Thursday, January 2nd
It was a little overcast but we had flat seas and no current on Colombia Deep with Randy, Susan, Matt, Max, Quentin, Natalie and Chris. Quentin pointed out a pair of big lionfish in about 85 feet of water. I swam over to Natalie and Chris. I showed them their depth gauges and asked them to stay together in 65 feet of water. I sank down and shot the first one. I took a shot at the second one but I missed. Later in the dive I shot another one and a coney tried to eat it. The coney was about the same size as the lionfish so all it could do was kind of pick at it. We also saw a few turtles on that dive.
I chose Dalila and we saw one of everything there. First I showed everyone a big nurse shark swimming around. It wasn`t long after that the green moray eel swam by. We promptly saw a small turtle and later in the dive Quentin pointed out a big spotted eagle ray that made a slow pass. Max found a spotted moray and at the very end of the dive I looked for the seahorses. I only found the easy one. The mate has me baffled. I just can`t find that other one again!
Friday, January 3rd
Randy, Natalia, Cesar, Vanessa, Patricio and Camilo had beautiful weather on Palancar Gardens. It was a nice easy dive. As I was passing through the first cave I turned around to see Natalia pointing at her foot and the fin was missing! We looked down and all around and could not find it. The only place that it could be was up. Yes, indeed there it was floating around above us and starting to get close to the surface. I swam up and fetched it and we continued on with the dive. We saw a lobster, a crab, a hawksbill turtle and a big green turtle cruising by at the end of the dive.
The first lionfish on French Reef was just sitting there so there was no reason that I should miss it but I did. I hit the second lionfish and tried to feed it to a mutton snapper. The snapper was indecisive so I just left it there. I found both of the little pipe horses together. They actually intertwined their tails and linked up to float around. It was very entertaining. It would have been nice to have a good camera at that moment.
Saturday, January 4th
It was drizzling when Randy, Susan, Matt, Max and Quentin got in at Santa Rosa Wall. We saw tons of splendid toadfish because they thought that it was dusk. I was looking for a nurse shark under a ledge when I spied a peacock flounder blending into the sand. The nurse shark was not far off. By the time that we came up we had a full blown storm going on. I was quite nervous and I hurried Matt and Quentin through the safety stop. It was really blowing when we surfaced.
The harbor master did not call us in, the wind calmed a little and we did our second dive on San Francisco Wall. It was still gray and cloudy so we saw more splendid toadfish, loads of lobsters and one lone turtle.
Sunday, January 5th
I promised Matt, Max, Quentin and Gary that I would take them to the Devil´s Throat but when we got there the water looked like pea soup. Carlos dropped me off where he thought that it might be and I went down about 30 feet and couldn`t see the bottom. I went back up and told him to take us somewhere else. All the other divers from other dive boats were getting in so he backed it up and dropped us off at the Cathedral. Once we were below 30 feet we could see fine. Matt had a case of suit squeeze so I brought him up. While I was bringing him up a big reef shark swam by. I missed it because I was going up but Gary and Quentin both saw it. Gary shot a HUGE lionfish and carried it around for a little while. We saw a couple of turtles and finished up our dive just past the ¨Throat¨.
Gary asked for French Reef for the second stop. We saw a big spotted eagle ray go by overhead. I stopped and searched for the little pipehorses. I found one.
Thursday, January 6th
The wind finally calmed down but it was still drizzling when Gary, John, Todd, Dave and I went to Palancar Caves. We saw several turtles and Gary shot a tiny lionfish. We swam through a bunch of caves and it was an easy dive.
There was very little current on Punta Tunich. We dropped down to find a big green moray in a little cave. We saw big rainbow and midnight parrotfish in the first 10 minutes and I shined my light on the glassy sweepers in the cave.
Friday, January 10th
We had a mixed group on the boat. I took John, Todd and Dave diving on Palancar Gardens. An instructor named Matt came and took Todd`s wife Tiffany diving above us and up top Orlando snorkeled with some of John´s friends. It was a pretty uneventful dive. The only big critter that we saw was a huge grouper.
We saw more critters on Colombia Shallow. We saw several small turtles and Matt pointed out a green moray eel. John got a little excited when he saw the spotted eagle ray. Orlando and John took off like bullets after it.
Tuesday, January 14th
It was everyone`s first dive of the week in Cozumel and I took Dick, Glenn, Susan, Scott, Tracy, Lou, Mark and Rachel to Palancar Caves. Dick and Glenn were very impressed by the lack of current there. We only saw one turtle and it went to the surface for air. Tracy pointed out a lobster and we swam through the caves.
Sandro came over to us during the surface interval and started chatting with me about the seahorse. Glenn and Dick overheard and asked to go see the seahorse so I took them to Dalila. We saw 3 turtles and I tried to show them a splendid toadfish in the hole but the toadfish was a little intimidated and scooted back far into its den and it was kind of hard to see. At the very end of the dive I told Glenn what I was looking for and he helped me out by finding the seahorse clinging to a searod. The boys took lots of photos and video.
Wednesday, January 15th
We were expecting a Norte to blow in at any time so when Dick asked to go to the shipwreck I was quite eager to dive close to the harbor. Gary, Mark, Rachel and Glenn were content with the decision. The current was mild but it was present. We circled the bottom of the wreck first and worked our way up to the top. The boys took pictures of spotted morays, brittle stars and Gary shot a lionfish. When everyone else had gone up I asked Gary if he wanted to go back in the ship. He said yes so we did a little exploring. We just kept getting further and further down into the ship and we had to wiggle down stairways and squeeze through some small openings. It was fun to be down there just screwing around with no one to worry about.
I wanted to stick close to the marina so we went to Chankannab. Carlos dropped us off in the wrong spot and it took 25 minutes to find the reef. Gary was happy because he shot 4 or 5 small lionfish on the way to the reef. The boys took pictures of an eel, a big stingray and a school of fish all grouped around a huge pile of fishing nets on the bottom. At the very end of the dive Glenn showed us a really big spotted eagle ray feeding in the sand. The ray had to have a wingspan of around 8 feet or more. It was a monster. It had no tail and I couldn`t help but wonder what kind of shark would try to catch an animal that size….?????
Thursday, January 16th
It was still pretty choppy so we had to wait until 9:45 before the harbor master would let us go out. Once we got out it was rougher than I thought but still not as rough as the day before. I had the same divers: Gary, Glenn, Dick, Rachel and Mark plus Lou and Tracy joined us too. We went to Palancar Bricks and underwater it was calm and beautiful. Gary took off over the wall so when the boys pointed out a medium sized lionfish it was up to me to shoot it. For once I didn`t miss. While Glenn was off on the other side of the reef taking a video of a couple of turtles Dick was closer to me. I was watching his bubbles when all of sudden I saw him swimming up away from the reef in a weird jerky fashion. I realized what was going on when I saw an angry spotted moray coming up after him. He swam away and covered the family jewels. I made a hand signal for him to use some toilet paper. That thing charged him for no reason and it scared the BeJesus out of him. At the end when only Gary and I were still down two big spotted eagle rays swam by.
Tracy got off of the boat and we went to Paso Del Cedral for the second dive. I found an octopus in its den very close to where the little nurse shark usually hides. The shark was not home though. Soon after we saw a rather large nurse shark patrolling the area and later in the dive we saw a medium size nurse shark napping under an overhang. We frightened the poor thing and it saw off.
Friday, January 17th
The sun was out and the wind had died down but none the less a lot of the divers cancelled for various different reasons. I took only Gary, Mike and Ruben to Palancar Caves per Ruben´s request. We had a beautiful dive. Gary shot a lionfish down deep but missed a shot at a small one up in about 60 feet of water. We saw a green turtle and a hawksbill turtle. As I was coming out of the first set of caves I saw a big nurse shark go by but no one else saw it. The highlight of the dive was a big green moray swimming around being followed by a hungry grouper. While Gary and I were finishing up our tanks I found a small nurse shark hiding under the reef on the sandy side.
There was a bit of current on San Francisco Wall which surprised me. Mike was pointing at a big lobster and I was pointing at a family of 5 lobsters and we swapped places to go see what the other was looking at. I showed Mike a sleeping nurse shark hidden away in a little cave. Ruben floated right over an extra large southern stingray in the sand. Mike had to get our attention to show it to us. The most exciting critter was a huge loggerhead turtle Gary found. From my point of view the head on that turtle looked to be the same size as Gary´s head. Gary took off with his new Go Pro shooting HD video of the gentle giant.
Saturday, January 18th
The sea was a lot calmer when I took Jen, Alex, Gary, Rob, Angie, Rob and Mike to Colombia Deep. The current was going the opposite direction of normal and we saw a couple of turtles that Jen took pictures of.
Jen loves seahorses so I took her to see the big red one on Dalila. She burned up so much air chasing after the spotted eagle rays I was afraid that her tank wouldn`t last up to the end of the dive where the seahorse lives. We drifted past loads of turtles and she took pictures of every single one. One big nurse shark swam by and I saw a total of 3 spotted eagle rays on that dive. Only Gary, Alex, Jen and I saw the seahorse. Everyone else was up on the boat by the time that we arrived at its house.
Sunday, January 19th
Dive one was on Palancar Bricks with Jen, Alex, Al, Mel, Jeannine, Justin and Andy. There was pretty much no current. We saw a couple of turtles which always keeps Jen busy. One was in 85 feet of water and of course she made a bee line for it :) The last turtle went to the surface for a breath of fresh air and pooped. It was so funny watching it drop to the bottom but when it got there the fish started eating it!
Carlos picked Cedral Wall for our second dive. We had a shark parade there. It seemed like there was just one after the other after the other. I think I saw 4 big ones. There were lots of turtles too. I saw both of the really big ones just parked on the bottom. Alex showed me a spotted moray too.
Monday, January 20th
The sea was flat and calm. The sun was out and I took Al, Mel, Jen, Alex, Jeannine, Chase, Andy and Carrie to Palancar Gardens. I was surprised that we saw so many critters. We were greeted at the beginning of the dive by a pair of warring king crabs. They had grabbed each other with their huge pinchers and were in a wrestling lock. Everyone took lots of pictures of that. We saw a baby turtle go through an archway. I grabbed Carrie´s hand and drug her over for a closer look. I totally missed the free swimming green moray. When the group stopped following me and took off over to the deep area someone told me that there was a moray over there. We saw another turtle or two and a small nurse shark hiding under the reef. Our photographers took off like a bolt of lightning after a big spotted eagle ray that kept circling around and making several appearances for the cameras.
I wanted to show Jen the pipehorses so I took them to French Reef for the second dive. We saw another free swimming green moray, another spotted eagle ray and it only took me moments to find a pipehorse. We saw tons of big lobsters on that dive and a few more crabs too.
Tuesday, January 21st
Tank number one was at Colombia Deep with Gary, Chase, Andy, Carrie and Mike. The first big critter we saw was a huge lobster out prancing around in the sand. I turned my head and saw another pair of lobsters nearby. While we were looking at the lobsters Andy started pointing to the deeper area and a pair of spotted eagle rays glided by. We followed them for a while before they disappeared into the blue. Gary couldn’t find any lionfish down deep that dive.
Gary requested Paso Del Cedral for the second dive. We found a big green moray as soon as we hit the bottom. The green moray was promptly followed by a small hawksbill nearby. The nurse shark was way back in his usual hole. When we arrived at the deeper area a rather large hawksbill turtle was hunkered down and another group of divers surrounded it and took pictures. We saw a ton of lobsters and a crab on that dive too.
Wednesday, January 22nd
I went back to Colombia Deep because Al Mel wanted to go there. Gary loves that dive and Chase said that he didn’t mind. Evers, Luke and Jon didn´t care where they went. We had a wonderful dive there. Upon landing on the bottom we sat and watched an immense southern stingray forage for breakfast in the sand. We went through the swim throughs that we missed the day before and we saw a few turtles. The last one was a green turtle. We also watched as a very large spotted eagle ray made a slow pass. I think that southern stingray may have been almost as big as that spotted eagle ray!
Dalila is Mel´s favorite place. We never made it to the end of the reef where the seahorse is so I think we will have to go back there again. We did see some enormous turtles, a small nurse shark swimming around and the big green moray was in her normal spot. Gary showed me a big octopus that turned blue-green as I approached. It was a critter filled dive.
Thursday, January 23rd
Andy and Carrie decided not to dive this morning because it was just too cold. Since I only had 4 divers: Gary, Jon, Mel and Al I decided to go to Punta Sur Cathedral. We had no waves and light current. It was a beautiful morning for Punta Sur. Gary shot 2 huge lionfish and swam around showing them off on the end of his spear waiting for something to come around and eat them. We saw a giant southern stingray in the sand and several turtles. After Jon went up we saw a spotted eagle ray. Mel and Al took off after it with their cameras.
I picked Cedral Wall for the second dive. We saw loads of turtles, big and small. The little nurse shark was in her usual spot. I had fun showing the divers the warm water in the hole. I wrote on my slate ¨stick your hand in the hole¨ and they all looked at me like I had a 3rd eye. They just knew that it was a trick and that something was gonna ¨get them¨. They figured that it was a practical joke. I stuck my hand in the hole first so that they would see that nothing would happen to them. When they did they were surprised to discover that the water in the hole was 15 degrees warmer than the water that we were swimming around in. I still haven`t figured out what causes that and where the water comes from. It is baffling to me. I stopped and petted my sweet green moray. She seems to like that so much. They practically had to drag me away from her.
Friday, January 24th
Five divers cancelled for the day so I only had it can`t get any worseon and Gary. Gary asked to go up north to see the eagle rays. He was surprised when I said yes. It was a bit gray and choppy. There was less current then I had ever experienced up there. Along the way we saw a spotted moray, a splendid toadfish and a big octopus. We sat it in the little canyon waiting and waiting but we didn`t see even one spotted eagle ray!
Gary doesn`t like Paradise reef so I took them to Las Palmas. We saw a lot of good stuff there. Gary shot 4 or 5 lionfish. I had a spotted moray swim out and try to get me. I was quite startled. There was a rock with 40 or 50 little lobsters under it. I got a splendid toadfish out of the hole so that Jon could see the beautiful long yellow ribbon like dorsal fin that gives the fish it´s name. Gary took a shot at a lionfish and I discovered a big green moray right next to where Gary was shooting at the lionfish. It was a good dive because we say tons of creatures.
Saturday, January 25th
It was a bit choppy when we set out for San Francisco Wall with Al, Mel, Jon, Brad and Sonja. Under the water it was nice and calm. We saw tons of little lobsters. The green morays were very frisky. The first big green moray was swimming around with a black grouper and everyone swam after it for a photo. The second green moray swam past us but parked so everyone could go over and get a cool picture of it.
Everyone really seemed to enjoy the dive on Yucab. There was almost no current and the fish were abundant. Sonja loved the big midnight parrotfish. I showed them a juvenile yellow tailed damsel with its iridescent blue spots. Huge lobsters were out in the open posing for cameras and Mel found a splendid toadfish. Sonja was pissed off that she missed it.
Sunday, January 26th
Shirley and Rebecca snorkeled over us with Orlando while I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Courtney, Evan, Mel, Al, Jon and Paul. The sun was shining, the sea was flat and the current was mild. What more can one ask for? We saw a bunch of turtles. First we saw a solitary green turtle. Promptly following that one we saw a green and a hawksbill together. There were more hawksbills along the way and plenty of lobsters and a big crab too.
On Colombia Shallow we saw a small spotted eagle ray. Small meaning that it had a 6 foot wing span….. We saw tons of turtles there too. Some were big, some were small, some were green, some were hawksbill but we saw a lot :) The first lionfish they showed me was huge. I took a shot but missed by a hair. The second time I took out my spear was for a pair of them. One was huge and one was kind of medium sized. I didn't even get a chance to shoot at the big one because it took one look at me and fled. I did shoot the medium sized one. I pinned it in the sand and when I tried to drag it back out of the hole to finish the job it wiggled off my spear and swam away!
Monday, January 27th
I told Pam that Jon, Mel, Al, Gary and Paul would all argue about where we went diving. After a debate over Santa Rosa Wall and Colombia Deep, Colombia won. I was surprised that we had so much current. Gary had a field day with the big lionfish. We stayed up in 70 feet of water and flew around looking at turtles.
They wanted to see critters so we went back to Dalila because it is Mel´s favorite. We saw a swimming nurse shark, more turtles than I can count and the burned up all of their air chasing after the big spotted eagle rays. Mel was down to 700 psi when we arrived at the seahorse. She signaled up and I shook my head. It only took one minute to find it. After she took a few good shots I brought her right up! Everyone LOVED that dive because it was action packed.
Tuesday, January 28th
Bill brought his friends Mark, Cliff, Fred, Bill, Bob and Cathy on the cruise ship and they came diving with us. When Paul got on board they all greeted him with a big, ¨HI PAUL¨. I think he was a bit surprised but certainly not intimidated :) They asked for swim throughs and manta rays. I told them that we didn`t have any manta rays in Cozumel but I would see what I could do to find them a spotted eagle ray which I assured them was even BETTER than a manta ray :) I took them to the caves and I did find a spotted eagle ray but Bill didn`t see it. We did see big lobsters and crabs and a turtle to boot.
I got a second chance on French Reef. We saw a swimming nurse shark and not one, but two big spotted eagle rays. Bill was always at the back so he missed the first one but swam like crazy after the second one. When we got back on the boat he said, ¨It was OK¨. I said,¨Bullshit! It was totally better than OK!!!¨. He just smiled at me and I knew he was giving me a hard time!
Wednesday, January 29th
David and Karen were on the boat for the first time and I told them that they had to wait for Gary, Paul, Paul, Mel and Al to debate over where we go. The debate ended in Santa Rosa Wall. The current was swift and there were schools of humans everywhere. It was a chaotic dive. Despite the crowds and currents we managed to have a good time because we saw 2 huge turtles and a couple of big groupers. However, when I got back on the boat Mel announced that she was sorry that we picked that spot and that she didn`t want to go there anymore. I asked her why and she said it was because it was too crowded and the other divers looked like they didn`t know what they were doing. It is true. Santa Rosa is ALWAYS crowded.
After a little discussion we all settled on Paso Del Cedral for our second dive. The current was a little more forgiving and we saw 2 huge green morays, lots of lobsters and several more big turtles. Everyone forgot about the chaos of Santa Rosa Wall and went home happy that day.
Thursday January 30th
I took Gary, David, Karen, Paul and Paul to Colombia Deep because Gary wanted to shoot lionfish. He shot plenty but they were down deep. We stayed up top and chased the turtles around. There were plenty of them too!
Paul picked Dalila for the second dive and we saw a lot of turtles there too but no other big critters. I pointed out a couple of splendid toadfish and some dinner sized lobsters there.
Friday, January 31st
Kasia, David, Tony and Melissa arrived on the Allure of the Seas. I picked up Andy, Susan and Paul along the way to Palancar Gardens. I felt very lucky that we didn´t experience much current on that dive. It was a nice, easy dive. I thought that it was quite uneventful but everyone on the boat was impressed by the reef formation.
Paul picked Colombia Shallow for our second dive. We saw oodles of turtles there. While I was searching for a nurse shark for Kasia we found a big spotted eagle ray instead. Paul took off after it to shoot some pictures. First he waved goodbye and then he disappeared after the big ray. A few minutes later he returned and I knew that he had sucked up a bunch of air chasing that thing and then he signaled to me that he was going up. I hope he got some good shots! J
Sunday, February 2nd
Carmen, Jeff, John, Andy, Paul Fulvio and Chad were my divers that morning and I had a few special requests. Fulvio wanted to see the big green moray eel and Paul wanted to see a blue parrotfish. We took care of Fulvio´s request first on Cedral Wall. We drifted past a turtle or two before a really big turtle caught my eye. Just as I started pointing out the big turtle my sweet, soft big green sweetie swam right up to me. I greeted her as I usually do and she ducked into a hole on the bottom. Every so often she stuck her head out for some of my affection and then snuggled back in again. We also saw a big swimming nurse shark on that dive.
We searched for over an hour on Yucab for Paul´s blue parrotfish. We found one right at the very end of the dive. On that dive we saw another big green moray but it was not nearly as friendly. We saw a huge crab and some lobsters too. I pointed out Andy`s lunch to him. It was a big hogfish. Andy loves hogfish J
Monday, February 3rd
It was Jane and Ed`s very first ocean dive ever. Gary spent 20 minutes getting Carmen to talk me into going to Colombia Deep. Jeff, John, Mike and Sandy stayed out of the debate. I told Gary that since it was Jane´s first big dive that Colombia Deep was not a good choice so he had a bit of a snit. We went to Palancar Caves which seemed to be OK for him. I was sooooo grateful that the current wasn`t very strong. We didn`t see any big critters on that dive, just many schools of humans but it was easy to keep the group together and the dive was a success for all except Gary who didn`t see a single lionfish the whole dive.
There were no lionfish on French Reef either. I think Gary has shot them all :) Upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a medium sized nurse shark and a big gray stingray. The shark loved Jeff and swam right up to him. The shark kind of hung out for a few minutes before taking off. I found one of the little pipehorses. While making a safety stop with Sandy and Mike I looked down and saw Gary making the sign for green moray and pointing under the reef. I couldn`t go back down for a look but I then noticed the HUGE turtle just sitting on the bottom next to Gary. There was a small turtle soon after that I pointed out to Carmen, Jeff and Gary.
Tuesday, February 4th
I had a private Charter. Scott and Deb brought Derek and his wife and all of their combined kids on the boat. First we went to Paradise for snorkeling. Everyone snorkeled there. The kids loved seeing the fish. Then we went over to Cardona for the second snorkel stop but some of the kids were tired and didn`t get in. We dropped off the women and children on the beach and Orlando took the men diving at Palancar. There were 2 big green moray eels there. One swam right under Derek and he didn`t even see it. Scott filmed the whole thing. It was a real adventure for the whole family!
Wednesday, February 5th
The day started off tough as my dog was sick, my Nissan wouldn`t start and I had to send Israel off to get the tanks in the Blazer. That left me with no vehicle to get to work in. I rode my bike over to Carlos' house and got the Silverado, went home, loaded it up with gear and got to the marina late. When I told the divers about my morning they said, ¨Don`t worry, it can`t get any worse :) Well it did. Leaving the marina one motor on the boat started to fail. Carlos couldn`t fix it so we decided to go to Bolones for our first dive. Bolones is close to the marina. It turned out to be a good dive though. We saw a big green moray, a spotted moray, a splendid toadfish and several large groupers. We also saw a few lobsters but the excitement was the HUGE lionfish Jeff found and Gary shot. The lionfish was really too big for Gary´s spear. The spear bent and Gary fought with the fish while trying not to get stung. Once Gary killed it two big mutton snappers took turns devouring the head. They left most of the body because the spines were so long. Gary shot about 5 smaller lionfish and we watched the submarine go by just before heading up.
I asked Carlos to take me to Tormentos. Since Gary and Carmen stay down a really long time Carlos suggested that he drop me off in the middle of Yucab so that we would have 30 minutes on Yucab and an hour on Tormentos and we wouldn't run out of reef. I agreed that it would be a good idea. Oops! When we got in the current was running the opposite direction of normal and I knew that we had very little reef going southbound. I swam them northbound against the current until it became noticeable to the divers and then I surrendered to go with the current. I figured that when I ran out of reef at Yucab I could always cross everyone over to Tunich. Well the current stopped before we got to the end and started pushing us out to sea. We hunkered down at the bottom and started heading back the direction that we had come from. Along the way we saw lots of splendid toadfish. We started having problems when 3 divers were low on air and 5 divers were not low. I took the 3 divers up for a safety stop. Even though we swam like hell against the current by the time they finished the safety stop we were so far away from the group that I couldn`t possibly get back. I surfaced with the divers low on air and asked Carlos to give me a ride back to the group while assuring the floating divers that Carlos would be right back for them. By the time that I got back to the group Gary had taken over. He brought everyone up for a safety stop and sent up his yellow buoy. By the time that Carmen and Jeff had finished their 3 minutes we were way out over the blue water in the middle of the channel. No reef for a long way away............
I am one of those weird people that believe everything happens for a reason. Carlos had fixed the motor while we were diving but I think that if that motor had been working properly we would have gone to Colombia Deep instead. When we got back to the marina I asked the other captains what they current was like down south and they said that the current down on the southern reefs was HORRENDOUS. So I was glad that one of the motors failed and we stayed up north on two reefs with hard bottoms. I hate to be on the wall when the current goes crazy! I think it was good Karma on my part J
Thursday, February 6th
I got lucky because I brought Jane, Ed, Amy, JT, Carmen, Jeff and John diving on Palancar Gardens while Orlando snorkeled above us with Amy JTs friends. I had heard that the day before the current was really bad there but when we got in there was no current at all. The current did kick up around 20 minutes into the dive but it was going one direction and it was not too fast. So I felt very lucky!
We saw countless turtles on Colombia Shallow. I swam right past the first one and Carmen pointed it out. It was a green turtle who was camera shy and quickly took off. The rest were all hawksbills and they posed for the cameras. A big spotted eagle ray glided by and Amy swam with it to take some photos. I found a tiny little spotted drum for Jeff and saw that there was a big lionfish in that same hole. I couldn`t get at that lionfish though and it pissed me off. The first shark swam by while John, Jane and Ed were at the surface and Carmen I hung out for a few minutes with another really good sized nurse shark resting under the reef. I found a splendid toadfish about halfway out of the hole and someone was really happy to see the flounder too.
Friday, February 7th
I took Carmen, Jeff, Colleen, Tom, John, Mike, Sandy, Ed and Jane to Palancar Bricks. They asked to go to the wall but when we got to San Francisco Wall it looked like there was some current so I nixed the idea. Thankfully it was nice and calm there. We saw only one turtle but the reef structure is so beautiful that it always makes an awesome dive.
Carmen insisted on going back to Colombia Shallow. I didn`t bother counting how many turtles we saw. They were everywhere. I saw a pair of big lobsters fight and then one charged me! There was a huge crab hanging on the wall of a cave. We saw a total of 3 nurse sharks and we stopped to watch the yellow headed jawfish while Jeff fixed the stick man and made him a man again.
Saturday, February 8th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Beth, Doug, Amy, J.T., Gary and Pete. The current was not too bad but Gary stayed up top with us anyway. He only found one tiny little lionfish to feed to a yellow tail snapper. There was a curious lobster perched in a sponge and it was a nice, easy dive.
Cedral was a shark parade! First 2 really big nurse sharks swam around together. Then Pete found an octopus in a hole. Another medium sized nurse swam around and then we floated up over another one. At the end of the dive a fifth nurse shark swam around and kept us company for a while.
Sunday, February 10th
This was Carlos´birthday and we took Rebecca, Lucia, Ali, David, Pete and Luke to Palancar Bricks. We had gorgeous conditions and we saw 4 turtles.
On ¨My Secret Spot¨ we dropped down on a HUGE spotted eagle ray. Pete swam over and got up close and personal with the big ray. We saw lobsters everywhere. Some were out parading around and some were hiding in the reef. We saw a pair of splendid toadfish and Pete showed me a lionfish. I shot it and a hungry mutton snapper snatched it off of my spear within seconds.
Tuesday, February 11th
It was a beautiful sunny day with flat calm seas and I went to Palancar Gardens with Linda, Pamela, Lucia, Rebecca, David, Craig, Pete and Luke. Linda`s friends snorkeled over us. We saw tons of lobsters on that dive. Some were out walking around and some were hiding in holes but most were huge. There was one turtle along the way as well.
At Colombia Shallow we saw loads of turtles which is the norm. Linda drifted over a big nurse shark and showed it to me. She also pointed out the huge spotted eagle ray going by. That was a real treat. We stopped to take pictures of the yellow headed jawfish. We searched for a splendid toadfish to no avail.
Wednesday, February 12th
My divers were experienced and comfortable in the water so I took Gary, David, Lucia, Rebecca, Fulvio, Pete and Luke to Punta Sur´s Cathedral. The surface was rough but down below we had ZERO current and the conditions below were ideal and gorgeous. There were 2 other schools of humans there so it made it a little hard to keep my group with me and not mingling with the other groups but we managed to have a nice dive. Gary went deeper than us and he saw a big reef shark. We missed it but we did see a big spotted eagle ray. There was a boring patch where we swam in mid water towards the next shallower reef but some of the divers decided to just go up instead.
We had an exciting dive on Dalila. I had promised them a splendid toadfish but Carlos dropped me off too far north and we had to search like mad for a toadfish. We did succeed in finding 2 and Luke did get a good photo. The big green eel was in her usual spot and a huge green turtle swam by at the same moment. Gary showed David the seahorse while I did a safety stop with Lucia, Rebecca and Fulvio.
Thursday, February 13th
It was rough and choppy on the surface but it was calm and the current was perfect on Colombia Deep. My divers were Gary, Lucia, Rebecca, Mike, Mike, Pete and Luke. Gary disappeared down deep looking for lionfish. We stayed up top and Lucia just loved the swim through. We saw a huge spotted eagle ray glide by.
We had such a good time on Dalila that everyone agreed to go back. I found those splendid toadfish for Luke and Lucia. I saw 4 different nurse sharks. They were all out swimming around. We saw a turtle or two. Gary found a small green moray and while Luke and I were doing a safety stop we watched as a big green moray shadow hunted with a big grouper. At the end of the dive I found the black seahorse, not the red one. I had been looking for the black one since the very first time that I saw the pair. I was surprised to find the black one and not the red one.
Friday, February 14th
The seas were flat and calm again and we had no current on Palancar Horseshoe. Matthias, Monika, Anna and Brian had not been diving in a while so it was a blessing that we had good conditions. I warned them that Luke, Gary and Pete were going to stay down a long time. I don`t think they believed me until they were sitting on the boat for half an hour waiting for the boys to come up. We saw a turtle and a big crab on that dive.
On French Reef we saw more critters. There was a green moray eel at the beginning of the dive and it was shadow hunting with a grouper. We saw one swimming shark and a couple of turtles. We saw a big lobster, a slipper lobster and I found one of the tiny pipehorses. This time I took pictures of it!
Sunday, February 16th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Eugene, Mary, Lowell, J.F. Nathalie, Luke, Bill and Max. There was no current when we first got in but it kicked up right away and we spent the first 45 minutes flying. The new divers didn`t seem to know any different. For me it was a crappy dive but they seemed to like it…..???
On Colombia Shallow we had a great dive. There was very little current and we saw 6 or 7 turtles, only one of which was a green turtle. We also saw a tiny baby shark about 2 feet long and another small shark about 4 feet long. The divers were thrilled! When I got back on the boat Lowell said that he saw more stuff on that dive than he did in all of his other dives combined!
Monday, February 17th
Lucia, Rebecca, Bill, Max, David, Luke and Rick got on the boat and of the seven divers,four were asking to go back to Dalila. Usually Dalila is a second dive but after having a look at the current on Santa Rosa Wall I caved in and went to Dalila first. I did get in to check the current before anyone suited up and it seemed just fine. There was a bit of current but nothing to write home to Mom about. We got in and immediately the current kicked up. We parked behind the reef to watch a big turtle. We found a tiny spotted drum and flew by a few turtles. By the time that we reached the seahorse the current was so strong that no one could stop so we just kept going and missed the seahorse again!
I took them to Palancar Caves for the second dive which was lovely. The current was cooperative and everyone was in control, not flying around like leaves in the wind. We saw loads of turtles, some of which were green turtles. It was a good dive!
Tuesday, February 18th
The current was just fine on Santa Rosa Wall so I took Lucia, Rebecca, Bill, Max, David, Luke and Mike on a nice dive there. We had gentle current so everyone could stop and take photos of the green moray eel and his dive buddy the big black grouper. Things got a little crowded when everyone tried to take pictures of the splendid toadfish at the same time. We saw a couple of big groupers and some southern stingrays on that dive.
Everyone really seemed to enjoy San Francisco Wall. What stood out most for me were all the queen angelfish. They seemed to be everywhere. At the end of the dive I showed Luke a big green moray eel. It had a crooked lower jaw but didn't seem as bad off as Buster so I was a little confused. Buster`s jaw is more crooked so how could there be 2 green morays in the same spot with crooked mouths? Has Buster gotten better? Who knows?
Wednesday, February 19th
I took Lucia, Rebecca, Bill, Max, David, Luke and Gary to Colombia Deep. Lucia loved the cave but we didn`t see many critters.
I had to find the seahorse for the ladies so we went back to Dalila ONE MORE TIME. Finally I showed everyone the little seahorse. The current was cooperative and we all took our time and stayed there for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Everyone got lots of good shots of the seahorse including me :) We also saw a few green moray eels too.
Monday, February 24th
There was almost no current at all and when I announced to Kathy, Alan, D.J. Brian, Dusty, Caleb, Christi and Katelyn that we were going to Palancar Gardens and Kathy shouted out ¨Yeah!¨. We had perfect conditions and it was a good first dive of the vacation for everyone. A big spotted eagle ray greeted us on the other side of the drop off. It was munching on a big conch shell and Kathy swam up for a close look. I could hear one of the girls scream through her regulator so I turned my head and saw a turtle going up to the surface. It had been a long time since I saw someone get so excited about a turtle :) We also saw a lot of really big lobsters on that dive.
Since the girls were wild about turtles I took them to Kathy`s favorite dive site, Colombia Shallows. We saw zillions of turtles. There were two just sleeping on the bottom as soon as we descended. The big nurse shark was in the usual spot and one of the girls pointed out a small nurse shark later on. Kathy was the only one who saw the third nurse shark swim off. I made Kathy crack up underwater when I showed her the stick man.
Tuesday, February 25th
I didn`t bother asking Kathy, Alan, D.J. Brian, Dusty, Caleb, Christi and Katelyn where they wanted to go. They had said that they like swim throughs so I took them to Palancar Caves. We saw a turtle or two and they really enjoyed the scenery.
Before we got in at the end of Dalila Christi asked me what we were going to see. I told her something that she likes :) She asked if that would be a seahorse and I told her that I didn`t think so. I didn`t want to get their hopes up and then not find it. We dropped down on a turtle and shortly thereafter Alan found a medium sized nurse shark. Our group frightened it and it took off swimming right under the divers. You could hear Christi screaming through her regulator on that one! I did succeed in finding the seahorse but the current was cooking so we didn`t stay long. We drifted past the huge barracuda and I showed them the octopus at Paso del Cedral. They were thrilled with the dives :)
Wednesday, February 26th
Kathy, Alan, Neil, Brian and Mike didn`t care where we went diving. Gary wanted to go to Colombia Deep to find the big lionfish down deep. When we got in I looked around and at first I had no idea where we were. Gary hung with us until I got everyone down and then I waved goodbye and he took of over the wall. After about 5 or 10 minutes I figured out that we were on Palancar Bricks. The current was cooperative and we saw a turtle and a big lobster. We went through my favorite cave there. When we came out of the cave Gary was waiting for us and he told me that he shot a huge lionfish.
On French Reef the first nurse shark was too far away for everyone to see. A five foot green moray swam up towards us over the sand and the contrast of green on white was striking. I found the tiny little pipehorse and showed it to Kat. After most of the divers had already gone up Gary, Kathy and I saw 2 swimming nurse sharks, a couple of big turtles and lots of big rainbow parrotfish.
Thursday, February 27th
I knew that Gary wanted to go to Colombia Deep so I didn`t even bother asking Kathy, Alan, Rick, Susan, Neil, Mike or Cheryl where they wanted to go. I just announced that we were going to Colombia. The current was a little wacky but not bad. At the very beginning of the dive I found a pair of big lobsters out and about. There were three more dinner sized lobsters huddled together under a ledge. Kathy pointed out one of the biggest southern stingrays that I have ever seen. As Neil, Mike and Cheryl were making their safety stop we saw a big turtle down below.
Everyone asked to see a shark so I took them to my best shark spot – Paso Del Cedral. I bombed out. I couldn`t find a single shark there. I did show Neil a big green moray eel and there were turtles galore. We saw one green turtle, one big loggerhead with a chunk missing out of his shell by his left rear flipper and we saw the usual assortment of hawksbill turtles too. The octopus was in his spot and I showed everyone with the flashlight.
Friday, February 28th
First we stopped at Santa Rosa Wall to check the current. Another boat captain told us that the current was strong so I announced to Gary, Rick, Susan, Kathy, Alan, Cheryl, Mike and Neil that we were going to Palancar Caves. We did all of the swim throughs and saw a couple of turtles. I was going through a cave and spied a huge lionfish. I thought about it for a second and decided that Gary was probably nowhere close so I took a shot. I hit it but it wiggled fiercely and scooted off of the end of my spear and got a way.
They asked to see splendid toadfish so I took them to Dalila. Gary found the first one and then Kathy found 2 more. A fourth one was found before we got to ¨Old Faithful¨ whom I tortured until he came out and showed us his splendid yellow fins. As we were sitting around taking pictures of a green moray eel a second green moray swam right into our group and under Kathy´s fins. We saw a few turtles and I finally found a big nurse shark for Neil. He had been asking for that shark for 3 days. While Alan was making a safety stop I ducked back down to show Kathy the seahorse and she got a picture because no one else was around :)
Saturday, March 1st
Kathy and Alan requested Santa Rosa Wall. I didn`t bother asking Rick, Susanita, Mike, Andy, Cheryl and Mike where they wanted to go. I just announced that we were diving Santa Rosa. There were no complaints. Upon reaching the bottom we found a medium sized nurse shark followed by a snacking turtle. We also took pictures of a huge lobster. There were several other good sized turtles throughout the dive and when we came out of the first cave a big spotted eagle ray made a slow pass. Kathy kicked hard against the current to catch up with it to take a couple of photos.
The current was nice and slow on Yucab. Alan showed us a rather large nurse shark swimming around off in the distance. We saw a couple of big turtles and I drifted past a splendid toadfish. I didn`t bother pointing it out because there was no one close enough to me to show it to.
Sunday, March 2nd
Rick talked me into taking him to Maracaibo Shallow. Gary, Cheryl, Mike and Mike didn`t get much choice. We got so lucky. The waves were not big and the current was mild. Gary and Rick had a field day shooting lionfish. Mike showed us a big nurse shark lounging around. The bottom there is covered with soft corals so it was a nice change of scenery for everyone.
On Cedral Wall the current was cooking. We saw way more turtles than I could count. Gary made the signal for a pair of sharks but they were off in the distance so I didn´t take the group over for a look. However we did see several more sharks throughout the dive. I went over and gave my love to my favorite green moray. There was a smaller one that paid us a visit earlier but since I am not on good terms with that one I only gave my affection to the big one in her usual spot. I just cannot believe how many turtles we saw!
Monday, March 3rd
Palancar Bricks was the first stop of the day with Gary, Rick, Susan, Alison, Tom, Melissa and Mike. We had a bit of current which took Tom for a loop but the rest didn`t seem to mind a bit. We saw a couple of turtles and a lobster or two. I just love that big cave system there too.
French Reef was the second stop. A full grown nurse shark swam right up to Gary. I guess that is because he smells like dead fish. It sniffed him a bit, decided that he didn`t have any lunch and swam off. We saw the usual turtles but everyone really liked taking pictures of the little pipehorse. Melissa was especially happy to see that little guy. While Jefe was making a safety stop he pointed down and made the shark sign. I believed him and called the group over. He pointed to an overhang below. I went in there looking for the shark but there was nothing there. He would have made me look like a fool had that HUGE spotted eagle ray not gone by. After everyone chased the eagle ray they forgot all about the non-existent nurse shark :)
Tuesday, March 4th
Andy asked for a seahorse. Harold said that he likes shallow dives. Alison, Tom, Rick and Susan didn`t say a word so I announced that we were going to Dalila. We had a little current but not too bad. We saw a quite a few turtles, a couple of splendid toadfish and the big green moray was in her usual spot. Ali, Rick, Susan and Andy took turns taking pictures of the big seahorse for a good 5 minutes.
Susanita´s favorite reef is Paradise so it seemed fitting to take her there the last day. We focused on the small stuff like blennies and gobies. Rick shot a medium sized lionfish and was very proud of himself. A golden tail moray charged Andy`s camera a few times. I think it saw it´s reflection on the lens and was picking a fight :)
Thursday, March 6th
I was surprised that we had strong south wind. I had not been checking the weather report daily and it caught me off guard. To avoid big waves I tossed around the idea of Santa Rosa Wall with Andy, Lary, Brad and Melissa. But when Jim and Cat got on I had a chat with them and they said that they were still working on their buoyancy control so I scratched that idea. I decided to brave the waves at Palancar Gardens instead. Underneath we had lovely diving conditions. The current was very mild. We drifted right up to a turtle and a huge lobster pranced around for us. One decent sized nurse shark cruised by out in the deeper area and fun was had by all.
The current wasn`t bad at all on Paso Del Cedral either. It was a fantastic dive. I heard Brad shouting at me through his regulator. When I figured out where he was I saw the big spotted eagle ray that got him all worked up. Larry and Andy parked for a long time taking pictures of a hungry turtle. A divemaster from another group showed us a small nurse shark with its head stuck in a hole trying to suck out some lunch. I skipped the octopus but a pair of small nurse sharks entertained Andy and I for a while as they swam around us. Towards the end of the dive a big green moray eel swam across a sandy patch and hid in the reef. When Andy showed up with his camera it came back out and swam around some more. Right after the green eel another turtle showed up for Andy to chase. While Brad and I were hanging out at 20 feet a huge lobster started backing away from Lary´s GoPro and hid in the reef. It was an eventful, busy dive with lots of big animals.
Friday, March 7th
I dived Palancar Bricks with Andy, Lary, Harold, Brad, Cassie, Jim and Cat. It was choppy up top but calm and relaxing down below. There were a couple of turtles on that dive but I skipped the big cave because not everyone had enough air for that deep cave system.
Cassie and Andy LOVE Colombia Shallows. Usually we see more turtles there. I only saw 3 turtles the whole dive and one cute little baby nurse shark. Brad and Cassie saw a huge spotted eagle ray but they were ahead of us and I missed it. Cassie showed me a smaller eagle ray, maybe about 6 feet wide when she was making a safety stop. Lary got up close and personal with the ray. I thought that the eagle ray was going to push Larry out of way as it scavenged for food on the bottom in front of Lary´s GoPro.
Sunday, March 9th
John, Rob, Orvar, Steve, Jim and Cat came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. I brought Eduardo with me so that I could stay shallow and do skills with Orvar for his certification dives. Eduardo took everyone down on a normal dive over the drop off while Orvar and I played in the sand. Eduardo borrowed my Hawaiian sling and took a shot at a lionfish but missed. He made up for it when he pointed out a big spotted eagle ray that made a nice, slow, close pass.
I took them back to Colombia Shallows so that I could do more skills with Orvar. The current was light and I was surprised that we only saw one turtle. I tried to show everyone a green moray eel in a cave but Rob swam off so only half of the group saw it. There were several big lobsters around on that dive too.
Monday, March 10th
I asked Andy, Marcus, John, Rob and Orvar where they wanted to go and Marcus answered Palancar Gardens so off we went. We had no waves and very little current. We saw gobs of big lobsters out parading around and Andy pointed out a big crab too.
On ¨My Secret Spot¨ we drifted around a bit. Orvar completed the navigational skills for his certification and Rob was ever so helpful. I had dropped a weight down to the bottom to mark the starting point for Orvar´s navigational exercise and Rob being the conscience minded diver that he is, found a weight and picked it up :) I guess Orvar was not destined to find his starting point………… At the end of the dive a small nurse shark hunkered down in a hole with a huge grouper waiting patiently on top for the shark to come back out and commence the hunt again. Andy paused and took quite a few photos.
Tuesday, March 11th
Tank numero uno was on Santa Rosa Wall by special request. Andy, Marcus, Rina, Andrew, Orvar, Cat and Jim drifted around a bit in the current and we were greeted by a free swimming green moray. I reached out to say hello and she seemed a bit frightened. So I backed way off. We watched her as she slipped down under the reef and Andy followed with his camera in hand. A huge nurse shark took one look at us and headed for the shallows as we were floating out along the wall. I swam them through a couple of caves after we stopped to take pictures of the enormous black grouper.
Another request that morning was for Paso Del Cedral. There was a bit of current there too and no one stopped to look at the fat green moray in the hole. While I was checking out Marcus´ octopus a rather large nurse shark swam by. There was another smaller nurse shark that everyone missed at the end of the dive too. There were more than one huge lobsters on that dive. It was an interesting day!
Wednesday, March 12th
We had a bit of south wind but it didn`t stop Fulvio, David, Jim, Marcus, Andy, Barbara, Mark and Jason from going to Palancar Caves. Under the sea things were calm and clear. We saw several turtles and some big lobsters. We swam through some caves but everyone seemed intent on doing their own thing.
Marcus requested San Francisco Wall for the second dive. We drifted along the top and Fulvio pointed out a big spotted eagle ray above us. While everyone was following the eagle ray a turtle popped out of a hole below me. I found that smaller green moray with bump on its mouth just sitting in the sand under an overhang and everyone stopped to take pictures.
Thursday, March 13th
The wind had shifted and it was blowing in from the North. It wasn`t enough to close the port but Andy, Marcus, Rina and Andrew were my only divers so it was an easy boat ride. Andy told me that he would be happy with Dalila and Paradise so that is where we went. On Dalila we dropped down on a happy turtle and Andy took lots of pictures. A medium sized nurse shark made a slow pass. The big green moray was in her usual spot with a hungry turtle perched nearby. While Andrew took pictures of the turtle Andy took some of the big green moray. We found one more turtle on our way to the seahorse. It took a while to find the seahorse. Just when I was thinking of giving up I found it. It blends in so well it looks just like part of the reef. As Andrew and Marcus were going up we drifted over a big nurse shark napping below us. Andrew passed the camera to Rina and she stayed down to take a few shots.
On Paradise we saw Chucho get in and then climb back up the ladder and drive to the other side so we naturally thought that the current was running southbound. We followed suit. Carlos dropped me off by the big block which is where I normally end the dive. I got in and checked the current. It was barely perceivable and kind of running eastbound. I figured that it was in the process of changing and that we had a 50/50 chance of it in our favor. Everyone hopped in. We swam southbound searching out little stuff like flamingo tongues, a juvenile spotted drum and a spotted cleaner shrimp. It was a bottom crawl. After about 30 minutes it became obvious that the current was going northbound and that sooner or later we would have to turn around. I opted to keep going because I didn`t want to turn around and then have to call the dive short because we would end up too close to the cruise ship piers. Thankfully the current never really got too strong and we didn`t turn around until the boys were low on air. It all worked out fine in the end.
Friday, March 14th
It was a lot calmer than the day before so I took Andy, Marcus, Andrew, Rina, Josh, Mark, Barbara and Jason to Colombia Deep. They really loved the dive and thought that it was so beautiful that they said that they would want to go back. Upon reaching the bottom we discovered a huge lobster under the reef. Then a little turtle swam up and Andy didn`t see it because it was behind him. He almost kicked the poor thing. Then I found a tiny little spotted drum and everyone took pictures. We visited the old anchor and then made our way over to the deeper area where we saw another turtle or two.
Per special request we went to Colombia Shallow. We saw tons of turtles, several lobsters and a medium sized nurse shark swam by. I showed Andrew a Peterson`s cleaner shrimp. Someone had taken apart the brick/stick man and spelled out ALI with the bricks. It seriously makes me wonder if I have been caught…………..?????
Saturday, March 15th
I picked the Horseshoe because it was Deb´s first dive after certification and I wanted to get in at a shallow spot. I told David, Andy, Rina and Mark not to follow Gary over the edge and to stay close to me. We paddled around in shallow water and saw a few turtles. Gary shot a lionfish, cut all the spikey bits off and fed it to a lobster that David found. Gary said that the lobster peeled it like a banana before it ate it.
On French Reef the current was gentle and we saw more turtles. Gary, Rina, Andy and I watched as a nurse shark swam by. It smelled Gary, came closer for a check and when it didn't find any dead lionfish it took off. Andy found a spotted scorpion fish with a bulgy blue eye. I stopped to look for the pipehorse but Deb popped up to the surface so I abandoned the search to go get Deb on the boat.
Sunday, March 16th
I was expecting strong south wind with big waves so I asked Helen, Mark, Mark, Jason, Buzz, Deb, Mark and her husband to come to the marina to get on board the boat. (yes, 3 Marks) As it turned out the waves were not so big and it wasn`t necessary. We made it all the way down to Palancar Gardens. It was choppy on the surface but underwater it was calm. We only saw one big lobster but we saw a lot of schools of humans everywhere.
The current was going the wrong way but thank goodness that it wasn`t strong on Chankanaab. We saw more lobsters and some schools of fish.
Monday, March 17th
The morning divers were Jeff, Dave, Angela, Roni, David, Mark and Helen. We had south wind and it was too choppy to go to Palancar. I opted to stay on Tormentos which was already choppy enough. We had very light current and we just coasted along. At the end of the dive we saw quite a few big lobsters out for a stroll.
Yucab was on the way home and it too was an uneventful dive. There were plenty of colorful fish to keep everyone entertained.
That afternoon Mark, Jason, Barbara, Todd, Brennan, Justin, Joe and Kieran climbed on board. I had warned them that we were waiting for a storm to blow in and that I didn`t want to stray far from the marina. One boy said, ¨I wanna see a shark!¨. Barbara said, ¨I wanna see a seahorse!!¨. Well we have both on Dalila but that was quite a drive from the marina. I asked Carlos what he thought and he said that we could try so off we went. As we arrived I got a phone call from my friend Ana who lives 45 minutes north of us and she said that the storm was blowing in there. I was about to tell Carlos to turn around and go back and he cut me off and he said, ¨Just get in the water!¨. So we did. We saw 2 sharks and a whole bunch of turtles. The boys were thrilled. Just as we were approaching the seahorse everything got dark and Carlos gave me the emergency recall signal. I told everyone to go up, NO SAFETY STOP. Just get up NOW. We had only been down for 25 minutes so that stop was optional anyway. Just as the last diver was climbing the ladder the storm hit. We had a rainy, rough ride home. The anchor broke loose and Carlos had to run to the bow of the boat and pull it back up and tie it down. That was a good scare. He also told me that while we were diving he got an SOS call from another dive boat that had engine failure and he was towing them away from the rocks while we were diving. It was an exciting last dive of the day to say the least. There was a very small boat next to us as we pulled into the harbor and everyone on that boat cheered loudly when they got in safely :)
Tuesday, March 18th
It was still a little choppy when I took Mark, Helen, Buzz, Doreen, Kaylie, John and Greg to Palancar Caves. Once we got underwater Kaylie and Greg´s seasickness went away. The visibility just getting worse and worse throughout the dive until we ended up with about 15 feet of visibility so we had to stick close together. Everyone seemed quite content despite the poor visibility because we saw 4 different turtles, 2 of which were hanging out together. We also saw a couple of dinner sized lobsters.
We had a bit of a drift on ¨My Secret Spot¨ but the visibility was MUCHO better. The action didn`t really start until after Buzz and Greg were already on the boat. We saw quite a few turtles and while Kaylie and John were making a safety stop I looked down to find a big spotted eagle ray. When only Doreen and I were still down we saw several more turtles and a swimming nurse shark.
Wednesday, March 19th
My morning trip was on Palancar Bricks with David, Helen, Mark, Roni, Dave, Angela and Jeff. We had nice calm conditions on the surface and at the bottom. It was a beautiful day and an easy dive. We saw one turtle and I found a decent sized nurse shark sleeping under the reef.
Per special request we went looking for that seahorse on Dalila. We saw a turtle or two and I had to stop and look really hard for a long time to find the seahorse. I never did find it but David saved me! He found it hiding under a rope sponge so Helen got her seahorse on her birthday!
That afternoon I picked up Todd, Brennan, Justin, Joe and Kieran and took them back to Dalila because they wanted to see more big critters. We saw a turtle and a nurse shark swimming off in the distance with a big grouper following it. The best part of the dive was when Todd pointed out a big fat green moray eel out swimming around.
I went looking for more critters on Paso Del Cedral. The lobsters were out and walking around everywhere. It was weird. We saw a few big crabs, one huge turtle but the lobsters stole the show on that dive.
Thursday, March 20th
It was sunny, flat and calm as we set out for Palancar Horseshoe with David, Mark, Helen, Roni, Dave, Angela and Jeff. I planned the dive to 60 feet maximum with a drop to 70 if we saw something worthwhile. Well, it didn't take long before someone pointed out the turtle with its angelfish harem well below us. I giggled as I watched Angela (the chicken) and her dive buddy Jeff drop down to 80 feet or so to get a better look. When it comes to turtles Angela forgets all about her nervousness and focuses on the turtle only :) We saw a few lobsters but Helen crawled into a hole with what she named, ¨LobsterSaurous¨. I thought that I may have to go down there and pull her out by the feet. Then everyone crammed into that hole and it looked pretty funny from my point of view. I never did get to see that lobster but it must have been one HumDinger!
They asked for San Francisco Wall for the second dive. I explained to Jeff that the top of the cliff was at 40 to 60 feet and that the bottom is at 1000 feet. I told him to try and stay close to the top please. We saw lots of colorful sponges and coral. The only really big, amazing critter swam by while only David and I were still down. David was doing his safety stop when a medium sized eagle ray swam below us. He switched his camera on to video and kicked like hell to stay over the eagle ray. I followed him around with my octopus in my hand for just in case :)
Saturday, March 29th
After more than a week out of the water and brand new bottom paint on the boat we took Armando, Alex and André to Colombia Deep. Armando brought his brand new GoPro with a light and the first thing we filmed was a sleeping nurse shark. Later in the dive he filmed a turtle and the boys swimming through the caves.
André was feeling a little under the weather so we dropped him off at the hotel and went to Dalila. We saw several turtles. One turtle swam right up to me and looked me in the eye. We also saw a couple of nurse sharks on that dive.
Sunday, March 30th
The boys wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall so that was our first stop. I saw the tip of a green tail sticking out of a hole and upon closer inspection I found the green moray´s smiling facing sticking out of a hole about a foot away. Armando got it all on video of course. I showed them a big nurse shark under the overhang and immediately following that big shark was a swimming turtle that approached us and smiled for the camera.
The boys wanted to see more turtles so Cedral Wall was the choice. The current was very light and not only did we see a whole bunch of turtles, big and small but we also saw a nurse shark and a tiny juvenile spotted drum. Alex got excited at the lobsters too.
Wednesday, April 2nd
It was Dave, Christina, Yusuke, Chinatsu, Ben and Craig´s first dive of their vacation. Jeannie and Camilla had been diving all week. I opted for Palancar Caves because of the easy descent. We hung out in about 35 – 40 feet of water until everyone was acclimated and then worked our way down to 60 feet. We finished the area over the Caves in about 15 minutes and proceeded on to the Horseshoe. We saw a bristle worm wrapped around a gorgonian and a lizard fish perched and waiting for its picture to be taken. A small turtle swam by but only the front half of the group saw it.
Yusuke asked to see a splendid toadfish. The man came all the way over here from Japan so I felt a need to fulfill his request. Camilla was thrilled when it came all the way out. She clapped at the show. We saw tons of turtles on that dive and a swimming nurse shark. When only Camilla and I were still down she signaled up. She was just being nice because she still had 1200 psi. I had about 900. I told her to wait because we were only a couple of minutes from the seahorse. I found it IMMEDIATELY. It was so easy this time! Camilla was quite pleased with the seahorse and I had to promise Jeannie when we got back on the boat to take her there again later in the week to see it too : This is my best shot of the seahorse:
Thursday, April 3rd
The sea was not as rough as I expected it to be at Palancar Gardens where I brought Rick, Chase, Carson, Ben, Craig, Camilla and Jeannie. Underwater things were nice and calm. I found another big bristle worm and I swam them through the caves. Craig pointed out a turtle overhead. Chase and Rick were already in a cave and they didn`t see it.
The girls requested French Reef to go see the little pipehorses. I couldn`t find a one but Eduardo found 2 in different places. Camilla liked the adult spotted drum. I saw another one inside the long cave but Camilla was way behind me so I couldn`t show it to her. At the end of the dive Camilla and I were the last ones up and we saw a big southern stingray buried in the sand. Then a big green moray eel slithered around below us on the hunt. I followed her around a bit until Camilla pointed to her computer and signaled up. The green eels are always my favorite!
Friday, April 4th
I only had 4 divers: Jeannie, Camilla, Jodie and John. We had southeast wind so I decided to do our first dive on Dalila so that I could show Jeannie the seahorse that she missed the other day. We had a successful visit with the seahorse. Camilla´s strong video light illuminated it beautifully so that we could see that it is truly a burnt red color. We also saw a turtle or two and a green moray in a hole. Only Camilla and I were still down when the 6 foot nurse shark swam by.
They liked the critters so I took them to Cedral Wall. We saw all 3 types of turtles. The first was a green turtle that Camilla pointed out to us on the way down. Then we saw several hawksbill turtles. I stopped to give a bit of attention to a gorgeous green moray. We saw clumps of lobsters in a hole. The ladies were very much so impressed with the juvenile spotted drum but the icing on the dive was the humungous loggerhead turtle at the end of the dive. Jeannie said it was bigger than the Galapagos tortoises!
Sunday, April 6th
I was planning on doing Sam´s training dives at Paradise and when I went to pick up Sam and Teresa only Teresa got on board. Sam´s ear was bothering him from the plane ride so he couldn`t dive. Teresa volunteered to pay for both of them anyway so I took her out alone the lucky girl! We did our first dive on Tormentos and she was the one who saw the big spotted eagle ray first. We swam out away from the reef for a better look. We had to swim a bit to get back. We saw big groupers, a huge snapper around 60 pounds and a lobster or two. Teresa was impressed by the size of the rainbow parrotfish.
Chankanaab had no current. We saw a few more big groupers and Teresa said that dive was like swimming around in an aquarium.
Monday, April 7th
There were big waves down south and I told Teresa, Alisha, Cory and Marnie that it would be rough at Palancar. They said that no one gets seasick and that they didn't mind. I agreed to drive south to see how far we could get. There were 3 to 4 foot waves on Palancar Gardens but once we were underwater it was tranquil. However, due to 3 days of big waves there was very poor visibility. We could only see for about 40 feet or so. None the less, everyone seemed to have fun and we saw a big lobster.
The second dive was on San Francisco Wall and we had a little bit of current, just enough so that we didn`t have to swim much. A huge spotted eagle ray swam right over Alisha, Tyler and I.
Thursday, April 10th
We had 2 days off due to the cold front but I went out with a full boat on Thursday morning: Doug, Geoff, Mary, Wayne, Wally, Peter, Cory and Marnie. There were no waves and no current on Palancar Caves. It was a super easy dive. We saw tons of turtles and it was a mix of mostly hawksbill but several green turtles too. We swam through only the big swim throughs so that I wouldn`t make the claustrophobic divers nervous :)
Mary requested a seahorse so Dalila was our second stop. We saw a 6 foot nurse shark swim by about 3 minutes after we got to the bottom. Once everyone was settled we saw a few turtles and it took about 25 minutes to get to the seahorse. It was really easy to find this morning. I swam right over and saw it immediately! The girls loved it. The guys were surprised at how big it is. Later in the dive we saw more turtles and then a pair of big nurse sharks feeding together. They both stuck their fat heads in holes next to each other trying to suck out some lunch.
That afternoon I picked up Bruce´s group of 7. Bruce brought his wife, three kids (Garrett is only 10) and a couple of his friends, Russell and Tony. We went to Colombia Shallows and once Kajsa saw her first turtle she was hooked. The grown men acted like kids and the kids were really well behaved. Bruce found a baby nurse shark under a coral head and there was a baby turtle at the end of the dive.
Our last stop of the day was on Palancar Gardens. The big kids explored all the caves and got stuck. The little kids were quite well behaved and stayed up top with their parents. I had to watch the big kids, not the little ones. One of our adventuresome duo did find a full grown nurse shark sleeping on the bottom and Tony showed us a goldentail eel. A pair of big lobsters challenged Tony and got right up in his face.
Friday, April 11th
Marnie, Cory, Peter, Jason, Geoff, Mary and Wayne came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. I was surprised that we saw so many big critters. We were quite lucky. First we saw a 5 foot nurse shark lounging about on top of the reef and a second nurse shark, maybe 6 feet long was near. As we were looking at the sharks a turtle went up to the surface for a breath of fresh air right over our heads. We saw several turtles along the way including one good sized hawksbill wedged under a bit of coral taking a nap. A particularly large black grouper followed us around for a while and there was big lobster on that dive too.
The current was mild on Cedral wall. We saw loads of turtles again and that pair of big nurse sharks made a brief pass off in the distance. In total I think that I saw 5 nurse sharks there and I didn`t count the turtles. The reason to go there was that Peter had asked to see a juvenile spotted drum which was in its usual spot. The surprise was a second juvenile spotted drum at the end of the dive.
Saturday, April 12th
We left the marina late at almost 11:00 because the Carnival Magic didn`t let the passengers off right away. I took Peter, Geoff, Mary, Wally, Wayne, Yolanda and J.P. to Palancar Bricks. There were a bunch of turtles but there was nothing cuter than the two hawksbill turtles rubbing noses in about 60 feet of water. Wally waved his arms wildly to get my attention when he spied a 5 foot nurse shark sleeping under the reef. Mary finally got to see stingrays. First we saw a southern stingray swimming around over the reef and a minute later someone pointed out a yellow stingray in the sand.
Someone asked to see a splendid toadfish. I found two. The usual guy was in his usual spot plus Mary and I saw a bonus toadfish about 10 minutes later. There were more sharks than I could count. It seemed that every couple of minutes another nurse shark would swim by in the distance. The big green eel was in her spot and towards the end of the dive another big green eel was out swimming around for us. It was an action packed dive with lots of big critters.
Monday, April 13th
There were big waves at Palancar Gardens and I was taking Addie on her first dives for open water certification. I brought Orlando along with me to dive with Rick, Austin, Marc and Liam while I stayed up top in the shallow water doing skills. Orlando took them through every cave he could find of course. Addie and I saw a turtle off in the distance.
It was too rough to go to Colombia Shallow so we stayed on French Reef and Orlando got to do another cave tour. There was not much in the way of big animals on that dive.
Tuesday, April 14th
Addie had demonstrated such proficiency that I took everyone to Palancar Caves. I had Dan, Rick and Bruce from the cruise ship and they were pretty experienced divers. Rick and Austin kept an eye on Addie while I focused most of my attention on Lisa and Neil. There were tons of turtles on that dive. We saw both hawksbill and green turtles. I didn`t bother counting how many but let`s just say, ¨many¨. There was even a pair of turtles together. It is so cute to watch them in pairs. The guys from the cruise ship explored every little cave they could squeeze through.
The current was forgiving so I took them to Dalila for the second dive. We saw a few more turtles but the end of the dive is when we saw the seahorse, a free swimming green moray and that big nurse shark lounging in the sand. It was an exciting end to a nice dive.
Wednesday, April 16th
I brought Orlando along with me again because I was taking Mike and Aidan on training dives 1 2 for certification. Orlando took Mike, David, Brian, Marc and Liam down to 70 feet on the Horseshoe while I stayed up top doing skills and training. We saw a southern stingray and Orlando`s group saw a turtle and lots of schools of humans.
On Colombia Shallows my boys saw another southern stingray and a small turtle swam below Mike and I. Orlando´s group saw a gi-normous spotted eagle ray, a big nurse shark and a few turtles. They were also talking about the big lobsters. Orlando is a lucky guy!
Thursday, April 17th
I took Mike, Mike, David, Scott, Austin, Addie and Peggy to Palancar Bricks. We only saw one turtle but the nurse shark was in her usual spot. It was an uneventful dive.
On Paso Del Cedral we saw a big turtle at the beginning of the dive. It was almost 30 minutes later that we saw the lobsters. Just as we were ending the dive a big spotted eagle ray swam by and saved the day to make our dive exciting and while David, Mike and I did a safety stop another big turtle swam up for some fresh air and back down again to entertain us during the 15 foot stop.
Friday, April 18th
Tank number one was on Santa Rosa Wall by special request with Glenn, John, Farshid, Mike, Marc, Liam and Peggy. We dropped down right onto a big sleeping nurse shark. Glenn made a beeline for it with his GoPro and I followed him over. The second big nurse shark was just lounging about in the sand up on top of the wall. We saw a nice turtle and Glenn got some good shots of a big lobster.
The second tank was on Paso Del Cedral. We saw a big turtle and tons of lobsters on that dive.
Saturday, April 19th
Palancar Gardens was our first stop and at first there was no current really so Lance, Jean, Peggy, Glenn, John, Dave and I had to actually use our fins for a while. I was more interested in the group of beginner divers that were right in front of us than I was in my group. The divemaster was totally pissed off at his divers because they were ignoring him, not following him and one kid was swimming through a crack in the reef and her buddy was following with the tank out of the strap and flopping around. I went down and put the tank back for her. At the end of the dive one of them swam off from their group and joined us for 5 minutes. I sent her back to her own group when she was low on air. It was quite entertaining to watch J
We went looking for the splendid toadfish on Dalila. We found the toadfish, tons of lobsters, a crab, a big turtle and while Lance, Jean and I were making the safety stop I pointed out a nurse shark down below us with a big grouper on the hunt.
Sunday, April 20th
It was an easy day on Colombia Deep with Glenn, John, Peggy, Lance, Jean and Dave. We went through all of my favorite caves. A big green turtle swam below us and I think Glenn went down to 100 feet to get some footage of it. We saw a lionfish in a cave but I had left my Hawaiian sling up on the boat and couldn`t shoot it.
I had promised Jean a seahorse so we went back to Dalila and dove the second half. Glenn showed us a big fat green moray eel out on the hunt. We saw turtles and the seahorse was really camouflaged but I found it through sheer determination and will. I could see Jean`s eyes smile through the mask :) At the end of the dive I crossed them over to Cedral Wall where we saw a couple of big nurse sharks and a spotted drum.
Monday, April 21st
Peggy, Lance, Mike, Jean, Chad and Heather were to follow me. Orlando was to watch only Naomi and Joe. Carlos snorkeled with the other Joe above. We ended up staying together anyway. The first big critter I highlighted with my light was a big crab. Then I showed them a big lobster. Orlando found a big green moray in a hole and later a small turtle made a slow pass.
On Colombia Shallow the highlights were the huge lobsters, a nurse shark and some yellow headed jawfish which Peggy, Lance and Jean always love. I was so happy when Orlando found a juvenile spotted drum. That was on Peggy´s list of creatures to find this week.
Tuesday, April 22nd
My divers were Peggy, Lance, Jean, Mike, Chad, Bryan, Doc and Tracy on Palancar Caves. Once we were all down on the bottom and settled we saw a couple of nice turtles. I skipped the swim throughs but we admired the big coral formations.
On French Reef I sent some of the divers through the caves while I stayed out of the caves with Doc and Tracy. It was a nice, relaxing dive.
Wednesday, April 23rd
Palancar Bricks was the first stop of the day for Carol, Deanna, Bryan, Craig, Jessica, Joel, Amber, Chad and Bryan. They described the dive as ¨awesome¨. The reef there really is impressive. Bryan went a little deeper than planned. The nurse shark was in her usual parking spot. We saw a few turtles. One of which Deanna filmed from underneath and Carol scared it with her exhalation bubbles.
Amber asked to see the seahorse so Dalila was our second stop of the day. The current was not too bad and I was able to stop the group and find the seahorse hiding under a dark orange sponge. We also stopped to look at turtles and Deanna showed us a swimming nurse shark at the end of the dive.
Thursday, April 24th
My divers were Deanna, Craig, Jessica, Joel, Amber, Kim and Dave and I took them to Santa Rosa Wall by special request. We drifted around up on top of the cliff and saw a very large turtle which Deanna filmed. I only went through the one biggest cave since not too many folks were interested in the caves.
The was a bit of current on San Francisco Wall. There Deanna filmed a peacock flounder and another turtle.
Friday, April 25th
I needed a nice, easy spot for Tracy, Doc, Kim, Dave, Carol, Deanna, Sampsa and Marcel so I took them to Palancar Gardens. We had no current and it was a very easy dive. However there were several schools of humans around us so several times I had to go get Sampsa back to our group during the dive. After most divers were back on the boat Carol, Deanna, Kim and I stayed down and saw 2 different nurse sharks sleeping under the reef and lastly a spotted eagle ray passed us off in the distance and then we saw a turtle.
Keeping with the ¨easy dive¨ theme I picked ¨My Secret Spot¨. We did indeed have a nice easy dive. Deanna was pretty happy when I pointed out a splendid toadfish for her camera.
Saturday, April 26th
I accidently overbooked the boat with 9 divers and I was amazed that not a single one had problem on either dive. My amazing 9 were Chace, Carol, Deanna, Kim, Dave, Amanda, Peter, Cheryl and Ian. There was no current, everyone went right down on Horseshoe and we had a lovely dive. We saw a couple of turtles. Deanna was obsessed with the last one and followed it around for a long time. We saw tons of lobsters and some were jumbo sized. It seems to me that the biggest lobsters in Cozumel live on Horseshoe.
Everyone had a great time on Cedral Wall. The current was present but not too strong. Carol´s camera pooped out so we saw EVERYTHING on that dive. There were a grand total of 6 hawksbill turtles and some were just outright huge. The last turtle that we saw was a small green turtle on our safety stop. Dave found a plump green moray in a hole but I missed it. He showed it to Chace. We all stopped to look at the juvenile spotted drum but while Deanna was shining her lights on the little drum I was busy pointing out a big shark. We stopped to rest before crossing over to the shallow area and a huge spotted eagle ray flew right over my head. Towards the end of the dive I found another green moray hanging around a medium sized yellow fin grouper. Deanna sat and filmed it for a while. We had a boatload of happy divers when we came up!
Sunday, April 27th
Per Carol´s request I took Matthew, Sophie, Cheryl, Ian, Chace, Deanna and Carol to Santa Rosa Wall. We had a light current and we skimmed the top of the wall in about 60 feet of water. A friendly nurse shark swam right up to us and smiled for the cameras. After about 20 minutes we were surrounded by schools of humans and we didn`t shake them until the end of the dive when we swam over to the shallows.
On Paradise we did some bottom crawling looking for the small stuff. We saw spotted morays, golden tail morays, flamingo tongues and Christmas tree worms. We finished the dives where the National Marine Park had put up a line of buoys to keep divers from floating into the cruise ship pier. We went to the very end of the reef!
Monday, April 28th
I let Carol choose the reef again for Deanna, Chace, Carlos, Phil, Lois, Kim and Dave. She picked San Francisco Wall. We drifted along very slowly and saw lots of pretty fish. The only big critter we saw was a nurse shark in a small hole.
I chose Yucab for the second dive because I didn`t want much current but when I got in I was surprised to find a good current clipping along. It didn`t take long to teach Carlos how to stop in the current and wait for the photographers to catch up. A big spotted moray slithered by while we were sitting in the sand. I teased Deanna by calling her over to see every Christmas tree worm that I could find and then I poked them to make them go back in the hole J
Tuesday, April 29th
There were big waves and poor visibility down on Palancar Gardens but Carol, Deanna, Chace, Lois, Phil, Dave and Kim are all experienced divers so it was actually an easy dive for me. Lois pointed out the first turtle which was just sitting on the bottom having breakfast. There was a pair of lobsters out chasing each other around and I pretty much skipped the swim throughs because no one was interested.
I bugged the splendid toadfish on Dalila so that it would come out of the hole for Deanna. We saw more turtles and a big spotted eagle ray made a slow pass right in front of Lois and Phil. When we were all low on air I stopped momentarily to look for the seahorse but didn`t find it.
Wednesday, April 30th
We decided to stay out of the wind and dive on Bolones de Chankanaab with Carol, Deanna, Lois, Phil, Jeff, Jeffery and Jana. The girls enjoyed taking pictures of lobsters, a big lionfish and a turtle. Late in the dive we found a juvenile spotted drum and we also saw a spotted moray.
On Chankanaab Shallow we found another turtle and more lobsters. The same turtle swam ahead of us and apparently parked for a while because an hour later we saw it again down the reef. It was a nice, easy dive. The visibility became poor about half way through the dive and it ended up being around 20 feet by the time we got low on air.
Sunday, May 4th
It was such an easy day on Palancar Gardens with Marina, Roger, Kim and Merrill. We only saw a lobster or two but we swam through all of the caves and the conditions were absolutely perfect. There were no waves, no current and nice visibility. We had such a nice, relaxing dive.
Since conditions were so good I decided to take them to Cedral Wall. I found 6 turtles. All were hawksbill turtles. Some were big, some were small but all were perched on the bottom munching on tasty sponges. A five foot nurse shark swam by and Marina started to think about the time that she saw a nurse shark give someone a hickey. The green moray was in the cave just after the juvenile spotted drum. Kim came up completely enthusiastic shouting about how great the dive was. She was right. That was a great dive!
Monday, May 5th
Marina, Roger, Merrill, Kim, Lisa, Dave and Nate came diving with me on Palancar Caves. Marissa rode around on the boat and suffered through Carlos´ bad jokes while we were diving. Lisa pointed out a turtle in about 80 or 90 feet of water but I didn´t show the group for fear that all the guys would just drop right down there and by then they were low on air. So I snuck away and it was Lisa and my secret :)
I made up for it on Dalila. I showed them a big swimming nurse shark. It was weird looking because it has a really big remora stuck to the top of its head. I found the big fat green moray in her usual parking spot and we saw several turtles. Only Lisa and Kim had enough air to stay down long enough to see the big red seahorse. As soon as the ladies had a peek at the seahorse we went right up.
Tuesday, May 6th
Orlando came along with me to help out. He took Lisa, Dave, Chris, Kate and Alex down through the swim throughs on Palancar Gardens. I stayed up top with Tina and Finnley in 30 feet of water. Thankfully there wasn`t much current to speak of. We saw several nice lobsters and one small turtle.
On Colombia Shallow we saw a big spotted eagle ray that Orlando pointed out. I checked on my ¨Brickman¨ and he was looking good. I showed Tina the yellow headed jawfish and a few heart urchins that were out of the sand.
Thursday, May 8th
I brought Orlando again to help me out. While I was at the surface swapping masks with Finnley, Orlando was helping Sherry and Molly to get to the bottom and getting the group back together again on Palancar Caves. Orlando was a busy boy :) I don`t know if anyone saw any big critters but Orlando took everyone through the swim throughs when I had announced that we were to stay in 40 feet of water. Guess he wasn`t listening when I gave the briefing???? Anyway, he is forgiven because he rounded up the wild bunch, got them under control and together and led a tour :)
The second tank was on Paradise where we saw loads of colorful fish. The divers pointed out golden tail morays, spotted morays and yellow stingrays. It was fun to watch as Molly tried to swim away from some small, benign barracudas. I pointed out a bristle worm and Tina told me that there was another one right below it on the same gorgonian. Molly pointed out a big lobster on that dive.
Friday, May 9th
It was a super easy dive on Palancar Bricks with Don, Molly, Sherry, Teri and Nate. We had little current and small waves. We did spend most of the dive looking at schools of humans. There was a family of lobsters huddled up under the reef. We found lots of empty lobster shells from molting lobsters that had outgrown the old shell. It was after Molly had gone up that we saw the turtle and the lionfish.
I finally found a turtle for Molly on San Francisco Wall. The first turtle was swimming down into the deep blue, head first. It was off in the distance so we didn`t get a good look. I showed them a splendid toadfish and at the end of the dive a big green turtle swam by. I could hear Sherry shouting through her regulator in delight. While doing a safety stop we saw a prehistoric lobster come crawling out from under the reef. When we surfaced Don was the first up who exclaimed, ¨That was the biggest lobster I have ever seen!¨ Then Teri surfaced who immediately said, ¨That was the biggest lobster I have ever seen!¨ It was pretty funny that they said the exact same thing :)
Sunday, May 11th
Kim had asked me to take her to a wall so I took her, Merrill, Laura and Peter to San Francisco Wall. We saw a small lionfish and a turtle on that dive. Kim commented when we got back on board the boat as to what a beautiful reef that is.
There was no current on Chankanaab. I highlighted a splendid toadfish with my flashlight. I also used the light to show off a pair of crabs clinging to the side of the reef. A hungry hawksbill turtle feasted on a tasty sponge while we all looked on. While Merrill and I were doing a safety stop he tapped me and pointed below us. A big male loggerhead turtle was swimming through the group of divers below us. It was a great dive!
Monday, May 12th
I told Suzie, Doug, Michael, Jordan and Shelby that there would be waves down at Palancar but they said that they wanted to go anyway. The absolutely loved the dive! I took them to the gardens, swam them through a couple of swim throughs and we found a turtle. They were some seriously happy campers.
On Dalila I found 2 more turtles and Doug commented on the current. For me the current was almost non-existent but having never been in current before he was surprised at how strong it was :)
Tuesday, May 13th
Merrill, Kim, Ron, Sue, Beth and Dennis were my divers on Palancar Bricks. They asked me why it was called the bricks and I explained that in the 1890´s a ship had wrecked there carrying bricks. I don`t know if the bricks were ballast weight or if they were cargo but they ended up on the bottom of the sea. The bricks have been moved around a lot in major hurricanes over the years but we still saw a brick or two on that dive. We also saw a few hawksbill turtles and the nurse shark was in its usual spot. At the end of the dive a big male loggerhead swam right past us. Kim and I wondered if it wasn`t the same one that we saw a Chankanaab a few days prior.
Kim liked Cedral Wall so much I told her that we could go back. The current was about 2 to 3 knots and we saw the usual turtles. Towards the end of the dive we saw a pretty green turtle sitting on the bottom and when Kim and I were coming up we saw a big green moray eel hunting with a black grouper following it around. I could actually hear Kim through her regulator she was so excited to see that.
Thursday, May 15th
It had been a while since Matt had been diving so I wanted to keep the dive sites easy and shallow. I took Rick, Susan, Matt, Kat, Ron and Eric to Palancar Caves. I kept the group 60 feet or less and I skipped going through the narrower tunnels. I stuck with the top of the reef, the drop off and the big, wide archways. The only big critter we saw was a big lobster that I showed Susanita. Thankfully there wasn`t much current.
I wanted them to see critters so I took them to Dalila for the second dive. We saw loads of turtles and there were 2 nurse sharks. The first one was really big and swam right past us. The second one was small and it was Matt that saw it first. He tried banging on his tank with his ring but no one could hear it. I saw his attempt at getting attention and that is when I saw the small shark. On the safety stop I pointed out the gi-normous barracuda to Kat which was swimming right behind her. It didn`t seem to frighten her thank goodness!
Saturday, May 17th
There was a north wind that blew in and closed the port the day before so it was still choppy out when Tim, Kevin, Trevor, Chris, Sonja, Aileen, Noah, Forrest and I headed out to Palancar Gardens. Eduardo came with us to lead the dive while I stayed shallow with Forrest. Forrest and I saw a small turtle but no one else saw it because we were closer to the surface. We all saw lots of huge lobsters. There was a pair of them together walking around in front of Tim.
On Colombia Shallow we only saw one turtle. That was strange to only see one turtle there. We saw big barracudas and small lobsters. Eduardo showed the group a big crab and I showed Chris and Sonja an arrow crab.
Sunday, May 18th
It was raining in the morning so Eileen, Forrest and Noel sent me an email asking if we were still going diving. I answered, ¨Of course! We are going to get wet anyway.¨ So they came to the marina and we picked Kirk on the way to Palancar Caves. The current started to pick up so we ducked down behind the big coral structures and a turtle came swimming right up to us. At the end of the dive a dinner sized lobster wiggled its antennas at us.
The current was about 2 to 3 knots at ¨My Secret Spot¨. We had a good dive for turtles there. Kirk found the first turtle which had its head under the reef and was munching on some lunch. The next couple of turtles were up top and swimming slowly by. One ducked down into a hole and sat there. I pointed out a big crab and while we were at the surface waiting our turn to get on the boat Noah looked down and saw a big nurse shark in a hole. I am glad that his brother didn`t see it.
Monday, May 19th
Denise, Mary, Kyle and Kim wanted to go to the shipwreck. I asked Kirk, Brandon and Becca if that would be OK and they said yes. When we got there I got in and checked the current but it was pretty strong so I took them to Chankanaab instead. We saw big lobsters, a crab and 2 different spotted moray eels. Mary stayed busy taking pictures of the schools of fish.
We went back and checked the current at the shipwreck again and it was still strong. So I took them to Yucab. On Yucab I showed Mary a spotted cleaner shrimp and we saw more lobsters. A pair of big black groupers swam past us and the midnight parrotfish and rainbow parrotfish were huge.
Tuesday, May 20th
I took Rick, Susan, Eileen, Noah, Forrest, Kirk, Ryan and Saria to Palancar Gardens. We had a nice, easy dive. I think it was lobster day. They seemed to be out and about everywhere.
There wasn`t much current on San Francisco Wall thankfully. We saw a green turtle swimming off in the distance. I found a splendid toadfish for Rick and Susan to take pictures of. It was a nice, easy dive.
Wednesday, May 21st
After checking the current at the shipwreck I told Denise, Lester, Mary, Kim, Kyle, Rick, Susan and Kirk that it wouldn´t be a good idea to dive there. I settled for a reef that Denise and Mary had never been to, Palancar Bricks. Someone had told them about it so that is where I took them. It was Kim that told me about the turtle that Kirk found and Kim was the one who noticed the huge southern stingray going by with its entourage. It was good entertainment to watch as a small southern stingray took off after the big one. I couldn`t for the life of me figure out why that 3 foot ray was chasing after the 6 foot ray. None the less it was fascinating to watch.
After much debate we decided on French Reef. We saw another turtle and another southern stingray. I guess that was the theme of the day. At the last minute I took Denise and Lester through the cave. Once again, it was a nice, easy dive.
Thursday, May 22nd
It was a crazy dive site choice but Steve and Trina love Colombia Shallow. Susanita feels like no trip to Cozumel is complete without a trip to Paradise so we did Colombia Shallow first. Rick took a million photos of yellow headed jaw fish. I fixed up the brick man and the bigger critters that swam by were a turtle and a spotted eagle ray.
We bottom crawled and looked at macro stuff on Paradise. There were Christmas tree worms, flamingo tongues and all of the standard little stuff. It was a long dive :)
Thursday, May 29th
I asked Glenna, Burt, Patsy, Bob, Carol and Mark where they wanted to go and no one seemed to know. So I asked if they wanted to see big coral formations, critters or a wall. Someone said, ¨Wall!¨ so off to San Francisco Wall we went. Patsy calls it ¨Gary`s Wall¨. Right off the bat we were greeted by a hungry hawksbill turtle munching on some breakfast. Then Mark showed me a big lobster. While Burt was making a safety stop everyone kicked against the current to watch a small hawksbill turtle swim by. When I came back down I checked the ¨shark hole¨ and the shark was in it! Patsy scared it off with her video light so everyone got to see it swim off.
On Yucab we watched as a big nurse shark swam into the yonder as we were arriving on the bottom. We hid behind the coral heads to stop and look at stuff. The first toadfish was tucked way back into a hole so Patsy couldn`t get a picture but she found another later on that was more camera friendly. Patsy asked if there was something that we would see there that we don`t see anywhere else and I told her about the blue parrotfish. I think only Carol and Mark were around when I pointed one out. They knew exactly what I was pointing at.
Friday, May 30th
Patsy, Bob, Carol, Mark, An, Hillary and Peter were willing to brave the big waves at Palancar Caves. We were tossed about a bit until we got under but down below it was calm and peaceful. Everyone liked the swim throughs. After going to the surface for a little fresh air a turtle came back down and swam past us into the blue.
There was a light current on Tormentos. We saw some interesting creatures like a big dog snapper with huge teeth glaring at us from a dark crevice. A big lobster crawled around right under Peter and then Mark showed me an octopus that had been attacked by some predator and was starting to die. It only had 2 tentacles left and the coneys were picking at it and pretty much eating it alive. Patsy and Carol took pictures of that. Then a quiet hawksbill sat still for everyone´s cameras and they got lots of good shots of the cooperative turtle.
Saturday, May 31st
I told Patsy, Bob, Carol and Mark that Peter had requested Santa Rosa Wall and I asked them if that would be OK with them and they all were enthusiastic. We had light current and almost no waves. As soon as we got to the bottom I turned around and saw a big loggerhead turtle right behind Patsy. I rang my bell and she turned around and she had to back paddle to get away because it was swimming right into her! That was a good show :) We saw big lobsters on that dive and a big grouper.
I went to Dalila with the intention of showing them the splendid toadfish. The toadfish was not so cooperative but I think Peter must have been pleased that we saw 2 big green morays on that dive. We also saw a spotted moray and there was a pair of turtle off in the distance, too far for the cameras to get a good shot.
Sunday, June 1st
Patsy, Carol, Mark, Mark, Jeff, Jasper and Peter scuba dived Palancar Gardens with me while Kelly and Kelly snorkeled above us with Tiburon. It was fun to watch Tiburon come down 50 feet with no tank and wave at us. It was cloudy and rainy so it made all of the crabs and lobsters come out. Carol found a splendid toadfish because they come out when it is cloudy as well.
Colombia Shallows is always a good place for snorkelers and it is Patsy´s favorite reef. At the beginning of the dive they found a 4 foot nurse shark hiding under the reef. We saw countless hawksbill turtles and one of the biggest loggerhead turtles that I have ever seen swam right through our merry band of divers. The enormous beast had little silver fish swimming all around its head. I don`t know who was more awestruck, Mark or I…..
Monday, June 2nd
Dive numero uno was on Colombia Deep. The first swim through proved a little overwhelming for Maha so I swam her over the top and told Peter, Patsy, Carol, Mark, Mark and Jeff to go through it and we met them on the other side. We saw several nice turtles and a field of garden eels. I was very excited when I spotted the small Caribbean reef shark go by. It had been ages since I have seen one. Carol and I followed it as it disappeared over the edge and went into the blue.
I wanted to avoid a lot of current on the second dive. I talked them into French Reef but we had current there anyway. It was a good 2 or 3 knots at times. We were rewarded with a few big turtles up close and one of Patsy`s favorite critters, a huge puffer fish. She got some good pictures of the puffer. After dropping Jeff off at the boat I went back down and found a 6 foot nurse shark lying under a rock. Everyone got a good look.
Thursday, June 5th
Carlos called in sick and Tiburon drove the boat. We took Patsy, Bob, Steven, Mark and Jeff to Colombia Deep per Steven`s request. Tiburon drove us around a bit and after a while confessed that he was lost. I told him to drop me in shallow water and I can find the wall :) Right off the bat we saw a sleeping nurse shark and a bunch of big lobsters in about 50 feet of water. I crossed the sand to the big reef and it got DEEP. At first it wasn`t too bad and the sandy bottom was around 80 feet deep. We stopped to admire a small turtle. Then the current kicked up and everyone had to use their fins. The bottom dropped and at points the sandy bottom was around 100 feet or deeper. We cruised the top of the pinnacles and finished the dive right over the old anchor so I knew we started on Colombia Deep, just at the pinnacles to the south, not our normal drop off spot.
Patsy requested ¨My Secret Spot¨ because there are lots of big puffers there. My friend Sandra joined us on that dive and we didn`t see any puffers! However we did stop for a long while to commune with a big turtle hunkered down in 60 feet of water. At the end of the dive we saw several nurse sharks so we had a great time!
Friday, June 6th
Dive one was on Palancar Bricks with Patsy, Bob, Sara, Michael, Stephen, Sandra, Elsa and Jeremy. I was trying to do a drift diver specialty course for Stephen but Mother Nature did not cooperate. There was pretty much no current at all. We saw 2 clusters of lobsters as soon as we landed on the bottom. We swam around a bit and saw a turtle. That big black grouper was in the usual spot. Patsy and Sara took turns photographing it. It sat really still and Patsy went right up and filled the frame. A southern stingray appeared in the distance and it was nice, easy dive.
Patsy requested Colombia Shallow for the second dive. Once again we had perfect conditions. The sun was out, there was no current or waves and we saw tons of turtles and lobsters. The highlight of the dive was when I found a small nurse shark cuddled up under a small coral head napping next to a turtle. The two were side by side, fin to shell and didn’t move even when we got up close with the cameras.
Saturday, June 7th
My divers were Marty, Alex, Nico, Shelly, Bobby, Elsa and Jeremy and I took them to Palancar Gardens. Thankfully we had excellent conditions on that dive. We saw some big lobsters and one turtle. I took them through all of the beautiful swim throughs.
¨My Secret Spot¨ was the next stop. There was a little drift on that one but not bad. It took me a while to find that shark the boys had asked to see but it popped out from under the reef and swam around for them. We saw several turtles and it was a nice dive.
Sunday, June 8th
Peter, Carlos, Guillermo and Alonso are all very advanced divers. Marty, Alex and Nico are newly certified. So I had to pick something that wasn`t beyond the newbie´s capability but would still capture the veteran divers attention. I picked Palancar Caves. It was the right choice. There was a little current but nothing that they couldn`t handle. The boy loved all of the swim throughs. We saw 2 small hawksbill turtles and at the very end of the dive we saw a small green turtle on top of the reef.
I didn`t want any current so I took them to French Reef. I only found 1 turtle but a good sized nurse shark swam by off in the distance and Alonso rounded it up and brought it back over for us to see. I found several nice crabs and a jumbo sized lobster. I took them through the long cave too.
Monday, June 9th
Palancar Bricks was our first stop for Peter, Guillermo, Carlos, Alonso, Shelly, Bobby, Melissa and Kevin. All divers were experienced divers so it was a very easy dive for me. The first turtle was small and off in the distance. The second turtle was in the cave system and perched on the reef having breakfast. Peter came over with his dual video lights and lit up the orange and red sponges around the turtle and Guillermo grabbed the opportunity of good lighting and went over to film side by side with Peter. We also saw a big lobster our walking around a southern stingray in the sand.
Peter requested a splendid toadfish so I took him to see my friend on Dalila. I didn`t bring anything to ¨help¨ him out of his hole but when I put my dive light near his den he wiggled out a bit to smile for the camera. We saw another splendid toadfish so Peter got a 2 x 1 deal on that dive. The only shark we saw was at the very end when Melissa and I were making a safety stop. It was Melissa that pointed it out to me as it swam below us.
I did a night dive on Paradise Reef with Guillermo, Carlos, Alonso, Bobby, Shelly and Kevin. We saw 6 different octopi. My favorite was the tiny baby one that Carlos filmed. The usual crabs and lobsters were out and I found a huge green moray sticking it´s head out of the reef. When we got closer she hid in the hole. Guillermo brought an ultraviolet light that gave a whole new aspect to the reef. The anemones glowed green and so did the coral. It looked to me like the zooxanthellae seemed to react to this light. I liked that ultraviolet light so much that I decided that I want one. I asked Peter how much it cost and he told me it is $600. USD and I decided that I didn`t need one THAT bad :)
Tuesday, June 10th
The wind had picked up down south and Peter had requested Colombia Deep so Guillermo, Carlos, Alonso, Peter, Shelly, Bobby, Melissa and Kevin had to dance around a bit on the deck of the boat to get suited up. Once we were in the water it was so calm down below. Shelly had commented on the ride out that there didn`t seem to be a lot of divers out this morning. Well they all arrived about 10 minutes after we did! It was raining divers everywhere. One school of humans approached us from behind while another charged past us from the shallows. In frustration I parked our little group in a protected area with no current and waited for them to pass. The bummer is that we couldn`t go into the caves because every time we got near a cave there was a line of divers waiting to go through! The good thing was that there were plenty of turtles to distract us and a stingray or two as well. Melissa found a juvenile spotted drum. I wonder why this week is such a busy one? It felt like Thanksgiving or Christmas or Spring Break down there!
Melissa requested Paso Del Cedral. That one started out like the first. There was a big school of humans waiting for us at the bottom. I decided to veer off to the West to escape them. There was a big green moray nearby so Peter and Alonso parked and filmed the green moray as we moved Westward. We avoided the crowds but lost Peter and Alonso for a while. While we waited we saw two different small nurse sharks swim by. When we got to the reef things got interesting. Another decent sized nurse shark decided to join us like a lost diver from another group. The shark appeared, disappeared and reappeared again various times for around 10 minutes. We also bumped into a rather large turtle side by side with a southern stingray. Towards the end of the dive I found a baby nurse shark napping under the reef. Everyone was really pleased with the dive and excited when we got back on the boat.
Wednesday, June 11th
A few of the boys took a tour to see the whale sharks in Isla Mujeres for the day so only Peter, Shelly, Bobby and Kevin showed up. We were joined by Meaghan and Brian for a dive on Palancar Gardens. We saw no other groups of divers, we had excellent conditions and it was such a nice relaxing dive. Up top at the end of the dive a small hawksbill swam just ahead of the group and Peter followed her around filming. I started to get the impression that she was courting him.
Kevin said that Colombia Shallows is his favorite dive. There we almost landed on a small nurse shark sleeping on the bottom as we descended. We saw loads of turtles and another tiny baby nurse shark. I showed Peter the yellow headed jawfish. He very slowly crept up to them as not to spook them and filmed them catching food particles in mid-water. I repaired the brick man and Peter got a good laugh out of that.
Thursday, June 12th
I started out at Punta Sur by special request with Guillermo, Alonso, Carlos, Bobby, Shelly and Kevin. When we arrived the waves were pretty big and they changed their minds so we doubled back to Palancar. Kevin asked for the caves but when we arrived there were a lot of divers on the caves so Carlos drove around and found us a spot where there were no other divers. We ended up in the middle of Bricks. I didn`t bother telling them that it wasn`t the caves because the very first thing we did was go into my favorite cave system on Bricks. It is pretty breathtaking to swim into the big caverns. The only turtle we saw was one that Shelly pointed out over our heads in the distance.
It was a unanimous decision to return to Colombia Shallow. The same turtles were in the same places. I actually laughed out loud when Kevin saw the 3rd turtle and made the signal for BIG because he did that in the exact same spot for the same turtle the day before. The little nurse sharks were missing but we had fun with the brick man. He was happy to see me and looked just the same as I had left him the day before.
Saturday, June 14th
It was the first dive of the vacation for Mark, Loren, Drew and Sarah. Craig and Bruce had been diving the day before on Santa Rosa so I figured that they were all broken in :) I took them to Palancar Gardens because Allison was snorkeling over us and she could see more there. The dive went really well despite the fact that the current kicked up and blew us around a bit. We saw a lobster in the first cave. When I was sitting outside the first cave waiting for all of the divers to come out something overhead caught my eye. At first I thought it was a diver ascending but upon closer inspection it was a turtle going up and all of our exhalation bubbles were underneath it. I wonder what that feels like to the turtle?
Allison joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallow. The first turtle was napping under a rock. The second was cruising the top of the reef. It was a very easy dive. The brick man was still happy to see me.
Sunday, June 15th
I pulled up to Palancar Horseshoe with Jeff, Mark, Mark, Loren, Drew, Sarah, Craig and Bruce. My crew told me to have a look at the current and Tiburon commented that it looked like a down current day. I asked them to move me south to the caves where I could hide from the current. The current was weird and I spent the entire dive hiding in the canyons that blocked most of the current. Every time I crept over towards the drop off the bubbles seemed to not be going up so I turned tail and retreated to the safety of the reef. I stayed out of all but one swim through but we were well sheltered from the current in the deep, wide crevices. We had an enjoyable dive. The only turtle we saw was at the end when Sarah, Drew and I were making out safety stop. The turtle was right over our heads and then swam down right before our eyes and took off into the deep blue right before we went up.
I picked ¨My Secret Spot¨ for the second dive. I had Tiburon jump in and tell me how the current was. He reported back that it was very, very light so we invited Allison to join us and we had a nice, relaxing dive in mild current. Craig found a big green moray to everyone´s delight. It was quite different from our first dive.
Monday, June 16th
Mark, Loren, Jeff, Mark, Ellen, Bill, Chris and Jen were my divers and when I asked where to take them the only person who answered was Ellen. She said that she really likes Bolones de Chankanaab. Considering the current lately I thought that was a great choice so off we went! We did have a little current there but nothing bothersome. We did some bottom crawling and aside from the usual lobsters we see there we also saw a spotted moray, a splendid toadfish and I found a juvenile spotted drum. It was such a pretty dive J
We did Chankanaab Shallow next. We saw more lobsters which was to be expected and I found another juvenile spotted drum. We chased a spotted eagle ray for a while but we couldn´t catch up. I stopped to study an unusual butterfly fish. Most of our butterflies are spotfin, banded or foureyed. This one was different. I drew a little picture of it on my slate. Ellen and Bill came over to find out what I was looking at. When I got home I looked it up and it was a reef butterfly fish. They are uncommon here in Cozumel.
Tuesday, June 17th
Jeff, Mark, Jen and Chris were game for just about anything. When Manuela and Kelly signed up I thought that Manuela was not Open Water Certified so I hired Orlando to come along and help me out and split the group. The big surprise was when Manuela and Kelly arrived they showed me a temporary certification card that Manuela had worked hard to achieve one week before they arrived. Since Manuela was now certified Open Water I had Carlos drop us all off at the very end of Cedral Wall which is 45 feet deep and I had the option of going shallow to Santa Rosa Shallows or going deep at Santa Rosa Wall. After observing Manuela for a few minutes at 45 feet I knew that she would do fine in 60 feet of water on the wall. I decided to just ¨GO FOR IT¨ and I brought her over to the top of Santa Rosa Wall in 60 feet of water. Manuela did a fine job of diving and we were rewarded with a big nurse shark, a huge turtle and a grouper that they described as ¨dinosaur sized¨. I think that the grouper was probably only about 80 pounds but everything underwater appears larger and closer than actual :) Anyway, we had a great dive and saw some fantastic critters J
Chris liked the wall so I took them to San Francisco Wall for the second dive. There were no big critters but at least the current was cooperative. The most exciting moment of the dive was when everyone chased a southern stingray over the sandy bottom towards the shallow area. Orlando showed us 4 small lionfish and I regretted not having any nets to catch them with.
Wednesday, June 18th
We had Dez and Tracey snorkeling over us with Carlos on Palancar Gardens while I took Devon, Garrick, Jeff, Mark, Jen, Chris, Coral and Chelsey diving down deep. The current switched direction during the dive and we ended up making a circle and finishing the dive where we had started. It was funny because when we were on our way down Jen showed me a lobster in a crevice. I shined my light on it. Then when we were heading back up and went and shined the light on it again so that she would know that we were back to the same spot. Thankfully the current was mild and it was an easy dive. Jeff and Mark stopped to admire the largest brain in Cozumel. The brain coral is about the size of a Volkswagon Beetle.
Making sure that the snorkelers had plenty to see we went to Colombia Shallow. We divers saw 2 spotted morays, 7 hawksbill turtles, 1 baby nurse shark and barracuda-o-saurus. That barracuda was so big it made us all nervous. We also saw a small lionfish next to the baby turtle. It was a really nice, relaxing dive with tons of critters.
Thursday, June 19th
The current was running southbound on Palancar Bricks. I had promised Jen and Chris a cave so I was determined to make good on my promise. Once we were down about 70 feet we couldn´t feel the current at all so I swam northbound anyway with Jeff, Mark, Bill, Ellen, Chelsey, Coral, Jen and Chris. By the time that we got to the fabulous cave system everyone was pretty low on air so we only got to go through the first cave. I guess that is fine because Jeff doesn`t like the caves much anyway. Ellen, Bill and I spent our safety stop watching a big hawksbill pig out on some tasty sponge.
The current was backwards on Dalila too and that made it hard to fulfill my promise of a splendid toadfish. Thankfully the current was barely noticeable at the bottom so we took 45 minutes to arrive at the toadfish when normally it takes 5 minutes! Along the way I found a pile of shells with 2 holes. Both holes had octopi in them. We found 2 spotted morays, a family of 10 small lobsters and a hawksbill turtle hung out with us for a good 10 minutes. Everyone did get to see the splendid toadfish at the end of the dive :)
Friday, June 20th
There was almost no current at all when I dived Colombia Deep with Jeff, Mark, Coral, Chelsey, Kim, Ross, Pam and Amber. We swam through the nice caves and saw some lobsters but it was a rather uneventful dive. I guess uneventful is a good thing :)
There was no current on Dalila either. I told Carlos to drop us off north of where we had been the day before because I wanted to look for the seahorse and the girls wanted to see turtles. I lucked out and found 3 docile turtles. All of which sat still for the cameras and observers. The first turtle was that one with the bit missing from her rear left flipper. After everyone went up I stayed down an extra few minutes searching for the seahorse but I never found it. I think it is gone now…………
Saturday, June 21st
Dive numero uno was on Palancar Caves with Alison, Curt, Coral, Chelsey, Ross, Kim, Amber and Pam. The current was like a washing machine pushing us gently in all directions. Folks thought that it was a problem with their buoyancy control and everyone was working their BCD constantly during the dive. Thankfully it was not strong and merely a nuisance. We got some relief going through the caves because there is no current in the caves. Ali commented on how beautiful the reef is when we got back on the boat.
The chicas wanted to see more marine life and that is exactly what we got on French Reef. First we were greeted by a small turtle and then a decent sized nurse shark swam by. Kim showed us all a free swimming moray eel. We all crammed under an overhang to see a crab with huge claws. The grand finale was the gi-normous nurse shark napping under the reef in the shallows.
Sunday, June 22nd
Ross, Amber, Kim and Pam got on board and asked to see lots of critters. When Ali, Curtis, Linda and Peter joined us I asked them if 2 shallow fishie dives were OK with them and they said, ¨Sure!¨. We went down on ¨My Secret Spot¨ for the first dive of the day. The current was a good 2 to 2 and ½ knots and everyone coasted along to look at lots of nurse sharks. I found the first 2 nurse sharks up on top of the reef near a big southern stingray. Pam fluffed a small yellow ray to get it to swim. Another good sized nurse shark swam by but the best moment of the dive was the pair of sharks together just sitting on the sandy bottom. One was small and one was big. We saw only one turtle on that dive. There were several huge lobsters out crawling around and everyone was very pleased with the dive.
In pursuit of more critters we went to Cedral where the current was cookin´. Sometimes we were coasting in a 2 knot current but sometimes we flew around in a 3 knot current. I tried to get everyone to stay down close to the bottom so that they didn`t move around so fast. We were rewarded with one swimming nurse shark and the green moray was in her usual hangout. We also saw one turtle on that dive too. The excitement started at the end of the dive. Amber and Ross signaled low on air at just about the same time that the current mysteriously stopped. I thought to myself, ¨Oh good! It is going to be easy to do the safety stops….¨ WRONG. After 3 minutes at 15 feet we were still right over the divers on the bottom and I sent them up. That is when the current started pushing me out to sea. At the same time Ali and Curtis signaled to go up and after 2 minutes I couldn't see my divers below us anymore. The divers had headed north and we were being blown out to sea and southbound. I surfaced, called the boat over and asked Carlos to please give me a ride back to the group. I asked Curtis and Ali to please wait and assured them that Carlos would be right back for them. It didn`t take but a minute to drop me off and another minute to go pick up Curtis and Ali. By the time that I got back to the other 4 divers they were happily making a safety stop. I joined them and everyone was a happy camper. It was a little bit of drama but no real problema J
Monday, June 23rd
Thank goodness there was almost no current at all on Palancar Horseshoe. I brought Orlando with me because Kim´s daughter Autumn was doing her first 2 dives ever and I had Matt, Max, Linda, Peter, Coral and Chelsey follow Orlando while I stayed up top in shallow water. We didn`t see much in the way of big animals but I was so happy that we had good conditions that I didn´t care!
On Colombia Shallow Autumn got to see a goldentail moray come out and swim around and she saw a small nurse shark under the reef. We also stopped for a look at a big lobster. She was quite happy when we got back on the boat. I was surprised that no one saw a turtle!
Tuesday, June 24th
I felt so lucky when Autumn, Kim, Linda, Peter, Ali, Curt, Coral, Chelsey, Eduardo and I jumped in at Palacar Caves. There was almost no current at all. We had zero problems on that dive. Apparently the deeper divers saw 4 different turtles. I only saw one small green turtle off in the distance and I found one small hawksbill sleeping under the reef. That thrilled Autumn to no end. The turtle woke up and swam off slowly and she followed it while Kim took pictures.
There was very light current on ¨My Secret Spot¨ as well. Autumn pointed out lobsters and we saw a nurse shark that was bigger than her. Autumn is only 10 years old. That is why we stayed so shallow and have an extra divemaster around.
Wednesday, June 25th
Eduardo came with me again while I stayed up top with Autumn and Kim he took Matt, Max, Coral, Chelsey, Ali and Curt down to 65 feet on Gardens. Eduardo captured a baby lionfish in a plastic bag and smooshed it. He fed it to a hungry mutton snapper. Kim, Autumn and I watched as a big lobster crawled around on the side of the reef.
The current was cookin´on French Reef. We flew around a bit and stopped behind the reef to let the group catch up. Eduardo caught another small lionfish. I found a very friendly nurse shark that visited with each and every one of the divers. Max back paddled a bit and I thought that Eduardo might get the hickey of a lifetime until the shark finally swam off.
Thursday, June 26th
The game plan was to have Carlos drive around and find a spot with less current. It didn`t look hopeful on Palancar but Carlos picked Palancar Gardens again. I got in with Linda, Peter, Lucas, William, Rich, David and Kate. There was almost no current at all! It was a nice easy dive up until the last 5 minutes. I was actually kicking slowly along and spied a rather large lionfish up ahead. I got out my spear that Carlos finally fixed but by the time I arrived the lionfish had already retreated into a big hole in the reef. Obviously it was not the first encounter with a human sporting a Hawaiian sling for the big guy. It was too far back to shoot so I shined my light on it and showed it to the divers. We also saw a big lobster on that dive.
The current was gentle and kind on French Reef. I found a smaller lionfish. I took a shot at it and missed but I accidentally broke off about a centimeter (a year´s worth of growth) from a plate coral. I was very disappointed and spent the next 5 minutes questioning what does more damage, my sling or a lionfish? We found a big turtle munching happily on a sponge with some angelfish. Later in the dive a big green moray swam past. Rich sat in the sand and took pictures as she swam in front of him. While Linda, Peter and I were making the safety stop I found a rather large nurse shark sleeping under the reef.
Friday, June 27th
The game plan was the same as the day before. I got on the boat and asked Carlos to drive around and find a spot with less current. Palancar looked good from the surface so Linda, Peter, David, Kate, Matt, Max and I all jumped in on the Bricks and we had a nice dive. All of the turtles showed up after David and Kate were already on the boat so I decided that I would find them some critters on the next one. When we came out of the second swim through Peter and Matt had taken off in the wrong direction and I had to go round them up. Linda was visibly worried but I knew exactly where the boys were so I motioned her to follow me and I pointed them out in seconds.
Even though I knew the current would be somewhat strong on Cedral Wall I took them there anyway. Before getting in we called another boat on the radio and they said that the current was normal. Normal for Cedral Wall is STRONG. But four of my divers are Cozumel veterans. David and Kate would be able to hold their own. The rewards were 3 hawksbill and 1 green turtle. We stopped briefly to say hi to my sweetie green moray eel. The juvenile spotted drum was in her usual spot and a big nurse shark swam right under the boys and it make David´s day. It was totally worth it and everyone was really happy when we got back on the boat.
Monday, June 30th
I only had 3 experienced divers: Matt, Max and Francis. I asked them where they wanted to go and they picked the Caves. We had a bit of current there but we hid behind the reef and it wasn`t a problem at all. We saw quite a few big lobsters and one turtle off in the distance. I took them through a bunch of swim throughs and caves.
Francis picked the second dive site, French Reef. We were greeted by the nurse shark that has a notch in her tail. She reappeared an hour and 15 minutes later into the dive quite a long ways from where we originally saw her. She must have been following us the whole dive. It was interesting to ponder the size of her territory. We saw another turtle there and I took Matt and Max through the long cave.
Tuesday, July 1st
I brought Eduardo with me to help out because Susan and James requested private divemaster service for their first dives after certification. I couldn't keep taking Matt and Max back to the same spots but I needed 20 feet of water to descend into because it was not only Susan and James´ first ocean dives but it was Jessie and Drew´s first ocean dives too. The boys hadn`t been to the end of Gardens this trip so that is where I picked to start the dive. The current was clipping along pretty good. I stayed up top with Susan and James. Eduardo ducked into the first cave that he could get into so he could get the group out of the current. Matt, Max, Francis and Jessie followed Eduardo into the cave. Drew was having trouble with his mask so as I was swimming back to help him, Eduardo popped up and helped him with the mask. Once Drew was in the cave 2 more groups of divers decided to go into the cave to get out of the current too so you can imagine the mess Eduardo had to deal with in there. Eduardo got all of the divers sorted out and we joined them at the exit. The rest of the dive was easier. We watched from the bottom as a turtle surfaced for a breath of fresh air.
I really should have taken them to Colombia Shallow for the second dive to avoid current but I knew that Matt and Max would be bored. Since the current had slowed down at the end of the first dive I decided to just go for it and take them to Dalila. I had Eduardo to help me after all…… Yes, the current was clipping right along but not more than 2 knots. At one point it might have been as much as 2 and a half knots but only for a minute. For Eduardo and I it was an easy speed. For new divers it was like being a leaf in the wind :) They had a blast though. First a huge green moray swam right up to Jessie looking for something to eat. She back paddled really fast so the eel took up interest in Francis instead. After chasing Francis a while it decided to give up and swim off. That eel put on quite a show and Susan said it was her favorite part of the dive. Towards the end of the dive Francis, Matt, Max and I saw a ton of turtles all over the top of the reef dining on tasty sponges. While Matt, Max and I made our safety stop a big nurse shark swam right under us. It was a very exciting dive!
Wednesday, July 2nd
My divemaster was Amanda at Palancar Caves. There was a bit of current and I took Fidel down to 95 feet on his deep dive for the advanced certification. Meanwhile Amanda stayed above us in 60 feet of water with Drew and Jessie. The current calmed down just after Fidel went up and we continued the dive weaving our way through the grooves and gaps in the reef. We swam over a turtle about 40 feet below us. I saw a guy taking a photo of a lionfish and the lionfish didn`t move. So I got out my spear, approached it slowly and miracles of all miracles, I shot it!
The current was ripping on Paso Del Cedral. That`s OK though. Fidel was doing his ¨Drift Dive¨ for his advanced certification. I had Amanda helping plus Drew and Jessie were getting used to the current anyway. We dropped down and I almost landed on a pair of nurse sharks hanging out together with a big black grouper. One shark was about 7 feet long and the other was much smaller. We drifted another 3 minutes before another nurse shark swam by. Then we drifted over 3 or 4 turtles before we saw another nurse shark. There were several large lobsters on that dive and it was fun showing the divers that the animals hide behind the reef to get out of the current too!
Thursday, July 3rd
I was so thankful that we didn`t have any current at all at Palancar Horseshoe when I jumped in with Cayden, Rick, Rykah, Jon, Patty, Roger, Jessie and Drew. Jessie had a hard time with her ears. I think she caught my cold L We saw 3 different small turtles on that dive plus a lot of lobsters. It was a nice, relaxing easy dive for me.
There was a bit of current on ¨My Secret Spot¨ but nothing like the current that we had the day before. It was just kind of normal. We drifted around and everyone saw crabs and lobsters. Only Jon and I were still down when the turtle appeared. It was the same one that lives on Dalila and has a little bite out of her left rear flipper. Also while we were waiting for the boat to pick up Drew a nurse shark swam by but I think I am the only one that saw it.
Friday, July 4th
Jon, Rick, Caden, Amanda, Roger and Pattie had all been diving the day before so when Roger requested a wall dive I glanced at the surface of Santa Rosa, saw good conditions and agreed to take them there. We had very cooperative current and it was an easy dive. We watched as a pair of what appeared to be 2 male box crabs fight over a female box crab. They had her in the middle and yanked her back and forth. Then they dropped her and started duking it out! They put on quite the show. Late in the dive we watched as a big turtle swam past us and disappeared off into the distance. Amanda finished the dive enjoying a jackknife fish flutter in circles.
San Francisco Wall had mild current as well. I took a few shots at a couple of small lionfish but I missed them every time L We watched a big hermit crab in the sand and we found a pair of peacock flounders. When Caden told me that he only had 700 psi left I told him to wait just a minute and I swam him over and looked in the cave and I found a big nurse shark lounging about. That was definitely the highlight of the dive.
Saturday, July 5th
When I arrived at Palancar Gardens with Amanda, Roland, Lorraine, Roger, Pattie, Ethan and Jen, Carlos pointed out that there was a lot of current there. I did the same thing that I had been doing for the previous couple of weeks. I told Carlos to drive around and look for the spot with the least amount of current and drop us off there. We ended up on the Caves. We weaved around in the little canyons protected by the reef from the current. I stayed away from the drop off and we had a nice, easy dive. We saw a big turtle perched on the reef munching away at her breakfast. We saw a couple of southern stingrays but the really HUGE one swam by at the end of the dive and only Roland, Amanda and I saw it. Roland described it as having an entourage.
I wanted to have an easy morning so we went to Colombia Shallow. The first shark was about 6 feet long and swam by in the distance. The second shark we saw was that little guy that sleeps under the rock. Its friend the little turtle was not there under the rock with the shark this day. We stopped to have a look at another sleeping turtle in its usual spot. Next a gang of marauding nurse sharks (there were 3 sharks plus about 10 rather large jacks acting like groupies) cruised by. They put on quite the show. When we were at the surface I told Roland that they ¨are not from around here¨ because one of them was big, fat and had a large dark spot on the rear part of its body back near the tail. Right after the sharks went by we saw a rather large hawksbill turtle. Amanda pointed out a teensy tiny little juvenile spotted drum and later she showed us a frisky spotted moray bothering a rather large lobster under a rock. Ethan was impressed with the size of the crabs claw sticking out from under a small coral head. He pondered the size of the crab with a claw like that.
Sunday, July 6th
Once again we had the same game plan. I asked Carlos to drive around with Amanda, Fulvio, Paul, Lorraine, Roland, Ethan, Jen, Roger and Pattie and try to find a spot with less current. He picked the Bricks. When we got in we had a bit of current and I got everyone down and behind the reef. The current kept picking up and getting stronger until we were flying along. They had to kick lice heck to get over and see the shark who was thankfully in his usual spot again. Then the sand started to fly and the dive was later described as flying around in a desert storm. Oh well, you can´t win them every time! I was just immensely grateful that we had the 3 calm days in a row. Plus, they got to see a shark. Paul´s green turtle was in the same area as it was before when he took a photo of it with the purple rope sponges. We later saw a few hawksbill turtles before ascending. It was a bit strange sitting on the boat after the dive and everyone was so quiet……………
There was a good current on French reef but nothing like the first dive. There were no sand storms and there was a big green eel out hunting and swimming around. It looked like it was the one with the blind left eye. Paul banged on his tank and got our attention when he floated over a small turtle and later in the dive we saw a rather large turtle too. Everyone was quite content after the second dive and chatted the whole way home.
Monday, July 7th
I said a prayer out loud to Yemayá for calm seas and no current. She granted my wish and answered my prayers. There was no current at Palancar Horseshoe. It took about 5 minutes for Orlando and I to get Albert, James, Gary, Sonia, Brittaney, Karl and Paul down to 20 feet. Once the sand settled and everyone was stabilized I sent Orlando over the wall with Paul. I stayed up top with the rest of the gang doing skills. I never once got near the drop off for fear that the newbies may just keep sinking until they hit the bottom! We paddled around in 25 to 30 feet of water over the sand. Paul and Orlando saw a turtle but we just a bunch of pretty fish J
My good luck continued on Colombia Shallow. Orlando took off with Karl, Britney and Paul while I did more skills with the rest of the divers. They saw a turtle again and I showed Orlando the tiny little juvenile spotted drum. I pointed out the yellow headed jawfish to Paul and he took pictures of the fish and the student divers too J
Tuesday, July 8th
In the morning I took Orlando along to help again. I worked on finishing James´, Alberto´s, Gary´s and Sonia´s Open Water Certification while Orlando hung out with Paul, Karl and Brittaney. It was a nice easy dive on Palancar Gardens. We saw a small turtle and Orlando took them through the caves of course.
They completed the certification on French Reef. We saw another turtle but Orlando`s group saw a big sleeping nurse shark, an octopus and a pipehorse.
In the afternoon I did a Discover Scuba Diving experience for Jodi, Scott, Chloe and Hannah. On their first dive I took them to Palancar in the shallow area about 15 feet deep for a while. Later in the dive I swam them over to the 30 foot area. We saw a couple of southern stingrays and Jodi made a smiley face hand signal when I pointed out the baby turtle.
They had requested a nurse shark so I took them to Colombia Shallow. Not only did I find them a nice nurse shark lounging around on the bottom but I also found 3 turtles, bunches of lobsters and Chloe showed us all a huge crab. There was no current at all in the afternoon and I was so grateful for the good conditions!
Wednesday, July 9th
My morning dives were with Amanda, Brad, Cassie, Karl, Brittany, James and Albert. Karl requested Palancar Caves. We had ideal diving conditions and I swam them through a bunch of tunnels.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral and as we were drifting along at the beginning of the dive a medium sized nurse shark swam by. Brad went after it with his new GoPro. When we were a little deeper we found a big turtle settled on the bottom eating chunks of the reef. We saw lobsters several times during the dive and there was a big turtle at the end of the dive off in the sandy area.
My afternoon dives were with only Scott and Chloe. I took them to Caves as well but stayed up top in about 40 feet of water. There we saw 3 different turtles and Scott had a GoPro and took footage of them too.
Our last stop was on French Reef where Scott found a nurse shark sleeping under the reef. By the time that he got my attention and called us back the shark was gone. I pointed out several turtles during the dive but when Scott was going up a turtle went up with him to breathe so he got to film it up at the surface. We also saw loads of lobsters and one big crab on that dive.
Thursday, July 10th
I had a special request for 2 shallow, fishy dives. I took Amanda, Paul, Brad, Cassie, Albert and James to Chankanaab for our first stop. There were several big schools of fish up top being chased around by a big black grouper. Then we concentrated on the little stuff. We found several juvenile spotted drums, a couple of small sand divers, we watched as Christmas tree worms retracted into their tubes and chased after a turtle. Two southern stingrays made an appearance as well. Amanda said that there were a lot of lobsters on that dive.
We went to Yucab reef in search of the elusive blue parrotfish for Paul. Unfortunately we never spotted it. However, Paul found a big green moray and we chased after a really big nurse shark. There were plenty of barracuda there and lobsters as well.
Friday, July 11th
I had a special request for Santa Rosa Wall so off I went with Amanda, Brad, Cassie, Albert and James. There was a mild current. Not enough current to be bothersome but just enough so that we didn`t have to kick a lot. It was just right! We saw one big nurse shark up top and we swam through the caves. The boys chased after the big grouper taking videos and I sat back and watched as they chewed up all of their air J
San Francisco Wall was fantastic! We had a very mild current and Cassie kept showing me sharks. The first shark she pointed out was a big one and it was swimming around up on the top of the reef. The second one was just lying about. The first big loggerhead turtle that swam below us was all covered in barnacles. The boys swam over and go it on video. The second loggerhead was also swimming below us but had a clean shell. The second one was a little too deep to go get on video. We saw loads of lobsters and at the end the big nurse shark was sleeping in its usual spot. We had a very good day!
Monday, July 14th
Keith, Veronica, Jessica and William rented the entire boat for just themselves. Since Jessica is a Jr. Open Water diver Amanda came along and took the boys down to 60 feet and swam them through the caves at Palancar Gardens. I stayed up top with the ladies. We saw lobsters everywhere! There were groups of 6, groups of 3 and there were big individuals out parading around as well.
Jessica liked our second dive better on Colombia Shallow. The reef is less impressive but she got to see 5 turtles, a nurse shark, some HUGE barracudas and big schools of fish. I think that the schools of fish may have been William´s favorite because he swam through them a lot. I had a boat load of happy divers on the way home :)
Tuesday, July 15th
The conditions were ideal at Palancar Caves with Jessica, William, Keith and Veronica. We split the group again and I stayed up top with the ladies and Orlando took the guys down through all of the caves. Jess, Veronica and I saw one turtle and a Caribbean reef shark too. Jessica referred to it as ¨the baby shark¨ because the nurse sharks are so much bigger. The guys saw 2 big nurse sharks and three turtles but we got to see an uncommon shark so I don`t know who got the better deal. There were plenty of big lobsters out and about as well.
The second stop was at French Reef. That was a super nice dive. We had just a light current and a big nurse shark swam right through our group and begged to have its picture taken. We got to see another turtle and there were fish everywhere.
Wednesday, July 16th
Once again we had perfect conditions so I took William, Keith, Richard, Cory and Mason to Colombia Deep. There was no current and no waves. The first turtle was right over us as we came out of the first swim through. The next one was right after that but it was in 80 feet of water which was about 10 feet deeper than our dive plan. I pointed out the turtle knowing full well everyone would drop right down there and start taking photos. The turtle was worth it :) We swam through the nice tunnels and stopped at the anchor for a photo shoot. After observing enough lobsters to open a restaurant William decided to try and squeeze through a cave. He was very surprised to find a sleeping nurse shark in his path and he backed right out and showed us the shark!
There was no current on Dalila either. Aside from a surprise bout of sinus squeeze it was a nice relaxing dive. As I was cruising along I noticed and overturned queen conch with a big blob on it. I thought to myself, I bet that is an octopus. I got closer to check and the octopus gave up its lunch and started to spread its tentacles and slowly ease away from its meal. Everyone got a good look. The big green moray was in her usual spot and I borrowed Keith´s flashlight to show everyone.
Saturday, July 19th
Palancar Caves was calm and still underwater where I brought Rick, Susan, Lee, Cris, Judy, Rich, Richard and Generosa. We only went through the archways, not through the caves. We saw a hungry turtle munching on the reef as we swam through a gap in the coral. As Generosa and Susan sat still taking photos of queen conches I noticed a group of divers off in the sandy area looking at something. I crept over for a look. Yup! It was a seahorse. After the divemaster who pointed it out left I called my group over for a look and a photo session. As Rick, Susan and I were finishing up the dive he pointed out a juvenile spotted drum and a really big lobster.
Rick felt surge on Colombia Shallow as the waves passed overhead. We only saw one turtle but Rick shot his prize lionfish with his brand new Hawaiian sling. It was definitely meal sized and he was very proud of it. There was another little one stuck on the sling too. He peeled them off and they were gobbled up by a rather large mutton snapper.
Sunday, July 20th
A last minute change of plans brought me to Santa Rosa Wall with Generosa, Richard, Tom, Judy, Rich, Lee and Cris. The current was light and we were greeted upon arrival by a friendly nurse shark which swam amongst us for a minute. Later during the dive a turtle created a beautiful silhouette and Rich was missing his camera at the moment. While Generosa and I finished up our safety stop we watched a huge loggerhead sleep in the sand deep below us.
Rich asked for turtles and sharks so Cedral Wall was the logical choice. I stopped counting the hawksbills. They were all full grown and fairly large. We stopped for a while to watch a pair of them have lunch. Another good sized nurse shark swam around ahead of the group, too far away for Rich to photograph. While Generosa and I were doing the safety stop we found a green turtle on the reef below.
Monday, July 21st
Rich, Judy, Lee and Cris requested to go to the shipwreck. The last time I took Rick, Susan, Matthew and Michael to the shipwreck was in 2009. Rick had been riding me for a couple of trips to take him back there. He was pissed off because he forgot his camera. Susanita had to take all of the photos for him :) We saw garden eels, a big green moray and some barracudas hovering over the top of the wreck.
On Chankanaab we saw a juvenile spotted drum. Rick showed me a small green turtle. Susanita found 2 splendid toadfish. Rich busied himself photographing the schools of fish. I showed Cris a fireworm. It was a long, relaxing dive.
Tuesday, July 22nd
Rich, Judy, Lee and Cris requested to go to Palancar. Rick, Susan and Michael asked for the Caves. I didn`t even ask Bill where he wanted to go because I already knew the answer: anywhere :) When we arrived at the Caves there were tons of big boats full of divers everywhere. I asked Carlos to drive us south where there were no other divers. The group got in and spread out quickly. When Rich found a turtle I told the rest of the group and they swooped in for a photo shoot. I tried to lead them through the caves but no one followed me so I settled for following them around and everyone was quite pleased with that theme.
I announced that we were going to Dalila. I didn`t ask them. I didn`t give them a choice. Bill asked about finding small stuff and I asked him if he wanted to see a toadfish. He said yes so I found him 4 splendid toadfish. After a while he stopped taking photos of them so I stopped looking. Bill found a sleeping nurse shark for us. We saw a couple of turtles and baby lionfish. Susanita found a juvenile smooth trunkfish which was just so adorable. She also saw a spotted eagle ray but I didn`t see it because apparently I was pointing something out to Rich at the time. During our last safety stop Susanita, Cris and I watched as a big green moray swam around below us. When it disappeared we decided to go up.
Wednesday, July 23rd
I went back to Palancar with Rich, Judy, Lee, Cris, Tom, Sarah and Bill. Sarah had a bit of trouble equalizing and went back to the boat. The current was so light that Rich took off swimming against it and no one seemed to notice but me :) We saw lobsters all over the place. They were out strolling around, huddled together in small groups and some were very large. It was the ¨lobster dive¨.
The conditions were ideal on French Reef too. Lee and Cris hung out with a friendly turtle and we saw a lot more lobsters. We decided that it must be mating season or something.
Thursday, July 24th
I asked Rick, Susan, Matthew and Bill where they wanted to go diving and no one made any suggestions. So Carlos picked Palancar Bricks. We saw a lot of lobsters again and a turtle or two. I swam them through my favorite caves and Rick shot a lionfish in there. There was almost no current at all and it was a nice, easy dive.
Emma and David joined us at Paradise. I entertained myself by looking for small stuff for my photographers. I saw another one of those uncommon reef butterfly fish. Then I started paying more attention to the other kinds of butterfly fish on the reef too. We saw juvenile and an adult spotted drum. Bill showed us a burr fish. I saw zillions of flamingo tongues and hermit crabs were everywhere. The kids did well on their Discover Scuba Diving adventure.
Friday, July 25th
It was Maija, Laura, Ken, Skip and Barbara`s first dive of the vacation and Bill is happy to go where ever so I decided to try the top of Palancar Caves for the first dive. I was hoping to get dropped off in the shallow area about 30 feet deep. For some reason unknown to me Carlos dropped me off in a deeper area about 60 feet deep. So it was a bit of a struggle to get everyone down to the bottom. Once down we puttered around in the shallower area and Maija showed everyone a huge lobster. She also found a turtle with whom she and Ken hung out for a little while. Bill hung back and kept an eye on them until I could collect Laura, Skip and Barbara at the bottom. Then I could swim back against the current and get them moving again.
Surprise! I took them to Colombia Shallow for the second dive. We saw loads of sharks there. The first shark was just sitting out in the open. It was about 6 feet long and lying in the sand. The second shark was smaller and it was right next to the bigger one but it was hiding behind the reef. The turtle was in its usual parking spot and later in the dive another nurse shark swam by in the distance. While I was pointing out a big permit 2 more nurse sharks swam by together. It was like ¨shark day¨ at Colombia Shallow. When only Bill and Maija were still down I started looking for small things for Bill to photograph. We saw secretary blennies, yellow headed jawfish, flamingo tongues and a giant tunicate.
Saturday, July 26th
Kale and Jen got on first. The airlines didn`t get their suitcases here in time for the dive so they had to use rental gear. We picked up Skip, Barbara and Bill and I asked everyone where they wanted to go diving. No one had any special requests. Bill said that he read something on ScubaBoard about people seeing a loggerhead and he asked me if I had seen it. I told him that I saw one on Colombia Shallow and I think I saw it on Santa Rosa too. So Santa Rosa it was! We got in a little to the south of Santa Rosa and Bill showed us a big green moray eel. After everyone took photos I moved them over to the drop off where I found a big huge loggerhead with a long tail waiting for us. Everyone swam hard to get pictures of the big turtle and everyone was waving their hands up over their heads in triumphant joy after they got footage and stills of the behemoth. We drifted along and saw some lobsters and a small hawksbill too.
It wasn`t 10 minutes into the dive at San Francisco Wall that the divers discovered another big loggerhead but this one didn`t have the long tail. We followed it until it disappeared over the sandy area. Throughout that dive we saw a few more loggerheads. Most of the time I wasn`t sure if it was the same one reappearing or different ones. I found a small hawksbill sleeping under the reef and Barbara showed me the last big loggerhead just lying on the edge of the drop off waiting for the photo session. While we made our safety stop an enormous hawksbill woke up and swam up to the surface to breathe. It looked like it was following our boat!
Sunday, July 27th
Our first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Bill, Kale, Jen, Skip, Barbara, Laura, Ken and Maija. We had no current and they thoroughly enjoyed the swim throughs. We saw a couple of turtles. Bill, Maija and I stayed down a long time and we saw a spotted eagle ray. Bill was hanging out taking lots of pictures of what looked like lettuce coral to me from a distance. After waiting a few minutes curiosity got the better of me and I went over for a look. Bill was shooting pictures of a juvenile smooth trunk fish that bobbed and weaved in the spaces between the branches of the lettuce coral. It was definitely worth the swim back!
On French Reef we were accosted by a hungry nurse shark. The Mugger swam past us at high speed and I had noticed that the group behind us had one diver carrying a yellow Hawaiian Sling. I figured that the diver must have caught a lionfish and that the shark smelled it. About 10 minutes later that same shark came back to our group and started checking out Jen and Kale. It swam right under Jen, flipped over and she took pictures as it swam around. Bill hung back and it went for him next. It was swimming right for Bill´s face so he bonked it on the nose with his big red strobe. It was a success and the shark gave up and swam away. I wonder who is feeding that shark………………………
Monday, July 28th
Tank number one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Stephanie, John, Angela, Patrick, Kale, Jen, Barbara and Skip. The sky was clear and sunny, the water was calm and transparent. We saw loads of turtles on that dive. Patrick was surprised to see so many turtles swimming around.
The current was light on Dalila. We saw a splendid toadfish and the green moray was in her usual spot. We drifted over a turtle or two. While Barbara and Skip were doing a safety stop I looked down to find a nurse shark swimming below us. We promptly saw a second smaller shark go by. Stephanie was quite impressed by the size of the rainbow parrotfish. She asked me if it weighed 300 pounds!
Tuesday, July 29th
I had a nice, easy day at Colombia Deep with Patricio, Angela, Skip, Barbara, Ken, Laura, Maija and Danny. Coming out of the first cave a huge barracuda was lurking in the shadows. It didn`t agree with our arrival and swam deeper into the cave. That barracuda made Maija a wee bit nervous. We saw lobsters and crabs and several southern stingrays swim by. Barbara burned up all of her air chasing after them with the GoPro.
The turtles Barbara requested were waiting for us at ¨My Secret Spot¨. As everyone was watching the first turtle go up, Patrick, Angela and I hung back and watched as a pair of lobsters duked it out with a small lionfish observing the battle. The second turtle was really big and just sitting on the bottom sharing lunch with some pretty French angels. Everyone loved the enormous rainbow parrotfish too.
Wednesday, July 30th
My first stop was at Palancar Gardens diving with Patricio, Angela, Alisha and Dina. Kate and Meagan snorkeled over us with Carlos. The only turtle I saw was way off in the distance and no one but me saw it. There were a few big lobsters and the ocean conditions were really nice.
Meagan joined us for the second stop at Colombia Shallows where we saw several turtles. Two were sleeping under small coral heads and a couple of turtles were out swimming around. The last one was the uncommon green turtle. There were 2 sharks, one right after the other out swimming around. We saw loads of lobsters and I stopped to fix ¨Mr. Brickman¨.
Friday, August 1st
The gang - Vanessa, Zane, Derek, Hannah, Cindy, Dave and Stephanie wanted to go to a wall. They also asked to see turtles, sharks and eels. I got 3 out of the 4. I took them to San Francisco Wall and the first turtle we saw had bitten off more than it could chew. It had a big lump of something in its throat that wouldn´t go down. The second turtle was during the safety stop and only Derek, Hannah and I saw it. I found a big green moray but the current prevented us from hanging out and getting a good luck.
I spent the whole dive on Yucab searching for a shark to no avail. However I did find an enormous lobster and Vanessa showed us another big green moray. Towards the end of the dive we saw another turtle which surfaced for some air and then came right back down again. So the shark was a wash but the dives were still great!
Saturday, August 2nd
I did a Discover Scuba Diving class for Lane, Bailee, Mary, Rhonda, Margaret, Shelby and Daniella. It was Daniella´s 16th birthday party and they wanted to learn to dive. I took them to Paradise. There were a lot of boats out there and I was a bit worried but Carlos took good care of us and stayed right over us to shoo the other boats away. We saw colorful fish and a lobster too.
I decided to get away from the crowds and the boats overhead so I took them between Hotel Presidente and Dzul Ha. It was only 15 feet deep there but we saw a few schools of fish, a huge barracuda, a goldentail moray and a spotted moray. There was plenty to see and no boat traffic :)
Sunday, August 3rd
Debbie, Mike, Tammy, BJ, Terry and Jen asked to go to Palancar Bricks. Giorgio asked to go to the caves. Fulvio of course didn`t seem to mind where we went. When we arrived there were about 8 boats on the Bricks so we scooted over and dove the very end of the Bricks and we didn't run into any other divers until the end of the dive. Carlos dropped me off right in front of my favorite cave and we saw a southern stingray and a couple of turtles.
Fulvio likes the green moray so I took them to Cedral Wall. We saw countless turtles. Fulvio heard me screaming through my regulator when I found the juvenile smooth trunk fish. We saw a bunch of swimming nurse sharks there. I took Fulvio over to see the big green moray and while Fulvio and I were doing our safety stop we watched as two huge nurse sharks cavorted in circles. My imagination ran wild. I wondered if they were mating or just friends. I wondered if they had just met or if they were best friends. A million thoughts ran through my mind as I watched them swim around and play with each other.
Monday, August 4th
By special request I went to the Devil´s Throat with Giorgio, Debbie, Mike, Tammy, BJ, Terry and Jen. Orlando came along to help out. He came in handy because by the time that Tammy got to the Throat it was all kicked up and there was no visibility. Tammy opted to skip that part so she and Orlando skipped out and waited for us up over the cave. When another group of divers were looking at a turtle I signaled my group and they swooped down for a few pictures. The dive was over in about 30 minutes because some diver´s computers were telling them ¨time is up¨ while others were getting low on air.
I wanted to show them some marine life so I took them to Dalila for the second dive. Jen showed me a juvenile lionfish and we saw lots of big lobsters. A rather large nurse shark swam right by us and I pointed out my friend the splendid toadfish. The toadfish wriggled out of it´s hole for BJ´s camera.
The third dive was on Paradise and we saw a GI-NORMOUS barracuda. It swam off before anyone could take it`s picture. I found another toadfish for Tammy and Jen pointed out a bunch of Flamingo Tongues on a sea whip.
Tuesday, August 5th
David, Rick, Debbie, Mike, Tammy, BJ, Terry and Jen were my divers on Palancar Gardens. We took our time and mosied on down the reef. We saw lobsters and crabs. We had very nice conditions for Rick´s very first ocean dive. There was almost no current and no waves. We swam through canyons and caves and a good time was had by y´all.
Rick asked for a turtle and we saw three of them on French Reef. I bet he was wishing that he had brought his new GoPro on that dive. We saw a pair of big crab duking it out. Huge lobsters were wandering around on top of the reef. I wonder if it is lobster mating season or something because we are seeing them all over the place!
Our third stop was at Colombia Shallows so that David´s daughter Christine and her friend Maya could snorkel over us with Carlos´ son as their snorkel guide. We saw tons of turtles. Rick spent most of the dive chasing the turtles around and taking video of them. At the end of the dive Rick was low on air and he showed me his computer. The computer didn't kick in on safety stop mode so I explained to him (using my slate) that he had probably already done a safety stop and could go right up. He gave me the thumbs up and that is when I spotted the shark on the bottom. I shook my head no and he looked confused. I pointed to his GoPro and then made the shark sign. That further confused him. Then I pointed down below us at the shark on the bottom and then it all made sense :) I smiled and we went down for him to take video of the shark. When the rest of the divers arrived the shark pulled its head out of the hole and started to swim away. When it realized that it was it was one foot below Tammy the shark freaked out and turned around to go the other way. That startled poor Tammy and she probably didn`t even get a picture of that! It was good fun J
Wednesday, August 6th
I asked the gang (David, Rick, Debbie, Mike, Tammy, BJ, Terry and Jen) where they wanted to go and BJ suggested the Bricks. Landing at the bottom we were greeted by a little hawksbill turtle enjoying a meal of tasty sponge. After everyone took some pictures we made our way over to the drop off where the huge towering formations are. There was a little bit of current but nothing to fret over. When we got to my favorite part where the cave is I had to make a decision. I saw that the shark in its usual spot so I had to decide if we went to see the shark or if we would go in the cave. I picked the shark and I think that it was the right choice. Everyone loved sitting around photographing the shark!
I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨ which turned out to be not so secret. There were a couple other groups of divers there and we managed to dodge them most of the time. Tammy, Debbie and Mike ducked into a rather small cave. When Tammy didn`t come out for a long time I swam over to check on her. I found a hole about one foot long by 8 inches wide right over them and I peeked in. There was Tammy with her strobe going off over and over again and I could see the tail of a very large nurse shark. I decided not to bother her. I thought to myself, ¨If I were on vacation and I had a camera I would sit in that hole all day too.¨ So I just waited until they were all done and then swam like hell to catch the rest of the group when she came out. The second shark swam right past everyone. The last shark was that big huge one with the raggedy dorsal fin. It was just sitting in the sand on the bottom and it let the stragglers (Jen, David and Debbie) hang out take lots of pictures. It was really cool to watch from above while BJ and Rick made safety stops over the big beast.
It was only Tammy, BJ, Rick and David with me on Chankanaab. We saw 3 different splendid toadfish. I couldn´t be outdone by the legendary Pedro Pablo so I just HAD to get one of those little buggers out of the hole for Tammy. I also found 2 juvenile spotted drums. David showed Rick some flamingo tongues and we puttered around that reef for an hour enjoying the little stuff.
Thursday, August 7th
I took David, Rick, Debbie, Mike, Tammy, BJ, Terry and Jen to Santa Rosa Wall per special request. We had a bit of current but nothing to make the dive difficult. We drifted along and saw lobsters, lots of big black groupers and a huge turtle that surfaced and came back down and posed for the cameras.
On San Francisco Wall we drifted along and while I was pointing out a porgy to Terry a big turtle swooped down right behind his head and he swung around to take a photo. Towards the end of the dive I showed BJ, Jen and David a big nurse shark lounging about in the sand behind a coral overhang. The shark didn`t seem to mind us one bit.
Friday, August 8th
I went right back to Santa Rosa Wall with Quentin, John, Connie and Bob. Connie and Quentin wanted to go there. Five minutes into the dive I found a green moray hiding in hole and I showed everyone the eel with my flashlight. We saw that big grouper again in the usual spot. While Connie, Bob and I were doing a safety stop I looked down to find a very large nurse shark just lying on the bottom.
At San Francisco Wall we had very mild current and a few cold spots. I saw half a dozen tiny baby lionfish. I pointed out a fire worm right next to one of those little lionfish. The first big critter we saw was a crazy barracuda that acted very erratically and made some of us a tad nervous. Then I found a small hawksbill turtle. Right after the turtle a big nurse shark shot out from under the reef and for some reason I just KNEW there was another one in the same hole. Sure enough, I took a peek and found a second nurse shark in there. At the very end of the dive I found Buster in one of his usual spots and I actually told him out loud that Chace says hello. He is my second favorite green moray. The eel on Cedral Wall is still my very favorite green moray though.
Monday, August 11th
It was everyone´s first dive of the vacation: Rich, Margie, Jennifer, Chris, Cade, Kaliegh and Leo. Half were teenagers with no fear but Linda, Leo´s mom was snorkeling over us so we had to keep it shallow. The first stop was on Palancar Gardens. Not everyone got to see the turtle but we did all see lobsters. It was a cool dive because of the gorgeous reef formation and the swim throughs.
I wanted Linda to get to see stuff too so we went to Colombia Shallows. Everyone got to see turtles but I didn`t see a single nurse shark. Once again there were plenty of lobsters on that dive and the group spread out and enjoyed themselves.
Tuesday, August 12th
Leo and Linda were not diving this day and they were replaced by Chris and Stacey. It had been ages since Stacey dived and she was a wee tad apprehensive. She did great and when her mask fogged up she put some water in there, sloshed it around and blew it out. That helped her to see all the turtles that kept swimming right up to us. The first couple of turtles were very friendly. Divers had to actually scoot out of the way because the turtles were swimming right into them. The last turtle was shy and it had a shiny silver tag on its left front flipper. That is the very first time I have ever seen a tag on a turtle here in Cozumel. After seeing that I am still not sure how I feel about it. If it were an electronic monitoring device I could see the value in the information that the scientists could use. But a tag? That means that they have to come back sometime in the future, find that same turtle, trap the turtle, take it out of the water again and examine it. It kind of makes me think of all those tv shows that you see about humans being abducted by aliens, being studied and returned. That must be how the poor turtles feel. What possible important info can they get from that? Why not just ask me? I can tell them which turtles live where and for how long…………….. Anyway, enough of my soapbox. We saw a spotted eagle ray way below us while we did our safety stop. The spotted eagle rays are supposed to be ¨out of season¨. I think that we have few this week. I wonder if they are just passing through…………….
Wednesday, August 13th
I had quite the day of diving with Quentin, John, Pat, Ron and Chris. Our first stop was on Palancar Gardens where we saw 3 turtles and a swimming nurse shark. The boys took lots of footage with their new GoPros. We swam through all the caves and stayed down almost an hour and a half.
The current was light on Cedral Wall and we were greeted by a baby nurse shark swimming by when we arrived. Chris took off after it and I told him to come back, don´t waste the air. I made a sign for a big shark further ahead which we indeed did see. A nice big one swam right by us. Quentin pointed out the first turtle way off in the distance. The second turtle was medium sized and sat still eating something on the reef while everyone took pictures. The third turtle was as big as a person! It was also tearing off hunks of the reef with its strong beak. I checked the ¨green moray hole¨ and found a nurse shark sleeping inside. Some of the boys went up but Pat, Quentin and I stayed down for another 45 minutes and saw another turtle and during our safety stop a pair of huge sharks were swimming around together below us.
Thursday, August 14th
Rich, Margie, Jen, Chris, Kaleigh, Cade, Ted and Diana came with me to Santa Rosa Wall per special request. Fortunately there wasn`t much current and we were met on the way down by a bunch of turtles. Once the chaos of descending with turtles all over the place was over we drifted over to the wall and found a big green moray. A humungous group paid us a short visit and we swam through a few caves. During the safety stop Rich could hear me screaming through the regulator. He thought that maybe I was screaming at him for something. Not the case. There was giant loggerhead turtle on the bottom. Chris swam over and got some photos of it. Rich liked the dive so much that he asked to go back again tomorrow.
I stayed on the ¨Wall Theme¨ at San Francisco but it wasn`t as exciting. The current was clipping along and we didn`t see any big guys. Jen found a huge lionfish and we saw the usual fish and lobsters. It was good dive but not nearly as exciting as the first one.
Friday, August 15th
Dive number one was on Palancar Bricks with Rich, Margie, Jen, Chris, Kaleigh, Cade, Ted and Diana. All of the turtles showed up at the end of the dive. I was wondering what was going on because we didn`t see a single turtle for the first 35 minutes. Then we had some interaction with several different turtles and it turned out to be a really nice dive.
I chose Dalila for dive number two. The current was mild for Dalila. As soon as we landed on the bottom I found a decent sized nurse shark sleeping under the reef. It wasn`t long before we saw the first turtle. I stopped to point out the splendid toadfish and when we got back on the boat Chris asked me if that was the same one I showed him 6 weeks ago :) Jen found a pair of juvenile spotted drums together up top. We proceeded to see lots of turtles after that. Kaleigh sure loves those turtles!
Tuesday, August 26th
We got a late start because Caroline, Wendy and Debbie arrived by cruise ship. Tom and Clifton arrived earlier than expected and so did Ron and David. We took off at 10:00 am and the ladies requested a dive on Palancar Gardens because they wanted to go through all of the caves. I took them in every cave I could. The current was wacky and a bit strong in parts. I think it is because the temperature is now up to 85 degrees! A giant loggerhead turtle swam right at me and I wondered if it would just push me out of the way. Then it swam right at Debbie and she filmed the whole thing on video. It was an exciting moment for all!
On French Reef I took them through the longest caves and it was Clifton that kept finding all of the good critters. He showed us both hawksbill turtles and a lionfish. We also saw a big crab. The current was more forgiving and we had a great dive on French Reef!
Wednesday, August 27th
Ron is an instructor and David is a divemaster that works with Ron helping him teach classes. Desiree and Jen are newly certified and when they got on board I asked them how deep they went during certification and the answer was 18 feet! I thought to myself, ¨Where can I take this group and keep both happy?¨ So after a little thought and a chat we settled on starting in 30 feet of water at Palancar Caves and ¨working our way down¨. Now I fully intended to ¨work them down¨ to 60 feet if they were comfortable and had decent buoyancy control. It took about 10 minutes for them to get equalized, neutral and not stressed. Once they were settled I gradually eased them a bit deeper. After about 20 minutes I pointed to a big archway and I knew that it was a 60 footer and asked Jen if she would go through it. She gave me the OK and down we went! David was a lifesaver because as soon as he showed Jen a turtle she started really enjoying the dive. Ron was a sweetie being very flexible and understanding since he is an instructor as well. He does it for the love of teaching so he helped out a bit too.
Ron had asked for a wall so I decided to push it a little and take them to San Francisco Wall. We did stay up top in 35 – 40 feet most of the time with an occasional dip down to 50 feet. My divemaster David pointed out a spotted eagle ray and lots of lobsters. I showed everyone a southern stingray and taught the girls how to hide behind the reef to get out of the current. They got a quick lesson on diving in current. It was a very nice dive.
Thursday, August 28th
After briefing Libby, Don, Stacey and Mike about the possible current we rolled in at Palancar Horseshoe to a nice, calm sea. There was pretty much no current at all. Within the first 3 minutes we saw 3 turtles. It seemed that every time we turned around there was another turtle in front of our eyes. We swam around a bit and saw a clump of big lobsters in a hole and Mike took pictures. I could hear Stacey shouting through her regulator when she spotted the southern stingray. Libby was the one making all of the noise when she discovered a big black grouper being cleaned by a Spanish hogfish. The grouper had its mouth wide open and Libby was staring down its throat. In total I think we saw 6 different hawksbill turtles at Palancar Horseshoe.
Since the current was so light we did our second dive on Cedral Wall and once again we saw tons of turtles. I counted a total of 7 turtles on the dive. The fifth turtle was green turtle for a change. I stopped to look for my friendly green moray but found a nurse shark in the hole instead. The last shark was a big boy swimming just ahead of us for a minute or two. I think only Stacey and I saw it. It was an action packed dive as usual.
Friday, August 29th
As Daryn, Stacey, Mike, Desiree, Jen, Mike and Heather got suited up the wind was picking up on Palancar Gardens. When we arrived there were a few rollers but by the time we suited up white caps had kicked up and we could see a sheet of rain headed for us. I told everyone to get underwater before the rain started. It was a bit murky but once we were at 60 feet it cleared right up. The ocean was calm down there and there wasn`t much current to speak of. It was a bit darker than usual down there so all the lobsters came out and paraded around for us. I took everyone through the swim throughs and we could see on Daryn´s face how much she was enjoying that dive.
The second tank was on Dalila. We saw a few turtles and I stopped and pointed out the splendid toadfish for everyone. Instead of the green moray in her usual hole we found a smallish nurse shark napping. The real action started when only Stacey and I were down. First we saw a nurse shark, then I checked and found the green moray in a hole. I didn`t even notice the huge turtle parked next to the moray until another divemaster pointed it out. I got low on air before Stacey so I signaled up. While we were going up I saw a big nurse shark lounging on the bottom. She made a run for it but I told her to forget it because I WAS LOW ON AIR. Had to go Stacey… sorry Stacey………………..
Saturday, August 30th
The seas were calmer so I took James, Jack, Stacey and Mike to Colombia Deep. I was surprised when we got in that we had so much current. It kind of pushed us up and down as well as forward. It was like a Carnival ride. We saw 4 different southern stingrays. Stacey went crazy taking pictures of them. We also saw a couple of turtles.
The current was really cooking on the second dive. Carlos dropped us at the end of French Reef. We drifted through all of French Reef, My Secret Spot and half of Dalila as well! We saw tons of turtles and two big nurse sharks taking siestas on the bottom. The first one was tucked up under a ledge. The second one was just out in the sand. We saw a bunch of lobsters too.
Sunday August 31st,
It poured rain the whole way out to the dive site at Palancar Gardens. Charlie, Fulvio, Ariel, James, Jack and Joseph weren`t cold but Laila sure looked cold so I gave her a wetsuit. When we jumped in there were some white caps on Palancar and the water felt toasty warm when we got in because it was pouring down rain and the wind was blowing strong. Once we got to the bottom there was a bit of current but it was warm and comfortable. We drifted around and saw lobsters and crabs everywhere. Since it was overcast the crustaceans thought that it was sunset and came out in droves. At the very end of the dive when Joseph was low on air we found a small nurse shark. Instead of taking him up right away we stayed down an extra minute because it was his first shark ever!
On Paso Del Cedral we had a romantic encounter with a couple of green moray eels. We also saw a couple of nurse sharks out swimming around. The lobsters were parading around the reef again and fun was had by all.
Labor Day – Monday, September 1st
It was a bit rainy and overcast and I took Larry, Bettie, Rusty, Michelle, James, Jack, Desiree and Jenny to Santa Rosa Wall. The current was very mild and we had an exciting dive. Within the very first 5 minutes we were confronted by a green turtle, a swimming nurse shark and a big green moray eel under the reef. I grabbed the camera from Desiree and took pictures of the eel. Then the bottom dropped off to more than 70 feet and we drifted over to the wall where we saw a big lionfish and some huge lobsters. We saw another nurse shark and Rusty pointed out the big hawksbill turtle. Soon after that the big grouper who is always in the same spot came over and paid us a little visit. Right before the divers started heading up we found a small hawksbill turtle. While Desiree and Jen were doing their safety stop they showed me a small nurse shark napping on the bottom.
There was hardly any current at all on Cedral Wall. We saw loads of turtles there. The first was a green turtle but most of them were hawksbills. The first shark we saw was about 5 feet long and swam away quickly. The second shark we saw was in the parking spot where I normally find the green moray. The last shark was really big but only Jack and I saw it because it took off over the edge of the wall. It was an action packed dive!
Tuesday, September 2nd
Betty requested Palancar Caves. Alfonzo came along to video the dive for Betty, Larry, Rusty and Michelle. I am not sure if Desiree and Jen had been there yet or not but James doesn´t care where we dive so it all worked out fine. The current was a little wacky but not too bad. We did a bunch of swim throughs and we saw lobsters and turtles. One was a green turtle. I think it was the same green turtle that has been in that area now for almost a year.
The current was RIPPING on French Reef. We flew around and as we passed a huge turtle all we could do is point and go............ We flew past lobsters and at the very end of the dive a pair of nurse sharks were taking a siesta together in a hole. Desiree sucked up about 300 psi of air trying to get back and have a look at them. James described the dive as a sleigh ride.
Wednesday, September 3rd
Diane and Mike were worried about the current. Someone had told them that the day before the current was terrible and being brand new divers they were very concerned. I reassured them that I would do my best to try and find a spot with little current. I brought Eduardo with me so that he could take Betty, Larry, Doug and James on a normal Cozumel dive down to 60 feet through the tunnels and archways while I stayed up top with our newbies. I felt quite lucky and grateful not to have strong current when we got in at Palancar Gardens. There was a bit of current but nothing unmanageable. I found out later when we were all back on the boat that the current was a little wild down deeper and it was pushing everyone around like a washing machine. Eduardo kept a close eye on Betty and Larry who are not so fond of the current either. I didn`t get any deeper than 35 feet up there and we had a pretty easy dive of it. Diane had asked to see a turtle but I didn`t see any until after she was already on the boat. I didn`t tell her that though. I saw some tremendously huge barracudas that seemed to get right up in our face. It didn`t seem to frighten Diane though.
I took them to Colombia Shallow for our second dive and there was no current at all. Diane was delighted when we were greeted by a small hawksbill turtle right after we arrived at the bottom. It wasn`t long before we saw another one. It was about half way through the dive that I found the small nurse shark sleeping under the small coral head. Large and small lobsters were everywhere and I noticed that the yellow headed jawfish had a mouthful of eggs. Rick will want a picture of that when he gets here in a couple of weeks………….
Thursday, September 4th
Eduardo came along to help me and he took James and Doug down through the Caves at Palancar while I stayed up top in 30 to 40 feet of water with Brennan, Brett, Mike and Diane. I parked them behind the reef and showed them a hermit crab and a big queen conch. We floated down a bit and stopped again for a look at a pair of furry sea cucumbers. They were absolutely fascinating because not only did they see the animal in a normal situation but they also saw one that got stressed out and curled up and ¨rolled down the hill¨. When they curl up and tumble it is because they are stressed out but it is very interesting to watch. A big group of divers from another dive shop had just left the area and I think they stressed the sea cucumbers out…………
I didn`t want to deal with current so the next dive was at Chankanaab. At Chankanaab I saw a few barracudas and a small lobster. There were plenty of fish everywhere and I showed my divers a brittle star on a sponge. It was an uneventful dive in a nice way :)
Friday, September 5th
I had a mixed group on the boat. Kathy, Mike, Randy, Fulvio, James and Doug are all very advanced divers. Mike and Diane are still newbies so Eduardo came along and helped out again at Palancar Bricks. He took the advanced divers down to the drop off and I hung out in the shallows. That nurse shark was in her normal parking spot and I showed the group the sleepy shark. We got up close and personal with a turtle which pleased Diane to no end. Thankfully the current was very, very light.
On French Reef we had another turtle experience for Diane. After Diane and Mike were back on the boat we saw another turtle and a couple of different nurse sharks taking siestas on the bottom. Once again the current was very light and I was ever so grateful!
Sunday, September 7th
The seas were flat and calm but the sky was gray and it was drizzling when I set out for Palancar with Patti, Drew, Lance, Bill, Diane, Mike, Brett and Dane. Thankfully we had almost no current because the descent was a bit of a struggle. Once everyone was at the bottom we swam around and the boys pointed out a turtle. Diane, Mike and I had a hard time swimming back so we didn`t get to see the turtle. Towards the end of the dive we saw a couple of big lobsters.
The critters were all on Paso Del Cedral. Dropping down to the bottom I found a huge turtle. While I was showing the turtle to Diane and Mike a medium sized nurse shark swam right behind one of the boys. Later during the dive we saw a huge grouper, a rainbow parrotfish and a small school of barracuda right behind Brett. The grand finale was the big, fat nurse shark sleeping under the reef right before the green moray eel swam right up to us. I think it was Lance that got me to turn around and see the eel swimming right at me from behind :)
Monday, September 8th
I arrived at Colombia Deep with Patti, Drew, Lance, Bill, Elaine, Rich, Brett and Dane but the current seemed to be kicking up. I told Carlos to drive around and find us a spot with less current. We ended up on the Bricks. The descent was easy because the current was light. It didn`t take more the 5 minutes for the current to kick in and we started flying around the reef. After around 10 minutes everyone was settled in and I began the tour. I tried to get everyone into that beautiful cave system where there is no current but Patti couldn`t get her ears to clear and Elaine was swimming out the other end so I just gave up and decided to continue flying around for the rest of the dive. The green eel was well hidden and hard to see. Bill, Lance and I watched a turtle as it floated at the surface taking a few breaths and then we watched it go back down again. I showed Rich and Elaine a pair of big lobsters.
The current was clipping along on Dalila too. At least it was a good critter dive though. Lance and Bill asked for a splendid toadfish and ¨Old Faithful¨ was right where he was supposed to be. I hope the boys got a good picture. Rich and Elaine checked out a big crab and we saw 3 turtles. I also paid a visit to the big green moray in her usual parking spot but only Bill cut across the current and got to see her.
Tuesday, September 9th
I was really worried that we would have another rip roaring current so I brought Orlando along to help me this morning. I told Carlos that I didn`t care where I dived just as long as there wasn`t a lot of current. First we checked Palancar Gardens but we could see that there was some current kicking up so he moved Diane, Mike, Patti, Drew, Lance, Bill, Brett and Dane to the Horseshoe instead. I didn`t complain because when we got in the current was mild. When we got to the bottom Drew made the signal for shark and pointed down. I grabbed Diane´s hand and headed down to see it but by the time we arrived the shark has swum off. During the first half hour of the dive we saw 3 turtles. I don`t remember who it was that showed us the big crab. A huge green moray eel was poking her head out from a hole in the reef and it was very impressive. Thankfully we had good conditions the entire dive.
Since the current was cooperative I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨. Diane got up close and personal with a small hawksbill turtle and I think that made her day. We also saw a pair of very large black groupers. At the end of the dive we saw a southern stingray off in the sandy area.
Wednesday, September 10th
There was almost no current when Patti, Drew, Elaine, Rich, Lance, Bill, Brett and Dane jumped in at the Cathedral. Swimming through the second big cave I spied 2 lionfish. I shot the first one, killed it and then offered it up to a hungry snapper waiting for breakfast. The snapper ripped that lionfish right off of my stick. I shot the second one but as I brought it closer to kill it the fish wiggled off the end of my spear and swam away. The snapper was a bit disappointed. It took me about 10 minutes to clean up a long string of fishing line tangled all over the reef. The divers patiently waited for me, well, almost. Drew disappeared into the cave known as the Cathedral and Elaine followed. Drew came out but Elaine did not which caused a moment of pandemonium. Eventually we found her and carried on with the dive. I didn`t bitch her out on the boat. She has been known to wander on occasion :)
French Reef had ideal conditions. There were loads of big lobsters on French Reef and a large crab as well. We only saw 2 small hawksbill turtles there but everyone enjoyed the relaxing pretty dive.
Thursday, September 11th
We had really good conditions on Santa Rosa Wall. Alfonso came along to video Patti, Andrew, Lance, Bill, Elaine, Rich, Brett and Dane. The first big critter we saw was a rather large hawksbill turtle sitting on the bottom sharing a breakfast with a harem of angelfish. A yellow stingray swam by and Alfonso got that on video as well. Rich pointed out a shark but I was too far up current to see it. The huge black grouper was in his normal parking spot.
There was very little current on San Francisco Wall and we drifted slowly around looking at lobsters and crabs. Another large turtle sat still for the cameras and at the end of the dive Patti showed me a big green moray eel. It was back in a hole and her flashlight really made all the difference in the world. Alfonso said that he got good footage of the eel. We also hung out with a big gray southern stingray and got lots of footage with the ray.
Friday, September 12th
I asked Patti, Drew, Lance, Bill, Karen and Scotty where to take them and after talking over where they had not been yet during the week we decided on the Gardens. Well I was a little worried when we got in because the current was gentle but pushing us towards the beach away from the reef. We made it over the edge of the reef and I tried to hide behind the coral heads to get out of the current. Sometimes the current was pushing us out to the drop off which is definitely NOT where we want to be in strong current so the divers had to kick hard to stay inside the protection of the swim throughs, archways and canyons. I was very surprised when they signaled low on air after 45 minutes. Oh well.................
I took the bull by the horns and drove them over to Colombia Shallow for a nice easy dive where they could just putter around. Everyone was very pleased because we saw 2 big nurse sharks and one medium sized nurse shark. All three were within 20 feet of each other and just lying about on the bottom. The small hawksbill turtle was in her usual spot. Someone dismantled my ¨Brick Man¨ and when I arrived I found an arrow instead and another small turtle. Baby lobsters were everywhere and Bill found a spotted moray.
Sunday, September 14th
It was nice and calm when I set out with Fulvio, Charlie, Brian, Julia, Erin and Eric. We went to Palancar Gardens and had almost no current at all. That was perfect as Julia is newly certified and needed something really easy. Upon reaching the bottom a big lobster pranced around below us. We just kept seeing turtle after turtle after turtle. It was great first dive for Julia!
Taking into consideration that the current was cooperative we went to San Francisco Wall for our second dive. As it turned out we had a bit of current. However, it wasn`t strong and we had another good dive. No big critters were seen but the colorful fish and bright sponges always make that such a nice dive!
Monday, September 15th
We left late for Palancar Caves with Amanda, Kristina, Rob, Susan, Erin and Eric. We arrived around 10:45 and fortunately the current was pretty calm. We saw lots of turtles but we skipped the caves since Susan had a depth restriction of 40 feet. That´s fine because all of the turtles are at the top!
There was a little more current on French Reef. I took Erin, Eric and Rob through the caves. We saw more turtles and at the very end of the dive we saw a 5 foot nurse shark sleeping on the bottom.
Tuesday, September 16th
Dive number one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Rick, Julia, Brian, Erin and Eric. We had really nice conditions. The current was light and there were no waves. A big black grouper followed us around for about 20 minutes. We stopped to hang out with a big southern stingray digging around in the sand for something to eat.
Since the conditions were good I decided to do the second dive on Cedral Wall. The current was nice and slow. The first turtle we saw was a small green turtle. The second and third turtles were really big hawksbills. They were sitting on the bottom about 15 feet away from one another. Both had a few angelfish hanging around gobbling up the scraps of sponge that they were eating. The fourth turtle we saw was a beautiful, tranquil green turtle just sitting around doing nothing. We spent quite a bit of time with the big green eel. The eel was in a feisty mood and she would slither out and poke her nose onto Brian´s GoPro. The fifth turtle we saw was a small hawksbill. Then Julia and Brian went up. That is when the nurse sharks showed up. The first one swam past and then ¨The Mugger¨ swam past. I was surprised to see ¨The Mugger¨ on Cedral. The first time I noticed that shark it was on French Reef. Then the shark seemed to move up north to Dalila. Now it is chasing the divers around on Cedral begging for lionfish. As Rick and I did a safety stop a third, larger nurse shark swam below us. It sure was a good critter day!
Wednesday, September 17th
Steve and Trina like shallow dives with no current. Eric and Erin don`t mind because they like to go slow and take pictures. I didn`t even ask poor Rick where he wanted to go. Somehow we decided on Chankanaab, the logical choice for shallow and no current. We puttered around and Eric took pictures of banded cleaner shrimps in a vase sponge, bouquets of feather dusters and an arrow crab. At the end of the dive the current started blowing us gently off of the reef and out to sea. Rick came up with almost 1000 psi in his tank. The bottom just kept getting deeper and deeper and deeper and there was only sand to look at so he threw in the towel and came up.
I had a hard time deciding whether to go to Paradise or Yucab for the second dive. I figured if there was current like that on Chankanaab we ran the risk of strong current on Paradise and having to have to cut the dive short to avoid going under the cruise ship. So I decided on Yucab instead. Steve and Trina would have preferred to go to Colombia Shallows but I was planning on that place for the next day. When we arrived at Yucab Carlos asked 2 other boat captains how the current was. They both said that it was kind of strong. I asked the group if we should just go back and dive Chankanaab again. They said that as long as the current wasn`t pushing them off of the reef that Yucab should be fine. So we got in. The current was about 3 knots. We spent the first half of the dive ducking behind the coral heads to hide from the current. All of the fish were hiding there too :) Rick showed us a splendid toadfish and there were a few big grouper hiding in the dark crevices there. During the safety stop Rick and I watched a hawksbill turtle on the reef below us.
Thursday, September 18th
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Rick, Eric, Erin, Julia, Brian, Mike and Maya. I told Carlos to drive around and find us a spot with no current. There was a little current there but nothing unmanageable. We enjoyed the drop off and Orlando swam everyone around through some tight squeezes. Some divers just went over the top. I don`t know why Orlando likes those little caves so much?????? Anyway, we saw a few big lobsters and it was an easy dive.
It was like a big party on Colombia Shallow! Steve and Trina joined us while Susanita snorkeled over us. The first 2 turtles we saw were hawksbill turtles. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a school of big jacks swimming. I had seen them before and I KNEW that they are usually following around a nurse shark or two. I called the group over and sure enough, a pair of big nurse sharks cruised by. Then we saw a rather large green turtle and I saw a spotted eagle ray off in the distance. Really only Susanita, Brian and I got a good look at the eagle ray. We saw a few more turtles as the dive went on, more lobsters and I showed Rick the yellow headed jaw fish. He pretty much sucked that tank dry and then he had the nerve to blame it on me! :) ha ha ha ha ha! I took a picture of his air gauge so that Susanita could see what mischief he is up to!
Tuesday, September 23rd
After 4 days off of work I got back in the water with Dave, John, Jill, Rick, Mike, Melissa and Susanita. Susanita couldn`t equalize due to a sinus infection so she got back on the boat. I chose Palancar Gardens because I wanted a nice, easy dive for everyone. When we got in there was almost no current. As we approached the first set of caves I wondered if it was my imagination or if the current was getting a little whacky. I looked up at the surface, saw some weird flat spots with ripples and realized that the current was coming. Fortunately it wasn`t that strong and we spent the rest of the dive hiding in the canyons and tunnels away from the current. I pointed out a huge crab and I discovered a turtle sitting on the reef. It was well camouflaged. When Dave came over with his GoPro the turtle got up and swam over the top of him. While Mike and Melissa did a safety stop the divers below pointed out a huge spotted eagle ray. After they went up a turtle swam up to the surface. A minute later I saw something floating down and I called Rick over for a look. Yup, the turtle went ¨potty¨. It was pretty funny at the time!
Joan joined us for a dive on Colombia Shallow. She got to see lobsters and her very first turtle up close and personal. I saw Mike swimming off so I went over and asked what he saw. It was another turtle. The last turtle on that dive was small and John showed it to me. It didn`t stick around for long.
Wednesday, September 24th
It was Dave´s birthday so I let him choose the reef. He picked Santa Rosa. Melissa seemed a little apprehensive after the bad experience that she had on Monday, my day off, there. John, Jill, Jefe and Mike didn`t seem to mind at all. So just to be sure, I got in and checked the current before we dived there. Melissa found the current to be a little on the strong side but really it wasn`t bad at all. Our first big critter was a rather large barracuda that seemed attracted to our shiny bubbles. Then we stopped to take pictures of a southern stingray. When we got to the big hump at the beginning of Santa Rosa Wall a huge black grouper awaited. It wasn`t long before I drifted up to a big green moray. We also saw lobsters and crabs. It was definitely a critter filled dive!
Joan joined us for the second dive. The current was slow on French Reef and we saw a couple of turtles. The current was cooperative so we could kick slowly against it and remain stationary to watch the turtles on the bottom. The action started at the end of the dive when John, Mike and Melissa were low on air. First I found a pretty nurse shark napping under a ledge. Mike kindly lit up the shark with his wonderful strobe. Then the ¨Raggedy Fin¨ nurse shark swam over to check and see if we had a lionfish for her. She hung out with us for the rest of the dive. I made a new observation about her. Not only is her dorsal fin all chewed up but her left pectoral fin has a little nick in it. I pay attention to these details so that I can ID them again when I see them :) I really love all of those sharks. They all have their very own personality.
Thursday September 25th
Melissa wanted to dive Paradise during the day before she dived it at night so Mike, Melissa, Dave and John came on down to the Caleta marina in the morning and I asked them where they wanted to go. There was a little debate going on but we finally settled on the wreck. When we pulled up Carlos declared, ¨Oh you are so lucky! There is no current!¨ So I didn`t bother checking it. We all got in, some not even holding the rope on the way down. Guess what, there was a bit of current. Nothing to write home to Mom about but we had some current. We all got to the bottom, we checked out the field of garden eels, took photos near the propellers and checked out the port side of the wreck. Coming around to the Starboard side the divers were struggling against the current so I wrote on my slate, ¨Too much current – want to go to the reef?¨ Everyone nodded in agreement. I could hear Rick in my head at that moment retelling his account of when HE did the wreck dive and there was a lot of current…… I checked the depth which was at the time about 55 – 60 feet and headed with the current but crossing the current as well to get shallower. Chankanaab is in 40 – 50 feet of water. Chankanaab was a little further than I anticipated and by the time we got to the reef no one was interested in the big barracudas and the boys were low on air so we just went up. I was apologetic and little bummed out.
We did our second one on Paradise with light current and we stopped a lot to look at little stuff. Melissa liked the Christmas tree worms. I found 3 splendid toadfish and Mike liked taking video of the goldentail and spotted morays. It was a much easier dive but Dave was a little disappointed in the condition of Paradise. He hadn`t seen that reef in many years and he commented that it was his very first dive in Cozumel back in the 90´s and he wanted to know what had happened to it. I explained that Hurricane Wilma took a strong toll on Paradise.
Everyone came back for a night dive on Paradise. We had no current, no waves and we saw tons of lobsters and crabs. I found the first 2 octopus and the boys found the second two. I was surprised to see a lot of basket stars. It turned out to be a really good dive!
Friday, September 26th
We had calm seas and light current on Palancar Bricks with Brian, Margie, Dave, John, Mike and Melissa. Everyone really enjoyed that dive. The nurse shark was right where is usually is and we saw a couple of turtles. Margie found a splendid toadfish. The swim throughs were very scenic and fun was had by all.
Margie requested Dalila. I think she asked for Dalila because she loves toadfish. So of course I asked the little bugger to come out for the cameras. Melissa pointed out a swimming nurse shark. I found a big crab in a hole. There were several turtles, one with a harem of angel fish and they all sat still for the cameras. The big green eel was in her normal spot and John showed me another smaller green eel out swimming around. It was a pretty exciting dive.
Monday, September 29th
I asked Ben Jen if they wanted to do a couple of reef dives, wall dive or a wreck dive. They had never done a wreck dive before and wanted to give it a try. I jumped in to check the current this time. There was a bit of current like last time but not bad at all. It felt like there was more than there actually was because they both had a case of the ¨First Day Floaties¨ and Ben blew through a bunch of air trying to stay down. We hung out on the protected side of the ship out of the current but I knew that once we went in the boat Ben would be plastered to the roof so I gave him one of my 4 pounders. I figured that I didn`t need it until the safety stop anyway and I did have a rope to hang on to :) We swam through the ship a few times, Ben took a hundred pictures but he was a little pissed that it was a short dive.
I chose Chankanaab for our second stop because it almost never has any current. I loaded them both up with more weights and we had a nice, easy dive. I think people float more in Cozumel than in other places. I know that sounds crazy but I hear it time and time again, ¨Last month in Florida/Belize/Roatan (any place) I only needed X amount of weight. Why do I need more here? Anyway, we saw loads of big groupers, lobsters galore under the reef and I got a very funny hand signal from Ben when I illuminated the vase sponge with my flashlight. I was trying to show him a brittle star hiding in the sponge but apparently he saw something else :)
Thursday, October 2nd
Kristin is certified. Mark is not. Josh is certified. Jacklyn is not. We did a class on the boat and I drove them all over to 5 feet of water at Paradise. Mark couldn't get his ears to clear so he decided to snorkel. I took the rest of them on a shallow, easy dive near shore where all the purple sea fans are. We saw lobsters, a spotted moray and a golden tail moray. At the end of the dive we saw a spotted eagle ray.
They wanted to go again so we drove them out to the deeper reef and we did another dive there. Most of the really interesting stuff was at the end of the dive. Everyone got to see the splendid toadfish in the hole but only Kristin and I saw the family of 3 lionfish huddled together in a small hole. There were several yellow stingrays and I found a rather large crab hiding in a dark crevice.
Friday, October 3rd
Josh and Jacklyn cancelled so I ended up with only one dive this day. Jason was staying out at the Occidental Grand so I hitched a ride with Eduardo in his boat. Carlos came along for fun. We went to Palancar Caves first and we saw loads of big lobsters. Both turtles were way off in the distance.
Eduardo chose Cedral Wall for our second dive. There was almost no current at all. I lost count of all the hawksbill turtles that we saw. There was a green one too which is far less common. The first 2 sharks swam past us and one of them came back for a second visit. Eduardo pointed out 4 small groupers and we both started looking for the eel. It only took a second for us to locate my favorite sweet green softy. After our visit with the eel we all went over for a peek at the nurse shark occupying the green eel´s usual spot. Everyone was VERY impressed with that dive!
Saturday, October 4th
We had absolutely no current when we got in at Palancar Gardens. Con was practicing Peak Performance Buoyancy Control on that dive so I took James, Tawny, Nicholas, Jason and Con through the swim throughs for practice. The only big critter we saw was at the end of the dive. A nurse shark was sitting in the sand. As we swam over for a look it swam away.
Ashley joined us for the second dive on Dalila. I searched madly for a turtle for Tawny. I got lucky and found one. I missed the big green moray that swam by. I think I was either fussing with my weight pouch that fell out or maybe I was showing different types of algae to Con.
Sunday, October 5th
This was an easy day. Con was completing his deep dive for Advanced and I only had 2 other divers with me, Jason and Fulvio. It was a piece of cake! Santa Rosa Wall was flat and calm on the surface and the current was very gentle. I had Con do an exercise at depth to demonstrate how color is lost. I passed him some crayons and had him write on a slate what color they were. The light blue crayon looked pink, the orange crayon looked brown and of course the red crayon looked brown as well. He mistook the green crayon for yellow. It was an interesting experiment. At the end of the dive we saw a pair of large southern stingrays in the sand and they swam off together as we approached.
Con requested the shipwreck. We did have a little bit of current but for Fulvio and I it was really nothing. The boys got some exercise and burned a few calories. The only big fish we saw there was a barracuda. Fulvio parked in the sand to watch the garden eels wiggle and waver from their holes.
Monday, October 6th
I dived Palancar Bricks with Con, Jason, Joanie, Jerry, Valerie and Eduardo. We saw a bunch of turtles which is what Joanie asked to see. The shark was not in its usual parking spot. Con did all of his navigational skills for the Advanced certification.
It was my last chance to find a shark for Con so we went to Cedral Wall again. We saw loads of turtles and Eduardo pointed out a big green moray eel. I finally found a shark for Con in the place where the eel usually hangs out so it was Mission Accomplished!
Tuesday, October 7th
It was Duane, Dylan, Lori, Katharine and Bill´s first dive in quite a while. Luke is newly certified so I chose a shallow area on top of Palancar Caves for our first stop. Eduardo brought his friend Valerie and they took off and did their own thing. We skimmed the top of the reef and had a nice easy dive. We didn`t see many critters on the dive but everyone was quite impressed with the huge coral formations.
Tank number 2 was on French Reef. Lori had asked to see a turtle and I spent the whole dive looking for a turtle for her. We saw a couple of dinner sized lobsters at the beginning of the dive. Eduardo found a lettuce sea slug and Valerie called it a ¨little tiny salad¨. It was very cute. I finally found Lori´s turtle while we were making the safety stop. Better late than never!
Wednesday, October 8th
I had 3 divers off of the same cruise ship: Michelle, Erica and Herb. It had been years since the ladies had been diving and I asked where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see. It was the same answer as everyone else, turtles and sharks. So our first dive was on Dalila. Right when we jumped in we looked down and saw a southern stingray on the bottom. After we got down there a nurse shark swam by. The ladies showed me a couple of lobsters under the reef and I pointed out the famous splendid toadfish for them.
Since we didn´t find a turtle on the first dive I took them to my old faithful for turtles, Cedral Wall. We saw 7 hawksbill turtles and one green turtle. Sometimes we didn`t know which turtle to look at. There was a turtle behind us, a turtle in front of us and some were laying on the bottom munching sponges with angelfish, some went up to breath. Some were big, some were small but there were plenty of turtles everywhere. Three different nurse sharks passed closely. Herb usually noticed them as they were swimming off. The third shark we saw was ¨The Mugger¨ who of course swam right up to me and made the girls wonder for a minute if it could be a problem. When he didn`t smell any food he turned and swam away.
Thursday, October 9th
I only had two divers. Business is very slow this week. I asked Aaron and Ami what they wanted to see and the answer was of course ¨turtles¨. So off to Cedral Wall I went. Ami was thrilled because we found 5 different turtles. Most were just sitting on the bottom having breakfast. One nurse shark swam by and the same nurse shark was hanging out in the same spot. I wondered while I watched it if ever moves :) I also showed them a crab with big claws crawling around on the underside of the reef.
The only big critter that we saw on San Francisco Wall was a grouper. The lobsters were small but abundant. The current was mild and we floated around up top with all the colorful sponges.
Friday, October 10th
Pat, Amri, Kris and Bob came with me to Palancar Bricks. We had perfect idea conditions. We saw several turtles and I took them through all of my favorite caves there. Kris found a pair of southern stingrays off in the sandy area which kept her entertained for a while.
Dalila was our second dive and we had a little bit of current for the first time in weeks. I pointed out bunch of splendid toadfish and we parked to watch a lazy turtle share a meal with a queen angel.
Saturday, October 11th
My divers were Pat, Kris, Bob, Amy, Adam and Rodrigo. I chose something easy and Palancar Gardens fit the bill perfectly. We saw several large lobsters and quite a few big crabs. Pat and Rodrigo explored every cave there.
They repeated the cave diving experience on French Reef. Most of the dive I hovered up top wondering if I was going to have to go in and get them. About 15 minutes into the dive Rodrigo popped up out of hole in the reef and signaled excitedly to the cave below and made the shark sign. Pat followed him right in. Later they asked me why I didn`t come in for a look. I asked, ¨Are you nuts? There was barely enough room in that little cave for the 2 of you!¨ They were like little kids in a playground.
Monday, October 13th
Kris and Bob were feeling under the weather and had to cancel their dive trip. That left me with only one diver – Pat. I took him to Santa Rosa Wall for our first dive and I showed him all of the caves. We saw several big groupers including the regular in his usual spot.
The second dive was on Cedral Wall and we had a mild current. The first turtle was a hawksbill and the second was a green turtle. I checked the cubby hole near the wall and found not only a green moray but also a nurse shark nestled in behind the green moray. We floated about 50 yards and a big nurse shark swam right up to us from behind. I stuck out my arms and I said, ¨Come to Momma¨ and it did! It swam right at me without swerving so I thought for a second, maybe it would be wise to tuck in my fingers :) So I did. The big shark swam inches below me and went over to greet Pat. That is when the fun began. Pat and I started to play with the sharks. The big one followed us for a bit and then another almost as big swam right up to us. I stuck my arms out again and waited. This one came up to me and then swerved at the last minute. We floated up to a medium sized shark just lounging around on the bottom and we parked next to it and it swam off. We continued drifting and then a shark swam right at Pat who imitated me and stuck his arms out to welcome a big hug. That shark passed just inches below him as we watched it go. It stayed just ahead of us and occasionally came back to flirt with Pat. It kind of circled and hung out with us for a while. Another group of divers showed up and one was carrying a Hawaiian sling for hunting lionfish. The shark started to act agitated and I wrote on my slate to Pat that the shark was no longer playing and to tuck in those hands again :) That is when I turned my head and saw that the other diver in the other group had a lionfish on the end of his pole. The shark went over and plucked it right off of the spear. Then the shark started circling the other group of divers and approaching them. They all started to take turns petting it as it went by. I showed Pat my computer, then his computer and we only had 4 minutes left so I signaled up. We both still had 1000 psi left but we were out of bottom time. We ascended to 40 feet and sat there for a few minutes watching the show below us. Then we drifted up to about 35 feet and began to follow the other group and their friend the shark from above. Another small nurse shark appeared and rapidly approached the group and a big black grouper joined in. That is when the other diver shot another lionfish and fed the grouper. The little shark was going crazy. It was bumping the divers and swimming all around them and it was very aggressive. It bit the end of the Hawaiin sling several times because it smelled like lionfish. The big shark continued hanging out with them too. It went right up to one diver and it looked like it gave him a kiss on the mouth. The diver was obviously disturbed by this and pushed the big shark away. I didn`t want to go up but we had been watching the show from above for more than 15 minutes and I was getting low on air. It was one hell of a dive! All Pat could say when we came up was WOW!
Tuesday, October 14th
Clay, Stephen, Jeannie, Bob and Kris came diving with me at Palancar Gardens while Amy and her kids snorkeled over us. We swam through a bunch of caves. At the end of the dive we saw a green moray eel under the reef. Once in a while we looked up to wave at Amy, the kids and Carlos overhead.
On Colombia Shallow we saw all the critters. Clay stayed up top with the kids and Amy came diving. It was Amy who showed me the first big nurse shark. It was just sitting there right underneath me. I had been looking up watching the other divers come down. When I saw the enormous loggerhead turtle sitting on the bottom I actually screamed in my regulator. That thing was gigantic! I went to the surface and told Carlos to hurry up and get the kids over here. There were several more small turtles during that dive and Bob found a baby nurse shark. There were fish and critters everywhere and it was an exciting dive.
Wednesday, October 15th
Dive number one was on Palancar Caves with Mike, Robert, Theresa, Ashley, Bob and Kris. Once again I took everyone through the caves. I was surprised that we didn`t see any turtles on that dive. It was all about the scenery there.
Bob wanted to see Cedral Wall so Carmen came along and joined us on the dive. We saw a bunch of turtles and the small nurse shark that Pat and I had seen on Monday swam right up to us. I found a green moray in a dark nook in the reef. I showed everyone the moray with my flashlight. Just before we got to the shark hole the big nurse shark that Pat and I danced with came swimming right up to us. Everyone was so distracted by that big shark that they didn't stop to say hello to the other shark in the usual parking spot. Just Carmen and I went over for a looksy. After everyone else went up some action started. We followed another group over to the beginning of Santa Rosa Wall where the first critter we saw was a turtle. Kris then pointed out another turtle right behind my head that was going up to the surface. Then Bob stopped to video the big grouper parked on the bottom and another nurse shark swam right up to us. Every time we turned our head there was another critter there! Bob didn`t want to come up.
Thursday, October 16th
Bob and Kris requested Colombia Deep. Chris, Julie, Leslie and Shane didn`t have any special requests so off we went. We stayed up top in the shallower water and we were rewarded with a sighting of that little Caribbean reef shark. It is shy but we did all get to see it. The only turtle we saw was way off in the distance. I think everyone really liked the swim throughs.
Bob and Kris wanted to go back to Cedral Wall. The current was a bit much for my newbies but they hung in there like champs. They were pretty excited when the nurse shark swam right up to us. Then we floated over turtle after turtle after turtle. Julie was thrilled! They were too far ahead of me when I found the big green moray but Kris and Bob both got a good look at it. One of the very same sharks was parked in the same spot out in the open and then we found another good sized shark under a ledge where I have seen them before. At the very end of the dive Bob and Kris got to see the last shark which was just sitting in the sand plain as day. As we approached the shark swam off and then we went up.
Friday, October 17th
I had 6 divers scheduled to dive with me arriving on the Carnival Magic and I had 2 divers staying at a hotel in town. The Carnival Magic got rerouted back to Texas and missed their Cozumel stop all together so I ended up going out with only 2 divers: Chris and Julie. I asked them where they wanted to dive and they picked the C 53 shipwreck. Fortunately there wasn`t much current there and we had a nice, easy dive. I showed them the fields of garden eels and we swam through the big openings designed for divers.
On Chankanaab I showed them several splendid toadfish but none of them would come out of the hole and smile for the camera. Their favorite was the big midnight parrotfish that they kept calling ¨the monster blue parrotfish¨. :)
Saturday, October 18th
It was just Julie, Chris and I again and they asked if they could do 3 dives instead of 2. I agreed and the first one was on Santa Rosa Wall. I was surprised that we didn`t see any big critters but the scenery was spectacular as always and the juvenile spotted drum we saw was precious.
The second one was on Punta Tunich. They thought that the current was fast but I thought it was fine :) The first big guy we saw was a large green moray eel in a cave. Then I spied the hawksbill turtle which had no fear of us at all. Then we ducked down into the cave with the coppery glassy sweepers. Since all 3 of us fit in the cave we got to sit there for 5 minutes. We drifted on and saw rainbow and midnight parrotfish.
The third one was on Yucab. Lobsters were everywhere! One hole had 7 lobsters, another hole had 4 lobsters. Singles and pairs were all over the place. A big crab clung to the underside of the reef and we saw a big southern stingray on the way up.
Sunday, October 19th
We had flat, calm seas and almost no current at all on Palancar Bricks. My divers were Chris, Julie, Chris and Stuart. Since Randy hadn`t been diving in over 10 years I asked him to wait until the second shallow dive so he snorkeled over us. The nurse shark was in the usual parking spot and they lingered in the cave to watch a huge crab and a big lobster in there.
Randy came on down with us on Colombia Shallow. We saw lots of small hawksbill turtles enough lobsters to open a restaurant. One particularly huge lobster was out for a stroll. We saw big groupers and tons of big barracudas. Chris said that the most interesting thing that she has ever seen was the yellow headed jawfish with the mouthful of eggs.
Monday, October 20th
I dived Palancar Caves with Bonnie, Ross, Stuart, Chris, Chris and Julie. The divers were really impressed with the enormous formations and swim throughs. Only Bonnie and I saw the first turtle as it dove down deep. The second turtle was in about 80 feet of water and everyone went down there for a good look. Julie pointed out a bristle worm and I found another at the end of the dive. We also stopped to check out a furry sea cucumber. I could very clearly hear Chris say into her regulator, ¨That is so weird!¨
On Cedral Wall we had almost no current at all. We saw about 4 or 5 turtles all feeding on the bottom. Ross drifted right over a huge crab which promptly scurried into a hole when it realized there was a whole gang of bubble blowing monsters heading it´s way. The first nurse shark swam right at Chris and he didn`t know if it was going to bite him or not. The shark was just looking for a lionfish and Chris was empty handed so the shark swam away looking elsewhere for lunch. The other shark was in her same cubby hole and we all stopped and had a peek.
Wednesday, October 22nd
We had a tremendous storm overnight which knocked out power to my house and cut off the water supply for the whole city. Four of our divers bailed out, fearful of lightning and pouring rain. By 6:30 am we had light rain only and I reassured them that we would have a good dive and to come on out. They didn`t want to and they missed 2 of the best dives in a long time! By the time we left the marina the rain had stopped completely. We had four divers left: Chris, Stuart, Len and Brian. I asked Carlos to drop us off on Santa Rosa Wall but it was so murky at the surface he just dropped us off at Cedral Wall. We dove the wall instead of the shallows where they were diving a couple of days prior so it was an entirely different dive. We drifted over the blue and the first shark was saw was just a baby. Another diver from another group had a big strobe on it and it lit up the whole reef with beautiful reds and oranges surrounding that shark. That will be an amazing photo. The second shark was old faithful in her usual spot. The third shark swam right up to me looking for a lionfish snack. Since I was empty handed she swam off. Then we drifted up to a gi-normous turtle hunkered down on the bottom. She got up and swam off with us. She hung with us for a while. I pointed out another turtle way deep down below us in the blue. There were several more good sized turtles along the way. Chris called us all back to show us a splendid toadfish. They come out when it is cloudy. After Len and Brian went up Stuart pointed to a grouper swimming rapidly right at us. It was followed by a huge green moray slithering around out in the open. I followed her for a while and she ducked under a ledge. Back on the boat Chris described her as looking like a ribbon when she swims.
I had promised Santa Rosa wall with caves so I made Carlos drop us off where the green moray was and we got to dive Santa Rosa. As soon as we got in Chris found that same green moray and we hung out with her for a few minutes. Right before we drifted up to a very large turtle Stuart pointed out a big nurse shark swimming off in the sandy area. In fact we saw quite a few more turtles on that dive and we swam through the caves. At the very end of the dive Stuart pointed to the reef and I couldn`t see what he was pointing at. He made the sign for shark so I closed in and found it in a dark niche. It was a pretty big one. We had fun shining my light into its mouth. It was opening and closing its mouth to funnel water through its gills. We liked looking at its little teeth :) By the end of the day the sun came out. The see was like a mirror is was so flat and calm and we had no current!
Thursday, October 23rd
Chris, Stuart, Len, David and Kim came with me to Palancar Gardens. It was a really nice dive. We saw a couple of turtles and some big groupers. We swam through a bunch of caves and watched a big lobster out on the prowl.
Mike joined us for a dive on San Francisco Wall. Mike found the first shark. It was a tiny little thing about 3 feet long napping in a crevice of the reef. Then we watched as a turtle swam up for a breath of air and came back down again. We saw a couple of lionfish and a second shark – full sized swam around on top of the reef. There was another turtle later in the dive and we saw several large southern stingrays.
Friday, October 24th
The sun came out for Jason, Hunter, Eric, Norm, Scott, Kathleen, Adrian and Montana. We had nice, calm conditions on Palancar Bricks and we saw several turtles. We only arrived at the caves at the very end of the dive.
The conditions were ideal on San Francisco Wall as well. We saw a few more turtles and lots of lobsters. We hovered over the blue watching a tech diver using a rebreather quite a bit deeper than us. He pointed out to the blue water and very deep and made the signal for huge spotted eagle ray but we couldn`t see it. It was just too far away from the reef.
Saturday, October 25th
It seems to me that every time I get a last minute cancellation and we only go out with a couple of divers we seem to have the most fantastic dives! It is really strange how that works. The first tank was on Santa Rosa Wall with Kim and Dave. It was choppy but we just dropped down right away to get out of the waves and we were greeted by a big fat nurse shark swimming around in front of us. We crossed over to the wall and we stayed up top crawling along slowly since there was no current. We stopped to look at the small stuff. We saw 2 different golden tail morays. One was just a baby. We saw baby peacock flounders camouflaged in the sand. I made Kim laugh and she filled her mask when I pointed out the sea cucumber turds. There were clouds of fry everywhere. You couldn't see into holes because they were all filled up with the teeny tiny babies. There were clouds of fry that enveloped me. We also saw a few big southern stingrays.
The exciting dive was on Paso Del Cedral. It was non-stop big critters. Carlos dropped us about 100 meters off of the reef by accident. I know every inch of that area and it didn`t take long for us to arrive at the upside down sunken boat. I got out my flashlight and checked. There was a big green moray under that boat. When we looked up there was a big nurse shark going by so we followed it over to the reef and saw an adult spotted drum. Then it was a turtle parade. All of the big turtles that were over near the wall had moved inward to a new feeding ground and we just kept drifting up to the huge turtle after huge turtle after huge turtle. Then another shark went by. Just before we arrived at the green eel hole a frisky green eel swam past. First it swam right up to me, realized that I didn`t have any food and then she swam away. Next the nurse shark party commenced. ¨The Mugger¨ came right up to me and I couldn`t help it. I reached out and petted him. Since I didn`t have a lionfish for him he went over to Kim. At first she was a bit put off by his aggressiveness and then she gingerly reached out her hand and gave him a little pet. He came back to me for more petting and Dave just kept taking pictures. We played with ¨The Mugger¨ for a few minutes and then another big nurse shark showed up and they began to play and hunt together. They just circled around, danced for us and came over for a visit again. Those two sharks hung out with us for 5 to 10 minutes. It is hard to judge time underwater when you are having so much fun. Then when we reached the reef I heard Kim screaming through her regulator. I turned around and found my favorite sweetie green eel swimming away. Kim later told me that it swam right up to her. I told her that she is a very friendly eel and very gentle and sweet. As I followed the big greenie she disappeared into the long cave at Cedral. That is when I discovered the baby nurse shark sleeping on top of the reef. I didn`t want to go up but Dave was low on air from chasing all the big game animals :)
Sunday, October 26th
It was another amazing dive day with only 3 divers: Kim, Dave and Fulvio. We went to Cedral Wall first. I dived a part of Cedral Wall that is deeper than my usual. The first 15 minutes I was bouncing around 70 to 85 feet which I guess is the norm for Cozumel but the exception for me. Fulvio likes to be in the deep blue. At 80 feet I looked down and saw Fulvio in about 100 feet of water with a turtle. I didn`t bother. We found plenty of turtles in 40 to 60 feet of water on that dive. The nurse sharks kept swimming right up to us too. Kim was starting to get used to it. She noticed that I didn`t pet any of them so she didn`t either :) I didn`t know any of those sharks that swam right up to us. There must have been at least 3 or 4 of them. You see, I figure that at least once it was same shark that circled back and reappeared for us. Towards the end of the dive I found a medium sized green moray in a hole. It was right before the usual shark/moray hole. The usual spot was occupied by both the shark and my favorite green eel. Fulvio enjoyed the show. We crossed over to the Paso and I found one more good sized shark sleeping under a small ledge but Fulvio was already on his way up so he didn`t get to see it.
Punta Tunich was our second stop. I found the most beautiful big green turtle ever. Dave stopped to take pictures. We ducked down into the hole with the glassy sweepers and hung out for a while. The green moray was way back in the hole and you couldn`t see her through the cloud of coppery, shiny sweepers. Fulvio played with my flashlight and Dave wiggled in for a picture. Another group came along after about 5 minutes and we had to go. The next turtle was a small hawksbill and later we saw a big hawksbill. The bigger turtle moved a fin and whacked a big stonefish. That stonefish made a great photo subject for Dave´s camera.
Monday, October 27th
Finally we went out with a full boat! It looks like hurricane season and low season are finally over :) My divers were Caroline, Jonathan, Nate, Corey, Lee Ann, Tim, David and Kim. I stayed up top at Palancar Caves and we had a very scenic dive. We didn`t see any turtles, I didn`t go through the caves but at the end of the dive we found a furry sea cucumber. Before I told Lee Ann what it was she commented that it felt like a cat. Guess that is why they call it a ¨furry¨ sea cucumber!
I asked David and Kim if they had a favorite reef that they would like to go back to or if they wanted to go somewhere new. They picked Paso Del Cedral. When we arrived at the upside down sunken boat I looked for the big green eel and didn`t see it. I started the group over to the reef and when I turned around Lee Ann was making a sign for big eel and pointing wildly back to the little boat. I missed it all together but at least Lee Ann got to see it. That´s OK, there was another big green eel in a hole not far from there. Everyone got a good look at it. Then we found two nurse sharks just lounging about on the bottom together. The big one had it´s face up against the tail of the medium sized one. There was a third shark in the eel hole. Kim and David found a splendid toadfish and we saw tons of lobsters on that dive.
Tuesday, October 28th
I asked Rachel, Nick, Diane, Dave, Tarrah, Kristopher, Kim and Dave where they wanted to go. Kim said that she loves Palancar Caves so we went back there. We did pretty much the same dive that we did the day before but we saw several turtles, a yellow stingray, a huge lobster and after everyone else went up Kim and I found a box crab. I think that may have been the highlight of Kim`s dive.
I picked French Reef for the second tank. As I was pointing out a turtle someone came over and tapped me on the leg. They pointed out a small spotted eagle ray. It has been ages since I have seen a spotted eagle ray. Later in the dive a second eagle ray came by. It made several passes. It seemed to glide out over the sandy area and then circle around, appear in front of us and then move over to the deeper area. That ray came and went for several minutes. A divemaster from another group was hanging out in the sandy area and he showed us a pair of spotted eagle rays swimming together. One of the pair was very large. Late in the dive yet another spotted eagle ray appeared. It was pretty amazing actually. We also found another turtle and when only Kim and I were still down we found a big nurse shark with its head stuck in a hole sucking out a meal. While I was pointing out the shark another spotted eagle ray glided by. That was so wild to see that many spotted eagle rays in just one dive!
Thursday, October 30th
I took Andy, Vonnie, Rachel, Nick, Diane, Dave, Tarrah and Kris where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see. They all said that they wanted to see a nurse shark. So I picked Palancar Bricks in hopes of seeing that nurse shark in her usual spot. She wasn´t there but we still had an amazing dive. We did see a turtle or two but the end of the dive after the cave gave us one normal sized southern stingray and then a GIANT southern stingray which just laid around in the sand and let everyone take pictures for a few minutes. That stingray was immense!
So Cedral was of course my best bet to fill the shark order. Before we got in I told everyone that we were not going to see a spotted eagle ray on that dive. Well within minutes someone tapped me on the shoulder, pointed behind me and there was a big spotted eagle ray with it´s very own remora attached to it´s belly. When we got in I swam around looking in the usual spots. As I led the group away and over to the place where I had been seeing sharks the past week, I looked back and saw my divers pointing wildly behind us. Apparently the sharks have changed position and they were behind us. First they saw a single shark which I missed. But when the pair of sharks swam by (one big and one normal) I turned around and kicked my ass off to catch up to them. One more shark came right up to us and I was wondering where ¨The Mugger¨ was. Well ¨The Mugger¨ turned out to be the 5th shark to approach us. What great luck I had at finding some nurse sharks for my divers! When we got to the actual reef I found a big green moray with a scrape on her sweet little head. It looks like she got in a fight with a grouper. Another group of divers came along and she started to swim alongside of us and just out in front. We followed her for a while. There was a second green moray that swam around with us for a few minutes too. Andy got some great shots of a huge lobster out prancing around. We saw only one turtle on that dive. When we came up Dave told me that it was the best dive that he had ever been on in his life!
Friday, October 31st
No one wore a Halloween costume on the boat but Vonnie brought a Trick or Treat bag with candy in it for us during the surface interval. Jennifer, Jackie, Carrissa and Brian were visiting on a cruise ship. My other four divers, Nick, Rachel, Andy and Vonnie were all in hotels down south. Andy made a special request for Palancar Caves. We had gorgeous conditions there and a few of the divers went down for a peek at a turtle. I didn`t want our group all mixed up with the other group there so I floated around in 60 feet of water above them. No one seemed particularly interested in the furry sea cucumber but I went down for a visit.
They all asked to go to Cedral for the second dive. Andy, Vonnie, Nick and Rachel loved it so much the day before that they wanted to go right back. At the very beginning of the dive in the shallow water we saw a few very big turtles sharing sponge lunches with hungry angelfish. As we approached the 55 foot area a lone nurse shark swam right up to us. The green moray was in her normal spot and we saw a bunch of small lobsters everywhere. One very large lobster came out and walked around. As Nick, Rachel and I were doing our safety stop a huge spotted eagle ray came over and foraged for food in the sand below us. It was yet another great dive on Paso Del Cedral!
Saturday, November 1st
We had strong wind and some waves down on Colombia. I was diving with Andy, Vonnie, Mark, Nick and Rachel. My friend Raul brought along a couple of his own divers too. We split up and Raul went over to the wall for most of the dive and I stayed a little shallower. We saw a couple of turtles and a big lobster. At the end of the dive Nick, Rachel and I saw a nurse shark swim off. Raul however saw a big hammerhead shark! He said that it was in about 40 feet of water over the drop off. I guess with all the eagle rays we have been seeing it brought in their main predator, the hammerhead . . . . . . . Wow! I am sorry that I missed that one!
On Cedral Wall we had another fantastic dive. We saw about 4 turtles I think. A big green moray had its head in a hole and refused to come out and smile for the cameras. The first nurse shark was napping and the second nurse shark swam right up to us. It was a very nice dive.
Sunday, November 2nd
Fulvio, David, Nick, Rachel, Connie, Jim, Vonnie and Andy came diving with me at Palancar Horseshoe. We had a little bit of current but it wasn`t a problem or anything. It felt like an upwelling because my dive computer read one degree cooler and at the end of the dive FOTD (Fulvio of the Deep), Rachel and I were kind of pushed up on top of the reef. We started out watching a turtle. Then as I was pointing out a barracuda I turned my head and saw FOTD pointing. I looked and found a big spotted eagle ray right behind me. We saw a medium sized Lionfish and at the end of the dive we saw a juvenile spotted drum.
Vonnie requested Dalila and Connie asked me if that is where we see the splendid toadfish. I told her yes. Obviously she has been reading my divelogs J Not only did we stop and say hi to the splendid toadfish but we saw several turtles and a big green moray eel. Oh, and we can`t forget about all those lobsters too!
Monday, November 3rd
I asked Kurt, Dawn, Tim, DOTS, Nick, Rachel, Jim and Connie where they wanted to go. I told them that Rachel and Nick have not been to the Gardens or Santa Rosa Wall yet. They picked Santa Rosa Wall. I asked Carlos before we got in if there was any current. He said that there wasn`t much current and that it was nice and calm. I don`t know if he just made that up or if he made a mistake but when we got in the current was cooking! We drifted along at high speed and thankfully everyone (except DOTS because he was trying to take pictures) thought that it was fun. We saw lots of big groupers on that dive and a family of 4 coronet fish. I really love those coronet fish and they are so rare here.
There was light current on ¨My Secret Spot¨. We had a FANTASTIC dive there. I was surprised at how many good critters we saw. Let´s see if I can remember all of them…….. The first critter we saw I think was that big nurse shark sleeping under the reef way back in a dark recess. As I called the divers over for a look a huge green moray swam over from the top of the reef and swam past the divers at the back of the group. It got right in front of DOT´S camera. After the moray disappeared I carried on showing everyone the big sleeping nurse shark. We drifted slowly and I found another shark in a cave. It was a small cave but large enough for a couple of divers so I flagged Nick and Rachel over and they came into the cave with me. The nurse shark got spooked and swam out through a small tunnel in front of us. I decided that I could fit through and followed it out. So did Nick, Rachel and Connie. The shark popped out of the cave and swam past everyone in the group. Then we saw the ¨Mexican Stand Off¨. There were 2 huge crabs with their big claws fully extended in a fighting position. They danced and circled and we watched the show. We saw several turtles along the way and then towards the end of the dive a spotted eagle ray swam all around Jim while he took a GoPro video of the whole show. Tim found another nurse shark sleeping in a hole in the reef. While I was doing a safety stop with Kurt I looked down and saw a big green eel was swimming around about 3 feet away from Tim. It seemed that every minute that passed some other interesting creature appeared!
Tuesday, November 4th
As we drove out to the reef with Warren, Mark, Connie, Jim, Nick, Rachel, Tim and Kurt I noticed the uneven surface of the water and I knew that we were in for some current. I let Jim pick the reef and he picked Palancar Caves. I thought that was a great choice to hide from the current. We stopped to watch a turtle go up to the surface and then I swam them into the first cave. The current pushed us around a little bit but it was a good dive. Warren thought that the furry sea cucumber at the end of the dive was weird.
I just KNEW that if we went back to Cedral that the current would be wicked so I vetoed that request and told Carlos to take us to Colombia Shallow. We had a nice, easy dive there. We only saw 2 turtles but the nurse shark we saw was really fun to watch because it was on the hunt. It stuck it´s head in a hole looking for something to eat and kind of swam around and around the same little coral head until it gave up and swam around looking elsewhere. It was right out in front of us for a while and I think that Mark got some good footage of it. Warren and I did a lot of laughing underwater and we kept having to clear our masks from all that laughing. Jim was fascinated with the cluster f*** of snorkelers and Discover Scuba Divers that were right next to us. I think he found it immensely interesting to watch. At one point an instructor was helping a woman at the surface while her two teenaged kids went down on their own. One kid lost his fin and started to freak out. I swam over and picked up the fin and went and put it back on him again. That poor instructor had his hands full. There were 2 or 3 instructors in the group and who knows how many of those DSD divers there were. They were all in bikinis and swim trunks wearing those cheap old fins. They were all over the place in about 10 feet of water. It was like watching a circus. It truly was good entertainment.
Wednesday, November 5th
My divers were Connie, Jim, DOTS, André and Nathalie. We went to Palancar Bricks. I was surprised that the current was light to non-existent. We saw a lionfish so I decided to bring my Hawaiian sling along from now on. It was a nice, easy dive and we went through the cave.
Since the current was so cooperative I decided to go to Paso Del Cedral for the second dive hoping to see those sharks…………… As soon as we dropped in we saw a turtle. When the turtle went up for some air I checked under the upside down boat and the big green moray was there. When everyone had a picture of the green moray we started heading towards the reef and the turtle came back down and joined us again. DOTS stopped for a while to take a picture of a spotted drum. While he was photographing the drum a HUGE spotted eagle ray made a quick pass. He missed it completely. We drifted for a while and I didn’t see a single shark. Then dive boats started arriving and they dropped groups in behind us, in front of us and we were kind of sandwiched in. The only critter in the moray hole was a lobster. So I thought to myself, ¨There are just too many divers here and we are not going to get to see anything.¨ ¨If I were a shark or a turtle or a moray where would I go to hide?¨ So I decided to cross the group over to Cedral Wall. We didn`t get more than 50 yards over and that HUGE spotted eagle ray showed up and swam right up to me. I looked him in the eye and he checked me out. DOTS said that he thought it might kiss me. It was a Kodak moment. I continued the tour to the wall where I stopped to take a shot at a lionfish which disappeared into a hole before I could even take a shot. Then we swam over to the wall and the divers started getting low on air. DOTS was thrilled with his safety stop because while he floated around at 13 feet of water I pointed out 3 turtles and a nurse shark swimming around below us. He was one happy camper when we surfaced!
Thursday, November 6th
The surface was calm and the current was not too strong on Colombia Deep with Kurt, Dawn, Tim, DOTS, Nathalie, André, Jim and Connie. We saw enough lobsters on that dive to feed everyone on the boat. We also saw some spotted eagle rays. I think that the second one came around twice and was kind of circling us. There were 3 eagle rays in total. I also took pictures of the southern stingray in the sand with the bar jack hovering over it.
They requested a return trip to Cedral for the second dive. There was a big group of divers on Cedral so I told Carlos to drop us off to the south. I don`t know how south turned into east but we had to kick our butts off to get to the reef. When we arrived we were already past the upside down boat but I could still see from a distance that the green eel was not there. We saw one swimming nurse shark at the beginning of the dive on the platform. The green moray was on her throne in the usual spot. I took the camera from Dawn and took lots of pictures of the eel. I found that baby nurse shark but it was several hundred meters north of where I saw it last which WAS on top of the cave at Cedral. I got lots of pictures of that little guy too. The last shark was swimming around while the first group up did their safety stop. Everyone had foggy masks for some reason so they didn`t see it. When Tim told me that he had 700 psi and he wanted to go up I asked him to wait. I wanted to go check out a tip on a bat fish that Sandro gave me during the surface interval. Tim put up with it and he was rewarded with 2 spotted eagle rays. One was a normal size and the other was GIGANTIC. I think it was the same one from the day before that DOTS said tried to kiss me. It was another good dive on Cedral!
Saturday, November 8th
After a nice relaxing day off on the beach with our friends Robin and Warren I came back to work with a calm surface and small waves. I took Bruce, Thomas, Laurie, Charlie, Rachel, Chris, Josh and David to Palancar Caves. There was a bit of current at first but after about 25 minutes it slowed right down. We saw several turtles and I showed them a crab in a hole. We stopped and I got Rachel to touch the furry sea cucumber. We swam through a few caves but not too many.
There was more current than I thought that there would be on Dalila. Thomas practiced different techniques of stopping in current. David said that it was like diving in turtle town. I stopped counting after 5 or 6. We saw a few swimming nurse sharks as well. It was an action packed, critter filled dive!
Sunday, November 9th
Our first stop was at Santa Rosa Wall. I asked Carlos to drop me off a little south in shallower water to start. Once we got to the bottom a big nurse shark swam by. It wasn´t long after that a beautiful green turtle swam past. I dropped down to almost a hundred feet for Thomas to do his skills for the deep dive. Charlie, Laurie, Louise and Matt stayed just above us waiting for us to come back up. When we got back to about 50 feet of water I found that small green moray that lives in the neighborhood. During our safety stop Laurie and I saw a small spotted eagle ray below us in the sand. She was quite the happy camper!
Our second stop was at Chankanaab where Thomas completed his navigational exercises. I think it was Louise who showed me the little turtle. Laurie loved the dive because we could go slow and putter. There were little fish everywhere.
Monday, November 10th
There were white caps in all directions when Lana, Julian, Charlie, Laurie, Louise, Matt, Thomas and I set out to pick up Vladimiro on the pier at Fiesta Americana. As you can imagine I was pitching fits as we docked in the big waves. Once we got around a few points and past Palancar I finally settled down. The waves were OK on Colombia Deep. We didn`t see many big animals and the current was kind of wacky but they liked the swim throughs and the photo opportunity at the old anchor.
By the time we got to Colombia Shallow the waves had begun to calm. We saw a bunch of stuff there. Two nurse sharks were out for a swim and a couple of turtles were swimming around. That turtle that sleeps under the rock was in its usual spot. We found flamingo tongues and Laurie loved the juvenile yellow tail damsels with the iridescent blue spots.
Tuesday, November 11th
The surface of the ocean had calmed way down and the waves were miniscule when Charlie, Laurie, Matt, Louise, Megan, Collin, Jackson and I rode over to pick up Vladimiro on the pier at Fiesta Americana. We did our first dive on Palancar Gardens. There were tons of boats as far as the eye could see and I could see that there was a bit of current at the Gardens as well. I told Carlos to go a little further south until the surface of the ocean looked uniform and I told him to drop me there. Yes, there were other groups to deal with but at least we had NO current for the first 15 minutes of the dive. Eventually we ended up in current but by then everyone was down, equalized, neutrally buoyant and situated so the dive went well. We swam through archways and tunnels. We stopped to have a look at a turtle squatting under the reef. I found a big lobster in a cave and about 45 minutes into the dive I saw a juvenile spotted drum.
The current was not bad at all at ¨My Secret Spot¨. I spent the first half an hour looking for sharks under the ledges. I found one that was hanging out with a lionfish. We saw lots of crabs there and the occasional lobster too.
Wednesday, November 12th
Charlie, Laurie, Matt, Louise, Jackson, Vladimiro, Brendan and Jamie were my divers and I told Carlos to drive around and drop me off where he didn`t think that the current would be too bad. He dropped me on the caves. The current kicked in about 10 minutes into the dive and it was like diving in the washing machine. It pushed us up, it pushed us down, it pushed us out to sea so I spent most of the dive ducking into every cave I could find because there is no current in those caves J We did see a couple of turtles on that dive. It seemed that they kept going up to the surface to breath. Maybe they were getting pooped out in that current too?
I picked Cedral for the second one and we did a real live Cozumel drift dive. The first big animal that we saw was a barracuda surrounded by a school of small silver fish. We saw several southern stingrays, loads of lobsters and some divers at the back of the group saw an eel swimming around. A divemaster from another group pointed out a giant spotted eagle ray but it was so far away that I didn`t bother chasing after it.
Thursday, November 13th
I picked the dive site this morning. I didn´t ask Charlie, Lauri, Matt, Louise, Jackson, Jaime or Brendon where they wanted to go. I just told Carlos to take me to the Bricks. We got a good drop and we arrived at the parked shark in about 15 minutes. I was happy to see the shark in the usual spot. There happened to be a turtle right over the shark munching away on the reef which kept our photographers happy for a while. Since we were early into the dive there was plenty of air and time to go into my favorite caves. They really are breathtaking. When we got back on the boat Jaime told me that it was her favorite dive ever!
So I picked the second dive too. I picked French Reef. There was zippo current. We puttered around and saw loads of lobster. There were 2 big lobsters out parading around. While everyone was taking pictures of the lobster I noticed Matt looking at something. It turned out to be a free swimming green moray. That was amazing. Later on a turtle was tearing apart the reef having a sponge lunch. I took them through the long cave and everyone had a lot of fun.
Friday, November 14th
Santa Rosa was our first stop with Charlie, Lori, Matt, Louise, Jaime, Brendon, Brian, Gill and David. There were big waves and a bit of current too. All of my divers were experienced divers so the dive went smoothly. We saw big black groupers and lots of lobsters. I had a look around for Sandro´s batfish but didn`t find it.
The current was not too bad on Dalila. I got the toadfish to come out of the hole for Lori. We saw a turtle and at the end of the dive a big nurse shark swam by with a grouper swimming over it. As we did our safety stop a small group of divers were looking at a big nurse shark in a hole. I could see its tail sticking out.
Saturday, November 15th
I chose Palancar Bricks for our first dive. My divers were Charlie, Lori, Jackie, Keith, Tim, Jan and Jackson. We had ideal conditions. The shark was in her usual parking spot and we swam through all my favorite caves. When we came out of the cave a divemaster from another group told me that there was a spotted eagle ray over the wall. I swam everyone over there for a look. Charlie followed it out into the blue. I hope that he got couple of good pictures of it. We also saw a turtle on that dive.
Jackie, Keith and Tim always stay at Iberostar and this was the first time that they came on a cruise ship. When I mentioned Yucab as a choice for the second dive they said that they had never been there. So Yucab it was! There was a bit of current but nothing unmanageable. We saw lots of schools of fish. We stopped to check out a splendid toadfish and there were a couple of turtles on that dive too.
Sunday, November 16th
I was thinking of an easy descent since Blair was a little rusty. I asked Brian, David and Gill where they would like to dive and they agreed that Caves would be great. It was a bit of chaos getting Jen, Nikhil and Blair to the bottom. Jan, Jackson, Brian, David and Gill were patient. Once the group was settled on the bottom I took them all through some caves. We didn`t see many critters but it sure was a scenic dive!
I wanted something easy so I took them to French Reef. There were so many lobsters there and they were out walking around. I thought that we could have fed the whole boat on the lobsters there. We saw a couple of southern stingrays and a huge fire worm.
Monday, November 17th
Jan, Nikhil, Luke and Jackson dived Santa Rosa Wall with me. I took Nikhil down to 95 feet for his deep dive in the advanced course. He discovered that color is lost at depth. We saw lots of groupers and lobsters. At the very end of the dive Luke and Jackson sat in the sand and watched as a small spotted eagle ray dug around in the sand looking for breakfast. During the safety stop we saw another small eagle ray and we watched it for the whole stop.
I had Nikhil practice navigation on Santa Rosa Shallow. Carlos got in and led the other boys around and showed them crabs and lobsters while Nikhil and I swam hard against the current doing reciprocal headings and square patterns. Later in the dive we saw some turtles. One hawkbill turtle was very large and it surfaced to breathe and then came back down.
Tuesday, November 18th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Audrey, Josh, Paul, Jan, Nikhil and Luke. I was expecting huge waves but it really wasn´t bad at all at Palancar. There was almost no current either. We swam through all the nice tunnels and archways. It was a nice, easy dive.
On Cedral Wall we had very light current. We saw 3 different turtles in the first half of the dive. I showed Luke an adult spotted drum. As we were approaching the reef a 5 foot nurse shark swam right up to us and impressed the group. I called everyone over to go look in the moray hole and on the way Paul pointed in the opposite direction and made a signal for moray eel. I didn`t go check because I wanted to go check my favorite moray hole. Not only was the moray in there but a nurse shark was in there too. After 45 minutes Carlos gave me the emergency recall signal. I gathered up the group, made a safety stop and went up. When we got to the surface I asked Carlos why he called us up. He said that the harbor master had closed the port. The waves weren`t that bad but I didn`t question him. The captain´s word is law!
Thursday, November 20th
After much discussion with Chace, Carol, Deanna, Aly, Luke, Peggy, Kathy and Alan we decided on Palancar Bricks for the first dive and Colombia Shallow for the second. The surface was rough but down below we had no current and very favorable conditions. We saw tons of turtles. I am guessing at least 4 or 5. The nurse shark was in its usual parking spot and Deanna got lots of footage of it. I took them through my favorite caves and we had a very long dive.
The dive on Colombia Shallows was even longer, 1 hour and 40 minutes. We started out looking at small stuff: lobsters, a pair of reef squid and a spotted moray. Then I found the 4 foot nurse shark lounging about the bottom and later I found a small turtle. The yellow headed jawfish did their dance for me and everyone seemed to like the dive mucho.
Friday, November 21st
I asked Jan, Luke, Peggy, Kathy, Alan, Chace, Carol, Deanna and Aly where they wanted to go. Jan didn`t want to go somewhere that he had already been so we picked Santa Rosa Wall. Right after we all got to the bottom I saw this guy up ahead in the distance from the group in front of us swimming against the current towards us. I thought to myself that he is either stupid or he sees something. I swam a little closer and found out what he was looking at. It was a big nurse shark. The shark was obviously on the hunt sniffing out each little coral head. Finally if found a wounded grunt and sucked it up like a vacuum cleaner. That was very interesting to watch. We swam over to the wall and didn`t see a lot of big animals, just a few big groupers and the school of horse eyed jacks that hang out there at the end of the reef.
On San Francisco Wall we saw lots of lionfish. We all went to find Luke but he had left his spear on the boat. I found a splendid toadfish and a juvenile spotted drum on that dive. The ladies found another little drum but I think I missed it while I was taking people up for safety stops.
Saturday, November 22nd
Carol, Deanna, Chace, Aly, Kathy, Alan, Ed, Luke and Peggy came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. Luke cleaned up all the lionfish there and I fed one to a hungry snapper. We saw tons of lobsters everywhere on that dive. Also of interest were a peacock flounder and a furry sea cucumber.
Aly asked for turtles so I took them to Cedral Wall. Aly found the first turtle. It was a big boy. While we were checking out the turtle someone found a green moray in a hole. Ed positioned himself for a photo of the green moray and while he was taking a picture the turtle swam right over his head. It was so close to Ed´s head that I thought it might whack him with a flipper. We saw another smaller turtle and another green moray. The shark was in his usual hole. Kathy found the last shark at the very end of the dive hiding under the reef.
Sunday, November 23rd
The Hooliganz, Luke and Peggy all set out in the morning and since it was Queen Chassica´s Birthday she picked the reefs. First reef was Punta Tunich. We had a nice, gentle current thank goodness because Chace had problems with her ears. Diving with a cold is No Bueno. We saw a bunch of turtles and the glassy sweepers. I have a vague memory of Deanna pointing off into the blue and making the eagle ray sign. I squinted and squinted and never saw it myself.
The birthday girl had to sit on the boat with Carlos (I don´t think that was sooo bad…) while we went diving at Cedral. We all schemed and plotted to tell Chace that is was a lousy dive but it wasn´t. It was a great dive! The first shark swam right by us. Then Deanna showed us a free swimming green moray. When we got to the moray cave the big one was right where she likes to be. We all stopped to say hello. While we were looking at the green moray another big shark swam right past Kathy. Later in the dive we saw a baby nurse shark just after the big cave.
Monday, November 24th
The group was getting smaller. I took Luke, Carol, Deanna, Kathy and Alan to Palancar Bricks/Caves. The first 25 minutes were on the end of Bricks. Alan found the first spotted drum. Most of us were just too lazy to swim back for a look. Kathy found the second one. Kathy was at the front of the group so we all had a look. We saw a few little turtles but no big ones. Carol showed Deanna the furry sea cucumber in the sand and it was just a nice, relaxing dive.
Everyone decided to go back to Cedral for the second tank. As we pulled up Carlos told me that there was a group of divers at the usual drop spot so he backed us up a bit south. He dropped us in right on top of a couple of swimming nurse sharks so we had lots to look at on the way down. It wasn`t long before we drifted up to the hole with the shark in it. I stuck my head down into the hole for a look and the big nurse shark whacked me in the forehead with its tail. Guess I got a little too close? While I was being slapped around another big nurse shark swam right up to us. Most divers took off after the big swimming shark. I hung out with my friend in the hole. When we got to the green moray hole there was a line and we had to wait for our turn. Some lady took about 5 minutes taking pictures of the eel and her group left her behind. Kathy and I laughed at her but Carol was irritated. The lady had the same housing and strobe as Carol and the lady took her strobe off so that she could get her camera into the hole with the eel. After she left Carol came over and showed us how it is SUPPOSED to be done. She angled her strobe down at the same level as the camera and shot some nice pictures. After we passed the cave a group of divers came crashing down on us. One divemaster was sharing air with a lady who seemed a little panicked. When he saw Kathy looking at the baby shark in the hole he drug that lady down for a look too. We thought that strange. There was another divemaster sharing air with a different diver. It was a weird group and it took a while for us to get away from them. The highlight of the dive was when Carol spied the green moray that swam under the reef and the eel kicked a lobster out of its hole and sat there while they took pictures. Luke was out of bottom time so he and I watched the show from above. The lobster never did go back into that hole. I walked around and waited for everyone to go away, including the eel of course.
Tuesday, November 25th
There were small waves at Palancar Gardens but underneath it was nice and calm. It was an easy start for Lindy, Shelly and Mike since it was their first dive of the vacation. I had promised Alan the Gardens since the day before. I forgot to ask Kathy and Ed if they were OK with that. Anyway, we saw a hungry turtle that posed for Ed´s camera and we swam through a bunch of caves and archways. Towards the end of the dive a nurse shark swam by. I got a pretty good look at the dorsal fin and I am fairly sure that it was ¨The Mugger¨. I was a bit surprised to see that his territory ranged from Cedral to Palancar Gardens but that is where I used to see him a year or two ago when he first stole Gary´s lionfish. I had just seen ¨The Mugger¨ on Cedral less than a month ago I believe.
We saw ¨The Mugger¨ again on French Reef which is just north of the Gardens. It was odd to see the same shark on the second dive and he was swimming fast northbound towards Cedral. I wonder how far north he swam this morning. That is really a big territory…… We also swam through the long cave and saw a small turtle. A large lobster paraded around on top of the reef for Ed to take pictures of.
Saturday, November 29th
I gave a class on the boat and then I took Janet and Joe on the beach with me to practice skills. We did our first dive on Colombia Shallows and Janet only got to 9 feet and then her ear started to hurt so we put her back on the boat. Joe, John and I did a dive on Colombia Shallow and we saw lobsters, crabs and 3 turtles. One was a baby about the size of a dinner plate. That was really cute J At the surface while waiting for Carlos to pick us up Raul was snorkeling nearby and told us about an eagle ray swimming below so they got to see a spotted eagle ray too. When we got on the boat Janet and Erin were drinking champagne and we decided to just skip the second dive and go to the Money Bar.
Thursday, December 4th
After a few days off we went back to work with Matt, Lindsay, Nicki, Candis, Darin, Paul and Craig. I took them to Palancar Gardens and we had a great dive! The water was a little green when we got in but when we went over the drop off the visibility opened up and the water was blue again. We stopped to look at a turtle and Paul showed us 3 lobsters in a hole. At the very end of the dive we saw a big nurse shark hiding under the reef.
I had seen so much good stuff at Paso Del Cedral the week before that I took everyone there. After 20 minutes all we had seen was barracuda so I made them all follow me over to the wall. When we got there we started to see the critters. First was a big nurse shark swimming around and Paul burned up all of his air chasing after it. Then we visited the nurse shark in the hole. While Paul was taking pictures of the shark in the hole a turtle swam up and Craig began a slow dance with the turtle. We kept going and Paul showed us another enormous turtle which was sitting on the bottom eating lunch. Everyone got a good look.
Friday, December 5th
Jen, Kale, Adriana and Tim arrived on a cruise ship. Susanita, Anna, Darrin and Candis were staying here on the island. It was Jen`s birthday so I let her pick the reefs. She and Kale asked for big coral formations and swim throughs. I took them to the Caves. We had really nice conditions for the dive and as soon as we got to the bottom we saw a turtle. We ended up seeing several turtles on that dive and a big nurse shark swimming way below us in the deep water. I was glad that no one went down there for a better look! At the end of the dive Susanita took pictures of a huge lobster prancing around in the sand. Jen, Kale and I watched from above as they made a safety stop.
On Dalila we had a bit of current. We saw a lot more turtles on that dive and the first shark was a small one. Everyone took off after it to get photos and video. Then a pair of spotted eagle rays swam by. The one in front was gigantic. It was followed by a much smaller one and it was so interesting to see the pair together. Susanita found a big nurse shark hiding under the upside down boat at the end of the dive/beginning of Paso Del Cedral. She stopped momentarily to take pictures but the current was carrying the rest of us away so she didn`t linger.....
Saturday, December 6th
I only had 3 divers and one snorkeler so Palancar Gardens was a good choice for our snorkeler Lorraine. Paul, Alan and Anna stayed in about 60 feet of water with me and we swam through all the archways and tunnels. We saw one turtle and it made a silhouette as it went to the surface for a gulp of air. We saw a southern stingray and some lobsters on that dive too.
Colombia Shallow was nice because we saw 2 small nurse sharks. The first one was out swimming around and the second was napping in the place where I normally find the turtle. Anna found a goldentail moray. We saw tons of little lobsters and I showed Paul the yellow headed jawfish. There were a couple of peacock flounders lying around and a stonefish camouflaged itself under the reef. That was a good find! I pointed out one juvenile spotted drum and Anna found a second one later in the dive. We saw several turtles on that dive too.
Sunday, December 7th
It was a bit choppy when we set out with Fulvio, Alan, Art, Nancy and Craig to Santa Rosa Wall. Upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a big boy hawksbill turtle munching away on the reef. I found a rather large nurse shark sleeping under a ledge up on top of the reef. Craig, Fulvio and I finished the dive with a pair a southern stingrays.
There was a bit of current but nothing fast at San Francisco wall. I saw several big lionfish including a pair of them together and I was wishing that I had brought my Hawaiian sling with me. While we were drifting along over the blue I turned my head to see a huge spotted eagle ray flying right at us. I screamed for Fulvio through my regulator before I could even get my little bell out of my pocket. It was a very nice dive.
Monday, December 8th
Eduardo came along to help me because Sam was doing training dives for certification and Tasha was newly certified and these were to be her first dives after certification. I didn`t want Jeannie, Susanita, Mike, Alan, Art and Nancy to have to sit in shallow water and watch skills so Eduardo took them down on a normal dive at the Horseshoe while I stayed up top with the girls. I think we saw more because we were shallow. When Sam saw the turtle I could hear her screaming through her regulator, ¨TURLTLE!!!!¨ That was fun to hear her joy in seeing her first turtle!
Colombia Shallow is Jeannie´s favorite and this day it did not disappoint. We saw countless small turtles and we saw 3 different nurse sharks ranging in size from a baby about 2 feet long to a big one about 7 feet long swimming by. It was Tasha that pointed out that big shark. We saw lots of little lobsters, a puffer fish and while Jeannie and Tasha were doing a safety stop we saw a big spotted eagle ray go by.
Tuesday December 9th
It was really choppy and cold so only 3 divers wanted to go out diving. Those divers were Anouk, Frank and Craig. I took them down south trying to get out of the waves at Palancar Bricks. The conditions were borderline so we didn`t hang out on the surface long. Once we got to the bottom things were nice and calm. We saw tons of turtles and the big nurse shark was parked in the usual spot. Anouk took tons of photos and fun was had by all.
The second dive was on Dalila. It was at least a half an hour before we started seeing big critters. Craig showed me the first spotted eagle ray that went by and then circled back to stay with us a little longer. Then a second eagle ray went by about a minute later. The big green moray was in her usual cubby hole. We all stopped for a look and I took Anouk´s camera from her and took pictures of the eel up close. Then a big nurse shark swam right up to us. While we were making our safety stop I saw a big green eel lying around under the reef below. Getting back on the boat was a little challenging but we all managed fine.
Wednesday, December 10th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Kelly, Susanita, Sam, Mike, Alan, Art and Nancy. We didn`t go deep because Sam was working on her certification but we did swim over and have a look at the anchor in 55 feet of water. There were lots of big crabs. The garden eels were all over the place. I found a gold spot eel and everyone took lots of photos. At the end of the dive I saw a disturbance in the sand. I went over to see what creature had made the cloud of sand and I found a nurse shark sleeping in a cave. While Mike and Alan were making a safety stop a trio of southern stingrays played in the sand below us.
On French Reef we saw lots of nurse sharks. Come to think of it, they were all out swimming around. We saw lobsters and crabs too. There were a total of 4 nurse sharks and some hung out with us for a few minutes too!
Thursday, Decemer 11th
I picked the first dive site at Palancar Bricks for Christina, Will, Mike, Mike, Sam, Art, Nancy and Susanita. After 15 minutes we arrived at the ¨Shark Park¨ where 2 nurse sharks were double parked instead of one. Everyone got a really good peek and lots of photos and video. There was a turtle at the end of the dive that had not one, but two metal tags. It had one tag on each front flipper. All that I could think about is that the poor turtle had been hauled out of the water TWICE for tagging. It didn`t seem to mind us. It seemed really used to human beings. I guess that is why it got taken out twice to be tagged, measured, weighed and whatever else they do to the turtles before releasing them. I pondered what use the information would be to the ¨scientists¨ that tagged it.
It was Nancy´s birthday so we went back to Colombia Shallow for her. We saw lots of small turtles and the baby nurse shark was sleeping under the same little coral head as a few days ago but it´s turtle friend was gone. Susanita took lots of pictures of the yellow headed jawfish. I put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Friday, December 12th
Randy, Dan, Sheri, Jayne, Rick, Mike, Sam and Susanita came with me to Palancar Caves. Getting everyone down was a little complicated but once everyone was settled on the bottom we just paddled around because there was no current. I took them through a few swim throughs and showed them the pretty green turtle up on top of the reef. Susan and I saw a few more turtles towards the end of dive. A huge lobster was out prancing about and waving its antennas at us.
At ¨My Secret Spot¨ Susanita showed us an enormous spotted eagle ray that passed us out in the blue. I found a baby turtle for Jayne. She had missed the turtle on the last dive. The sharks started showing up after everyone else was on the surface and it was only Susanita and I still below. The first shark swam past while the divers on the surface were waiting for Carlos so they all looked down and saw it. Then Susan and I found a smaller shark sleeping in a hole in the reef. A few minutes later I turned my head and found that enormous ¨raggedy finned¨ nurse shark right behind Susan. I MEAN RIGHT BEHIND her. It was about 3 feet away from her but she didn`t see it because it snuck up from behind. It was looking for a diver with a lionfish snack. We had none so it swam away. I shouted at Susan through the regulator to turn around and I pointed. She didn`t look at all surprised to see that shark there. I bet it outweighed her by about 50 pounds.
Saturday, December 13th
It was choppier than I thought that it would be on Colombia Deep where I took Albert, Susana, Humberto, Adriana, Susanita, Rick, David and Patrick. Susanita found the first nurse shark in a hole. I found the second one sitting under an overhang. I don`t recall seeing any turtles on that dive. Adriana wasn`t really crazy about going through the caves but she did it anyway :) They really liked the big stingray too.
Dive number two was on French Reef. Still not turtles but there were plenty of crabs and lobsters everywhere.
On Paradise I found a mantis shrimp but Susanita couldn`t get a picture of it because it kept hiding in a hole. We swam through schools of fish and we saw a lot of flamingo tongues. There were lots of yellow stingrays. When Albert waved his hand at the stingray I wondered if it would sting him. I thought that might be end of the dive at that point…… We also saw an electric ray. Thankfully he didn`t wave his fingers at that one :)
Sunday December 14
Tank number one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Jefe, Susan, David, Patrick, Rick, Cindy and Felipe. We had perfect conditions with no waves and almost no current. Everyone really enjoyed the tremendous coral formations we saw. There were several big crabs, a turtle or two and a few lobsters.
Dive number two was on Cedral Wall and it was a real treat. The current was light and the first turtle sat very still and let everyone take a picture. Then a big shark swam right up to David and he took lots and lots of photos. We saw turtle after turtle after turtle. The first three turtles were up close. Rick showed me two turtles way off in the distance. A second shark swam by us. The third shark was a little further away. One of the nurse sharks was in its normal hiding place. At the very end of the dive Susanita and I stayed down and I found a shark hiding under the reef. She took pictures as the boys went up for safety stop. I later joined the boys in 15 feet of water and looked down to find yet another shark swimming right towards Susan. The total was six turtles and the total shark count was six as well. It was an action packed dive!
Monday, December 15th
Rick, Susanita, Rick, Pat, David, Michelle and Chris were my divers. David asked to go to the Caves and Pat said that he wanted to go through LOTS of swim throughs. I took them through every swim through that I could find. After the second swim through I heard Rick shouting through his regulator when he found a turtle. We ended up seeing several turtles on that dive and it was a nice, easy one.
I don`t know if I can even remember all the stuff that we saw on Dalila. Here goes: Rick showed us a big sleeping nurse shark on top of the reef about 5 minutes after we got in. Then I showed Susanita a fire worm. We stopped for a look at the splendid toadfish and found 3 toadfish in the hole. It must be mating season. Then Jefe pointed to a small coral head, made the sign for eel and swam off. While I was looking for the spotted eel I found a big spotted scorpion fish. I found the eel too, afterwards. Jefe showed me a spotted cleaner shrimp dancing around on the tentacles of an anemone. Then he checked the green eel hole and found a nurse shark sleeping there instead. There were so many critters to see there, big and small that it kept us busy the whole dive!
Tuesday, December 16th
I had seven divers and two snorkelers so I picked Palancar Gardens for the first stop. I hope that Paul, Allissa, Susanita, Rick, Rick, David and Patrick were not disappointed. For the first 20 minutes we had current like a washing machine. It pushed up, down, South, North and we had to use our fins to stay near the reef. I got my exercise and earned dessert to boot! We swam through some caves. We saw a southern stingray, a few lobsters and a huge pufferfish :)
As soon as we hit the bottom at Colombia Shallow a 9 foot wide spotted eagle ray swam by. It stunned us all and we were mesmerized as it passed by us. It was not 2 minutes later that we found the first nurse shark sleeping under the reef. While I was trying to get Susanita´s attention to show her the shark another one swam past right behind her. That swimming shark made a comeback and everyone got to see it. We saw four different turtles. The third nurse shark we saw was that tiny baby one hiding in a hole in the coral. The last one was a medium sized shark just sleeping under a small coral head. The first hour of that dive was action packed. After that we entertained ourselves with schools of creole wrasse, blue striped grunt, French grunts and lobsters. Never a dull moment on Colombia Shallow!
Thursday, December 18th
Stephanie, Julie, Laurel, John, Amalia, Jonathan, Rick and Susan were my divers on Palancar Bricks. They had asked to see critters and that is exactly what they got. We saw lots of turtles eating and a few swimming around. Two of the six turtles that I saw had silver tags on their right front flipper but I didn`t see the little turtle with two tags on this dive. The big nurse shark was lying around but Rick didn't get to see it because he had just shot a lionfish and got stung. So as I was taking Rick up the divers sat around and enjoyed the big shark parked under the reef.
Rick´s hand was much better in time for our second dive on San Francisco Wall. Mostly it was the reef and fish we were checking out. Towards the end of the dive I was showing Susanita a hermit crab and a giant spotted eagle ray glided by.
Sunday, December 28th
After a visit to my family´s house at Christmas time I came back to work to take Doug, Jody, Hunter, Eldred, Liz Keith, Keith and Patrick diving at Palancar Horseshoe. The waves were not too big and there was almost no current so it was a nice, easy dive. The visibility was only a hundred feet or so but after getting their Advanced Certification in a quarry Doug, Jody and Hunter didn`t mind the visibility at all. We only saw one turtle on that dive and I had swam right past it. Someone in the back of the group starting signaling like mad and got my attention so we swam back. It was that little hawksbill with 2 tags, 1 in each flipper. Everyone was very impressed with the huge coral formations.
The second one was on ¨My Secret Spot¨. I was hoping for a bunch of big critters but we only saw one turtle way off in the distance and one small turtle at the end of the dive. However, we did see quite a few big lobsters and some crabs with huge claws were hanging out under the ledges. While Hunter, Jody, Doug and I were making our safety stop a 6 foot nurse shark swam past below us.
Monday, December 29th
Doug, Jody, Hunter, Eldred, Liz Keith, Keith, Keegan and Patrick accompanied me to Palancar Bricks. We had perfect diving conditions and it was a gorgeous dive. The big shark was not in its usual parking spot which was a bit of a disappointment to me, but not to the others because I hadn´t promised the shark so they had no way of knowing. We hovered over a feeding turtle on top of the reef and there was another one that swam right up to us nearby.
I did promise a splendid toadfish on Dalila and there were actually 2 in the same hole. We also got to swim with a big nurse shark. Keith banged on his tank with his knife and made the sign for spotted eagle ray but I was too far ahead and I missed it. Liz got to see it though…..
Tuesday, December 30th
I asked Doug, Jody, Hunter, Eldred, Liz Keith, Keith, Keegan and Patrick where they wanted to go and Liz answered, ¨Santa Rosa Wall¨. So off we went! As soon as we hit the bottom we were greeted by a swimming nurse shark which stayed just ahead of us for the first few minutes. It wouldn`t let us catch up to it but it was always within sight for around 5 minutes. Over the edge of the wall Doug found a big green moray eel in a hole. It wasn`t long before someone found a lionfish too. Up on top of the reef we encountered two different turtles. Then we bumped into another group of divers so I guided everyone away from the deep blue water and over to the sandy area which is where were approached by a big spotted eagle ray. It was an exciting dive to say the least and I had a bunch of happy campers back on the boat.
Liz requested Santa Rosa Shallow for the second stop and knowing that Santa Rosa Shallow can be a bit boring I asked Carlos to drop me off about half way along Paso del Cedral knowing that we would arrive sooner or later on Santa Rosa Shallow. All of the big lobsters were out and about during the first half of the dive. It was truly amazing at how many big lobsters we saw and some were out walking around on the reef. We saw a couple of turtles and I pointed out the file fish that everyone asked to see. They asked me about the huge blue fish with a mustache when we got back on the boat. It was a midnight parrotfish. At the end of the dive it was exciting to chase a big green moray eel shadow hunting with a black grouper. We finished the dive taking photos of a southern stingray in the sand.
Wednesday, December 31st
Tank numero uno was on San Francisco Wall. Fulvio likes the wall. Paul didn`t complain and I didn´t even ask Eldred, Liz Keith, Keith, Keegan and Patrick. We just went :) After we all sat around and took some photos a big spotted eagle ray glided by. While I was down over the drop off in the blue Liz started pointing to the shallows. Apparently that spotted eagle ray doubled back and make another appearance. I found a small nurse shark in a hole with a couple of big lionfish but I had left my Hawaiian sling up on the boat.
Fulvio always likes Punta Tunich. Paul wanted to go to Yucab and we told him no because he didn`t invite me to the party the night before. We decided to torture him for the day. It turned out to be a great dive! We were all descending and I was watching the group, counting heads and checking for problems when I heard either Keegan or Patrick shouting through their regulator. I turned and they were pointing right below me. There was a big eagle ray with a short little tail right below me. It sat still for a moment and then decided that it didn`t want our company and took off. It met up with a second eagle ray and they disappeared into the blue. We drifted up and over the hills. We stopped and Paul shined his new video light on the school of glassy sweepers in the cave and they looked spectacular with the light on them. Keith found a splendid toadfish and Paul found the last big spotted eagle ray at the end of the dive. He shot pictures and video of it from underneath. That should be interesting…..???? A silhouette…….
SPECIAL NOTE TO ALL MY DIVE BUDDIES:
This will be the last divelog posting on my website. From now on you can see my divelog at www.facebook.com/scubawithalison It will be updated daily instead once or twice a month. Thanks for reading the divelog and please visit the blog on Facebook from now on. You don`t have to be a member of Facebook to see the page.