Cozumel Scuba Diving

with Alison

Wednesday, Jan. 1st, 2003

My first dive of the day was on Dalila with Trish, Karin, John and Greg.

First of all, we saw a small shark off in the distance. Next, there was a hawksbill turtle very close. (Karin got its picture.)

Then we saw a 5-foot nurse shark that sat really still while Greg and Karin took more photos. There were loads of southern stingrays too.

Our next tank was on Paso Del Cedral where John pointed out a very large nurse shark napping in a sheltered area. Greg spotted the giant eagle ray. It was digging around for a meal. Taking its time, it took a while before it went away.

Then John found a cute little turtle sharing a meal of sponges with a bunch of angelfish.

That night I took Tom, Katherine and Dan on a night dive at Dalila. We saw several big crabs and one huge lobster. Dan and I gave it a rather hard time. There were also a handful of smaller lobsters.

We also saw two octopuses. The grand finale, was a medium sized shark that was swimming right below me. I didn't even see it until Dan came up and banged on my leg and pointed downward!

Thursday, Jan. 2nd

Our first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Sara, Aaron, Zack, Mike, Jodie and Jack. Sara was helping Aaron with his deflator, when she saw the really big eagle ray coming right at us. She pointed madly and the whole group was able to see it.

Later, it was Zack who spotted the second eagle ray. This ray was swimming fast and was a bit smaller.

Paso Del Cedral was next, where we saw yet another eagle ray. Mike saw the world's biggest puffer fish.

In the afternoon we all went to La Francesa…Karin, John, Greg, Tom, Katherine and Dan. We saw a bunch of southern stingrays and a couple of small turtles. There was a really big crab too.

The last dive of the day was on Cedral Wall. Dan had to pound my leg again to get me to notice the big turtle that had drifted over to visit. I was so worried about the bad weather coming that I was looking up at the surface instead of down! The turtle hung with us a while. I also found a big octopus.

Sunday, Jan. 5th

I did a shore dive with Russ, Gordon, Carey and Ally at Paradise. We saw a snake eel, a yellow stingray and a lobster. Carey is somewhat of an expert on the names of all of the fish. Gordon particularly liked the trumpetfish.

Monday, Jan. 6th

I went to French reef with Sonja, Brad, Ally, Russell, Lauren and Steve. I showed one lobster to Sonja and later another to Ally. It was Lauren who found the little hawksbill turtle on top of the reef.

Colombia Shallow is Brad and Sonja's favorite where we saw lots more lobsters, two big southern stingrays and a nurse shark swimming super fast toward us in the sandy area.

Tuesday, Jan. 7th

We had lots of north wind…so we did confined water training for Tyler and BJ on the beach at Palancar. We saw lots of sand dollars and stingrays.

Wednesday, Jan. 8th

Tyler and BJ did training dives 1 and 2 for certification on the shore at Paradise. During the first dive we saw a big, fat spotted moray eel and a huge lobster. We had terrible waves from the north wind, but the boys were real troupers.

On our second dive we saw more lobsters and a stonefish. There was also a couple of golden-tail and spotted morays.

Thursday, Jan. 9th

I took Tyler, BJ, Ally and Casey to Palancar Gardens. Gordon and Laurie came along to go snorkeling. First, we swam over to see a big barracuda. Then a little turtle appeared and swam down deep below us. Next, a huge eagle ray swam right towards Ally and I. It veered off and glided with us for a while.

Our second stop was at Dalila and Gordon joined us. We saw a southern stingray in the sand. There were a couple more barracudas, a big lobster. The best part was a swimming nurse shark that came by on the safety stop.

During the afternoon, I did a resort course on the beach at Paradise with Amy and Michelle. We had the pleasure of seeing another big eagle ray. We also saw a spotted moray, a golden-tail eel, bunches of lobsters and a stonefish. I wonder if it was the same one that I saw the other day?

Friday, Jan. 10th

Trae was completing her Universal Referral on the shore at Paradise. We did two dives and some skin diving exercises. On the first dive, we saw a huge spotted eagle ray feeding on conch in the deeper area. We also saw two morays. One was a golden-tail and one was a spotted moray ell.

On our second dive we saw a yellow stingray, a snake eel and a true tulip shell.

Saturday, Jan. 11th

Colombia Deep is where Trae, Chris and I went diving that morning. Reaching the bottom, Chris showed us a good-sized hawksbill turtle swimming slowly against the current. He got a couple of pictures of it.

Later we saw a pair of garden eels poking their heads out of holes in the sandy bottom.

I went back to Dalila for the next dive. We saw a couple of southern stingrays and a big lobster. A nice barracuda smiled at us and showed us all of his pointy teeth. It was not the monster barracuda that lives there. Right before we had to go up to the surface, a big green moray eel swam out among several groupers…. Providing us with quite a show!

Sunday, Jan. 12th

Scott, Eldad and Sara chartered me and the little boat just for themselves. We started at Palancar Gardens. We swam through all of those gorgeous archways and tunnels. In shallow water on top of the reef, I found a baby nurse shark sleeping under the coral.

I have seen so much good stuff at Dalila lately that I decided to go back there again. It was an incredible dive. We saw everything!

First I saw a swimming nurse shark…but it was far away. Then the boys floated right over two huge lobsters! Next, a turtle swam by us. Eldad posed with the turtle for a picture.

After the turtle visit, the boys spotted a big crab under a ledge. One green moray eel swam right under Sara. I found another hiding in a crevice. On our safety stop we looked down to find a huge eagle ray with no tail under us.

Monday, Jan. 13th

The same trio came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw two dinner-sized lobsters. Next, a stingray swam right up to the camera for a picture.

Our second tank was on Cedral Wall, where we saw yet another green moray eel, a turtle and a lobster. I was extremely pleased to see my favorite shark, Stubby, resting in a cubbyhole.

I showed Sara a pair of beautiful little spotted drums.

Wednesday, Jan. 22nd

Bob, Ann, Matt and Lori-Anne came with me to Palancar Gardens for the first dive of the day. We swam through those beautiful archways and tunnels, and saw loads of big lobsters.

Larry joined us for our dive on Paso Del Cedral, where we were greeted by a large swimming nurse shark with a remora stuck to his head. Later on, we passed some lobsters and quite a few large and small barracudas. The ladies were impressed with their teeth.

At the end of the dive I saw a huge spotted eagle ray and it swooped down to scoop a conch out of the sand. Later, when I sent Ann and Larry up to the surface, I found a second eagle ray. Bob took off in pursuit.

Thursday, Jan. 23rd

I dived at Horseshoe with Monica, Sean, Steve, Larry, Lori Anne and Matt. Monica saw a turtle way down deep in the water. I swam back to look, but I didn't see it.

We saw a couple of lobsters and when we surfaced Sean asked Monica if she saw the shark, but I think he was only teasing her. I didn't see any shark!

French Reef was our second stop. I showed Monica a turtle and a large queen conch.

Sunday, Jan. 26th

I went to Palancar Gardens with Patti, Andrew, Rich, Elaine and Marion. There were lots of warm and cold patches in the water and the visibility was not up to snuff. The current was kinda funky and there were little sinophores everywhere. (Jellyfish type animals)

Overall, however, it was a good ‘first dive of the vacation’ for everyone.

Dahlia was our second choice, because there are always lots of interesting critters there. Elaine counted nine different southern stingrays. They must be in the mating mode, or something. Three of them were hanging out together.

We also saw that really big barracuda the lives on Dahlia. Andrew was our shark hunter that day. If it weren't for him none of us would have seen the nurse shark swim by.

Monday, Jan. 27th

The first immersion of the day was on Cedral Wall with Peter, Marion, Patti, Andrew, Rich and Elaine. Once again we had crude visibility, probably about 40 - 60 feet at best. The highlight of the dive was when we saw "Stubby, " my favorite nurse shark. Stubby has a sort of chopped off dorsal fin so he is really easy to recognize. Rich got a good photo of him.

Per special request, we went to Cedral Pass where I was on a mission to find an eel for Patti. I searched and searched the best hiding holes to no avail! I felt defeated. Rich and I remember when there were zillions of spotted morays sticking their little heads out of the holes and about four different fat, six foot long, green morays in residence. You could even pet the big ones.


Tuesday, Jan. 28th

We went far south to Colombia Deep with Marion, Elaine, Rich, Patti and Andrew. Immediately, as we fell in the water, a big eagle ray came by. We started the descent to see it. We didn't get much more than a glimpse as it crossed over to Colombia Shallow.

French Reef was our next dive. Rich found us a big crab walking sideways across the sand and Luis Miguel filmed it. We also saw a couple of southern stingrays.

That afternoon I did a shore dive with Juli and Becky. They were taking the resort course at Paradise. Marion came along as moral support and for fun. We found four of Patti's moray eels and a snake eel too. You missed a good one Patti!

There were loads of baby lobsters and big school of rainbow parrotfish grazing on the bottom near shore.

Wednesday, Jan. 29th

Patti, Andrew, Elaine, Rich, Marion and Peter took me to Palancar Horseshoe in the morning. Reaching the bottom, Patti finally got her turtle! We dug a little around the old cement block. We see more than just a corner of it sticking out now. We can also now see the plaque with the sketch of the statue on it.

Then we were off to Santa Rosa Shallow where Elaine, Rich and Marion found eels for Patti. When Elaine made the eel sign I went swimming hard back against the current with high hopes of a big green eel. I laughed when I saw a tiny little goldentail!

Thursday, Jan. 30th

Elaine, Rich, Patti, Andrew and Peter came back to Dalila again with me by popular demand. We saw more of Patti's eels and her turtle. We also saw a giant spotted eagle ray. There was a big crab and a lobster too.

Then we did a night dive on Colombia Shallow. Patti told me that she wasn't coming up until she saw an octopus. We saw loads of lobsters, a crab and a slipper lobster. Rich got a picture of a squid hovering in mid water. Patti found a spotted moray completely out of its hole. Rich chased after a turtle.

I blinded a poor nurse shark sleeping in a hole. We scared the poor thing and it swam away.

Later Peter found it in a new hiding place and everyone went and took its picture. I spent the last 30 minutes of the dive trying my damnedest to find an octopus for Patti. After an hour I found the tiniest, little octopus and I waved my light madly at Patti. By the time she got there she only saw its tentacle. But I was relieved because now she could go up!

Friday, Jan. 31st

I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Peter, Patti, Andrew, Elaine and Rich. There was a cute little turtle perched on the wall about 15 feet below our planned depth and we all went down to say hi.

We also saw a big crab and swam through the caves.

San Francisco Wall was our second stop where we saw a tiny little seahorse that looked similar to a bit of seaweed. There were tons of fish and I saw that grouper that has a big bite out of the top of his head. It is healing up well. I always wonder what critter did that to him!

Wednesday, Feb. 5th, 2003

I went to see the schooling eagle rays on the North end of the island with Susan and Chucho. At first we only saw one ray. Later a group of 5 made a slow pass. There were many boats out there that day waiting their turn to dive. I suspect that we saw fewer rays than usual because of the heavy diver traffic on the reef.

We did a second dive on the same wall. When we first jumped in the current was really strong. Later there was no current at all. It was early afternoon and cloudy so there was low light conditions. We saw no rays for the first 10 minutes. Then later we saw 3 groups of 5 rays. We also saw a pair of rays and one solo ray fighting to get rid of 3 remoras. He was flapping his "wings" and going up and down.

Sunday, Feb. 9th

I dived on Paradise with Jan. We saw 4 spotted moray eels and a group of many lobsters. We were also delighted with a big eagle ray.

Then I went to San Francisco Wall with Susan, Bruce and Jim. Jim is my good luck charm. Immediately upon reaching the bottom a medium sized eagle ray glided by under me. Then Susan spotted a swimming nurse shark below us. She also spotted a splendid toadfish. I found an octopus, a goldentail and a small turtle, and Bruce took his picture.

After that we decided to go to Punta Tunich. We saw loads of lobsters and 3 spotted drums.

Monday, Feb. 10th

Susan, Jim, Bruce, Clarke Sr., Clarke Jr. and Steve opted for Santa Rosa Wall. Jim played with a turtle hanging out in about 60 feet of water. Later I spotted a couple of big nurse sharks sitting in the sand. I suspect that they were making whoopee. Jim got right up close and personal with them.

Our second tank was on Paso Del Cedral. There were huge lobsters and everyone took off after another turtle. There was a big stonefish kind of "flopping" along the bottom in the sand.

Tuesday, Feb. 11th

The first tank of the day was at Palancar Gardens with Bruce, Jim, the good luck charm, and Susan and Mike. Susan said, " I want to see a green moray eel!" while we were getting ready to dive. Guess what we saw in the first cave!?! Susan got a great photo of the green moray! We also saw a dinosaur-sized lobster and 2 turtles.

Yucab was dive two, where we got to see yet another green moray. This one was immense! A very large eagle ray passed by us and Bruce burned up a lot of air trying to catch up to it and get a picture. At the surface he asked me what happened to it's tail. I suspect that a shark bit it off.

Wednesday, Feb. 12th

First stop was on Palancar Horseshoe with Corkie, Mike, Ken, Audie, Bruce and Jim. We swam through those tunnels and had a great time.

Everyone's favorite is always Dalila where we saw 2 nurse sharks and a turtle serenely munching on algae.

That night I dived at Paradise with Bruce, Jim and Susan. Jim found the big octopus. We saw one really large lobster and lots of little ones. We saw a "cucaracha" which is really a slipper lobster and a couple of big crabs. There were at least 3 spotted eels and we saw some yellow stingrays and toadfish too. The really fantastic part was when the 2 eagle rays came by. They seemed to be attracted or confused by our lights. They swooped right down on top of us. Bruce couldn't resist the temptation to reach up and caress its belly. He couldn't believe how soft it was.

Friday, Feb. 14th

My first dive of the day was from shore at Paradise to complete Beau, Nick, Dan and Joanie's open water training. I talked Shelly and Buck into coming along for fun. We saw a spotted moray out swimming around in the open. There were plenty of little lobsters. Buck found a big crab. Some jellyfish stung beau, but it was not serious.

Shelly and Buck sat out the second dive. On this one we saw lots of yellow stingrays, a goldentail moray eel out and about, 2 snake eels that I couldn't resist petting and a slipper lobster that looks like a big cockroach!

Brad and Brennan came with me on a night dive. Brennan found the first octopus, I found the second. There were 2 huge crabs. One of which was cruising sideways in fighting stance with it's claws extended. There were plenty of lobsters as well.

Saturday, Feb. 15th

First stop was on San Francisco Wall with Beau, Nick, Dan, Buck, Shelly, Joanie, Brad and Brennan. Upon descent there was a medium sized nurse shark that we must have terrified because it swam away quickly. Not everyone had the opportunity to see it.

Buck discovered the eagle ray flying along the wall and we all went over to get a look.

Nick wasn't feeling well, so he and Joanie skipped our next dive on Las Palmas. Dan was really impressed by the big barrel sponges everywhere and the gorgonians.

I did another night dive with the Brad, Brennan and the Anderson family on Paso Del Cedral. There was strong current and we didn't see as much stuff as I always do on Paradise. However, we did see a couple of lobsters, a big crab and a school of migrating fish. But that was about it. I was kinda disappointed in the dive.

Sunday, Feb. 16th

I did my first tank on Palancar Gardens with Brad, Brad, Brennan and Susan. We wanted to go to Colombia but the south wind was just too strong and the waves were really large.

Palancar was beautiful. Once we were under, there was almost no current at all and we crept slowly along the reef identifying all of the creatures. We did see one really big barracuda and a pair of huge snappers.

We did our second dive on Cedral wall. Brad said that I saved the best for last! We saw 2 different turtles and a pair of nurse sharks nestled together in a protected area of the reef. One of those sharks was my "Stubby" and Susan got a good shot of them. I wonder if it is mating season.

Our third tank was on Bolones de Chankanaab. It was late afternoon and there was less light, which creates kind of an eerie ambience on the reef. There were countless big crabs on top of the mounds of coral and gigantic lobsters out walking around.

Tuesday, Feb. 18th

I dived on Palancar Horseshoe with Beau, Nick, Shelly, Joanie, Buck, Dan, Martin, Laurie and Nathan. We hired a large boat to accommodate all of us. We saw a southern stingray and we swam in, out and through the caves.

Then we did our second tank on Cedral Wall, which is one of my favorites. A small turtle and a group of barracudas greeted us.

Wednesday, Feb. 19th

My first dive of the day was on Palancar Gardens. Joanie, Shelly, Beau, Nick, Buck and Dan came with me. We saw a clump of three lobsters all huddled together. Buck and Nick scared a large, camouflaged crab into hiding.

The second tank was on Colombia Shallow, where Shelly was the first to spot the little green turtle. Nick tried to pet a big lobster that scooted away. Beau found a splendid toadfish in a newly excavated den.

Thursday, Feb. 20th

I went to Palancar Gardens again with Chucho, Marty, Lauri Lee, Nathan, Gene and Dennis. We saw a giant barracuda and two different lobsters. The second lobster was HUGE and when we went in the cave to see it, Gene bumped his head on the coral. We told everyone the scratch was a "shark bite" and that Dennis saved his life!

Colombia Shallows is great, both for diving and for snorkeling. We decided to return. We found the same little green turtle that we saw the day before with the other group.

The second turtle that we found was a hawksbill and Marty got a picture of it. We also saw a big lobster.

Friday, Feb. 21st

I took Joyce, Harold, Kevin and Julie to Cardona. Julie was just snorkeling. She will get certified in the end of March. We all saw one baby eagle ray with a super long tail.

Later, I saw a second eagle ray behind the first one …off in the distance. The eagle ray(s) kept coming back to visit us 3 or 4 times during the dive.

Paso del Cedral was a fantastic second dive! We saw shark after shark. (There were three in total) We also saw a teeny weeny sea horse that Jorge from Aldora Divers found and pointed out.

We saw seven different lobsters.

Saturday, Feb. 22nd

We started our day on Bolones de Chankanaab with Steve, Matt and Kevin. We saw the submarine go by and it was a real kick! The visibility was so bad that I wondered if the captain of the submarine could even see us. The bad visibility added to the mystery of the submarine and we had a lot of fun.

The guys agreed to bear the big waves so we did the next dive on Cedral Wall, where we were rewarded with the two nurse sharks, previously photographed by Susan.

Kevin found a big hawksbill turtle nestled down under the reef taking a nap. He had to point it out three times before I could see it!

Sunday, Feb. 23rd

I started a long day on Palancar Gardens with Steve, Matt and John. There was a lot of different stuff going on that morning. John was trying out a new camera and Steve was doing his deep dive for Advanced certification. Matt was just chillin'. A nice eagle ray came by several times to visit.

My second dive of the day was on Colombia Shallow, where Steve practiced navigation for his Advanced certification.

That afternoon I did a shore dive at Paradise with Sarah, Aryeh, Rebecca, Dov, Ruth and Mark. It was dive number one of the Open Water Referral for the kids. We saw a lobster after we finished the skills training.

Then I did a second dive for dive number two of the course. Ruth sat the second dive because she gets cold easily. We saw three eels all the way out of their little hiding holes and lots lobsters. I showed Sarah a big crab.

Monday, Feb. 24th

My first tank of the day was on French Reef with Ellen, Matt, my Cabaña Boy and Steve. We saw quite a few lobsters.

Then we went to Dalila. An eagle ray passed by off in the distance. The guys found a baby nurse shark sleeping in a niche in the coral. Later, we saw a full sized shark out and about, just cruising.

A turtle swam right up to us and over our heads to take a gulp of air at the surface. I think Steve got a good shot of its silhouette.

Then in the afternoon I dived at Chankanaab with Ruth, Mark, Rebecca, Aryeh, Dov and Sarah. We encountered an empty shell of a crab that molted. I also showed Becca and Dov a live crab.

There were a pair of lobsters waving their antennas at us from inside a hole.

My last tank of the day was on Paradise. Becca had to “sit that one out” because of her tremendously stubborn ears.

We saw two perfect little spotted drums and Ruth got a picture of them. Sarah spent the dive and most of her air trying to catch a fish in her hands. She didn't realize that it is just impossible!

Tuesday, Feb. 25th

I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Terry, Gregg, Matt and Ellen. We saw tons of lobsters…big and small.

It was rush hour on the reef and we had to put forth an effort to not mingle with other groups.

Our second dip was at my weird spot, "Right after the cave". All we saw were a bunch more lobsters. Usually that spot is action packed....

Dov requested Santa Rosa Wall for the afternoon dive so Ruth, Mark, Aryeh, Becca, Sarah and Dov took the plunge on the wall. Rebecca had a reverse block coming up so I sent the rest of the gang up and I stayed down another 15 minutes with Rebecca making a very slow ascent.

When we were 5 feet from the surface a big eagle ray glided below us and we went back down for a minute or two to follow it. Oh… and there was a turtle that dive too.

Tormentos is where I did my last dive of the day. Sarah resumed chasing the fish and burning up air. We saw yet more lobsters. I showed Mark the endemic splendid toadfish but he didn't have a clue why I was pointing out that funny-looking fish in the hole.

Wednesday, Feb. 26th

Palancar Horseshoe was my first stop with my Cabaña Boy, Terry, Greg and Ellen. We spotted a turtle and spiny head blennies and a juvenile bandtail puffer. The tiny stuff can be so cute!

John, my Cabaña Boy, loves Dalila and so do I, so we went there. There were two sharks. No one else (except me) saw the first one but Ellen and I both saw the second shark.

I went back to get Terry. As I was checking to see if he followed me, I saw a big eagle ray behind him.

That night I went to Paradise with Matt, Ellen, Terry and Steve. Ellen was the octopus hunter girl. She found three octopi for us. I found a squid. Everyone kept calling the squid a cuttlefish. I didn't have the heart to tell them that there are no cuttlefish in Cozumel, because I didn't want to embarrass anyone. That damn squid was almost big enough to be a cuttlefish anyway!

We also saw 3 or 4 splendid toadfish. There were tons of morays out swimming around creating quite a show. While I was looking at a sharptail eel, Ellen called my attention to a viper moray. Now that was an oddity. I haven't seen a viper moray in many years. Those critters have a scary set of chompers on them! I am hoping that Terry got a good picture of the squid.

Oh, and we saw some crabs and lobsters too...

Thursday, Feb. 27th

I did a beach dive with Janet, Pat and Chuck. We stayed shallow and did a slow crawl on the bottom. We saw a sharptail eel and a spotted eel.

Then I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Becca, Dov, Sarah, Aryeh, Ruth and Mark. We saw a three flippered turtle that I hope is "tripod" my little buddy. I worked a little more on digging out that cement block.

Becca's ear remained stubborn.

The last dive was on Dalila where we saw big crabs and a small lobster.

Saturday, March 1st, 2003

The first dive of the day was on shore at Paradise with Terry, John, Gregg, Anne, Carrie and Tom. Anne was starting her Open Water check out dives, Carrie and Tom were doing a resort course.

We found a big crab and some lobsters.

During the second dive, only Anne, John and Tut came along. Tut found a gorgeous little chain eel, which is my favorite kind of eel. He also found a spotted moray. Anne found a golden-tail eel.

John brought his camera all set up for macro and when he was all out of film we swam right up to a spotted drum, two flamingo tongues on a sea fan and a sea urchin. Why is it that the best subjects always appear when you are out of film?

Sunday, March 2nd, 2003

The first dip of the day was at Palancar Gardens with Terry, John, Gregg, Ed, Annie and Gerald.

A huge lobster hiding under a ledge waved hello at us.

Then we went to the old stand by, Paso Del Cedral. We swam through the cave and tried not to mix with the other groups of divers.

If that wasn't enough diving for the day, I went back on a shore dive with Janet, Linda, Belinda, Lyn, Kyle and Ron for a resort course. We saw a couple of moray eels, and a large group of lobsters…but Ron was our hero. He showed us a gigantic eagle ray feeding slowly on the bottom.

Monday, March 3rd

Our first stop was on Amanda's reef with Gerald, Pete, Carolyn, Carrie, Tom and of course, Amanda. We saw two separate yellow finned groupers and a big snapper. It made Pete hungry so he rubbed his belly.

We saw more seafood on San Francisco Wall that day, although the splendid toadfish is not edible…to the best of my knowledge.

Gerald found an enormous crab in the coral.

I did yet another night dive with Gerald, Terry, Amanda, Pete and Carolyn. This was a good one. There were five octopi, a big crab, a snake eel, one big lobster, spotted eels and a lone toadfish.

Tuesday, March 4th

Amanda and Chucho helped me with my larger group of Carrie, Tom, Carolyn, Pete, Al, Ed, Gregg, Anne, John and Terry. The highlight of our dive on French Reef was a big eagle ray out in the deep water. Chucho says that the eagle ray saved the dive because apart from that, the only other critter we saw was a big lobster. Of course, there also was loads of fish.

Cedral Wall had a brisk current and I was thankful for the extra pairs of eyes and fins. There were some really big barracudas hanging out that day.

Wednesday, March 5th

Chad and Jason did dives 1 & 2 for their Open Water Referral from shore at Paradise. John & John came along with their cameras to bottom crawl and take pictures that you can't get in the current on the reef.

I took John back to the spotted drum and flamingo tongue that eluded us when he was out of film last time but he couldn't get his macro framer under the ledge to take a picture. I think John got them on video. There were plenty of macro subjects like goldentail morays, spotted eels and loads of little lobsters.

Thursday, March 6th

There was really a strong South Wind that day so I insisted that we stay on the North End of the dive area to avoid big waves and sea sick divers. Terry, John, Al, Anne and Amanda came with me to Bolones de Chankanaab.

Anne was our divemaster that morning because she saw the eagle ray first, she found the enormous lobster that John spent 5 minutes photographing and she also found the huge octopus! What a gal. The submarine made its appearance and we saw maybe 20 lobsters and a giant crab.

That dive was really action packed!

Then we went to Las Palmas for a kind of screwed up, but interesting dive. The current was crazy as it sometimes can be at this reef. I went in first to check the current and there wasn't any.

Two minutes into the dive it started pushing us towards shore. Then it started going south and by the end of the dive, it was going out to sea. We all burned up a bunch of air just trying to stay on the reef. At the end of the dive is when we saw the big eagle ray over the wall and the weird patch of long spined purple sea urchins.

I went back to Bolones de Chankanaab in the afternoon with Lee, Peter, Jason, Chad, Peter and Carolyn. I chose Bolones mostly because of that strong south wind and also because we had had such a great dive there in the morning. I felt really bad telling Pete and Carolyn that Palancar Caves was a really bad choice for their last day of diving.

The afternoon dive turned out to be not even half as exciting as the morning dive. We just saw two big lobsters and the submarine of course! Well, I guess that is better than being seasick and slamming into the pier.

Our last stop was on Paradise, where all enjoyed the dive because it is so colorful and lively there. There were loads of fish as always. Lee pointed out a spotted drum and we stayed down 65 minutes.

Friday, March 7th

My first tank was on Palancar Gardens where Amanda led the divers (Terry, John, Al, Gregg, Ed and Charles). Amanda found a turtle for John, but no one saw it except Amanda and me! She also found plenty of swim-through for the guys. We saw a nice sized crab and there was a giant lobster out walking around on top of the reef.

The second tank was on San Francisco Wall. As we descended a beautiful eagle ray glided right beneath us.

Saturday, March 9th

Amanda, Jennifer, Anita, Ken, Al, Anne, Brian, Shawna and Brian came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. Ken saw an eagle ray that no one else saw. He banged on his tank, but no one paid any attention to him. What a shame!

Dalila is the tried and true second dive. Everyone got to see the turtle that was munching on sponge before we scared it over to Anita for a photo. Shawna had to swim hard against the current to get back and see the fat 6-foot green moray eel. I missed the show when it came out and swam over the sand.

I think it was probably worth swimming back to see....

Monday, March 10th

We went in search of sharks on Cedral Wall for Sherri, Jim, Kathryn, Rick, Anita and Ken. We didn't find any of the sharks, but we were rewarded with two turtles. The second one was really big and Anita sucked up more air than usual getting a good picture of it.

Since we hadn't satisfied the shark request, we went to Paso del Cedral to continue the shark hunt. Sherri was delighted that we found two of them. We also swam through the cave and I found an octopus deep down in its den, hiding during the day.

Tuesday, March 11th

Ken, Anita, Jenifer, Kathryn, Brandon and Rick came with me to Palancar Gardens while Heather snorkeled over us. Heather saw a turtle, but we missed seeing it.

Brandon likes to look in all the little holes and found a really big crab for us.

The second stop was on Colombia Shallow because Heather would have plenty to see and Anita and Rick would have good light for the photos. Brandon showed us a family of seven lobsters and a poisonous stonefish. Anita took pictures of a pair a juvenile spotted drums doing their little wiggle.

The night dive was on Paradise with Anita, Ken, Jenifer, Kathryn, Rick, Jim and Sherri. We pleased Jim with two big octopi. There was only a couple of lobsters and I didn't see even one crab.

I tried to show Jenifer a school of baby squid, but when I got her attention and tried to find them again, they had disappeared. Ken followed the honking of a toadfish until he finally located it right beneath him.

Everyone had a great time.

Saturday, March 15th

I took Amanda to Cantarel for the eagle ray dive. I wasn't so sure that there would be any eagle ray left by the second week of March, but we were rewarded with quite a few! There was a small one that Amanda fell in love with. The little one seemed to always be around, waiting for pairs or individuals to come by. Sometimes she would swim with the others but she would consistently return to our spot. Amanda described the dive as her best dive ever!

Sunday, March 16th

I arrived on the beach at Paradise at 9:00 but didn't dive until 1:30 pm. As we were doing the class, a terrible storm blew in. We tried to take cover in a little palapa, but the squall was fierce and the wind was unbearable. I was really frightened because the Enigma II was out in the storm and Carlos had taken the day off and we had a substitute captain. When Chucho made it back to the marina he said that the waves were 10 feet high and that he had been scared as well. He even kissed the motors when he got back!

The storm blew over by the afternoon and we were able to dive, even though there were some residual waves and a bit of current. I did the first dive from shore with Amanda, Damien, Tanya and Christine. We saw lots of eels, lobsters, crabs, a yellow stingray and a splendid toadfish. The spotted drum was still there and it was hanging out with a big, fat spotted moray eel.

On the second dive we saw a peacock flounder, more eels and a bunch of lobsters.

Monday, March 17th

I started the day doing the confined water training for Damien and Tanya. Amanda came along for fun.

Then we did dive number two for Damien and Tanya's open water certification course. We did loads of skills. Amanda took a picture of the spotted drum. We found a teensy pipefish. Amanda thought it was a seahorse all straightened out. That is exactly what it looks like too. Aside from the morays and lobsters we also saw a huge needlefish with big, pointy teeth.

That afternoon Amanda, Tanya and Damien were not tired yet, so we all went out to Palancar Gardens with John, Zach and Chris. I found a small hawksbill turtle, but Chris didn't get to see it. Amanda found a baby nurse shark and Tanya wasted 300 psi swimming hard against the current to get back and see it. She said that it was worth it.

Then we all went to Colombia Shallows. Chris had mentioned that she was disappointed to not have seen the turtle on Palancar, because that was one of the animals that she really wanted to see. So when Tanya spotted the turtle she made huge effort to get Chris over to see it. What a nice dive buddy. It was a sweet little green turtle that Amanda coaxed over to us. It spent a good while swimming with us. Later, we found a medium sized hawksbill turtle.

Tuesday, March 18th

I dived French Reef with Nichole, Lexi, Ann, Dave, John and Zach. The Nelson family really made me proud to see them diving so well. I felt good knowing that my name was on their certification cards.

We went to Dalila for the second dive. Zach found the nurse shark that swam by. I saw him wildly trying to get his father's attention and that's how I noticed it and pointed it out to the group. We also saw a graceful eagle ray come by.

Wednesday, March 19th

First stop was on Santa Rosa wall with Tanya, Nichole, Lexi, Ann, Dave, Amanda and Damien. The current was quite strong when we rolled in and it took a while to get ourselves properly positioned over the reef. After everyone was all settled in we saw a little hawksbill turtle over the wall. Amanda found everything else on that dive. There was a splendid toadfish, a lobster and a shark napping under the reef. She only got a picture of its tail, because it was so big!

Tanya ordered up another shark for the second dive and we saw two! We went to Paso Del Cedral looking for Jorge's seahorses. I felt like I was looking for a needle in a haystack. It is much easier to find sharks....There were loads of barracudas everywhere and they were both large and small alike.

Thursday, March 20th

Our first tank was on Palancar Horseshoe with Ann, Dave, Sandra, Chad, Amanda and Damien. I did a little more digging on the old cement block and showed everyone the resident lobster. Someday we will be able to uncover that old cement base for the statue. I taunted a little damselfish that was defending her/his algae patch and let it attack me. When we got back on the boat, Ann reminded me that her instructor in the Advanced Course (me) had taught her not to harass the marine life! Oops.

The second tank was on San Francisco Wall. It was a joy and a surprise when "Stubby" my favorite nurse shark swam by below us in the blue water going fast against the current. I have never seen him so far away from home. He usually is only seen on Santa Rosa or Cedral. He was miles from his usual territory. Maybe he was out looking for a girlfriend. Amanda found the splendid toadfish that she likes so much. We also saw another lobster.

Saturday, March 22nd

I did two shore dives with Doug, Joan, Amanda and Damien. Doug and Joan were doing their open water check out dives for their referral. On the first dive, after we did skills, we saw some lobsters, an eel and a yellow ray. There was a beautiful little spotted drum too. Amanda said that there was a really huge crab behind the spotted drum, but I didn't see it.

On the second dive we saw two huge crabs, tons of lobsters, two really big spotted eels that were being cleaned by a shrimp and a juvenile french angel. I showed Amanda a splendid toadfish that was half out of the hiding hole. You could see its whole body.

Sunday, March 23rd

Brandon and Rachel did a beach dive with me. Rachel was taking the resort course. We saw a pretty little golden-tail eel.

That afternoon we dived Chankanaab with Joan and Doug to finish their certification. There was a dinosaur-sized lobster out walking around along with a huge crab in a hole.

Then we did Paradise Reef. We saw a spotted moray and a gray angel eating our bubbles.

Monday, March 24th

Jere, Karolina, Bartek, Teresa and Marta needed a little refresher on the beach, since they hadn't been diving in a long time. Julie was doing her first dive ever for her certification. Fortunately, we had almost no current. We saw loads of spotted morays. I saw a chain eel, which is my favorite. It was really hidden…so I didn't bother showing it to the others. We also saw a couple of small lobsters and a yellow ray.

Tuesday, March 25th

Since the currents had been so dangerously strong over the last week and there were numerous reports of down, I chose a reef that has a "bottom". Karl, Marta, Jere, Teresa, Karolina and Bartek came with me to Bolones de Chankanaab. We had a great time. We saw a big crab, a few lobsters and the submarine passed by. Toward the end of the dive, the current was blowing us out to sea so we had to swim against it for a little while. We got some exercise.

Chankanaab Reef was our next stop. We had a moderate current there as well. We saw a peacock flounder and a tiger's tail sea cucumber.

Wednesday, March 26th

I went to Palancar Gardens with Jere, Marta, Teresa, Karl, Karolina and Bartek. We saw a lot of big lobsters. One of them was out taking a stroll on top of the reef…brave as could be. He seemed to be mocking us saying: "This is a national park and you can't touch me!".

We went through the tunnels and archways. Teresa said that it was the most beautiful dive she had ever completed.

Dalila had a moderate current that day. It was Karolina who waved madly to get our attention when she almost floated into a giant spotted eagle ray. The big ray was chowing-down on mollusks in the sand.

Thursday, March 27th

Our first dive was on Palancar Horseshoe with Marta, Jere, Karolina, Bartek and Teresa. I could tell that we just barely missed some terrible current…because we swam through a big cloud of sand and later we swam past a tornado of sand. It was rather ominous.

Then we went to Paso Del Cedral, where the current was ripping. All the fish were hiding. There were schools of barracuda everywhere and a huge one had a big bite out of his side. A large grouper was hiding by the cave to get out of the current and we went through the cave backwards because it would have been impossible to get all of us to duck in at the first entrance. What a ride!

Last for the day, we did a night dive on Paradise. Thankfully, we had good conditions. There were four different octopuses that we encountered along with a squadron of four squid. The squids were my favorite part of the dive. There were also some lobsters, a big crab and four spotted morays out swimming around for us. I couldn't resist the snake eel and Jere found his splendid toadfish. If Amanda had been there I am sure we could have found lots more of them too!

Friday, March 28th

Karl, Teresa, Karolina, Bartek, Marta and Jere came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. There were two hawksbill turtles on the wall and one floating on the surface. It made a nice silhouette. We also found a poisonous stonefish.

We found another pair of squid on San Francisco Wall that were right beneath us. It is really strange to see them hang around for such a long time. The kids found them. It seems odd that they would find them two days in a row.

Saturday, March 29th

Dalila was our destination for the morning dive. Jere, Marta, Teresa, Karolina and Bartek were my divers. I finally found a shark for Karolina. (I was on a mission!) She had been asking to see one all week.

One shark wasn't enough so we went to Cedral Wall in search of another. Stubby came home! I was happy to see him in his usual spot. Marta chased a small turtle to get a picture and I cut some fishing line off of the reef. The grand finale was an eight-foot eagle ray gliding over the reef with three harpoons sticking out of his back. I was so upset I cried on the safety stop. How could anyone want to eat such a beautiful creature???????

That afternoon I did a couple of beach dives at Paradise with Julie and John for their certifications. We saw several spotted morays. Two of my dear chain morays together along with a golden-tail eel. It was a good day for eels at Paradise. There were plenty of lobsters, as usual and a few yellow rays. I love seeing the schools of three-foot green and orange Rainbow Parrotfish grazing on the algae at the end of the day just before sunset.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2003

The north wind that had closed the port for two days had slowed the monstrous currents. Chris, Andrew, Dave, Jane and John came with me to Dalila in search of sharks for Jane and her camera. We found two and I felt triumphant! There were tons of thimble jellyfish everywhere that the north wind blew in. We also found several splendid toadfish.

We went to Cedral Wall for more sharks. I wasn't so lucky that time. All we saw were three tremendous lobsters. (Two of them were out strolling about.)

Wednesday, April 2nd

Yeah!!!!!! I went to Las Palmas with Karl, Julie and John. When I saw the divemaster from Caribbean Divers pointing to a sea fan and making the sign for "horse" I swooped in. Naughty me! I have been trying to find those little buggers for a year now. I used to look for a massive barrel sponge that marked the area. When the sponge disappeared, I no longer could find the spot where they live. Well, I took some mental photos of the area and I also went up to find some references on shore.. I was determined to be able and go back to find them again.

There are two of the splendid little critters. There is a bright orange one of them is dark maroon. I think the maroon seahorse is the male, because I saw him "pregnant" and fat once. They are just gorgeous.

Paradise was the next dive site and John didn't come because he was flying out in 24 hours. We saw loads of spotted eels, a golden-tail and a sharp-tail eel. We saw various lobsters, two spotted drums and a huge crab. Karl said he saw more good stuff on that dive than he did all week combined!

Friday, April 4th

Back to Santa Rosa, this time with Andrew, Chris, Dave, Jane and Dave. There was a really big lobster that crawled out from under a ledge. Jane went down and took its picture. I also pointed out a spotted cleaner shrimp for her close-up lens. At the very end of the dive, my old pal Stubby swam by. I was having a good week, for sure. Unfortunately for Jane…she was out of film and didn't get a picture of my favorite shark.

Dave requested Chankanaab for the next tank. There was a lobster fest going on that day. Among the zillions of lobsters we saw, there was a dinosaur sized lobster under a ledge. We also saw three fat spotted morays and a couple of golden-tails. Jane was learning to use her macro lens and I hope the photo of the yellow-headed jawfish comes out. It is really hard to get a shot of them, because they are so shy that they pop back down into their den as soon as you get close. Jane was very patient and it looks like she might have gotten a good picture.

That night Jane, Chris and Andrew did their first night dive on Paradise with me. One of the boys found a good-sized octopus, which squirted its ink. We saw lots of lobsters and a few crabs. There were two snake eels. I think the best part was playing with the bioluminescence.

Saturday, April 5th

We wanted a couple of shallow, easy dives for Karl, Cory and Carla, so we chose French Reef. We saw a small lobster, and unfortunately, that was it......

The second was on Paso Del Cedral where we found a young green moray eel. She was really tranquil and allowed me to caress her gently. What a sweet creature. Everybody enjoyed swimming through the cave.

Sunday, April 6th

Marion, Dan and Dan requested my favorite spot, Dalila. We saw a giant barracuda hovering over the reef. Marion was observing it up close, when it started to snap at something and swam off. I couldn't help giggling through my regulator and wondering what it must have felt like to be in Marion's fins at that moment!

Next stop was on Cedral Wall. At first we had to swim a bit because the current was pushing us out to sea. However, as soon as we were on top of the reef, the current did normal stuff again. We had a very easy and relaxing dive. We saw a couple of small lobsters.

Monday, April 7th

Our first tank was on Palancar Horseshoe with Marion, Dan, Dan, Karl and Cory. We saw a clump of small lobsters and a small hawksbill turtle. First the turtle surfaced to take a breath of air, and then it came back down to hang out for a minute or two before it swam off.

Somebody said that it would be nice to see seahorses so we went to Las Palmas. This was the test.......Could I find those little buggers again? Yup, but only the orange one. The maroon one is so well camouflaged that it is very hard to find. We all searched for him. We all got our exercise for the day. At first the current was running south, which is opposite the normal direction. Then it started to turn and for about 15 minutes, it was dragging us out over the wall and we had to swim hard to stay on the reef. Suddenly it stopped completely, before changing direction and heading north.

We saw lots of neat stuff. We found one spotted drum, two toadfish, a big crab and lots of lobsters. Cory found the big spotted eel. I pointed out a golden-tail. Certainly there was never a dull moment! That's for sure. Despite the strong current, we all had a good dive.

Friday, May 2nd, 2003

I took a quick trip to Chinchorro Banks with my mom. We did three dives near the central part of Chinchorro. Our first dive was on "El Aquario". It was a gently sloping reef and we hung out around 60 feet. A huge loggerhead turtle swam straight up through our group of divers. He had barnacles all over his back. Mom liked the big lobster too.

The second reef was one that the divemaster claimed to have found. He named it "Groupers". I wasn't very impressed. I think that the divemaster wasn't either, because before the dive he announced that he had a hangover and that he was going to stay on the boat. He told us that it would be a "freelance" dive and that we were to be our own divemaster!

The last stop was at Manchones where there were more critters. We saw a southern stingray and a barracuda. The grouper that was supposed to be on the other reef came by and visited us at Manchones. The divemaster still didn't get in the water. All three dive sites reminded me A LOT of Bolones de Chankanaab here in Cozumel.

Tuesday, May 6th

Back to work! I did two shore dives on Paradise. Gary and Janet were being responsible divers and doing a thorough refresher course and brushing up on their skills. Ainslie and Brent were doing dives 1 & 2 of their Open Water Certification. Shannon and Rob were doing resort course diving. I asked Chucho if he could come along and give me a hand. We saw lots of pretty fish. While Brent and Ainslie were doing CESAs, Shannon and Rob found a big crab to show them when they finished. One of the boys (I am not sure if it was Brent or Rob) showed me a golden-tail moray out swimming from one hiding hole to another.

Wednesday, May 7th

Gary, Janet, Shannon, Rob, Ainslie, Brent and Forrest came with me to Chankanaab Reef. Shannon found a big lobster hiding under the coral.

Paradise was where the guys swam through schools of yellow blue striped grunts and snappers. We saw another lobster, much smaller.

Thursday, May 8th

I dived Palancar Gardens with Gary, Janet, Paul, Cliff, Derek and Muffin. Janet practiced Buoyancy Control and Paul was busy identifying fish family groups. We saw groupers and a big snapper. Gary's attention was on a scrawled filefish and Paul was fascinated by the ocean triggers.

Then we went to Paso Del Cedral in search of the little yellow seahorse. I found the right sponge with the spotted drum but couldn't find the little yellow seahorse for the life of me! I must have looked for at least 10 minutes. The group got separated at the end of the dive so I went back down to wait for Derek and Muffin. While I was searching for them a nurse shark swam by.

Friday, May 9th

Kyle brought me an Open Water Referral. He and Jennifer did 2 shore dives with me on Paradise. We saw a spotted moray eel, a yellow ray and 3 spotted drums. A goldentail eel swam out, but I was the only one who saw it.

Saturday, May 10th

The first tank was on Tormentos with Gary, Janet, Kyle, Jennifer, Rich and Bryan. We saw lots of little lobsters. Rich saw a really big one too.

Yucab is where we did our second tank. I showed Jennifer and Kyle the endemic splendid toadfish. A big school of humans swam by. We stopped and waited for them to all pass. It reminded me of that horrid night dive on Paradise where divers descended down upon us like aliens! It seemed that there was at least 60 of them. Chucho says that he counted only 29 plus a couple of divemasters.

Sunday, May 11th

I went to Dalila with Gary, Janet, Chucho, Kyle, Rich and Bryan. Bryan had requested a shark and we saw one. It had a big white splotch on its dorsal fin, so that when it came back around later in the dive, it was easy to tell that it was the same one. We also saw a good-sized hawksbill turtle. It went to the surface for a gulp of air and came back down again.

Then we went to Cedral Wall in search of more sharks. This time we saw a shark from above when we were making our safety stop. We also saw another small turtle.

That afternoon I took Sean, Shelby and Sam to Paradise for a training dive.

Then we did another dive on Las Palmas because the boys wanted to see the "abyss". It took about 10 minutes of searching, but I found the big orange seahorse.

Monday, May 12th

Horseshoe was the first stop for Ken, Judy, Lynn, Gary and Janet. Someone had made great progress at digging out the cement block. However, the top of the reef adjacent to the block was covered in the sand removed from the base. So I did a little dusting to get the sand off of the coral. Someday that plaque will be fully visible again.

Colombia Shallows was our next choice. Ken took lots of pictures and everyone swam through the schools of fish.

Kyle, Sean, Shelby and Sam requested to see the wall and swim through caves so we went to Santa Rosa. The boys loved it. We saw a big grouper and a couple of different kinds of big crabs.

The last stop was at Paso Del Cedral because they had been asking to see a shark. Bingo! I found two of them. The 1st one was medium sized. Later we ran into "Stubby". Stubby is pretty darn big so when he turned around and swam right at us Sean back-paddled a bit. I showed Chucho where the little yellow seahorse was and he found it about 10 feet away from where I had last seen it.

Tuesday, May 13th

Jennifer, Kyle, Ken, Judy, Marc and Marc came with me to Palancar Gardens and Judy saw a big lobster. I showed Jennifer and Kyle a big crab's claw. Jennifer liked the tunnels very much.

Ken always likes Colombia Shallows for photos so we went back. There was a big grouper and a rainbow parrotfish. We also saw 2 yellow stingrays.

Wednesday, May 14th

I dived the C-53 wreck with Ken, Judy, Marc, Marc, Brent and Ainslie. There was an immense school of silversides living in the ship and there were huge groupers all around hunting them. The little baitfish is a favorite meal for the groupers. The school was so thick that it made navigation nearly impossible inside the ship because they cut the visibility down to 6 or 8 feet. You can't see where you are going, where the other divers are and worst yet, you can't see the way out! So we spent most of the dive on the outside of the ship.

Then we went over to Las Palmas to see the big orange seahorse. It only took me about 2 minutes to find him this time. We also saw lots of other macro stuff like a juvenile queen angel, spotted moray and a banded cleaner shrimp.

In the afternoon I did a warm up dive on shore at Paradise with Gary and Barclay. We saw all of the eels that Gary requested. The first one was a chain eel, which is my favorite. Then we saw 2 spotted morays, 2 goldentails and a goldspotted eel as well. We got a big peek at a splendid toadfish and a yellow stingray. A giant crab was in a hole and its pincher had to be at least 8 “ long. We also stopped to see a pair of spotted drums.

Thursday, May 15th

Gary and Barclay were working on their Advanced Diving Certificate. We did a deep dive on Palancar Gardens with Doug, Marc and Marc. Judy and Ken hung out on top of the reef in the light, with all of the fish.

Our second dive was on Paso Del Cedral looking for that elusive little seahorse. I STILL COULDN'T FIND HIM! But I got lucky and spied another divemaster showing his group a little brown seahorse so my divers wouldn't be disappointed. We also saw a big, fat barracuda. I found the green moray in her borough. However, no one else could see her even when they got really close and stuck their head in the hole!

Friday, May 16th

Judy picked the site, which was our favorite: Dalila. Patty, Doug, Gary and Barclay were not disappointed! Gary said that it was the best dive of his vacation. We saw 3 different full-grown nurse sharks. The last was the one with the white splotch on its dorsal fin. I also saw a very large hawksbill turtle swimming away in the deeper water. We had to really swim to get a good look. Barclay spotted a shortfin pipefish and there was a southern stingray in the sand.

Everyone liked the dive so much we all agreed to go back there again! Patty found a baby nurse shark. We saw a smaller southern stingray and while Barclay and Gary were doing navigational skills they swam right over a splendid toadfish.

Then Gary, Barclay and I did a night dive on Paradise. That was the second best dive of Gary's vacation, but it competed well for first place. We saw a big toadfish almost all the way out of his hole. There were plenty of small lobsters and several big crabs. We saw a tiny little baby octopus and one very large octopus that put on quite a color-changing show for us.

Saturday, May 17th

First stop was at Santa Rosa Wall with Gary, Barclay, Ken, Judy and Patty. Once we were over the "wall" we found a small hawksbill turtle nestled down for a nap in a crevice. Then a huge school of divers descended on us and we spent much of the rest of the dive trying to separate from them.

Ken wanted to get away from the crowds so we went to Colombia Shallows again, his favorite. There Barclay showed me a swimming nurse shark and I chased a turtle over for Ken to take a picture.

Mon. May 19th

Gary, Barclay, Tim, Diane, Andy and Patty came with me to Colombia Deep. There was one big turtle and one small turtle. We all played with a furry sea cucumber.

Then we went to French Reef, where we saw yet another turtle go to the surface and then paddle down to the bottom again.

Tues. May 20th

There was a lot going during this dive.

Tracy was in the process of getting Open Water certified.

Diane wanted to see a seahorse, so we went to Las Palmas. Normally difficult to locate, Tim found the seahorse in about one minute flat! .

Andy took lots of photos.

We also saw a young green moray eel and a small turtle.

Our next dive was on San Francisco Wall. Tim found a rather fat spotted moray eel, and we saw quite a few dinner-sized lobsters.

Wed. May 21st

The first tank was on Santa Rosa wall with Patty, Tim, Diane and Andy. We saw various lobsters and a crab with huge claws that gave Patty the heebie-jeebies.

The second tank was on Paso Del Cedral. We found an enormous barracuda with big, sharp pointy teeth. And, there was another large crab.

Coming out of the cave, Andy and I saw a frisky 5-foot green moray eel swim into the cave behind us. I wanted to chase after it but I had to wait for the rest of the group to come out of the cave.

Patty had a flashlight…so she found another huge crab in the cave.

Thurs. May 22nd

I dived on Dalila with Diane, Tim and Andy. We won't mention the fin “incident,” we don't want to embarrass Andy :-) There was a crab, lots of big lobsters, a large grouper, a huge barracuda and a turtle at the very end of the dive.

Next we opted for Cedral Wall, where a big grouper was following a small nurse shark.

Andy burned up tons of air chasing after a turtle to take its picture. A second nurse shark was swimming around. (It was the one with the white spot on its dorsal fin that I saw the week before.) I think that I we’ll nickname him "Spot".

That night on Tormentos we did a night dive that could only be described by the words: "Oh My God!" (Because that was all I could say when I came up.)

We saw all of the usual stuff like tons of lobsters, a couple of crabs, three spotted eels and the large octopus, found by Tim. We received our special treat when we woke up an especially large and beautiful green turtle.

The "Oh My God" part was the reef shark! I spotted something at the edge of my light beam that looked like a shark's tail. I went after it full speed ahead. When I got closer, I knew it wasn't a nurse shark. Tim and I can't decide if it was 4 or 5 feet long…but size doesn't matter when it is not a nurse shark! We really frightened the poor thing and it swam around a bit.

Andy says that it arched it's back right before it charged us. I got scared and turned off my light and tried to tuck in my hands and feet. By the time it left, my hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. I went over to Diane and told her that I was scared. She patted me on the shoulders and she seemed so calm! I kept telling myself that I must be nuts for chasing after a shark at night like a stupid maniac. When I got home I looked it up in two different books. They both say that reef sharks can attack, leave a nasty bite and are dangerous sometimes. Oh stupid me!

Friday, May 23rd

Rick, Brenda, Clayton, Tina and Curtis accompanied me to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a huge barracuda and loads of smaller ones too. There was a bar jack following a southern stingray trying to scoop up some table scraps.

Since we had a special request for sharks I picked Davila. The only shark that we found was a cute little baby sleeping under the reef. But I guess if Brenda had to see her first shark that would definitely be a non-scary shark to see! We also found a terrific hawksbill turtle that was pretty darn big. I fulfilled Tina's request to see a starfish. I picked up 5 starfish and handed one to each diver to check out. It was truly unfortunate that Rick's camera battery went dead!

That night I took Clayton and Tracy on a night dive at Paso Del Cedral. We saw lots and lots of lobsters. One very large lobster was out on top of the reef. He was not intimidated by our presence.

There were huge crabs. We also encountered the strange slipper lobster that the Mexicans call a "cucaracha". Clayton found an eel that I have never seen before. I looked that one up in the book. It is called a broadbanded moray.

Sat. May 24th

My first dip of the day was on San Francisco Wall with Patti, Andrew and Clayton. There were tons of fish and a lobster and a big crab.

Then we were off to my favorite, Cedral Wall. Everyone loved that dive! We saw two large turtles, lots of lobsters and "Stubby" my favorite nurse shark. Patty said that she saw a squid.

Sun. May 25th

I did two shore dives with Eve and Roman for their Open Water Referrals. We saw far more eels on the first dive than we did on the second. On the first dive we saw two goldentail moray eels, three or four spotted morays and a chain eel (which I really love).

On the second dive there were two really cute little goldentail… sticking their little heads out of the same coral head.

Mon. May 26th

I took Patti, Andrew, Eve, Roman and Gary to Palancar Horseshoe. There was no spectacular marine life to speak of…but the pillars and spires of coral are amazing.

Dalila is Patti's favorite. Gary showed us a big nurse shark swimming fast against the current. I teased Eve when we saw the big, pointy teeth of the hovering barracuda. She was quite impressed with the big dog snapper too.

Tues. May 27th

We explored Colombia Deep. The gang was: Patti, Andrew, Roland, Lorraine, Kyle, Ed and Kathy. There was a big turtle down about 100 feet and Andrew went down to take its picture. I was glad because when Andrew went down the turtle swam and everyone got to see it.

Our second stop was on Santa Rosa Shallow. We saw lots of gray angels and they were eating the thimble jellyfish. As we were descending there was another group right below us looking at a shark. I could see its tail sticking out from under the rock outcropping.

Wed. May 28th

The first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Eve, Roman, Patti, Andrew, Roland, Kyle and Lorraine. A small hawksbill turtle swam out from under the reef right below Eve. I don't know who was more surprised, the turtle or Eve. I coaxed it over to the group so Roland could get a better look.

The second tank was on Paso Del Cedral and we swam through the cave. The humungous barracuda was sitting very still looking ominous…so Andrew got over closely so that he could get a good picture. I think he pissed off the barracuda, because it snapped a few times, charged a gorgonian and swam off. It appeared that more than one in the group had an accelerated heart rate!

Thurs. May 29th

I dived on Santa Rosa Wall with Patti, Andrew, Eve, Roman, Ed and Kathy. We had a great dive. Patti got two going-away-sharks, plus a ”bonus” turtle.

Next, we went to French Reef. There was another turtle and a bunch of lobsters all huddled together. The guys saw a huge crab that I never got to see.

Fri. May 30th

I went back to Santa Rosa Wall with Roland, Kyle and Lorraine because they hadn't seen it as yet. A huge lobster was perched up on top of an elephant ear sponge. Roland wished that he had a camera. A cute little hawksbill turtle swam slowly between us towards the end of the dive.

Then we went to Dalila. There was a really big turtle that was distanced rather far away. We saw a lobster wave it’s antennas at us. I scared a small nurse shark out of its resting place as it swam away from us.

Sat. May 31st

I went to the shipwreck with Roland, Lorraine, Kyle, Katherine, Ed and Kathy. The tremendous school of shiny little baitfish has dwindled down to small schools inside the wreck. This time we were able to swim around inside the wreck. There were two big crabs under the ship. I was glad that they were back. There were big snappers and groupers all around feasting on the school of shiny little fish.

Our next stop was at Paradise. We saw a beautiful little pipefish that looks just like a long, stretched out seahorse. There were loads of snack-sized lobsters, a couple of big crabs and a spotted drum. The fish there are so colorful!

Sun. June 1st, 2003

Horseshoe was the first stop with Roland, Lorraine, Kyle, Becky, Randy and Ruth Ann. We swam through the archways and Roland took a picture of a lobster. We also got a few good family shots with a starfish.

The second dive was on Dalila. We didn't find Ruth Ann's turtle but Carlos and Randy saw a big one on the surface. I found a darling little golden-tail moray.

Mon. June 2nd

I did a shore dive at Paradise for Erin, Emily, Joe and Rick's resort course. We had current from hell! First we started swimming out against it. After 10 minutes of going nowhere, Rick felt frustrated. We turned around and went back to shore. Carlos just happened to be there, cleaning the bottom of the boat. We hitched a ride on the Enigma II. He dropped us off and we floated back with the current. We couldn't even stop and look for eels. The next day we gave it another try.

Tues. June 3rd

My first dive was on French Reef with Randy, Becky and Ruth Ann in search of the "birthday turtle". And I found it! Ruth Ann had also requested to see a stingray. We saw two of them.

Modestly, I think that I am really lucky. I almost always find what people request, (with the possible exception of Patti's ‘blasted octopus’.)

My second dive was on Paso Del Cedral for Randy, because he likes those caves. He was quite pleased with the cave at Cedral and said that it was the best one yet. You could see the pleasure clearly on his face when he came out of the dark.

My third dive was on Paradise but near the shore with Erin, Emily, Joe and Rick. The current was still ripping but Joe's ears cooperated this time and we had fun.

Then I took the group out to the big reef for the "real deal". We saw plenty of fish and smiling kid's faces.

Wed. June 4th

I did two more shore dives with Paul and Laura, "the fish". Laura was doing dives one and two of her NAUI Open Water Referral. Paul and I took pictures.

We saw a big spotted moray just stretched out on the bottom. We wondered if it was okay, because it didn't move much. I found a couple of different goldentail morays and hoped that the pictures would come out well (they didn't).

There were plenty of sea fans with flamingo tongues on them, one spotted drum and two clusters of small lobsters. The current was very strong but Laura was a really trouper.

Thurs. June 5th

I went to Palancar Gardens with Bob, Ruth Ann, Randy, Becky, Paul and Laura. The current was kinda wacky. Sometimes there was no current at all and then, coming around the point, Ruth Ann flew by beneath me.

After we went through the tunnel, I saw Becky emerging from a cloud of sand.

Bob found us a big crab on the safety stop.

The second tank was on Paso Del Cedral with a good three-knot current. There was plenty of barracuda. We ended up diving all of Santa Rosa Shallow as well as the intended dive site.

Fri. June 6th

We had current from hell again on the shipwreck. Bob, Paul and Laura all did a great job of getting down to the wreck in that current.

The current was so strong that as we were pulling ourselves down the rope, our faces looked like folks on parachutes…with our cheeks blown back! The current was trying to pull our regulators out of our mouths.

I am still glad that I did not abort the dive. Once we were down, we had a nice dive. There was a huge barracuda on the aft deck and big schools of sardines with the groupers feeding on them inside the wreck. No creature in his or her right mind (except us) would hang around outside the ship in that current. We all survived, but Bob had a couple of scratches on his hand. He said it was worth it though. What an adventure!

Chankanaab was the complete opposite of the wreck. We had a very mild current going southbound. Then it stopped completely before it changed directions and brought us back to where we had started the dive. We saw a couple of dinosaur-sized lobsters along the way and also some smaller "normal" sized lobsters. It was a nice, relaxing, easy dive.

Sat. June 7th

Dalila was our first stop with Paul, Laura and Bob. Our shark hunt was successful even if it was just a puny little 5-footer taking a nap. The current started out normal and we ended up flying for the end of the dive.

We continued our shark hunt on French Reef, where we found a nice big one swimming slowly against the current past us. Paul found an enormous lobster prancing under a ledge.

Mon. June 9th

I took Paul and Laura to Palancar Horseshoe. The surface indicated terrible current, so we just drove around until Carlos found us a calm spot. The current wasn't TOO bad, but apparently it had been right before we arrived, because we spent the first 25 minutes swimming in a cloud of sand stirred up by the current. The turtles had the same idea as I did, and they hid in the shallows. Aside from the two turtles, we also saw a southern stingray.

We went back to French Reef, because it looked calm and we were tired of fighting current. The current there was moderate, but definitely safer.

That afternoon I dived at Palancar Gardens with Arnold, Chris, Alan, Paul, Craig, Firaz and Jackson. I tried three times to get over the wall, and three times I chickened out. We went over the edge and immediately encountered a wall of sand so I turned back to the shallows. The second and third attempt I turned back because of the flat spots on the surface indicating bad current. After 30 minutes or so the current calmed down to a normal speed and we spent the remainder of the dive up on top of the reef.

Yucab was the last stop of the afternoon. When I jumped in to check the current it was going the "wrong way" to the south so Carlos moved the boat in between Yucab and Tormentos. When I found the reef the current switched direction after 5 minutes and we finished the dive at a speedy clip. I saw 3 eels, 3 lobsters hanging out with a crab and lots of fish. Someone pointed out a goldentail moray.

That night I went to Paradise with the guys. Wow! The current was ripping. When we started the dive the current was brisk, but picked up lots of speed during the dive. A dive that normally takes me an hour and a half took only 25 minutes. At the surface we almost ended up smashed into the cruise ship. We did see a bunch of lobster, one crab and one octopus.

Tues. June 10th

Craig, Paul, Firaz and Alan wanted to see the wall, so we went to Santa Rosa. Bob came along. He was really a good sport. When I checked the current there was a big turtle just resting on the sandy reef bottom. The current was pretty fierce…but we dived it anyway.

The guys love the walls so we went to San Francisco for the second dive. Unfortunately, the current was so strong that day that we really did not get to see much of either wall. There were continuous clouds of sand and it was dangerous to be out over the blue water. We stayed over the sand and the reef most of the time. There were three lobsters and an octopus that, unfortunately, I did not get to see.

Wed. June 11th

Kim and Eric had not been diving in a couple of years and Lee had been certified the day before. Thank God that the current was not too strong on French Reef. We had a beautiful dive. We saw three different turtles, two southern stingrays and a couple of barracudas. There was just enough current so that we did not have to swim, but were able to swim back against it and look at stuff easily.

Yeah! We had an even better dive at Paso Del Cedral where we saw Stubby, my nurse shark. Kimmy pointed out a frisky little goldentail moray eel swimming around. We saw a bunch of small lobsters hiding together under the reef. I am not sure if everyone saw the squid that I pointed out. It was kind of hovering there over the sand.

Sunday, June 15th

I dived at Palancar Garden with Craig, Lisa, Richard, Milt and Trina. Thank God, the current had slowed down! It was nice and calm for everyone's first day back in the water.

We went to Craig's favorite reef, Dalila. We saw a big yellow fin grouper, barracudas and a swimming nurse shark.

Monday, June 16th

Craig, Lisa, Richard, Milt and Trina came with me to Colombia Deep. Well, I failed in my mission to find a turtle for Lisa. I thought that Colombia would be a sure bet!

But the dolphins that we saw after the dive made up for it! After everyone (except for me) was aboard the boat, Carlos shouted for everyone to put their fins back on. He spotted the dolphins coming and everyone got back in the water with snorkeling gear to swim with them. It was a brief encounter…but a lot of fun.

Colombia Shallows was the logical place for the second tank. Lisa showed us a nurse shark swimming over the reef. We followed it for a short time. We also saw a scorpion fish and a small lobster. Craig discovered a funny looking blenny wiggling its head back and forth like Stevie Wonder. Oh, there also was a biting damselfish.

Tuesday, June 17th

The first tank was on Palancar Horseshoe with Steve, Bryan, Corey, Chris, Peggy, Tom, Logan, Collin, Milt, Trina and Chucho. Coming out of a tunnel a large turtle began swimming slowly up, toward us. Only the first half of the group saw it. The cement block was completely re-buried by the strong currents of the previous weeks. Chucho spent a few minutes digging it out. We also saw the resident lobster in his abode.

The second tank was on French Reef, where the current was swift. Everyone loved the sensation of just flying along the reef.

Wednesday, June 18th

I went back to Colombia Deep with Logan, Collin, Tom, Peggy, Steve, Chris, Bryan, Corey and Chucho. First the current was heading south, then changed direction and went north. At the end of the dive it stopped and then went south again. It was just nuts!

Colombia Shallow is always a great second dive after the Pinnacles. There are schools of grunts and snappers. We all saw big rainbow parrotfish and Chucho found a sleeping turtle. When we came up, there were four or five southern stingrays in the sandy area.

Thursday, June 19th

Craig, Lisa, Richard, Karen and Chris came with me to Palancar Horseshoe, a per special request. The cement block was not so buried that day and the lobster was in his usual spot.

Then we went looking for Lisa's turtle on Cedral Wall. Lisa's turtle was becoming quite the mission for me. We scared the heck out of a little nurse shark that was resting on the bottom. Later we saw another nurse shark. We weren't sure if it was the same one or not. Lisa did get to see her turtle, but it wasn't initially me who spotted it. She found it herself. When she tried to show it to me…. it swam away.

The afternoon was spent with Karen, Chris, Milt, Trina, Wendy and Mike. They did their first dive on Yucab. There was a Jurassic Park sized lobster and his little brother. We saw two golden-tail morays and a grouper. A pair of huge stonefish were sitting side by side. I nudged them with my fin, so that everyone could see them.

Next, we did San Francisco Wall…where there are always loads of pretty fish. I found Karen's splendid toadfish for her. We also found lots of lobsters.

Friday, June 20th

My first dip of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Craig, Richard, Lisa, Cindi and Jon. Finally, the current had mellowed and made for excellent conditions for the day. A nurse shark swam over the top of the reef above Jon and Cindi. A crab was walking around in the cave under Lisa…just brave as he could be.

Next we went to Paso Del Cedral. There was a jumbo jet-sized barracuda and a good size octopus in a nearby hole.

Saturday, June 21st

I had a special request for Colombia Deep again from Karen, Chris, Jon and Cindi. Craig, Lisa and Richard went back with enthusiasm. Good thing too, because Cindi found a nice turtle munching on a big sponge. There were lots of colorful fish feeding on the same sponge.

At the end of the dive we saw another turtle. This one was just a little baby and very cute! Cindi pointed out the shell of an immense lobster that had molted. We all took pictures.

Then we were off to Dalila, where Cindi found a baby nurse shark napping in a hiding place.

Sunday, June 22nd

I did a resort course on the beach at Paradise for Karen, Bruce, Kim, Austin, Bob and Michelle.

We had some pretty strong currents for the first half of the dive, so I didn't have much opportunity to look for crabs and lobsters. I did see one tiny little eel and I pointed it out to everyone. However, I think the only person who may have seen it was Kim. It didn't seem to matter. After the current calmed down we had a very nice dive and everyone enjoyed themselves and saw lots of colorful fish.

Monday, June 23rd

Jon and Mike were just “chomping at the bit” to go to Punta Sur. Craig, Lisa and Richard didn't mind at where they dived. We had perfect conditions and Carlos dropped us off about six minutes South of the Devil's Throat.

Since we weren't planning on diving the "Throat" I took the precaution of taking the group through some caves beforehand. When we arrived at the cave system that consists of "Devil's Throat" we proceeded through all of the tunnels without a problem. As we swam past the actual "Throat" I pointed out the dark, ominous hole to those who were directly behind me.

The cave system is just spectacular with its yellow, orange and red sponges growing on the walls and the beams of light that shine through the black coral on the roof. We saw several southern stingrays in the sand and an electric ray. I pointed out a big, green turtle wedged under the reef at the bottom. However, she blended in soo well that only Jon and Mike saw her.

We had a pastel de three leches birthday cake at the surface interval. Stupid me. I forgot forks and plates…so we ate with our hands! It was great.

French Reef was our second dive that day. We saw a barracuda and a crab with really big claws. A small lobster came out and posed for Craig's camera.

Tuesday, June 24th

I dived on Palancar Gardens with Bob, Michelle, Austin, Kim, Bruce and Karen. The current was mild and we had optimal conditions. A small turtle swam down past us and we saw a scary looking barracuda hiding in a dark crevice. The girls didn't like to get so close, because he was VERY big. I spotted a crab clinging to the underside of an overhang.

At Dalila the current started off normally, but gradually picked up speed until we were all flying all over the reef.

Wednesday, June 25th

Karen, Kim and Austin wanted to go through some tunnels and archways, so I chose Palancar Horseshoe again. I did a little digging on that cement block. The lobster was missing from his usual perch. Karen said that it was her best dive ever!!

Then we dived Paso Del Cedral and Karen found a big black grouper under the reef. She saw its tail sticking out at first and she knew that it had to be just huge. So we dropped down and poked our heads under the reef to find it. It didn’t disappoint us!

Monday, June 30th

I dived at Palancar Gardens with Randy, Alicia and Jan. The plan was to dive in the 40 to 50 foot range, but we all dipped down to 64 feet to look at the huge barracuda. It was the same one that I saw last week. I tried to take its picture but my camera didn't work! Jan found a cute little goldentail moray.

Then we went to my favorite divesite, Dalila. Jan discovered another eel. This was a spotted moray and it was much larger. I showed Randy a small lobster…however, he couldn't see the southern stingray that I was pointing to off in the distance.

Tuesday, July 1st, 2003

Jerry, Yanina, Pat, Randy, Alicia and Jan came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. Jerry had to practically stick my face on the turtle's shell before I saw it sitting there, resting on top of the reef. It was a big hawksbill with barnacles growing on it's back. It was taking a nap and stayed really still while Jan took pictures of it. It was a beautiful turtle.

Our second stop was at Paso Del Cedral. There were a few lobsters and small barracudas. Jerry was able to see only one grouper. This was disappointing, as Jerry remembers when there were lots of huge groupers that followed you around and let you pet them.

Wednesday, July 2nd

Dalila was our choice because Alicia made a special request to see a nurse shark. Yanina, Pat, Jan, Jerry and Randy were happy to go there. Bingo! I saw a cloud of disturbed sand. I knew that something fairly big had stirred up a cloud that large. I saw the nurse shark's head sticking out from under the reef. We frightened the poor thing and it swam off. You could see Alicia smiling through her mask!

The second dive was on Cedral Wall. I found a collection of conch shells left behind from a recent hungry octopus. Unfortunately for Jan, we arrived a couple of days late and the octopus had abandoned his den.

Thursday, July 3rd

Our first tank was on Santa Rosa Wall with Jerry, Randy, Yanina, Pat, Mary and Kevin. We had excellent dive conditions. We found a big crab clinging to the reef and a small lobster. We all swam through the cave and in the sandy area we saw at least five different southern stingrays. Randy finally got to see his ray!

Our second tank was on San Francisco Wall. I saw a tiny little jackknife fish and a cluster of lobsters. There had to be at least five or six of them and one of them was HUGE.

That night I did a night dive with Bruce, Jerry, Alicia, Jan, Randy, Mary and Kevin. Several large crabs were out and about. Tons of lobsters were cruising the reef. We saw three octopi, but the highlight of the dive was when a barracuda swam right into Bruce's dive light! To me it seemed as though Bruce was tapping it on the head, but he swears that the barracuda just swam right into it. Who knows, but I almost had a heart attack! Bruce thought that it was fun...........

Friday the 4th of July

What a treat for the 4th of June to dive with Jerry, Randy, Mary, Kevin and Art on Colombia Deep. Right as we were getting ready to roll into the water, someone on a boat near us shouted "hammerhead!". The look on everyone's face was just priceless. After reassuring everyone that no one would be eaten, we all rolled in. Coming out of the first tunnel I spotted a nurse shark in about 100 feet of water below us. It was sleeping on the bottom. When I made the shark signal I wondered with a giggle how many thought that it was the hammerhead. I would have loved to hear what was going on in everyone's head at that moment.

We also saw a little baby turtle that I had seen a couple of weeks before with Craig. A big turtle ducked down into a crevice to hide. Then we saw another small turtle that hung around with us while Art did a safety stop.

Gemma joined us for the next one on Colombia Shallow. We saw yet another turtle and a few lobsters. I showed Gemma where I did the reef-monitoring project many years ago so she could get ready for Sunday. We were planning to take data on the distribution, health and abundance of stony corals on that reef. Overall this had been a very good turtle day.

Sunday, July 6th

Everyone loves Dalila so we went there with Gemma, Shelly, Brian, Martin and Angelique. The current was quite brisk and there were loads of colorful fish for Shelly. I saw so many lobsters that I lost count.

Then we were off to Colombia Shallows to take data to help Gemma with her thesis. We stretched a 50 meter measuring tape over the same place that we did 7 years ago and I swam along it writing down what kind of coral, if any, was growing under the tape. Writing the names of the coral in their Latin names made it much more difficult.

Monday, July 7th

I did a shore dive on Paradise for Lori, Stacy and Chris' resort course. Michelle came along for a little refresher and moral support. Wendy snorkeled over us. We saw two spotted morays and a lobster. We identified two different types of sea cucumbers and played with an arrow crab.

Tuesday, July 8th

Michelle, Lori, Wendy, Stacey, Chris, Martin and Angelique came with me to Palancar Gardens. Michelle asked on the way out if we would see turtles. I just told her that I “didn't know.” I felt really lucky when I came over the top of the reef and spotted a small hawksbill turtle! Michelle was very pleased.

Then during the surface interval Michelle said that she wanted to see a shark. It was like magic when a nice six-footer swam by.

Wednesday, July 9th

We went back to Colombia Shallows so that Gemma, Shelly and Brian could finish up data collection that we didn't get to on Sunday. It went much faster than the first time. Everyone knew exactly what to do. Gemma found a little turtle for Shelly.

Gemma wanted to get some comparison data from Cardona reef, so that is where we dived on our second tank. I found an immense green moray eel at the end of the dive. I dangled my brass clip in front of it and it snapped at the clip. That moray was just splendid!

Monday, July 21st

I did two dives from shore at Paradise with Lisa and Caroline. The first dive was the best one. We saw three spotted morays, two goldentail eels, along with my favorite animal, the spotted eagle ray. The eagle ray was spitting out bits of conch as he swam by and a remora was trying to snatch them up as they fell.

On the second dive we touched a snake eel and I showed the ladies an arrow crab.

Tuesday, July 22nd

Lisa and Caroline came with me to Chankanaab to finish their certification. We saw so many lobsters and crabs that I lost count of them.

Next, we finished their certification dives at Paradise reef. A large spotted moray, situated under a rock, greeted us. Later, a second eel came out and swam right past Lisa. I found two different splendid toadfish.

Wednesday, July 23rd

Our first stop was at Palancar Gardens with Lisa, Caroline, Eric and Dara. Dara spotted the big green turtle in an area where the reef meets the sand. A southern stingray swam under us during the safety stop.

The second stop was at Tormentos for two more splendid toadfish, along with another spotted moray eel. The girls got their first experience in a current!

Thursday, July 24th

Santa Rosa Wall was the site of choice today for Lisa, Caroline, Dara and Eric. We saw some lobsters. I scared a large crab.

Cedral Wall was where we spent the second dive and we saw everything! What a fantastic dive! Upon descent a BIG nurse shark swam by. Then we saw a small hawksbill turtle. After a little while, I saw the tail of a green moray eel sticking out of its hiding hole. We all got a good look at his smiling face. If that wasn't enough, we also woke up a second smaller nurse shark that was napping on top of the reef. We finished up the dive with an octopus in its den and a southern stingray!

Friday, July 25th

I did two more dives on shore at Paradise with Bob, Michelle and Chris. On the first dive we saw two goldentail morays, one spotted moray, a small lobster and a yellow stingray. On the second dive we saw a big crab, a spotted moray and I found an octopus. It was a big octopus and there were piles of conch shells all around his area.

Saturday, July 26th

Palancar Gardens was where we did our first tank with Chris, Michelle, Bob, Tim, Lindell and Dennis. I ran into Oscar down below. One of his students pointed out a big lobster. Later we saw a 3-foot barracuda in a niche. Michelle pointed wildly at a turtle that cruised by.

There was a second turtle with its head under a ledge. Boy, was it a surprise when it pulled its head out and discovered that it was surrounded by divers…the poor thing. Michelle also spotted another big lobster walking around on the bottom. She did so well finding the critters, that we decided she should be the "divemaster" on the next dive!

The second tank was on Dalila. Bob kept looking for sharks. We were in the right place at the right time (the afternoon) but all the savvy sharks were hiding from the tourists........

Monday, July 28th

My first stop was on Palancar Horseshoe with Graham, Nick, Jim and Kathy. We saw a medium- sized turtle and it swam right at Nick and Graham. I thought it might just bump into them!

Our second stop was on Paso Del Cedral. Graham ordered a huge barracuda and I was happy to oblige. We also ran into a big grouper. That grouper must have weighed almost as much as Graham.

Tuesday, July 29th

I dived Colombia Deep with Graham, Nick, Kathy, Jim and Elena. At the very beginning of the dive, Kathy showed us Craig's baby turtle. I think that Craig's baby turtle couldn't be more than 2 years old. Later, we encountered another small turtle. We also petted a furry sea cucumber.

Next, we were on to visit to Cedral Wall for a little action. We chased a swimming nurse shark and we saw another turtle. Everyone closely examined a big sea star too.

Our night dive was one my favorite spot for night dives, Paradise reef. Nick found the world's smallest octopus. It was right next to Cozumel's endemic splendid toadfish. Throughout the dive we saw a total of five octopuses and the other four were very large.

I saw three spotted morays out swimming in the open and countless crabs and lobsters. There were a total of three splendid toadfish in all.

Wednesday, July 30th

I took Gary, Pam, Sawyer, Berkley and Trevor on a resort course at Paradise reef. There was a bit of current. We saw a big, fat, spotted moray all the way out in the open. We also saw a small lobster.

Then we all went to Yucab. I must have promised Pam 30 times that we wouldn't see a shark at that site. After all, I hadn't seen a nurse shark on Yucab in years. Stubby made a liar out of me! Stubby is my favorite nurse shark and he normally lives on Cedral and Santa Rosa. What a shock to see him so far from home. I hope he is just on vacation, or at the very least, looking for a date. He was swimming by and when I went after him. He kind of changed course and came right at us. Talk about cooperation!

That afternoon I did another resort course from shore at Paradise for Terri, Tessa and Rhett. There was one very small baby spotted moray that showed itself to Tessa and I. We saw a pretty little goldentail eel poking its head out of the coral.

Thursday, July 31st

My first stop was at Santa Rosa Wall with Jim, Kathy, Graham and Nick. I was kneeling in the sand waiting for Kathy to come out of the cave when Graham started making noises and pointing behind me. I turned around to find a medium sized nurse shark swimming right at us. What good luck!

The second stop was Yucab and it had very little current that day. Kathy described it as a treasure hunt, because we could go really slow and look for critters. We found many of them, including more toadfish, a couple of eels, lots of little crabs and banded cleaner shrimps. Stubby was sleeping out in the open at the south end of the reef.

In the afternoon Palancar Gardens was the third stop with Rhett, Tessa, Sawyer, Gary and Trevor. Pam and Berkley snorkeled over us. We saw a giant snapper with lots of teeth and a big barracuda.

Colombia Shallows was the logical choice with two snorkelers. There were three different small turtles on that dive.

Friday, August 1st, 2003

I went to French Reef with Graham, Nick, Kathy, Jim and Elena because Nick loves to see lots of fish. There was a couple of small lobsters and Graham decided (with my permission of course) to explore a cave. The whole group followed him in!

Dalila was our second dive and Mary joined us. She got to see a nurse shark on her very first boat dive ever!

Saturday, August 2nd

The boys like swim-throughs, so Palancar Gardens was a good choice. While I was busy horsing around with Graham, Kathy discovered a big eagle ray. I looked up and saw it as it glided by us. We went through a zillion caves.

Mary joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallows. We saw a tiny baby turtle and everyone hunted for the little stuff.

Sunday, August 3rd

I spent the day on the beach at Paradise doing the confined water training with Jody and Mike. Two newspaper reporters came around and bothered us.

Monday, August 4th

Joe, Nancy, Jenny, Troy and David dived at Palancar Horseshoe with me. We saw a small hawksbill turtle on top of the reef at the end of the dive. I tried to get him to swim over to the group, but this little guy was brave. He just swam around me.

Next, we went to San Francisco Wall. There was a "washing machine" type current going on that day. Sometimes it was slow, sometimes it was really fast, sometimes it pushed us up and sometimes it was going out to sea! We saw a huge lobster prancing over the reef and another "big un" hiding in a hole.

Tuesday, August 5th

Chucho was with us and he decided to go to Colombia Deep with Kathy, Ron, Ursula, David and Troy. I saw a tremendous turtle swimming slowing across the sand.

Then we dived Tormentos in search of Chucho's little seahorse. We had to swim against the current as it was heading to the south, not the north, as is usual direction. We went so slowly that we found stuff like two toadfish, red and white cleaner shrimps, a couple of goldentails, and a spotted moray. There were plenty of lobsters.

Wednesday, August 6th

Ursula, Troy, David, Kathy and Ron came with Chucho and I to the southern part of Horseshoe. What a scenic dive! There were a couple of very impressive lobsters.

We hit the shark lottery on Cedral Wall. There was a large one and a normal-sized shark hunting together. The normal-sized shark swam right underneath me. Later, we found another medium-sized shark napping under a nearby overhang. Troy and Ron swam against the current to look at a big green moray, which unfortunately, I never got to see.

Chucho took Kathy up a bit early, due to a problem with her new BCD. During their safety stop, they saw a pair of spotted eagle rays! What a bummer…. I missed those too!

We did a third dive on Las Palmas. Troy found a goldspotted eel. When I touched it they both looked horrified. :-) Later when we found another, Troy gave it a little pet to check it out.

On this same dive, a turtle swam down right in front of us..

Saturday, August 9th

Carlos dropped us off right on top of the block at Palancar Horseshoe. It was Michael and Zach's first dive of the vacation. Chucho was accompanying Francisco and Larisa.

I almost landed on top of a scorpion fish when I first settled in on the bottom in the sand. Fortunately, Mike's prescription lenses mask was working well, because he is the one who saw the scorpion fish, not me!

During the safety stop we saw a southern stingray.

Dalila was our second dive. A nurse shark was taking a nap and naughty me, I shooed it out of position, so that Mike and Zach could see it better.

A second nurse shark was swimming about; however, it was a bit too far in the distance for the boys to see well.

That night we dived at Paradise Reef. We saw tons of crabs and lobsters. The moon was almost full and usually when there is a lot of ambient light, we don't see many critters. But that night we were very lucky. We spotted five different octopuses.

Sunday, August 10th

Tony, Mike, Zach, Faith and Al came with me to Chankanaab. There were several lobsters, a couple of crabs and a barracuda at a cleaning station.

I enjoyed showing Tony the unusual things…like yellow headed jawfish and the red encrusting sponge with brittle stars all over it.

Then we went to Paradise, where I found a darling little baby green moray eel. I don't recall every seeing a baby before. We also saw a few spotted morays.

Monday, August 11th

I dived Bolones de Chankanaab with Matt, EJ, Jim, Sally, Scott, Mike, Zach and Tony. A humungous (my description) lobster was just standing out in the open…waiting for Tony to take its picture.

EJ showed me a few more lobsters hiding in the reef. When she turned her light to them…we could really see them well.

Our next dive was on Yucab. Upon descent, there were two lobsters walking around, completely oblivious to our presence.

We saw a small hawksbill turtle and a bunch of giant barracudas.

My personal favorite event for this dive was when we found "Stubby" my big nurse shark. His fat head was wedged under the coral and the other 6 feet of his body was sticking out for full viewing. He was napping and he just wouldn't be disturbed for any reason!

Tuesday, August 12th

The first tank of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Matt, EJ, Jim, Sally, Scott, Mike, Zach and Tony. There was very little current and perfect diving conditions.

The second tank of the day was on Paso Del Cedral with a bit more current. A small turtle came close to us and swam very slowly, allowing us to get a good look.

Coming out of the cave a medium-sized nurse shark swam by. Someone had to point it out to me. (I think that it was Scott.)

On Tony's and my safety stop we saw a tremendous nurse shark swim by, followed by a grouper. They were obviously hunting together.

The third tank of the day was a night dive with the gang. Aside from the fins and elbows everywhere, we had a really good dive. There were plenty of octopuses, thanks to Chucho our "octo finder".

We saw countless big crabs and a few small lobsters. Sally saw an eel that no one else spotted.

Thursday, August 14th

We elected to go to Palancar Gardens with Michael, Zach, Tony, Scott and Sally. We did the deep dive for Zach and Michael's Advanced Certification. Sally loved the baby southern stingray we saw in the sandy area.

We did the navigational exercises for the Advanced Certification on Colombia Shallows. Michael and Zach had bad luck because the current was a bit strong for trying to make a square pattern. They, however, do a superb job considering the conditions.

Tony loved the photo ops at Colombia Shallows. We saw lots of good-sized barracudas and a one stonefish.

Two of the highlights from this dive were the mammoth black grouper and a big rainbow parrotfish.

Friday, August 15th

I had two very beautiful dives that day.

Chucho guided Tony, Michael, Zach, Sally, Scott and I through the Devil's !@#$%^&*( at Punta Sur. I told Chucho not to take the group through the skinny little hole called "The Devil's Throat." So he went around and came down through another small tunnel and came out half- way through the "digestive tract".

We made lots of jokes on the ride to the second dive about getting "flushed" down the tube. But joking aside, it was a beautiful dive. Sally did a little dance when she came out on the wall at around 120 feet.

I saw two turtles and Chucho saw a different two turtles!

Off to Cedral Wall where we encountered another Divemaster that looked like he was making love to a loggerhead turtle laying passively on the bottom. My group complained that the other guy was "hogging" the turtle. Scott frightened a big 7-foot nurse shark and we saw another 6- footer immediately afterwards.

Tony stopped to take a picture of a small hawksbill turtle.

Saturday, August 16th

Back to Palancar Gardens, this time with Kevin, Lisa, Diane, Tony, Michael and Zach. Wow! What a great dive!

There was a huge barracuda sitting below us when we came over the top of the reef. A medium- sized hawksbill perched itself on the reef, surrounded by orange sponges and a big grouper. It begged Tony to take its picture.

Later we saw another cute little turtle that posed with a queen angel. There was also a fairly large lobster.

I always see good stuff on French Reef. I chased a turtle over to meet with the divers.

A pair of small lobsters hid under the reef.

Sunday, August 17th

Our first dive was on Palancar Caves with Michael, Zach, Tony, Lisa, Diane and Kevin. We swam through a million tunnels and saw two different turtles. Michael pointed out the first one as it swooped down on top of us.

Our second dive was on San Francisco Wall. I saw the tail of a big green moray eel sticking out from under a ledge. I stuck my head in the hole to get a look at its face. Then I called Zach over to stick his head in the hole and see him. After Zach backed off, I started to stick my head back in the hole…but the eel turned around and come out! I almost smacked my face right into her pointy little nose. Duh! Michael teased me and said that it likes it when I do that :-)

Monday, August 18th

I thought it best to take Kendra and Kevin to a dive on the easy side, so we elected to go to Palancar Gardens. Val, Rich and Tony were quite content with the choice. The current was weird… I felt like I was in a washing machine for the first 20 minutes. It later started to clip along in a normal direction.

There were plenty of big barracudas on that dive.

Rich suggested Santa Rosa Shallows for the second dive and Erin joined us. We saw a stonefish, a peacock flounder, yellow stingrays and southern stingrays.

Tuesday, August 19th

Tony, Rich, Val, Margaret, Fred, John and David were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe.

Boy, was I surprised when I got inside the first tunnel and looked to my right to find a big nurse shark 3 feet away from me! He was simply laying there taking a little siesta in the dark!

Tony found a big lobster in the shallow water. The kids and I played with baby flounders in the sand.

I wanted to try and find that big, green moray eel again on San Francisco Wall. Erin got on to dive with us.

There were more lobsters all huddled together. And I really looked hard for that eel, but she was nowhere to be found.

Wednesday, August 20th

YEAH! Stubby came home! I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Rich, Val, Dana, Deborah and Julie. While we were on the wall I looked down and saw a nurse shark swimming below us in the deep water. After 35 minutes we crossed over to the Shallows. There I saw Stubby!!!! I guess Stubby had been on vacation to Yucab…or maybe out looking for a date! He hung out there for a couple of weeks.

It was nice to see him home again on Santa Rosa Shallow. He usually hangs out on Cedral Wall, Paso Del Cedral or Santa Rosa Shallow. He has kind of a big territory.

So we went to Cedral Wall for the next dive. Erin came and buddied up with Julie.

We got to see Stubby again! At first we swam like hell to get a glimpse of him. Then he came back and I didn't see him until Rich pointed him out for me. It was an up close and personal experience when he came back.

Then some one else pointed out yet another nurse shark near the end of the dive. Overall, it was an excellent day for sharks!

Thursday, August 21st

Two shallow, easy, fishy dives were requested. Rich, Val, Fred and Chrissy came with me to Dalila.

Well, Fred and Chrissy hadn't been diving for 6 years. Mother Nature can be uncooperative at times and she gave us plenty of current. Chrissy handled her very leaky mask like a pro. It impressed me, considering how long it had been since the last time she had to clear her mask! Just goes to show scuba training does work!

After a thunder and lightening storm Erin came with us to Paso Del Cedral. You can't go wrong there. We saw another nurse shark, a small turtle and a very large barracuda. SADLY the barracuda had a harpoon sticking out of its side. It didn't look sickly or weak, but it always makes me sad to see something like that. Who would harpoon an animal that could take your hand off anyway? I want to know....

Friday, August 22nd

Our first tank was on Palancar Caves with Rich, Val, Julie, Bill, Chrissy and Fred. There was a nice turtle and the conditions were ideal. Val commented on how beautiful the coral reef formations are there.

Erin hopped on to buddy with Julie again and we went to French Reef. Erin pointed out a small turtle covered with barnacles. She followed it around for a while.

We also ran into a medium sized turtle that swam up for a gulp of air at the surface and came back down to re-join us.

Julie pointed out a big jewfish (now called a "goliath grouper" to be politically correct) sitting on the bottom. (I had just swum right past it.)

We also saw a very big crab and an electric ray. It was a fantastic dive.

Saturday, August 23rd

Yet another great dive with Bill, Val and Rich. When we came out of the first swim-through, we found another big jewfish (goliath grouper) just sitting on top of the reef. Rich took pictures and we couldn't agree, or decide if it was the same one as the day before.

I turned my head to find the turtle just hanging out with its head stuck in the coral. A couple of minutes later, we saw another decent sized turtle munching on a barrel sponge surrounded by lots of angelfish. (The angel fish love a snack of barrel sponge.)

Next, I looked down and discovered a nurse shark swimming below us.

We petted a furry sea cucumber and followed a second small turtle.

Erin and Bill's family got on board during the surface interval and we did our second dive on Colombia Shallows…so Bill's daughters would have plenty to see while snorkeling over us.

We saw two more turtles and lots of interesting critters like the blennies. I entertained Erin with the long spined sea urchins pointed out by Lynne.

Sunday, August 24th

I dived the shipwreck with just Bill. He had to pay a little extra for that private service…but it allowed us to do more exploring in the wreck just one on one.

Two huge lobsters wiggled their antennas at us from under the big ship. There were schools of silversides and small yellow fin groupers were everywhere feeding on them.

I love the schools of glassy sweepers in the darker recesses of the ship. It always makes me think of that beautiful school that used to live in the cave at Cedral.

Lynne joined us for a dive on Chankanaab.

There were just loads of lobsters. I was charmed by a male yellow headed jawfish with a clutch of eggs in his mouth.

Sunday, August 31st

I went with Lucjan, Elzbiete and Peter to Paradise for their confined water training and the partial completion of their full certification course.

Monday, September 1st, 2003

I dived on French Reef today with Eddy, John, Glenn and Tina. We saw one turtle up very close and personal. There was a second turtle far off in the distance.

We also saw two very large barracuda, a pair of small lobsters and a big channel-clinging crab.

Next, we moved on to Cedral Wall, one of my favorites. We encountered a small hawksbill turtle and a few more crabs.

I don't remember if it was John or Eddy who showed me the big nurse shark that was swimming off to the deep water on the wall.

Tuesday, September 2nd

I did some more confined water training with Elzbiete, Peter and Lucjan at Paradise.

Wednesday, September 3rd

My first tank of the day was an easy one on Colombia Shallow with Peter, Andrew, Jim and German. A big grouper was sitting there showing off for us. We found evidence of poachers. The bottom was littered with lobster antennas.

Our second tank was on Palancar Horseshoe and the boys were really awestruck. Jim showed us a beautiful hawksbill turtle munching on a sponge. She sat really still and ate…so we all got a good look at her.

Then we did a third tank on Paradise where we saw a spotted moray, a bunch of small lobsters and a couple of big crabs.

Thursday, September 4th

Lucjan, Elzbiete and Peter completed dives one and two for their open water certification course from the shore at Paradise. We saw various spotted eels and examined a white short-spined sea urchin. There was a colorful hermit crab, which displayed red, orange and purple with turquoise colored eyes.

Friday, September 5th

Lucjan, Elzbiete and Peter finished their open water training dives on Palancar Gardens and Chankanaab. A big barracuda swam by twice and Elzbiete's eyes got very big!

At Chankanaab there were lots of small lobsters and a couple of those clinging channel crabs. The trumpetfish and cowfish grabbed Elzbiete's attention. We also discovered a three-rowed sea cucumber. It kind of looks like it is all covered with chocolate chips.

Saturday, September 6th

We chose two shallow, ‘fishy’ dives that day. I went to Yucab with Peter, Lucjan and Elzbiete. This was their first time in current. What a ride! A couple of barracuda swam by to say hello. By now, the group was getting used to them.

It was on to Paradise Reef. Lucjan enjoyed the yellowfin grouper that was hunting the blue striped grunts. Peter found a yellow stingray and showed us a smooth trunkfish.

We also saw another tiger's tail sea cucumber.

Sunday, September 7th

First stop was on Palancar with Lucjan, Elzbiete and Peter. There were very little current and just ideal diving conditions. Everyone enjoyed the tour through the maze-like reef. It is like swimming through Swiss cheese.

I wanted to show them a shark at Dalila…but the sharks failed to make an appearance. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 9th

Bruce, Pam and Nancy took the resort course with me from shore at Paradise. We saw a trumpetfish and the same white short-spined sea urchin.

Saturday, September 13th

I took Scott, Joann, Sherri, Bruce, Pam and Nancy to Palancar Gardens. We saw another huge barracuda and I think that it made Pam a little nervous. There were two very big lobsters hiding under ledges too.

Then we went to San Francisco Wall and Scott found a big green moray eel. He said that it was so big, he thought it could have been a nurse shark at first glance…until he got a closer look.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it! I didn't miss the big, fat, black grouper, however.

Sunday, September 14th

Santa Rosa Wall was where Scott, Sherri and Joann wanted to go. There were groups of divers in front of us and groups in back of us. It was kind of like a "diver traffic jam". But we didn't let that spoil our fun! We swam through both caves.

Joann was asking for a shark so we went to Cedral Wall. There was a strong current and the first shark was pretty close but it swam too fast for Jo to get a picture.

Sherri later saw a second shark that disappeared into the deep water.

One minute later, Scott pointed out another nurse shark that came up over the reef. He said that it had been snoozing under the reef until we woke it up.

Sherri drifted right over a small hawksbill turtle. It swam slowly, so we could keep up with it for a minute or two.

Monday, September 15th

I went to Dalila with Jo, Sherri, Scott and Mark in search of another shark for Jo. She was determined to get a picture of a shark! I teased Mark and called it a "big catfish". I failed in my mission to find the "big catfish" but no one complained, because we saw a mammoth sized grouper, a hawksbill turtle and a big green moray eel!

I got to fulfill the shark order on the second dive at Paso Del Cedral. What a relief! But Jo still didn't get a picture of the ever-elusive "big catfish".

Tuesday, September 16th

Elzbiete, Lucjan and Peter came back and we dived on Santa Rosa Wall. The current was a little strong. At one point I saw our bubbles going down so I called the group and we moved off the wall.

We moved over to the sandy area. (Our time limit had expired for the deep portion of the dive, anyway.)

There were too many lobsters to count on Tormentos. We did, however, count three black groupers and a barracuda.

Wednesday, September 18th

My last dive before vacation was a night dive on Paradise Reef with Scott, Chris, Joann, Sherri, Mark, Peter, Lucjan and my dive buddy Elzbiete.

Chucho came along and we split the group. He is the expert octopus finder so I followed him around like a puppy dog. I honestly cannot recall just how many octopuses we saw, but it was a lot! There were also crabs, lobsters and 2 snake eels.

There were at least four or five spotted morays out swimming around. The real oddity was the splendid toadfish completely out in the open swimming around. They aren't so ugly when they are out swimming.

There was an army of other divers on the reef that night. We had to work hard to keep the group together.

Saturday, October4th, 2003

Becky, Randy and Michael came with me to Palancar Horseshoe and we swam through all of the archways and canyons.

We found a small lobster and Randy spotted a hawksbill turtle.

Randy likes caves so we went to Paso Del Cedral next. What a fantastic dive!

I had an opportunity to pet a sweet green moray eel. She was all the way out in the open and you could see all of her from head to tail.

Incredibly, we next swam up to a huge eagle ray munching on something it had found in the sand. Staying stationary for a minute or two, we got a good look at him.

Sunday, October 5

I went back to Palancar Horseshoe with Chau, Todd, Angel and Kevin. They love the swim through the underground passages at Palancar. We saw another lobster. This one was much larger. Everyone felt it was a very relaxing dive.

The group wanted to see a shark, so we went to Cedral Wall. The fast drift was fun and Chau found a small hawksbill turtle resting on the bottom. When I saw a medium sized grouper swimming over a school of blue striped grunts, I KNEW it was following a nurse shark. She was about 6 feet long. It always makes me feel good when I can find the requested critter.

Monday, October 6th

For the cave factor, Randy, Becky, Chau, Todd, Angel and Kevin dove Santa Rosa Wall with me. There is a beautiful, spacious cavern there. A small hawksbill turtle was snacking on a sponge surrounded by angelfish. One really gigantic southern stingray was feeding in the sand. A second medium-sized stingray followed him.

Our second stop was on Yucab. There were loads of lobsters and fish. We had almost no current at all. I tried to show Angel and Kevin a splendid toadfish but he was buried in his borough…well hidden and they couldn't see him.

Thursday, October 9th

Becky really liked the dive we did at Yucab so Randy, Becky and I went back there.

Immediately reaching the bottom "Turtleman" (Randy) started flirting with a little turtle. She put up with us for a while before she got fed up and swam away. We saw bazillions of triggerfish and a splendid toadfish.

The group opted for a very shallow dive with lots of fish so logically we went to Paradise. There were thousands more lobsters; some yellowfin groupers and Becky saw a blue ribbon sized lobster.

Friday, October 10th

Kathye and Maurice started their weekend of diving with a couple of easy ones to check out their new regulators, particularly purchased for the trip. I picked Chankanaab for its usually good conditions and mild current.

Turns out that Chankanaab was a really good call. That new regulator of Kathye's started slurping in loads of water the deeper we descended. At the bottom it was completely non-usable. Kathye didn't blink. She just put in her octopus and kept diving!

Maurice took a picture of a big crab.

Since Becky liked Yucab so much and I was having such good luck there I decided to bring Kathye and Maurice. We saw an enormous eagle ray with two remoras stuck to its underside. There was an octopus tucked away in his den and lots of lobsters…as usual.

Saturday, October 11th

Kathye, Maurice and I went to Palancar Gardens. I had Carlos drive around a bit until we were right near the tunnels and caves. We had great time swimming through the Swiss cheese like reef.

Then we were off to Cedral Wall in search of big stuff. We woke up a pretty big loggerhead turtle. I spotted a sleeping nurse shark under a ledge and everyone got a chance to get right up close and personal as we drifted by.

Maurice took off trying to get a picture of a hawksbill turtle but I think it was just a wee bit too far away to get a good shot.

Sunday, October 12th

Per special request, Kathye, Maurice and I dived at Davila. There were lots of beautiful fish everywhere. On the descent we saw a huge barracuda and a southern stingray. Later on during the dive, Maurice got a scary peek of a barracuda's sharp, pointy teeth as the 'cuda’ sat really still getting its teeth cleaned.

Our next stop that day was on San Francisco Wall where we saw another loggerhead turtle. I couldn't help but wonder if it was the same guy we saw the day before...

Tuesday, October 14th

I spent the entire day on the beach with Jae-O and Caroline doing the confined water training for Open Water Certification. I found a silver earring on the bottom. That was my big treasure for the day.

Boy, were we worn out the next morning!

Wednesday, October 15th

I did two shore dives at Paradise. The first one was a resort course for Ted and Catherine, while Carolyn and Jae-O were completing dive one for Open Water Certification.

Catherine is quite the little rare fish finder! She showed me a goliath grouper (formerly called jewfish). The goliath grouper is rarely seen in Cozumel now because it has been so heavily fished out in the past.

She also showed me a small silvery-blue coronet fish, which is also something I seldom see. She displayed an amazing ability to clear her leaky mask that her son had been playing with!

I did a second dive that day with just Jae-O and Carolyn that afternoon. After eating lunch we were all feeling very lazy. We got in the water anyway and saw tons of spotted eels and a couple of golden tail morays.

Jae-O really liked the family of lobsters. Carolyn and I had a good laugh over a sea cucumber. We also saw a big purple and orange crab. Jae-O saw a yellow stingray that Carolyn and I missed.

Thursday, October 16th

My first tank of the day was on Colombia Deep with Jae-O, Carolyn, Jon, Natalie, Gary, Janet and Mike. We saw a big turtle and it stayed relatively still for Jon to get a picture of it.

There was a couple of southern stingrays and Natalie screamed through her regulator when she was surprised to find a big nurse shark under the reef.

We practiced drift diving techniques for Mike's Advanced Certification in the swift current on San Francisco Wall. I showed Natalie a small pipefish that looks kind of like a stretched out sea horse.

Everyone burned up a lot of air trying to "park" in the current to see the resident 6-foot green moray eel. She wouldn't cooperate with me that day. When I gently pulled her out of the hole so all could see her she just slipped through my hands and went right back in her house. I petted her tail too.

That night I dived Paradise with Mike, Jeff and Kevin. We didn't have our usual plethora of marine critters. We only saw a few big crabs and a couple of little lobsters.

I am not sure if it was Kevin or Jeff that saved the day when he found an octopus for us.

Friday, October 17th

I took Shannon, Chris, Mike, Jeff and Kevin to Palancar Horseshoe and Chucho came with us to help out. Mike and I were doing his deep dive for the Advanced Certification.

We saw a small turtle up on top of a coral spire.

Chucho took Shannon and Chris through my favorite cave.

Chankanaab was the second dive for us. A school of humans descended upon us. We had to sit really still for 5 minutes to let them pass. It seemed that there was 16 to 20 of them.

We saw three different toadfish and I teased Shannon by kissing a tiger's tail sea cucumber. She laughed when it shriveled up and went back in the hole!

STUBBY UPDATE: Chucho did a 3rd dive with Mike, Jeff and Kevin that day and told me that he saw "Stubby" on Yucab.

Sunday, October 19th

I dived on the shipwreck with Sandra, Chad, Susan, Gary, Janet and David. There were only a few small lobsters under the ship. In the past, I have seen numerous large lobsters…but they were gone. Several yellow fin groupers hung around dining on the schools of silversides.

Then we went to Paradise and Mary got in to join us. I searched for Janet's splendid toadfish, to no avail. It seems like when you are looking for 'em they hide more! Gary and Janet showed me a goldentail moray.

Monday, October 20th

I wanted a nice, easy spot for my resort course divers; so Gary, Janet, Tracy, David, Mary, Mary and Barry came with me to Colombia Shallow. Tracy pointed out a green turtle with a remora stuck to it's back. Then the most amazing thing happened. A couple of large dolphins swam right over Gary and Janet! Then more dolphins arrived.

There were a total of eight dolphins and they didn't seem to mind our presence at all. They played and wrestled near us for around 5 minutes. I think that is by far the most exciting thing I have seen this year.

I was so excited that I couldn't find my tank-banger for a good while. It was absolutely breathtaking!

Then we were on to Santa Rosa Shallow, where we saw a small hawksbill turtle swim slowly by. We also saw several southern stingrays.

Tuesday, October 21st

The first tank of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Chucho, Jocelyn, Josh, Susan, Chad and Sandra. Chad and Sandra went deep with me for their Advanced Certification while Susan, Jocelyn and Josh stayed shallow with Chucho.

The current was really weird and most of the time it pushed us out to sea. The visibility was not so great either. We still had fun and we saw a small turtle. I think we scared the (poop) out of him…because that is exactly what he did when we got very close!

That was a first for me! I have seen parrotfish and Bermuda chubs do that a million times, but never a turtle!

Our second tank was on Chankanaab. Chad and Sandra did their navigation for the Advanced Certification. The current made it quite difficult.

We saw a splendid toadfish and lots of yellow-headed jaw fish.

Wednesday, October 22nd

The first stop of the day was on French Reef with Susan, Jocelyn, Josh, Gary, Janet and Charley. Everyone saw the first turtle. Later Susan, Jocelyn and I saw a second turtle.

Gary lost his flashlight on the first dive; so we all decided to go back to French Reef and look for it. Plus, it was less choppy there and the current wasn't as strong. Jocelyn gets a gold star for finding Gary's flashlight on top of the reef.

Charley accused me of hiding it and planting it there! No one could believe that it would be found. On the second time out, there were three more turtles and a bunch of lobsters.

That night we finished up a lot of Advanced Certifications with a night dive on Yucab. Janet, Tracy, Charley, Sandra and Chad were all working on their Advanced Certification.

Gary and Susan just hung out with us and didn't have to perform any special skills. We saw lots of large crabs, one huge lobster and a number of normal sized lobsters, as well. Charley found a slipper lobster. A spotted moray opened and closed its mouth. It looked a bit scary.

Thursday, October 23rd

Chad, Sandra, Susan, Gary, Janet, Charley, Josh and Jocelyn came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. As we were descending, we spotted a little baby turtle directly on our way down to 100 feet. Janet and Charley were doing their deep dive for Advanced Certification.

After the skills at 100 feet, we ascended to 60 feet and swam through the archways and canyons. Up on top of the reef during the safety stop, Chad showed us another turtle that Jocelyn coaxed into a swim back to us.

For the navigation exercises, we went to Colombia Shallow. The current refused to cooperate with us.

We saw lots of turtles, however, thanks to Chad, our turtle finder. He found two turtles swimming around near us. I found one very “sleepy” turtle that never moved. Since Sandra was out of film she grabbed Chad's camera…because the turtle, lacking movement, made a very good model.

Friday, October 24th

This day felt more like Friday the 13th not Friday the 24th! Jessica and Jason came over from Puerto Adventuras to Cozumel to take a resort course with me. Poor Jason bumped his head and later got seasick, so we all decided not to make the second dive.

The resort course was fun though. We saw a lobster and two spotted moray eels plus one golden tail eel as well.

That afternoon I waited around for a couple of divers. After 20 minutes Ron, Steve, Jocelyn, Josh and I went to pick up Tracy on the Reef Club pier. I figured that my other divers had stood me up. When we arrived at the Reef Club pier, a captain in the marina called us on the radio to tell us that our divers had arrived and wanted us to turn around and go back for them. By then, unfortunately, it was too late to return.

Then on Santa Rosa wall, Steve's housing for his video camera imploded at 60 feet! I turned around and all I saw was millions of tiny bubbles forming a cloud around Steve. The glass plate on the front of the housing simply shattered! It was horrible.

Our dive on San Francisco Wall was more forgiving. We saw tons of lobsters, a dead crab with a giant claw and several southern stingrays. However, this day gave a whole new meaning to the saying, " Just another #@!~$% day in paradise!"

Saturday, October 25th

Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Rikki, Brad, Jason, Chip, Sean and Tracy. We had really nice conditions and we went through all the canyons and archways. We saw a huge barracuda too.

Dive two was on Colombia Shallow and it was a long one. We saw another barracuda and a southern stingray.

Sunday, October 26th

Palancar Gardens was the first reef with Rikki, Brad, Jason, Chip, Tom and LeAnn. I could hear LeAnn's voice through her regulator when I picked up a brittle star to show them. We liked the small lobster that was hiding in the crevice too.

Cedral Wall was our second reef and we saw the big green moray eel. Sadly, no sharks came to visit for LeAnn. I don't think that the divers liked the current a whole lot.

We did a night dive on Paradise. We saw at least 8 octopuses! There were loads of small lobsters, a couple of big crabs, 2 spotted morays, but we didn't see any toadfish.

Overall, it was a very busy night dive.

Tuesday, October 28th

I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Chip, Jason, Brad and Rikki. A big barracuda paid us a visit. Then a female hawksbill turtle woke up from her nap at around 100 feet deep and when she started up to the surface to breath she looked a little bewildered to see us floating there.

Next to Yucab reef. Rikki pointed out a lobster. I found two spotted moray eels; and Chip used his light to show us a large and splendid toadfish.

We did another night dive on Paradise, since the first one was so good. But this time it was only Brad, Chip and Jason.

There were many more octopuses. One of them was missing a couple of tentacles. It startled Brad when it sucked on his hand. There were tons of big crabs, many lobsters and 5 or 6 splendid toadfish. We must have seen at least 6 or 7 spotted morays as well.

Wednesday, October 29th

I dived Colombia Deep with Beau, Kristy, Rikki, Brad, Chip, Jason, LeAnn and Tommy. A big turtle was deep beneath us. LeAnn flipped overhead downward and started kicking. I was afraid that she would kick right down to 100 feet or more, so I snuck up on her and grabbed her. She was soo happy when she saw the turtle she lost track of her depth.

Then we dove on Tormentos. While I was taking Beau and Kristy up for a safety stop, I looked down to find "Stubby", my favorite nurse shark, swimming right past Chip! Unfortunately Beau and Kristy were fighting the current and missed the shark.

Thursday, October 30th

The first class of the day was on Paradise with Kim, Scott, Taylor, Cam, Brian, Trisha, Rhonda, Claire, Marilyn, Bruce and Chucho. Most were doing a resort course. Chucho and Bruce came along to help me out. We saw the "goliath grouper" and I picked up a snake eel.

The second class of the day was on Playa Corona where we saw a huge cubera snapper that I think must have weighed in at least 80 pounds. The visibility, however, left something to be desired.

Monday, November 3rd, 2003

Alec, Paul, Bruce, Terry, Darla, Jim, Anita and Ken came with me to Palancar Gardens. We encountered a big southern stingray over in the sand.

At Dalila reef, we saw another southern stingray and a grouper as large as Alec. Bruce took a picture of a huge pufferfish.

Wednesday, November 5th

I love Palancar Horseshoe with its big spires of coral and deep-water gorgonians. I think Anita, Ken, Darla, Jim, Terry, Bruce and John felt the same way.

Terry showed me the first turtle. It was a cute little baby and it swam away over the top of the coral. Later on in the dive we encountered a normal sized turtle that moved slowly and posed for Bruce's camera.

We saw a southern stingray digging in the sand for a meal. There was another smaller ray with it's own bar jack following it around during our safety stop.

Anita loves Colombia Shallow because it is has such good light for photos. We saw another turtle during our dive there.

John and Darla really liked goofy looking little blennies poking their heads out of small holes in the star coral.

Thursday, November 6th

Santa Rosa Wall was the pick for Bruce, Anita, Ken, Darla, Jim, Karen and Chris. Oh yes, and a thousand other divers too! There were groups of divers in front of us and behind us. After we went through the cave I crossed our group over to Santa Rosa shallow to finish the dive just to get away from the hoards!

When one or two other groups of divers followed, the divemaster in front of us pointed out a nurse shark. While Bruce, Darla and I were making our safety stop we saw a small eagle ray over the sandy area. We followed him until we couldn't see it anymore.

Then we went to Cedral Wall looking for "big stuff". Jim finally got to see a nurse shark. Bruce saw two of them. I heard him yelling at me through his regulator and he pointed madly over the wall. Unfortunately, we all missed seeing Bruce's shark.

We did, however, find two octopuses hiding in holes surrounded by their garbage of empty conch shells.

We did a third dive that day on Yucab. There were quite a few splendid toadfish, tons of lobsters and a small turtle hanging about.

Our fourth dive was on Paradise. Chris showed us an eagle ray. There were tons of crabs everywhere and loads of lobsters, as well. Late afternoon dives bring out all of the nocturnal creatures. Anita was shocked when I played with the sharp tail eel. We saw several toadfish.

Friday, November 7th

Dive one of three that day was on Colombia Deep with Anita, Ken, Darla, Jim, Karen, Chris and Terry.

Coming out of the first tunnel, I saw a crazy guy kicking hard down the wall. We were at 70 feet deep. I think he was at maybe 200 feet deep when I lost sight of him. He was alone and going down on purpose. It was suicidal to go after him. I was relieved 5 minutes later when I saw him coming up again. There are still a lot of "Tarzans" out there!

On Colombia we saw two more turtles. There are always turtles on Colombia up on top of the reef in 40 feet of water.

Then back to Anita's favorite, Colombia Shallow. Anita found a tiny toadfish and Karen saw her first blenny.

The last dive of the day was a night dive on Chankanaab. Once again there were plenty of lobsters and crabs. We saw two octopuses. The special treats were the large eye toadfish completely out in the open. Anita saw a slipper lobster.

Sunday, November 9th

My mom arrived and was dying to go to Punta Sur. So I took her down the "Devil's Throat". I tried out Anita's camera that she traded me for a week of diving and some cash. I got two good shots of my mom. One of the pictures was coming out of the Devil's Throat.

We hung out with a turtle nearby for a few minutes. Obviously, the turtle had never been harassed, as he was content to stand still for a number of flash pictures with my new camera.

Monday, November 10th

Jacque, Steve, Troy, Scott and Mom came with me to Palancar Gardens. There was a big stingray in the sand and Jacque was bummed that she didn't have her new camera with her. The stingray was being followed around be a big bar jack.

At Cedral Wall we saw a nurse shark way off in the distance over the wall with a big black grouper shadow feeding with it. Scott found a small turtle. Later another nurse shark swam by much closer this time. Scott took its picture.

Wednesday, November 12th

The first stop was at San Francisco Wall with Mom, Gordon, Ron, Jim, Terry and Jacque. Jim and Terry did summersaults while Jacque took their picture.

She also got pictures of a pair of southern stingrays, a lobster and a grouper.

On Dalila Mom chased after a queen trigger and tried to pet it. We saw another grouper there.

Thursday, November 13th

I went back to Colombia Deep with Jacque, Steve, Ryk, Glenn, Holly, Kent, Ron and Gordon. There was a beautiful little 4-foot nurse shark perched on a ledge. It sat really still begging to have it's picture taken. A small turtle was way off in the distance, but too far away to get a picture. Glenn saw an eagle ray while we were looking at the little turtle.

We did a night dive on Dalila. Right away, a large stingray cruised by. It's eyes glow in the dark. Kent found both of the octopuses. There was one big one in a hole and one little one out and about.

We saw several lobsters and crabs, one splendid toadfish and we ran out of gas on the way home! Aack! Boy, was that embarrassing. It took about 15 minutes to get some one to come bring us gas so we could drop off Holly, Kent, Ron and Gordon. I thought 15 minutes was not bad....Carlos was so upset and flustered that when we were dropping of Gordon and Ron, he plowed right into the buoy lines at the El Presidente and fowled the propellers.

What an adventure!

Friday, November 14th

Glenn loved Colombia so much that he asked to go back. Ryk, Steve, Jacque and Mike were happy to go there. I found more turtles for Jacque.

Ryk wanted to go to Colombia Shallow to take pictures. We found two more turtles, two rainbow parrot fish and a pair of splendid toadfish sharing a small coral head.

Saturday. November 15th

Steve, Jacque, Kent, Holly and Sharon came with me to Santa Rosa Shallow. We had a beautiful dive with good conditions and calm current. It seemed like there were lobsters everywhere.

Jacque likes French Reef. After the dive while floating at the surface Steve asked me if that reef is a turtle farm! We saw turtle after turtle. One of the turtles hung around us for a long time.

I saw a giant eagle ray off in the deep water. It was pretty far away and not everyone saw it.

Sunday, November 16th

Back to French Reef with Tony, John and Shannon: when Shannon got on the boat she asked to see turtles, so French Reef was the logical choice. There was hardly any current at all, so we covered only the southern half of the reef. We didn't see any turtles! !

I had faith, so we went back to French Reef for the second dive. We just dived the northern part that we hadn't seen. We were rewarded with two turtles. What a relief!

Monday, November 17th

I took Anita's camera to Palancar Horseshoe with Tony, John and Shannon. I was set up for wide angle and I wanted pictures of the deep-water gorgonians there. I accidentally loaded a roll of film that had previously been used, so most of my pictures on Horseshoe didn't come out. They were beautifully: double exposed. However, the ones that did come out were just great!

Paso del Cedral was the second stop and I found an octopus in his hiding hole. John really loved swimming through the cave. I got a beautiful close up of a juvenile rock beauty.

Tuesday, November 18th

I dived on Dalila reef with Paul, Rita, Tony, John & Shannon. When all were aboard I asked the divers where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see...Paul got the eagle ray that he ordered before the dive. John got the shark that he asked for too. It was a beautiful dive!

Our second dive was on Santa Rosa Shallow. During the ascent, three different pods of dolphins swam by us. After the first group swam by us, we surfaced.

However, Paul and Rita told us that there were more Dolphins coming and to go back down. After the second group passed us, we went up and we were instructed to go back down again!

After the 3rd group of dolphins, we got on the boat. There were about 10 to 20 adults in each group. The looked to be about 7 feet long and I only saw one baby. It was so amazing that there are no words to describe it!

Wednesday, November 19th

The first dip of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Tony, George, John and Shannon. It was Shannon who pointed out the little turtle sitting on top of the reef. I had to swim back to see it. Later, coming around a coral cliff, a huge barracuda followed by a school of shiny silver fish was swimming right next to a good sized turtle.

An enormous lobster was out in the open cruising around. I chased it over to Tony but he didn't see it.

Cedral Wall was our next choice for the action. I found the same octopus in the same hole as last week.

I didn't bother to point it out, because he was so hard to see. I did, however, point out the splendid toadfish.

Saturday, November 22nd

What a good choice Colombia Deep was! Chuck, Melissa, Joe and Tony were with me on this amazing dive. We were crossing over to the deep part when a big nurse shark swam out of my favorite cave. Melissa didn't want to go in the tunnel after seeing what swam out of it!

We also saw three different turtles. One turtle was perched on the coral waiting to have its picture taken. At the end of the dive I found a big green moray eel. It was really cool when it came out and swam for Tony and I.

Next, it was on to San Francisco Wall. A huge eagle ray glided past in the abyss. There were too many lobsters to count. Tony scolded me…that I was mean when I nudged an immense lobster out of a crevice.

Sunday, November 23rd

Dave and Dani dived Palancar Gardens with me while the family snorkeled above us. Tragically Dave's brand new Ikelite digital camera housing filled with water during the descent and flooded his camera. Aack!

Next, we dived and snorkeled at Colombia Shallows where we saw a big lobster, a southern stingray and a small barracuda.

Monday, November 24th

I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Tony, Silvie, Bob, Mark and Ivan. We encountered a spotted eagle ray and a southern stingray. They were both over the sandy area at the end of the dive.

Then it was on to Santa Rosa Shallow. The first shark we ran into was sleeping under a ledge and let everyone take its picture. A second shark, pointed out by Mark, swam away followed by a big black grouper.

A big lobster wiggled its antennas at us as we peeked in his crevice. When we all went up toward the surface, a spotted eagle ray swam below us. Tony followed it a while.

Tuesday, November 25th

Santa Rosa Wall was the first stop that day with Tony, Mark, Ivan, Silvie, Bob, Jacob and Dawn. There was a terrible traffic jam in the cave caused by a divemaster bringing 8 divers into the cave, going the wrong way on a "one way cave".

Tony just went around the cave. During the safety stop I told Tony, "Follow me, we'll look for eagle rays over there." Sure enough, we were rewarded with a really big one at the end of the dive.

Cedral Wall was the next stop. There was a rather large nurse shark followed by two black groupers feeding on something in the reef. Tony got some good shots of the shark.

Dawn got behind Jacob and hid. It was really cute. Bob said that he never imagined that he would actually be swimming AT a shark!

Wednesday, November 26th

The first tank of the day was on Palancar with Chris, Jennifer, Cindy and Geoff. We swam through all the tunnels like swiss cheese in the reef. The kids snorkeled over us.

The second tank was on Paradise and there were lobsters and crabs galore. A beautiful little spotted drum fluttered around and around in a graceful dance for us. A small eagle ray cruised by, but only Geoff and I saw it.

Thursday, November 27th

Silvie wanted to see a turtle so I decided that Colombia Deep would be a safe bet for Tony, Silvie, Bob, Maggie, Jan and I. We were searching the entire dive for Silvie's turtle but for the 1st fifteen minutes all we saw were schools of humans!

Luckily on the safety stop I spotted a small hawksbill eating a sponge on the top of the reef. I swam back down and snapped a couple of pictures of it on Silvie's camera.

Paso Del Cedral was our next dive because Jan looked like he was dying to go in a cave. I saw a weird little nudibranch or maybe it was an elysia. Whatever it was, it wasn't in Paul Humann's reef creatures book. We also got a good look at a green moray eel (in the old hiding hole from many years ago) and a spotted moray.

I remember when we could see two or three green morays and five or more spotted morays there. Now that we don't feed them anymore, it is uncommon to see them in residence.

Friday, November 28th

My dear friends Vince and C.J. were happy to dive the wreck with Tony, Silvie and Bob. There were lots of groupers eating the schools of bait fish. I was disappointed that there weren't any lobsters under the wreck now. We did see one really big crab, but sadly no more lobsters.

Tormentos was very colorful with its maroon and orange sponges. It has an impressive collection of gorgonians as well. I found a wallet when Tony passed right over it. It had $35. USD in it and we found the owner via radio. It was a high school student that had come for the day on a cruise ship.

Saturday, November 29th

The port was closed for all boats less than 40 feet. So we couldn't go out due to the strong North winds.

Sunday, November 30th

I took C.J. Vince, John and Peter to Colombia Deep because we had North wind and the further south we dived, the better! Two big spotted eagle rays swam up from the deep. They were way below us, maybe at 130 - 160 feet down, so we didn't get a really good look, but they were still majestic. And it was still exciting!

At French Reef I looked for some nice tunnels to swim through.

Monday, December 1st, 2003

Steve, C.J., Vince, John, Peter and Preven came with me to Palancar Caves. It had been quite a while since I had been diving there. We ran into a small hawksbill turtle casually munching on the reef. It didn't seem to mind us hanging around and gawking at it. We all really enjoyed that encounter!

Then we were off to Dalila and Vince found us a nice big nurse shark out cruising around. Boy, was I glad that he had his tank banger! Otherwise I would have never seen it.

Tuesday, December 2nd

The port was closed for all boats less than 40 feet. So we couldn't go out due to the strong North winds.

Wednesday, December 3rd

I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Steve, C.J., Vince, John, Peter, Preben, Chris and Don. Vince and C.J. We were all floating up above the reef when Vince spotted the huge eagle ray. They don't get any bigger than that! It must have had an 8 foot wing span or more .............!

Then we went to Paso del Cedral. There was another big eagle ray on the platform. We also saw a swimming nurse shark. Lots of barracudas were everywhere.

Thursday, December 4th

I rented the big boat and took C.J., Vince, Steve, Lanna & Jeff to Palancar Horseshoe. As I was watching a sweet little turtle snacking on a sponge, I looked up to see a giant sized eagle ray swoop overhead with a couple of remoras stuck to it's underside.

Our second stop was on Cedral Wall. A turtle let us get up close and personal.

We picked up a diver/hitchhiker at the end of the dive. The hitchhiker made his safety stop with us and went up. His boat found him right away.

Friday, December 5th

My first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Bill, Bronwyn, Gail, LeRoy, Jeff, Linn, Bob and Ryan. The current was really funky. First it went south which is weird enough, but then it pushed us out to sea. We hid for a little bit in the tunnels to get out of the current. However, the dive was cut short because of the current in the shallow water. The current continued to purh us out over blue water in the channel. We had to come up!

My second tank was on Paradise because everyone wanted a really "fishy" dive. There was a sighting of a spotted drum. I wish that I had seen it.

A big lobster was hanging out under the coral.

That afternoon I did a resort course for Chris, Mike and Rachel. We saw lots of spotted morays, a goldentail eel and a fat purple mouth moray. A family of lobsters were in residence at in their usual spot.

Chris special ordered the yellow stingray.

Sunday, December 7th

Colombia Deep was the reef of choice this day with Preben, Jeff, Lanna, Carmen and Jeff.

We saw a small hawksbill turtle and a small eagle ray…flying over the sand.

French Reef is where we saw a gorgeous pair of spotted eagle rays…fining slowly against the current, some distance away from the reef. Lanna fell in love with them. She said that was her best dive ever. It is easy to understand! One of the big rays had a large scar on its wing.

We also saw several different turtles and Lanna showed me a big lobster hiding in a nearby nook.

Monday, December 8th

Bette, John, Kenna, Jay, Ken and Judy dived Palancar Gardens with me.

Ken took off after a small spotted eagle ray that appeared upon the descent, but he couldn't get close enough for a photo. He also saw a turtle.

Then we were off to everyone's favorite, Colombia Shallows.

Ken found another eagle ray, but this time it doubled back and let Ken take it's picture. A small turtle posed for our cameras and Bette worked on getting a photo of a yellow-headed jawfish.

Tuesday, December 9th

The first stop was on Dalila with John, Bette, Jay, Kenna, Ken, Judy, Jeff and Lanna. John had lost his weight pouch there the afternoon before, while diving with Chucho. We came back to look for it but to no avail. John found a small pile of weights under a coral ledge, but no pouch.

Jay got a picture of a stonefish. There were also tons of toadfish.

To see fish, we chose San Francisco Wall. Thankfully, there was less current and we had a very relaxing dive.

Wednesday. December 10th

It was back to Colombia Deep with Kenna, Jay, Bette, John, Ken and Judy. Ken saw 4 different turtles. I only saw 3 of them. Kenna found the best turtle of the lot, sitting on a barrel sponge all blended in. We all got pictures of her.

My photographers really love Colombia Shallows, so we went back. Jay found a baby nurse shark and I showed Kenna a yellow headed jawfish.

Thursday, December 11th

Ken, Judy, Bette, John, Jay and Kenna dived at Palancar Gardens again with me. They have certain reefs that they like and we dived them more than once that week.

We saw loads of little turtles. Only one of them cooperated for the cameras, however.

The current was really weird too. It was pushing us towards shore for the first 10 minutes and it was nearly impossible to get out over the wall without a fight. So, we didn't fight it. We just hung in the shallow water.

I had told them that if they wanted to dive Colombia Shallows every day that we could do so. I think they were taking me up on my offer! Back we went! We saw a turtle and I think Jay saw a spotted eagle ray, but I forgot to ask him when we got back on the boat.

Friday, December 12th

It was just Ken, Bette and John that day. First we went to Yucab and we discovered a family of lobsters. There was a Mom, Dad, Grandpa, lots of kids and one cute little baby.

There were plenty of groupers too.

Next, we went to Punta Tunich, where the current was ripping. Since two of the divers were set up for macro photography, or close up, the fast current was not conducive to our photo goals. I decided to cross us over to Yucab, where there was less current.

On Yucab we found schools of gray angels. I saw an octopus in a hole all covered up by the seashell remains of his last meal. Two cute yellow headed jawfish popped up from their holes in the sand and I tried to show Bette a goldentail moray, because they make good macro subjects, but it hid in the hole by the time she got there.

Saturday, December 13th

I did both dives on Paradise with Judy and Ken. On the first dive, Ken shot 35 mm and then switched over to close-up for the second dive.

I shot macro. It was my second attempt at macro and it didn't come out any better than the first!!!

I saw tons of spotted morays and a couple of goldentail eels too. There were loads of splendid toadfish.

Ken showed me a huge banded cleaner shrimp that turned out to be actually too big for the lens that I was using. I had a blast with the camera.

Tuesday, December 16th

Our first dive was off to Palancar Caves with George, Randy and Geraldo. Randy's wife came along and snorkeled over us. Coming out of a swim-through, we were greeted by a big eagle ray. It swam by slowly and let us take a long look. Then I turned my head and a lovely turtle was cruising over the top of the reef. It crossed over to the sandy area and parked.

Next, another big eagle ray swam by us. George and I agreed that they were two different rays because the 1st one had a large remora under it. The second one had two remoras. And last, but not least, we saw another hawksbill turtle.

Dive two was on Paso del Cedral. I got a little bored after coming out of the cave, so I crossed us over to Cedral Wall. We were happy to find a nurse shark swimming around, being followed by two groupers.

When Cedral Wall ended and became Santa Rosa Wall, I began crossing the group over to Santa Rosa Shallow. We got three reefs for the price of one and a shark was included!

That afternoon I dived Paradise from shore twice with Heidi and Charlie. They were starting their Open Water Referral dives.

On both dives we saw a sharp tail eel. Charlie thought that it was a snake and he really doesn't like snakes! Call me crazy but I think that they are cute. Charlie got hungry when he saw the resident family of lobsters.

Friday, December 17th

Due to the very strong north wind we dived Colombia Deep with Randy, Gerald, Charlie, Heidi, Jamie, Ryan and Chucho. We saw a beautiful pair of turtles that Chucho pointed out. They were right next to each other but they took off when we got close.

Because of the same strong north wind, I chose French Reef for the next dive. There was yet another small hawksbill turtle that swam in front of us for about 5 minutes. It didn't seem to mind our presence at all.

It was nice to see a couple of southern stingrays too.

Sunday, December 21st

I did a beach refresher at Paradise with Chris. He hadn't been in the water since I certified him three years ago. At Paradise we saw lots of spotted eels, goldentails and lobsters.

“ Santa Chris” brought me five bags of Nacho Cheese Doritos, homemade Christmas Cookies and bags of coffee!

ABSOLUTELY Merry Christmas to me! (I put it under my Christmas tree…for a very brief period of time.)

Monday, December 22nd

I took Matt and Larissa on a resort course from shore at Paradise. The same eels and lobsters were home.

We had a bit of excitement when Larissa's mouthpiece came loose from the regulator and the regulator floated away!

Fortunately I turned to check on her at the right moment and I saw her trying to fix the problem so I came over and gave her a hand. I was really impressed with her because she didn't panic, she just looked a little confused as she tried to fix the problem. When she gets certified she is going to be a great diver!

Wednesday, December 24th

I did my Christmas (Eve) dive on the Palancar Caves with Diane, Chris, Jerry, Jed & Mike. We followed a little turtle to the shallow area.

A southern stingray had a black bar jack following it around waiting for handouts.

Colombia Shallows was our choice for the second dive. Cute little blennies kept popping their heads out of holes in the dead star coral.

A slipper lobster had discarded his old shell when it molted and made for an interesting find.

Saturday, December 27th

The first tank of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Andy, Becky, Deborah, Fred & Julie. It was a good dive to start the vacation. It was a nice, easy dive with little current.

The second tank was on French Reef where we observed one slow turtle and three southern stingrays. A crazy barracuda swam right up to me and then took off on a hunt.

Sunday, December 28th

I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Fred, Deborah, Julie, Andy & Becky. Even before we got into the water, we saw a large turtle breathing at the surface. The current was pushing us out to sea, so we couldn't stay down as long as we would have liked.

We were then off to Paso Del Cedral with just Deb, Fred and Andy. We found two different large green moray eels. One of the eels was the one with the short snout. I petted her and she is soooooo soft. There were swimming nurse sharks and loads of groupers.

Everyone liked swimming through the cave

Monday, December 29th

My first dip of the day was on Chankanaab reef with Bob, Jean, Sonja, Brad and Danny. There were big crabs, a lobster and a big grouper.

On Paradise reef, a big spotted eagle ray glided by us. Sonja liked the spotted drum.

Tuesday, December 30th

I went to Cedral Wall that afternoon with Fred, Debbie, Becky & Andy. Becky had some trouble with her ears so we took her up. While Debbie and I were coming back down there was a pair of immense spotted eagle rays swimming under us.

Later, we saw another large spotted eagle ray with a remora stuck to its belly. There were also several southern stingrays.

We did a night dive on Colombia Shallow. It was one of those dives where we just got lucky. We saw everything! There were tons of lobsters and crabs. We woke up a sleepy turtle who went to the surface to gulp air and then settled back down under the reef to continue the snooze.

I don't remember who it was that showed us the big octopus. It sat around and just let us look at him for a long time.

Wednesday, December 31st

Julie, Mike and Tim came with me to Dalila where two spotted eagle rays swam side by side very slowly towards us. They didn't seem to mind our presence.

We did our second dive on Cedral Wall. There were three different small turtles. Only turtle was close enough for a good look.

There was a big eagle ray going by and the turtle seemed frightened by it because it swam right underneath us to get out of it's way. I didn't know what to look at…the turtle or the ray!.

In addition to all this excitement, a couple of big lobsters were out and about, walking around in the open.


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Undersea Cozumel :: After Hurricane Wilma