in a hole on the side of the reef. I discovered a big nurse shark sleeping in a dark crevice. When I shined my light on her she because restless and swam out. She chose to swim right under me to escape. She was so close that I could have reached down and petted her. I felt kind of bad for disturbing her but everyone really enjoyed the show.
Wednesday, June 27th
It was an easy day with all experienced divers on the boat. Michael´s family arrived so we had Carmen, Jeff, Amanda, Sarah, Kirstyn, Linda and Peter onboard. I let Carmen choose where we went and she picked Colombia Deep. We didn´t see much in the way of critters but the formations were spectacular. They like the swim throughs too.
Carmen picked Colombia Shallows for the second dive. I think we saw at least 10 turtles. We were down for an hour and 45 minutes before we finally came to the end of the reef and went up. We saw lots of lobsters on that dive too.
Thursday, June 28th
Tank number one was on Palancar Bricks with Michael, Carmen, Jeff, Amanda, Sarah, Kirstyn, Linda and Peter. Once again we didn´t see many critters but the reef is impressive. Near the beginning of the dive Jeff showed me a small turtle. When we ran into another group of divers I saw them watching a turtle off in the distance but I didn´t want my group barging in on theirs so I didn´t point it out.
I decided that we needed to see critters so we went to Cedral Wall. I found 3 different turtles. When Michael went over to take photos they took off. Only one sat still for the camera. After most of the divers had gone up and only Carmen, Jeff and Michael were still down we drifted over a 5 foot nurse shark. Michael got to take lots of pictures of that one because it was lounging around in the sand.
That night I took Carmen, Jeff, Michael, Kirstyn, Amanda and Sarah on a night dive at Paradise. It was an amazing night. We saw 10 octopi. Most were small but some were pretty good sized. It was cool to watch one creep across the sand and then change to brown and scoot up onto the reef. While we were watching another big one a second a second octopus appeared. The crabs were everywhere. We saw a slipper lobster, regular lobsters and a juvenile spotted drum. We also found a splendid toadfish. The ladies freaked out when 2 eels were going at it in mid water. We couldn´t decide if they were fighting or just making more eels…..
Friday, June 29th
I asked Dave and Mallory where they wanted to dive and they said, ¨Anywhere¨. I asked Craig and Richard where they wanted to dive and they said, ¨Somewhere wet¨. So I asked Linda and Peter and they didn´t have a special request so I let Carmen, Jeff and Michael pick. Carmen picked Santa Rosa Wall. We ran into a traffic jam down there for a while but waited it out. We didn´t see any spectacular critters until the end when only Carmen, Jeff and Michael were still down. First I saw a huge school of fish start to move around. Then the big green moray eel came swimming out of the school. We chased it a bit and Michael got a photo. During our safety stop a rather large nurse shark swam by.
I let Craig choose the second dive and he picked Dalila. We found a hawksbill turtle sitting on the bottom with a harem of angelfish. The same little nurse shark was in the same hiding hole. We saw tones of lobsters too.
Saturday, June 30th
We had perfect weather and perfect dive conditions on Palancar Horseshoe. I took Dave, Mallory, Carmen, Jeff, Amanda, Sarah, Michael and Kirstyn on a nice, long dive. I missed the first turtle but Carmen pointed it out to everyone. The second turtle was a majestic old loggerhead that swam up from the deep water right past us. It had big barnacles growing on it´s shell. The third turtle was a small hawksbill frolicking on top of the reef.
Carmen wanted something shallow for the second stop so I picked French Reef. As soon as we all got down to the bottom I found a small nurse shark lounging around behind a big coral head. We saw tons of lobsters on that dive. Carmen said that she must have seen 10 juvenile spotted drums on the dive. I only saw the pair that Jeff pointed out. But I remember where they are and I can go back and find them again J Carmen showed me a small lionfish. I went to the surface and got the nets from the boat and went back down. When I had it in my nets a big snapper came along and ripped a big hole in my nets to get at the lionfish. It couldn´t get the spiny little fish out of the nets so I took the lionfish out and the snapper gobbled it up. But my nets were ruined and I had to throw them away.
Sunday, July 1st
Melissa, Julie, Carmen, Jeff, Amanda, Sarah, Michael and Kirstyn had perfect conditions again on Palancar Caves. Several turtles were seen on that dive including a cute little baby that one of the girls pointed out. There were a few juvenile spotted drums again too. Yes, I think those juvenile spotted drums are everywhere right now! At the end of the dive a southern stingray swam by and I wanted to get Jeff´s attention to show him. It wasn´t necessary after all because the ray swam right underneath him within 2 feet of his face.
We went to San Francisco Wall for the second dive. We had beautiful conditions again and we saw a few more turtles. Julie showed me a Nasau grouper and we saw another southern stingray.
Tuesday, July 3rd
Oscar, David and Leah came over from Playa for the day to go diving. Mikko requested that we go to Palancar. I let Paul pick which part of Palancar we would dive and he chose the Horseshoe. Leah had requested that we see a turtle or a nurse shark. She got the turtle on that dive. :)
On French Reef she got the nurse shark. Paul pointed it out as soon as we got in. It was on the bottom swimming around below us off in the distance. We saw a juvenile lionfish but I didn't have my nets with me so we had to let it go. We saw lots of juvenile spotted drums. It was a shame that only Paul and I saw the big lazy nurse shark at the very end of the dive. It sat still in the sand and we hung out with it for a while.
Wednesday, July 4th
I asked Julie, Paul, Mikko and Fulvio where they wanted to go and someone shouted out, 'Santa Rosa!' So Santa Rosa it was. We had lovely conditions and we dove a little deeper than we normally do because Mikko wanted some experience in deep diving in anticipation of diving the Blue Hole in Belize. Julie showed us a 6 foot nurse shark lounging about up on top of the reef. Paul got some good shots of a turtle swimming along the edge of the wall. It was a nice, easy dive for us all.
We went on a search for blue parrotfish for Paul at Yucab. I only found one but it was a big one. We also saw a big green moray eel and I got it to smile for Mikko's camera.
Thursday, July 5th
After much discussion and debate Mikko, Paul, Julie and I decided to go to the wreck dive because we flipped a coin! We had a little current but nothing unmanageable. Julie was surprised at the current but Paul told her that it gets much stronger at times and that it was one of the easier dives that he has done on that wreck. The boys took lots of pictures and Julie checked out the field of garden eels. She seems to really like the critters that live in the sand off of the reefs. I found a fat spotted moray eel. Paul commented that it seems there is more stuff growing on the wreck now. Mikko really, really liked the wreck dive.
I didn't want to deal with current so I took them to Chankanaab for the second dive. Well the darned current kept changing direction during the dive. Since it wasn't very strong I just kind of ignored it anyway. We found a lobster and crab with big claws huddled together in a dark crevice. There were lots of juvenile spotted drums for Paul to take pictures of. Julie hunted for seahorses off the reef again but didn't find any spotted scorpionfish. I did find one skinny little spotted eel. There were lots of cleaning stations and groupers with gaping mouths getting their teeth cleaned.
Friday, July 6th
Scott, Nic, Vanessa and Alex were on their first dive of the vacation so I needed to take them somewhere easy. Paul and Mikko had not gone to Palancar Gardens yet so that was perfect for us. The critters did not begin to appear until Paul and I were alone at the end of the dive. First we saw a loggerhead head turtle. Paul said that it was the first one that he had ever seen. Then a green moray eel swam below us and I reached out and poked Paul to get his attention. It is shame that the other divers didn't get to see them.
Our second dive was on ¨My Secret Spot¨. Paul pointed to a big swimming shark on the way down. We saw a giant loggerhead turtle and it kind of swam right through our little group. I screamed for Paul through my regulator when I saw it. There were several big hawksbill turtles but that loggerhead stole the show. It had algae and barnacles covering it's back. We were all trying to guess how old it was when we got back on the boat.
Saturday, July 7th
I took Paul and Nic to Colombia Deep. The current was heading southbound so I just followed Raul around who had also forgotten to check the current when he got in. We saw a small shark, a few turtles and a spotted moray. I played with a furry sea cucumber and Paul took pictures of the anchor.
Paul asked for Dalila for the last dive of the vacation. We had almost no current at all and we went slow and looked at everything. We found clusters of lobsters, three splendid toadfish, several spotted eels and a couple of goldentail eels. We saw one large shark swimming against the current and nice turtle too.
Tuesday, July 10th
Paul, Stacey, Jennifer and Rick arrived by cruise ship. Scott was land based. Paul's kids and Rick's dad snorkeled over us on Palancar Gardens while we scuba dived. We had kind of odd current but nothing difficult. We admired the big reef and we saw a nurse shark on that dive.
The second stop was Colombia Shallow since the snorkelers could see a lot there. We had a drift and we saw lots of turtles. I think everyone liked that dive better because it was so shallow, we stayed down longer and there was more marine life. It was a good trip.
Thursday, July 12th
Armando, Aidan, Alex, Jim, EJ and Matt asked for something easy so I picked Palancar Gardens again. Carlos called his buddies on the radio and they informed him that the current was pushing the divers toward shore, away from the reef and the drop off. I told Carlos to drop us off on top of the reef. By the time that we all made it down to the bottom we were in the shallow, sandy area on the shore side. I started heading down over the drop off and Jim started to pop up to the surface while the rest of the divers started to go in different directions. I got some more weight for Jim, gathered up everyone into a group and then decided to hunker down behind a big, boring coral head which blocked the current. I could feel that current getting stronger and stronger so I decided to wait it out. After 10 minutes or so it seemed better so we moved on. I once again took them down over the drop off and I leveled off at about 45 feet with EJ and Alex. The rest were down below us in about 60 feet of water. Right before we reached the caves a strong current kicked up and swept Aidan, Alex and Matt up and over the top of the reef towards shore. Well at least they were not being swept out to sea or down the wall………. I anchored EJ to the reef and then looked back for Armando and Jim. All I saw was a tornado of bubbles coming from behind a big wall of coral. I knew that the current had pinned them to the other side of the reef and that they could not catch up to us. I tried to swim back for them against the current but it was too strong. So I started to pull myself hand over hand to get back to the men. First Armando popped up and I was relieved but when Jim did not pop up I really got worried. I kept trying to pull myself back to Jim. It took a couple of minutes which seemed like an eternity but then a very befuddled Jim flew right past EJ, Armando and I. I got them to let go and we swam really fast to catch up to my lost boys. Once everyone was back together again, three were low on air so up we went. I had no bad feelings at all about grabbing dead areas on the reef with my hands. I felt that Jim and Armando's life were more important than the coral. If I have to choose then I will always choose a person's safety over the reef. Normally I wouldn't do something like that but I was just worried sick about Jim when he didn't show up with Armando.
No one was hurt but it was a very difficult dive for everyone. It was a shame because it was the first dive of the vacation. There were 3 good things about that dive though. I saw a big nurse shark swimming below us, I showed the Stovalls a nurse shark hiding from the current in the sand behind a small coral head and at the very end EJ showed me a big loggerhead turtle. So we saw good critters on that dive.
The current was really fast at French Reef too but it seemed easy after the first dive. Everyone really loved that dive because we got to see four hawksbill turtles and I took pictures for them. It was so much easier than the first dive that everyone was super happy when we got back on the boat.
Friday, July 13th
I modified the dive plan for the Stovalls this day. The plan was to drive around and look for a spot that didn't have a lot of current. We headed to Colombia Deep and when we got there Carlos called a friend on the radio and inquired about the current. We were told that the current was heading southbound. So we got in at the beginning of Palancar Bricks with the expectation of drifting south to Colombia Deep. I got in and checked the current it was moving northbound but it was very mild and gentle. Perfect! We dove Palancar Bricks instead. As we were floating at the surface before beginning the dive a hawksbill turtle swam below us. We went down and had a lovely dive. We got to see another really big turtle too.
I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨ for the second tank and the current was slow there too and heading southbound. We saw a few more turtles and 2 lionfish. When I got out my little spear I was very disappointed to discover half of it was missing so I couldn't take a shot at either one of them. At the end of the dive we found ourselves in a whirlpool and the bubbles didn't go up. They just kind of got stuck in mid water. The current changed direction at that point and we floated back in the direction that we came.
Saturday, July 14th
I took Armando, Aidan, Alex, Jim, EJ and Matt to Colombia. When we got in we had swimming pool like conditions. It didn't take more than a couple of minutes for the current to kick up. It kept picking up speed and I cautiously made my way over to the drop off. I hesitated a bit and then went through a cave that let us out on the wall. I saw that the bubbles were just swirling around over us and decided to blow off the wall and head for the shallow again. Call me a chicken but better safe than sorry! On our way over to the shallows I found a hungry turtle snacking on a sponge. We saw a bunch of southern stingrays and some little lobsters on that dive. Someone pointed out a rather large stone fish in the sand as we flew right over it. The current was pushing the stone fish around!
Armando was the birthday boy and I let him call the second site. He wanted to go back to ¨My Secret Spot¨. I was happy to oblige because I had lost half of my lionfish spear there the day before. We saw tons of lobsters and a big crab. The current kicked up on that dive and we ended up flying over the reef for the last 20 minutes of the dive.
Sunday, July 15th
Thank goodness there was almost no current at all for George, Chris and Maureen's first day in the water. I told Carlos to take us to Palancar. On the way out we saw perfect conditions and no current at all. As soon as we arrived at Palancar I saw the flat spots on the surface and I told Carlos to turn around. We drove back towards town until there were no more flat spots. I told Carlos to stop there and that is how we chose our dive site. We wound up on French Reef for the first dive and it went very well. We had not much current and no drama. We saw tons of little lobsters and we checked out a purple hermit crab with blue eyes. While we made our safety stop we saw 2 different turtles.
I took them to Yucab for the second dive. Since it was overcast the splendid toadfish were out. We saw a bunch of them and George took lots of video and pictures of them. A big shark swam by. I think that George is a shark magnet! The current was very mild but it did switch directions half way through the dive.
Monday, July 16th
Kathy and Carlos snorkeled over us while I dived on Palancar Gardens and Horseshoe with George, Larry, Chris and Maureen. We saw a medium sized hawksbill and a baby green turtle on that dive. George was hoping to see a hammerhead. I forgot to tell him that we only see hammerheads in winter time and only once in a blue moon. Since he saw one on his last trip he probably thought that a hammerhead might actually be a possibility!
We went to Paradise but Kathy ended up not snorkeling. I found a cute little goldentail eel. George showed us a spotted scorpionfish. It was Larry that found the baby seahorse. A pike blenny looked a lot like a pipefish until it buried itself in the sand. As Chris, Maureen and I did our safety stop we drifted over a pair of huge lobsters. Chris asked me if the tail could have been 15 pounds. I don't know if he was serious or not so I just told him that lobster would be very expensive in a restaurant!
Tuesday, July 17th
I let Jorge pick the reef because it was his birthday. Margie, Rich, Michael, Chris and Maureen didn't seem to mind. We went to Palancar Caves. We were bombarded by turtles on that dive. The turtles were all very friendly and stuck with us a while. There was a pair of turtles together playing on top of the reef and one befriended George and hung out with him for a while. George went exploring and found a baby green moray eel. It was absolutely adorable.
I wanted to go to Dalila. Another boat captain told us that the current was reversed so Carlos dropped us off at Cedral Wall to do Dalila backwards. The current ended up going north and we dove Cedral Wall for the first 35 minutes. We saw a pair of big southern stingrays. Several big crabs were found and there were lots of little lobsters. George found a small lionfish. I netted it and fed it to a hungry mutton snapper.
Wednesday, July 18th
Dive one was on Palancar Caves with George, Rich, Margie, Chris and Maureen. The current was starting to kick up again but since we were in the caves most of the dive we didn't feel it. There were several other groups of divers out there and we had a few traffic jams but it was nice to come out of a cave and find another divemaster pointing to a pipehorse. I haven't seen one of those in a long time.
Dive number two was on French Reef. Jim and Jan joined us and the current was pretty darned fast. I had a hard time keeping the group together but George helped me out. We flew past two turtles and when we came to the long cave I just skipped it. I wouldn't be able to get everyone to stop and wait at the end and regroup. It just didn't work out for us. At the end of the dive we found a rather large nurse shark lounging about. It seemed that the more experienced divers were unhappy about the current while Jim and Jan who had never done a warm water dive before and were newly certified thought that the dive was great! There is a lot to be said for not being spoiled :)
Dive number three was the best dive of the day. I took Jim and Jan to Paradise. There was very mild current and we were extremely appreciative. As we were sitting still looking at a hermit crab and waiting for it to poke it's head out, Jan pointed over my shoulder behind me. There was a big octopus out in the open. We followed and observed the octopus for 5 minutes while it changed colors and also it's body texture to blend in with what ever it was sitting on. It scooted around a few times too. Jan also really liked the odd fish that we saw like the lizard fish, the trumpet fish and the goldentail eel.
Thursday, July 19th
The current was pretty normal on Palancar. It was Mary and Russ' first real dives after being certified in a pond. It was Jim and Jan's first time out to Palancar. George didn't have to help me much. Everyone dived well and stayed together. I rewarded them by taking them through a lot of caves. We saw a turtle on that dive and a big barracuda too.
The current was pretty normal for Paso Del Cedral too. In fact it slowed way down towards the middle of the dive and it was really easy. A big green turtle swam right into the middle of our little group. We saw loads of black groupers and more barracudas. At one point it seemed like a whole squadron of barracuda passed by us. Coming out of the cave we ran into my friend Eduardo who showed us a pregnant pipe horse. At the end of the dive the first nurse shark that I found was sleeping under a gorgonian and it was kind of small. While Jim, Jan and I were doing a safety stop Jim showed us a big nurse shark swimming around. George and I watched as it hunted for something under the reef and then a big grouper joined it. We swam with it for about 10 minutes. It was very entertaining.
Friday, July 20th
Horacio came along to help me. I took Haley, JayCee, Mark and Darlene on a 25 foot dive at Palancar while Horacio took Rich, Margie, Russ and Mary down on a deep dive at the drop off. The current was very mild but going the wrong direction. I could not complain. Since it was Jaycee and Haley's first ocean dive, Jaycee being 10 years old, I was thankful for the mild current and didn't complain J The dive was a short one for me and apart from a swim to the reef it was an easy dive too!
I took everyone to Colombia Shallows and left Horacio on the boat to nap. We found lobsters and a tiger's tail sea cucumber. As I was showing Rich and Margie a hermit crab a friendly turtle swam down into our little group and flirted with everyone. The current was also very mild and going the opposite direction of normal.
Saturday, July 21st
When I picked up Margie, Rich, Russ and Mary the current looked non-existent on Santa Rosa Wall. When we got suited up Carlos informed me that the current was heading southbound. Normally when the current heads south it is calm and slow. He dropped me on the north end of the wall and I planned to dive it backwards. When I first got in the current was OK but within minutes I realized that it was gaining speed and that the visibility was limited due to all the sand dispersed in the water by the current. There were little tornados of sand so I high tailed it over to Santa Rosa Shallow. First of all there is a bottom below the divers there and second of all the current is always slower there. We had a lovely dive. We were greeted by a big hawksbill turtle. We found a big grouper, a big lobster and a southern stingray. There were schools of grunts everywhere and loads of marine life. The current slowed WAY down and everyone had a great dive.
For the second dive I tried to go to Yucab but when we checked the current it was fast. It was really fast. So we got back on the boat and headed over to Chankanaab where the current was clipping along but definitely manageable. We saw several midnight parrotfish and a big lobster. I heard everyone talking about a crab but I missed it. There were several big, gray southern stingrays on that dive too.
Tuesday, July 24th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Julie, Rich, Margie, Paul, Ron and David. We had a little current but nothing irritating. It was a good dive. Rich explored caves and we enjoyed the scenery.
Matt joined us for the second dive. When I announced that we were going to Colombia Shallow everyone got really excited. Apparently it is a lot of divers´ favorite reef. We saw loads of fish. Julie says it is like swimming around in an aquarium. Three turtles were pointed out and Paul found a baby nurse shark under the reef. I found a small lionfish. I went and got the nets but it scooted into a hole and got away.
Wednesday, July 25th
Julie, Vladimiro, Rich and Margie were my divers on Santa Rosa Wall. We had good conditions for the dive. After we had been down for about 5 minutes we drifted over to a pair of sleeping nurse sharks with a 70 pound black grouper hovering over them. We stopped and watched as Vladimiro and Rich took photos. One shark swam off but the other stayed put. Everyone went through all the swim throughs. Julie and I searched for seahorses in the algae.
We had almost no current at all on San Francisco Wall and everyone was extremely pleased when we got back on the boat. First we hung out with a small nurse shark taking a nap. About half way through the dive my dear, sweet green moray eel Buster swam by. I screamed through my regulator because I was so excited to see my Buster. I hadn't seen Buster in probably almost a year and I was so worried that he was gone forever. I cannot tell you just how happy I was to see his crooked smile. While Margie made her safety stop a baby turtle swam right past her. It was really a beautiful, fun dive!
Thursday, July 26th
It was Kim and Patrick's first time diving in Cozumel. I didn't even give Vladimiro, Fulvio or James a chance to make a request. I just took them to Palancar Gardens. We had wonderful conditions with hardly any current at all. We went through all the good caves and Patrick used up all the film in his disposable camera. Right before Patrick and Kim went up we saw a huge lobster parading around. Vladimiro and I saw a second lobster out and about as well. Patrick asked me when we got back on the boat if the lobster was 6 feet long. I smiled and told him, ¨Not quite…¨ There was not a bit of sarcasm in my voice either J
We had such a good dive on San Francisco Wall the day before I decided on that spot for the second dive. The current was a little wacky but it was extremely mild so it didn't matter. I think it was the exact same 2 sharks that we saw again. The big one swam below us with it's entourage of big black groupers. The second was the little guy in a new hiding place. I found a small lionfish but didn't have the nets with me. Going to the surface to get them was not an option this time so the little guy got to live another day to eat more tiny fish.
Friday, July 27th
Rich, Margie, John, Ryan and Jennifer were my divers on Colombia Deep. We did have a little current but it was not strong. I could not complain. All the big critters were seen while John, Jennifer and I were finishing up our tanks. As I was drifting along wondering why we had not seen at least one turtle the first one appeared. Minutes later the second one appeared. While I was watching the second turtle a big nurse shark swam past below us. It felt like the critters just kept coming but most of the divers were already back on the boat!
Rich was not sick of Colombia Shallows yet so we went back. We saw several turtles and the baby nurse shark was in the same place. Another divemaster pointed out a big nurse shark going by. John showed me a small lionfish. I went up to get the nets but Carlos was kind of far away so I just decided to let the next person get the lionfish. Oh well.
Saturday, July 29th
We had swimming pool like conditions on Palancar Horseshoe with John, Jen, Ryan, Julie, Rich, Margie and Vladimiro. When we came up John described the dive as nice and relaxing. There were another group of divers on Horseshoe at the same time as us and they saw a small black tip shark. I am disappointed that we didn't get to see it.
I decided to take them to Paso Del Cedral for the second dive. We had really nice conditions there too. At the beginning of the dive we saw a big hawkbill turtle sitting on the bottom sharing a sponge with some angelfish. Then that big green turtle took off from the bottom and surfaced to breathe. It was the same one that Julie and I had seen a month before. She had thought that it was a rock until it moved. The turtle is just huge and it is kind of a different color than the other turtles in the area. I found the big green moray in her usual spot and I showed Julie a darling little juvenile smooth trunkfish.
Sunday, July 29th
With only four good divers; Julie, John, Ryan and Jen I went to Santa Rosa Wall. We had wonderful conditions anyway and a big nurse shark swam below while shadow hunting with a grouper. We skipped the caves this time because all of the caves were full of schools of humans all kicking up sand.
We went to Paradise to look for splendid toadfish and seahorses. We found neither. But we saw lots of big black groupers, a golden tail eel, flamingo tongues and a bright yellow trumpet fish. We were down for an hour and a half.
Sunday, August 5th
I took Wes, Kate and Ezra diving on Palancar Gardens while Kevin snorkeled over us. We stayed pretty shallow most of the dive but I took Ezra through a few archways. We got to sit and watch a hawksbill turtle dining on a leathery sponge. That was the highlight of the dive. Wes saw a huge lobster and he just couldn't get over how big it was. Since it's a national marine park the lobsters here grow huge.
Wes is a fish freak and he had a field day on Paradise reef. He really liked the smooth trunkfish and the squirrel fish but I think his favorite was the purple queen trigger with her long, elegant tail. I tried to show Ezra a splendid toadfish in a hole but when I shined my flashlight on it the toadfish turned around and burrowed in. We found a big crab on that dive too.
Monday, August 6th
Ali, Curtis, Deb, Jeff, David and Lindsay had not been diving in over a year. Palancar Gardens is always the perfect ¨First Dive of the Vacation¨ place. We had hardly any current and we enjoyed all of the beautiful caves and swim throughs. We saw 4 lobsters all huddled together under a small coral head. A good sized nurse shark made a slow pass, maybe looking for a lionfish………. We saw several big black groupers too.
The current on Paso Del Cedral was stronger than I had expected. In the first 5 minutes we flew past a green turtle that parked on the bottom. I saw a big hawksbill off in the distance but only succeeded in showing the group a baby hawksbill that we drifted near. We got to see another big nurse shark over by the schools of yellow fish on the reef. It was a cool dive.
Tuesday, August 7th
The sky was grey when I picked up Jeff, Debbie, Lindsay, David, Bob and Carol to go diving. Tropical Storm Ernesto was weighing heavy on everyone's mind. I assured everyone that if the storm blew in the Carlos would give us the emergency recall but the new harbor master usually closes the port hours before the storm blows in anyway. The ocean was flat and calm as we headed out and I told everyone to enjoy the beautiful conditions. I asked where they wanted to go and the answer was, ¨anywhere pretty¨. Well I like San Francisco Wall so that is where we went. We saw big groupers and since the sky was overcast a bunch of dinosaur sized lobsters came out and walked around. I spent the dive watching the surface for waves. When Lindsay got low on air I sent up the yellow tube. Deb signaled that she was going up too because her mask was making her crazy. When Carol saw the girls heading up she joined in. I told her that she could stay down but she said she was ready to go up anyway. So with all 3 women making safety stops the husbands gave in and came up too! All six divers headed up together. Thank goodness. As we were waiting to get on the boat the squall blew in. I was really surprised at how fast that squall came up. From the time that the first diver got on board until the time that I got on board the waves had gone from 1 foot to 4 feet high! The wind started howling and the rain came down. Everyone was getting very nervous . Instead of heading straight into the harbor Carlos decided to stay out and help a smaller boat search for their divers in the storm. Carlos found the divers in about 5 minutes and the surface started to calm down and the wind died off and the rain stopped. By the time that we headed home the ocean was flat and calm again. The harbor master declared a small craft warning so we decided to call off the second dive and go home. Carlos and I felt fairly sure that we could safely do the second dive before returning but I didn't want to risk problems with the harbor master. So I dropped everyone off and we went home. As it worked out the big storm did not hit nor did we have another squall and the second dive could have been made safely but I also might have been fined and had my boat out of commission for a while had I broken the law. The divers didn't seem mad so that was a relief!
You can just barely see Cozumel through the clouds:
Thursday, August 9th
We missed a day of diving due to Ernesto but bright and early on Thursday we picked up Bob, Carol, Jeff, Deb, David, Lindsay, Curtis and Ali and went straight out to Palancar Caves. The sea was calm but underwater things were stirred up and silty from the storm surge of Ernesto's passing. We had a great dive including one large lobster, one big crab, a swimming turtle and 2 lionfish. Unfortunately my spear is out of commission right now so I had to let them go.
The next dive was on French Reef which everyone enjoyed immensely. There were 3 turtles and a huge school of grunts. Sitting right in the middle of the school of grunts were 7 really big black groupers and a big barracuda. Everyone stayed and watched the show for 5 minutes. I have never seen a school of grunts that big on French Reef. It was bigger than the biggest school on Colombia Shallow. The fish are all freaked out and acting weird because of the storm.
Friday, August 10th
Curtis, Ali, Carol, Bob, Dina, Craig, Maddie and Nicole came with me to Palancar Gardens. The three girls were newly certified so I brought Eduardo along to help. I stayed up on top in 40 feet of water with the newbies and Eduardo went down and took our experienced divers through all the caves. Eduardo pointed out a spotted eagle ray but the visibility was still a little screwed up from the storm so only Carol and I saw it. Everyone got to see the turtle and the big lobster.
Our second dive was on ¨My Secret Spot¨. We saw two turtles there, a couple of lionfish, a pair of giant lobsters and an eel.
In the afternoon I picked up Jeff, David and Lindsay and took them to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a large swimming nurse shark and a couple of turtles during the first 10 minutes of the dive. Everyone watched the reef monitoring project going on below us with much curiosity.
Our last dive of the day was on Yucab. There was a bit of current but I still managed to show Jeff 2 splendid toadfish, a slipper lobster and a few lobsters. He stopped and took lots of pictures.
Saturday, August 11th
Eduardo came along with us to take Carol, Bob, Maddie and Craig a little deeper on Palancar Bricks. I floated around in 40 feet of water with Nicole and Dina. We saw tons of turtles on that dive and we got to park and watch them chew on the reef. That was especially fun for Craig and the girls because they had gone to release the baby turtles to the sea the afternoon before. So it was great to see the big ones out there in their natural habitat.
We went looking for splendid toadfish at Chankanaab. We found a bunch of them. The crabs were out all over the place and I pointed out one lobster. I found a juvenile spotted drum fluttering around the base of a coral head. Carol loved the dive because it was so relaxing.
Sunday, August 12th
Carol, Bob, Maddie and Craig were my divers and Maddie requested a nurse shark so I took them to Dalila. Carol found the first nurse shark. I think it was laying down when they found it but when she called my attention (I was looking in a hole) the shark was swimming away. I went to check one of my usual holes and found a big green moray staring back at me. I gave Carol my flashlight so that she could get a better look. I borrowed Craig's camera and took a picture too. We found another smaller nurse shark out swimming around and we saw a few turtles on that dive too.
Carol requested Paso Del Cedral for the second dive. We saw that humungous green turtle that has been hanging out in the neighborhood. We actually saw it twice. The first time we saw it he was sitting on the bottom in 30 feet of water. It took off and later we saw it lounging around to the north in 55 feet of water. We drifted past schools of barracuda and we had an exciting encounter at the end of the dive. We were nearing the end of the best coral reef area and I decided to swim across to Cedral Wall where I normally see nurse sharks. Just as we started heading over, Nurse Jackie swam up to us begging for a lionfish. She swam around in our little group and looked Carol right in the eye. It made Maddie a little nervous to have a 6 foot shark swim right up to her but Carol chased after Nurse Jackie and I assured Maddie that it was just fine. It was a perfect Grand Finale to the week of diving.
Friday, August 17th
I took Joe, Johnny, Nichole, Rick, Matt and Pieter to Palancar Horseshoe. It was Nichole´s very first ever ocean dive. We didn't see any big critters but the dive was awesome for her.
Nichole was interested in seeing critters. We found plenty on San Francisco Wall. The first critter was a big hawksbill turtle that swam right up to us and smiled for Pieter's camera. The next one was a big nurse shark that swam right by. Johnny looked a little nervous but it was fun. The best was when Buster, my favorite 6 foot long green moray swam past with a couple of big black groupers. I couldn't resist chasing after Buster to say hello. When we got back on the boat Johnny confessed that it was the best dive he ever had!
Saturday, August 18th
After a 30 minute class on the boat and a 30 minute dive on the beach I took Rita and Sam on a resort course at Palancar Gardens. Rick, Susan, Matt, Michael and Deb came along and took pictures and counted fish. We didn't see anything of note other than a small goldentail moray but fun was had by all.
Since we had to stay shallow I took everyone over to Paradise for the second dive. It was all about the small stuff there. We saw a spotted scorpion fish, a bunch of small lobsters and at the end of the dive I showed Susan a big hermit crab. I took Rick and Deb up for a safety stop and Susan stayed with the crab taking pictures. When we all got on the boat Susan said, ¨Thanks for pointing out that seahorse to me! ¨ I said, ¨I didn't see a seahorse!¨ Apparently the big yellow seahorse was right next to the hermit crab I was pointing out and I didn't even see it! Susan took a bunch of pictures so we know she isn't lying :)
Sunday, August 19th
I took Andy, Vonnie, Pieter and Lorenzo to Palancar Gardens. The first turtle that we saw was up on top of the reef and posed as a silhouette for us. It was pretty big. The second turtle was perched on top of the reef munching on a tasty sponge. Pieter hung around and took lots of pretty pictures of the turtle.
Pieter asked for a splendid toadfish so I took them to Dalila. I found 3 splendid toadfish within the first 10 minutes of the dive. Pieter got a few good shots. Then a rather large nurse shark swam by but was too far away for photographers. We also found a sleeping nurse shark lounging about on the bottom. The current was moving right along so we didn't stop long to admire it.
Monday, August 20th
My divers were Andy, Vonnie, Rick, Michael, Don, Kale and Jen on Palancar Caves and we had some decent sized waves. While I was swimming through the second cave I looked down and found 2 big green moray eels below me in a dark recess. I shined my light on both of them but everyone only saw one. Rick accused me of hallucinating. We saw a couple of hawksbill turtles and a baby green turtle too. It was a nice dive.
I took them to my ¨Secret Spot¨ for the second dive. I pointed out the first turtle and everyone took pictures. Jen pointed out the second turtle but only Kale, Jen and I saw it. There was another nice turtle towards the end of the dive. Rick found a big nurse shark in a hiding place but I missed it completely. The conditions were really nice on that dive with hardly any current.
Tuesday, August 21st
I dived Colombia Deep with Rick, Susan, Michael, Vonnie, Andy, Lorenzo, Kale and Jen. We had big waves at the surface but down below was as calm as a swimming pool. We had a lovely dive. The critters did not appear until Rick, Susan and I were alone. At the end of the dive we saw a big nurse shark swimming way below us at around 100 feet or deeper. Then we saw a happy turtle just cruising around the reef. It was such an easy dive.
I took them through the long cave at French Reef. We saw a few turtles. When Lorenzo reached out to pet the turtle I yanked hard on his fin and he got the idea. I hope that I didn't scare him J
Wednesday, August 22nd
It was still a little choppy when I took Andy, Vonnie, Kale, Jen, Amanda and Pam to Santa Rosa Wall. We had a bit of current down there too but no one seemed to mind. We were hanging out around 65 feet when a big turtle swam up past us and went to the surface. After a few minutes it came back down and paddled around below us. I took them through the caves and everyone had a good time.
The second stop was at Yucab. We had a significant current there too but still, no complaints from the peanut gallery. A rather large nurse shark swam by and everyone took pictures. Only Amanda, Pam and I saw the first southern stingray but we all watched the second one as it scrounged for something to eat in the sand. A bar jack snapped up little stuff that the stingray stirred out of the sand while it fed.
Thursday, August 23rd
The sea was flat and calm when Andy, Vonnie, Kale, Jen, Pieter, Ashley and James arrived at Palancar Bricks. Ashley asked to see turtles and that is exactly what she got! There were several turtles at the Bricks. The first turtles we saw were hawksbills but on the safety stop she pointed out a small green turtle out in the blue. We went over for a closer look. It appeared to be eating jellyfish.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. The current was moving us too fast to stop and watch the first green turtle that we saw but we did kick hard against the current later in the dive and hung out with a big hawksbill turtle for a few minutes. The same shark that I saw a couple of weeks ago made a slow pass and Kale burned up all of his air chasing after it for a photo.
Saturday, August 25th
Tim, Marina, Anna and Benjamin were doing dives 1 and 2 for Open Water Certification. Eduardo came along with us to take Pieter and Joe down on a normal dive while I stayed up in 20 feet of water with the family doing skills. After the skills were done I took them down to 40 feet to join the other divers. We saw a big sea turtle and tons of fish. Thankfully the current was very mild.
Eduardo dived the reef with the men while I stayed near shore at Paradise doing more skills. We saw a big spotted moray and lots of lobster. Ben liked Paradise better because he could go slow and poke around looking under rocks. Twelve year olds like to do that sort of thing but so do adults!
Sunday, August 26th
Tim, Marina, Ben and Anna were ready to go on a normal dive with Pieter, Joe and James. I let Pieter pick the reef and he chose Palancar Bricks. We saw tons of turtles. Joe found one sleeping under a ledge on the reef. While we were making a safety stop Joe pointed out a big nurse shark swimming around off in the distance. Marina was absolutely thrilled.
I let Joe pick the second dive site. We went to San Francisco Wall. We saw a lot of turtles there too. In addition to the turtles we saw big groupers, barracudas and a big green moray. It wasn't Buster but it was really great anyway. Everyone was impressed.
Tuesday, August 28th
We had one day off due to high seas from Tropical Storm Isaac. It was still pretty rough when we set out to Palancar Caves with James, Mark, Joe, Tim, Marina, Ben and Anna. After a good rain the seas flattened out. We swam through lots of caves and the current was almost non-existent. Mark pointed out a turtle hidden under a ledge and it just sat there as everyone went over and said hello. Joe pointed out a huge lobster walking around towards the end of the dive.
There was no current really at French Reef. Since it was raining when we got in there was less light than normal. All of the crabs and lobsters came out because they thought that it was nightfall. We saw another turtle. Ben found a juvenile spotted drum coming out of the long cave. It was only about 10 feet away from where the other little juvenile used to be all of the time. I guess the first one grew up and had to find a bigger hiding place.
Wednesday, August 29th
I asked Roberto and Yoshiko where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see. They asked for a dive where they could go slow and take pictures of small stuff. Mark and James asked for lots of fish so I took them to Chankanaab. James and I found lots of splendid toadfish. Roberto was impressed by how many lobsters he saw. We bottom crawled and looked at every little thing on the reef that dive.
Since Roberto wanted to take pictures of small stuff Paradise was the logical choice for our next dive. We found more toadfish, lots of eels and big crabs. At the very end of the dive James and I found a big seahorse. I remember where it is so hopefully I can find it again!
Thursday, August 30th
I started my day on Santa Rosa Wall with Roberto, Yoshiko, James, Tim, Marina, Anna and Bennie. Eduardo brought his friend Skip but we didn't see them most of the dive. We had mild current and I took them through some caves. As it turned out Roberto liked the caves very much. We did stop often to look at bottom dwellers like yellow headed jaw fish and a tiny little pipefish. All the big stuff appeared at the end of the dive. Eduardo pointed out a loggerhead turtle and a free swimming green moray eel that followed us around for a few minutes. It was a special treat.
Earlier in the week I had told Marina that she would most certainly see another big nurse shark swimming around and we found it on Yucab. Everyone was pretty excited about that shark. We saw a bunch of lobsters and a big southern stingray at the end of the dive.
Friday, August 31st
James, Mark, Charlie, Donna, Tim, Marina, Anna and Ben came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. We had ideal diving conditions with plenty of sunshine and mild current. Charlie described it as ¨the big critter dive¨. We saw a big lionfish and I HATED to let it go. I will be bringing my old Hawaiian sling from now on. We saw a huge lobster crawling over the reef and we got up close and personal with a furry sea cucumber. We had a turtle encounter at the end of the dive and smiles were on everyone's faces back at the boat.
Charlie had asked to see a spotted drum so I took him to French Reef because I knew exactly where to look. Aside from our juvenile spotted drum we saw loads of turtles and lots of lobsters too. At the end of the dive we saw one humungous southern stingray with two smaller ones all piled up together in the sand.
It was only Charlie, Donna and James for the third dive of the day on Las Palmas. I hadn't been there for a while but I decided to bring the nets because I always see lionfish there. I only found one but I caught the little bugger and a queen trigger ate it. We saw 3 jack knife fish and a juvenile spotted drum. I found my favorite juvenile there too, the smooth trunkfish that looks like a little marble bouncing around. We found 2 dozen small lobsters hanging out under a rock and James took pictures of a horse conch.
Saturday, September 1st
Four of my divers cancelled so James, Donna and Charlie got a semi private tour. Charlie requested Santa Rosa Wall. We didn't see a lot of big critters like the last time but we did see a big grouper and one southern sting ray.
James picked the second spot, Dalila. We saw 6 turtles! Most of them were big and there were even 2 turtles together at one point. Charlie found the first big nurse shark sleeping on the bottom. I spotted the second big nurse shark that was out swimming about. It was an exciting dive!
Charlie wanted to see a sea horse so I took he and Donna to Paradise and we found that little yellow sea horse that James and I saw last time. Charlie was thrilled. We also saw a few golden tail morays and a ¨thong fish¨.
Sunday, September 2nd
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Ron, Kathy, Patti, Drew, Charlie, Donna, Tony and Julie. The action didn't start until the very end of the dive when Ron pointed out a huge green moray eel swimming around on top of the reef. We all chased it a bit. It was a gorgeous creature.
Dive two was on my ¨Special Spot¨. We saw several turtles and a dinosaur sized lobster prancing about. I found a large crab with some very interesting pinchers.
Dive three was on Chankanaab because Charlie and Donna didn't want to be in a fast current. We saw lots of little stuff there. We saw a Peterson's cleaner shrimp on a corkscrew anemone. I found a few splendid toadfish for Charlie to film. Donna showed me a big sponge full of wonderful little things. One critter was a pretty black and orange crab which was being chased around by a banded cleaner shrimp while a brittle star clung to the sponge the whole time this was going on.
Monday, September 3rd
Kara, Rich, Tony, Julie, Ron, Kathy, Drew and Patti were my divers on Palancar. I asked Carlos to drop us off on the Horseshoe. When we got in the current was going the opposite direction of normal so we ended up diving Palancar Caves and Bricks. The current was moving along at a decent clip. I only went in a couple of caves but Ron loved them. He just loves to get in those caves…….. We saw several turtles and we had a good time.
Since the current was funky and I wanted an easy dive I took everyone to Colombia Shallow for the second stop. Before we got in we asked another boat captain which way the current was going and he said from the north to the south which is opposite of normal as well. So Carlos dropped us at the very northern part of Colombia Shallow. Within 15 minutes the current changed direction and we had to go back the direction that we had come. It didn't take long before we ran out of reef so I decided to cross them over to Palancar. It was a 5 minute swim but Patti thought it to be a beautiful reef. Of course it was! We wound up on Palancar Horseshoe! That is where I wanted to dive in the first place but had never made it because of the current. What madness!
Tuesday, September 4th
Jacob, Jennifer, Tracy, Nate and John arrived on a cruise ship. Patti, Drew, Ron and Kathy joined us and we all went to Palancar Horseshoe. One of the boys, I think it was Nate, had mask troubles. The mask just kept flooding completely and immediately so he and Jennifer sat the dive out. The rest of the divers had a nice dive and we saw a big lobster.
The second stop was at French Reef. The boys explored the caves and we saw a turtle.
Thursday, September 6th
I took Kara, Rich, Ron, Kathy, Patti, Drew and Amanda to Palancar Caves per Ron's request. Everyone really loved that dive. We got to see a couple of turtles on that reef.
Drew picked the next stop at Dalila. The first nurse shark we saw was small and hiding in a hole. I asked Kara if she wanted to go have a peek but she said no. The second shark was big and we saw it near the end of the dive. It swam right towards Patti, Drew and I. I was glad that Kara wasn't around to see that. I think it would have made her a bit nervous having the big shark swim right at us.
Friday, September 7th
Drew picked Palancar Bricks for our first stop. A rather large nurse shark shot out from under the reef below us and swam off. Amanda chased after it taking pictures. Back on the boat I asked Kara what she thought when that shark came out and she said that she never even saw it.
There were tons of turtles on Cedral Wall. The first turtle was sharing a sponge with a harem of angelfish. Ron was drifting past the second turtle which was really big. I had to get his attention so that he turned his head and found a big turtle right in front of him. There were several more turtles throughout the dive including a very small baby turtle that Kathy pointed out. We also got to see 2 nurse sharks and I shot a lionfish. I carried it around for about 15 minutes before I found some fish that would eat it. A pair of queen triggers gobbled it right up and spit out the spines. Everyone was amazed to watch the feeding frenzy.
Saturday, September 9th
For their last day of diving I hired Sandro and we went to Punta Sur. I took Ron and Amanda through the Devil's Throat. Sandro stayed out of the cave with Patti, Kathy and Drew. After the cave we all met up and continued the dive together. We saw a big nurse shark and it got right up in Ron's face. He liked that a lot.
We saw 7 turtles on Palancar Gardens. We stayed up on top in about 35 feet of water and floated around. We also saw a couple of swimming nurse sharks. It was a really nice ending to their week of diving.
Wednesday, September 12th
With the Maximus being out of the water for routine maintenance, Carlos, Amanda and I hitched a ride on Eduardo's boat for the morning. He took us to Palancar Caves and he shot a lionfish in a cave. We saw a big crab and a huge lobster. He also pointed out a big nurse shark under the reef.
The next reef was Dalila and we saw four turtles and 3 nurse sharks. Alan found the first nurse shark which is the one that we always see in the hole. The second shark swam right at Carlos and I wondered if he got a little nervous. Eduardo shot another lionfish and actually held it in his hand. After feeding it to a lobster he still had the smell on his fingers. A really big mutton snapper swam up to him and tried to bite him. I guess it smelled the dead lionfish but couldn't see well. Amanda showed me a juvenile smooth trunkfish. The guy from Texas made a sign like rolling the dice. That is what the little guys look like. They are very cute. Eduardo found a teeny tiny nudibranch.
Friday, September 28th
After more than two weeks out of the water it felt strange and nice to roll in backwards into the sea and be weightless again. I had all of my good friends with me: Chace, John, Carol, Deanna, Gary, Allyson and Jeff. They asked for Colombia Deep. When I came out of the cave I saw Gary pointing down the wall and making the shark signal. I swam over for a look but by the time I got there he couldn't see it anymore. I saw a big grouper go by so I just assumed it was following a nurse shark. Somehow I knew better though.... We only saw one turtle on that dive and it went up for a breath of fresh air. Towards the end of the dive I spotted a small reef shark speeding away. It ducked under the reef before anyone else could see it. I got out my slate and wrote: REAL SHARK – 4 FEET LONG and Gary made a signal to tell me that he saw a real shark too earlier but it was 7 feet long! So there were 2 reef sharks on Colombia that morning. They always seem to show up during hurricane season for some reason.
I asked everyone where they wanted to go for the second dive and someone said Dalila. The usual shark was in his usual spot. The green moray eel was in my other little hole that I always check. We saw enough lobsters to open a restaurant. Carol and Deanna took pictures of a turtle and a big nurse shark swam around below us at the end of the dive.
Saturday, September 29th
They all made a decision the night before that they wanted a day of wall diving so the first stop was on Santa Rosa. The dive was uneventful but Gary killed a few lionfish. He swam around looking for something that would eat them. We saw a bunch of lobsters on that dive and Carol chased a big grouper around.
The second wall was San Francisco. The current was not cooperating when Carol and Deanna stopped to take pictures of a turtle. Aly and I looked for parking spaces and ended up just holding on to dead spots on the reef. Carol and Deanna flushed out a medium sized nurse shark that not everyone got to see. Deanna found another small nurse shark hiding in a dark cubby hole and she got different angles of video of the little guy. Chace and Deanna stayed down an hour and a half searching the algae for seahorses to no avail. I stayed by the wall looking for Buster. Neither of us found what we were looking for but it sure was a long dive.
Sunday, September 30th
I asked Carlos to drop Chace, John, Carol, Deanna, Gary, Allyson, Jeff and I off at the Devil's Throat. I rolled in to check the current and to see where we were. The conditions were IDEAL but we were not in the right spot. I looked around and determined that the depths were about right and the bottom composition was pretty similar and decided that I had a 50/50 chance that we were south of the Throat and that the current would carry us there. In the case that we were north of the throat, well, there was always tomorrow. I decided to give Carlos the OK and have him put the divers in anyway. We were NORTH of the Throat and we ended up diving the reef between Punta Sur and Colombia. I enjoyed the dive. We saw a nurse shark swimming around below us, we saw TONS of turtles and Gary killed 2 lionfish. Some divers were disappointed that we didn't go through the Throat but I promised to take them back the following day. It was a nice dive anyway!
The second dive was on French Reef. We saw too many turtles to count and enough lobsters to open a restaurant. We went through that long cave and Chace found the juvenile spotted drum.
Monday, October 1st
We went back to Punta Sur but this time I brought Eduardo with me. We split the group. I had Carlos drop Carol, Alysson and I off south of the Throat and he dropped everyone else off at the Throat with Eduardo. When Carol, Alysson and I arrived at the cave we waited on the other side and met up with the group to finish the dive. In a shallower area we found a couple of big lionfish and Gary shot them.
We let Gary pick the second dive. He chose San Francisco Wall which had a lot of current. Everyone practiced ducking behind the coral heads to wait for stragglers. Chace pointed out a pair of turtles. The first was a big one and the one behind it was a little guy.
Tuesday, October 2nd
I took Carol, Deanna, Chace, Aly, Jeff and Jenn to Palancar Caves. We saw a few nice turtles and went through a bunch of swim throughs. At the very end of the dive Deanna found a small homemade Hawaiian sling. It was perfect for killing baby lionfish.
Per special request we went to Paradise and we went looking for the seahorse. I was pretty proud of myself for finding it within 10 minutes of arriving at the location. Everyone got pictures of it. Jenn was surprised at how much she liked the dive because there were so many fish there. I used the new Hawaiian sling to hunt 2 lionfish. I speared the first one but I missed the second one. The new spear is going to take some getting used to.
Saturday, October 6th
Bob and Sally wanted to do a couple of shallow, easy dives for the first day. Jay didn't seem to mind so I took them to my secret spot. While Sally was still working on her ears she spotted a huge nurse shark swimming around below us. The boys went after it and took pictures. Once Sally was down we floated over a big southern stingray. It was a really nice dive.
Since Sally´s ears were not cooperating I took them to Colombia Shallow for the second stop. Upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a sleepy turtle. It woke up and swam right over to another turtle. After every one was done checking out the turtles another one swam right by! There was a forth turtle towards the end of the dive hiding under the reef. I found a small lionfish and tried to catch it with the nets but it scooted into a sponge and got away.
Sunday, October 7th
The sun was shining when Bob, Sally, Jay, Kurt, Tim and I arrived on Palancar Horseshoe. It was a wee tad murky and the crabs and lobsters were out. About half way through the dive a small (3 foot) reef shark ran into us and was quickly frightened away. While Kurt, Tim and I were doing a safety stop I swam them over to the sandy area. I looked up to find a pair of dolphins right in front of my face. They looked enormous up close. They seemed to be barrel rolling in tandem and looked like they were courting each other.
On Paso del Cedral a lobster came out of it's cave and waved it's antennas at me. I found a small octopus in it's den. We saw a big green moray eel at the very end of the dive.
Monday, October 8th
I checked my dive log for May 1st to see where I had taken Tim and Kurt diving. The first site was Colombia Deep and they liked it so much that they wanted to go back. Our dive buddies were Jay, Julie, Dawn, Ryan and Bill. Julie found all the little stuff. First she showed us a juvenile spotted drum. Then she found someone´s safety sausage on a shelf down there. When she went to pick it up she found a small lionfish. I used Deanna's new Hawaiian Sling to kill it. Then Julie showed me a tiny little lionfish about an inch long. I took a shot at it but it was just too small for me to hit. Bill stopped and took lots of pictures of a turtle. When only Julie, Kurt, Tim and I were still down we drifted up to a pair of big nurse sharks lounging around on the reef. Tim got so close I thought that he might actually pet one!
The second site that they wanted to repeat was "My Secret Spot." We saw tons of good stuff there too. First there was a turtle, then a big green moray eel. Next a rather large nurse shark swam by. Lobsters were everywhere and one rock had about 30 little lobsters all huddled up together. We saw 2 more turtles and Bill took lots of pictures. While Kurt, Tim and I were doing the safety stop we saw a big nurse shark on the bottom. I was the last one up and I also saw a big southern stingray in the sand below me. It was a good critter day!
Tuesday, October 10th
I took Becky, Randy, Jay and Julie to Palancar Gardens for the first dive. We didn't see any really big creatures but we did see a crab and a lobster. It was an easy dive with a long bottom time.
Keeping the diving easy we went to Colombia Shallows for the second dive. We saw a turtle and a barracuda. I tried out Ken's camera and had some good results.
Wednesday, October 10th
I asked Eduardo to come along and help out with our group because I stayed shallow in 30 feet of water with Becky and Randy. Eduardo took Kurt, Dawn, Tim and Julie on a 60 foot dive at the Horseshoe. I watched from above as Dawn took pictures of a turtle. At the end of the dive Eduardo pointed out a pair of small Caribbean reef sharks that were in the same spot as the previous day. He said that there are 4 of them there but I only saw two. It was a thrill!
Our second dive was on French Reef. Eduardo showed us a lazy turtle and I stole the camera from Dawn to go get some up close photos. Randy showed us a free swimming green moray eel and once again I grabbed that camera and went down to get some close ups. Dawn saw another green moray while doing a safety stop but I missed it. Eduardo said it was the eel with one blind eye. I haven't seen that one in a while.
Friday, October 12th
We were a little overstaffed with Eduardo, Martin and I onboard. It was Martin`s morning off from his real job so he joined Julie on my boat for the morning dive trip. Eduardo hung out with Simon and I hung out with Becky and Randy. The ratio of divemasters to divers was really high J Becky suggested Palancar Caves. Martin killed 2 little lionfish and Eduardo pointed out enough lobsters to open a restaurant. I just floated around and supervised.
Everyone dived together on Paradise. Martin showed us his seahorse and I do remember where it was. I found a splendid toadfish that actually came out of its hole all on its own and swam into another hole. At the end of the dive I was determined to find Deanna`s seahorse and I did!
Monday, October 15th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Sheila, Bill and Steve. We saw 2 small turtles and I only saw one of those little Caribbean Reef Sharks. But it was great none the less! I just love those little sharks.
On Paradise we found tons of small lobsters, several spotted morays and a splendid toadfish smiled for Sheila`s camera. We searched for Martin`s seahorse for probably half an hour and never found it. We did find a couple of big spotted scorpion fish and some yellow sting rays though.
Tuesday, October 16th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Sheila, Steve, Bill, Gerald, Robin, Steve and Sterling. I chose Colombia because the wind was blowing hard from the North West and we had big waves. On Colombia we saw a few crabs and big lobsters. Gerald had a problem with his regulator and had to come up early. What a bummer L
I didn`t want to go to Colombia Shallow because I didn`t want to sit on the boat for half an hour in those waves so we went to the pier and did our second dive on Dalila. We had a great dive! I took a couple shots at some 1 inch long lionfish and missed. We saw a big nurse shark sleeping on the bottom. As Steve was taking pictures of the nurse shark another group of divers came along and actually PUSHED him out of the way! He was cool about it though. We saw a friendly turtle and at the end of the dive a big nurse shark swam by.
In the afternoon I took Melissa, Brian, Laura and Scott to Palancar Gardens. We swam through the caves and found a few big crabs. There were plenty of lobsters too. I found the first juvenile spotted drum and Scott found another.
I had such a good dive on Dalila in the morning I took my afternoon divers there too. The big sleepy nurse shark was gone but we did see a smaller one feeding on something. I think we saw 3 or 4 turtles on that dive. I can`t remember exactly. I finally hit a lionfish and I fed it to a lobster. I found a second one but shot and missed it. We saw more crabs and tons of lobsters on that dive too.
Wednesday, October 17th
I was so grateful for calm seas! I took Steve, Sheila, Julie, Gerald, Steve and Jordan to Palancar Caves. We had a turtle invasion there. We saw turtle after turtle after turtle. At one point there were 3 turtles all around us and I didn`t know which one to look at. One swooped down from the surface and dive bombed Julie. I thought it might go kiss her on the mouth. Then it turned at the last minute and it looked like it might slap her in the face with its flipper. That must have been the closest encounter that Julie ever had with a turtle!
We searched for the little stuff on Tormentos. We saw a big fire worm, a juvenile smooth trunkfish and quite a few secretary blennies. Sheila stopped and took photos of a pair of yellow headed jawfish building their new tunnels. It would go down and come up with a mouthful of sand and spit it out. Then it would go down the hole and do it again.
Thursday, October 18th
We had nice, calm seas for Steve, Sheila, Gerald, Julie, Steve, Sterling and Robin. I let them pick the reef and they chose Bolones de Chankanaab. Julie found a juvenile smooth trunkfish bobbing around in circles. One giant lobster bravely stomped around in front of the divers. There were plenty more lobster and crabs hiding in the reef. We found a lot of tiny lionfish. After a few unsuccessful attempts at shooting them I passed the Hawaiian sling to Steve so he could have a go at it. After a few tries he nailed one. Everyone was quite surprised when the submarine drove by. At first they thought it must be a whale shark. Then it got closer and they realized it was a sub. It was funny watching the divers take pictures of the sub while the passengers of the sub took pictures of us.
We stayed on Chankanaab and did our second dive on Chankanaab shallow. I found 4 splendid toadfish. I found the first Peterson`s cleaner shrimp and Julie found another bigger one. Julie found rarest creature of that dive. She showed Steve and I the mantis shrimp. It was like being on a treasure hunt.
Friday, October 19th
Gerald, Bob and Kris were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe. We had perfect conditions with flat seas and no current. We swam around at 60 or 70 feet for a while and a big hawksbill turtle made a slow pass. After about 40 minutes we arrived at the place where the little sharks live. At first I saw 2 together. Then another pair joined them. Then another group of 4 more joined in. There were 8 sharks in total and they actually hung around for a few minutes! I was in heaven. We all remained pretty still and didn`t scare them off. I was thinking of Rick and Susan the whole time and how much they would have loved this experience. I was really sorry that I didn`t have a camera with me. Kris had left her camera on the boat that dive and I believe that is precisely why we got to see 8 of them!
Our second dive was on French Reef. We went through the long cave and another turtle paid us a visit. We found the juvenile spotted drum when we came out of the cave and a big crab was sitting right there too. We also saw some southern stingrays on that dive. It was a nice, easy dive.
Saturday, October 20th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Bob, Kris, Eric and Gerald. We saw a big lobster, a pair of big crabs and a green sea turtle when we came out of the first cave.
Noah joined us for the dive 2 on Colombia Shallow. We saw a whole bunch of hawksbill turtles. Most were nestled down under small coral heads taking naps. A huge nurse shark swam slowly past. All I could think of when that shark swam by was that the nurse shark was about twice the size of Noah who is 11 years old. We saw a lot more lobsters too. What an amazing experience for a kid doing his very first scuba dive!
Sunday, October 21st
It was Jackie, Keith, Mike and Tim´s first day of diving for the week. Bob and Kris didn`t seem to mind much when the boys asked to go to the Caves. We had a wonderful dive there. We saw 4 or 5 turtles. One of which was that little baby turtle. We also saw a big green moray eel. Jackie pointed out a big lobster out for a stroll. At the end of the dive Jackie, Keith and I drifted over the top of Palancar Horseshoe and we got to see the little reef sharks. The first one was swimming solo. The second siting was of a pair together and then later we saw another solo shark. They were much further south than the other day.
The next dive was on Paso Del Cedral. We sat around for a few minutes and watched a hungry turtle eat a sponge. We found an even bigger green eel. Jackie was impressed at how many lobsters we saw on that dive.
Monday, October 22nd
Jackie, Keith, Mike, Tim, Prina, Joe and Pat came with me to Palancar Gardens. So did 2 boat loads of 30 divers each from Dive House. We managed to maneuver around them most of the time but sometimes we just had to dodge them. It wasn`t a bad experience but it was not exactly solitude either. We did see one turtle that went to the surface to breathe. We saw a pair of rather large lobsters crawling around on the reef and a king crab sat out in the open and allowed us to photograph him.
On French Reef Jackie pointed out a full grown lionfish. Finally I hit the darned thing! After preparing the sushi a big spotted moray came out of nowhere and gobbled up the lionfish. Keith took lots of pictures. We saw another big turtle and a tiny baby turtle too. One of the boys found a green moray swimming around but I couldn`t see it when he pointed. At the end of the dive I was showing the girls a big grouper and the end of my rope dangled near the grouper. It was frightened and darted under the reef. That scared a big nurse shark out of hiding which promptly swam off!
Tuesday, October 23rd
Since Tim wasn`t on the boat we chose Colombia Deep for our first dive with Jackie, Mike, Keith, Pat, Chris, Levi, Kris and Bob. I took a shot at another little lionfish and missed. Just when I thought that I might get my ¨groove¨ back I missed again L We swam through a bunch of caves and had a nice dive.
It was an overwhelming response when I asked where we would do the second dive. They picked ¨My Secret Spot¨ which really isn`t that secret after all but we didn`t have to deal with any other divers there so it was great. We saw a medium sized nurse shark go by being followed by a big black grouper.
In the afternoon Jackie requested Punta Tunich. We had almost no current at all. We saw a bunch of turtles and a huge green moray eel at the very end of the dive. It snapped at Keith as he snapped pictures of it. He wondered if the eel might come out and try to take a little nip.
I searched for half an hour at Paradise for the big yellow seahorse to no avail. It was quite frustrating. However I did find 2 splendid toadfish, tons of crabs, loads of lobsters and several spotted morays. One of the boys found a goldentail moray too.
Wednesday, October 24th
Jackie, Mike, Tim, Keith, Bob and Kris wanted to go to Punta Sur. Pat wasn`t sure if he was ready for Punta Sur or not but I assured him that after watching him dive for a couple of days that he was most certainly ready. When we arrived on the site Carlos informed us that the visibility was not good and that he couldn`t see the bottom. After talking it over and knowing that the weather was supposed to be worse the following day we decided to go for it. Carlos dropped us on top of the reef but at the end of the Cathedral. Since there was no current (that is why the visibility was bad) we just swam southbound and went through all those lovely caves going the reverse direction of normal. Kris came out of a swim through and had a spiritual experience with a big, friendly turtle. I took my very last shot at a juvenile lionfish and decided to give up trying to shoot them for good after missing for the hundredth time.
On Colombia Shallow I only saw one turtle. Normally we see a bunch there. None-the-less, when we got on the boat several people said, ¨I just LOVE that dive¨. I think that folks like it because it is shallow, easy and it has lots of light for the photographers.
I dropped off Kris and Bob. Then we picked up Chris, Levi and Wenoah. Mike requested a return to Palancar Caves. There we saw 2 turtles in close proximity of one another. Later in the dive we saw a third turtle. Levi decided that Caves is his new favorite dive.
I grabbed the nets and strapped them to the back of my tank. On Cedral Wall Mike helped me get them out of the holder to catch the first little, tiny lionfish. It was quick and easy. I decided that I am going to just stick to netting them from now on. About 15 minutes into the dive I spied an 8 foot spotted eagle ray. The amazing thing is that it didn`t swim away as we all crowded around for a look. We hung out together for a few minutes while the eagle ray scavenged for food. A rather large turtle was parked on the bottom and we sat with her for a while too. At the end of the dive I snagged a small lionfish in my nets. A hungry mutton snapper snatched it up while it was still in the net. We wrestled for a minute until the net tore a big hole in it, the handle of the net bent and then I just jerked it away. Seconds later the snapper spit out the piece of net and I zipped it into my BCD pocket. Darn snapper couldn`t wait just a minute for me to get it out of the net!
Thursday, October 25th
When everyone was on board I asked Jackie, Keith, Mike, Tim, Bob, Kris and Pat if they wanted to pick the reef or if I should pick the reef. They let me pick so I chose Palancar Bricks. After seeing 5 different hawksbill turtles we drifted up to a pair of small green turtles that were frolicking in circles around each other. After that show we saw one more hawksbill and one more green turtle. That was a lot of turtles in just one dive!
At Dalila we saw more sharks than turtles. The first shark we saw was that little one in the same old hole as usual. When I was just about to swim over and check the hole where I see the green moray, two things happened. First Tim signaled low on air. Second, Jackie signaled and pointed to a big nurse shark swimming by. We did see one turtle and there was a rock with about 20 lobsters under it. The last shark was a good 6 feet long and napping under the reef. After taking a few photos of the shark we went on up.
Friday, October 26th
It was Jackie, Keith, Mike and Tim´s last day of diving so I let them pick the reef. Jackie picked Santa Rosa Wall. I should have let Chris, Levi and Julie have a say in it but didn`t complain and none of them are exactly shy so I guess they were cool with that choice. They Horton boys were hot to go through the caves so I took them through all the main caves there.
For the second dive they requested Palancar Caves. I guess they didn`t get enough of those swim throughs on the first dive. I went through every single cave that I usually go through plus some others that I usually skip. They seemed pretty happy with the tour. We only saw one turtle this time around and one lionfish.
Sunday, October 28th
Wenoah, Chris, Levi, Joe, Meggin, Marty and Denise came with me on the first dive at Palancar Gardens. Bob, Linda and Samantha snorkeled over us while we dived. We didn`t see any big critters on that dive but at least it was an easy, relaxing first dive of the vacation for Denise, Meggin and Marty. There was plenty for our snorkelers to see there too. I made Chris laugh when I played with a furry sea cucumber in the sand.
Sam joined us at Colombia Shallow and she got to see a big sea turtle. I took pictures of Wenoah and Sam diving together, the turtle and the snorkelers from below. Someone found a coral head with about 5 lobsters under it. I showed Chris a giant tunicate. He asked if it was an animal or a plant. The tunicate is a weird little sessile creature that always gets my attention. I showed the girls a bouquet of feather dusters.
Monday, October 29th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Don, Elisa, Joe, Meggin, Marty, Chris and Levi. The current was weird. First we headed northbound and then the current changed direction. We turned around and headed back but after a little while it was going north bound a bit. Chris commented that he could feel it pushing him upwards too. It was one of those days that felt like we were diving in a washing machine.
The current was perfect at French Reef. We had a nice, relaxing dive and visited with a nice turtle. We saw tons of crabs everywhere on that reef.
Tuesday, October 30th
We let Carlos pick the reef. He chose Palancar Bricks. Joe had already been there earlier in the week but he didn`t see much through his leaky mask so he was a good sport about going back. Chris, Levi, Meggin, Marty and Don had never been there before. Julie doesn`t mind where we go as long as we see fish! We had an up close and personal experience with a tranquil turtle. I found a pipefish on the bottom and everyone got a good look at it. While doing our safety stop we looked down to find a green turtle napping under a rock. Levi found a bright yellow snorkel on the bottom and I went down to recover it.
I picked Paso del Cedral for our next dive. We saw a ton of good stuff there. First we dropped down on a huge turtle and the current was slow so we got to hang out with it for a while. Then we drifted over a coronet fish. I haven`t seen one of those in years. Their bright blue iridescent spots always mesmerize me. I found that octopus in the same hiding hole. Julie liked that one. Then I found the big green moray in her old spot. Later a medium sized nurse shark swam by with a 70 pound grouper following it. Another divemaster from a different group found a bigger green moray and I did something rude. I brought my divers over for a look………….. Oops………. Sorry…………… At the end of the dive we had a chuckle when a couple from another group were observing a turtle sitting on the bottom. The lady was practically kicking a huge barracuda. Julie tapped her on the shoulder and pointed out the barracuda behind her and she was so surprise that she started back paddling. Then she realized that she was low on air, her group had moved on and she couldn`t see them so she went up for a safety stop. Her buddy didn`t notice and he stayed down there with the turtle. Levi, Chris, Julie and I just sat back and enjoyed the show of the poor frazzled diver. She decided to join our group instead.
Friday, November 2nd
Don and Elisa picked 2 shallow easy dives for their group. Aaron and Derrick had not been diving in many years and needed to start out slow. I let Carlos pick the first reef. He picked San Clemente. Julie had never been to San Clemente before. It worked out perfectly. As we dived Josh, Jillian and Nate snorkeled over us. I caught two little lionfish in my nets and a coney gobbled them right up. We saw a pair of groupers on the hunt and a shy green turtle at the end of the dive. The lobsters were everywhere.
Josh, Jillian and Nate joined us at Paradise for a resort course. We saw to the reef from the shore area. Julie found a tiny baby sea horse clinging to an algae stalk. I can`t believe that she found that little guy!
Saturday, November 3rd
I stayed up top in 25 feet of water with Jillian, Josh, Don and Aaron. Julie took charge of Nate and Lance down at 60 feet on Palancar Horseshoe. Julie says that it is such a pretty reef that she thinks it may be her favorite. We saw one turtle up on top of the reef that dive.
There were loads of critters on Colombia Shallow. We saw hawksbill turtles and a green turtle. Julie showed us a spotted scorpion fish. Aaron pointed out a big octopus in his den. Aaron also discovered the nurse shark. It was hunting until we came along and then it took off. Later in the dive a really big nurse shark swam by. During the last 5 minutes of the dive we found that first nurse shark again taking a break under a small coral head. I killed one small lionfish and found a big green moray eel under the end of the reef.
Sunday, November 4th
Julie helped me out again. While I stayed up top on Palancar Gardens with Josh, Nate and Don, Julie took David, Patrick, Nate and Lance on a normal tour through the swim throughs. We didn`t see any big critters up top, just a couple of small lobsters.
We didn`t see any big animals on French Reef either. It was kind of weird to go through an entire day without seeing a single turtle…………………
Monday, November 5th
I took Rick, Kevin, Andrea, Lance, Nate, Patrick and David to Palancar Bricks and we found a turtle. David had fun taking lots of pictures of the turtle. I swam them through the magnificent archways and tunnels. Patrick said that dive tied for first place on his best Cozumel dive ever! That is really saying something. I guess he really loved the formations of the reef there.
The current was running backwards on Dalila. At the beginning of the dive Andrea pointed out a big, fat green moray eel swimming around with a huge black grouper following it. We saw a few splendid toadfish, lots of lobsters and finished the dive with a big, lazy turtle. It was a really nice dive.
Tuesday, November 6th
I let David and Patrick choose the reef. They picked Santa Rosa Wall. I think that Lance and Nate would have preferred Punta Sur but that can wait a day. Julie and Don didn`t seem to care where they went. We dropped down on the end of Cedral Wall for the first 15 minutes where we saw a huge southern stingray buried in the sand. I have to admit that I am guilty of getting too close to it and disturbing it until it got pissed off and swam away. Then everyone got a good look :)
They told me to take them somewhere close so we went to San Francisco Wall. As soon as we hit bottom a big spotted eagle ray swam by. The boys swam after it taking photos. Julie pointed out a fully grown lionfish and I actually shot the bugger. I carried it around on my stick until I could find something that would eat it. The lucky winner was a big mutton snapper. I think one of the guys got a picture of that snapper devouring the lionfish. Julie pointed out another lionfish but it was small. My aim was dead on for a change but the lionfish was too small and was trapped between the three points on my spear. It wiggled around until it was free and swam off. At the end of the dive while doing a safety stop a six foot nurse shark swam below us and disappeared down over the wall.
Wednesday, November 7th
This time I let Nate and Lance pick the reef. They picked Punta Sur. David, Patrick and Don were all up to that dive so off we went. I got in to check to see where we were and which way the current was heading but it was like swimming in a bowl of milk. It was all white and cloudy. So I got back on the boat and Carlos drove me further north. The second time he dropped me off it was much clearer and I was right on top of the reef. We went southbound again. There were a lot of small lionfish on that dive. I took a shot at the first one and missed. Then I spotted a pair together. I shot the first one and a mutton snapper snatched it right off of my spear as soon as I shot it. I took a shot at the second one but it scooted into a hole. I saw a fourth one that I actually did spear but it was in a hole so when I went to pull the spear out the fish came off the end and was stuck in the hole. I shot and missed the fifth one.
Back on the boat the boys started making fun of me and telling me that I am a lousy shot so I got out the nets for our dive at Paso Del Cedral. David pointed out 2 small lionfish together and I netted them both. He pointed out another solitary lionfish and I netted and smashed it too. I found a fourth one and killed it. We saw a big green moray eel on that dive. Everyone got in there and took pictures.
Friday, November 9th
Julie, Pam, Don, Kathye and Leon dived Palancar Gardens with me while Laurie, Deb and Kelly snorkeled over us. Coming around a corner covered with big gorgonians and clouds of fry I saw Leon trying desperately to get Kathye`s attention. I looked up to see what the excitement was about and it was a turtle right over my head. I could hear Pam shouting through her regulator. She went over and took a video of it. The current was reversed and we ended our dive by the big block at Horseshoe. I saw Julie sprint forward pointing. I have never seen her move that fast. I knew what she found. She was pointing at a pair of little Caribbean reef sharks. We headed over for a look. They circled, disappeared into the distance and came around again. Don got a few photos of them. Video would have been good. I think that they were about two and a half feet long. They are just babies. It was fun to watch Julie hide behind the reef spying on them. After the pair disappeared the second time a solitary shark showed up. It was soon joined by that first pair. The three little sharks swam around us for a few more minutes and then disappeared again. We decided to go up then.
Deb and Kelly joined us on Colombia Shallows for the second dive. We saw more turtles than we could count. Some were swimming, some napping on the bottom and some were pigging out on tasty sponges. There was even a pair of them together. The highlight of that dive was a big spotted eagle ray that glided by. Don and Julie went after it for photos.
Saturday, November 10th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Don, Deb, John and Julie. The current was going the right direction for the first time in weeks. It was a little strong too. It caught me by surprise. I hid the divers behind the reef out of the current and Julie found a decorator crab while checking out a lobster. After everyone had a peek at the decorator crab I found a pretty little green turtle napping right on top of the reef. We drifted around back to where we had seen the sharks the day before but didn`t see a one. Julie did find a big crab perched next to a large lobster. The crab had one of it`s claws up above the lobster and it looked like the crab was trying to put it´s arm around the lobster :)
I wanted to get out of the current so I took them to Chankanaab. We saw a couple of splendid toadfish and more big crabs. Don said that it was one of the prettiest reefs in Cozumel but he had a dead battery on his camera. What a bummer!
Sunday, November 11th
Elle, Paul, John, Chris, Anne and Peggy came with me to Palancar Caves. The current was starting to pick up and we only escaped it by going through the archways and tunnels. Up on top of the reef we drifted along and checked out the fish. At the very end of the dive I was goofing around with Anne and I looked up to see all 8 little reef sharks going by. I yanked on Anne`s hand and drug her over for a look. By the time that Elle and Paul caught up the little sharks were gone. They came back and made one more pass. I caught Elle`s attention and she got to see them too.
Dive two was on ¨My Secret Spot¨. I had some super happy divers on that one! A big spotted eagle glided by and everyone got a look. I saw 5 turtles on that dive and several large southern stingrays. There were several lobsters as well. It was a great dive for big critters.
Monday, November 12th
Tank number one was on Palancar Bricks with Julie, Mark, Cathy, Mike, Anne, Peggy and Gwen. I actually thanked God out loud when I got in, looked down and discovered very mild current. We saw 5 turtles on that dive. One of which was an uncommon green turtle. The divers pointed out lionfish and I handed the Hawaiian Sling to Eduardo to shoot them. He almost never misses and with my track record there is just no point in even trying! He got 2 and 1 escaped. We also saw a big southern stingray and a king crab.
Taking advantage of the light current I opted for Cedral Wall. I figured that we might not get there any other day in the coming week so get in while the getting is good! Strangely we only saw one turtle and it was off in the distance. I found the baby nurse shark in his favorite hiding hole. The big green moray was in her usual spot and she came out to charge Eduardo. She swam right up in his face and then slithered off. Everyone was quite impressed!
Tuesday, November 13th
It was sad to send Peggy, Anne, Gwen and Glyniss on the Ballena with Eduardo but I was a little overbooked so I had to split up my group. On the Maximus I took Elle, Paul, Chris, Don, Bill and Dianna to Palancar Garden. When we started out there was not much current to speak of but I knew that it was in the process of changing because the gorgonians were waving and pointing towards the deep water. I knew it would shift but I didn`t know which way it would go nor how strong it would get. I headed on my normal route due North. For the first five minutes it felt like I was swimming against it a little. Then after about 10 minutes it began to gently coast us in the right direction. I was quite pleased. I began to worry as it continually picked up speed and luckily for us, right before it got really strong we arrived at the caves. I ducked down and got everyone into the caves and the current magically disappeared! No one even really noticed what was really going on. When the first diver got low on air we popped out of the cave system up on top of the reef in 25 feet of water. That is when we started to fly around in the current. It all worked out fine though because we were all shallow together.
Trying to avoid current I took them to French Reef for the second dive. There was absolutely no current. Elle was thrilled! We saw tons of lobsters and I stopped to check in on that intermediate stage spotted drum. Paul took lots of pictures of a huge black grouper and later of a quiet turtle on the bottom.
Wednesday, November 14th
It was windy when Don, Dave, Dave, Ginny, Peggy, Anne, Gwen, Glyniss and I arrived at Colombia Deep. It looked like we might have some strong current so I told Carlos that I wanted to check it. When I got in to check, the current was very gentle. We descended in 40 feet of water, slowly proceeded down to 60 feet of water and when everyone was comfy I swam them over to the drop off. I took them through one of my very favorite swim throughs. Coming out on the drop off the current was picking up strength and I swam them around the corner back to a sheltered area. We drifted a little ways and the current just got stronger. Glyniss looked a little uncomfortable so I took her by the hand, swam her to a protected area and planted her in the sand. When the group caught up I returned to the shallow area. There was hardly any current over there in the shallow area so we were happy and got to rest. I took them in a big, open cave where I found a rather large lionfish. I gave my flashlight to Anne so that she could be my spotter and then I shot it. I was so glad that I didn`t miss and didn`t have to suffer the teasing back on the boat!
When we came up the wind had died down. It was nice and calm at Colombia Shallow. We saw loads of baby turtles on the bottom taking naps. I found that same green moray eel in the same general area and we had fun pointing out the flamingo tongues and sticking out our tongues too.
Thursday, November 15th
I asked Elle, Paul, Wade, Don, Chris, Peggy, Anne and Gwen where they wanted to go and someone shouted out, ¨We haven´t been to Horseshoe yet!¨ so that is where we went. I asked Carlos to drop me just a little south of the normal spot so as to have an easy decent. We practically landed on 4 of those cute little sharks. Don was pleased that they didn`t take off. They circled around and did a second pass. Everyone got to see them this time. The current was a little weird when we were on the drop off. As Peggy did her safety stop a turtle swam below us. I called everyone over to the shallow area for a long time to get out of that dang current. Anne found a furry sea cucumber and Gwen asked me later if we had frightened it would it be possible that it would eviscerate itself.
Due to popular demand we returned to Colombia Shallow where we finally found spotted drums for Annie. We also added 3 turtles to the turtle count for the week. It was an easy dive. Paul said that it was his favorite dive so far.
Friday, November 16th
I had an all boys team with Paul, Kevin, Curtis, Wade, Glenn and Chris on Palancar Bricks. I felt so lucky when I got in and there was almost no current at all. It was a complete delight! We saw only one turtle and one big southern stingray but the reef there is so impressive that everyone was thrilled when they got back on the boat.
There were fish everywhere on Dalila. We saw a clump of lobsters all piled up upon one another. My first thought was that it didn`t even look real. I wanted to reach down there and give them a poke to see if they would move. We saw 2 large hawksbills and a sleepy green turtle that Paul woke up. The beautiful green turtle surfaced for a breath of fresh air right in front of us.
Monday, November 19th
After 2 days off and a small craft warning we were out on the sea again. I got in at San Francisco Wall to check the current for our first dive and the seaweed was blowing around in the fast current. I came right back up and told Michelle, Rusty, Larry, Bettie, Andrea and Matt NO WAY! I am not taking you diving there. So we drove over to Chankanaab. There was no current at Chankanaab. We had a nice peaceful dive. We saw big crabs and lobsters. Andrea found a small turtle. I pointed out a busy yellow headed jawfish. A hungry grouper followed us around and buddied up with Andrea.
Michelle asked to see a seahorse. On Paradise I started the search in the algae patch when another divemaster came along and cut us off. I stopped the group and waited for them to pass. He got to the seahorse first. It made my job very easy though. A tiny little baby lionfish fluttered around next to a big hermit crab. I found a tiny juvenile spotted drum when I was checking out a spotted moray. Andrea saw a good sized goldentail eel slither into a hole. I also found a big spotted scorpionfish on that dive and the divemaster who found the seahorse came over for a look after we moved on.
Tuesday, November 20th
We lucked out on Palancar Caves with good conditions. I only had four divers: Michelle, Larry, Bettie and Andrea. We paddled around the caves for about 20 minutes and then we went up top to look for the little sharks. I finally gave up looking for them after another 30 minutes. We saw a friendly turtle and it was a nice, easy dive.
On my secret spot we saw a couple of turtles. The last one was sharing a meal of tasty sponge with some pretty angelfish. The sky was overcast so it was a little dark down there. All the crabs thought that it was twilight and they came out.
Wednesday, November 21st
I couldn`t take another day of teasing about not finding the sharks so I took Andy, Courtney, Lou, Bettie, Larry, Rusty and Michelle to Palancar Caves. After around 30 minutes in the swim throughs I ascended to 30 feet around where we had dropped in the previous day. Immediately we saw the first little shark. It was right in front of the big archway. We floated in 30 feet of water for the rest of Palancar Caves and for all of Palancar Horseshoe. Between the middle of caves and the big block we saw lots of single and pairs of sharks. Some were shy, some came fairly close but they were either in pairs or individuals. We didn`t get the full squadron. However, it was great to see them! Courtney was also pretty excited about seeing the turtles too.
They requested Colombia Shallows for the second dive. The current was running the reverse of normal. We saw TONS of turtles. I just stopped counting. They were napping under coral heads, eating, swimming, surfacing to breathe and diving back down again. They were everywhere. We also saw a school of big jacks scaring all of the smaller fish as they swam by on the hunt.
Sunday, November 25th
Tim and I hitch hiked a ride with Raul to Palancar Horseshoe. Since I only had Tim with me it didn`t make sense to burn up a quarter tank of gas so Raul took us out on his boat. We had nice, calm seas and calm current. We saw a turtle, a huge lobster, a big crab but the best part was the huge green eel swimming around down below. It just slithered out from the reef and wiggled away.
Raul took us to ¨My Secret Spot¨. I guess it not exactly a secret J There we saw turtles, another big crab and a lobster. Tim called me back to come have a peak in a vase sponge where Tim had discovered an arrow crab and a brittle star hanging out together. Raul shot a lionfish and a mutton snapper chomped it off of his Hawaiian sling. Raul pointed out a 5 foot sleeping nurse shark. I showed everyone a big swimming nurse shark and Tim swam right over to it. The shark responded by swimming right up to Tim as if it were going to bite him. I asked Tim if he pooped his wetsuit. Raul caught another little lionfish and tried to feed it to the shark but the big shark just swam away. It was a real exciting dive!
Tuesday, November 26th
I took Tim, Brian, Mark, Kerri and Leo to Palancar Gardens and Brian`s family snorkeled over us. I was surprised when I got in and we had strong current. We spent most of the dive hiding in the caves to get out of the current. Despite all of the swimming everyone seemed to enjoy themselves very much.
On Colombia Shallow the current was mild. We saw tons of turtles. There were 2 green turtles and a bunch of hawksbills. Some were sleeping under the little coral heads. Brian got lots of pictures. The snorkelers spent a lot of time staring at the big barracudas. Tim showed me a small lionfish and I trapped it in the nets. It was a nice, easy relaxing dive!
Tuesday, November 27th
Dive one was on Palancar Caves. Marc and Glenn asked for private divemaster service so I hired Eduardo to come along and hang out with them. I took Tim, Laurie, Brian, Colin, Mark and Kerri in my group. Eduardo stayed up top looking for the little sharks and I went down through the caves. When I came out of the second cave Eduardo was off in the distance signaling me with his flashlight. As I got closer I saw what he was pointing out. He found a school of 5 little Caribbean Reef sharks. It was really cool! We also saw a few turtles. The one that Brian found was a small green turtle napping on the coral. A small hawksbill went right up to Tim and said hello. I was afraid that Tim would give in to the temptation to pet it. He was a good diver and didn`t touch the little guy which was right in his face.
We went to Dalila for the second dive and Eduardo discovered a big spotted eagle ray which we got to observe for a couple of minutes. We saw more turtles at Dalila and tons of lobsters too. There was a good current blowing but no one had any trouble with it. Marc and Glenn said that they liked flying along.
Wednesday, November 28th
I had the same divers on board and Eduardo came along again. I took them to Colombia Deep and swam them through all of the beautiful caves there. I was so grateful that there was hardly any current at all. It was an easy dive with one turtle sighting and there were 3 furry sea cumbers but I only showed them one. The others were deeper than our dive plan. Eduardo told the boys to check out the garden eels in the sand.
Since the current was so calm I took them all to Cedral Wall. We drifted over just one turtle after another after another! They were mostly sharing brunch with colorful angelfish. We also saw a small shark in the usual hole. The big green moray eel was in a good mood and she let us pet her. (Yeah, I know, I am not supposed to touch. But she is soooooooo soft and soooooooo sweet it is almost impossible to resist her)
Thursday, November 29th
I took Carol, Deanna, Tim, Laurie, Brian, Colin and Jason to Palancar Gardens because Jason`s wife and kids were snorkeling over us. When we got in the current was pushing us towards shore, away from the reef and we had to work to get over the top of the reef. Once we were down 40 to 60 feet we were able to relax and drift with the current. We saw a small (maybe 6 feet wide) spotted eagle ray. Deanna dipped down deep and filmed it. We also saw a couple of turtles and an impressive crab.
The snorkelers needed something good to see so we went to Colombia Shallow. Only one of our divers, Colin saw the immense spotted eagle ray that the snorkelers were following. We saw a few turtles and a lobster. The snorkelers were the ones that saw everything. There were 4 spotted eagle rays in total and 6 turtles that they saw!
Friday, November 30th
Carol, Deanna, Tim, Marc, Kerri and Jessica came with me to Palancar Bricks. We started the dive off watching Deanna burn up all of her air chasing a spotted eagle ray against the current. A rather large lobster stomped around in front of us and Jessica was quite impressed. We saw a turtle or two and at the end of the dive we saw the shark parade. We finished the last part of the dive drifting over the shallow area at Palancar Caves. First we saw one little reef shark. Deanna and Carol got all excited and went after it. I wrote on my slate, ¨Save your air, there are 8 of them!¨ She did and soon a squadron of 5 appeared. Deanna shot video and Carol just stared in awe. After Carol and Jessica went up Deanna and I saw another solo shark and then another group of 3. It was a really cool parade to watch.
Carol picked our next stop. We went to my ¨Special Spot¨. There we saw more good stuff! We saw another turtle and a big crab. Tim showed me a small lionfish and I smooshed it. At the end of the dive I was checking out an empty conch shell in the same area where I always see an octopus in it`s den. I saw the fresh conch shell and started looking for the octopus. The octopus was only about a foot off to one side. Everyone kicked against the current for a while checking it out. Kerri and Marc ran out of bottom time and Tim sucked up all of his air while watching the octopus. Everyone knows that it is rare to see one out during the day so we overstayed our limits. Ooops……….. After Tim, Kerri, Carol and Jessica went up, Deanna and I stayed down and chased a pair of spotted eagle rays out into the sandy area. It was another great dive.
Saturday, December 1st
We went back after the baby sharks to Palancar Caves and Horseshoe with Carol, Deanna, John, Marc, Kerri, Lydia, Jessica and John. As soon as we got in I saw a small group of sharks off in the distance. By the time everyone got down to the bottom and situated there was only one lone shark to photograph. We stayed up on top in 30 to 40 feet of water for a while and saw a couple more sharks and a few hawksbill turtles. When I decided that the show was probably over I dropped them down to the wall and we swam around the big coral formations at the end of the caves and at Horseshoe. The current got a little weird during the dive but nothing wild.
I wanted to take them where they hadn`t been yet so I took them to Cedral. The photographers had a good time with the green turtle at the beginning of the dive. There wasn`t much action for the rest of the dive until most of the divers had gone up. First I spotted a big nurse shark while Jessica and Lydia did a safety stop. John and Deanna chased after it. Then I went back down to wait for them. I was way up current so I sat and watched a dime sized peacock flounder in the sand. When Deanna drifted up to me I signaled for small and pointed to the sand. I heard her scream through the regulator and when looked up there was a big green moray about 10 feet away slithering around. We hung out with that moray for a while and it charged John. It also swam right up to Deanna`s lens. Just before ascending we saw another little green turtle on top of the reef but Deanna didn`t film it. We just went up...
Sunday, December 2nd
My divers were John P, Kevin, Rob, Cameron, Daryl, John B, Carol and Deanna. Per Rob`s request we did our first dive on Colombia Shallow. On the way down I spied a big green moray eel and we had to swim back against the current to have a look at it. Not long after that a small nurse shark swam by. Only John, Deanna, Carol and I saw the big nurse shark that swam by because the rest of the gang had swam off while I was catching a lionfish. There was one small eagle ray that swam past. We saw a few turtles but the unique critter on that dive was a tiny pipe horse clinging to a piece of algae on the bottom.
On French Reef we planned to go only 30 or 35 feet but when the huge green eel swam by at 60 feet the divers swooped down for a look. Boys will be boys and they explored the caves. We saw a few turtles on that dive. John P found my spotted drum which is now in the intermediate phase with small spots on it`s tail.
Monday, December 3rd
We had nice, warm sunshine and calm seas on Palancar Caves. Rob, John, Kevin, Cameron and Daryl asked for swim throughs. Carol and Deanna thought that Palancar Caves was a good idea. I tried to go through the swim throughs but we kept getting sidetracked by the little reef sharks and tons of turtles. It was a very nice dive!
Carol picked Dalila for the second dive. While the boys all sat still for me while I took a group photo Kevin pointed behind me and made the shark sign. I turned around to see a big nurse shark going by. John found a big octopus out in the open and we saw a couple more small nurse sharks at the end of the dive. The last one was sleeping way back in a cave. Deanna got in there with her video light and got a little footage.
Tuesday, December 4th
Carol, Deanna, Rob, John, Kevin, Cameron and Daryl came with me to Palancar Bricks. We saw tons of turtles and swam through the nice caves. At the end of the dive we floated over to the shallow area of Caves and we saw the little reef sharks. There were 6 in the first group. There was another group of divers in front of us between us and the sharks so we never got close. Later we saw one individual and then everyone started going up. When only Deanna and I were down and the other group was gone we saw a group of 4 sharks. Right before we went up we had one small single shark make a slow pass right in front of Deanna`s camera.
Carol picked ¨My Secret Spot¨ for the second dive. We saw muchas turtles and quite a few nurse sharks. Deanna burned up all her air chasing after the sharks and filming them. The last one was really big and not afraid of her so when she got too close it just gave her a dirty look, turned around a little and swam a different direction. We saw one small lionfish on that dive and John stopped for some nice photos.
That night I took the boys on a night dive at Chankanaab. The boys found the first octopus which was pretty small. I found the second octopus which was an average size. Rob says that he saw 4 octopus but I only saw 2 octopus. I guess that is because I was too busy watching them and counting heads. We saw tons of lobsters and big crabs. There was an eel or two but what impressed me most was the absolutely giagantic lionfish that escaped under a big overhang.
Wednesday, December 5th
Tank number one was on San Francisco Wall with Carol, Deanna, Rob, John, Kevin, Cameron and Daryl per special request. We had excellent conditions. Rob commented that on this dive he had less current than on any other dive ever in Cozumel! We saw a huge spotted eagle ray pass by on the wall out in the blue water. Later in the dive it returned, doubled back and Deanna chased it over where we could see it well. I was the only person who saw the other spotted eagle ray at the very end of the dive. I watched it for a while thinking about how much it reminded me of the eagle ray dive up north.
Tank number two was on Paradise per Carol´s request too. John was very eager to see a sea horse, it was a shame that he flooded his strobe on San Francisco so when he found the first huge brown seahorse he couldn`t take a picture. Carol and Deanna camped out taking photos and videos. John found the second yellow seahorse too. It was so great to see them both! I am sure that John was very frustrated that he couldn`t take photos...
Thursday, December 6th
There was a group of 4 divers that stood me up so that left only John, Kevin, Cam and Gary on the boat for the morning. I asked the boys where they wanted to go and they asked for The Devil`s Throat. The surface was flat and calm. Carlos could see the bottom from the surface and he put us in the very exact perfect spot. The current was mild and we had time to sit around and check out the 5 foot nurse shark sitting in the sand near the entrance to the cave. Inside the cave, as we were heading down through the actual ¨throat¨ I looked to my right and saw a huge lionfish. Gary was the last one in the cave so I motioned to the boys to keep going. I sat in front of that lionfish until Gary showed up and I held the light on the lionfish so that Gary could shoot. He was quite pleased with the big fish. There was another smaller one in the cave but I had swum out the exit to check on the boys so no one was around to hold the light for him. After we finished the whole cave system we found another little lionfish and Gary got that one too. When the reef ended and we still had air we crossed over to a more shallow area. That is where we saw the little turtle. It was only the size of a dinner plate. Gary took pictures. The real action started after the baby turtle. We were floating around in about 50 feet of water and when I looked to my left I saw flickers of white off in the distance. When I realized that it was the underside of an eagle ray`s fin I started over for a better look. That is when I realized that there were several of them. I didn`t even pull out my bell and call the divers. I just stuck my pointer finger out and started kicking like hell. The guys followed. When we got there we had the most amazing experience. I counted 8 but John counted 10 eagle rays in total. They kind of frolicked below us and danced around with each other. Then they split off into different groups. Gary followed a group of three taking lots of photos. I followed a group of four. A couple branched off and swam under Kevin. We stayed down until they were completely out of sight. We had a very exciting encounter on that dive!
Punta Tunich was not quite as exciting but we did see a few turtles and some more spotted eagle rays. Cameron ran out of bottom time before he ran out of air. He vowed to go get nitrox certified before he comes back to Cozumel!
Friday, December 7th
This day I picked the reef. I didn`t give Rick, Susan, Gary, Mara, Mike, Randy and Kristi a choice. I just announced that we were going to Palancar Caves to see the little sharks. About 3 minutes after we dropped down and swam to the shallow we met with the first group of 3 little sharks. The second encounter was a solo shark. The third encounter was with a group of 3 sharks but I don`t know if it was the same 3 sharks or not. I decided to start the deep part of the tour and we went down to the drop off. When the first person was low on air we headed back up to the shallow area where we saw a few more solo sharks and while I was pointing at just one little shark, Mara got my attention and showed me a group of 6! That was WAY cool :)
I went looking for splendid toadfish, lobsters and crabs on Chankanaab and I didn`t find any of them! It is just about impossible to spend 1 hour and 20 minutes at Chankanaab and not see one of those 3 critters. However, Gary was happy because Susan and I found some lionfish for him to shoot so the dive was still entertaining. Mike was enamored with the barracudas and followed them where ever they went.
Monday, December 10th
After much debate and back and forth between Gary, Rick, Susan, Ray, Jill, Paul and Joe we finally came to agree on going back to see the little sharks. The first sighting was a pair, as was the second sighting. After seeing both pairs go by I decided to drop down and go through some caves and swim around on the wall. We only did that for about 30 minutes. Then we came back to the shallows and saw another solo shark. Immediately after the little guy swam away we saw a group of three. We also saw a hawksbill turtle and we saw that pretty little green turtle from the other day sleeping in almost the same spot on top of the reef.
The boys picked French Reef for the second dive. First we saw a small nurse shark swim off and Paul followed it to watch it feed. Gary had a field day on lionfish. The first lionfish was pointed out by Ray and Jill. Then I found a pair. He got greedy and after shooting the first lionfish he tried to nail the second one with the first one still on the spear. Well it couldn`t penetrate well and the second one got away. Gary disappeared into a cave for a very long time. I became wary and went in to check on him. He was all excited and making the sign for BIG LIONFISH. He said that it was the biggest one he had ever seen. He said that it was very skittish and he could not get close enough for a shot. That was probably a good thing because Gary felt that his spear wasn't big enough for that lionfish anyway. Later I spotted another pair of lionfish. I know he got the first one but I swam away while he was working on the second one. While we did our safety stop that big, hungry nurse shark made a slow pass, doubled back after a minute and swam right up to me. It was a replay of Tim`s experience just a little over a week prior. I can recognize that shark now. It has a small nick in the top of his dorsal fin. Gary and I are convinced that it is the same one that mugged him months ago. That is one aggressive nurse shark!
Saturday, December 15th
I only had 3 expert divers: Rick, Susan and Paul. They bantered a little before deciding on Colombia Deep for the first dive site. Carlos dropped us a little south of the normal spot and it was good for me to be in an area that I don't frequent. The dive was a little deeper than our norm. We had a blast. The first spectacle was a pair of turtles dancing in a little circle. As the boys swooped in with their cameras one swam off. Susan and I just sat back and watched. We swam through a gorgeous archway to the wall. We saw several more turtles throughout the dive. I was checking out a yellow fin grouper and discovered that it was following a green moray eel on the hunt. We finished the dive posing by the anchor for Paul´s camera.
Susan requested Paradise because it is her favorite. Paul wanted a picture of the seahorse. We saw trumpetfish, goldentail eels, spotted morays and Christmas tree worms on our way over to the sea horse. I showed the gang my ¨landmarks¨ and where to look for the seahorse. It was Ricardo who found the big brown one. I think it is pregnant. I hope one of the boys sends me a photo.
Sunday, December 16th
The newbie divers were Lisa, Karen and Scott. Gabino and Paul were our experienced divers. We picked Palancar Gardens for the first dive because of the shallow, easy descent. The girls had a little trouble with their ears but once they were down they were fine. Gabino swooped down to check out a pair of big lobsters. Paul showed us a turtle passing through.
We went to my ¨Secret Spot¨ for the second dive. The current was clipping along and we saw a bunch of turtles. One was really big and it swam right under us. With my flashlight I showed everyone a big octopus devouring a conch. Paul pointed out a small nurse shark behind us. Later in the dive Paul, Lisa and I chased a big spotted eagle ray. It was an action packed dive!
Monday, December 17th
Dive one was on Palancar Caves with John, Laurel, Julie, Stephanie, Lisa and Scott. Stephanie found the first little shark and then a small turtle made an appearance. I took them down through some caves and when we came out we saw another solo shark. We saw a couple more turtles and the last shark we saw was off in the distance. The current was very gentle and I had an easy dive.
John wanted to go to a wall so San Francisco was our second stop. I found a rather large nurse shark sleeping in a cave. I used my flashlight to show everyone. I also found a splendid toadfish but forgot to tell everyone what that was when I got back on the boat.
Wednesday, December 19th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Alex, Lindsay, Karen, Samantha, Whitney, Jack and Jon. Jon said that it was the most beautiful dive that he has ever done. We went through those impressive swim throughs. We saw 3 turtles and Karen enjoyed watching on turtle surface for some air. We saw 2 southern stingrays. It was funny to watch Karen back paddle when she saw the big rays. I think it was Lindsay who pointed out the foot and a half long lobster walking around on top of the reef.
Francis joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallow where we found a small turtle napping under a rock. I found a 4 foot nurse shark sleeping on the bottom. I called Francis over for a look and we woke it up and it swam off. Karen felt bad for the shark because it was just there minding it`s own business having a nap and I got a little too close and bugged it J I guess I will need to be on my best behavior from now on!
Thursday, December 20th
Tank number one was on Palancar Caves with Alex, Karen, Samantha, Whitney, Jack and Jon. I stayed up top looking for the little reef sharks. First we found a solitary shark and then a hawksbill turtle. About 20 minutes into the dive I saw the group ahead of us all swimming against the current obviously looking at something so I turned the group to face the direction that they were looking. A noticibly larger shark came out from behind a coral formation, then another, then another until there was a squadron of 7 small sharks going past. Alex`s eyes were as big as saucers and you could tell that he was smiling. It reminded me of a parade. Later in the dive we saw another singular shark and at the end a beautiful green turtle was in her usual spot.
I took them to my ¨Secret Spot¨ for the second dive. We started out with a hawksbill turtle lunching on the reef. Then we found a big southern stingray digging in the sand for something to eat. Our friendly nurse shark swam very close to Karen and I hoped that it didn`t make her nervous. Jack had a bit of a sinus squeeze but by the time we got back on the boat he was fine.
Saturday, December 21st
We had a small craft warning the day before and couldn`t go out. The wind calmed down and I took Deb, Mike, David and Garrett to Palancar Gardens. We all got in but the current was pushing us out to sea. So I told everyone to get behind the reef and hide from the current. I had a hard time determining which way the current was going, north or south. It seemed that after heading south a bit the current seemed northbound so I turned the group around. After a few minutes I felt like we were swimming against the current so I turned them around again. It started getting strong and pushing us out to sea. I decided to hide in a protected area of the reef and wait a couple of minutes. After about 5 minutes I ventured out for a look. All seemed calm. I called the group out and we headed south. When we came to a nice long cave we all went in single file. Thankfully it was a LONG cave and we spent a good 10 minutes swimming around in there. That kept us out of the current. When we came out of the cave the current seemed to be going northbound so that is where we went. At some point Garrett lost his weight belt but Deb recovered it and helped him get it back on. Someone signaled 900 psi. The current was pushing us out to sea again and I hid in that same little protected area to let everyone rest up before the battle. Then we swam against the current to the shallow sandy area. We saw another group of divers struggling behind us. Arriving at the sandy 20 foot area and with my surface signaling tube dispatched we started floating in 15 feet of water out to sea. One lady from the other dive group straggled and fought to keep up with her group and she was losing the battle. When we were out over blue water and it was apparent to me that she was not going to be able to catch her group I signaled to her to join us and surface. It was sad but I just couldn`t leave her there alone in the blue water fighting with all her might to get to her group. She really didn`t have a chance in hell. We all surfaced together and we called her boat. She got on her boat and we got on our boat and said goodbye…………. It was an interesting experience.
The ocean was calm and beautiful at Colombia Shallow. We saw 3 turtles. The last one was a big green turtle pigging out on turtle grass. I showed them a juvenile lizard fish that looked just like the old finger coral scattered on the bottom. We saw a couple of huge rainbow parrotfish and a yellow headed jaw fish. I showed them queen conches, heart urchins and a horse conch. It was a really relaxing dive. That was exactly what we needed!
Sunday, December 23rd
When Deb, Mike, David and Garrett asked to go to Santa Rosa Wall my first thought was, ¨Are they crazy?¨ Then I gave it a little thought, agreed and told them that I was going to check the current very carefully before we dive there. I got in and checked, the current was good so I gave them the OK to enter. We had a beautiful dive. The current was really normal heading north as usual. We woke up a big nurse shark that swam off. We saw the big black grouper in his usual spot and I found a big green moray with another grouper in about 75 feet of water. We saw a huge lionfish and I didn`t have my Hawaiian Sling with me. I swam over to another divemaster and asked him if he had one and he said no. So I had to just wave goodbye…. Gary would have loved that fish. Right before we went up I found a big bristle worm crawling across the sandy bottom.
They picked Paso Del Cedral for the second dive. Garrett was right next to me when I stuck out my arm and pointed right behind him. I think I scared the daylights out of him until he realized that I was pointing at a big turtle. I found a splendid toadfish and another green moray eel. Deb showed us a trumpet fish. Big lobsters and crabs seemed to be everywhere. We saw a ginormous barracuda hovering in a school of about 10 smaller barracudas. It was a critter packed dive
Monday, December 24th
It had been a year since Randy and Jessica had been diving. Sue was a brand new diver so Martin and Jane suggested that we take it easy on her. Zena and Bob seemed happy where ever so we went to Palancar Gardens. Once again we had some current. But it was going in the right direction and it was not too strong. Before we got in Randy requested that we see sharks, turtles and rays. I said, ¨Oh sure, no problem!¨ Yes, it was a bit sarcastic…… We got lucky and saw 3 turtles, a big nurse shark swimming around and a small reef shark at the end of the dive. Randy was already back on the boat when Bob pointed out the big stingray on the bottom. So we ended up seeing all the stuff that Randy asked for! The huge lobster was just a bonus.
We saw two small sharks on Colombia Shallow. The first one was out swimming around and the second one I found sleeping in a cave. We saw that same pretty green turtle that we saw the day before in almost the same spot eating the turtle grass again. The girls were so much more comfortable and they enjoyed their dives a lot more the second time around.
Wednesday, December 26th
My divers were Kim, Joe, Jane, Martin, Sue, Mike, Deborah, David and Garrett. I took them to Palancar Caves to see the little sharks. Kim had a foggy mask and didn`t make it down to see the sharks but the others saw 10 little sharks. Kim found a hungry turtle and she took photos but she said that the mask was still foggy so the pictures probably didn`t come out very well.
The second dive was on ¨My Secret Spot¨ where we were greeted by a friendly spotted eagle ray. I chased a green moray eel under a ledge with my flashlight. We saw loads of lobsters and at the very end while we were making our safety stop a big nurse shark swam below us. Everyone was very happy.
Thursday, December 27th
Heide, Mike and Lindsey were starting the Advanced Course so the first dive we did as a multilevel on Colombia Deep with Martin, Jane, Sue, Kim and Joe. The current was nice and gentle. We were greeted on the bottom by a turtle but not soon after a big spotted eagle ray glided by. Jane really enjoyed the beautiful swim throughs there. We found a rock with 4 lobsters underneath and I showed them a few garden eels. Everyone liked the furry sea cucumber in the sand.
We practiced drift diving techniques on Dalila. There was a school of 6 groupers acting funny so I started searching for the big critter they were following. It turned out to be a nurse shark hiding in a hole. The second nurse shark was good sized and swam right past us. I saw a total of 4 turtles. The second one went to the surface to breathe and came back down. The last one was camouflaging itself on the bottom and Lindsey drifted right over it.
Friday, December 28th
Dive one was on French Reef. Heide, Mike and Lindsey swam around identifying fish while I worked with Gay, Teri and Deni on there first day of diving. Joe and Kim just kicked back and took it all in. We saw a swimming nurse shark off in the distance. Lindsey showed us a free swimming moray eel that promptly scooted under the reef and began quarreling with a couple of lobsters. I pointed out odd shaped fish like the spotted drum and the trumpet fish. Lindsey found a huge lionfish but unfortunately I was unarmed.
I wanted no current for the navigational dive which we did on Chankanaab. Even just a little current through off the kick cycle counting for the square. The navigation on their part was perfect but I didn`t make them swim far enough agains the current so the last leg of their square ended up being just a few kicks! The other exercises went perfectly.
Saturday, December 29th
Mike, Lindsey and Heide did their deep dive on San Francisco Wall. The first turtle we saw was tucked away in a little hiding place. Lindsey found it and pointed it out to us. The second turtle swam right up to us. We saw one very small nurse shark lounging on the bottom. We all pretty much discovered it about the same time. A big nurse shark was sleeping in a dark recess way back under the reef and I used my flashlight to show it to everyone.
Deni, Bobby, Teri, Gay, Kim and Joe came on board for our dive on Paradise. The highlights of the dive were a pair of spotted drums fluttering around and late in the dive we found 2 seahorses. The first one was the big brown pregnant one. It was in it`s usual spot. I started bringing the group back to the reef and we passed over a nest made by a tile fish. We stopped to watch the tilefish and Teri noticed the big yellow seahorse hanging on to a hunk of dead coral right in front of the tile fish`s entrance to his den! Everyone stopped to take pictures.
The last dive was on San Clemente. It was a pretty routine type dive including a few baby lionfish and a huge barracuda that followed us around like a puppy dog. It was at the end of the dive that it became exciting. I looked to the left and saw a pile of empty conch shells, one looking very fresh so I swam over for a look. I discovered a pair of big octopuses under a small rock. They were half way out when we arrived and Gay took a bunch of pictures. That was really, really cool!
Monday, December 31st
Gay, Teri, Deni, Bobby, Chris, Michayla, Bob and Sean came with me to Palancar Gardens. The current was a little weird but not unmanageable. During the first 10 minutes of the dive I saw a huge spotted eagle ray glide by off in the blue. I swam the group over for a look but I think I am the only one that got to see it. Later in the dive another divemaster was up ahead and signaling me with his flashlight. It caught my attention and another spotted eagle ray swam right up over us. We saw a couple of turtles and Gay stopped to photograph one that sat still and posed for her camera.
The second stop was on Colombia Shallow. We saw tons of turtles but no sharks. I found a spotted moray under a small coral head. It was a nice, easy dive.