Thursday, January 1st, 2004
THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE OUT ON THE REEF THAT DAY which made it seem kinda spooky.....I dove on Palancar Caves with Chucho, Casey, Eileen, Dan, Tim, Jeannie and Ted. We saw two turtles together. They were about three feet from head to tail. One was a green turtle and one was a hawksbill, which is much more common here.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. There were all kinds of good stuff on that dive! First there was a big barracuda, then a big puffer. Chucho found the 6 foot green moray. After the eel a big southern stingray was laying in the sand and a huge grouper hovered over the reef.
Friday, January 2nd
Chucho came with us again to Santa Rosa Wall. Those diving were: Tim, Mike, J.J., Shawna, Dave, Jeannie and Ted. We had really good conditions. The current was slow and the surface was calm.
I thought we would try Punta Tunich at Tim's suggestion. There was moderate current. After about 25 minutes Chucho decided to cross us over to Yucab to finish the dive. Waiting for us on Yucab was a pair of gorgeous rainbow parrotfish.
Saturday, January 3rd
I was off to Tormentos with Todd, John, Martin, Andy, Julie, Jeannie & Ted. We were greeted by a big, giant eagle ray that sat real still for Todd's new digital camera.
Julie & Andy skipped the second dive on Paradise. We saw tons of fish, a big crab and some lobsters.
Sunday, January 4th
Vince & Kristen started their Open Water Advanced Certification with a dive on the C-53 wreck. Jeannie, Ted, Chucho, Tim & J.J. came too. There was only one big crab and one lone lobster hiding under the hull.
A giant black grouper hung out up over our heads.
There were several spotted eels on Las Palmas…one of which lives near the same rock as fair-sized octopus.
My last dive of the day was at night on Paradise. Groups of lobster and crabs paraded around for us.
We heard toadfish croaking. We also saw a slipper lobster also known as a "cucaracha". There were two octopi and one squid. A spotted eel also made his appearance.
Monday, January 5th
Susan, Kevin, Julie, Tim, Kristin & Vince came with me to Colombia Deep. We had a bit of drama on the descent when I looked over and saw Vince's brand new regulator releasing a lot of bubbles from the first stage.
I called the whole group up and we got back on the boat to fix the problem. Two of his hoses were not properly screwed down and an o-ring had split in half from the pressure. Once the problem was solved, we got back in and had a beautiful dive.
I saw a really big turtle. I heard Tim shout, "Alison!" through his regulator and he was pointing down at a big eel free swimming at about 100 feet deep but I couldn't see it. I also missed a second turtle.
For navigational purposes we went to Colombia Shallow. We entertained ourselves with little blennies again and a flamingo tongue. A coney had a crab's claw and little legs sticking out of it's mouth. I guess it was a difficult meal to swallow!
Tuesday, January 6th
I started Rich's Rescue Diver course from shore and Debbie came along to play victim. Chucho came and helped us out. Our volunteers pretended to panic, have leg cramps, be tired or unconscious.
During all of this action, we saw a big rainbow parrotfish and lots of flamingo tongues everywhere. The glass bottom boat "Silmar II" drifted right over us and crashed right into my dive buoy that says, "Divers Below".
Wednesday, January 7th
Back to the beach with Rich and my volunteer victims, Chucho & Carlos, to finish up exercises numbers 7 - 12 for Rescue Diver training. It was a much needed refresher for Chucho & I.
Thursday, January 8th
After a rather uneventful dive on San Francisco Wall, with Susan, Kevin, Rich & Debbie, Susan had high hopes for a shark but none appeared.
Yucab gave us a southern stingray, three barracudas in formation and a lobster.
Friday, January 9th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Susan, Kevin, Rich and Alice. We saw a small sea turtle. We were around 70 feet deep and the turtle was a good 10 to 15 feet below us. It ducked below the coral and then came back out and swam right at us.
Kevin chose Dalila for the next stop. What a great choice! I was pointing out grouper after grouper to Bob when one big one slipped into a crevice. I went over to investigate and surprise! A medium sized nurse shark was laying out in the open waiting for Susan to come over with the camera. I turned my head to see a big green moray eel about 6 feet away opening and closing it’s mouth to funnel water through it’s gills.
There was never a dull moment.
Saturday, January 10th
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Vince, Kristen and Rich. The first turtle was about 3 feet long and swam right at us…slowly. The second turtle was a bit smaller.
Kristen found a sleepy nurse shark lounging under the reef.
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral. We spotted a couple of small lobsters. While we were exiting the cave we all had to swim past a big, dark barracuda to get out. That was kind of creepy. It even made me a bit nervous.
Sunday, January 11th
My first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Patti, Andrew, Kristen and Vince. Andrew swam after a turtle to get its picture. Thankfully there was almost no current.
Our second tank was on San Francisco Wall with very limited visibility. We could see for maybe 50 to 60 feet. At first it felt a bit “spooky” but I decided that I like limited visibility better than strong current. The current was so mild that we could go really slow and take our time looking at stuff.
Monday, January 12th
Patti, Andrew, Jim, Ann, Roger, Larry, Lyle, Sylvia and Emily dived on Punta Palancar with me. We saw two big barracudas. One of them swam right at us.
Then on to Dalila where we saw more barracudas. Emily showed me a crab in a nearby hole. I stopped to pick up a slipper lobster’s head. When I looked down I saw a pair of seashells. That’s when I found Patti’s octopus and the poor lobster’s legs.
Patti has almost 100 dives with me and has been telling me that the only critter left to show her was an octopus. Finally I found one for her!
Tuesday, January 13th
I chose the 2nd point after Palancar Horseshoe for Patti, Andrew, Jim and Ann. We swam through loads of archways and tunnels.
Then we were off to Cedral Wall. A pair of large lobsters were waiting for us. A medium sized hawksbill turtle and lots of big groupers were hanging around.
The grand finale was when Andrew drifted right over a lazy napping nurse shark. After 2 or 3 flashes from the camera, it got frustrated and simply swam away.
Wednesday, January 14th
The first immersion of the day was on George’s Reef with Patti, Andrew, Jim, Bruce, Lyle, Sylvia and Emily. It was a weird dive, but a good one. There were two different turtles, a huge crab and Patti showed us a lobster.
After about 30 minutes we encountered a dive master swimming against the current into our direction. I thought that was strange until two minutes later. Down the reef a bit there was a lot of murky green water with about 30 feet of visibility. A strong current began to push us out to sea. We had to swim like hell to the sandy area, or all of us would just have to surface in the deep blue water.
Where the water was most turbulent a pair a spotted eagle rays swam around and around in little circles. They apparently enjoyed that crazy current.
The second immersion was at good old Paso Del Cedral. I went into the cave and when I turned around I discovered that only Emily had followed me in.
At the exit of the cave I gathered up my divers. When I looked around, a nurse shark swam by. There was a second shark that swam just a bit ahead of us for the last 20 minutes of the dive.
Three groupers followed it around until finally they gave away from a distance.
Thursday, January 15th
I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Patti, Andrew, Bruce, Jim, Ann, Mark and Melissa. We couldn’t have ordered nicer conditions. Bruce and I spend a lot of time watching a peacock flounder in the sand.
When Bruce, Jim and I were making a safety stop we ran into a big spotted eagle ray with no tail.
Yucab was fantastic that day too. Another octopus was sitting around waiting for Patti to come say “hi”.
A VERY big green moray eel came out and swam around for us.
Friday, January 16th
We decided on Colombia Deep for Sylvia, Lyle, Emily, Patti and Andrew. I only saw the little upside down turtle that Andrew pointed out. Patti said that there was another big turtle down about 80 feet but I missed it all together….
Wow! What a dive it was that day on French Reef.! We swam with turtle after turtle. There were tons of southern stingrays and one really huge eagle ray.
A small nurse shark was hiding under a ledge. I tried to shoo it out so everyone could see it, but Andrew was in front of the exit. It turned around and came out the back way to swim off into the distance..
Saturday, January 17th
The first stop was on Palancar Gardens with Bruce, Jessie, Frank and Nathan. Upon reaching the bottom we discovered a big turtle just sitting there in the sand.
Five minutes later we saw another turtle way off in the distance just on the edge of visibility.
I showed them a very big lobster,.
I had so much good luck at Yucab that past week that I wanted to go back. We found two octopi in the same spot as the other day. I guess they must have been a mated pair.
Monday, January 19th
Amanda, Bruce, Jim, Ann, Marcy and Rayleen dived Palancar Horseshoe with me. We saw some flamingo tongues and a blenny. The first part of the dive was spent in a traffic jam.
We decided on Dalila for the next one. Marcy saw a shark and Jim found a big moray eel. I feel like an idiot because I missed both!
Amanda loved all of the colorful parrotfish and queen angels.
Tuesday, January 20th
We went to see the submarine at Bolones de Chankanaab. Jim, Amanda and Ann had to wait until the end of the dive for the big, white underwater ship to come by. No one saw the eagle ray on the descent except me. It was way off in the distance and by the time I got my noisemaker out of my pocket and had everyone’s attention the ray was gone.
Lobsters were everywhere and some really big ones came out and paraded around in front of us. The dive was very noisy from the submarine.
For lots of fish we went to Paradise. Amanda was our spotter. She found 3 moray eels, 3 splendid toadfish and 3 yellow stingrays. I just saw lots of fish!
That afternoon I started an Open Water Referral from shore for Brandy and Carrie. Brenda and Ed joined in for moral support.
Wednesday, January 21st
Brandy and Carrie continued their Open Water Referral from shore at Paradise. Brenda and Ed came along for practice and Amanda came to lend me a hand. There were lobsters, a big crab and a moray eel but Brandy and Carrie didn’t get to see much of that as they were doing skills for certification.
Then we moved over to Paradise Reef for the second tank. Paradise is fascinating at sunset. There are crabs everywhere. We saw two big snappers.
Thursday, January 22nd
First, Amanda, Brenda, Ed, Jim and Ann came with me to Dalila. Amanda found a spotted drum and a toadfish. At the end of the dive we stopped to take pictures of a nurse shark. It sat really still and smiled for the camera.
We went back to my lucky Yucab. The same crazy old green moray came out and swam all around and put on quite a show. Then a big eagle ray swam by and Amanda followed it for a while.
Friday, January 23rd
Brandy and Carrie finished up their certifications on Paradise with Brenda, Ed, Paul and Laura. Laura showed us all a huge eagle parked on the bottom in the sandy area. Carrie was really fascinated by the remora stuck to the big ray.
Then we went to Paul’s favorite, Chankanaab. There were many crabs and a big lobster.
Saturday, January 24th
We decided on Paso Del Cedral for lots of marine life. Diving with me were Paul, Laura, Richard and Laura. We saw several groupers.
Laura wanted to see a wall so we went to San Francisco Wall. A big eagle ray swam past us in the blue. It had an injury on the right “wingtip” and a remora following it.
Several lobsters were in the neighborhood, on of which was particularly large.
Saturday, January 25th
Rob wanted to go to the wreck and Paul and Laura love that dive. Laura noticed that the resident barracuda was missing that day. But there were the traditional lobsters and crabs under the hull.
Paul and Laura had never been to Tormentos and it was a good place to visit. Laura got to see her daily eagle ray there and we swam until we ran out of reef.
That afternoon I did two shore dives with Chot from shore at Paradise for his Universal Referral. There were tons of little eels. Even one hungry little golden-tail was out swimming around looking for a meal. We visited the resident family of lobsters and a couple of big crabs. I searched for the big, fat toadfish but he must have been on vacation. His house was empty.
Monday, January 26th
First stop was on (Grand Central) Santa Rosa Wall. Chucho came with me to dive with Chot, Paul, Laura, Rob and Warren. On the descent I saw a really big turtle swimming slowly against the current with a large snapper cruising right over its shell. Since we had really strong South wind that day everyone avoided the Southern Reefs and hung out on Santa Rosa for the early morning dive. It was kind of crowded.
Yucab is where my friend “Stubby” has been hanging out. I cannot tell you just how happy I was to see him that day. The other divers must have thought I was crazy for smiling and blowing kisses at my big, fat 7-foot nurse shark. We first saw him at the very beginning of the dive.
Then at the very end of Yucab when we were getting low on air Stubby appeared again. I think he must have been swimming parallel to us in the deeper water. He stuck his fat head in a hole and starting feeding on something. While his tail wagged back and forth during his dining experience. I counted four different remoras stuck to various parts of him. One even tried to suck food out of his mouth when he pulled his head out of the hole. He must have been surprised to see that he was surrounded by a school of humans when he looked around.
To get away he swam right at Warren and Paul. Warren’s eyes were as big as saucers!
Thursday, January 29th
I had a small group that day with Warren, Carl and Nancy. During our descent, the current pushed us away from the reef on Palancar Horseshoe.. We had to do a little swimming to get to the reef.. Once in the tunnels, however, we no longer felt the current..
We saw a baby eagle ray. A nearby grouper sat really still, waiting to have its picture taken.
There was no current on French Reef. today which was so nice. A family of three lobster wiggled their antennas at us. Two southern stingrays hung out nearby in the sand.
When Warren was low on air, we saw an octopus and a seven foot eagle ray.
The big grouper swam away from Warren's camera during the second dive.
Sunday, February 1st, 2004
I took my mom on the eagle ray dive at the north end of the island with Chucho. I don't know why, but Chucho hurried us a bit to get suited up and get in the water. I think that he was just excited. Mom and I both were uncomfortable for the first 10 minutes. I took pictures and Mom began to relax. We saw two groups of about four or five very large rays.
Mom was very impressed with her “advanced” dive.
Thursday, February 5th
I was back from vacation and ready for my dive on Santa Rosa Wall with Kent, Jake, Wade, Anne, Erika and Chris. It seemed kind of strange not to have other groups every where...particularly considering that there was a strong south wind that day.
The only big critters that we saw was a barracuda, and a pair of lobsters sharing a hiding hole.
We swam through the beautiful caverns at 60 feet.
On Yucab there were yet more lobsters, more barracudas and Stubby!
"Stubby," my favorite nurse shark, is about 7 feet long and his dorsal fin is just a "nub". That's how I can easily tell when I spot him.. Everyone got his picture.
There was a divemaster from another group poking his finger in the sand next to a little fish. It was a yellowfin pike blenny. Every time the divemaster stuck his finger next to the little bugger a "dragon" popped up and nipped his finger. The yellowfin pike blenny has a dorsal fin that looks like the sail on a sailfish and gives the fierce appearance of a dragon!
Friday, February 6th
Mom, Chucho and I went back to the eagle ray dive. We only saw one ray the whole dive! I got a good shot of it though.
Mom was still happy. I was a bit disappointed because I am (spoiled) and accustomed to the "eagle ray parade"!
Monday, February 9th
Chip, Cathy, Clark, Clark, Steve and Tom came diving with me on Palancar Horseshoe. We swam through those beautiful swim throughs.
Tormentos was our second stop and we found a splendid toadfish, an arrow crab, a small lobster and a crab.
Tuesday, February 10th
My first tank of the day was on Jorge and Amanda's Reef (between Horseshoe and Gardens) with Chip, Cathy, Julie and Mom. We swam past the Volkswagen sized brain coral and I took pictures of a hawksbill turtle.
The second tank was on French Reef in search of turtles for Mom. I turned my head to see Chip pointing like mad at a large loggerhead turtle swimming right at my camera. She almost crashed right into me. She did crash into the bottom a lot bumping into coral and sponges.
She was very clumsy. I wonder if she was blinded by my flash, the poor thing.....Mom loves to see turtles and luckily we saw more later during the dive.
The third tank of the day was a night dive on Paradise with Clark, Clark, Steve, Mom, Chip and Cathy. We saw tons of big crabs, a few small lobsters, lots of spotted morays and a snake eel. At the beginning of the dive we found three squid, and at the the end, there was one more. I was surprised that we didn't even see one octopus.
Wednesday, February 11th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Clark, Clark and Mom. When we touched bottom, a big nurse shark swam right up to me and smiled for the camera. Clark showed me a tremendous lobster hiding under a big coral formation.
Then we dived Paso Del Cedral and the only shark that we saw on that dive was when we were floating at the surface afterwards looking down. Clark saw a dolphin and tried to show it to me but it was too fast and too far away.
Thursday, February 12th
It was so choppy that day that Mom, Tom, Chip, Cathy, Yvette and Todd suffered on the boat ride out to Colombia Deep but it was worth it! First Todd showed me a big turtle up on top of the reef. Then Yvette pointed down to another medium sized turtle just laying there on the reef right beneath us.
Later, a small eagle ray flew by us. During the last few minutes I saw two more turtles!
On Colombia Shallow, Chip found a crab with immense claws. I found a 3-foot puffer. A big rainbow parrotfish hung around Tom for a long time.
When I was chasing after a small turtle I saw something black on the reef. It turned out to be a cell phone. When I surfaced I smiled at Carlos and said, "RING, RING, RING....." Then I passed him the phone and said, "It's for you!". For once I got to make him laugh instead of the other way around!
Friday, February 13th
Cathy said that she always has good luck on Friday the 13th and Chip, Todd, Yvette, Brad and Brennan got to benefit from it. The first dive was on Cedral Wall where a hunting nurse shark swam in circles. Sometimes it would get closer, then later it was far away.
Since it was overcast and rainy the lobsters thought that it was night time and came out.from their homes. Todd saw a really big crab.
A seven or eight foot eagle ray was feeding on something large that it had picked up off of the bottom. (It must have been a conch.) The ray had an old, previous injury.. A bite had been taken from the rear part of the left side of his "wing". The mouth that took that bite had to be pretty darn big!
Then we went to Paso Del Cedral per Chip's request. I got to pet the six foot green moray eel. Brad got a picture of it. We saw two more sharks on that dive, along with more lobsters.
Saturday, February 14th
Brad, Brennan and I practiced Peak Performance Buoyancy Control on a shore dive at Paradise. We practiced swimming backwards and hovering.
We saw a few little eels and a group of lobsters. One little guy was standing on the back of a bigger one, "piggy back" style.
Next, we did the wreck dive. There were loads of big lobsters under the shipreck. Tons of copper glassy sweepers were schooling in the darkness inside of the ship.
The last dive of the day was at night on Paradise and we saw three octopuses. There were also lots of snake eels, one spotted eel, but only one crab. I didn't see any large lobsters but there...but there were quite a few small ones.
Sunday, February 15th
The port was closed for small boats due to north wind. We were grounded for the day.
Monday, February 16th
I did my first dive on Palancar Horseshoe with Kyle, Drew, Chris, David, Graham and Doug. As we were emerging from between two really huge coral formations, a big spotted eagle ray with two remoras stuck to its underside swam slowly immediately in front of us...then it was off , right over the top of the reef.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral where we found a splendid toadfish for Drew. His instructor at home had told him about the toadfish and we were looking for one.
A big lobster was in plain view right before we arrived at the cave. Coming out of the cave, we were greeted by the same eagle ray that I had seen on Cedral wall on Friday, the one with the big shark bite on its backside.
Tuesday, February 17th
The port was closed for small boats due to north wind. We couldn't go out.
Wednesday, February 18th
The port was closed again for small boats due to north wind. We couldn't go out.
Thursday, February 19th
I took Gwynne, Ryan, Eric and Matt on a shore dive at Paradise. There were many yellow stingrays and a goldentail moray stuck it's head out of the coral. Another instructor had told me, as he was coming out of the water, to look for the big green moray eel under the rock where the lobster family lives.
Ryan spotted it before I did. We played show and tell with a sea cucumber, short spined sea urchin and some shells.
Friday, February 20th
Palancar Gardens was my first stop with Gregg, Ryan and Matt. Gwynne and Eric snorkeled above. We saw a huge puffer fish, together with a family of three other “normal” sized puffer fish..
There was one jumbo lobster, a small turtle and two southern stingrays. We were also visited by miscellaneous barracuda.
We did a nice, easy dive on Chankanaab where a humungous barracuda swam right up to us to check us out. Ryan's eyes looked like two saucers behind his mask.
I also spotted a moray and a medium sized lobster. Usually there are more lobsters and crabs there.
Sunday, February 22nd
Rich, Elaine, Roberta and Andy needed a nice, easy dive for the first dive of the vacation so we went to Paradise. We found two splendid toadfish per Rich's request. There were lots of spotted morays and lobsters everywhere.
Chankanaab was another easy one and this time we saw a very large lobster. Rich found an adult phase spotted drum. I saw lots of tiny juvenile yellowheaded jawfish but they were so small I didn't bother pointing them out.
There was an adult pair at the end of the dive and I showed them to Andy. A big crab was using it's pinchers to pluck off pieces of algae and put it in its mouth. That was very interesting to watch..
Andy was impressed by the resident barracuda.
Monday, February 23rd
I went to Palancar Caves with Rich, Elaine, Andy and Roberta. We swam through loads of tunnels and the reef was really crowded that day. There were groups of divers everywhere.
Next, we were off to Yucab. Stubby was being followed by two or three small black groupers. Rich found a hawksbill turtle for Elaine and he also was the first to see the big eagle ray. I don't know which big animal had more remoras following it, Stubby or the eagle ray............
Tuesday, February 24th
The wind from the South was so strong that I thought it a good idea to stay north and dive on Bolones de Chankanaab with Tut, Ed, Rich, Elaine, Roberta and Andy. There were several big lobsters actually out walking around as they usually do there on Bolones. I don't know why they are so big and so brave there but I almost always see them “strutting their stuff” on that reef.
I also found a big, fat octopus hiding under a pile of conch shells. Patti would have loved to be there with us for that.
Tormentos was packed with loads of other divers that morning, but all of our divers did a great job at staying together. We saw lots of fish and some more lobsters.
Wednesday, February 25th
Tut, Ed, Rich, Elaine, Andy, Roberta and Gregg dived the wreck with me. During the descent, the current really started to pick up speed. By the time all were down on the bottom, the current was qute strong.
On the way down some of us saw a big eagle ray swimming toward the bow of the wreck. There was a pair of extra-grande barracudas hovering over the stern.
We spent most of the dive trying to stay on the protected side of the wreck out of the current. We sucked up a lot of air and got our exercise. It was not a relaxing dive but it was still fun. We got out of the current a couple of times by going into the ship. On the way up we were all hanging on the rope flapping like flags in the wind when Tut pointed to the huge eagle ray swimming away.
We went to Yucab looking for "little stuff". It was really hard to find little critters in that current. We blew by every thing at a fast clip. Tut was set up for macro and at the end of the dive when both photographers (Tut and Rich) were low on air we found the beautiful juvenile spotted drum. So they fired off a shot or two and up we went!
Thursday, February 26th
The port was closed for small boats again due to North wind. We couldn't go out, again!
Saturday, February 28th
Tut, Gregg and Ed dived Palancar Bricks with me. Tut requested a turtle and we got two. The wall was beautiful and we swam through the reef. There was a strange looking lizard fish sitting on the sandy bottom as we swam through one of the archways.
On Cedral Wall first we saw one solitary turtle and later Gregg found us 2 turtles together and I hope that Tut got a good picture of them together.
That afternoon I dived Yucab with Tim, Michelle, Bruce, Julie, Doug and Marilynn. We saw a spotted drum and lots of lobsters. We had really nice conditions on that dive.
My last dive that day was on Paradise. There were tons of crabs everywhere. I think that it was because it was late in the day. The lobsters came out too. Everyone enjoyed seeing the stonefish as well.
Sunday, February 29th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Russell, Karl, Andy, Karen and Ron. Wow! What a great dive! There were turtles after more turtles. A plus was seeing two different eagle rays. The first one was smaller and trying to get rid of a remora stuck to it's belly. We drifted over a field of garden eels and petted a furry sea cucumber.
Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral. Ron pointed out the small hawksbill turtle that didn't want to hang around with us. Andy liked the barracuda with the shiny gold hook in it's mouth. A huge lobster was out in the open walking around.
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004
The first tank of the day was at Palancar Horseshoe with Tut, Andy, Karen, Ron, Jim, E.J. and Matt. Tut was our eagle ray spotter on the safety stop. It was pretty big and had a crooked tail.
The second tank of the day was at French Reef. E.J. drifted right over the first turtle which was pretty big and camouflaged with the bottom. I think she woke it up. Tut found us another eagle ray that disappeared up over the reef. He also pointed out a baby turtle that went to the surface for a gulp of air and came back down. Tut and I noticed a dark cloud in the water. He was the first one on the scene. We discovered a dead octopus that had it's arms all chewed off. That was weird! Later I found a free swimming green moray eel. It parked near a patch of reef and let Andy take it's picture. Then it escaped by swimming right under Karen. The very last turtle was medium sized. It was on the bottom biting off chunks of I don't know what and seemed very content in doing so.
Wednesday, March 3rd
Palancar Horseshoe is where I took Andy, Kevin G., Darlene, Kevin, Karl and Russell. Coming out of the first cave a hawksbill turtle was perched on the reef eating a sponge. Coming out of the second cave another smaller turtle was swimming off towards the sandy area. We saw one big lobster and Andy showed us a big southern stingray.
Then we dived Cedral Wall in search of Karl's shark. We found the turtle first, right before the shark swam by. Andy took off at 100 miles per hour after it to get a shot of it on his new digital camera. It was a success! There were bunches of groupers under a ledge and a whole family of lobsters huddling together in a crevice. While I was making a safety stop with Kevin, Darlene spotted another good sized turtle on the reef.
Thursday, March 4th
We went to Punta Sur in two groups. Chucho took Tut, Darlene and Andy down the Devil's gastric tube. I stayed up around 80 feet (for the most part) with E.J., Matt (our deep diver) Jim and Stu. Matt found a turtle for us. E.J. showed me a very interesting hand signal for going through a cave. We teased her about it for half an hour during the surface interval :-)
We went to Las Palmas for the second one. Matt showed us a pair of the unusual coronet fish. A beautiful big green turtle came out from under a coral head and another turtle camped out under the same coral head and E.J. fell in love with it. During the safety stop we floated past 5 big rainbow parrotfish eating something on the bottom.
Friday, March 5th
Palancar Gardens was our first stop with Karen, Ron, Mary, Jeff, Matt and Kevin. The surface was really rough but once we got down we had very calm conditions and it was a relaxing dive. As we were coming around the corner a hawksbill turtle was hanging out in the deeper water. I found a large lobster cowering under a ledge. When I looked under an overhang I saw a barracuda with big white teeth smiling out at me!
Paso Del Cedral was our second stop and the only big animal we saw on that dive was a swimming nurse shark that Ron showed Kevin and I.
Saturday, March 6th
I did a beach dive with Linda, John, Ann, Tut and Sally. John shot macro and we found a small red hermit crab, a spiny headed blenny, a flamingo tongue and a goldentail moray. All were great subjects for macro. There was also a huge crab hiding in the lobster hole and a spotted moray's tail sticking out of a rock.
Sunday, March 7th
I dived Colombia Deep with Tut, John, Ann, Frank, Darlene and Kevin. We couldn't find any eagle rays for Darlene but I saw at least 6 different turtles.
Then we went to Colombia Shallow and I showed the girls a colony of spiny headed blennies. They look like little "Stevie Wonder fish" the way that they sway their head from side to side. There was a big octopus under a tremendous pile of conch shells. While I was using my new lazar pointer to point it out, a coney came up and bit the string on the wrist lanyard.
Tuesday, March 9th I brought Santos with me to help me teach a resort course for Keith, Daniel, Kimmie, Martin, Aubrey, Keith, John and Josh. We had to overcome a couple of equipment problems but every one did really well! We saw a couple of lobsters in the hole and a spotted moray eel on Paradise.
Wednesday, March 10th
Wow! What a day! Our first dive on French Reef with Darlene, Jim, Ann, John, Ann, Michael and Maureen was fantastic. Ann asked to see turtles and boy, did she get one! Right up close and personal. There was a second turtle too, but further away. A giant lobster was out for a stroll and John went over to say "hi".
Then we went to Dalila in search of eagle rays for Darlene. Our first close encounter was with a green moray eel. Maureen had been asking about green eels during the surface interval and bingo, there it was! I yanked hard on Darlene's fin when I spotted the eagle ray. She was sooooo pleased. A second eagle ray (even bigger) was eating something in the sand. At the end of the dive Jim scared the daylights out of a nurse shark that was sleeping out in the open.
That afternoon I did a shore dive with Linda at Paradise. We saw a stonefish, a spotted drum, a splendid toadfish and a big spotted moray eel.
Thursday, March 11th
My first dive of the day was on Colombia Deep with Darlene, Kevin, Jim, Ann, John, Ann, Maureen and Michael. The current was really weird and we got our exercise that day. We saw 5 different turtles.
The second was on Cedral Wall with rapid current. We saw a splendid toadfish and a lobster. Maureen and I discovered the first little nurse shark sleeping under a ledge. The second shark was larger and it was swimming around looking for lunch. It was being followed by several black groupers.
Saturday, March 13th
Anne, Corkie, Luke, Logan and Ryan came with me to Palancar Gardens. Anne pointed out a big lobster under the reef. When I got close I noticed a second one equally as big right near it. A very small turtle swam by on top of the reef in about 40 feet of water. We saw several barracudas and a southern stingray lying in the sand.
We had a good turtle day on French Reef. The first one was pretty big and it swam over the coral. The second one swam up to the surface for a breath of fresh air. The third one was napping under a coral head and even though 6 bubble blowing humans surrounded her, she stayed put and blinked her sleepy eyes at us. The fourth went up like the second one. The fifth turtle was cruising over the top of the reef.
Sunday, March 14th
We chose Palancar Horseshoe for Patti, Andrew, Megan, Erik, Ross and Anne. We descended upon two very startled turtles. I found a black ScubaPro mask and snorkel lying on the bottom and I felt like I won the lottery! Up in the shallow water at 20 feet deep we had to kick like hell to stay over the reef as the current was pushing us out to sea and towards the blue water.
Patti requested Dalila for all the pretty fish it has. Poor Anne hurt her ear at 60 feet and had to come up early. Boy, was she mad! Everyone but me stopped to look at a huge barracuda under the reef.
Monday, March 15th
Dive number one was on Yucab with Patti, Andrew, Karl, Carol and Paul. We saw a few small lobsters wiggling their antennas at us. The current was going the opposite direction from normal. Patti commented that she thought Yucab was even prettier than Dalila! At the end of the dive there was a small turtle that Patti chased around to get a picture.
Then we went to San Francisco Wall. A big eagle ray flew by over the shallow area. During our safety stop I looked down to find a 7 foot nurse shark swimming along the wall below us.
Tuesday, March 16th
I took Patti, Andrew, Megan, Erik, Lauri and Martin to Santa Rosa Wall. Patti and Lauri the camera girls swooped down to take a picture of a huge eagle ray passing below us. Patti says it turned and came right back at her so she could get a good shot. We saw a crab with a set of claws on him that could break all 5 of your fingers if you messed with him. He was backed up against the inside of a hole.
On French Reef a small nurse shark was taking a nap under the reef. I “encouraged” it to come out and swim for the group. A pretty little turtle was tucked under a ledge and let Lauri get really close for a photo.
Wednesday, March 17th
The first tank was on Paso Del Cedral with Patti, Andrew, Ross, Anne, Carol and Paul. A big eagle ray swam right up to us and while all divers were staring at it I found a sleeping nurse shark. I had to stick my face right up to it to get it to come out so that all the divers could see it. A huge lobster paraded around out in the open while I was taking some one up for a safety stop.
Back to French Reef because Patti wanted to see a green moray eel and I had seen one twice at the end of French Reef or beginning of Dalila earlier in the month. As we were looking at one turtle another little one that blended in with the bottom woke up and swam away. Bummer that we couldn’t find that green eel for Patti.
That night Marty, Lauri, Patti, Andrew, Megan and Erik did a night dive with me on Dalila. That was a fantastic dive! Patti was so happy when we came up that she hugged me. Finally she saw the big octopus that she has been asking to see for years. It turned iridescent blue and puffed up like a balloon. We saw the usual lobsters and crabs and Patti also saw several different eels. One of which was a sharptail eel that everyone kept calling “the white snake”. Lauri saw a green moray but Patti and I missed it. Megan liked the “sticker things” which I believe must have been the urchins which come out of the cracks at night and sit on top of the reef.
Thursday, March 18th
Patti, Andrew, Martin, Lauri, Brad and Tyler dived Little Horseshoe with me. Coming out of the first tunnel Patti spotted an eagle ray gracefully passing above. It went by slowly so everyone coming out of the tunnel got to see it. I decided to check out a new cave. I told Lauri to wait while I swam through to find out if there was an exit. It was a bit narrow, but fun.
Finally I found that big green moray eel for Patti on Cedral Wall. She had been requesting a green eel all week. It figures that her camera was on the fritz for that dive. We also saw a small hawksbill turtle and a big nurse shark swimming.
Friday, March 19th
We dived the shipwreck C-53 with Karl, Tyler, Brad, Patti, Andrew, Megan and Erik. One lone grouper was hovering over the aft deck. A large crab posed with it’s pinchers pointed at us from under the ship. The big schools of silver bait fish were almost gone.
We planned on diving Tormentos but since the currents had been strong this week and Patti and Andrew’s tank lasts more than an hour, I told Carlos to drop me off on the last 3rd of Yucab so that we wouldn’t run out of reef at Tormentos. Well, the current was very mild (oops!) and we ended up spending the first 40 minutes on Yucab instead of Tormentos…….I pointed out a couple of splendid toadfish and at the very end of Yucab the little spotted drum was still in the same spot. We also saw a spotted moray eel. It was a very relaxing dive.
Sunday, March 21st
I dived at Palancar Gardens with Karl, Tracy, Sonja and Brad. We had really nice conditions. At the end of the dive, Karl and I saw a southern stingray.
Then we went to Yucab in search of the splendid toadfish for Brad's camera. We found six!
The first one wiggled out of it's hiding hole when I pointed my finger at it. I was afraid that it would bite me. Brad called me the toadfish queen!
Monday, March 22nd
My first tank was on Palancar Gardens again with Tim & Tim, Ned, Alyssa, Sherri, Victor and Alex. Tim saw a small turtle when we first went down. I missed it completely. I touched an anemone and it went back in its hole.
At Paso Del Cedral there were lots of groupers and small to medium-sized lobsters.
Tuesday, March 23rd
Santa Rosa was the choice for Tim, Tim, Alyssa, Sherri, Ned, Victor, Alex and Karl. There were no big animal sightings until the end of the dive.
One of the girls showed us a large southern stingray lying in the sand. Then we saw a small (5 foot) nurse shark swimming on the bottom.
Per Tim's request we went to his favorite dive site, Punta Tunich. On the first portion of the reef, a grouper was hunting blue striped grunts and another nurse shark swam by us.
Alyssa screamed through her regulator when we saw the little turtle. She had been asking to see one during the surface interval and I teased her and told her, "NO". Boy was she happy when it woke up and swam under us.
Wednesday, March 24th
Just Tim, Tim and Tracy came with me to the Devil's Throat at Punta Sur. It took me a couple of tries to find the spot…but I did. We had fantastic conditions and swam down the "Devil's Throat". Tracy was surprised when we got back on the boat and I showed her a picture of the sponge that we had seen in the cave. The sponge is shaped like a cross.
During the surface interval Tim volunteered to accompany me for an exploratory dive. So I took him up on his offer. I had wanted to check out a shallow area between Santa Rosa Wall and San Francisco Wall. So we called it "Tracy's Reef". There was a giant lobster climbing over the reef and lots of groupers everywhere. After about 25 minutes we ran into San Francisco Wall… so the exploratory part was over.
That afternoon I did at two-tank resort course for Devang, Chirag & Binu. We did three different spots: Paradise, Dzul Ha and Playa Corona. We had equalization issues so we never got to these deeper reefs.
Thursday, March 25th
Tracy, Karl, Victor, Alex and Keith came with me to Colombia Deep. We saw two different huge snappers.
We also found a small sponge-eating turtle for Tracy.
At Dalila I dug a pretty heart urchin out of the sand. I chased Tracy around with a donkey dung sea cucumber (yes, that is it's real name) and made her laugh. When she laughed her mask filled with water!
Jose Luis pointed out a big shark lying on the bottom. I brought my group over to see it. That pissed him off. (He is such a princess.) Then one of his divers whacked its dorsal fin and made it swim. Keith's eyes were so wide that they filled the mask.
Friday, March 26th
I was off to Palancar Horseshoe with Tracy, Eva, Victor and Alex. The first turtle we saw was very big and swimming over the sand. The second turtle was a tiny baby less than one year old. The third turtle was medium-sized, and moving up into the blue water. Finally, yet another turtle passed us at the end of the dive.
There was a monster-sized lobster at French Reef under an overhang.
We also saw a magnificent green moray eel free swimming at the end of the reef. It was where I had seen this same eel two weeks ago with Andy. ( I was looking for her when Patti was here.) It was worth the hard swim against the current to watch her swim.
I went on vacation from March 28th until April 2nd to California. I did not dive in Monterey Bay because I am a big wimp and it is now too cold for me!!!!!!
Saturday, April 3rd, 2004
Jason and Corey got lucky when they asked to go to the shipwreck. There was no current so the conditions were perfect. We found four big lobsters under the ship. There was a chunky spotted moray poking his head out and grinning at us.
We played with a short-spined sea urchin and swam through the wreck. Schools of shiny fish were everywhere and the groupers that ate them floated around outside the ship.
Paradise was our second dive. There were lots of smaller lobsters and a toadfish. We found a small goldentail moray that came out and swam for us.
We picked up an extra diver during the safety stop. (We swam against the current to return him to his instructor and his group. )
Sunday, April 4th
The first stop was at Palancar Caves with Val, Rich, Karl, Jason, Corey and Sue. The current was clipping along until we got into the caves. When we headed towards the shallow area we had to fight the current a bit. That is when the small eagle ray swam right up to us and then veered over us to get away. Later, we saw a baby turtle go up to the surface to breath and then proceeded to dive back down again from the surface..
There was lots of small stuff at French Reef. I found a small lobster and a couple of small turtles.
Monday, April 5th
It was a good day for a dive at Santa Rosa Wall. Val, Rich , Jim and Ann dived it with me. I think that this was the first time I ever used a whole roll of film on one dive! Upon reaching the bottom I saw a small nurse shark cuddled up in a small niche in the reef.
Not three minutes later, I found another baby shark sleeping under a coral head. Just his tail was sticking out. I got up close for a shot at a southern stingray. I also found plenty of anemones to photograph.
Erin joined us for the second dive on Yucab. There was a huge barracuda getting its teeth cleaned at a cleaning station. Someone showed me a goldentail eel sticking out of the reef.
Another group of divers ahead of us pointed out a big spotted moray.
Erin liked the juvenile peacock flounder that blended into the sand.
Tuesday, April 6th
Val loves Colombia Deep. Rich. Karl, Corey, Sue, Jason and Corey were game for something new.
There were lots of turtles and they were not shy! One swam right up to us and through the group. Another was chomping on something big and couldn't be bothered by us. Another little tiny one swam by at the end. Rich found us a small eagle ray and he swam like mad to get a picture of it.
Then we went to Dalila in search of the goliath grouper (formerly called jewfish) since we didn't find him on Colombia. The goliath grouper hid from us but the conditions were beautiful with a nice, slow current. It was just enough current to make the dive relaxing. There were plenty of other fish everywhere.
Wednesday, April 7th
I dived at San Francisco Wall with Ann, Jim, Thomas, Karl, Rich and Val. We saw many, many lobsters of all sizes. We could have opened a restaurant. There were three different southern stingrays as well.
On Paradise I found a big, dead crab that somebody had left on top of the reef to fool the other divers. It had me going for just a second. Then I picked it up and showed it to everyone. There were mucho more lobsters, tons of spotted morays, a goldentail eel, a splendid toadfish and a couple of yellow stingrays.
Near shore there was a big green moray eel taking shelter in one of those cement blocks that are used as the pilings for the Puerta Maya pier.
In the afternoon I took Brittany and Karl on a shore dive at Paradise. We saw huge rainbow parrotfish. (The big crab that we saw was alive and well.) Three lobsters huddled together and assorted moray eels showed themselves to us.
Thursday, April 8th
Per Val's request, Rich, Thomas, Tim, Gary, Jim and Ann came with me to Paso Del Cedral. That is a "don't miss" dive in Cozumel. There was lots of good stuff to see.
Five groupers were following the first shark we saw. A turtle was way off in the distance.
The seasoned divers were too lazy to swim after it. The ones that hadn't been seeing turtles all week swam over with me, while the others hung back and saved their air.
Val and I saw the second shark at the same time.
Jim found an 8-pound lobster that came out of its shelter and challenged him with its antennas.
The other "must see" is Cedral Wall. Thomas really liked that one. Even though we didn't see any big critters (which is unusual there) all agreed that it is a really pretty dive.
Friday, April 9th
Palancar Horseshoe was first for Val, Rich, Chucho, Marty and Joe. A big crab crawled around in a hole and Val teased a ferocious bi-colored damselfish.
We did Erin's favorite for the second dive. She joined us on Colombia Shallow where we saw big rainbow parrotfish, spiny-headed blennies and assorted turtles.
Wednesday, April 14th
I took David on a resort shore dive at Paradise. He father, who is certified, accompanied us. The three resident lobsters were at home in their usual spot. A big, fat spotted moray eel said “hello.” There was a spindly brittle star wrapped around a purple vase sponge. A huge rainbow parrotfish swam by.
Thursday, April 15th
The first dip of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Dan, Kate, Tom, Frank and Rachel. We had a great dive! First, we saw a hawksbill turtle. Then Tom showed us a graceful eagle ray cruising below us. When we crossed over to the shallow area, we found a plump lobster.
Our second dip of the day was on Colombia Shallow. There were a few more small lobsters, schools of grunts and snappers and a southern stingray. At the beginning of Colombia Shallow There is a school of southern sonnets that look like hundreds of small barracudas.
Friday, April 16th
Tom, David, Joe, John, Mark and Mary came with me to Palancar Gardens again. There wasn't much current to speak of for most of the dive. Near the end, when we were all low on air, the current started to push us out to sea. We kicked our butts trying to get to the shallow area for the safety stop. Then it went "backwards" and took us in the direction that we came from originally. It was kind of like being on a Carnival ride. We got enough exercise to justify an extra desert that evening.
Our second dive was on Chankanaab where one lobster was tucked under a ledge and another big one was out walking around fearlessly. John showed us a pair of squid. Joe pointed to a yellowtail damselfish and wanted to know what it is. I forgot to tell him when we got back on the boat so I hope he reads this! The yellowtail damselfish are very beautiful with their iridescent blue dots.
Saturday, April 17th
Tank number one was at Palancar Horseshoe with Susan, Ryan, Kyle, Julie, Keith, Tom and John. The certified divers went deep with Chucho and I stayed in 15 to 30 feet of water with the student divers. We played with a starfish, a queen conch and a heart urchin. A small eagle ray swam by over the top of the reef.
Tank number two was on Colombia Shallow. There we swam through more schools of fish and saw two more big rainbow parrotfish. The certified divers saw turtles but I missed 'em. Oh well.
Sunday, April 18th
I dived Yucab with David, Tom, John, Marion, Julie, Keith, Kyle, Ryan and Sean. The certified divers went with Chucho again and they saw more turtles. Our group just worked on skills. John showed us a lobster.
Paradise was our second dive. There were various morays and lobsters, as always.
Monday, April 19th
I did my first dive of the day on Palancar Caves with John, Marion, Dan, Kate, Lisa and Sarah. Coming out of a cave, a good-sized hawksbill turtle was leisurely dining on a sponge. A queen angel was hanging out right under her…sharing the breakfast. Later, a smaller turtle went up to the surface for a bit of fresh air.
San Francisco Wall is where we decided to go for the next dive. John found the same big green eel that Marion and I saw some time ago with Virve. It was more or less in the same spot. She lives in an area about 100 meters long in the dark recesses of the reef.
That afternoon I took the Kemp family to French Reef. Julie said, "I want to see a turtle!" so when I spotted the first one, I grabbed her hand and swam like hell towards it. It was a big one and the three boys were so excited that they scared it off. The boys learned that day not to get too close…so when we saw the second turtle, they just hung back and looked. The boys wanted to go through a cave, so I took them to Cedral Pass. We saw big lobsters and small barracudas. The boys loved the cave.
Wednesday, April 21st
Next was back to the trusty old favorite Palancar Gardens with Marion, Lisa, Sarah, Annette, Shad, Bob and Susan. It was a nice, easy dive with gentle current. We saw a dinner-sized lobster in a hole. I picked up a hermit crab and showed Lisa it’s big claws.
We had more gentle current at Tormentos, which is a bit unusual. However, the visibility was not so great with the “calm” water. We found an entire family of five lobsters huddled together in a dark spot. Some of the divers only saw the tail of the spotted moray pointed out. Lisa scolded me for putting my finger a little too close to its mouth…
Thursday, April 22nd
I took Marion, Matt, Lisa, Sarah, Susan and Bob to Santa Rosa Wall. An amazing green eel was out swimming around. We followed her until she went deeper than our dive plan and disappeared down the wall. I could hear Sarah screaming through her regulator but it was more a joyous scream than one of fear. Lisa found a darling little goldentail moray poking its head out at us. There was a big bunch of lobsters in a hole. Sarah didn't want to come up at the end of the dive…she was having so much fun!
At Chankanaab there were lobsters galore! Oh yes, there was also divers galore! They were everywhere..........Oh well.
I did a night dive on Paradise and got to hear Sarah scream one more time when she saw the eel. There were tons of lobsters, crabs and eels. I saw one squid. But there was not one octopus. Lisa, Susan and Bob loved it! Sarah said that it was a good experience but that she never wanted to do another night dive again! She said the spent the whole dive feeling nervous.
Friday, April 23rd
Off to Palancar Gardens for the first day of diving with my Mammoth Lake group that consisted of Manny, Stacey, Wes, Jaime, Karen, Finlay and Shawn. We did dives one and two for Finlay, Jayme and Karen's referral. After a few skills we dipped over the wall for a peek at the deep water.
Then we went to Colombia Shallow. A medium sized hawksbill turtle swam right up to us and swam through our group. You should have seen Wes trying to get the camera out of his pocket fast enough! We saw several BIG rainbow parrotfish. A southern stingray swam by in the sandy area.
Saturday, April 24th
Stacey requested Palancar Caves for the group. Poor Finlay, he had eaten some bad mussels the night before and was very sick. I think that he was still glad that he came, because we saw lots of turtles and swam through caves.
Then we went to Dalila. There were two different big barracudas. I showed Wes and Stacey a cute little goldentail moray eel burrowed into a hole in the sand. There were groups of other divers everywhere. It was like Grand Central Station.
That night I went back to Paradise with Dave, Holly, Chrissy, Mary, Denise, Lester and Doug. Yeah! I found two octopuses! Plus there were a few big crabs and lots of little lobsters. Several eels were out hunting too.
Sunday, April 25th
I wanted a nice change of scenery, so I went to Colombia Deep with the group. There were loads of turtles everywhere. A medium sized eagle ray was feeding in the sand and being followed by a permit scavenging for leftovers.
Manny's regulator went into free flow at Paso Del Cedral. What a pain…because his dive was cut short to 25 minutes! After we came out of the cave, we were greeted by a couple of barracudas.
In the afternoon I did a shore dive at Paradise with Andy, Karl, Gail, Beth and Sarah. There were the usual little lobsters; a couple of spotted eels and a peacock flounder. At the end of the dive, a spotted eagle ray cruised by…off in the distance. Then it jumped out of the water!
Monday, April 26th
The first dive of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Ken, Judy, Toby, Manny, Stacey, Finlay and Shawn. We had beautiful conditions with little current. The only problem was the traffic jam. I think it is a good idea to leave very early in the morning to get to the reefs before the crowds. Especially when diving Santa Rosa Wall.
Toby pointed out a big lobster on French Reef. We saw a fancy brown sponge covered with spiny brittle stars.
Tuesday, April 27th
That afternoon Ken, Judy and Toby were my only divers. We went to Bolones de Chankanaab. At Bolones we always see gigantic lobsters out walking around and this day was no exception. There were also plenty of king crabs and three spotted drums. The next time some one is shooting macro, we will have to go there to see them and the splendid toadfish. There was also a fat grouper.
At Paradise we saw many more of our crustacean friends. An eagle ray kept circling us and torturing me because I had my camera and was unable to get close enough to take his picture. The ray would appear, and swim away, only to re-appear again five minutes later.
Wednesday, April 28th
In the morning I did a resort course with Courtney, Kristen, Laura and Erika. We had a great time and Kristen decided that she would like to get certified now!
In the afternoon I went to Palancar Gardens again (one of Ken's favorites) with he and Judy, Andy, Karl, Beth, Toby and Courtney. We had perfect conditions and it was a relaxing dive.
Next, we went to Ken's number one choice, Colombia Shallow. If it were up to Ken we would dive Palancar Gardens and Colombia Shallow EVERY DAY! We did have excellent luck. Aside from the rainbow parrotfish we saw six, count 'em, six turtles! One turtle was pretty big and made life difficult for Ken. It swam in circles while he photographed it. He also found a cute little baby one. Toby spotted one of the turtles.
Thursday, April 29th (my birthday!)
Once again we pleased Ken and went to Palancar Gardens with Judy, Larry, Deb, Kristen and Courtney. There were several very big groupers and a barracuda.
Then in response to popular demand we went back to Colombia Shallow. There was only one turtle this day. The turtle fest had been put on hold until Saturday.......
Friday, April 30th
Our first tank was on San Francisco Wall with Doug, Donna, Tony, Ken and Judy. Boy is that a "fishy" dive! One very large lobster posed patiently for Tony's camera. Small and medium sized groupers were feeding on schools of grunts, snappers and schoolmasters. Ken found hundreds of anemones and one very sassy queen triggerfish.
The current was ripping' at Dalila. That was a surprise after weeks of calm conditions. It was a good "intro to Drift Diving" for Doug and Donna. We learned to hide behind the reef to get out of the current so that we can stop and look at stuff and wait for photographers to catch up.
Saturday, May 1st, 2004
What a beautiful dive Ken, Judy, Tony, Jim, Eric and I had on Colombia Deep! Once again we hit the jackpot on the turtles. I saw at least seven of them. The highlight of the dive was the pair of cute little turtles that were under the reef together and then slowly emerged at the same time. They didn't try to swim away. Tony and Ken got to spend some time shooting them.
Judy and I petted the furry sea cucumber. It is soft and squishy and it sticks to you with its suction cup feet. An eagle ray swam by accompanied by a pair of permits. I'd swear it was the exact same one I had seen in my dives with Stacey and Manny.
Not only Ken wanted to go to Colombia Shallow, but Jim and Eric did too. So back we went. Three more turtles made an appearance along with the rust and green colored rainbow parrotfish.
I should just name those parrotfish!
Monday, May 3rd
I took the big plunge on Santa Rosa Wall with Tami, Taellor, Doug, Donna and Tony. Two huge lobsters were doing battle on the wall in front of the entrance to the cave.
Three enormous groupers hung around over the reef and assorted barracudas also visited us.
Then over to Cedral Pass for a little swim through the old cave. There were loads of small barracudas there. Taellor had requested to see an eel. The only eel I could find was a tiny spotted moray.
Tuesday, May 4th
Donna wanted to see turtles and turtles are what she got! Doug, Donna, Tami, Taellor, Tony, Paul and I went to Colombia Deep in search of our little reptile friends. The first turtle was really far away. We swam like heck to go see it. Later, two medium sized hawksbills were right on top of the reef. Paul and Tony both got good shots of them.
For more turtles, we went to French Reef. Paul pointed out the first little guy. Later, another turtle swam right at us, followed by a weird looking cobia. Everyone thought that the cobia was a shark. It was about 5 feet long and swam just like a shark.
I found a weight belt in a hole. I had to take off my BCD to get my whole arm and head in the hole to pull it out. My regulator hose kept getting snagged on the reef and it wanted to pull that mouthpiece right out of my mouth. At that moment I started thinking of how stupid I was and I cut my finger on the coral trying to untangle the regulator while simultaneously not letting go of the new 10-pound weight belt. Duh!!!!! I feel like a moron. The belt was definitely not worth it!
Wednesday, May 5th
I explored the shipwreck with Tony, Tami, Taellor, Donna and Doug. We found one crab and one lobster under the wreck. Only one grouper was hanging around. The drive shaft and the propeller are starting to be quite colorful with sponges, hydroids and lace corals.
Fulfilling Doug's request for a splendid toadfish and eels, we finished our two-tank dive on Paradise. I found four splendid toadfish, but only one was far enough out of the hole for a photograph. There were several spotted morays. Donna and Tony found a huge crab. There were baby lobsters all over the place.
That afternoon I took Scott for a paddle around shore at Paradise. The highlight of the dive for me was a pair of viper morays huddled together in a hole. We saw plenty of big, fat spotted eels. We both petted the gold spot eel that looks like a snake.
Lobsters were completely out in the open and I found two big splendid toadfish.
Thursday, May 6th
My first dive of the day was at Punta Sur with Paul, Tony, Chucho, Hans, Mark, Donna, Doug, Taellor and Tami. Tony, Paul and I stayed out of the cave. The others followed Chucho into the "Devil's Throat".
Those of us on top of the reef saw several turtles. Chucho got into the cave just in time…because there were about 20 more divers that went in just as our group was coming out. Chucho's group never saw anyone else; but Paul, Tony and I made up for their loss.
Our second dive of the day was at Colombia Shallow. There were tons of turtles! We must have seen at least six or seven of them. There were big ones, baby ones, napping turtles and turtles galore! (note for Taellor) That was a rainbow parrotfish that you pointed at (in case you are reading this).
Later that day I went to Paradise from shore with Junko, Tom, Whitney and Jeremy. We saw three different types of eels. There were spotted morays, a goldentail and the gold spot eel. Whitney was the one who found the gold spot eel and was brave enough or curious enough to touch it. I am such a bad influence!
We also saw one little lobster. Everyone liked the white short spined sea urchin that sticks to your hand with its little tube feet.
The 4th dive of the day was with just Whitney and Jeremy. There were more eels, more lobsters and a splendid toadfish.
Friday, May 7th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Donna, Doug, Tami, Taellor, Junko and Tom. A medium sized turtle let us get up close and personal with it.
Donna found a big crab but I was just too lazy to swim back and have a look.
Then I dived on Cedral Wall to fulfill the shark request. Their dive week was now complete, having seen the swimming nurse shark. We found everything that had been on the request list.
My first afternoon dive was on Palancar Gardens with Ron, Kathy, Brad, Melisa, Whitney, Jeremy and Scott. We were able to see another turtle, but it was down deeper than our than our dive plan. Chucho went over and tried to chase it back to us but the turtle was just too smart for us.
We did the second afternoon dive on Paso Del Cedral. I found an immense lobster but only succeeded in showing him to Melisa. She was closest available diver.
There was another big lobster at the end of the dive and plenty of groupers and barracudas.
Sunday, May 9th
Liz and Bob completed the resort course with me from shore at Paradise. There was very little current so it was an easy dive. We saw several spotted morays and the usual family of lobsters waving their antennas at us.
Monday, May 10th
Jeff and Lana's favorite dive is Colombia Deep. They brought their three daughters, Annita, Jenna, Deanna and their son-in-law Torrey on this trip. Ron and Kathy came with us. We had ideal conditions and a cute little turtle swam up. Ron took a picture of it right in front of Kathy's outstretched hand. While we were on our way up, I spotted that same eagle ray, followed by its pair of permits. Ron went back down and swam like hell to get its picture.
Chankanaab was our next stop where a huge lobster was out parading about. There were more lobsters, doing the normal thing by hiding in the reef.
A big white crab was picking at its breakfast. I saw two darling little spotted drums. Jeff got them on video.
Ron and I went on a weight belt recovery mission at the end of the dive.
I did an afternoon trip with Craig, Liz, Bob, Tom and Junko to Dalila. We had a swift current and it made for hard work. But we were rewarded at the end of the dive with a small ( four foot ) nurse shark.
Then we were off to Yucab, hoping for calmer conditions. We satisfied the turtle request with a big one and a little one too.
What made my day was seeing my nurse shark, "Stubby". He had his big, fat head buried in a hole and appeared to be napping because ignored us completely. I blew him a few kisses because I have really missed him. It is always a big relief to see him if he has been hiding for a month or two. I worry that a poacher may get him.
Tuesday, May 11th
The first tank was on Palancar Bricks with Jeff, Lana, Annita, Jenna, Deanna, Torrey, Melisa and Brad. What a disaster! Poor Jeff lost his mask upon entry. I retrieved it, but later Lana swam up to me to get my attention and showed me that Jeff's inflator hose had broken off at the base where it meets the BCD. Therefore, he couldn't add air to his BCD.
To make matters worse his dive computer went on the fritz and gave him 77 minutes of mandatory decompression time! When it rains, it pours! Other than all those equipment problems…everything else was beautiful. We had calm conditions and we saw a small turtle. Despite everything happening, we had a good dive.
We searched to no avail for Brad's shark at Paso Del Cedral. We saw tons of small barracudas. Lana found a splendid toadfish. Jeff found a scorpion fish.
Wednesday, May 12th
Back to Punta Sur with Ron, Kathy, Chucho, Tony, Melisa and Brad. We all went down the "Devil's Throat" and everyone did a good job at not kicking up sand. As we were coming out of Devil’s Throat, there was another dive master waiting to go into the “throat.”
The divers were coming from the deep area on the wall heading upwards. It is logical to do the deepest part of the dive first…but boy, did he cause a traffic jam and real chaos.
We saw loads of turtles…and a good time was had by all. Kathy said that it was her best dive ever!
Brad got to see his nurse shark on Dalila. It was one big, lazy sleeping shark and I had to bug it a bit to get it to come out and swim for us.
Thursday, May 13th
I went to the Cathedral at Punta Sur with Lana, Jeff, Annita, Jenna, Torrey, Tony, Melisa and Brad. We swam out of the last cave at 100 feet deep and a small turtle swam from one photographer to another getting it's picture taken. The poor thing nearly bumped right into Brad's camera. I think all the flashes and the spotlights blinded it.
We had a very relaxing dive on French Reef. There were several black groupers and Lana showed us all a crab.
That night I dived on Chankanaab with Deanna, Lana, Jeff, Annita, Jenna and Torrey. We had a lot of good marine life including crabs, lobsters and several octopi. Torrey found a big, fat spotted moray out hunting.
However, I had a little scare............ Deanna was "kidnapped"! One moment she was there, and the next she was gone! A guy from another group of divers called her over to go look at a lobster. When he realized that Deanna was not his dive buddy he swam away and left her there all alone when he re-joined his group. By then, Deanna couldn't see us anymore and found herself all alone! I started searching for her by checking the other group first but she wasn't there. Then I surfaced and checked with Carlos but she wasn't there either. Then I started to worry. I went back down and she still wasn't with my group so I rechecked the other dive group and did not find her. By then I was starting to become frightened and decided to abort the dive. I returned to our group and Deanna had magically appeared! Whew! What a relief! Other than the kidnapping we had a great dive.
Friday, May 14th
The first pick of the day was Palancar Gardens with Jeff, Lana, Deanna, Annita, Jenna, Torrey, Craig and Kelly. We swam through the long tunnel with beams of light coming through the holes in the roof. We briefly saw one small turtle and late in the dive Torrey found a cute little baby turtle asleep on the bottom.
Jeff didn't want to come up from his dive on Paradise. There were loads of spotted eels, a goldentail eel, crabs and lobsters. The best thing we saw was a splendid toadfish completely out in the open. Jeff got a picture of it from chin to tail.
Tony, Kathy, Ron, Jan and Christy came with me to Palancar Horseshoe in the afternoon. That is one of Tony's favorites. There was a big lobster waving us away with its antennas.
French reef was the last dive of the day for me. Tony was impressed by all of the big crabs. Lobsters were abundant and we also saw two turtles, a southern stingray and a stonefish.
Saturday, May 15th
Dive one was on the second point at Palancar with Tony, Lana, Jeff, Annita, Deanna, Christy and January There were turtles a plenty today. The last turtle was very social and hung out with us for quite a while. I told Jeff that the turtle was really a "ham" and it wanted its picture taken.
Lana had a leaky mask on Yucab. We also encountered several major traffic jams.( I was wondering if Deanna might be whisked away by some charming man again.) We saw a pair of juvenile spotted drums. They are always so pretty and their fins look like little black and white ribbons.
Sunday, May 16th
The search for Tony's eagle ray continued on Colombia Deep with Derrick, Muffin, Rich, Christy, Jan and of course Tony. I was sad that I couldn't find a nice eagle ray for Tony but I did give it my best try. We saw plenty of hawksbill turtles.
We had exceptionally good conditions that day.
Everyone likes Dalila and a big, fat nurse shark swam right past me…but didn't make me nervous at all. What got my blood pressure up and my heart rate running a bit was when a big barracuda swam right up in my face.
When we were going up Derrick showed us all another large nurse shark swimming below us, followed by a small black grouper shadow feeding.
Monday, May 17th
I took Derrick, Muffin, Christy, Jan, Ted, Jeannie and Rich to Palancar Gardens. We had nice, calm conditions that made for a relaxing dive.
Muffin's favorite spot is Colombia Shallow and everyone else loved it too. Not all of us saw the small turtle at the beginning of the dive. It was swimming away on the other side of the school of southern sonnets. Everyone saw the feisty little nurse shark. Derrick got a good shot of it.
Later we all got to see a medium-sized hawksbill go by. Everyone always loves those big rainbow parrotfish.
Tuesday, May 18th
Our first tank was at Las Palmas with Derrick, Muffin, Jan, Christy, Rich, Ted and Jeannie. The current was a little strange as usual. The first 20 minutes it was pushing us shoreward. There was a pair of coronet fish down around 100 feet, deeper than our planned depth of 80 feet maximum. Christy burned up a bunch of her air going after a turtle that Derrick woke up.
Our second tank was on Tormentos. Derrick got a shot of a teensy, weensy little spotted drum. We ended up running out of reef after an hour and 9 minutes.
Wednesday, May 19th
I dived San Francisco Wall with Derrick, Christy, Jan, Ted, Jeannie, Paul and Tammy. A monster-sized lobster was on the wall and the girls found a huge crab.
Then we went to Yucab, where we did a free class in "Drift Diving Techniques 101". We learned to go slow by staying about 3 feet off of the bottom. We also practiced hiding behind coral heads to get out of the current, stop, rest and let the rest of the group catch up. Jeannie observed me finding a dead area of the reef and holding on with one finger. I flapped like a flag in the wind. Derrick took pictures of the toadfish and the sea star. Muffin had been asking to see a sea star and it was a shame that we found one when she wasn't there.
Thursday, May 20th
Christy, Jan, Ted and Jeannie came with me to French Reef. Ted really liked it and said that he saw a lot. Jeannie was not convinced.
Christy found a whopper of a crab…but there were other crabs too. A small turtle swam over the top of the reef and away over the sandy area.
Paso del Cedral is where we did our second dive and we all swam through the cave. There were lots of barracudas everywhere. One had a bright yellow lure stuck in its mouth. We saw a very small spotted drum where the little yellow sea horse used to live.
Friday, May 21st
Ted had been waiting patiently all week to go to Santa Rosa Wall. We went with Jeannie, Brandi, Erin, Chris and Margaret. Once again, there was a big lobster on the wall. I found a small goldentail moray in the shallow area.
On Dalila we descended over a southern stingray. We found starfish, sand dollars and an empty heart urchin. A sweet little turtle was just sitting on the bottom propped up on his four flippers resting. It was missing a couple of scales on its shell.
Saturday, May 22nd
The deeper dive was on Palancar Horseshoe with Brandi, Erin, Jeannie and Ted. We swam through tunnel after tunnel and found some beautiful seashells.
Jeannie wanted to go back to French reef and I spent the whole dive trying to find a sea cucumber for Erin. I cannot believe that I couldn't find one single sea cucumber in an hour-long dive! When Erin said that she wanted to see a sea cucumber I couldn't think of an easier request! Not like turtles or sharks or a green moray eel. No, just a simple little sea cucumber. How easy! I didn't want to come up I was so determined to find just one!
Thursday, May 27th
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Cathy, Bob, Mason, Simon, Jake, Troy and Mac. We swam through those beautiful archways and canyons amid the towering spires of coral. We encountered two different turtles on that dive.
Our next dive was on Dalila with a nice, slow current. There were lots of black groupers, barracuda and a lobster.
We did a third dive on Yucab and we chased "Stubby" (my 7-foot nurse shark) around for a while. We also saw another turtle.
With his claws, a crab was picking at what looked like a sponge.
Friday, May 28th
I dived on Colombia Deep with David, Troy, Robin, Ken, Michelle and Ryan. Michelle had said that she would like to see a turtle. The first one we saw was a cute little baby turtle. A bigger turtle showed up just when Michelle and Ryan went up to the surface, but she still got to look down and see it beneath her.
Next, we went to Paso Del Cedral where there were lots of barracudas and a big hogfish eating something over on top of the sand.
Michelle got to see one more turtle.
San Francisco Wall is where we did our third dive. We had ideal diving conditions for practicing our drift diver technique and stopping in current. We saw the resident big green moray eel.
A BIG barracuda swam right at Troy. I smiled when he took a kick or two to back off.
Later we saw a mama lobster and a baby in a hole.
Saturday, May 29th
I started my diving day on Santa Rosa wall with Sharon, Troy, David, Robin and Ken. Thank God we had good conditions that dive, because I was feeling a little "under the weather" after my night out on the town.
Robin thought that the deep blue drop-off was fascinating. As usual, there were other schools of humans everywhere. Santa Rosa is always crowded in the morning.
Sometime during our second dive on Tormentos, I made a miraculous recovery. Sharon passed me the camera and I took off at full speed against the current chasing Stubby again to get a picture.
We saw three or four, very big black groupers. I also found that tiny little spotted drum again.
Sunday, May 30th
We had strong south wind, so Sharon, Gary, Peter, Robin and Ken were happy not to venture too far south and we stayed on French Reef. There were three different turtles there. The first one was napping on the bottom.
Everyone was so good and we didn't disturb her at all. She just stayed still as we drifted by her. The second turtle had a bunch of barnacles on her back. The third one was a turtle that I had seen back on Friday, May 21st at Dalila. It was the turtle that is missing a couple of scales on her shell.
Santa Rosa Shallow was our second stop of the day. Ken said that it was his favorite dive. I found that interesting because Ken has dived with Stubby, turtles and a green moray eel. At Santa Rosa there were no big animals, but Ken found it relaxing and his tank lasted a long time. So for me, I was surprised to hear that a diver would like a dive with good conditions over a dive with lots of action and marine life.
Monday, May 31st
The first tank of the day was on Palancar Caves with Pete, Carolyn, Brian, Kurt, Gary, Peter and Sharon. We saw a turtle perched on top of the reef taking big bites of a leathery sponge. She sat really still and didn't seem to mind us being there. We swam through all of the caves and archways.
Kurt sat out the second dive due to a sinus squeeze. Andrea took his spot. We went to Dalila where we encountered another turtle. We also saw a 6-foot green moray eel. When we got closer, she hid in a hole…so no one got a picture.
Tuesday, June 1st, 2004
For one of Peter's dives in the Advanced Course, we chose to dive the shipwreck C-53. Carolyn, Pete, Kurt, Brian, Gary, Peter, Lorraine and Kyle were the dive team. Upon descent there was very little current but once we all reached the 80-foot bottom the current became strong and we certainly had to kick to move around!
There was a spotted moray in his usual spot and three dinner-sized lobsters huddled together under the wreck.
We fought to get back to the ascent line. Hanging onto the rope in the current was quite a relief from all that exercise!
There were schools of humans everywhere on Paso Del Cedral. I haven't seen that many divers all in one spot in years! It seems that the island is very busy for the Memorial Day weekend. Everyone went to Paso Del Cedral that day. OOPS!
There was a beautiful big green moray eel way deep in her cave. Kurt managed to get a good look at her when he turned on his flashlight. That makes up for the green eel he missed the day before :-)
Wednesday, June 2nd
Peter, Carolyn, Brian, Kurt, Sharon and Bruce came with me to Colombia Deep. I saw another dive master pointing out a pair of white nose pipefish in the sand. They are really cool looking fish. They look like a big stretched out sea horse.
Andrea joined us on Colombia Shallows where we saw a very graceful eagle ray. It passed slowly in front of us and was spitting out bits of conch shells that it was dining on. We also saw a lot of rainbow parrotfish and assorted lobsters.
Thursday, June 3rd
My first stop was on Palancar Horseshoe with Bruce, Sharon, Roland, Kyle and Lorraine. Roland spotted the tranquil little hawksbill that was confused and swam around us.
The second stop was on Yucab in search of Stubby. Instead of finding Stubby we found a big, fat green moray eel trying to hide in the reef. About a foot and a half of it’s tail was sticking out and she wanted to have no part of us!
That afternoon I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Bruce, Pete, Carolyn, Kurt, Brian, Gary and Peter. Wow, what a treat! There were no other divers in sight for the whole dive! That is one of the big benefits of doing afternoon dives. A huge loggerhead turtle swam up from the deep and seemed quite frightened to find us all up on top of the reef. It swam away very fast. I would never had seen it if Bruce hadn’t pointed it out.
Then back to Yucab and still no Stubby. Oh well, maybe he was taking the day off. Peter completed all of his skills for the navigational dive for Advanced Open Water certification.
Friday, June 4th
The first dip of the day was on French Reef with Gary, Peter, Pete, Carolyn, Kurt, Brian and Brett. We all saw three turtles but I saw a fourth small turtle take off really fast. I don’t know what the heck it was trying to get away from, but I was looking!
I also saw a small nurse shark at a distance. Since no one else saw it, Brian says that it doesn’t count J
Our second dive was on San Francisco Wall. There were plenty of lobsters and large groupers. We took some family photos.
I did two afternoon dives at Paradise from shore with Marta and Lynda for Marta’s Open Water Referral. We saw a very large spotted moray and a tiny goldentail eel.
There was both an electric ray and a yellow stingray on the bottom, along with a couple of lobsters.
That night I did a night dive on Dalila with Gary, Peter, Pete, Carolyn, Kurt, Brian and Bruce. Kurt had accused me of inventing stories about a “cucaracha” lobster so I showed him one.
We only found one small octopus…but among all of the lobsters, the whopper was out walking around. I saw a few big crabs out on top of the reef. I also picked up a snake eel. Peter actually liked the little wormy things that are attracted to our lights.
Saturday, June 5th
First on the agenda was Palancar Horseshoe with Brett, Bruce, Peter and Gary. We did Peter’s deep dive for his Advanced certification. I think we got really lucky on that dive because the current was calm but a little weird. I could tell that it kind of wanted to get crazy, but I think we just missed some bad conditions. It was a nice dive and we saw a turtle.
We did a fly dive on Cedral Wall after that. I told the boys to stick out their arms and pretend that they are airplanes. We flew past a turtle munching on a sponge surrounded by angelfish.
In the afternoon I went to Yucab with Tim, Bob, Marta, Lynda, Karl, Kurt, Jim, Shirley, Leigh, Tom, Dan and Chucho. We had a delightful dive and at the end Chucho swam after Stubby for what seemed like a mile.
Our last dive of the day was on Paradise where we were not so lucky with the conditions. The current was ripping! We had to come up after only 30 minutes because we ran out of reef. Aack!
Sunday, June 6th
In the morning I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Tim and Bob’s big group. I did a quick recovery of a fallen weight belt. We got lucky on the conditions this time with mild current. What a relief! We went through my two favorite archways.
Our last dive for the group was on Paso Del Cedral where we saw a hawksbill turtle at the very end of the dive.
Monday, June 7th
Kim, Joe, Laura, Bob and Missy needed a refresher dive so we went to Paradise from shore. Christiana came with us to help out. We saw three different kinds of eels. My favorite is the chain eel. I saw two spotted drums, loads of lobsters and banded cleaner shrimp. Laura was the first to see the spotted eagle ray as it glided by us in the deeper water.
Tuesday, June 8th
I dived French Reef with Joe, Kim, Bob, Missy and Laura to fulfill the turtle order. There were two of them and they were little guys.
What a great dive we had on Yucab! Upon reaching the bottom a very large nurse shark was taking a siesta on the bottom under the reef. I regret getting so excited and swimming towards him so fast because I frightened him off.
After that we saw a spotted moray, a couple of lobsters, a splendid toadfish and some big groupers. Then we saw a green turtle, which is not so common here in Cozumel.
The icing on the cake of our dive was the second big nurse shark up on top of the reef. What a day!
Wednesday, June 9th
Peter, Gary, Kim, Joe, Laura, Bob and Missy came with me to Palancar Gardens. A big lobster was strutting his stuff in one of the swim through. I showed everyone a soft furry sea cucumber.
Then off to Tormentos with those fancy deep-water gorgonians and bright orange and maroon sponges. A true tulip shell (a snail) was scooting through the sand. A couple of small lobsters were hanging around too.
Thursday, June 10th
It had been a while since I have dived Bolones de Chankanaab. Peter, Gary, Kim, Joe, Laura, Bob and Missy were with me that day. We saw all of the animals that I said we could see during the briefing: lobsters, a huge crab with impressive claws and an eagle ray.
We also saw two fat splendid toadfish.
I think that Paradise was the only reef that Gary and Peter hadn’t seen yet, so that is where we went for the next dive. There were two more splendid toadfish and goldentail eels everywhere. One even came out and swam around. There was a spotted moray and lots of baby lobsters all huddled together.
Friday, June 11th
That morning we were off to Palancar Gardens with Todd, Bob, Nathan, Len, Steve, Robin and Beth. It was Beth who spotted the little turtle going up to the surface for a gulp of air. Then it came back down again, so we could get a better view.
At Dalila we saw another turtle, a big lobster, a couple of groupers and one really big nurse shark far off in the distance. (But only Beth was lucky enough to see the shark.)
Saturday, June 12th
Robin liked Dalila so much the day before that we decided to go a little bit south and dive French Reef with Todd, Bob, Steve, Beth and Len. Bob found the biggest hawksbill turtle that I have ever seen in my life. It was napping and sat really still for Robin’s camera. Bob also showed me a big crab. We also saw a couple of lobsters.
The second dive was on Santa Rosa Shallow where there was lobster, after lobster, after lobster. We could have opened a restaurant. There was one lobster out in the open and we also found the shell of a lobster that had molted.
Sunday, June 13th
This was a day not to be forgotten. Our first dive was on Santa Rosa Wall with Myra, Larry, Steve, Robin, Todd and Bob. There were lots of lobsters, groupers and a couple of barracudas. Todd saw a splendid toadfish.
The excitement was on Paso Del Cedral. I borrowed Larry’s flashlight to show everyone a splendid toadfish deep in it’s borough.
At the end of the dive a thunderstorm blew in and we had to surface in pouring rain and waves. THANK GOD Carlos came to work on his day off. I could see that things were getting bad at the surface so I called the dive. After a 5-minute stop, some divers could not stay down any longer, and I surfaced the group. There was driving rain, wind and waves crashing over our head. I could only see for about 100 feet. I could see one boat but it was out of shouting range. So I asked everyone to please keep the regulator in and the BCD inflated and to stay together. We all held on to one another and waited it out.
The storm passed in about 10 minutes but it felt like an eternity. I knew that Carlos was not going to come for us until the storm broke because there were about 10 to 12 dive boats/groups on Cedral and he could easily run some one over and kill them. So everyone had to just stay put and wait it out. I started getting nervous after 5 or 10 minutes because we couldn't see shore and I didn't know if the wind was pushing us out to sea or towards shore. So I looked at the bottom and could see that we were moving seaward.
I decided to wait a minute or two more and then break out the compass and start moving the group to shore. That is when the storm broke. It didn't take Carlos more than two minutes to find us. I swear I have never been so happy to see his smiling face! Later when all passengers were off the boat and we talked, I realized that he had another problem up there. He, of course, had no visibility and he doesn't have a compass on the boat!!!!!!!!!!!! He had no idea where he was either! So he did a smart thing. He saw the big yellow buoy out in front of the Occidental Grand and positioned the boat within visible contact of the buoy and waited it out. A storm could easily blow him to shore, or out to sea, or worse, sink the boat. If the boat sunk, at least we would know where to find it! It was scary
Monday, June 14th
The sun was shining as Richard, Craig, Lisa, Todd, Bob and Randy rolled in on Palancar Horseshoe. We had nice diving conditions and at the very end of the dive there was a surface layer of wavy green water that was run off from all of the rainwater in the swamp.
During the surface interval, Jorge recommended that we do our second dive on Cedral Wall. We had a fantastic dive. I found the first turtle, but Craig found everything else. He showed us a green moray eel, a swimming nurse shark over the wall and a napping hawksbill turtle. Bob discovered the big crab and a small yellowfin grouper fell in love with him and followed him around the whole dive.
Tuesday, June 15th
The first stop was on Palancar Gardens with Lisa, Craig, Richard, Bob, Todd, Randy and Chris. We saw two or three turtles. I am not sure if turtle # 3 was actually turtle # 2. Turtle # 2 was a sneaky little bugger and Craig and I couldn’t see where it was hiding. We also saw several lobsters and a small nurse shark (4 feet long) sleeping under a ledge.
At Dalila there were yet more lobsters and a monster nurse shark swimming off in the distance.
In the afternoon I started Kegan’s Open Water Referral dives with Ron, Bruce, Sheila and his brother Logan. We saw another turtle but this one was just a baby. We petted the furry sea cucumber and of course we saw your standard lobsters.
Colombia Shallow was a great dive. Bruce showed us a big turtle. It was really friendly and didn’t seem to be upset at our presence. It stuck with us for 5 minutes. Usually they swim off right away. Logan found the nurse shark down under the coral and we all got a good long look at it.
Wednesday, June 16th
Richard, Lisa, Craig and Randy were my divers on Santa Rosa Wall. A huge lobster had two antennas of different sizes. You could tell that one had been broken off and had grown back some time ago, because it was thinner than the other. Coming out of the cave, a huge turtle surfaced for air and then came back down toward us.
Joining us for the second dive was Rae Ann, Jim and Megan on Colombia Shallow. We found a couple more turtles, more lobsters and lots of big rainbow parrotfish. Megan liked it so much she didn’t even want to come up, even when she was cold.
Thursday, June 17th
I dived Palancar Caves with Randy, Danny, Todd and Bob. It was Dan’s first dive after almost a year and we had to run into strong current. What a bummer. We did go through some cool caves, but we all used our air a lot faster than usual because of all the swimming we did in the current.
Per Bob’s suggestion, we dived at Cedral wall again. It was a great choice. In the first five minutes, I turned my head to find a big, fat nurse shark swimming side by side with Todd. I screamed through my regulator because I couldn’t find my little noisemaker fast enough.
Later we swam up to another smaller shark (maybe 5 feet long) and she sat really still for Dan’s new digital camera.
The third time down that day was on Tormentos with Ron, Sheila, Bruce, Logan and Kegan. Logan and Ron worked on the Underwater Naturalist Specialty and Kegan did some navigational skills for his Open Water Referral.
On Yucab we swam around looking for examples of symbiosis, predator/prey relationships and the effects of man on the reef.
We found Stubby sitting around being lazy. Bruce showed us a pair of the endemic splendid toadfish.
Friday, June 18th
I went back to Yucab with Kevin, Nicole, Craig, Lisa, Randy, Todd and Bob. I think that Todd and Bob must have been getting tired of the Southern reefs, so we looked for somewhere they haven’t already been. There were zillions of ocean triggerfish everywhere busily doing something. Craig says that it looks like they were building nests and breeding.
On our safety stop at Tormentos, I looked down to find Roberto on the bottom with all of his divers observing something in the sand. I knew what it was, but just to be sure, I went down to investigate. When I saw the big brownish sea horse I called the boys to come back down, even though they were low on air. This was an opportunity not to be missed. As we were looking at the sea horse, one of the boys found a white nosed pipefish too. There is a lot to be said for crawling slowly through the sand…….
Saturday, June 19th
I went to Cedral Wall with Lisa, Richard, Craig, Randy, Dan, Kevin and Nicole. We saw a pair of rather large lobsters, one on top of the other. The top one seemed very aggressive and Nicole wanted to know what they were doing. I have no idea. I suppose they were doing what all couples do…….fight?!?
Lisa showed us a big turtle at the end of the dive.
Lisa, Craig and Richard got off the boat between dives. Todd and Bob got on. We went to San Francisco Wall, which is another site that Todd and Bob had not been to as yet. Dan showed me a big green moray eel in a hole and I showed him a small octopus in a hole.
Monday, June 21st
I dived at Palancar Horseshoe with Craig, Lisa, Richard, Nicole and Kevin. We saw a spotted eagle ray in the sandy area feeding. She had a really long tail and her spots were perfect white circles on her back.
Then Megan, Jim and Rae Ann got onboard and we did our second dive on Dalila. Rae Ann spotted the little hawksbill turtle and everyone swam after it. Rae Ann was surprised when the hermit crab came out of its shell to peek at her.
Tuesday, June 22nd
Craig, Lisa, Richard, Nicole and Kevin came with me to Cedral Wall. Right off the bat… a big green moray eel was sticking her head out of a hole begging to have her picture taken. There were little groups of 20 or more colorful fish all feeding together. Lisa found a turtle.
Rae Ann and Jim joined us for the second dive on Paso Del Cedral. A big, fat puffer fish was waiting for us there, along with a scorpion fish.
Wednesday, June 23rd
Colombia Deep was our first stop with Craig, Lisa, Richard, Kevin, Nicole, Ed and Alex. For the first 15 minutes there was always a turtle with us. We saw four different turtles. We also saw an eagle ray. A furry sea cucumber was at the bottom. I always love those furry sea cucumbers. They are so soft!
Craig, our birthday boy, got to choose our second dive site.
We went back to Cedral Wall where we always have a great dive. We saw a couple of swimming nurse sharks. I thought that there were three of them, but Craig says that the second shark was just the first one doubling back and coming around again. We saw a huge lobster.
That afternoon I did a resort course from shore with Stella & Martin at Paradise. A spotted eagle ray was munching on conch shells. We saw our usual assortment of eels. There were two goldentail moray eel and a fat spotted moray. The big splendid toadfish was at home and we found three lobsters.
After three weeks vacation, it is ......... BACK TO WORK
Thursday, July 15th
My return to the Caribbean Sea was on Palancar Horseshoe with Roger, Mike, Jim and Ryan. The three boys snorkeled above us. We saw a nice turtle and swam through all the canyons and tunnels. We saw a big southern stingray.
After a light rain, we rolled in on Cedral Wall. But once we were in the water we could tell that more rain and a storm was starting to move in above us. I could tell by looking up that the rain was pretty bad and I hoped that Carlos had those snorkelers on board and in the yellow plastic rain slickers that I keep under the seat.
During the dive we saw a family of four lobsters and a big green moray eel. There were also some friendly groupers and a turtle.
When we got back on board the guys said that we missed all of the lightening and they said that it was hailing! Carlos is 33 years old and that was the first time in his life that he had ever seen hail!
That afternoon I went back out to dive with Roger, Ruth and Bob. We did a nice, easy dive on Palancar Horseshoe where we found another turtle, some groupers and a big snapper.
Our last dive of the day was on French Reef with two more turtles. We saw loads of lobsters, a southern stingray and the storm brought in some jellyfish. On the safety stop I felt like I was floating in a big blue bowl of jellyfish soup.
Friday, July 16th
Our first dip of the day was on Colombia Deep with Roger, Bob, Ruth, Becca, Mike and my mom. Wow! What a dive! The first turtle we saw was a tiny little baby. I am sure that it was the same one that I saw with Craig, Lisa and Richard a few weeks back. There was also a big turtle and a barracuda.
Roger has a special eye for critters. He pointed out the resident eagle ray making her rounds in her usual spot. And he also found a large southern stingray buried in the sand.
Our second dip was an easy one on Colombia Shallow. There were two different pairs of turtles. One of the turtles in the first pair snapped at the other one. Blue striped grunts were bumping their open mouths together in a display that could be territorial or courtship…no one really knows.
A snorkel guide harassed the second pair of turtles. He swam down to the bottom and grabbed a hold of the bigger turtle and wrestled the poor thing to the surface. I got really mad and went to the surface. I told him to let it go. He didn't let go of it until the third time that I told him to. I had to threaten to report him to the marine park. What a jerk! That poor turtle was really frightened.
In the afternoon Lynn and Dave joined Roger and I for a dive on Dalila. There were lots of barracudas and a lobster or two. Lynn sat out the last one on Paso Del Cedral. Roger found an adorable little baby nurse shark sleeping under a rock.
I swam the boys through the cave.
At the end of the dive, a big lobster was out prancing around bold as can be. Roger got a picture of it.
Saturday, July 17th
I went to Palancar Caves with Roger, Mom, Lynn, Dave, Becca and Mike. We swam through lots of caves. There was a bit more current than earlier in the week. It made the dive a little more challenging.
Then we went to Santa Rosa Shallow. We encountered a big barracuda and a friendly grouper, which had obviously been fed recently. He came over to us looking for handouts.
Sunday, July 18th
The first tank was on Santa Rosa Wall with Roger, Lynn, Dave, Tom and Brenda. A good-sized nurse shark was hiding under the coral and as we descended near it, she became frightened and swam off over the wall.
I think that the big grouper we saw this day was the same hungry bugger from the day before. Boy, is he friendly!
Brenda and Tom found the giant old lobster that lives by the cave. They were surprised that it didn't even try and hide anymore.
The second tank was on San Francisco Wall where we found more lobsters, barracudas and a southern stingray. There are always lots of fish on San Francisco Wall.
Monday, July 19th
I did a resort course from shore with Jeff, Jessica, Dennis, Alycia, Jaime and Greg while Alex snorkeled over us. Chucho came along to help. There were three big, fat spotted moray eels. I saw some lobsters and a big crab.
The splendid toadfish was at home, in his den. Jeff and Chucho saw the spotted eagle ray that goes back and forth at that site all day long.
Wed. July 21st
My first dive of the day was on Colombia Shallow with Jaime, Jeff, Greg, Alycia, Dennis & Kica. A big boat floated over our heads which kinda pissed me off. Everyone swam around taking pictures of the fish.
Then we went to Palancar Caves. We swam through tons of shallow caves and archways. We found a turtle for Kica and a big grouper hiding in a coral head.
In the afternoon I went to the beach at Paradise to do a resort course for Wendy & Mike. We only saw one lobster and a big crab's claw. Wendy saw a tiny little goldentail eel that I showed her. But she couldn't see the big spotted moray eel in the hole.
Thurs. July 22nd
I took Wendy and Mike on their first reef dive at Yucab where we encountered a small turtle and a big lobster out of it's hole in the open.
The other reef dive that day was on Chankanaab and I just couldn't believe it when I saw my Stubby! (Stubby is my favorite nurse shark with a "nub" of a dorsal fin) I have never seen him on Chankanaab before. He seems to be slowly migrating North......
After lunch we picked up Mike, Totsy, Lisa, Rachel, Danielle and Michelle. Chucho and I took them to Palancar Horseshoe in the very shallow part. The girls had a blast!
Sat. July 24th
The first dip of the day was on Yucab with Jaime, Jeff, Greg, Alycia, Dennis & Kica. Dennis discovered a squid swimming right underneath us. There were little clusters of colorful fish feeding together in groups.
The second dip was on Chankanaab. I was secretly hoping to find Stubby again, but he didn't make an appearance. We did see 2 huge barracudas and many lobsters.
Sun. July 25th
I went back to Yucab with Steve, Olivia, Rick, Mike, Alex, Peggy & Jim. We saw a beautiful big green turtle that woke up from a nap on top of the reef. A lobster was wiggling it's antennas at us. At the very end of the dive I found a big green moray eel under a ledge. That was quite impressive!
I rolled into the water at Tormentos right next to Jorge from Liquid Blue Divers. He shouted at me to move my group. I shouted back, "NO! I want to dive with you! You know where the sea horse is and I want you to show it to me!" So we went down. Once we were on the bottom Jorge motioned for me to come over to show me the sea horse! I got all excited, gathered up all my divers and made a bee line for Jorge. What a comedian! It was a bright yellow plastic toy sea horse that he wedged in a hole! I didn't stop laughing for 10 minutes. I guess he keeps that in his pocket for all the divers that request to see a sea horse. Steve found a rare banded moray in a hole while poking around in the sea grass beds looking for the real sea horse.
Mon. July 26th
Mike, Alex, Jim, Peggy, Scott and James came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. Jim really loved the deep abyss below.
Since they liked the wall so much I took them over to San Francisco wall. A school of 7 great barracuda patrolled the top of the reef. A dinner sized lobster waved at us from it's hiding hole.
Tues. July 27th
First Scott, James, Mike, Alex, Peggy and Jim came with me to Palancar Caves. We had a fantastic dive! The conditions were calm on the surface, little or no current at all and gin clear water. We saw a hawksbill turtle munching on a sponge surrounded by angelfish. We swam through those tunnels and archways and found another ( or maybe the same one ) turtle eating a different sponge. Scott found a medium sized nurse shark way down under an over hang. There was a southern stingray in the sand too. There were groups of divers everywhere but they didn't really bother us at all.
We went looking for another shark on Dalila but to no avail. Instead we saw 3 big rays and a goldentail moray.
Wed. July 28th
I dived Colombia Deep with Scott, James, Jim, Alex, Mike and Peggy. We saw one little turtle as I was coming out of a the last cave.
Then we were off to Chankanaab. There was no current and we went slow and looked at the little things like yellow headed jawfish, a spotted drum, a splendid toadfish, banded cleaner shrimp and an arrow crab. There were a few small lobsters but nothing to write home to Mom about.
Fri. July 30th
I picked the end of Palancar Gardens and the first half of French Reef for our first stop. The divers were Tony, Jim, Peggy, Mike, Alex, Greg & Jeff. There were many smaller lobsters and a huge king crab. We also saw a southern stingray.
Our second stop was at one of my favorites, Cedral Wall. Mike got to see his shark when we first got in. Greg showed us all a hawksbill turtle. The current has now gone back to normal.
Sun. Aug. 1st
Mike, Sherry, Allison, Kristen, Tony & Tracy came with me to Colombia Deep. Tony is always asking for a spotted eagle ray and I thought that the best bet would be Colombia Deep. Sorry Tony, it must have moved..... There were 2 different turtles and a lobster waiting for us there. Tony took a picture of the stonefish.
Then we dived French Reef. Everyone ventured away from the reef while chasing a rather large turtle. We saw a yellow stingray. Poor Tracy lost her brand new digital camera on that dive. I got back in to look for it twice but it never appeared. Aack! That must really hurt!
Mon. Aug. 2nd
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Shirley, Peggy, Gordon, Graham, Rachel, Nutan, Nikesh & Tony. I showed Gordon a big lobster but by the time everyone got over there for a look it had hidden itself in a hole. There were a couple of other smaller lobsters too. There were many schools of humans all over the place but we managed to stay together well.
Santa Rosa Shallow was dive two. Tony was sitting around taking pictures of a couple of cooperative black groupers when a big green moray eel ( a 6 footer ) came out and swam around for us. I thought that Tony would chew me out for petting it but he loves me so he didn't say anything even though he doesn't approve. I did pull it out of the hole and pet it. It was a "Kodak Moment" when Peggy turned her head to find a giant barracuda about 3 reef away from her face! She was cool as a cucumber though.
Later that day I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Bob, Michelle, Chris, Mike, Sherry, Allison & Kristen. We had a gorgeous dive swimming in and out of all the big coral formations.
The last one of the day was on Punta Tunich by special request. The group saw an eagle ray upon reaching the bottom. I had a ( problem ) and took 3 minutes to get to the bottom so I missed the eagle ray. But I saw Stubby when one of the girls pointed him out. Boy was I pissed off to see a fishing hook with a lure dangling from his mouth. I am absolutely furious but I don't know what to do about it! On the safety stop I looked down to find an immense green turtle on top of the coral.
Tues. Aug. 3rd
Tank one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Steve & Mary. We saw a turtle in the exact same place that I did the day before. There was another turtle later on during the dive. An electric stingray was swimming up and over the reef to the sand. That is really strange behavior for a stingray.
Tank two was on San Francisco Wall. I found the resident green moray eel under the reef. There was a big swimming nurse shark and a large southern stingray that had an exceptionally long tail.
Tank three was on Santa Rosa Wall with Graeme, Rachel, Gordon, Shirley, Peggy, Nutan, Nikesh & Tony. We saw a huge grouper. A four foot porcupine fish was pretty interesting too.
Tank four was at San Francisco Wall again. There were several lobsters and a big crab. The same green moray eel was out swimming freely over the sand. When we came down for a look, she hid in a hole.
Wed. Aug. 4th
For a change I took Tony & Tracy to Maracaibo. There were big swells on the surface but the conditions below were ideal. We hung out at around 100 feet to extend our bottom time. I saw 4 small black tip sharks but as soon as we got close they scattered. Tracy showed me a spotted moray. We found one of the biggest hawksbill turtles that I have ever seen up on top of a reef mound in about 70 or 80 feet of water.
Patrick joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallow while the McCoy family snorkeled over us. We saw a nurse shark sleeping under a ledge. There were a few lobsters here and there. Tony liked shooting the lizard fish. It makes an interesting photo.
Thurs. Aug. 5th
I was off to Palancar Horseshoe again with Steve, Mary, Tony, Mike, Ryan, Kurt and Linda. There was almost no current and we had perfect conditions.
Since the current was light we scooted over to Cedral Wall for the second. We found Ryan's turtle. It was hiding in a dark corner in a sort of a cave.
Later I did a shore dive at Paradise with John, Steve, Amanda, Tracy & Taylor. Everyone enjoyed the trumpetfish, adult spotted drum and loads of flamingo tongues clinging to sea fans. Tracy and I agreed that the shore dive was more work than the dive we did on Maracaibo the other day.
Fri. Aug. 6th
Per the special request for turtles we dived Colombia Deep. Turtles are almost a "given" there. My divers were Tracy, Tony, Ryan, Mike & John the cabaña boy. We found 5 turtles posing for Ryan's camera! There was even a pair together. That makes for a great picture. A couple of southern stingrays were in the neighborhood and a big lobster too.
Ryan was hot for turtles so I picked French Reef for the other turtle spot. We were rewarded with 3 more turtles! We never did find Tracy's camera though.
Sat. Aug. 7th
Phil, Patricia, Keith and Tony came to Palancar Gardens with me. A slow turtle was cruising over the drop off.
Tony chased a nurse shark at Dalila. He brought it over to us so we could get a could look.
The current was really fast at Paso Del Cedral. It was the first dive with the crazy currents that are seasonal here. There were barracudas everywhere. There were schools of little guys and some really big scary ones too. We finished Cedral in only 30 minutes due to the swift current and continued on to Santa Rosa Shallow. We found a docile nurse shark asleep under a ledge. Tony woke up a sleeping turtle. The turtle was pretty big.
Sun. Aug. 8th
I took Kelsy, Kim, Graeme, Regina, Tony, Phil & Patricia to Tormentos for a shallow, easy dive. We saw big groupers, lobsters, a couple of spotted morays and several splendid toadfish. Poor Graeme flooded his strobe on it's maiden dive!
The next shallow, easy dive was on Yucab. Patricia showed us a beautiful green turtle at the end of the dive.
Our third tank was on Cedral Wall and everyone loved it. Right away Graeme took pictures of a small hawksbill turtle. Then I drifted right over a nurse shark that hung out with us and let everyone take it's picture. Phil was the one that pointed it out to me. Later we saw a large turtle and when Phil & I were making a safety stop we saw another shark swimming while being followed by a pair of groupers.
Mon. Aug. 9th
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Caves with Tony, Graeme, John, Mike, Patrick, Phil & Patricia. One big turtle was down over the wall. The current was running opposite of the normal direction. Looks like the current is going to be crazy for a few weeks.
My second dive of the day was on French Reef. A small turtle was wedged under the reef and sat really still for all of the cameras. Sometimes I wonder if Tony gets sick of taking turtle pictures. I know Ryan never would.
My third dive of the day was on Cedral Wall. Patricia decided that Cedral Wall is her favorite and she wanted to go back there every day. She says it is just like swimming around in an aquarium. Only Phil, Patricia and Graeme came on that dive. Phil showed us the nurse shark swimming under us when we descended. On a flat area with strong current we saw a big hawksbill turtle.
Tues. Aug. 10th
I must be crazy for diving Santa Rosa Wall during the crazy current weeks. The current was good and strong but Tony, Keith, Chris, Patricia, Phil, Mike and Patrick all handled it really well. Chris was a little disappointed that the only "big critters" that we saw were a couple of black groupers.
If one wall wasn't enough, we went to San Francisco for the next. Boy, was I relieved! The current was quite normal and I found the large green moray eel deep in a crevice. She was so far back in hiding that not everyone got to see her.
Patricia's dive on Cedral Wall was the last one of the day. We had a 2 for 1 dive as the ripping current took us to Santa Rosa Shallow after we finished Cedral Wall. The current was so strong that even as we kicked as hard as we could against it we still flew backwards! Stopping was completely impossible. We were rewarded for our efforts with a big swimming nurse shark. Tony said that the stingray we saw at the end was the biggest one he ever saw.
Wed. Aug. 11th
Colombia Deep was the pick for Graeme, Regina, Tony, Mike and Patrick. The current was like a washing machine that day. All the particulate matter from the bottom was stirred up so we only had about 80 feet of visibility. But we saw lots of big turtles, a furry sea cucumber and a huge southern stingray. It was one of our best dives.
We had a FLY DIVE on Dalila. The current just took us and we flew with it. Everyone thought it was fun!
Thurs. Aug. 12th
Graeme asked to go back to Palancar Caves with Patricia, Phil, Mike, Patrick, Graeme, Regina, Kelsy & Kim so that the girls could see it. We saw a billion turtles. Big ones, little ones, up close, far away, too many to count!
Tormentos had a nice, easy drift and the dive was quite relaxing.
On Paradise Graeme finally got a chance to shoot a splendid toadfish completely out of it's hole. It was quite a ham for the camera. Maybe my coaxing a bit to do with it.....Graeme got a "whole body shot".
Fri. Aug. 13th
The first dive was on Colombia Deep with Graeme, Regina, Kelsy, Kim, Phil & Patricia. On the descent Phil ( the critter finder ) almost landed on a nurse shark. Phil also showed us 2 turtles, a southern stingray and a bunch of lobsters.
Our second dive was at Colombia Shallows where we observed a couple more turtles. One was sleeping under a coral head. Everyone enjoyed the big rainbow parrotfish. Phil found an immense crab. Patricia loved the tiny spiny headed blennies.
Last stop was at Las Palmas. There were 3 different splendid toadfish for Graeme. We also saw a turtle. The highlight for me was the quick little shark. Regina and I can not agree as to whether it was a baby reef shark or a baby black tip. It is really hard to tell from a distance. It doesn't matter, it sure was cool to see a shark other than a nurse shark!
Sun. Aug. 15th
Dan, Allie, Al, Lee, Tess & Anna started their diving week on the very shallow point at Palancar Horseshoe. Right off the bat we saw a turtle and a lobster. Allie really liked the big southern stingray being followed around by the bar jack.
There was a tremendous grouper on French Reef. Allie swears that she saw a shark hiding under the grouper. I missed it.
Mon. Aug. 16th
I took Dan, Allie, Al, Lee, Tess & Anna to Palancar Caves. I hoped to be able to hide from the current in those tunnels. We lost Al for a moment. At the same time Al was missing I saw a tail sticking out from behind reef. I knew that tail belonged to a spotted eagle ray. I decided to look for Al first and then I went back to find the eagle ray. We all got a glimpse of it as it swam off. I thought of Tony who spent 2 weeks searching for a spotted eagle ray and as soon as he went home, there it is!
On Dalila we had a very tranquil dive with light current. Then I really wished Tony was with us because yet another spotted eagle ray was swimming by. This one was much closer and it was eating something and spitting out bits and pieces. We also examined a sea star, a sea cucumber and lots of sea shells.
I did a resort course for Casey and Sean on the beach that afternoon. It was very low tide and Manuel's little chain eel was trapped in a tide pool. We saw a lobster, a stonefish, several yellow stingrays, a spotted moray and a spotted drum. Sometimes the current was pretty tough to deal with and sometimes it was pretty quiet.
Mon. Aug. 17th
Sandra & Mike LOVE Palancar Horseshoe and since Tess, Anna, Al, Lee, Dan & Allie had not seen the beautiful canyons we went back there. Allie loves those southern stingrays and we saw another one at the end of the dive. Everyone was impressed by the tall spires of coral reaching up to the surface light at that dive site.
During the surface interval Carlos spotted some dolphins so everyone put on their mask, fins and snorkels and got in to see them. They didn't hang around long but it sure was a treat.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. We swam through that cave and I chased a 6 foot nurse shark. Allie loved that. A big crab was tucked away up in a dark crevice.
Wed. Aug. 18th
Allie was really wanting to get to the shipwreck. Dan was not particularly interested but he was a good sport because Al, Lee, Tess and Anna wanted to go too. Fortunately there wasn't much current for the first half of the dive. It did pick up later though and we really had to work to get back to the ascent line. We saw a big lobster under the wreck and there were plenty of resident grouper. A rather large snapper displayed his pointy teeth.
On Yucab I found a couple of little goldentail morays for Dan. He couldn't see them though. What a shame. I also found a splendid toadfish way deep in it's borough.
Friday, Aug. 20th
I took Dan, Allie, Casey, Randy and A.J. diving on Colombia Deep. The current was running the wrong direction this day. We saw a few groups of small lobsters and were very surprised that we didn't see any turtles.
We were then off to Tormentos Reef. There were two stonefish together in the grassy area. Hiding in the turtle grass were a couple of snake eels and a spotted drum. On the reef we saw a couple of large lobsters.
Saturday, Aug. 21st
My first stop was at Palancar Gardens with Randy, Eddie, Debby, Cassie, Matt and A.J. We were so lucky to have perfect conditions! There were several different large lobsters out prancing around. Cassie showed me a small octopus being picked on by a small grouper.
And the next dive, OH MY GOD! I have not experienced such a horrible dive in years! The current on San Francisco wall was horrendous. The irony of it all was that the Waln family were completing the "Drift" dive for their Advanced Open Water certification. They accused me of really "socking it to 'em". I explained that the current was God's creation !
We had a mini class on how to stop in current before we rolled in. Carlos told me to check the present current. I went in first and the current seemed pretty calm at that time.
After we entered the water, it began gently pushing us out to sea. We had to do some firm kicking to stay over the reef. That lasted for about 10 minutes. Gradually the current became stronger and stronger…so I decided to put to practice the drift-diving technique of getting behind the reef, kneeling in the sand and resting.
We were there only a minute and the current really calmed down. The problem was that the current calmed down because it was switching direction! It brought us right back to where we had started, and it did so at a very rapid pace. The divers were doing well…so when we reached the only real substantial coral head in sight, we took shelter behind it. There was another group of divers there too, doing the same thing.
Next, the sandstorm started. The visibility dropped to about 10 to 15 feet. All the divers in our group were being pulled a different direction. Everyone was having a very difficult time staying behind the protection of the reef so I aborted the dive. I grabbed a kid in each hand and signaled up! I asked everyone to go straight to the surface without a safety stop. I was worried about being only a couple of meters away from the wall and down currents. I figured that after 24 minutes at a maximum depth of 50 feet that the safety stop wasn't mandatory anyway. It was safer just to get everyone on the boat!
It later surprised me to hear everyone's opinion of the dive when we got to the surface. They thought that it was just part of Drift Diver training! They all said that it was quite fun! So I guess it was a success after all. I have to admit is scared the *#&%^ out of me.......... :-)
Sunday, Aug. 22nd
The conditions were much more forgiving on Palancar Caves with Janet, Terry, Eddie, Debby, Cassie and Matt. The Waln family did their deep dive for the Advanced certification. Janet and Terry stayed shallow with Chucho.
We tried really hard to stay out of the current and we were fairly successful. We hid in the canyons and archways.
Yucab was the second dive where we saw many groups of lobsters. A big midnight parrotfish hung around while the Waln family completed the Naturalist dive.
Monday, Aug. 23rd
Janet, Terry, Eddie, Debby, Cassie & Matt came with me to the C-53 shipwreck. There was a huge crab and lobster under the ship. We had perfect conditions and almost no current. We couldn't ask for more!
Navigation was accomplished on Chankanaab. Chucho came along to entertain Janet and Terry while I did skills with the rest of the gang. We saw a big green moray eel. ( Sorry A.J. !) I pointed out a yellow-headed jawfish. Lots of lobsters were around us as well.
Chucho found a weight and brought it up to add to the collection.
Thursday, Aug. 26th
My first stop was at Palancar Gardens with Patty, Terry & Janet. We got lucky on the current and it was not too bad. I showed the girls a splendid toadfish. The girls loved swimming through the coral formations.
Our second stop was on Dalila. I woke up a sleeping nurse shark and frightened it off. We also saw a big green moray eel out swimming around.
My third stop of the day was on Chankanaab with David, Mary, Alisa and Steve. We saw a big, old lobster.
The fourth stop of the day was at Paradise with lots of pretty fish everywhere. The current was reversed going from the North to the South. At the end of the dive, David didn't want to come up, he enjoyed it so much.
Sunday, Aug. 29th
I got dropped off at the 1st point after the block on Horseshoe. My divers were Hui, Lilly, Patty, Mike, Sarah and Zach. The current was going to the South and pretty strong, so I hid the group in the coral formations. At the end of the dive in the shallows we saw an eagle ray feeding on conch in the sand. His nose was really unique. It was long and striped.
Next we went to French Reef where the current was really clipping along. Lilly got to see the turtles that she special ordered during the surface interval. We also saw a swimming nurse shark.
On the way home Carlos turned the boat around and we followed a pod of dolphins. A baby came to the surface pretty close to our boat.
Monday, Aug. 30th
I dived at Palancar Horseshoe with Patty, Jerry, Mo, Mike, Sarah, Paul and Zoila. The current was going in the CORRECT direction, finally. Just Sarah, Zoila and I saw the little hawksbill turtle as it swam up and then away.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. It was Sarah who discovered the big, hungry, lazy turtle lounging on the bottom, snacking on sponge. She sat really still while Patty took her picture.
That afternoon I did a resort course at Paradise with Grace. Terry came along as a little refresher and for moral support. We saw the usual spotted morays, a gold entail eel and a spotted drum. However, the big treat was the octopus completely out of its den. As we approached, he turned blue-green and slipped into it's home.
Terry liked the big crab hiding in a crevice.
Tuesday, Aug. 31st
I went to Colombia Deep with Jerry, Zach, Aaron, Hui, Lilly, Terry and Grace. There was a normal-sized turtle and a little tiny baby turtle. Lilly swam like hell after a spotted eagle ray swimming by.
Aaron requested a shark, so I picked Dalila for the next dive. Aaron missed the shark the other day. So today, we saw a 5-footer go by…just for Aaron. There were assorted barracuda as well.
Wednesday, Sept. 1st
I returned to Colombia Deep with Jerry, Mo, Sarah, Mike, Zach and Aaron. It was a perfect dive. There was a big turtle and a little tiny baby turtle only Zach and I saw. There were groups of lobsters nearby. An eagle ray visited us at the end of the dive in the sandy area. Sarah loved the dive so much that all agreed to do a second tank there that day.
The second tank was every bit as good as the first, if not better. We saw more turtles, more lobsters and Mo got his wish! Mike found a docile nurse shark that laid very still for us so we could stare at her.
Then when we were coming up, Mike pointed down to a pair of spotted eagle rays below us.
Thursday, Sept. 2nd
Tormentos was the dive of choice for Mo, Sarah, Mike, Zach & Aaron. A very large grouper was visiting and I found a spotted moray hidden in the reef. Aaron spent the dive showing his mom neat stuff like hermit crabs.
On Yucab we found several splendid toadfish for Mike. Another big group was in residence. Sarah said that there were so many fish that she felt like she was swimming around in an aquarium.
Friday, Sept. 3rd
Finally I was brave enough to try Santa Rosa wall with all that weird current that we have had lately. David, Patrick, Zyg, Krista & Andrea dived with me. The current was moving swiftly but at least it wasn't crazy. Everyone was fascinated with the deep blue water over the abyss.
The next dive was on Paso del Cedral where Zyg accused me of pounding the green moray eel with my fin. What a comedian :-)
We had chaos and pandemonium in the cave when Krista's weight pouch fell out and Zyg "zigged" instead of "zagged" and went his own way. But we regrouped in time to stare down a big barracuda with sharp, pointy teeth. Krista did a little back paddle when it smiled at her.
Our third dive was on Santa Rosa Shallow where Andrea showed us a bigger, better green eel. Hopefully, Zyg got a good shot of it.
Saturday, Sept. 4th
Tank one was on Palancar Horseshoe with David, Patrick, Sharon, Tammy, Andrea & Maria. We found a turtle for Patrick. The big lobster was in his usual spot near the block.
Tank two was on Colombia Shallows where we found four more turtles for Patrick. One was sleeping under a rock where I usually see him. I showed Sharon & Tammy a yellow headed jawfish, a tilefish and a couple of lizardfish. There were various little lobsters all over the place.
Tank three was on French Reef. David explored every nook and cranny. There were plenty of colorful fish everywhere.
Sunday, Sept. 5th
Birthday Girl Gemma, Birthday Boy David, Andrea, Patrick, Sharon and Tammy celebrated on Palancar Caves. We saw tons of turtles! One was pigging out on a leathery sponge. Another took a poop right in front of Gemma and me.
We also saw a spotted eagle ray. It swam slowly past and we all admired its grace. We found Tammy's nurse shark swimming around at the end of the dive on Dalila. Tammy found a beautiful sand dollar and gave it to Sharon. Sharon carried it around the whole dive like a baby. She passed it to Tammy to hold for a minute and it broke into a bunch of little pieces. Boy, was Sharon mad!
I will be hearing about that one for years to come. My last dive was on Cedral Wall. Andrea found a turtle napping on the bottom. Gemma and I had drifted right passed it without every seeing it. Those turtles really can blend into their surroundings.
Now I am off on vacation to England to visit my friend, Amanda. Gemma will be staying at my house and answering my emails for me.
Return from Vacation, September 2004
While visiting my friend Amanda in England, we spent the night in a 900 year-old castle: www.amberleycastle.co.uk
Well, I am back from England and have spent many days moving to a new house in Cozumel, and I finally started back to work full time, so I don't have a lot for the dive log. This is a short one!
Saturday, Sept. 18th
Chucho and I did a dive for fun with some friends visiting from Cancun on the end of Punta Sur and the beginning of Colombia Deep.
This was about a week after Ivan passed through. Ivan just barely missed Cozumel and the island was affected by very large waves and a little bit of wind. Those large waves really stirred up the water and on this day we still had very little visibility.
We played a lot and saw tons of turtles. There was a big hawksbill eating a sponge and a beautiful large green turtle napping on the reef. Chucho scolded me for bothering it so much but it was a perfect photo opportunity.
We saw a couple more hawksbills. None of which seemed to mind our presence. The visibility was only around 50 feet, but that was enough to have a thoroughly enjoyable dive.
Sunday, Sept. 26th
I forgot how to do my job after such a long rest period and everything felt strange. My first day back to work was on Palancar Horseshoe with Gemma, Ted, Mark & Adela. Coming out of an archway we saw a gorgeous hawksbill turtle. Gemma pointed out a second one in the same general area. The visibility was a decent 100 feet and there was almost no current.
On Dalila we had more current and we saw a small 4-foot nurse shark sleeping under a ledge.
Tuesday, Oct. 5th
I dived on the first point after the block on Palancar with Hector, Mario, Linda, Kurt, Karl, Janet and Gary. We all petted a furry sea cucumber. There was an empty lobster shell that some growing lobster had abandoned for a new shell.
I had to beat Chucho's shark record from the day before, so we all went to Dalila looking for nurse sharks. We found five! Before we spotted all those sharks, we saw a small hawksbill turtle up close. The first shark was really big and was being followed around by a huge grouper. There were a couple of medium-sized sharks swimming around off in the distance. Linda spotted the first one and Karl the other. I found the one napping on the bottom. When we woke it up it started to swim away, but then doubled back and came right at Gary. I thought it would bump right into him and push him out of the way!
The last one was spotted during Janet & Kurt's safety stop. It was pretty far away but Linda saw it too.
Saturday, Oct. 9th
Everyone loves Palancar Horseshoe. It is one the most requested reefs. Bob, Nancy, Jasper, Lisa, Marty, David & Bob came with me to dive there. The plan was 60 feet maximum depth, but everyone was so fascinated that a couple of divers found themselves down at 80 feet. It is very easy to go too deep when you are diving the drop off.
Our second dive was on Yucab. There were two clusters of little lobsters and a small hawksbill turtle. A school of five small groupers were feeding on a school of blue striped grunts. I saw a flash of yellow in the grouper's mouth as he snapped up his breakfast.
Sunday, Oct. 10th
YIPPEE! Becky found Stubby on Yucab!! As Randy, Becky and I were descending she squeezed my hand and pointed madly at the bottom. There he was! He had his head in a hole, which is normal behavior for him and I was soooooo happy to see him. Gary, Janet & Charlie were already on the bottom so they swam over for a good look.
We saw another smaller nurse shark later during the dive but it was so far away that not everyone saw it.
Per special request, we did our second dive on Tormentos. There were loads of lobsters and a splendid toadfish. That afternoon I did a resort course from shore at Paradise with Leann, Justin, Don and Elisa. We saw one really big crab and a few small lobsters. A big permit swam by to say "hi."
Everyone liked the flamingo tongues on the purple sea fans. The best part of the dive was when a spotted eel got into a fight with a goldentail moray. Talk about action!
Monday, Oct. 11th
Randy's favorite dive site is Palancar Caves. The dive team was Randy, Becky, Ruth Ann and Roger. We got dropped off a bit south of all the good caves, but we had a great dive. A small 4-foot nurse shark was sleeping on the bottom and was really still as we swam went by him.
Next, we turned our heads to find a huge southern stingray in the sand with a bar jack following it around.
Our next stop was on Paradise. A free-swimming spotted moray eel made a show for us. Roger found another spotted moray and a cute little baby turtle resting on the sand. We also saw tons of lobsters. Becky and Randy showed us a big crab.
Tuesday, Oct. 12th
The first tank was on Bolones with Gary, Janet, Charlie, Ruth Ann & Roger. Big crabs and lobsters were everywhere. I think that was because it was overcast and a bit dark down there. The shellfish thought that it was evening and time to come out and feed.
The second tank was on Las Palmas. We had a good current there. Gary, Janet and I woke up a snoozing turtle that was nestled down under a small coral head. There were splendid toadfish everywhere. I think we must have seen at least 8. We also saw more crabs and lobsters of course.
Wednesday, Oct. 13th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Ruth Ann, Roger, Elisa, Don & Justin. We had very calm conditions with almost no current. What a blessing! On an underwater "point" we saw a huge snapper and a grouper hanging around.
Elisa loves Colombia Shallow and since half of us (myself included) were having ear problems it was a good choice. We found three different hawksbill turtles. The first one was lying on the bottom in the same spot as always. Strange, I haven't been there in a month and she is still in the same spot. I guess she is there every day. An octopus had taken up residence right next door to our little reptile friend.
The second turtle was found and pointed out to us by Justin. He found it going to the surface for a breath of fresh air.
The third one was swimming on the other side of the reef and only Justin and I saw it.
Thursday, Oct. 14th
Becky, Randy, John & Ralph came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw some big groupers, a family of small lobsters and a goldentail eel at the end of the dive.
Then we went to Dalila in search of a school of smooth trunkfish. We never found them. This reminded me of the time a lady asked me to show her a sea cucumber. Well, sea cucumbers are so common I just figured that it would be a piece of cake. Well, it seems that when you are looking for something it hides :-)
Randy found a cave he liked and I followed him in. He has quite the 'explorer' spirit.
Saturday, Oct. 16th
The first tank was on San Francisco Wall with John, Ralph, Roger, Maurice & Kathye. The splendid toadfish and lobsters were poking their heads out due to the darkened skies of the rainy weather. At the very end of the dive, John & I saw about 50 lobsters all crammed together under a small ledge. I haven't seen anything like that in years.
The second tank was on Dalila per Ralph's request. Maurice showed us a 3-foot long baby nurse shark napping under a coral head. I got in really close which made her uncomfortable. When she turned around to see what was happening, we got a good look at her face !
Sunday, Oct. 17th
Randy loves Palancar Caves, so that is where I took Becky, Randy, Kathye, Maurice & Don. There were two different hawksbill turtles visiting that day. We swam through millions of caves but there was poor visibility due to all the rain from the previous days.
There were schools of humans everywhere on Paso Del Cedral. To get away from them, we swam across the current over to Cedral Wall. After we got there I turned around to find that some of them had followed us! No matter, there were only a few.
Kathye discovered a beautiful little turtle munching on a leathery sponge surrounded by queen angels.
Monday, Oct. 18th
I did a beach dive at Paradise with Keena, Gary & Mike. Wow! We saw a big green moray eel. I tweaked its tail a couple of times to get him to turn around so that Gary could get a picture of it's smiling face. Gary had a brand new digital camera that he was having the time of his life with.
We also saw some big spotted eels, a goldentail moray and a family of lobsters.
Tuesday, Oct. 19th
I went back to Palancar Caves with Tony, Steve, Mike, Jeff, Ken, Roger & Jenny. Coming out of the first cave, another divemaster snarled at us. (He wanted to get into the cave we were exiting.) I wish that I had a slate with me so that I could have told him that I got there first; and further, that he should have made reservations!
After a few more encounters with the same grump, we spent the rest of the dive in peace all by ourselves.
The rain left the water a little cloudy, but it was still and very nice not to have any current. Then we were back to Dalila where we saw tons of good stuff ! There was a small turtle and a big green moray eel asleep under the reef. Finally, I brought Jenny, Roger & Ken up to the surface.
When I came back down, a huge nurse shark was hunting and a grouper was following it around the reef. When I reached the group, another big green eel slithered by us quickly and proceeded to hide in the coral.
Wednesday, Oct. 20th
Chucho came along to help me on Palancar Gardens because we split the group in two different depths. Keena, Mike & Gary hung with me on a shallow dive. Chucho went deeper with Bruce, Anne, Gus & Tony. Thankfully, there was very little current and good visibility for our beginner dives on their first reef dive.
Then Chucho got off the boat and I took everyone to French Reef. There were loads of lobsters and two more green moray eels. We also saw a few small groupers.
Friday, Oct. 22nd
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Mike, Carmen, Andy & Tony. There were several big groupers and we swam through the tunnels. At Cedral Wall we saw everything except Tony's eagle ray. A big nurse shark was swimming around and we had to work hard to catch up to see it. We woke up a turtle from its slumber on the bottom and a big green eel swam over and hid under the reef near us.
Saturday, Oct. 23rd
I had a mixed group of divers and snorkelers, so I picked Palancar Horseshoe so that we would all have plenty to see. My divers were Nik, Sr., Nik, Jr., Tara & Donovan. The rest of the family (all 14 of them! ) snorkeled over us. Both Nik, Jr. & Donovan explored every nook and cranny on that reef.
Our second stop was at Paradise Reef, which is well suited to diving as well as snorkeling. The starfish was quite interesting and an octopus peered out at us from his den. We also saw splendid toadfish, a large eye toadfish and a pair of banded cleaner shrimp in a vase sponge. Nik, Sr. found the stonefish camouflaged on the bottom and Donovan showed us a swimming goldentail eel.
Sunday, Oct. 24th
We went to one of my favorites, Colombia Deep. Tony, Leann, Tommy and Felipe were diving with me. Leann screamed in her regulator every time we saw a turtle :-) Boy, does she love turtles, and we saw five of them.
I was triumphant when I spotted the eagle ray swimming in the distance because I had promised Tony a full refund of his week's diving if I couldn't find one for him! The eagle ray was way too far away to take a picture…but I showed him to Tony and I didn't have to refund his dives!!!!
On Dalila Leann screamed again when I showed her the big fat shark. It was a couple of noisy but fun dives that day. We saw another turtle and some lobsters too.
Monday, Oct. 25th
Dive one was on Yucab with Tony, Leann, Tommy & Jed. I pointed out a couple of splendid toadfish but I don't think everyone knew what they were. Tommy took a picture of one, however. Leann says that the barracuda are evil looking when they come over and give you the "eye".
We had a barracuda follow us around for a while on that dive. I wonder if it made Leann just a tad nervous?
Tony described our second dive on San Francisco Wall as relaxing. No big critters, just a nice, calm dive with plenty of fish.
Tuesday, Oct. 26th
Tony, Leann, Tommy & Paul swam through all the archways and tunnels at the end of Palancar Gardens. Leann says that it was much easier to maneuver through the swim-throughs this trip. Last year she was a new diver and felt like she had less control going through the passages. A pair of mated yellow-headed jawfish were waiting for us on Santa Rosa Shallow. The male had a clutch of eggs in his mouth that he was incubating. They turn them around and around and it is quite interesting to watch.
In the afternoon I met up with Craig and Millie and took them on training dives 1 & 2 for their Open Water Certification at Paradise. On the first dive we had strong current and they were real troupers. On the second dive the current calmed down and we saw lots of spotted morays, goldentail eels, big lobsters and a huge crab. Craig liked the yellow stingrays.
Wednesday, Oct. 27th
Jed, Tommy, Leann, Paul & Tony came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. The guys really enjoyed looking down over the edge that looks like an underwater cliff and staring into the deep blue abyss. They liked the wall so much that we went to Cedral Wall for the next one.
There was really mild current for this particular site. As we were swimming after a turtle, a big shark swam past us. Tony found another smaller turtle and second shark was swimming out over the wall, followed by a pair of groupers.
Thursday, Oct. 28th
Palancar Horseshoe is Tony's favorite and it was his last day of diving. Tommy, Leann, Craig & Millie were there too. We saw a huge grouper hovering in the deep and Tommy swam over and snapped a picture of him. Leann took pictures of all the little christmas tree worms on the reef.
Finally we got up close and personal with Tony's eagle ray on Paso Del Cedral! Tony got his picture and boy were we all happy! The eagle ray hung around and kept disappearing and returning later. We scared the dickens out of a small nurse shark as we snuck up on it. It woke up and swam off quickly.
Friday, Oct. 29th
Kim, Kim, Mark, Cam & Brian got off Mariner of the Seas and met up with me in the Caleta marina. I took them to Palancar Gardens for the first dive. Brian & Cam played with an empty lobster shell and some moon jellyfish. We saw a family of three lobsters waving their little antennas at us from under the coral. At Paradise we saw a southern stingray and an eagle ray. Kim really liked the small eels. Mark followed a big rainbow parrotfish. That guy can really swim!
Saturday, Oct. 30th
I took Chris, Carla, Craig & Millie to Palancar Gardens. We swam through those tunnels at 60 feet deep for about 20 minutes. Then we ascended to 40 feet to visit a turtle that was having a breakfast of sponge. From a distance I spotted a medium-sized nurse shark and Craig got a look at it as it swam away.
San Francisco Wall had a lot of current. It also had another nurse shark but the shark was swimming fast against the current beneath us. There were many clusters of lobsters.
During the safety stop, various southern stingrays were below us in the sand. The bottom was littered with starfish.
Sunday, Oct. 31st
We did another combo snorkel/diving trip. I took Bonnie & Mark diving on Paradise and Felipe took the snorkelers close to shore. We saw a plethora of crabs and lobsters. There were enough there to open a restaurant. The goldentail eel was really cute but I think I shocked Bonnie & Mark when I picked up the snake eel.
Then we went over to Chankanaab and Chucho fed the "piranhas" for the snorkelers while Bonnie, Mark and I dived.
There was a war of the crabs going on. A huge crab with claws was chasing a smaller crab with no claws. I don't know if it was a territorial dispute or a mating chase.
Monday, Nov. 1st
Millie likes Palancar Gardens very much. I took her there, along with Craig, Dave, Steve and Kristen. Millie had secret hopes of seeing the same turtle and shark. Sorry Millie, they have moved on to yet another reef. However, we saw a couple of very large groupers. One was out over the wall and the other one was sitting very still on the sand.
Everyone enjoyed the big school of horse-eyed jacks at the end of the dive. Our next stop was Dalila where we saw another nurse shark swimming rapidly over the reef. A fat green moray was hiding under the reef. When I coaxed her a bit she poked her head out so we could all get a better look at her.
Tuesday, Nov. 2nd
I took Kim & David on a resort course at Paradise. David bought a brand new prescription lens mask just so that he would be able to see everything on the dive. The mask kept fogging up and he could hardly see a thing!
Life can be so ironic sometimes. Kim really had a great time and didn't stop smiling after the dive. We saw a tremendous spotted eel, a big crab and lots of lobsters.
Tuesday, Nov. 9th
Paul, Ankie, Denise, Lester, Holly, Dave, Doug & Jade came with me to Colombia Deep. A huge lobster made Dave's mouth water and think of garlic butter. A small hawksbill turtle paid us a visit and surfaced to breath. Then we were off to Dalila for more lobsters. A big green moray eel smiled at us from inside her cave. Paul showed us a perfect 7-foot nurse shark swimming on the bottom.
Wednesday, NOvember 10
Amanda arrived and joined Paul, Ankie, Bill, Susan, Kevin, Lynn & I on Palancar Gardens. We saw an extremely large porcupine fish. It was maybe 3 feet long. We also saw big snappers, a couple of barracudas, grouper and a permit that was spitting out a broken snail shell. Yucab was our next dive and there were lots more lobsters and big crabs. Susan showed us a wiggling splendid toadfish and a sweet little turtle having a meal on the bottom. The turtle seemed oblivious to us, but when it needed to surface for air it came right back down again to continue the dive with us. That afternoon I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Denise, Lester, Holly, Dave, Doug, Jade and Chucho. We did the deep dive for the Advanced certification. On Yucab Dave and Holly completed the navigational skills for the Advanced certification. We swam past lobsters, a huge crab and a small spotted moray. I found an octopus in a hole surrounded by its empty seashells from previous meals.
Thursday, Nov. 11th
We wanted to go where all the caves are…so we chose the end of Palancar Gardens with Denise, Lester, Doug, Jade, Dave, Holly, Paul & Ankie. Denise loves those tunnels and caves. Denise and Lester also finished up their navigational exercises. To complete Doug & Jade's navigation we went to Colombia Shallow. Paul found the first turtle and it was a pretty big one. He also pointed out a swimming nurse shark for us who was being followed around by a yellow fin grouper. At the end of the dive we visited my reliable little lazy turtle that always lies down and takes a nap in the same spot. It sits really still for cameras. Ankie didn't want to get out of the water at the end of the dive because there was a pair of southern stingrays below us while we were going up the ladder.
Friday, Nov. 12th
I dived Palancar Caves with Susan, Kevin, Bill, "B" and Frank. There was absolutely no current and gin clear water. "B" and Frank got to snorkel with dolphins while waiting for the rest of us to surface. Wow! What a dive on Dalila! A pair of small hawksbill turtles were playing together on the bottom. Then a pair of 8-foot eagle rays swooped by in the distance. They circled a bit before they disappeared. A medium-sized nurse shark passed us by and Kevin found a big spotted eagle ray while we were making our safety stop. We got a good look at that one.
Saturday, Nov. 13th
The first tank of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Paul, Ankie, Kevin, Susan, Ken & Patrick. We saw a jet-black nudibranch with bright blue, green & purple blotches. It wasn't in the Paul Humann book. Susan found a green moray eel free swimming. The eel went under a ledge and a queen angel got mad and kept bumping it with her tail to make it go away. Susan discovered an amazing little sailfin blenny in the sand with his fin up. The second tank was on Paso Del Cedral and two different green moray eels were waiting for us there. A school of small barracudas posed for the camera.
Sunday, Nov. 14th
Bruce, Amanda, Ginny, & Bob accompanied me to Santa Rosa Wall. I took a bunch of photos and they came out kinda blue and over exposed. I took them to Holly at Island Photo for some advice on what to do the next time out. We'll see........ Then we went to Cedral Wall for some action. Yet another green moray eel was hiding under a mound of star coral. There were loads of small lobsters everywhere.
Monday, Nov. 15th
Our early dive was at Colombia Deep with Susan, Kevin, Bruce, Amanda, Steve, Jacque, Ginny and Bob. Susan was our turtle finder. She spotted 4 of the 6 turtles we encountered. We also saw a couple of southern stingrays. It was almost nighttime when we finished our dive on French Reef and we saw lots of good critters. Susan found the nurse shark. It stuck its head in a hole and sucked out its dinner. Bruce got a picture of it digesting its food under the reef. There were a couple more turtles too. Boy, it was a good turtle day! Since it was dusk, we saw lots of lobsters and crabs coming out to begin their nighttime activities.
Tuesday, Nov. 16th
Ankie, Bruce, Steve, Tom, Ginny & Bob came to Palancar Caves with me. We swam through a million tunnels and archways. On Dalila we found Ankie's eagle rays, all 3 of them! The 2nd one was absolutely huge. The 3rd one swam slowly against the current foraging in the sand. I was very impressed with how Ankie could swim against a current. We also saw a couple of turtles. Jim & Gary wanted to do a shore dive to get used to their equipment and figure out proper weighting and Amanda came with us to learn navigation. There were too many lobsters to count. Amanda & Gary saw a nice crab. There were two spotted moray eels and a small eagle ray glided by us.
Wednesday, Nov. 17th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Bruce, Ankie, Steve, Jacque, Bettie, Larry, Brian & Jaime. It was a tranquil dive with little activity and towers of coral. Back to Dalila where a very squirmy goldentail eel swam around and Jacque took it's picture. Bruce got a shot of the big green moray. I saw a small nurse shark followed by an entourage of small groupers but, unfortunately, no one else saw them.
Thursday, Nov. 18th
We decided to go somewhere that they hadn't been…so Ankie, Bruce, Amy, Bob, Ginny, Bob, Steve and Jacque came with me to San Francisco Wall. Rolling in was utter chaos, because there was a giant eagle ray below us swimming slowly against the current and everyone scattered. Some dropped immediately to the bottom and others bobbed on top. However, we all got down just fine in the end. Steve liked the dive so much that he said we have to go back later in the week. There were fish everywhere! Then we went to Yucab and found a small toadfish and a big toadfish. A tiny baby turtle hung around for quite a while.
Friday, Nov. 19th
The first immersion of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Amanda, Gary, Jim, Amy & Rob. Gary went caving with Amanda. A bunch of lobsters were huddled together. Amanda saw a turtle but we couldn't get back against the current to see it. Santa Rosa was so good that we opted for Santa Rosa Shallow for the second dive. First, we saw a small turtle and then some lobsters. Then a beautiful spotted eagle ray made an appearance during the safety stop with Amy & Rob. Amanda saw three big crabs.
Saturday, Nov. 20th
Good old Palancar Caves is where I took Jacque, Steve, Jack, Amanda, Gary & Jim. We didn't feel the current until we came out of the protection of the caves. Up on top of the reef the current was pushing us out to sea and we had to swim against it. I think it was Steve who pointed out the turtle. Jacque burned up a lot of air going after it. Our next stop was on Colombia Shallow where two more turtles made their appearance. There was a cluster of four lobsters and Amanda found a pair of juvenile spotted drums swimming in little circles together.
Sunday, Nov. 21st
Yucab was our first stop with Amanda, Bruce, Steve, Jacque, Mike & Krista. Everyone got a picture of the turtle that greeted us upon descent. Amanda got some good shots of the splendid toadfish. We saw a spotted moray and a goldentail eel too. Next, we were back to San Francisco Wall, per Steve's special request. There were the usual loads of fish and a cool peacock flounder camouflaging itself in the sand. Amanda, Valerie & Simon did a shore dive with me at Paradise later that day. We saw tons of eels everywhere. There were fat spotted morays, a goldspot eel and some goldentail eels as well. There were several lobsters, a couple of big crabs and a rare harlequin pipefish.
Monday, Nov. 22nd
The first tank of the day was on Palancar Caves with Bruce, Lysander, Sylvie & Bob. Sylvie and Bob were working on Peak Performance Buoyancy Control as part of the Advanced certification. They hovered and swam through the archways and tunnels without touching any thing. Easier said that done! For their "Drift Dive" as part of Advanced Certification, I picked Cedral Wall because usually it has one of the strongest currents in Cozumel. But this day it was slow and calm. Oh well! We practiced stopping in current to look at three different turtles, several lobsters and a large groupers.
Tuesday, Nov. 23rd
Amanda stayed shallow with Simon, Valeri, Mike & Krista on Palancar Gardens. I took Bob and Sylvie to 100 feet. A gray angelfish gulped up our bubbles down there. A turtle swam by and dived below us. Mike found a big lobster hiding under the coral. We all saw a turtle on Dalila. Then a big nurse shark swam under Bob, Sylvie, Amanda and I as we were making our safety stop.
Wednesday, Nov. 24th
I took Brian, Brent, Amanda, Erica, Kevin, Jessica, Kati & Natalie to Paradise. Brian got a picture of the big octopus eating a conch. There were lobsters, a big crab and a spotted moray. Since there was a VERY strong south winds that day, we decided not to go to Palancar. It would have been really rough. I know of one boat that almost sank down there that day. So we stayed up here on the North area at Yucab…where the waves weren't too bad. A big barracuda swam right in front of Erica's face! There were more big lobsters there, as well.
Thursday, Nov. 25th
I did my Thanksgiving Day dive on Palancar Horseshoe with Amanda, Shelly, Alan, Kathy, Bob, Sylvie & Chris the Dorito King. Coming out of one of the canyons we saw a big grouper, a turtle and a barracuda all kind of grouped together. The current was weird like a washing machine. We saw a couple more large groupers later on in the dive. On French Reef, Alan showed us a big green moray eel out swimming around and showing off. The green eel was quite a spectacle. She swam around for quite a while and was very entertaining. Amanda said that normally there are more crabs and lobsters there. We only saw a few big lobsters.
Friday, Nov. 26th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Bruce, Bob, Sylvie, Simon, Val, Victoria & Jim. It was Bruce, Bob & Sylvie that saw the frisky green moray eel and Bruce chased after it to get a picture. Then, for more of Santa Rosa we did the shallows. It was a great dive. At first a group of six neophyte divers barged in on us because they had lost their dive master. It was quite a show to watch…until the dive master found them and collected them up. A tremendous eagle ray with a remora glided by us. Bruce burned up 500 psi following the big ray but it paid off with a good picture. Later a green moray eel (I think it was the same one that was on the wall on the 1st dive) swam around and we hung out with it for about 5 minutes. The moray swam right between Bruce's legs and he looked a tad nervous. Then a smaller eagle ray swam right in the middle of our little group. Bruce's memory card was full and Sylvie was out of film! It always happens that way I think. It's Murphy's Law.
Sunday, Nov. 28th
I went to Palancar Horseshoe/Gardens with Rita, Paul, Sharon, Bob, Joanie & Doug. We had beautiful calm, clear water and light current. It was perfect for the 1st dive of the vacation. They gave me a shopping list of critters to find. It was an eagle ray, a turtle and a starfish. Hmmmm…sounds reasonable to me. (I added a beluga whale to the list just for fun.) We found all but the beluga whale on the end of French Reef and the beginning of Dalila. Not all of us saw the eagle ray. He was at the bottom when we rolled in. Rita and Sharon got a good look.
Stubby Update: Bob and Sylvie went to Yucab on Nov. 27th with out me and Sylvie found Stubby lying on the bottom peacefully. Bob took some photos and sent them to me. So I am pleased to say that Stubby is alive and well. The fishing leader and hook are gone from his mouth and I hope to be seeing him soon, personally!!!!!!!!!
Friday, Dec. 3rd
Vince, CJ and Amanda came with me to Palancar Gardens. The current was like swimming in a washing machine, up, down and all around. Thankfully, it wasn't strong. I took a picture of a spotted drum that didn't come out so well... Vince & I saw a black grouper over the wall. Amanda showed us a big turtle when we came out of a tunnel.
Then we were off to Dalila for the second tank. We saw one of everything on that dive. First a divemaster with another group grabbed a big octopus and put it on his head. Then the guy wearing the octopus pointed out a turtle. I don't know how he saw that when his mask was all covered with tentacles!
Vince found us a huge crab and I showed CJ a lobster. Then an eagle ray with no tail swam by. I couldn't get to my tank banger quickly because I had the camera in my hand. So I just went after it. (Which is what we shouldn't do, but it is irresistible) Luckily everyone was paying attention. They know when I am swimming fast it must be something good. While chasing the eagle ray CJ saw a nurse shark. The only thing missing on that dive was a green moray eel!
Saturday, Dec. 4th
Vince, CJ, Cindy & Todd wanted to go to the shipwreck C53. Two big juicy lobsters wiggled their antennas at us from under the sunken ship. Schools of sardines inside the ship were so thick that at times Todd couldn't see me. A big barracuda hung around the deck and looked territorial. On our safety stop I saw a large eagle ray…way off in the distance.
Paso Del Cedral is where we did our next dive where Vince got to see a splendid toadfish special ordered. A crab was hiding in a hole and the biggest frigging eel was in the swim-through cave. A monster parrotfish was charging at its food and crunching the meal with its beak and we could actually hear it.
Sunday, Dec. 5th
I did a couple of shore dives at Paradise with Amanda, Melanie, JC, Murray & Cindy. They were doing training dives 1 & 2 for PADI open water certification. On the first dive we spent a lot of time doing dive-flexible skills and we didn't see much more than a group of colorful fish.
On the second dive we saw a spotted moray, a goldentail eel, a couple of lobsters and a big crab. Amanda found a pipefish.
Monday, Dec. 6th
The first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Ken, Judy, JC, Melanie, Cindy and Murray. There were lots of empty lobsters shells. Ken found the first big one. It was obviously the shell of a growing lobster that had molted.
When they get too big for their shell, a soft and flexible new one forms under the old one. They shed the old one and the new one takes days to harden up. So they are most vulnerable right after they molt. The other lobster shells looked like some one had snapped their tails off for dinner.
Ken & Judy love Colombia Shallow and that was a perfect site for the last training dive. Ken & Judy found a medium sized turtle when we first went down. Judy showed us a huge crab and the lobsters we found on this dive were alive. We also saw a stonefish. My reliable sleepy turtle was not in her usual napping spot so I wonder if she has now moved on to a new area.
Tuesday, Dec. 7th
I went back to Palancar Gardens with Mark, Melissa, Vince, CJ, Ken & Judy. When I came out of a cave, I looked up to check on Judy. She was pointing madly over my head. A beautiful eagle ray glided by up above.
Later another bigger eagle ray with no tail was heading off into the deep blue water. As I was pointing out a turtle on it's way back down from the surface, Ricardo came up from behind me and grabbed me from my back! We also saw several lobsters.
French Reef is where we saw two more turtles and a huge crab. A free-swimming green moray eel, being followed by a grouper, appeared while Ken, Judy and I were making the safety stop.
Wednesday, Dec. 8th
I dived San Francisco Wall with Murray, Cindy, Ken, Judy, Vince, CJ, Mark & Melissa. A magnificent eagle ray glided by. There were lots of little lobsters too.
At Yucab, another giant eagle ray had a big remora stuck to its belly. A tiny little baby turtle was up on top of the reef.
Thursday, Dec. 9th
I took Vince & CJ through a cave and down to the wall at Colombia Deep. Amanda stayed in the shallow part with Damien, Ken & Judy. Those that stayed shallow saw the eagle ray. We were deep and completely missed the sighting.
There were several small turtles. One swam right up to Damien and almost bumped into his mask. While I was bringing CJ up to the surface, I looked down to see a huge, fat nurse shark swim out from under the reef. As soon as it saw us, it turned around again and hid under the coral.
Back to Ken & Judy's favorite, Colombia Shallow. I made obscene gestures with a short spined sea urchin. (CJ and I had a good laugh at poor Vince's reaction.) There were a couple of pufferfish and a big snapper in attendance.
Amanda found a splendid toadfish. Ken showed Amanda and Damien a big turtle.
Friday, Dec. 10th
The first dip of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Jim, Susan, Ken, Judy, Mark, Melissa & Damien. Jim started swimming off towards the deep water. I followed him out there to find him chasing after a big turtle that Damien had discovered. An eagle ray swam right at us and then veered to the right at Ken & Judy.
The second dive was on Dalila. We saw more small turtles. I wasn't cold and I wasn't in a hurry to get on the boat after an hour, so I stayed down with Mark and we cruised Cedral Wall at 15 feet looking for nurse sharks. I found a turtle and Mark saw a baby nurse shark.
Saturday, Dec. 11th
I started off on Cedral Wall with Ken, Judy, Mark, Melissa, Jim & Susan. Once again we saw a few turtles. The second one was perched on its flippers, resting on the bottom. During our last safety stop Ken pointed out a frisky green moray eel swimming around followed by a pair of hungry groupers.
For our dive on Dalila Susan got off of the boat so Amanda and Damien got on. We saw yet more turtles and Amanda pointed out the nurse shark swimming towards the wall.
Sunday, Dec. 12th
I love Colombia Deep and I went there with Mark, Melissa, Patti, Andrew, Elaine, Rich, Jim & Susan. There we found four different small turtles. I think Colombia is the best spot for turtles. Elaine said that turtles are her favorite animals to see. She was very pleased.
We also saw a couple of southern stingrays, a furry sea cucumber and some garden eels. I missed the big lobster that Patti found.
On French reef there was one more turtle for Elaine and pretty fish everywhere.
Monday, Dec. 13th
We went to Amanda's reef with Patti, Andrew, Elaine, Rich, Jim, Susan, Damien and, of course, Amanda. Carlos dropped us off right in front of one of my favorite caves. When we all got to the bottom I was in the front of the group and Amanda in the back. I saw a nurse shark swim out of the cave we were about to enter. At the same time, Amanda and Patti saw an eagle ray go by. Some saw the shark, others saw the eagle ray…depending on their position. If they were in the front or the back of the group determined their view.
Turtles were seen, but I missed them as I was working hard to keep our group from mixing with the other "hundreds of divers" nearby.
I dived on Dalila in a THONG! That thong brought us really good luck! Three giant eagle rays swam slowly past together. One had three large remoras attached beneath its body. They were absolutely magnificent. At the end of the dive, we once again, saw the eagle ray with no tail.
Tuesday, Dec. 14th
Finally I made it out to Santa Rosa Wall with Jim, Susan, Patti, Andrew, Elaine, Rich, Amanda & Damien. There was a small turtle for Elaine at the beginning of the dive. When we first descended, the current was normal. Gradually it became stronger and stronger. Finally, it was pushing us out to sea over the wall. We had to work hard to stay on the reef. I decided to cross the sandy area to the shallows and that was exhausting!
Patti complained that she would rather dive in the middle of the channel than swim against the current again. Hummm that may not be a bad idea after all, as we might see a BIG critter. Some divers were low on air after that exercise and went up topside. Amanda, Elaine, Patti & Andrew and I drifted back to the wall. We saw two immense eagle rays swimming together against the current. Amanda and I stayed down to follow another smaller eagle ray as it foraged for breakfast in the sand.
Early on in the dive at Paso Del Cedral, we saw a huge eagle ray with three large remoras attached to his body. I suspect it is the same one that we had seen the day before at Dalila, but this time, without his two buddies.
Thursday, Dec. 16th
Per Patti's request, I had Carlos drop us off at the end of Palancar Gardens where the caves are located. The dive team was Amanda, Damien, Patti, Andrew, Elaine & Rich. We saw three turtles and lots of lobsters. Amanda fell in love with a furry sea cucumber. It was a beautiful dive.
Then we did a night dive on Dalila. As usual, I could not find one stinking octopus for Patti. I think she is octopus jinxed! The harder I look the more frustrated I get. Even though unsuccessful, she just keeps doing those night dives in hopes of seeing at least one octopus.
We did see loads of crabs and some lobsters. Rich found a juvenile spotted drum dancing at night. The coral polyps were out and a big barracuda was hunting. So the dive was not a complete wash!
Friday, Dec. 17th
We made two groups on Palancar Horseshoe. Amanda took Patti, Andrew, Rich & Elaine deep. I stayed shallow with Joe, Linn, Kyle and Heidi. Amanda showed us a shark swimming down deep over the wall. Patti went down after it to get a picture with her new digital camera. A turtle was hanging out with the shark.
Amanda got off of the boat and we all went to Santa Rosa Shallow. At the very end of the dive Linn swam off from the group and found a slow swimming eagle ray. Everyone who still had adequate air, stayed around got to spend a couple of minutes enjoying him.
That afternoon I did a shore dive on Paradise with Alec, Roger, Ellen, Kayla, Damien & Amanda. We saw spotted morays, a goldentail eel out and about and a snake eel. There were a couple of crabs too.
Saturday, Dec. 18th
I did the eagle ray dive on the North end of the island with Amanda, Damien & Chucho. We didn't have really strong current thank goodness. Amanda, Damien & I saw 3 different single rays. Chucho was way ahead of us and he saw six rays. I think it may still be too early in the season to see the groups of 6 to 12 flying in a squadron.
Then we picked up Roger, Alec, Joe and Linn and we went to Yucab. There were various splendid toadfish, barracudas & lobsters.
Then on Paradise, our last dive of the day. I was a naughty girl and coaxed a splendid toadfish all the way out of it's hiding hole for a full view. As usual there were millions of colorful fish for us everywhere.
Tuesday, Dec. 21st
The first of my four dives that day was on Palancar Caves with Chucho, John, Chris, Roger, Alec, Eric & Brian. Eric & Brian were working on their Advanced certification and we did a deep dive. Chucho stayed at a normal depth with the rest of the gang. We swam through tunnels and saw two turtles. One of the turtles was happily chomping on a sponge.
The next dive was on Cedral Wall. An octopus was in its old den surrounded by seashells. I was the only one who saw the crazy green moray eel swimming around on the bottom while we made our safety stop.
I went back to the marina and picked up Judy, Billy, Troy, Jeremy & Jake. We went to Santa Rosa Wall. A big crab was by the exit to the cave. I think it was picking at something to eat as we observed it. A huge eagle ray flew by over the wall.
Then we were on to Yucab. It was just at sunset, so there were tons of crabs and lobsters out everywhere. We also woke up a sleepy turtle, which swam away and later snuggled down in a new spot further north on the reef. The boys found a splendid toadfish. There are lots of those on Yucab.reef.
Wednesday, Dec. 22nd,
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Judy, Bill, Jake, Troy and Jeremy. It was a rather uneventful dive, however, everyone loved the big coral formations.
Our second tank was on Paradise and I only found one great toadfish that didn't want to come out and be seen. We did, however, see three different eels.
In the afternoon I dived the wreck with Roger, Alec, Brian & Eric. Schools of glassy sweepers and silversides caused zero visibility in the wreck. Medium-sized black groupers and quick bar jacks fed upon the little fish. Roger discovered a pair of black groupers that gave us a XXX rated show on the bow of the wreck.
We did a night dive on Paradise with lots of lobsters. There were zillions of crabs. Alec and I petted the snake eel. We saw a spotted moray out hunting and a large octopus changed colors for us and puffed up in a big turquoise ball.
Thursday, Dec. 23rd,
Brian, Eric, John & Chris dived Colombia Deep with me. A very large eagle ray was spectacular as he was out cruising the blue. One turtle was hanging out at an angle on the reef, eating an orange sponge surrounded by pretty angelfish. Another little guy cruised over the coral.
Then we went to Dalila. We descended on a beer bottle, a starfish and a sand dollar. I didn't know which one to pick up first. A couple of southern stingrays were in the sandy area.
When we crossed over to the reef we were greeted by several large black groupers. Chris made the best find. He showed us a free-swimming green moray eel.
Tuesday, Dec. 28th,
Ron, Kathy, Ross, Mary Lynn, Ian and Sandy accompanied me to Palancar Horseshoe. Right after we got to the bottom a juvenile eagle ray swam by slowly foraging for food in the sand. Later we saw a little hawksbill turtle.
Our next dive was on Colombia Shallows. A small yellow wrasse was eating a very small urchin which was interesting to watch. There were a couple of lobsters and a southern stingray hanging out quietly in the sand. He was quite brave with all of us humans around and didn't stir.
That afternoon I went to Palancar Gardens with Derek, Nicole, Kyle, Elizabeth, Cheryl, Zach & Ron. The first turtle we saw was sharing a sponge meal with queen and french angelfish. The second turtle we saw was a goliath! Coming out the last archway another large turtle was a bit more shy.
Then off to Yucab for crabs, lobsters and spotted eels every where. Two splendid toadfish smiled at us and a darling baby spotted drum fluttered in circles. A baby turtle was taking a nap in a hole.
Wednesday, Dec. 29th
First stop was on Palancar Gardens again with Howard, Greg, Alex, Emily, Ross and Mary Lynn. We saw a big crab displaying its huge claws for us. A small turtle swam up to the surface for a breath of fresh air.
Second stop was on French Reef. Another big crab was waiting for us and so was a lobster. Ross was thinking "garlic butter". A school of humans descended upon us from another boat. I saw another turtle up above but didn't bother pointing it out because I didn't want my divers mixing with the other big group.
Thursday, Dec. 30th
I took the big plunge on Colombia Deep with Ross, Ian, Sandy, Brad, David & Kyle. Surprisingly, there was a bit of current but all dived quite well considering. Both of the turtles that we saw on that dive were hawksbills. The boys really liked the swim-through.
I figured that since the boys liked that swim-through so much that I would take everyone to Paso Del Cedral for the next dive where there is a great cave. An ominous big barracuda leered at us from up above. The splendid toadfish was shy and hid deep in his borough. Everyone got a good look at the lobster that we found.
Friday, Dec. 31st
I started my day at Santa Rosa Wall with Alex, Greg, Emily, Howard, Ian, Sandy and Ross. We all saw a little turtle cruising the top of the reef. We swam through more caves for the boys.
My second tank was on Dalila. This was a special and memorable dive. It was a pleasure when a medium sized nurse shark swam right under Ian and Sandy. That special eagle ray with no tail blew past us.
The grand finale of the last day of the year was a pair of really big bottlenose dolphins that crossed our path. They seemed to be smiling at us as they looked our way. I was so stunned that I felt like a tourist! My eyes looked like two pizzas in my mask, I am sure :-)
My last dive of the year was just the opposite of the fantastic dive that I did on Dalila. Ted, Jeannie, Ron, Kathy, Chucho, Glen and I got a late start. There were four-foot swells. It was a good thing Kathy had taken that Dramamine back in the marina! The visibility was so bad that we couldn't even see the bottom until we got down about 15 to 20 feet. That meant that we began our decent not knowing if we were over the reef or the middle of the channel! Chucho had checked the reef first, told us that there was very bad visibility, but everyone wanted to go anyway.............
Chucho, Kathy, Ron and Glen had to abort the dive. Ted, Jeannie and I stayed down. We had a pleasant dive, despite the conditions. I really love the big formations at this site.
After the dive, got off of the boat and Chucho took all five divers to Santa Rosa Wall for their last dive.
Happy New Year !