Sunday, Jan. 1st, 2006 - Happy New Year!
I spent New Year's Day with Shirley, James, Peter, Annie and Michael on Santa Rosa Wall. There were no big critters until the end of the dive. As we were coming up over the top of the wall a 6 foot eagle ray glided by swimming against the current. After Annie, Michael and Peter got on the boat I laid down next to a 6 foot sleeping nurse shark. Annie was glad that she was on the boat for that one!
On Las Palmas Annie got to see her first shark. It was hiding under a small coral head. It was only a foot long and approximately 5 inches wide which was a good size for Annie. But she still hid behind me. It was really cute, not just the shark, but Annie's reaction to it. There were tons and tons of splendid toadfish still. Several golden tail eels and spotted morays entertained us too. We found the octopus again but it was harder to see as it was hiding under the shells this time around.
Monday, Jan. 2nd, 2006
Finally I got to go back to Bolones de Chankanaab with Amanda, Trish, Al, Jake, Michael, Annie and Peter. Several weeks ago when I dived this site it seemed to be in pretty good shape with lots of surviving sponges and gorgonians. This time it looked like a lot had died since the last visit. We did see a lobster, a scorpion fish and Amanda found a baby eel. I found its mother!
We dived San Francisco Wall with no kids. Annie and Michael found the first eagle ray swimming at us on the wall. The second eagle ray was eating something in the sand.
Then Amanda found a splendid toadfish but I was too lazy to swim back and have a look. When only Amanda, Trish and I were diving Amanda watched an eel do battle with a lobster. The grand finale was a pair of huge eagle rays that slowly passed us in the shallows and Trish got very close.
Wednesday, Jan. 4th, 2006
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Caves with Kim, Brian, Greg, Peter, Leigh, Bob, Will and Terra. Terra requested a turtle and caves is my best turtle spot. But I had to let her down. No turtle appeared for us. But we had a beautiful dive anyway swimming in and out of the caves.
My second dive of the day was on Dalila. I found the first big nurse shark that swam right over to Leigh. Terra found the second nurse shark sleeping in a hiding hole. The boys (Greg & Brian) can really swim fast when there is something exciting going on.
Thursday, Jan. 5th, 2006
Vitek, Paula, Leigh, Amanda, Will, Bob and Terra came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. All that we saw on the wall was a couple of lobsters. When only Paula, Amanda and I were down we saw a big octopus camouflaging itself on the bottom pretending to be a rock. Paula petted the furry sea cucumber.
Amanda chased the first nurse shark deep down the wall at San Francisco. We saw a second nurse shark later on but it was not in the deep water, it was swimming over the sandy bottom of the shallow area. We also saw a huge southern stingray and Vitek got a few great shots of it with his brand new 8 mega pixel camera.
Sunday, Jan. 8th
After a couple of days of cold North wind I got back in the water with Paula, Leigh, Vitek, Pamela and Larry. Since Pamela and Larry were working on getting certified I brought Chucho with me to make sure that Vitek, Paula and Leigh had a good dive. Vitek found a spotted cleaner shrimp that lives in the anemones. Those are one of my absolute favorite critters in Cozumel.
On French Reef Carlos dropped us off on top of a huge spotted eagle ray that pooped when it saw us. Then the two remoras swimming under it just went crazy.
Chucho posed for a picture behind a lazy nurse shark. The shark's head is in the foreground and there is an arch of coral framing the shark and Chucho.
Monday, Jan. 9th
I went to Paradise with Larry and Pamela where we saw tons of fish, a couple of small lobsters and Pamela pointed out a big crab.
Vitek, Paula and Leigh joined us and we went to Tormentos. Tormentos still has a lot of marine life including a pair of splendid toadfish, a fat moray eel and a big grouper. Leigh showed us the little turtle that nestled in and took a nap. We also saw some big lobsters too.
Tuesday, Jan. 10th
Shall we call it Palancar Bricks? My divers were Mike, Laura, Vitek, Paula, Leigh, Pamela and Larry. We found all of the stuff from the shipwreck including the bricks, the anchor and the old coal burning stove. We swam through lots of caves and saw a bunch of huge southern stingrays in the sand. On the way up I looked down to find a small reef shark swimming under my friend Cristina. She was in about 70 feet of water and the shark was around 3 to 4 feet long.
Dalila was fruitful. Everyone was excited when we got on the boat. I got to deliver on Mike's request to see a turtle and an eagle ray thanks to Paula's "eagle eye".
Vitek got picures of the big ray and it had a big half moon shaped bite out of its left rear side. I wonder what the shark looked like that took that bite.
Wednesday, Jan. 11th
Mike, Laura, Amanda, Paula, Vitek, Leigh, Pamela and Larry wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall. Vitek found the small stuff, a shrimp in its anemone and a splendid toadfish in its den. Then we drifted over a huge green moray eel that smiled for Vitek's camera.
For a change I went to Paso Del Cedral. There were tons of barracuda and Vitek found the first scorpion fish. Amanda found the second one.
Mike pointed out a very big turtle sitting on top of the reef munching on a sponge. It was accompanied by a few spectacular queen angels waiting their turn at the sponge now that the turtle had cleared away the tough surface. On the safety stop Vitek showed us another turtle below.
Las Palmas was the best dive. When we rolled in and I looked down a huge spotted eagle ray coasted slowly below us. We saw countless eels, both the spotted and the golden tails. There were at least 5 toadfish. One was quite hungry or aggressive. Then a large turtle appeared. As Mike. Laura and I were on our way to the top we saw 2 more turtles. One went to the surface to breath.
Thurday, Jan. 12th
Early morning Amanda, Mike, Laura and I stayed close by diving Paradise. We saw tons of yellow stingrays, too many golden tail eels to count and I don't know how many spotted morays we saw. One splendid toadfish was particularly friendly and Mike showed me a juvenile spotted drum. Unbelievably we saw 6 different eagle rays. All were small, maybe 4 to 5 feet wide and twice they were in pairs. We had a fantastic time!
Sonja, Brad, Paula, Leigh and Vitek got on. Sonja requested Dalila for the second tank. We saw a turtle swim up for a breath of fresh air and the come back down again to pose for the cameras. I think it was Mike who found the big green moray eel lurking in a dark cave on the bottom.
Then we went back to Paradise by demand in the afternoon. There was only 1 spotted eagle ray this time around but we saw tons of fun critters. There were peacock flounders, spotted cleaner shrimp, stonefish, a bright red hermit crab and an octopus hiding behind a mound of discarded shells. A swarm of humans descended upon us from a big dive boat. Mike thought that there must have been 50 of them. Leigh and I just giggled and laughed until our masked filled with water. Then we swam the opposite direction to get away.
Friday, Jan. 13th
I made a special trip to Punta Sur with Amanda, Chucho, Paula, Vitek,and Leigh, We had perfect conditions. The surface was calm and so was the current. The Devil's Throat looks completely different after Wilma. I didn't expect it to be so changed. The cave system had all of the sand swept out of it so the tunnel called the Devil's Throat is at least twice as big as it was before. I guess the benefit of that is now it is a safer dive!
On Las Palmas there was a lot of current but we were rewarded with an extraordinary amount of eagle rays. I saw 7 different rays, but I went up early. While I was on the boat Vitek came up and said that there were 4 more below him. We saw the good old splendid toadfish. Paula found the baby nurse shark under a coral head. We also woke up a big turtle. Everyone was excited when we got on the boat.
Saturday, Jan. 14th
There was quite a bit of North wind but we went out anyway. Paula, Vitek, Leigh and Amanda braved the waves and the cold at Bolones de Chankanaab. There were enough lobsters there to open a restaurant and Amanda found a cute little spotted drum.
Then we went to Vitek and Paula's favorite spot, Paradise. There was almost no current which let us move slowly across the reef and search for macro subjects for Vitek's new camera. We found an octopus, a scorpionfish, a spotted cleaner shrimp and 4 or 5 not-so-macro spotted eagle rays.
Monday, Jan. 16th
I showed Kevin, Audrey, Vitek and Paula how Palancar had been redecorated by Wilma. Sometimes us dive guides end up like horses trained to stay on a path. We get dropped off at the same place every time and follow the same route along the reef. This route could have been established when we were apprentices and it was the route of our mentors. It could also just be our personal favorite parts of the reef. Wilma toppled lots of big towers of coral so now the growth that was on top of the reef is now on the side. So I have changed my route. I stay a little deeper and on the outside. As we swim along the reef now in the deep area the reef doesn't even appear damaged by Wilma because we are looking at sponges and healthy coral. I have a new path to follow!
I found a pair of splendid toadfish on French Reef. It looked like they were living in a two story apartment. One was about 6 inches above the other. On the safety stop Vitek and I saw a southern stingray buried in the sand. Vitek went back down to wake it up. A turtle with big barnacles on its back cruised below us too.
Tuesday, Jan. 17th
There was h6 South East wind so we only got as far as San Francisco Wall with Vitek, Paula, Guy, Kevin and Audrey. A giant 8 foot wide eagle ray passed us by in the shallow water. A spotted moray swam around in front of it and Guy said that it was creepy. He missed the big ray.
There weren't many waves on Paradise and Guy needed to see an eagle ray so that was our next dive. I saw more spotted eagle rays then I could count. Doubtless that many were the same rays just doubling back and coming around again but it is hard to tell. A crazy octopus that was missing a tentacle did a colorful display for us for about 5 minutes. There were assorted lobsters, golden tail eels and a hermit crab factory.
Friday, Jan. 20th
Matt and John brought me a referral. We did both dives on Paradise. On the first dive we saw a scorpion fish, a spotted drum, and a short spine sea urchin. On the second dive we saw a yellow stingray, a goldentail moray eel and another juvenile spotted drum.
Saturday, Jan. 24th
Paul, Cindy and Glenn dived on Santa Rosa Wall with me while Jack snorkeled over us. We saw loads of small barracudas and we teased Jack by telling him that they like to snack on fingers with gold rings. Paul found a couple of southern stingrays with bar jacks following them around. At Las Palmas there were too many goldentail eels and spotted morays to count. We saw 5 or 6 splendid toadfish. One was bravely defending its territory and came out to show us his yellow ribbon-like fins. We also saw a scorpion fish and a couple of yellow stingrays. Both of them sting so badly that if you piss them off, you would need a shot of morphine for the pain! ... But as long as you don't poke them, they won't poke you!
Wednesday, Jan. 25th
I dived on Dalila with Paul, Mike, Keith and Lisa. Jack joined us from above. First, I drifted over a small turtle sitting on the reef accompanied by some hungry angelfish. Then a big octopus pretended to be a blob and was well camouflaged. When only Paul and I were still down doing a safety stop, I looked down to find a shark. Naturally we chased after it. We then encountered a rather large eagle ray feeding on the bottom. I couldn't decide which one to look at, the shark or the eagle ray. When I was about to give a thumbs up, I turned my head to find another eagle ray, no, then two eagle rays, no wait……THREE more spotted eagle rays all together and they were all large. What a great ending to a dive!
On Paradise there were no eagle rays, just loads of crabs and lobsters as it was late in the day. Paul discovered another scorpion fish. I pointed out a small goldentail eel.
Thursday, Jan. 26th
My first tank was on Palancar Horseshoe with Paul, Roberto, Dave and Michelle. A docile turtle swam to the surface, floated and breathed for a couple of minutes and then dived back down to rejoin us. The deeper area of Paradise is still looking really good. I think it is the least damaged shallow dive after Wilma.
Tormentos produced 4 different spotted scorpion fish and lots of little lobsters. I found a huge crab claw, but the owner was hidden behind some coral. We also saw a big spotted moray eel. I went back to Tormentos with Chuck, Paul, Greg and Todd. Boy, that was a good dive! Big lobsters were out prancing around. We saw one of the spotted scorpion fish and a big spotted moray again. The best part was a giant spotted eagle ray being followed by 2 cobias. I have never seen the 2 cobias before and the guys thought that they were sharks. They look like sharks, but they are not. It was very exciting.
Thursday, Feb. 2nd, 2006
Back to work on Santa Rosa Wall after a week off. My divers were Marty, LauriLee, Hank and Lorie. We started off on the wrong foot with Lorie's high pressure hose leaking. I gave her mine and I dived with her hose. We had h6 South East wind which made a trip to Palancar impossible and it was still rough on Santa Rosa.
We all got in and discovered that the current was pushing us steadily off of the wall and out to the blue. Fortunately, all were conscientious divers, paid attention, and as soon as we got to the reef, we swam up to a big turtle having breakfast. Marty got a picture but we couldn't stay long due to the current. Then I found a little spotted drum. After about 20 minutes the current calmed down and we had a very pleasant remainer of the dive.
We then went to Paradise because I wanted something easy for us after the workout we got on Santa Rosa Wall. We had a fantastic dive! I found one big octopus completely out in the open and 2 more big ones hiding in their dens. Other good finds were a splendid toadfish, more spotted morays than we could count and LauriLee found a pair of big lobsters in a hole. A spotted scorpion fish and a pair of lizard fish were camouflaged on the bottom. At the end of the dive we saw a large eagle ray in the distance. I had a couple more days off……
Monday, Feb. 6th
Eric, Joe and Nick came with me to Palancar Caves. The first turtle we saw was a pretty little green turtle with a very clean shell. It was returning to the bottom after a trip up to breathe. The second turtle we saw was a baby hawksbill that I spotted when I came out of a cave. It stuck its little head in a hole and tried to blend in with the reef.
On French Reef the only big critter that we saw was a barracuda. But there were big schools of Creole wrasse up where Nick and I were floating around.
Tuesday, Feb. 7th
The boys joined me on Palancar Horseshoe where we saw a pair of turtles together at about 80 feet deep. As we approached they parted ways with us.
We jumped in at Dalila and finished our dive on Cedral. The current was really fast and it blew all the sand around. At first I thought that it looked like one of those toys that you shake up and the snow falls. Then I thought that this must be what a blizzard looks like. Then I began to wonder what it looked like during Wilma as it sat right over us for days. I realized that what I was experiencing was nothing in comparison to what those reef inhabitants survived back in October. Aside from lots of sand we saw a 6-foot nurse shark just lying around out in the open. I saw 4 different turtles doing various things. The most interesting was the turtle napping in a cave out of the current. She just layed there like nothing was going on around her. At the end of the dive I found a small nurse shark in a cave on Cedral where normally we see the big green moray.
Wednesday, Feb. 8th
Eric, Joe, Nick and I went to Santa Rosa Wall. A turtle swam up to the surface and came back down for us a couple of minutes later. As I was showing them a splendid toad fish Eric accidentally knocked Joe's regulator out of his mouth. I saw the whole thing. Joe looked mad for a second. I burst out laughing. I normally wouldn't laugh, but Joe is such a good diver that I knew it wouldn't be a problem. First he picked up the regulator connected to his pony bottle, looked at it, and then switched to the right one that was connected to his main tank.
When he was breathing again I looked at him, shrugged my shoulders and smiled. Then he laughed too. When we got back on the boat and gave Eric a hard time his answer was, "I knocked out Joe's regulator?" "Really?" Eric didn't even know there was a problem! I got to thinking about it later. It was a good thing Joe didn't finish the dive on the wrong regulator...the one connected to the pony bottle. That would have been a very short dive!
We did another wall dive on San Francisco. I think that was Joe's favorite day. It was fantastic. From the moment that we rolled in the water, a spotted eagle ray was waiting for us at the bottom. Later we saw some southern stingrays. One was buried in the sand. As Nick drifted right over it with out seeing it, I grabbed his arm and pointed down 3 feet below him. He had never seen a southern stingray buried in the sand before so he didn't recognize the diamond shaped edge of their gray body covered in sand. We startled the big critter and it lifted off. That startled Nick and I could feel him jump as he realized that there was something as big as him just 3 feet below him. I laughed again. ( I am so mean! ) We went on to see about 5 or 6 more southern stingrays and another spotted eagle ray.
Thursday, Feb. 9th
I dived at Palancar Caves with Eric, Joe, Nick, Ricardo, Debbie, Yvette and Todd. We had great diving conditions and swam through lots of archways, canyons and tunnels.
Then I dived Cedral and Santa Rosa Shallow and then on to - No Man's Land! Right before I rolled in, Carlos told me that the captain of the boat next to us warned that the current was h6. Boy, they weren't kidding. It was like diving in a snowstorm. Sand was everywhere. We covered Cedral in 10 minutes, Santa Rosa Shallow in 20 minutes and then ran out of reef for the last 25 minutes. If anything, it was a fascinating experience. Todd and Ricardo managed to see a turtle and at the very end of the dive. There was a stingray at the bottom, but pretty much all we saw that dive was sand!
Friday, Feb. 10th
Everyone loves Santa Rosa so I took Joe, Yvette, Todd and Lyn there. First a decent sized nurse shark swam right past Yvette. I wondered how she was going to react. Then we drifted over a turtle that was pigging out on a sponge. The turtle was surrounded by angelfish. I was really excited when I found a yellow nudibranch with orange tufts of cerata. The points of the cerata were blue. It was slowly making its way across the sand. It was only an inch long and about as wide as 3 toothpicks but I was thrilled with my find. No one else seemed much interested. I was riveted.
Per Carlos' suggestion, we went to Dalila. It was a good call. We saw 2 big green moray eels, a turtle and a sleepy little nurse shark sleeping under an overhang out of the current.
Saturday, Feb. 11th
Lyn, Bill, John, Al, Yvette and Todd accompanied me to Palancar Horseshoe. I had to play the old rubber seahorse trick on Al. Coming out of a cave I wrapped its little tail around a rock and waited for my victim. Yvette was laughing out loud and flooding her mask before Al even got there. Bill came over for a peek with his camera and I didn't want to fool him so I shook my finger and told him no. Then Al came over for a glance. He took one look and laughed too. I can't get him twice. So much for my rubber seahorse. I will save it for Tut at Carnival.
There was no current at Las Palmas. We moved slowly from one coral head to another. We saw spotted eels, a goldentail, a couple of splendid toadfish and Todd found a chain eel.
We did a third dive on Paradise and found a big grouper. Al discovered a goldspot eel that looks like a snake. There was a good current so John got to practice drift diving techniques.
Monday, Feb. 13th
It was rough, choppy and cold at Palancar Caves. Chucho took Denise and Lester on a normal dive and I took John deep for his Advanced certification. Denise and Lester got to see a big, fat nurse shark that Chucho found hiding under the coral. I missed it. We all saw the little white nose pipefish in the sand.
There was a big spotted eagle ray on Dalila that day and loads of fish.
Tuesday, Feb. 14th
We did our Valentine's Day dive on Tormentos. That was Denise's favorite. We saw a little bit of everything that day. First we saw a little turtle. As we were swimming after the turtle John pointed out a big nurse shark swimming by so we went after that. Later we saw a pair of barracuda, a big grouper and at the end of the dive there were 3 big lobsters in a crevice.
Trying to stay warm and close to the marina, we went to Paradise. There were 2 big octopi that I have been seeing off and on throughout January and February. I told them to not to go away and wait until the end of the month when Patti gets here so she can see them too. We also saw 2 stone fish and a big crab too.
That night I finished up John's Advanced certification on Paradise. I saw one of the same octopi in the same spot. There were tons of crabs, a few lobsters and 3 splendid toadfish...one of which was completely out in the open and very flamboyant.
Wednesday, Feb. 15th
Denise and Lester had never been to Palancar Horseshoe before so we took John, Jon, Melody and Jacque there. When I rolled in a big southern stingray was right under the boat. Later I slowly drifted over a sleeping hawksbill turtle and woke the little guy up.
Dalila had ripping current and we flew past a giant spotted eagle ray slowly maintaining its position off to the west of us. We also saw another big cobia and a black grouper. When John went up I saw a big nurse shark just ahead of the group. I banged and banged on my tank, but no one could see me or see the shark. Lester made up for it. He found another little shark later on. It was swimming against the current. I don't know how they can do that!
Friday, Feb. 17th
I took Carmen, Jeff, Mike, Brad and Brennan to Santa Rosa Wall. There were no big critters to greet us that day, just a spotted cleaner shrimp and a small eel. Some of the sand is starting to come back inside of the cave. I guess it is because of all the current that we have had in previous weeks. On Yucab we discovered a little turtle and a pair of lobsters huddled together in a hole. There were some spotted morays, a golden tail eel and a spotted drum there too.
Saturday, Feb. 18th
Colombia was our first dive of the day with Carmen, Jeff, Steve, Steve and Jan. A 6 foot long green moray eel slithered around below us at about 80 feet before hiding itself under the reef. A small hawksbill turtle glided by too.
A pretty green turtle was waiting to visit with us on Dalila. She let Mike take her picture. There was a big bar jack stalking a school of grunts and a big barracuda too.
Sunday, Feb. 19th
Chucho took Brad, Brennan, Carmen, Jeff and Mike down the Devil's Throat at Punta Sur while I sat on the boat. I was trying to conserve heat and energy. :-)
I got in to dive at San Francisco Wall where several large lobsters hung out and a spunky little golden tail eel swam around and made it difficult for Brad to get a picture. Everyone saw the first big eagle ray. Carmen and Mike were with me when we saw the second eagle ray. It one was the same one that I have seen before. It has a big bite out of its rear right wing.
We experienced ripping current on Las Palmas. When I got in it was slow but it picked up quickly until we were flying along. Only Jeff and I saw the splendid toadfish because everyone flew right by. Eventually we were hanging on to anything we could find. Carmen flapped like a flag in the wind while hanging on to a sunken palapa post. It was interesting to say the least. We traveled further than I ever have before and at the end of the dive we came upon a colorful oasis with schools of fish and lobsters.
Monday, Feb. 20th
I saw 4 different turtles on Palancar Horseshoe with Carmen, Jeff, Mike, Jan, Steve and Steve. The first one was above us and everyone saw it. The second one was on top of the reef and I only saw it momentarily before it disappeared over the top. The third turtle was below us at 90 feet eating a gorgonian and everyone went right down to see it. So when I saw the 4th turtle down below us I didn't point it out because we were 36 minutes into the dive and I didn't want everyone dipping down that deep again at that point. So that last little turtle was my secret.
On San Francisco Wall we saw tons of lobsters again and a big crab. Notchka the little nurse shark swam right up to me. I have nick named her Notchka after a character in a book because she has a small notch missing from her dorsal fin. I was very pleased to see her because I don't think that I have seen her since Wilma passed through. Interesting that nurse sharks are so territorial. Later a huge eagle ray glided by. I played the old rubber sea horse trick on Steve and Steve. We also saw lots of yellow stingrays, a peacock flounder, a splendid toadfish and a golden tail moray.
Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, 2006
I dived Carmen's new favorite reef, Palancar Horseshoe with Carmen, Jeff, Mike, Jan, Steve and Steve. Mike found the first turtle and it was a really big one. Better yet, it didn't swim away when everyone went over to get a look. As we were looking at another little turtle Jan found a really big lobster. Later I found a big crab with huge claws clinging to the side of the reef.
Everyone loved Paradise. There were toadfish, 2 scorpion fish, spotted morays, golden tail eels and baby lobsters. We saw Patti's big pair of octopuses in their usual spot. I told the one that sits on the outside of the reef to wait until Patti gets here in April. I will have to put a little leash on him so that he doesn't sneak away.
Thursday, Feb. 23rd
Per special request we went back to Santa Rosa Wall with Rick, Donna, Carol and Deanna. Our first attempt to go down went wrong due to a loose weight belt, a leaky new BCD, surface current blowing us off target and a boat captain from a different dive shop asleep on the job floating into us. I took all of this as a bad omen and made everyone get back on the boat and start over. As we were waiting our turn to go up the ladder Carol showed me a turtle. We got tired just getting back on the boat but it paid off. We got back in and our dive was perfect. We had great conditions and a light current. So I am glad that we started over.
Patti's two octopuses on Paradise were right where they are supposed to be. Carol asked me where the splendid toadfish was. I scratched my head, thought about it for a second, looked around for the right kind of hole and then peeked in. A splendid toadfish peered out at me and I showed it to Carol. She was utterly amazed. I smiled and just thought about how damn lucky I am!
Carol, Deanna, Tammie and Steve came with me to Palancar Gardens. We saw a big old lobsters clinging to the underside of the coral. We saw 2 baby turtles. One was Carlos' pet turtle that he spotted a while back.
The first big turtle on Tormentos sat really still just scarfing down a sponge. It didn't seem to mind us being there. He even smiled for the cameras. Then I played the rubber sea horse trick on Carol and Deanna. When Carol laughed her mask filled up with water and that pissed her off. She gave me the finger so then I laughed and got a mask full of water. A 5 foot (kinda medium sized) nurse shark swam by. I assured the divers that the shark was real.
Saturday, Feb. 25th
We went south to Colombia with Carol, Deanna, Tammie abnd Steve. The girls found a sweet little turtle nestled down napping in a hole. I showed them the anchor, coal burning stove and bricks. I told them that maybe I am a bit confused as to the name of the dive site and I don't really know nor care if it is Palancar Bricks or Colombia. There was a huge lobster hiding in a dark recess that waved his antennas at us.
Dalila produced 4 spotted eagle rays! Only one was really, really big and a cobia glided over it. Those cobias look just like sharks from a distance. During our safety stop we drifted over a big nurse shark lying in the sand.
Sunday, Feb. 26th
Luis and I split the group on Palancar Horseshoe/Gardens. I took Barry and Theresa to do some skills for their open water training and Luis took the advanced divers (Martin, Jane, Carol and Deanna) over the wall. I saw a small spotted eagle ray. The others saw a big eagle ray and a turtle too! The eagle ray stayed with them for a while and they all got a good show.
On Colombia Shallows (no confusion on that part of Colombia) we all saw another turtle, a huge barracuda with big pointy teeth and Martin showed Barry and Theresa a juvenile spotted drum. A pair of yellow stingrays flitted around under us as we drifted by.
Monday, Feb. 27th
I went back to "Colombia" (or maybe Bricks) with Carol, Deanna, Tut, Martin, Jane, Theresa and Barry. Tut had read about the anchor but hadn't seen it yet. The first turtle that we saw was just finishing a big meal and took off when we came by. Then a 6 foot nurse shark came out of nowhere and swam right up to Theresa. I was a bit worried that she might panic and bolt. But she just enjoyed the action. Then we floated over a big southern stingray and another turtle.
Our second dive was on French Reef were a small 4 foot nurse shark was lying on the bottom resting, somewhat hidden from view. Tut went after an eagle ray but it was just too far away. Then we saw more turtles. Tut found a big crab with only one claw. I had a hard time seeing it when he pointed it out.
Tuesday, Feb. 28th
No one ever gets tired of Palancar Horseshoe. It's a favorite. My divers were Carol, Deanna, Tut, Jane, Martin, Barry and Theresa. We saw a turtle down deep below us but no one went down there for a peek. It was probably at about 100 feet down. We had a nice, easy relaxing dive. I think that it was on this dive that Tut was not fooled again by the rubber seahorse. He had experience with the original plastic seahorse last Carnival. All I got out of him was a big smile.
Dalila offered a bit of current. Theresa showed me a turtle that went up for a gulp of air. Martin got a picture of it when it came back down again. Shortly afterward a big nurse shark swam by off in the distance but not everyone could see it.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2006
I swam through the caves of Palancar with Jane, Martin, Theresa, Barry, Tut, Andy and Nichole. While Jane and Martin were taking pictures of the first turtle, another little turtle swam right into Nichole. She had to back paddle to get a couple feet away from it to take its picture.
Jane's favorite was Paso Del Cedral because it has so many schools of fish. Nichole had requested to see a shark and a ray so about 10 minutes into the dive I whipped out my handy dandy plastic hammerhead. I thought her regulator would fall out of her mouth when she started laughing. Then she pointed out a yellow stingray. The first real live nurse shark I saw was too far away so she didn't get to see it. The second one was pretty small but she got a good look at it and her requests were fulfilled.
Friday, March 3rd
My first tank of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Jane, Martin, Tut, Annie and Michael. We saw a couple of lobsters and swam through the cave. After 25 minutes we looked up and spied a graceful spotted eagle ray gliding over the top of the reef.
Another spotted eagle ray awaited us on Tormentos that morning. There were plenty of big lobsters abound as well. Martin and Tut got a picture of the friendly golden tail moray. A black grouper swam by and I would guess that it weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 pounds. It was a biggy. Jane, Martin and Michael observed a turtle chomping down a sponge breakfast but I missed him……..
We have all concurred that there is definitely less color on the reefs after Wilma but we are seeing so many big critters and pretty fish that the diving is still very good. Fortunately the colorful things that Wilma took away are the sponges and soft corals which are the fastest growing organisms on the reef. We see lots of little sponges sprouting up everywhere now-a-days.
Sunday, March 5th
I grabbed my camera, Annie and Michael and went straight to Las Palmas in search of close up subjects. There was no current when I first got in the water, but quickly it picked right up. It made critter hunting and photography difficult at best. I thought of Brad, Jeff and Carmen a couple of weeks back when we flew through there and I could really empathize with them not being able to stop and take pictures.
On Paradise (the best place for a photographer) the current was much calmer. I shot schools of grunts, a toadfish completely out of its hole,anemones and a golden tail eel. Oh, I got a bit carried away with the queen angels too.
Monday, March 6th
At Palancar Horshoe Annie befriended a sweet hawksbill turtle while Michael, David and Paula watched. I interrupted the encounter when a big lobster started walking around over the coral. Later we saw another little turtle swim slowly up to the surface. After Annie and Michaelwere already up we spied a small 4-foot nurse shark resting in a hole below us.
Dalila had current as usual, but we got to play with another turtle there. Annie discovered that sharks are kinda cool when we drifted over a really big one. I layed down next to it to show her that they weren't ferocious at all.
Tuesday, March 7th
Mike, Laura, Mari and Kelley accompanied me to Palancar Horseshoe. Mike and Laura spotted several lobsters. One was huge and out prancing around on top of the reef. During our safety stop we saw a diver from another group shoot to the surface. After he put his snorkel in his mouth he looked back down, waved his regulator at me and made a signal indicating that it didn't work. I took that to mean that he was out of air. That was about as much excitement as any of us wanted for the day.
On Dalila Mari found her very own octopus. Boy, was she excited. We also saw a huge turtle surrounded by a harem of angelfish dining on a sponge. Late in the dive we drifted over a big fat nurse shark. Its head was all covered with sand.
Wednesday, March 8th
On Colombia (or Bricks) with Mike, Laura, Mari and Kelley, once again Mari found just what she was looking for. Coming out of a cave at 80-feet a small Caribbean reef shark hunted below us. That was Mike's second day in a row of seeing a reef shark. This was his lucky week! We also saw a turtle. Some one had tied a rope to the anchor and lifted it to an upright position so that it wasn't lying in the sand anymore. I wonder if it was done on purpose to avoid having it buried under the sand again someday or if they intended to steal it but couldn't haul it aboard. It will be interesting to see if it is still there in a week or two……..
On Cedral a small nurse shark sat patiently letting Mari take its picture. She also got a picture of a big lobster. There was a little baby turtle that delighted Laura at the end of the dive. Barracudas were everywhere as always on Cedral.
Thursday, March 9th
My first dive of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Mari, Kelley, Mike and Laura. The first turtle had a bunch of barnacles on its back and swam right up to Mari. The second turtle was swimming up towards the surface and was a bit further away from us. While Mari, Kelley and I were in a cave, Laura and Mike found a small nurse shark. Kelley really loved the wall and the caves. Mari was very impressed with the big lobster Mike showed her.
My second dive of the day was on San Francisco Wall and as we descended there were two rather large southern stingrays right beneath us in the sand. Mari swam around taking pictures the whole dive. Mike, Laura and I saw more southern stingrays later on.
Sunday, March 12th
I dived Bolones de Chankanaab with Tiffany, Terry, John, Ann, Nik, Rik, Tom and Jill. Some of the biggest lobsters in Cozumel came out and crawled about. I found a splendid toadfish and wished for one of my new lures that we hadn't made yet. During the safety stop a beautiful spotted eagle ray foraged for breakfast below us. What a treat.
A herd of divers awaited us on Paradise! They just descended upon us. I was trying out my new yellow lure that we made during the surface interval when I looked up to find a school of humans raining down on us. We still managed good spirits and had lots of fun. A scorpion fish gobbled up John's lure and he scared the daylights out of me when it wouldn't let go.
Monday, March 13th
On the first day of my dive-a-thon I took Paul, Jeff, Josh, Jill, Nik, Rik and Tom to Las Palmas. We played with tons of toadfish. We also saw a bunch of little eels. Some one woke up a big, huge turtle from her slumber and she swam away.
Paradise offered more toadfish to lure and eels. Patti's octopus was in its usual spot and a big lobster hid under a ledge.
In the afternoon I did two more dives on Paradise with Lindy, Hannah, Katie, Carolyn and Charlie. They were working on their Open Water Referrals. On the first dive we were surrounded by a school of big rainbow parrotfish. On both dives the girls spotted an eel. Charlie was the one who saw the spotted eagle ray first as it passed us by. The 1-foot lobster in the hole was about 3 feet long by the time that we got on the boat. I explained that everything appears larger and closer underwater…
Tuesday, March 14th
Day two of the dive-a-thon started off on Horseshoe with Paul, Jeff, Josh, Terry, Tiffany, John and Ann. We had nice conditions and swam around the towering coral formations. A huge barracuda hovered at about 80 feet and posed for Paul's camera.
A medium sized nurse shark awaited us in a cave at Dalila. A goliath grouper did the same. A big black grouper followed me around for a bit.
I spent my afternoon with Charlie, Carolyn, Katie, Lindy and Hannah on Horseshoe again. We all saw two really big turtles swim below us. Lindy and Hannah saw another little turtle earlier on that I had missed. Thirteen year old Katie announced that turtles are now her favorite animal!
On the boat before our next dive at Chankanaab Charlie saw me sneak a plastic hammerhead shark into my pocket. As we went down we almost landed on two big lobsters doing a fierce battle. After the show we saw tons more lobsters and some crabs.
Then I sat the plastic shark on the reef. I had Katie going for a moment. We all discovered that when we laugh, water goes in our mask. So we decided that smiling and laughing underwater is not a good idea. Then another little turtle hung out with us for a while. Katie just couldn't resist it.
Wednesday, March 15th
Day three of the dive-a-thon was with Paul, Jeff, Josh, Jill, Rik, Nik and Tom on Santa Rosa Wall. It was rush hour during Spring Break which is our busiest time of year. Group after group of divers drifted past us while we waited patiently behind a huge coral structure that protected us from the h6 current that day. After they had passed we floated into a school of horse-eyed jacks at the end of the dive.
My second dive of the day was on San Francisco Wall. Thankfully, the current was not as h6 as it had been on Santa Rosa. We drifted slowly passed schools of yellow fish. At the very end of the dive we had a brief visit with an eagle ray which pleased Paul very much.
My third dive of the day was with Terry, Tiffany, Carolyn, Charlie, Lindy, Hannah and Katie. Landing on the bottom at Palancar Gardens there was a big southern stingray waiting for us. In the shallows a small green moray eel (about 5-feet long) swam around and amazed us. When only Tiffany and Terry were with me I pointed out a hawksbill turtle and as we watched it eat, Tiffany discovered another bigger green moray eel swimming away. That was a very exciting dive.
My fourth dive that day was on Paso Del Cedral. We found a little nurse shark in the usual afternoon napping place. She took off and later reappeared. A small turtle hung out with us for a few minutes and Lindy took her chances with me by trying to touch it. I gave her a little scold, but I know just how tempting that is.
Thursday, March 16th
To finish up my dive-a-thon I went to Yucab with Carolyn, Charlie, Lindy, Hannah and Katie. Just as we arrived on the bottom I spied a big spotted eagle ray about 100 feet away. We swam over for a looksy. A huge lobster waved its antennas at us. A medium sized barracuda followed me and Carolyn around. She looked nervous so I gave it the finger. That made it go away and it also made Carolyn laugh again and get more water in her mask.
Since everyone loves Paradise, back I went. Both the splendid toadfish and the octopus were in their normal places. That octopus is becoming quite the celebrity. A lizard fish zipped away from us when I got too close.
That afternoon I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Jill, Rik, Nik, Tom and Ann. I got one of the boys to shine his flashlight on a big crab. My favorite cave had a collapsed roof and we couldn't swim through it anymore.
We tormented the toadfish on Tormentos! We had a blast with our lures. The toadfish come out very slowly wiggling their little pectoral fins with anticipation of the little red fish bobbing in front of them. They try unsuccessfully to gobble it up. It provided unlimited entertainment for us :-)
Friday, March 17th
Whew! Finally back to two dives per day, the first of which being on Colombia with Paul, Jeff, Josh, Laura, Tiffany and Terry. The current was pretty h6 on the wall so I doubled back and went over to the shallow area. The anchor was lying down again. Go figure. Everyone saw the first turtle but only a few of us saw the second and third turtle at the end of the dive.
There were lots of little assorted eels on Las Palmas. Only one toadfish was found and it wanted nothing to do with my lure. Bah humbug. We also saw a yellow stingray and a peacock flounder.
Saturday, March 18th
Caitlin and Suzanne wanted a shallow, easy dive so I took them to Paradise. We saw plenty of golden tail eels and spotted morays. I found my buddy the toadfish and a pair of lizard-fish too. We went back to Paradise for another great dive. We were graced with a spotted eagle ray, a stonefish and a sailfin blenny.
Sunday, March 19th
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Paul, Rita, John and Caitlin. A giant lobster was standing out in the open. When I pointed to it he scurried under an overhang but everyone got to see it anyway. I showed Rita
a tiny little juvenile spotted drum flitting its ribbon like fins while swimming in little circles. There was yet another big lobster on French Reef out strutting his stuff and showing off. A hawksbill turtle shared a meal of sponge with some mooching angelfish as we all gawked.
Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
We wanted something fairly easy for the newly-certified divers... so Fabio, Mauro, Carolyn, Christine and Steven dived at Paradise with me. We discovered some small spiny lobsters and a tiny little juvenile spotted drum in a hole. Two huge rainbow parrotfish hovered nearby. There were schools of grunts and a spotted scorpion fish minding its own business and blending in with the reef.
On Tormentos Fabio lost his new dive computer! It wasn't securely attached and when we got back onboard the boat we discovered that it was gone! He was a very good sport about it. He now has a brand new one that he likes even better.
During the dive we saw the world's biggest lobster. An 80-pound snapper that had a remora following it around.
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006
I went to Palancar Caves with Curt, Joe, Barbara, Jennifer and Angela. Coming around the first big coral head and outward, toward the wall, we were greeted by a very small hawksbill turtle. We swam through all those beautiful tunnels.
It was spooky to have no current on Dalila. It did pick up a bit of current at the same time that we saw the schools of smooth trunkfish. A seven-foot nurse shark swam slowly against the current. We all got a good look at it.
Thursday, March 23rd
My first tank of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Sandra, Mike, Angela, Jennifer and Curt. There were big waves at the surface...but it was nice and calm below. We were practicing buoyancy control. Jennifer did a great job of swimming through the cave without touching the sides or disturbing the sand.
Tormentos had plenty of current. My splendid toadfish didn't want to come out and play. A jumbo-sized lobster came out and cruised along the reef. Three large barracuda patrolled their territory. Curt found an eel, but I was too lazy to swim back against the current to have a look at it.
Friday, March 24th Matt, Curt, Moni, Chuck, Jen and Angela dived Bolones de Chankanaab with me. Everyone got a peek at the splendid toadfish. I think some divers got photos. Yet another big lobster was on the prowl and we saw a large grouper.
A big storm was expected to come in at an undetermined hour that day, so I wanted to stay near the marina. Our next stop was at Paradise. A large solitary eagle ray made a slow pass. I saw my little sailfin blenny, but the resident octopus was gone. Later, a pair of smaller size spotted eagle rays were flirting and swimming in tandem during Angela, Curt and my safety stop.
Sunday, March 26th
I chose Palancar Horseshoe for Angie, Jen, Curt, Matt, Randy and Susan. Not everyone saw the first turtle. Angela took off after it to get a picture. Later, we saw Carlos' little baby turtle up at the surface. Then it dived back down to visit us beneath the water.
Our second dive was on San Francisco Wall, where Angela, Jen and Matt navigated squares to complete their Advanced Certification. Matt had a camera in his hand when a huge spotted eagle ray swam right up to him. What a photo opportunity!
Monday, March 27th
For a change, we went to the Santa Rosa Wall. Angela, Jennifer, Moni, Chuck, Randy, Matt and Kristin were my divers. We saw two turtles. The one that Randy pointed out was fairly large, but it was sitting still and I didn't want to swim against the current to get a better look. On our safety stop a 5-foot eagle ray foraged for food in the sand beneath us.
We went back to Tormentos where Angela found another toadfish. We saw a peacock flounder camouflaged on the bottom. Angela found a scorpion fish.
That afternoon I did two dives on Paradise near shore with Anthony, Craig, Dave, Steven, Derek, Ryan and Bob. Right off the bat, we found a golden tail eel. I think everyone was so distracted on their first training dive that they hardly noticed. Chucho scared up a couple of scorpion fish and we were accompanied by some really big rainbow parrotfish. We found a couple of big claws from a crab, which makes me wonder where the rest of it is!
Tuesday, March 28th
The boys finished their training dives that morning. The first dive was on Palancar Gardens. One of our new divers went a bit deeper than our dive plan. I had to fish him up and make him come rejoin the group. We saw a small turtle at the top of the reef, while it was returning from its trip to the surface to breath.
I took everyone to the reef at Paradise...not the shore site I use for training. There were more big parrotfish and a barracuda. I showed Randy my sailfin blenny. I love to make it put up its "sail". Randy found a bunch of small eels.
I took Moni, Chuck and Randy on a night dive at Chankanaab. I can't believe that we didn't find a single octopus! Well, Moni didn't want to see one anyway. (After she saw that picture of Chucho with the octopus on his face.) We did see lots and lots of crabs. Lobsters were everywhere.
Wednesday, March 29th
Randy, Susan, Amanda, Moni and Chuck went diving with me at Palancar Caves where we swam through all of the archways and caves that I could find. Amanda really enjoyed seeing the turtle.
I chose Colombia Shallow for the second dive so that the snorkelers could have something to see as well. Only John got in and snorkeled over us. The schools of grunts and tangs are starting to come back in healthy populations. I showed Susan a couple of Christmas tree worms. We watched a big southern stingray feeding in the sand.
Thursday, March 30th
It was time for Chuck and Moni's deep dive for Advanced Diving Certification. Randy wanted to go to Punta Sur. So we were off...We had excellent conditions for the Devil's Throat. I was surprised at how much Moni really loved the dive when she was the one that I had to talk into going!
On Las Palmas there were two toadfish, loads of golden tail morays and a few spotted morays as well. We found those camouflaged critters too, like the peacock flounder and the scorpion fish.
Saturday, April 1st
A big southern stingray swam through our group of divers: Moni, Chuck, Diane and Ted at Palancar Gardens. We saw several really big lobsters out walking about. We also saw blatant evidence of poaching. Two huge lobster heads and bodies without tails were lying in the sand. They were obviously poached just the night before or early that same morning.
On Dalila Chuck discovered a giant spotted eagle ray swimming right past us. Then Diane pointed out a small barracuda. I found a 5-foot big, fat barracuda and showed it to Diane. Later a small hawksbill turtle swam by us.
Sunday, April 2nd
Natalie, André and Bob arrived on the cruise ship and we dived on Palancar Horseshoe. I figured if they only have one day to dive in Cozumel, Horseshoe would be a "must see". Now when I swim along that particular stretch of reef I can hardly tell that Wilma has come and gone.
They wanted to see lots of fish so Paradise was the natural choice for our second dive. There were tons of little eels, two splendid toadfish, a lizardfish and a crab.
Wednesday, April 5th
The dive at Palancar Gardens with Ryan, Allison, Chris, Amber, Courtney and Kristen was uneventful. In my opinion... that is a good thing! A big lobster was walking across the bottom. I pointed it out, but I think only Kristen and Courtney were paying attention. We also swam past a big grouper.
There were no sharks or turtles on Dalila this day. We did see another big grouper and a large barracuda, however. It was a bit overcast, but we had nice, calm current.
Sunday, April 9th
I started my busy week on Tormentos with Bob, Sylvie, Linda and Peter. We were greeted by a big spotted eagle ray. There were loads of huge lobsters everywhere. At the end of the dive, another eagle ray glided bye to say adios. I thoroughly checked the current at Las Palmas, where we saw another spotted eagle ray. What a great day! There were also the usual little eels and splendid toadfish.
In the afternoon I went to Paradise with Zoe, David, Bob and Sylvie. I showed them my pet sailfin blenny and the scorpion fish.
Monday, April 10th
Patti, Andrew, Elaine, Rich, Sylvie, Bob, Linda and Peter filled my boat and we went to my favorite, Palancar Horseshoe. Before we got in the water, Sylvie asked to see a turtle. Within the first 5 minutes we saw three! The first two were small. One was a green turtle and the other a hawksbill. The third turtle was quite a bit larger. The sponges were reproducing and we could hardly see each other through all the sperm and eggs in the water. The sponges either looked like they were smoking or like they had wonder bread floating out of them. It's really kind of weird to be in the midst of that experience. Everyone laughed hard back on the boat when I told them that they were covered in sperm and eggs.
Everyone wanted to go to Dalila. Sylvie got to take pictures of another turtle. I showed her a medium sized nurse shark lying on the bottom. There were two huge lobsters in a hole close to the sleeping shark.
Then another turtle swam by. If that weren't enough, a big, huge nurse shark swam right up to Patti, Andrew, Linda and Peter. What luck when you have the camera in your hand!
Tuesday, April 11th
My same gang of buddies came with me to Palancar Caves. We couldn't have asked for better diving conditions. Linda and I enjoyed observing all of the new signs of life on the reef. In the shallow area where the sand was removed from ancient reef, there are now tiny one inch high gorgonians appearing. On the reef you can find little nubs of yellow, orange and dark colored sponges. They are about an inch or so high and wide. I think our color is finally starting to return.
Elaine spotted the first turtle on French Reef as it swam by away from us. Then Patti and Andrew took pictures of a big lobster out crawling around. Then, I believe it was Elaine, who discovered the hungry turtle pigging out on big chunks of what I imagine was sponge.
Wednesday, April 12th
I took the gang to Palancar Gardens. Everyone got to practice good buoyancy control because I took them through all of my favorite swim throughs. At that location, the caves and tunnels are endless. At Paso Del Cedral we saw lots of big fish: a black grouper, a big snapper and a midnight parrotfish. None were shy...We could swim right up and almost pet them! As usual there were tons of barracuda. I swam them all over to Cedral Wall, where we bumped into a rather large spotted eagle ray.
Thursday, April 13th
Linda missed this day of diving. Boo hoo! We went to Santa Rosa Wall without her. Big bummer. But it was nice to dive Santa Rosa without crowds of other divers everywhere. As we arrived on the bottom, Sylvie pointed wildly to something below. I didn't see it and made a signal to her asking, "What?" She managed to make the shark sign, point down and equalize her ears all in one second. It was quite impressive. There was a big nurse shark sitting on top of the reef waiting for us to come over and take its picture. Over the wall I spent a good 10 minutes cleaning sand out of the sponges. We saw some big lobsters too. On San Francisco Wall there were tons of little eels everywhere. Sylvie told me to hold off on that turtle because her memory card was full. I was trying to show them a spotted cleaner shrimp and somehow they ended up looking at an arrow crab instead :-)
Friday, April 14th
For the last day of diving we went to Colombia. It was nice to have Linda back with us. I toured them around and showed them the arch that I have no idea of what it is, the bricks, the boiler and the big anchor. I feel less ambiguous about which reef it is because Chucho assured me that where the anchor is, is Colombia. OK, if he says its Colombia I will stop worrying about it. Aside from the artifacts of the shipwreck we also had an experience with a friendly turtle that swam amongst us. Sylvie got a good picture of it. Elaine was a naughty girl and couldn't resist putting out her hand and touching its shell. She knew she would be in trouble when she got back on the boat! She pleaded with me, "But I have never had a turtle come so close before!"
There was another turtle on Dalila that morning and another big shark sitting out in the open begging to have its picture taken. The current was very h6 that day. It hasn't been that way for a while.
Tuesday, April 18th
Every time I go to Horseshoe it looks better and better. I showed Paul, Volker and Richard lots of new growth that has appeared since Wilma. We saw Carlos' little baby turtle at the end of the dive.
We had a nice, relaxing dive on Dalila. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see any sharks, turtles or eagle rays. But I shouldn't complain. There are plenty of fish there.
That afternoon I went to Palancar Gardens with Chip, Jenna and Kyle. The rest of the clan snorkeled above us. We saw a big lobster sharing a cubby hole with a crab. We also saw a hawksbill turtle and a barracuda.
On Paradise Kyle found an octopus. I bet it is Patti's octopus relocated. What a shame to find it a few days after she went home! Kyle loved it when the sail fin blenny tried to look fierce by opening it's mouth and extending it's "sail". Everyone was enchanted by the huge rainbow parrotfish.
Wednesday, April 19th
My first dip of the day was on Palancar Bricks with Susan, Volker, Jeannine, Paul, Bob, Kaye and Richard. We had a great dive! We saw two turtles, a nurse shark and a big lobster.
Our second dip of the day was on French Reef. Volker found two big green moray eels. We also saw another turtle.
Thursday, April 20th
Rich, Richard, Paul, Bob, Kaye, Susan and Volker accompanied me to San Francisco Wall. Upon reaching the bottom Kaye pointed out a big eagle ray feeding in the sand. We saw a few lobsters and at the end of the reef I found a nurse shark nestled in a dark crevice under a coral overhang. Later we saw a few big southern stingrays.
At Chankanaab we found several lobsters. One of which was feasting on a fish. I saw Richard take a picture of a yellow headed jaw fish. That is very hard to do! They always pop back into their dens as soon as someone gets near. There are still loads of big gorgonians on Chankanaab.
Sunday, April 23rd
I dived Palancar Gardens with Bob, Kaye, Ken, Judy, Volker, Jim and Chris. There were plenty of 70 pounders that day. First we spied a huge snapper hanging out with a baby goliath grouper. I think that they weighed as much as a small child at least. Right around the corner from the two monsters was a big lobster. Later Bob drifted right over a hungry hawksbill turtle.
On Yucab Bob found a fat spotted moray eel. I found a small golden tail eel and Bob really liked the lizard fish too.
Monday, April 24th
I took Volker, Susan, Paul, Chris, Jim, Ken and Judy to Colombia Deep. An intimidated lobster scooted backwards into a hole in the reef. A golden tail eel slithered out of another hole. While making a safety stop I saw a turtle beneath us.
Per special request we went to Las Palmas. Before I got in Carlos said that he thought the current was slow and going northbound. I got in and checked. I told him that it was very slowly heading southbound. I didn't know if it had just changed directions or if it was going to stop and then go northbound. Since the current was so slow I decided to have everyone get in and we could swim against this very light current for a while. When it picked up we could drift back to where we began the dive.
Oops! Big mistake! I got a signal from Volker that he didn't want to swim against the current. I had no way to explain to him that there wasn't much to see if we go with the current, but I just turned the group around and did his bidding. Everyone scattered in all directions. I tried to get them to follow me over to the wall. I figured I could save the dive if I got them over to the wall with something to look at least. They all ignored me. Oh well. It took 30 minutes and some serious tank banging to gather them up and get them all to the wall. Once there, Paul found a splendid toadfish and saved the day. I coaxed it out of the hole, none to gently, just because I figured that it would be the only interesting thing that they would see this dive. Paul and I also found a big lobster head tossed away by poachers.
For entertainment purposes I whipped out my handy dandy rubber sea horse and fooled poor Susan. Paul laughed so hard that his mask filled with water. We found a telephone down there too. What a weird dive!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, April 25th
I tried to make up for the previous day's fiasco on Palancar Caves with Volker, Susan, Ken, Judy and Kaye. We spent 30 minutes swimming through the caves, then 40 more minutes up on top of the reef in twenty feet of water inspecting the new growth on the reef.
Kaye had never been to Paradise. As a Cozumel veteran I found that hard to believe and had to get rid of her virginity immediately. The current was southbound. We saw tons of spiny headed blennies, stone fish, lizard fish and rainbow parrot fish. I found a big spotted moray eel too.
Wednesday, April 26th
Ken, Judy and I went to Las Palmas on a mission to take a picture of a splendid toadfish for Adrian at Especias. I plan on selling some of my pictures there at his restaurant and he requested a splendid toadfish. That is one that I don't already have. This time the current was just right. I took pictures of two toad fish, a golden tail eel, some rock beauties and a puffed up puffer. I swear I didn't puff him up. Not guilty! I found him that way.
I shot macro on Paradise. I found tons of Christmas tree worms, flamingo tongues, a tiny red hermit crab in a purple shell, a spiny-headed blenny and a very aggressive damsel fish.
Thursday, April 27th
I went to my favorite, Palancar Horseshoe with Ken, Judy, Jim, Gina, Debbie and Terry. They wanted to see turtles and nurse sharks. Unfortunately we didn't see either. On Horseshoe one does have a fair shot at a turtle or two………. They were still thrilled with the dive. The towering coral formations there are breathtaking and unlike anything they have ever seen elsewhere diving.
In a hurry to get back to the cruise ship we went to Paradise. Of course that pleased Ken and Judy. There were small, tiny lobsters and tiny eels. I swear it was that same pair of rainbow parrot fish on the reef.
Friday, April 28th
Ken, Judy, C.J., Vince, Warren and Tony came with me to Palancar Gardens. Boy did we have a good time on the boat and laughing underwater. It seemed like we spent the whole morning just laughing. Ken and Judy saw a couple of spotted eagle rays that we of course missed. So Warren kept referring to them as the "alleged eagle rays". During the safety stop Vince whipped out a couple of plastic swimming fish. He pulled a cord and they swam all around my head as Warren took pictures. They were very entertaining. I stayed down a while longer and found 2 turtles. One was swimming and the other sat on the bottom eating a sponge. Ken got some good close up shots of the turtle's smiling face.
Dalila offered ripping current. Warren found a turtle hiding under a coral overhang. I played the old rubber seahorse trick on Warren. He was delighted to see the seahorse at first. His face just lit up. As he aimed his camera at it, I grabbed the little bugger and choked the hell out of it. When he realized that it was a toy he gave me the finger! We had way too much fun on the boat that day.
Sunday, April 30th
I was another year older that morning. But I still managed a dive on Palancar Horseshoe with Ted, Jeannie, C.J., Vince, Michael, Meagan and Ted. Coming out on the wall I looked down to discover a small turtle perched on top of a mountain of coral eating something. The current was mild and it was an easy dive.
On French Reef Ted pointed out an eagle ray and everyone swam after it. Vince and C.J. saw a bunch of eels but didn't share J When Meagan deflated her BCD her plastic disposable camera floated up and off of her arm. It ended up on the surface and I decide that it wasn't worth going after. The big lobster waved its antennas at us. I played the rubber seahorse trick on everyone. Vince and I went into hysterics.
Monday, May 1st
David, Ted, Ted and Jeannie were diving with me on Colombia Deep. We had a bit of excitement when David fell overboard as Carlos was positioning the boat and driving towards the dive site. There was absolutely no harm done but boy, what a shock for poor David.
There was lots of little stuff on Colombia Shallows. We saw flamingo tongues, Christmas tree worms and a sail fin blenny. The best was the white nosed pipefish making his way across the sand. By the way Ken, I did not see on single queen trigger fish there………… I was looking, just for you!
Tuesday, May 2nd
Warren LOVED Santa Rosa Wall. My divers were Warren (of course), Tony, C.J. Vince, Ted and Jeannie. While still floating on the surface we observed a baby turtle swim down to the bottom. Then we swam right up to a big nurse shark just hanging out. I almost always see a shark there when I get there early before the other dive boats arrive. We saw 2 more good sized hawksbill turtles and a fat lobster bolding stomping around in the open.
At Paso Del Cedral we were greeted by several large groupers and a huge snapper with big, pointy teeth. Speaking of big, pointy teeth, one of the many barracudas that we saw had a big fish hook stuck in his mouth. During the safety stop Vince showed us a HUMUNGUS loggerhead turtle off in the distance. We all swam like hell but couldn't get near it. Oh well.
Thursday, May 4th
I went to Palancar Bricks with Vince, CJ, Ted, Jeannie, Bruce and Steve. We found a sleeping nurse shark under a big coral head. I spied a big turtle swimming down from the surface. As I was pointing the turtle out Steve discovered another one in the shallows.
Next we went to San Francisco Wall where we saw loads of colorful fish. A juvenile spotted drum was swimming in little circles around and around.
Friday, May 5th
My first tank was on Palancar Caves with Tiffany, Neil, Jon, Samantha, Ted and Jeannie. We swam through endless tunnels that morning and found a turtle up on top of the reef. Jon was the last one up so he saw the 2nd, 2006 smaller turtle in 15 feet of water.
The second tank was on Dalila. Samantha found the first turtle and I spotted the second one. Jeannie asked why the angelfish were hanging out with the turtles. I explained that the turtles bite through the tough outer covering of the leathery sponges. Then the angel fish swoop in and eat the soft, white insides of the sponges. So it is very common to see a turtle snacking on a sponge surrounded by a lot of colorful angels.
Saturday, May 6th
We saw two more turtles on Santa Rosa Wall with Samantha, Jon, Tiffany and Neil. They were hanging out together on the wall. The big one was sitting still having breakfast and the second one was small and swimming slowly against the current.
San Francisco Wall produced yet two more turtles. The first was a large hawksbill sharing his sponge with three queen angels. The second was a teenaged loggerhead turtle which was much more skittish than the hawksbill. We saw tons of lobsters. One was huge and it was out strolling around. He seemed to say, “Ha ha, this is a National Park and you can’t take me!”
Thursday, May 11th
Don, Pam, Tom, Amanda, Jason and Jennifer came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. There was a huge barracuda that Chucho chased around and a big crab that Amanda showed Tom. Chucho found another crab and showed it to the group.
Well, there were no apex predators on Yucab. Oh well. But we did find a spotted drum and a scorpionfish. I saw a pair of big black groupers swim up to mid water, spawn and then come back down to the reef. I was thinking to myself, “We just saw two groupers do it!”
Friday, May 12th
I hadn’t been to Punta Tunich since before Wilma. Derek said that he had been there with Cristina earlier in the week and that it looked good. So he, Tom and Amanda accompanied me on that site. We had a little oops on that dive. Everyone rolled in before I checked the current and as it turned out the current was going the opposite direction of normal, so we spent the first half of the dive swimming against the current so that when we were tired and low on air we returned with it. So I never got to see much of Punta Tunich. Oh well. We made the best of things and saw groupers, midnight parrotfish and a spotted eagle ray so it was still a good dive. Big lobsters were out and about cruising the reef at Tormentos. We also saw two stonefish and a southern stingray. Derek was very pleased with the condition of Tormentos and all of the colorful sponges to be found under and behind the ledges. He feels that Tormentos is the best looking reef since Wilma. I really favor it too, but I think Horseshoe at 70 feet looks even healthier.
Derek wanted shots of rainbow parrotfish so we did our 3rd tank on Paradise. The snorkel guides were feeding the trained giants and they swam up to the surface to get their snacks. This frustrated Derek for two reasons. First, he was not about to take a picture of a parrotfish displaying unnatural behavior. They are normally feeding at the bottom. Second, the fish are not supposed to be fed. But he did get to see those rainbow parrotfish. They were everything short of being on a leash! We also said hello to my friend the sail fin blenny. Well, he probably doesn’t think of me as a friend. He probably thinks of me as that big monster that periodically comes by and pokes at him. But I adore him. We also examined a box crab with yellow and purple legs.
Saturday, May 13th
Derek, Muffin Amanda and Tom came with me to Palancar Gardens. Deborah and Christy snorkeled over us. We saw a big turtle. Derek got up close and personal with it. There were also several lobsters and a southern stingray too. Per special request we went back to Tormentos. It was a great dive. We saw more lobsters, 3 turtles and another southern stingray. A spotted eagle ray gracefully passed by too. A shark was spotted by another dive group in front of us, but we missed it because it was too far away for us to see.
That afternoon I did a one on one class for Jeff at Paradise. Jeff was so lucky! On our first training dive we saw a green moray eel, a scorpion fish, a southern stingray and a few big rainbow parrot fish.
On the second training dive we went back and revisited the same green moray eel and also saw 3 spotted morays, a ton of yellow stingrays and Jeff found a slipper lobster.
Sunday, May 14th
I asked Carlos to drop off Jeff, Annita, Jeff, Lana, Derek, Christy, Victoria and Deborah and I at my favorite student spot on Palancar. We saw a big lobster and a southern stingray. Derek must have shot 20 pictures of a pair of squids. There were 2 turtles on French Reef. A southern stingray was being followed around by a hungry bar jack. We had a very long, relaxing dive.
Monday, May 15th
I chose Colombia Deep for Tom, Amanda, Jeff, Lanna, Jeff and Anita. Tom wanted to see as many different reefs as possible. We got in a bit north of our normal drop off and we found a big hawksbill feasting on a sponge with a few queen angels and a pair of French angels hanging around. A 7 foot nurse shark swam right up to Jeff’s video camera on Dalila. He got some good footage of it going past. Talk about a close up!
Tuesday, May 16th
For variety we took Tom, Amanda, Mike and Laura to Palancar Bricks. A cute little turtle swam right under Laura. It must be turtle season because we are seeing them everyday now. Mike found 2 more turtles and a green moray eel on Cedral. Every time a barracuda swam by he covered the family jewels. That is our little hand signal for barracuda
Thursday, May 18th
I went to Palancar Caves with Mike, Laura, Jeff, Annita, Jeff and Lanna. One of the several turtles that we saw almost slapped Mike in the face with its flipper. That’s how close it came to Mike! Jeff said that Palancar Caves was his favorite dive this week. Then we went to San Francisco Wall. There were no big critters, just lobsters and lots of pretty fish. We had a good current and the anemones looked like they were waving at us as we drifted by.
Wednesday, May 17th
It was very choppy and the Enigma II broke down so I rented the Estrella Del Mar to take Laura, Mike, Jeff, Lanna, Jeff and Annita to Horseshoe. We were treated to a nice turtle and agreed that Horseshoe still looks really good, post Wilma. We went back to Dalila for Lanna since she had missed it the other day. We saw another turtle or two and schools of fish everywhere. Dalila is one of Lanna’s favorite dives here in Cozumel.
Friday, May 19th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Jeff, Lanna, Jeff and Annita. On the way past the Reef Club that morning I waved goodbye to Mike and Laura but they didn’t see me. I told Carlos to drop us off on that last little bit of Cedral Wall where Mike had found the green eel the other day. That is where we saw Lanna’s favorite critter, the big spotted eagle ray. Jeff swam after it and got it on camera. Later during the dive we saw a big turtle and a spotted drum. We did our surface interval on the pier at the Reef Club hoping to say goodbye to Mike and Laura before our next dive on Tormentos. I dusted sand off of the reef to discover orange and red sponges below the layer of sand in some places. I had been digging out the leathery sponges on Santa Rosa all this time but it had never occurred to me to fan the sand off of the reef as well. I was surprised to find color and life below. Derek is the one who set the example on that one and got me started. It is amazing how much is living under that sand.
Monday, May 22nd
Palancar Horseshoe was my first stop with Anthony, Misty, Deana and Jack. We swam between towering coral formations and canyons. The coral almost forms spires that are very impressive. Dalila was where all the action happened. The first big critter we saw there was a lobster. Then a turtle swam around. A medium sized nurse shark swam right up to Jack. I thought he might be tempted to reach out and pet it. Then I spotted a big octopus busy camouflaging itself against a rock.
Tuesday, May 23rd
Jack sure loved Santa Rosa Wall. Deana and Sam didn’t have any complaints either. We saw a southern stingray and a lobster prancing around in the sand. A 5 foot green moray eel slithered out from under the reef with some food still in its mouth. It was trailing a white piece of whatever it was eating over its head. San Francisco Wall was very colorful over the side and full of big lobsters. We also saw a tiny goldentail eel and a small spotted moray.
Wednesday, May 24th
The first tank of the day was on my student spot with Amy, Greg, Garth, Vianey, Deana and Jack. Greg and Amy saw a turtle but I missed it completely. I was totally lost for the first 20 minutes of the dive. I was disoriented and I have no idea why. When we finally made it to the drop off everyone was impressed by the big formations. French Reef was Deana’s best dive of the week. There were 3 or 4 turtles, tons of groupers and 2 green moray eels. The bigger green moray was hiding in a hole and the smaller one was out swimming around. Carlos was fixing Greg’s camera and when it was ready he dropped it down to us on a rope. He almost dropped it right on top of a turtle we were watching. It was really comical. It was like, HEY, TAKE A PICTURE!
Friday, May 26th
Brandy’s wedding party came on a cruise ship so I rented space on a big boat to take them out. Brandy brought her family and friends and we all went diving. We went to Yucab first. We found a medium sized nurse shark napping under the reef. Everyone was thrilled because it just laid there while we all gawked. We saw lobsters, lizardfish, goldentail morays and a juvenile smooth trunkfish (baby huey) on Paradise. Every loved the tiger’s tail sea cucumber too.
Saturday, May 27th
I just keep going back to Palancar Horseshoe because it is one of the best looking reefs after Wilma and as long as the divers don’t repeat it over and over, everyone is very happy. This time I took Vianey, Garth and Tyler. We sat in 25 feet of water for about 5 minutes watching a big hawksbill turtle biting off chunks of a brown sponge. I think that I have seen that particular turtle before recently. Maybe Derek or Jeff has a picture of it. It is very distinct. It has a white spot on the back of its shell right above its tail. Tormentos is one of the good looking reefs too, so back I went. I found red lipped blennies and a sail fin blenny. Derek got me started on “dusting the reef” and now I just do it obsessively. I just keep discovering more orange and red encrusting sponges and violet algae called “reef cement”. Sponges are filter feeders. I am not a marine biologist but I believe that by removing the layer of sand from the sponge it may be able to feed more efficiently and give it a chance to grow more rapidly. It’s just logical. Not to mention the benefit to tourism by bringing more color back to our sandy reefs. So I will keep fanning away!
Tuesday, May 30th
To start with, we had a good dive on Palancar Caves with Wendell, Chaun, Tyler, Randall, Ben and Jordan. Wendell saw a turtle, but we all missed it. He said that it was too far away to take a picture.We had a fantastic dive on Dalila! First I showed them a turtle. Then, as I was checking out Chaun's malfunctioning computer, I saw everyone swimming back to inspect a 6-foot nurse shark sleeping under the reef. Wendell tried to get Chaun to go lay down next to it for a picture. She shook her head no so I hammed it up and went over there myself to sleep with the shark.
I scared the poor thing away.
Later, we found another smaller shark lounging around. Everyone was low on air at that point so we just took a peeky poo at it and then went on up.
Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
I dived French Reef with Wendell, Chaun, Randall, Ben and Jordan. I pointed to a turtle swimming way off in the distance but it was too far away for Wendell to get a good shot of it. Jordan was the first to see the small nurse shark going by followed by a couple of black groupers. We saw a bunch of big, black groupers on this dive. Then we dived Paso del Cedral where we found a big crab and a lobster. Wendell took off and burned up all of his air getting a picture of a hawksbill turtle. Everyone loved going through the local cave..
That night I dived on Dalila. We saw tons of lobsters and a big horse-eyed jack that followed us around gulping up what ever little critters our lights illuminated for him. I felt like a failure because I didn't find a single octopus. I want to blame it on the current but I know that there had to be at least one octopus out there……….. I just missed him, that's all!
Sunday, June 4th
I conducted a refresher course for Kim, Joe and Laura. Kyle took the resort course at the same time. We practiced skills in shallow water at Paradise. We saw schools of rainbow parrotfish close to shore. We swam all the way over to the big reef and Joe showed us a small ( 5 foot ) spotted eagle ray that spent a good 5 minutes scrounging in the sand for a meal. We had some seriously happy divers that day! Oh, I almost forgot the two splendid toadfish! This was the beginning of a week that we would spend laughing our sides off, all day.
Monday, June 5th
That morning Jeremy, Jarod, Jorge, Laura, Kyle, Kim and Joe accompanied me to Santa Rosa Wall. The first turtle was small and up on top of the reef just sitting around. Joe found the second one sitting in the sand. I found an octopus in a hole and he had just polished off a lobster and part of the lobster was still in the hole.
At the very end of the dive a nurse shark swam past us. A small spotted eagle ray took its time swimming slowly past us on Tormentos. It was searching for a meal in the sand.
Tuesday, June 6th
As we fell into the water at Palancar Horseshoe I heard Leann screaming through her regulator. There was a southern stingray below us in the sand. She was very excited and happy to be back in the sea. My divers that day were Tommy, Leann, Phil, Kim, Joe, Laura and Kyle. It was Leann that spotted Carlos' baby turtle that day. Tommy got a good picture of it. We also saw a black and green nudibranch. It was very tiny and I can't find it in any of the ID books. There was a big crab on that dive.
On Dalila, the divers found another turtle and large crab. We all dusted sand off of the reef throughout the dive.
Wednesday, June 7th
My first tank was on Palancar Caves with Tommy, Kim, Joe, Laura, Kyle and Lois. I was in a cave when Joe swam up to the first two turtles. By the time that I came out...the little one was gone, but the big one was still around. Later I saw a turtle way down below us and another turtle swam off in the distance. It was a very good day for turtles.
When I rolled in on San Francisco Wall an eagle ray was right below me but by the time everyone else got in the water, it was heading south and far away. We found a family of 4 lobsters in miscellaneous sizes in a nearby hole. Laura pointed out a golden tail moray. Joe startled a southern stingray, woke it up and chased it off.
That afternoon I refreshed Kai, Ren, Rie and Steve on Paradise. First we saw a big lobster way back under the coral. I thought it was really cool when I passed the pencil to Kai and he wrote "lobster" in Japanese on a slate and showed it to his mom. Then we saw a good sized golden tail moray eel and a yellow stingray. Everyone liked the arrow crab too. Their tanks lasted an hour and 5 minutes. A big rainbow parrotfish swam right below Ren.
Thursday, June 8th
I took Leann, Tommy, Kim, Joe and Laura to Palancar Gardens. Leann said that Gardens is her favorite dive so far. I was surprised that everyone liked it so much since all we saw were some lobsters and a crab. Tommy said that French Reef was like swimming around in a big aquarium. That is not the first time that I have heard someone say that. We saw more lobsters and Leann got a really close to a turtle. She said that she wanted to pet it but she was afraid that she would get in trouble if she did. After thinking it over she decided that all I would do is scold her so it might be worth it….. Then she giggled devilishly.
Friday, June 9th
Tommy, Leann, Gary and Shelly came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. I showed Shelly the huge pieces of reef the size of my living room that had pulled away from the wall and toppled over. The former top of the reef is now the side of the reef! I showed Leann small purple rope sponges and a purple vase sponge that have popped up since Wilma. They are more or less one to two inches big now.
The stuff is starting to come back now!
Tommy found the first turtle on Tormentos which was a hawksbill that was munching on a sponge surrounded by angelfish. While Leann and I were examining a spotted moray eel, a nurse shark swam right past us.
On our safety stop, Shelly looked down and discovered a big loggerhead turtle sitting on the sandy bottom a good 60 feet below us.
Saturday, June 10th
My first dive was on French Reef with Denny, Cheryl, Steve and Ren. Wow! What an introduction to Cozumel! As soon as we arrived at the reef I heard Ren shouting through his regulator. A five foot nurse shark came up through a hole in the reef below us and swam right into our little group. I was worried that it might scare Denny and Cheryl out of their wits, since they had never dived in the ocean before!
They thought that is was just par for the course!
I found a few lobsters which Denny highlighted with his dive light. At the end of the dive on the way up we saw a spotted eagle ray at the bottom beneath us.
Our second dive was on Yucab and another shark swam by. This was turning out to be a good shark day. Steve spotted the little turtle up on top of the reef. Steve, Ren and I saw another turtle too on the way up to the surface.
Sunday, June 11th
Cheryl, Denny, Rie and Steve came with me to Palancar Gardens. Denny had to look really hard to see the huge crab clinging to the side of the reef that I was pointing out. Rie liked the sticky anemone that I showed her. Cheryl was happy because there wasn't any current. Denny wanted to see a hammerhead on Paradise so I whipped out my handy dandy rubber hammerhead shark from my pocket. I sure got a good laugh on that one!
I found an octopus in its hiding hole disguising its self behind all of its seashells. I poked a scorpion fish with my fins so that every one could see it when it moved. We also saw a tiger's tail sea cucumber and a donkey dung sea cucumber. You gotta love that name because that is exactly what it looks like!
Tuesday, June 13th
I picked up Kim, Eric, Cheryl and Denny and took them to Palancar Horseshoe. Kim remembered the big cement block from many, many, many years ago. She said that I stood on top of it. That must have been a very long time ago….. Oops! I don't do that anymore! We caught a glimpse of Carlos' baby turtle but it didn't hang out for too long. A goldentail eel came out and swam around on Dalila for us. We also saw a medium sized turtle and Denny made friends with it and buddied up with it for a few minutes.
Thursday, June 15th
I went to Palancar where I bring the students with Cary, Lauren, Richard, Lisa and Craig. We had a really good turtle day. The first turtle was pretty big and it was perched on the reef eating a sponge. Everyone hung around and it wasn't scared a bit. Then we saw Carlos' little turtle go by. Later we saw another small turtle. Lisa and I think it may have been the same turtle that we saw before but we are not sure.
Lisa was chief lobster finder on Colombia Shallow. First she showed us a big crab and a pair of big lobsters out in the open. Then she found another big lobster and later yet another crab hiding in a crevice. Everyone enjoyed the pike blenny that was poking its head out of its hole in the sand. He fanned his dorsal fin for us just like the sail fin blenny does.
Friday, June 16th
Richard, Cary, Lisa and Craig all agreed that Santa Rosa Wall was where we were headed that morning. Craig was sad to see all of the sand on the reef. Richard was very positive and jubilant after the dive and said that it was still very beautiful. After we ran out of reef to swim on we crossed over to the shallow area which was decimated by Wilma. But we were rewarded with a huge loggerhead turtle sound asleep under a rock.
Lauren, Rae Ann and Megan got onboard and we went to French Reef for the shallow dive. Rae Ann's favorite fish was the scrawled file fish. Lauren found a lobster hiding in a hole.
Sunday, June 18th
Before Carlos dropped us off at Palancar Caves he showed Cary, Ricardo, Lisa and Craig a turtle at the surface sticking its head out of the water to take a breath of air before its surface dive. Down below, coming out of the first set of caves we saw a huge southern stingray. Later we saw a normal sized one in the sand on the safety stop. Lisa saw a seahorse in one of the caves. We had to go back later in the week to see if we could find it again. It was a bit crowded on Cedral that day but we just scooted over to one side and ignored the other divers. There were tons of barracudas everywhere. Lauren had joined us on this dive and she played in the sand. The sea is just like a giant sand box to her. While she was digging around in the sand she found a peacock flounder.
Monday, June 19th
Yeah! Craig, Lisa, Ricardo and Cary were with me on San Francisco Wall for the first seahorse that I have seen after Wilma! Camel Boy told me where to look. It was exactly where he said that it would be. It was well camouflaged, kind of dark green and yellow. It was very beautiful. Although we saw lots of barracuda on this dive, one very large, scary looking one followed Craig around the whole dive. As we were making our safety stop Craig looked down to discover a hawksbill turtle sitting on top of the reef with a gray angel. Lisa got a picture of the two together.
For the shallow dive Lauren, Rae Ann, Jim and Megan got on and paddled around Dalila with us. Lauren found a sea pearl and was absolutely fascinated by it. I was busy just counting heads. Jim had a foggy mask and he spent the whole dive flooding and clearing it so that he could see.
Wednesday, June 21st, 2006
I went to Tormentos with Richard, Cary, Craig and Lisa. There were lots of lobsters, a big crab and a couple of spotted morays. There were lots of neat little critters in the sand. The dive on Cedral wall was uneventful until the end of the dive, when Craig and Lisa spied the big fat nurse shark swimming around. Then it parked and let us come over and get a good look at it.
I did a resort course in the afternoon for Carly, Hannah, Melissa, Joy, Jeff and Randy at Paradise. We saw a couple of eels and Joy almost landed on a baby stingray. There were plenty of extra big rainbow parrotfish feeding on the bottom. Derek would have been in heaven.
Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
I did the Caves with Craig, Lisa, Ricardo and Cary. We went back to try and find the little seahorse that Lisa had seen earlier in the week. That was like looking for a needle in the haystack. We sure noticed the little stuff that dive though. We saw banded and spotted cleaner shrimps and Cary found an arrow crab. The dive on Dalila was like a routine trip up until the very end of the dive. We saw schools of smooth trunkfish. When Cary was low on air, tthe action started. First there was a small shark swimming quite fast ahead of us. Then the same one or another about the same size was hiding under the upside down boat wreck. One of the guys nudged its tail to try and get it to come out. It wouldn't budge. Then as we were going up a big loggerhead turtle swam below. I decided that the loggerhead was to be Lisa's turtle!
Friday, June 23rd
Cary, Richard, Lisa and Craig weren't sick of me yet, so I took them over to Palancar Horseshoe. There we saw three different turtles. The second one was Carlos' baby turtle. Megan and Rae Ann got on for Craig's kick ass birthday dive on Cedral Wall. Every couple of minutes I was shaking my little rattle to point stuff out for them. First it was a big hawksbill turtle with a queen angelfish dining on a sponge. Right after that, I saw another very large hawksbill turtle swimming away.
Then Cary got some pictures of a small nurse shark under a small overhang. Next was a big lobster and a huge nurse shark that swam right past us. They showed me a green moray eel and later we saw another little turtle sitting still on the bottom and a big lobster looking around.
Saturday, June 24th
I started my morning on Palancar Caves with Bruce, Rob Sr., Nancy, Rob Jr. and Ryan. We swam through lots of tunnels but never found Lisa's little seahorse. However, the yellow and green seahorse was right where it was supposed to be on San Francisco Wall. (It was another divemaster that found it.) Nancy and I swam hard back against the current to see it. Nancy said that it was worth the swim back. We also saw two huge southern stingrays in the sand and several goldentail eels.
Sunday, June 25th
It was a unanimous decision to go back to Horseshoe for Ricardo, Cary, Lisa, Craig, Bruce and Tony. Horseshoe is Tony's favorite reef. We saw a couple of lobsters and a huge barracuda hovered inches over the sand. I wonder how they do that without moving a muscle. We saw a southern stingray at the end of the dive. On Dalila, Tony showed us a big octopus that did not do a good job of hiding its self behind empty shells in front of his hole. After everyone was up, Tony and I swam with Lisa's big loggerhead turtle for a few minutes. Then a nurse shark mysteriously disappeared off in the distance to the west.
Monday, June 26th
We decided on Santa Rosa for Rob Sr., Nancy, Rob Jr., Ryan, Tony, Bruce and Harry. We had a fantastic dive. Arriving at the reef, a medium sized hawksbill turtle was dining on a leathery sponge and there had to be at least 10 angelfish in his face. Later we drifted past a smaller turtle. After everyone else went up Tony and I saw a small (maybe 3 ½ feet long ) green moray eel. Five minutes later we drifted over two very large nurse sharks lying on the bottom next to each other.
Tormentos had a couple of lobsters but the real show is the red and orange sponges that are protected under the overhangs.
Tuesday, June 27th
Tony, Denise, Lester, Mary, James, Debbie, Kathy, Scott, Candy, Shawna, Courney, John, Kristy, Rhonda, Daryl, Darci and Chucho came with me to Palancar Horseshoe on the big, slow boat. We had seven brand new divers aboard who had never been diving in the ocean before along with some snorkelers. One young lady wanted very much so to see a turtle. Lester, my hero, found it for her. It sat quietly on the bottom and let all of us look at it for as long as we liked. Later we saw a dinosaur-sized lobster walking around on the sand.
We then drove over to Paradise and saw hermit crabs, barracudas, sea cucumbers and conches. Lester found a green moray eel and didn't even show it to me! Shame on him. I showed Lester my sail fin blenny.
Wednesday, June 28th
Well, I still refuse to name the reef where I brought Paul, Tony, Harry, Nancy, Rob Sr. and Rob Jr. Let's just call it the place with the anchor and the bricks. After we took pictures at the anchor, I swam everyone into a narrow, dark cave. It was a warm up, practice for the Devil's Throat the following day. Anyway, I encountered a grouper in the dark acting suspicious. Then I saw the nurse shark's tail just as it whipped around and disappeared. It swam out a hole on the same side as where the divers were behind me so they got to see the shark too.
After we came out of the cave a hawksbill turtle glided past us on its way up to the surface for a breath of fresh air. Cedral Wall was a good call on Paul's part. First we saw a small nurse shark ( the same one as the other day I think ) resting in it's hiding hole. After the lobster, we saw a small green eel grinning at us as a neon goby cleaned his face. Then a big, fat green moray accompanied by 2 black groupers swam right under Nancy. She could have reached down and petted them if she had wanted to. The grand finale was a big turtle that Tony fell in love with. He hung out with it for a few moments and I snuck up on them both and took a picture of the love birds together with Paul's camera. I really hope that one comes out!!!!!! We did our safety stop over a huge grouper on the wall.
Thursday, June 29th
Oooohhhh, I swam through the Devil's Throat with Nancy, Rob Sr. Rob Jr., Ryan, Paul, Tony and Harry. Some one has placed a wooden cross where the famous "cross shaped sponge" used to be. Wilma took the sponge away in October. Coming out of the cave system we were greeted by a hawksbill turtle.
Paul's camera was set to the wrong F-stop so he doesn't think that the photos of the turtle will come out.
Dalila was pretty uneventful with the exception of the splendid toadfish. I spotted it half way out of its hole. By the time everyone had swam over to look, it had hidden itself deep inside its den. After everyone else was up, Tony and I swam over to Cedral Wall. That same little shark was in the same hole. We also drifted over another turtle surrounded by the usual entourage of angelfish.
Friday, June 30th
I took my big group, Denise, Lester, Mary, Chicken Bone Scott, Candy, Shawna, Courtney, Debbie, Kathy and James to Santa Rosa Wall. Alex came along as my divemaster to give me a hand. We saw loads of big lobsters. I tied a chicken bone to Scott's gauges in hopes of attracting a shark but all we managed to attract were a couple of big barracudas and a huge free-swimming green moray eel being shadowed by a black grouper. Tormentos had significant current.
I think it was "Chicken Bone Scott" that discovered the first turtle. It was a biggy too. Alex showed us the second turtle which was fighting off those beautiful angelfishes.
Saturday, July 1st, 2006
I took Courtney, Sherri, John and Paul to Palancar Caves. Paul pointed out a turtle but no one paid any attention to him except me, so I am the only one besides Paul that got to see it. I got to the seahorse on San Francisco Wall before Jorge! Yippee! Ha ha ha! I stuck my tongue out at him when he saw that I beat him to it. We also saw a huge lobster that Paul found and I discovered a small nurse shark way back in a dark crevice. I scared it out and everyone tried to take pictures of it.
Sunday, July 2nd, 2006
Mike's group started their week of diving. Mike brought his wife Heather, Ron, Patti and Dale the first day. The Woods family joined us too with Craig, Conner and Alex. I wanted to take them somewhere really good, so I told the captain to drop me off half way between Horseshoe and Caves. That worked out perfectly and we saw 3 turtles. The first one was really big. Some of Mike's group were looking at a lobster when I found the turtle so it took them a few minutes to get over there and see it. I think the second turtle that I saw was Carlos' baby turtle, but it is hard to be sure. Everyone got a good look at the third turtle because it was eating. We also saw a crab with really big claws as we drifted over the shallow top of the reef. Up in the 15 foot area we saw a bristle worm and a flamingo tongue too.
Mike seemed to like the idea of going to Dalila so that is were we went on the second dive. We saw lots of big grouper, some barracudas and a lobster.
Monday, July 3rd
I took Mike, Heather, Ron, Patti, Dale, Pam and Keith to Palancar Caves. I spotted a turtle that swam up to the surface to breathe, so I stopped the group and we all waited for it to come back down.
When it returned, Mike chased it over to us so that everyone could get a good look.
There were loads of lobsters on French Reef. Kevin was fascinated by a scrawled filefish.
That afternoon I took Mike G., Ron, Mike O. and Tracy back to Palancar Caves. Mike G. didn't want Mike O. or Tracy to miss a good spot.Mike O. was crazy for the caves. He wanted to swim through every single one.
I couldn't find the little seahorse on San Francisco Wall that afternoon. I looked for 10 minutes. I was convinced that Jorge had followed through on his threat to move it 10 meters away so I couldn't find it anymore.
Mike O. found some great close up subjects for me to photograph. He showed me a juvenile spotted drum and a splendid toadfish. After Mike O. and Tracy went up to the surface, Mike G. found the little nurse shark that lives nearby.
Tuesday, July 4th
We went to Colombia Deep or Palancar Bricks or wherever. My divers were Kyle, Ryan, Sean, Julie, Keith and Mike. We swam through long, dark tunnels and saw both of the anchors. I was very surprised that we had a thermocline at 80 feet.
On French Reef I saw a dive master from another group pick up a scorpion fish. Later Mike O. pointed out the biggest scorpion fish that I have ever seen sitting next to a little one. I am glad that Mike didn't try and pick up one of them!
I played around a lot with the boys. Sean took a couple of balloons with him and I brought my plastic swimming fish. We took off our fins and walked around on the bottom like astronauts. Since there is no gravity it is really hard to move without fins.
Wednesday, July 5th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Julie, Keith, Ryan, Kyle, Sean and Bob. We saw two small turtles. The second turtle is Carlos' little baby turtle. It swam down deep beneath us.
Wow! On Cedral Wall all of the big turtles sat really still on the bottom feasting on sponges while we just parked and watched the show. Of course, they were surrounded by lots of pretty angelfish and Julie was transfixed. I thought she would never leave. Fortunately the current was really light and it was easy to sit with them. Bob got some good shots of all of them with his new digital camera. When only three of us were still down at the end of the dive, we saw a decent sized shark swimming off in the distance.
I did an afternoon dive with Mike G., Ron, Mike O., Tracy, Patti, Dale, Pam, Kevin/Keith, Heather, Sheree and Misty. We saw a few big lobsters and a turtle. Patti really enjoyed floating over the blue abyss and deep blue water.
Then I did a night dive with the brave ones. The night dive was on our old standby, Paradise. I saw three octopi ranging in size from really, really giant to teeny tiny. We also saw more eels than normal. There were plenty of crabs and lobsters everywhere.
Thursday, July 6th
Sheree and Misty wanted to swim through some caves. So we took the girls, Mike, Heather, Ron, Dale, Pam, Kevin, Tracy and Mike O. to the end of Palancar Gardens. Not only did we swim through a zillion caves but we saw a couple of turtles too. The group wanted to see a shark so I took them to my best shark spot, Cedral Wall. I saw three of them! One was lying on the bottom when I rolled in. The second shark was found by Kevin right after we passed the big turtle located by Ron. A third shark was found by the dive master just in front of us. All of the sharks were pretty small, but the divers were very, very happy with them.
At the end of the dive a small turtle swam just ahead of us for a while.
Friday, July 7th
Marlene, Mark, Bob, Sean and Riley accompanied me on Santa Rosa Wall. It was one heck of a dive! First we drifted past a huge black grouper. Then I looked down to discover a very big octopus out in the open. (It quickly hid in a hole.)
We floated right over a hawksbill turtle. After seeing the turtle, we startled an extremely large nurse shark that flipped upside down and rubbed its head in the sand. That was really weird behavior for a nurse shark. I wonder what that means…...
We finished the dive with spotting yet another hawksbill turtle. The dive was just plain action packed.
Our dive on Paradise was beautiful. We saw a spotted scorpion fish, a lizard fish and a splendid toadfish. My sail fin blenny put his black fin up for Bob's new camera. Mark spent most of the dive hunting for lobsters. On this same dive, we saw a spotted moray and a golden tail eel.
Sunday, July 9th
he first dive of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Marlene, Mark, Sean, Riley, Scott, George and Kevin. Carlos' little turtle was very shy and swam away from us. We also saw a lobster, a crab and a barracuda.
It was turtle heaven on Cedral Wall. There were really big ones, medium ones and some babies too. I counted seven turtles in total. That is a great place to find turtles!
Monday, July 10th
I started my day on Palancar Gardens with Mike, Laura, Megan, Jon, Josh and Jessica. We saw a turtle when we came out of the very first swim through into the deep water.
Only Mike, Laura and I were still down below the surface, we saw another larger turtle.
The next dive, on San Francisco Wall, was fantastic. While I was looking for Laura's seahorse, a rather large nurse shark entertained the group during my search. After the nurse shark swam off, there was a lobster to occupy the interest of the group.
It took me about five minutes to find the little bugger... but the look on Laura's face was worth it all. She wanted to spend the rest of the dive there with the seahorse. Towards the end of the dive, we floated over "Notchka," the smaller nurse shark with the "notch" in her upper dorsal fin. Mike took a picture of her and you can clearly see the notch.
My second night dive this week was on Paradise again with Mike, Laura, Megan, Jon and Josh. We saw the run of the mill crabs and lobsters, one splendid toadfish and two spotted scorpion fish.
Mike saved the dive when he found a big octopus that was missing one tentacle. I couldn't find an octopus, if my life depended on it. (How embarrassing.)
Tuesday, July 11th
I went to the dive site of the anchors with Kevin, Scott, Mike, Laura and Megan. Megan did a dive table problem at depth, to check for nitrogen narcosis. She did the problem twice as fast at 90 feet as she did it on the boat, so she obviously was not affected.
Kevin discovered a sleeping nurse shark on French Reef. It was his way back into a dark crevice under the coral. A black grouper sat right in front of it blocking the view.
We saw a turtle and a very big spotted eagle ray glide by us.
We went back to the marina to pick up Carlos, Miguel and Panchito. The boys were taking a resort course with me that afternoon. After a lecture on the boat and skills practice in shallow water I took them diving on Palancar at my "student site". The boys were thoroughly hooked when we found the lobster.
To Laura's joy we went back to visit her seahorse. Plus, Mike needed to get some better pictures of it because the first batch came out all blurry.
Wednesday, July 12th
Mike requested Las Palmas. The current was pretty swift there that day. However, Mike, Sandra, Mike, Laura, Megan, Jon, Josh and Jessica all handled it well.
There were lots of turtles. One sat really still, but Megan had the camera and Mike was very frustrated that he couldn't get a shot of it. I also saw three splendid toadfish and one impressive southern stingray buried in the sand.
Josh wanted to see a big, dangerous, man-eating shark, so I took him to my best shark spot, Cedral Wall. We saw three more turtles, one of which was immense. We found a decent-sized nurse shark hiding from us back under the reef. Our presence made him quite nervous and it squirmed around a bit until we left.
We also saw enough lobsters to feed everyone on the boat that night.
My third night dive that week was on French Reef. That place was loaded with crabs and lobsters, but we only saw one fat spotted moray eel that swam around us.
We spent some time with a large hawksbill turtle. I finally found a couple of octopi on my own, but Josh even found one that I had missed.
Thursday, July 13th
Everyone was a tad disappointed when I announced that we were going to Palancar Caves instead of Maracaibo. I still feel a bit bad about that. However, we had a great dive at Palancar Caves and Mike swam after a big turtle. We saw a big southern stingray swimming around too.
On Dalila, Mike burned up all of his air going after a spotted eagle ray. Laura sat and quacked at him with her noisemaker.
Kevin showed me a golden tail eel.
Laura, Mike and I dusted lots of sand off of the reef that day.
Saturday, July 15th
I picked up Cilla, Bruce, Terrell, Josh, Jon, Maurice and Kathye and took them to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw a lobster that wiggled its antennas at us and backed up into his hiding hole to hide from us. We saw a big crab claw but the owner of the claw was hanging upside down under the reef so we never saw the crab itself. But it must have been a big one since the claw was as big as the one on Laura's plate Thursday night!
We found a nurse shark lying on the bottom at Dalila. It swam away as we got close to him. Josh quacked his noisemaker when he discovered the little hawksbill turtle under a small coral formation snacking on something we were unable to see.
Sunday, July 16th
We decided to go north to Tormentos with Cilla, Bruce, Terrell, Stacie and Jody. We had a bit more current than I wanted for one of the diver's first dive in a year ... but everyone managed it well. We saw tons of lobsters and an 8-foot spotted eagle ray.
Right before we rolled in on Cedral Wall, Carlos showed us a small turtle poking his head out of the water to breath right next to the boat. Once we were at the bottom we saw another, small turtle and I wondered if it was the same one. Cilla swam off after a rather large turtle.
Next it was off to Santa Rosa Shallow, where we saw a nurse shark swim by us.
Monday, July 17th
I started my day on Palancar Gardens with Michael, Maureen, Stacie, Jody, Maurice and Kathye. Thankfully, there was almost no current and we had a relaxing dive. We saw a big turtle but it was far off in the distance and in the process of swimming up to the surface. Stacie showed me a big crab.
On the next dive at French Reef, Kathye enjoyed the little crevices. She got a picture of a really large turtle. A puffer fish with a huge head swam just ahead of us for about 10 minutes.
We saw a rather large lobster under a ledge. Stacie chased after a big black grouper and probably got a good picture of it.
Tuesday, July 18th
The first dive was on Santa Rosa Wall with Maurice, Kathye, Stacie, Jody, Maureen and Michael. I found a turtle butt sticking out from under a coral head on the wall. It was obviously napping and had no idea that its butt was sticking out for all of the world to view.
I brought the group over to a sandy protected area to regroup and check air gauges. As we took off, I noticed the tail and dorsal fin of a very large nurse shark. I grabbed a hold on Stacie's BCD and puller her closer and closer to the monster. She had her wide angle lens on for the very first time and needed to get up close. I just gave her a little help, that's all.
The second dive was on San Francisco Wall. It started out idyllic and wound up exhausting. Carlos dropped us off right on top of the seahorse. Thankfully there was almost no current at that point. I found the seahorse in just seconds. Everyone got a good look at it before we went to the reef.
The current kept picking up speed and after 20 minutes or so I stopped even looking for macro subjects for Stacie. I found a weight pouch with 10 pounds in it. It is the type of weight pouch I don't already have in my collection, so I carried it around with me the rest of the dive. Aack!
We flew by a southern stingray and when only Stacie and I were still down below, I found a big brown octopus. We had to kick like hell against the current to see it and pull ourselves along the bottom but I think it was worth it. When I got back to the boat I was pooped.
Wednesday, July 19th
I love Palancar Caves. So did Stacie, Jody, Michael, Maureen and Terry. We swam through every cave that I could find. I was surprised that we didn't see any turtles. They are almost a "given" there. Terry filmed the whole dive and it was fun to receive a video a week later.
On Dalila I was hunting a splendid toadfish for Stacie. I found five of them! I used my yellow spinner lure but only two of the five candidates bit. I coaxed one of our candidates about one-half of the way out of the hole. Maureen was trying to tell me that there was another splendid toadfish in the same hole on the other side, but I couldn't figure out what she was saying. Oh well. It's really hard to get a good picture of a toadfish. I am still trying to get one myself.
Thursday, July 20th I did a resort course for Rich, Christine and Carlton at Paradise. Lots of snorkel guides were feeding the fish so we were constantly surrounded by schools of sergeant majors, blue tangs and big rainbow parrotfish. I aslo saw a spotted moray eel and a yellow stingray.
We did a second dive on Tormentos because Carlton wanted to see a turtle and there wasn't enough time to go to Palancar. Carlton stayed on the surface because he wasn't feeling well. A turtle came up for air and he got to see his turtle while those of us who were on the bottom missed the turtle completely!
Friday, July 21st, 2006
I took Lisa, Aaron, Todd, Carmen, Bill and Jennifer to my "student spot" on Palancar. Every one was a bit rusty or new so we stayed fairly shallow. We saw a crab and everyone like the big school of blue fish swimming by in the current.
Next I took the group to Dalila where we saw two lobsters and a turtle swimming slowly against the current. A big, graceful nurse shark swam in front of us for about 5 minutes.
Saturday, July 22nd, 2006
I dived Palancar Caves with Fred, Lisa, Aaron, Todd, Carmen, Bill and Jennifer. I found another crab on that dive.
We saw two turtles. The first turtle we saw was way off in the distance and swimming up to the surface for some fresh air. A second turtle was happily feasting on sponges. Fred found a juvenile spotted drum down by our happy turtle.
Then on to French Reed. We had nice, calm conditions. It was a very relaxing dive. We saw a peacock flounder and a rainbow parrotfish.
Sunday, July 23rd
I went to San Francisco Wall with Ron, Kathy, Fred and Tim. I couldn't find the friggin' seahorse! I searched for about 10 minutes and gave up. But I did manage to find two splendid toadfish. They like those yellow spinner lures…..
Then I went to check out Punta Tunich. There was a swift current there. Ron had to fight to get back to see the green moray eel, but it was definitely worth it. (He always has a lot of air anyway.) I found an octopus in its den and I think Fred got a shot of it. After about 35 minutes Punta Tunich showed a lot of Wilma damage so we all just went up.
Monday, July 24th
I went back to the "student spot" with Jennifer. Chucho took Ron, Cody, Tim and Fred quite a bit deeper. I saw Carlos' little baby turtle and
Jennifer took a picture of it with one of those disposable cameras. Jennifer was worried about seeing a shark ... and guess what swam right under us at French Reef…….. It was a 7-foot nurse shark! We also saw a couple of turtles. The boys saw even more turtles than we did ! They also saw a green moray eel and what was probably the same shark.
Tuesday, July 25th
My first tank of the day was on Dalila with Fred, Tim, Cody and Jennifer. Fred had to wear Carlos' magic fins because I forgot to bring his Scuba Pro fins so it was all-my-fault! Carlos promised Fred that the fins would be magical and that we would have a special dive and we did! We saw two big nurse sharks doing what we think was the "nasty" because when they weren't lying side by side they were swimming in a little circle chasing each other. Later we saw a little turtle.
When Jennifer and Cody went up, the rest of us sat next to a resting nurse shark. That one was also large. Then we crossed over to Cedral Wall where we saw a big turtle just paddling along the bottom.
The second tank was on Tormentos. I used my yellow spinner lure on an eager splendid toadfish. We saw a golden tail eel. My favorite things at Tormentos are all of the violet lace coral, orange and red sponges that survived Wilma.
Saturday, July 29th
I was back in the water after a 3-day break on Santa Rosa Wall with Nancy, John, Mike, Jimmy, Doug and Donna. Donna and Doug did most of the spotting. They showed me the first turtle and the spotted eagle ray. The eagle ray was being followed by a big, slow hawksbill turtle. A third turtle was dining on a sponge in the shallows.
On San Francisco Wall we were lucky that there was not much current. We saw a lobster right before we saw the big nurse shark sleeping on the sandy bottom. That is where I "parked" the dive team so I could go look for my little yellow buddy. It didn't take more than a couple of minutes to find the seahorse this time.
The splendid toadfish loved my lure, and no, I don't have a hook on the end of it. It is just a teaser. It's only enough to get them to come out and smile for us. It's really cute when they get all excited and start to wiggle their pectoral fins in a slow advancement. We also saw a spotted moray on that dive.
Sunday, July 30th
Per special request I took Tim, Eric, Brian, Jesse, James, Bill, John and Pam to Colombia to see the anchors. As I entered the first cave I discovered a medium sized nurse shark lying in the cave. I pulled Eric a little closer and I scooted over to be about two feet away from the shark. I turned my head to the right and discovered that I was lying next to an even bigger nurse shark in a darker crevice. They were a matched set. I wonder if it is mating season for them since I am seeing quite a few pairs together frequently. We went over to check out the anchors and had fun.
I spied a big green moray eel slithering around on French Reef. I put my fins in high gear and kicked over. It scooted into a hole. After we all poked our heads and our cameras in the hole for a peeky-poo and we began to swim away, the green moray came out of her hiding place and swam around again.
Later we all gathered around a turtle at what Tim called an "all you can eat buffet". It was a sponge that was even bigger than the turtle itself.
Monday, July 31st, 2006
While we were at the surface getting ready to dive Palancar Caves, Tim, James, Eric, Brian, John, Jesse, Bill and Pam all got to see the first turtle of the dive. It was poking its head out of the water to breath. It took a couple of breathes and then down it went. We followed. At the bottom we saw another turtle when we coming out of the first set of caves. There were also two more turtles after that followed that one. Overall, it was just a good turtle dive!
On Las Palmas a turtle was waiting for us at the bottom. I must have seen at least 10 splendid toadfish. I gave the lure to James and told him to go play. I showed Tim 3 squid swimming side by side and we saw spotted morays, a golden tail eel and Tim showed us a big, fat scorpion fish.
Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Tim, Eric, James, John, Jesse and Bill requested a dive on the wreck. Pam didn't complain. Wow! What a difference Wilma made! While descending, the first thing that I noticed was that I couldn't see all of the bushy hydroids that had been growing on the side of the ship. I was also shocked to see that all of the beautiful sponges that had been growing on the propellers were gone. One prop was slightly bent and the ship seemed to be resting on the other. Both rudders were gone too.
The bottom is only 69 feet deep now. I spent a good three minutes trying to figure out why this was true. I wondered if Wilma dumped 10 feet of sand in the area or if the ship had been moved. I soon found the answer when I swam around to the east side. I discovered the crack that everyone had told me about and apparently the ship had been dragged toward shore and come to rest against a small reef. There were new dents in the hull and there were less fish inside the ship. There are new jagged edges and cables dangling all over the wreck.
This was definitely not a good place for Pam who had no wetsuit on. Thankfully, Tim stayed out of the wreck with her. The crow's nest has broken off and now rests on the deck. Wilma made a really big mess there and the ship is a wreck!
Lizardfish were sticking their heads out of the sand on Tormentos to greet us when we arrived. Goldentail morays swam around and lobsters wiggled their antennas at us as we passed by them.
Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
We went back to Colombia Deep but just a tad south of the previous Colombia dive. The boys wanted to see some big coral formations. We swam around the towers of coral and through some archways. Eric showed us a big black grouper that was face to face with a green moray eel. They were hunting together. They hung out with us for a few minutes and posed for the cameras. We took off when our computers said that the NDL was near and it was time to start heading up.
We descended upon a big nurse shark at Dalila and scared it off. Pam followed a little turtle around for a while. A big nurse shark swam below us on our safety stop. So we started our dive with a shark and ended our dive with a shark. There were also plenty of big black groupers.
Thursday, August 3rd
The boys ( Tim, James, Eric, Brian, John and Jesse ) wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall. Ron and Pam would go whereever, without complaining. Ron was surprised to see all of the sand on the reef. I was surprised that we didn't see any big predators that morning.
We had lots of fun swimming through all of the caves.
On Cedral Wall we saw quite a few lobsters and two small turtles. The boys burned up the last of their air chasing the second little turtle all over the place. More adventures next time.
Monday, August 7th
I dived Colombia Deep with Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy and David. Only Kathy saw the first turtle as we were coming around the bend. It was over our heads and all we could see was the turtle's belly. Later, we saw a second turtle as we were coming up to the surface, after the anchors.
Kathy showed me a 5-foot eagle ray on Dalila. It was sucking around in the sand looking for something to eat. As we were drifting overhead, we saw a turtle. Next, I saw a big nurse shark being followed by a black grouper. And we also saw a pair of lobsters nestled together in a crevice.
I didn't know which critter to look at !
Tuesday, August 8th
My first tank was on Santa Rosa Wall with Patti, Andrew, Ron and Kathy. We had a nice, easy dive. At the end of the dive, a spotted eagle ray made a slow pass and then returned to forage for food in the sand in front of us. I was so close that I could see its eye. It posed for Andrew's camera for a few minutes.
I had pure bad luck on San Francisco Wall. First of all, I spent 15 minutes looking for the little yellow seahorse and never even found it. I am not sure why, but for some reason, it occurred to me to go check Kathy's computer. It is a Suunto, therefore, very conservative. Well good thing I took a peek! I was surprised to find that she only had one more minute of NDL left, so I started bringing her up to the surface, along with Ron. Thank God we were on our safety stop when things got ugly. I looked up and noticed a big, round flat spot over us. Hmmmmmmmmm. I know what that means. Good thing both Kathy and Ron were holding on to the cord on my inflated signal tube when the down current hit. It pulled all three of us and my inflated signal tube down together to 23 feet before I could break us out of it by kicking up as hard as I could. I signaled to Patti and Andrew to go up. They immediately started up, thank God. They were behind us in 40 feet of water when it hit Patti. I was terrified to see Patti kicking up and still descending. She instinctively grabbed her inflator and added air to her BCD. Good girl! By then her face and upper body was obscured by her exhalation bubbles swirling around her as they were sucked down in the current too. When she reached about 25 feet she broke free of the down current and vented her BCD. I sent Ron and Kathy up to the surface and swam right over to Patti and Andrew. I led them away from the wall and over to the sandy area with a bottom below us. We did a safety stop together there and went up without further incidence. I have to say that scared the POOP out of me. I am so glad that Patti and Andrew were paying attention and came up when I signaled. That is what I call a bad day at work!
Wednesday, August 9th
Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy, Charlie and Camille came with me to Palancar Caves. I got a good look at a turtle eating a sponge, surrounded by angelfish. By the time everyone else arrived, the turtle was swimming away. Later Patti, Andrew and I saw another little turtle at the end of the dive.
We started the next dive on Cedral Wall, then crossed over to Cedral Pass and ended up on Santa Rosa Shallow. First Andrew showed me a small turtle. We saw more barracudas that we could count. After that, we saw "Notchka" the small nurse shark and at the same time, a big, green moray eel was swimming around. The black groupers didn't know which predator to follow and neither did we! We saw two lobsters, one was alive and the other was just a shell. A big old turtle cruised by. Its shell was all covered with barnacles. Then a small turtle swam up to the surface for a breath of fresh air and then down again to flirt with Patti and Andrew. The grand finale was when the big, fat nurse shark swam by at the end of the dive. When we got back on the boat Patti was elated and asked me if it were possible to see more on a dive.
Thursday, August 10th
I started my day at Palancar Horseshoe with Andrew, Britton and Brian. The rest of the Cole family snorkeled over us. We woke a sleeping turtle. When it left its bed, it proceeded to eat lunch. I checked Britton's air and it was time to go up. In the shallow water on the safety stop we saw a baby shark go by. It was about 2 to 3 feet long. I am not sure what kind it was because it didn't appear to have any black on the tips of its fins. The cool thing is that it wasn't a nurse shark!
Colombia Shallows is a good place to combine snorkeling and diving. We woke up another turtle that emerged from under the reef right below me. We found a lobster too.
Friday August 11th
I dived Palancar Caves with John, Joe, Mike, Jeannette and Gary. We swam through every tunnel that I could find. At the end of the dive we saw a southern stingray and a turtle swam right up to me. I could have kissed it ... I was so close.
Our second stop was on French Reef. The current was going southbound, but it was light current. I enjoyed watching three black groupers tormenting a huge school of Creole wrasse. I also saw three different crabs there.
Saturday, August 12th
Our first tank was on Palancar Horseshoe with Joe, John, Mike, Jeannette and Gary. They loved the towering formations of coral and we saw a couple of very friendly turtles.
Our second tank was on Dalila where we had swift current. We practiced different ways of stopping in current. We saw a small turtle and a huge swimming nurse shark. I saw another very small nurse shark hiding in a hole but the current was too strong for me to stop and go back for a look. I felt like I was swimming with two tortillas strapped to my feet!
Well, that was enough excitement for the time being.
Now I am off for an extended vacation.
Well, it has been a really long time since I have updated the Divelog. I have had two months of rest and relaxation.
When Julie got off of the plane yesterday, she looked at me with a surprised look on her face and said, "you look great!". Even
though I have gained 10 pounds from not working, the stress is gone from my face and I am well rested and ready to go back to work. The followings is what little diving I have been doing over the last two months:
Sunday, August 27th
Chucho took out our only two divers, Jennifer and Kevin. I got on for the 2nd tank only on San Francisco Wall. I got on to get re-acquainted with my old friend, Anita's MotorMarine II. We searched for the little yellow seahorse for about 20 minutes to no avail. I think that the seahorse is gone forever. Maybe he got sucked down in that down current weeks before when I was there with Patti, Andrew, Ron and Kathy.
Monday, August 29th
I got on to finish the role of film that was left over from the day before diving with Jen and Kevin. Mike and Peggy also came with us. I took pictures of everyone on French Reef...but the pictures did not come out well. I called Armando and asked him what was wrong and he told me it sounded like a case of "operator error". Hmmmmm. He told me to change my distance setting to infinity with the wide-angle lens. Duh……..
Wednesday, August 30th
Well, I had to get right back out there and try again once my settings were corrected. Surely, the problem is that I so rarely get to take the camera out diving and I forget everything I learned between practice sessions!
Jen, Kevin, Mike and Peggy posed for the camera and the pictures came out a little better...but nothing to write home to mom about. There was one good one of Jennifer coming through the cave. I got a good shot of the 2nd turtle. There were lots of lobsters on that dive. I couldn't catch up to the nurse shark to get a shot but I had fun trying!
Thursday, August 31st
I took my camera to Paradise with Jen and Kevin. I gave up on wide-angle and tried the macro lens. Chucho, of course, took care of everyone so I just did what the hell I wanted and I got some good pictures. Fortunately, there was almost no current and it was perfect for shooting macro and close up frames. I took pictures of lots of golden tail eels, anemones, a bright red hermit crab and my sailfin blenny.
Monday, September 11th,
Well, it's been a while since I went diving. We had special guests that week, Ken and Anita. Anita is the one who sold me the camera and they are both very dear to me. So I got out that wide-angle lens again and kept trying. I figured that I could always ask Anita for advice considering that the first time that I met her she was here on a free trip that she won in a photography contest with the very camera that she sold me. We went to Palancar Horseshoe.
Only the 3rd turtle stuck around long enough to pose for all of our cameras. A fat golden tail eel sat very still and posed for my lens. Anita shot two lobsters together in one hole. Chucho found a furry sea cucumber too. Those are my favorites.
Wednesday, September 13th
The pictures that I took on Monday came out like *&^%$#@! I left the wide-angle lens with Armando to check. I actually worked for money that day and took Dave, Michelle, Anita and Ken to Palancar Caves. We didn't make it through all of the swim through but we saw loads of turtles. As Anita swam around a coral head to take a picture of the second turtle, she swam right over a 3rd turtle.
The second dive was on French Reef. Anita said that it was a perfect dive. The current was just right. We saw four turtles, a lobster, a crab. The star of the dive was a green moray eel that was out on the hunt. Anita and Dave spent a long time with that eel.
Thursday, September 14th
I got my wide-angle lens back from Armando. He said that the reason my pictures had been all blurry was that I had flooded the wide angle lens and there was water inside. He charged me $80. USD to take it all apart, clean it and put new o rings in it. So I had to get in and try it out. Chucho was officially in charge of the dive on Tormentos but I spent a lot of time taking pictures of Ken and Anita. They came out great! I must have gotten at least 10 good shots on that roll and of the 10, one looks like a postcard. I am very pleased!
One turtle was quite docile and let us take her picture. We saw a spotted moray eel and a golden tail eel. Chucho helped me take pictures of a splendid toadfish. (I am being polite here) There was one big bummer on this dive, I turned around and saw Anita signaling that something was wrong with her camera. When I had a close look at it I could see water sloshing around in the housing. That really sucked. I can't imagine how sick she must have felt at that moment!
Sunday, October 8th
Well, I did one more day of real work, which turned out to be quite pleasant actually. I took Robert and his 12-year old daughter Paige to Palancar Gardens for their first real dive in the ocean after certification. The first turtle was small and a bit deeper than our planned depth. I showed Paige her depth gauge as we approached it so that we just hovered over the little guy and enjoyed the moment. I didn't bother telling Robert to come up. He had a camera in his hand.
The second turtle was sitting on the reef in 20 feet of water and stayed very still for Robert and Paige to take a good look and some pictures. We swam through nice archways and saw a big black grouper.
Our second dive was on Dalila because Mago told me that they had just seen two nurse sharks there. Paige almost drifted over a big turtle that was pigging out on a sponge. We only found one of the nurse sharks but it was a really big one just sitting out in the open on the sand. We parked next to it for a few minutes. Then I started to crawl slowly towards it. The idea was to get as close as possible so that Robert and Paige could get an idea of just how long the shark was. I am guessing about 7 feet. Robert's camera was not cooperative so he didn't get a picture. Oh well.
I am going attach a couple of the photos I took over my vacation.
Sunday, Oct. 15th
This was my first day back to work after what I called a well-deserved break. It was an easy day with Skip and Sharon. I took them over to see the C53 wreck and to check out how it has changed since Wilma came through. I was very pleased to see a lot of red encrusting sponge covering the boat. There was a small school of glassy sweepers and sardines in one room. A big black grouper hung out in 50 feet of water and greeted us at the stern.
I was a tad confused about the current at Tormentos but at least the current was really mild. I was surprised at how many lobsters there were at Tormentos. For the first time in my life I saw a barracuda pass gas. I have never seen a fish fart before and didn't even know that they could. I hope there wasn't something wrong with the poor guy, too much Mexican food or something .
Monday, Oct. 16th
I had a full boat with Chau, Mike, Spencer, Terry, Skip, Sharon, Susan and Jim. We had strong southeast wind that day and it was pretty choppy on the surface. Once we got down it was nice and calm. We almost landed right on top of three southern stingrays.
We went all the way north to Paradise for the second dive to get out of the wave action. I showed Jim a tiny golden tail eel and a splendid toadfish. We got the toadfish to come out and bite my lure. Then to my surprise he stole my lure right off of the line! I was pretty upset when he did that and I was worried that it would make him sick. But fortunately he spit it right back out and I took it back and threw it away. Boy, did I feel stupid!
Tuesday, Oct. 17th
The southeast wind chopping up Palancar continued today ... and I took Chau, Mike, Spencer, Terry, Susan, Jim and Christy to Yucab where it was quite a bit more calm. The boys are pretty easy to please. They were content just to be in the water and see fish. Chau was wondering where all of the big animals were.
We saw a large barracuda that was having its teeth cleaned and it looked kind of like it was smiling for us.
There were loads of big lobsters on Chankanaab. Chau found a golden tail eel and her new boyfriend is the big, huge barracuda that followed her around the whole dive. She even liked him so much that she chased after him for a bit.
That night I went for another dive on Chankanaab with Skip, Sharon and Jim. There were tons of lobsters and crabs everywhere. We saw a sharp tail eel, two spotted morays, tiger's tail sea cucumbers and a beautiful red and orange sea star. I was the only one that saw the 4-foot Caribbean reef shark off in the distance. I swam after it but never got close.
Wednesday, Oct. 18th
I did the Devil's Throat with Jim, Susan, Skip and Sharon. I loaned my flashlights to Jim and Susan, so I couldn't see the wooden cross that had been placed where the old sponge cross used to be. We had really nice conditions for the dive and it was easy.
Dalila was really exciting. We completed some navigation skills for Skip and Sharon's advanced course. Then I showed them a splendid toadfish completely out of its hole. A big old nurse shark swam behind Jim and Susan, finally disappearing into a cave. It then followed us around for a few minutes. It was definitely a great day!
Thursday, Oct. 19th
My first stop was at Palancar Gardens with Skip, Sharon, Jim, Susan, Fiona, Jack and Harry. We saw a bunch of turtles. At one point I didn't even know which turtle to observe!
We swam through a bunch of tunnels and overhangs. Everyone was very impressed with that dive.
Our second stop was at French Reef where loads of fish and more turtles could be found. Harry said that he liked Palancar better because it is more scenic.
Friday, Oct. 20th
I dived at Palancar Caves with Jim, Susan, Skip and Sharon. We saw a couple more turtles and we swam through a ton of caves.
We had a wild ride on Cedral Wall with some current that was just flying. We blew past a turtle and some pretty angelfish right as soon as we got down. When we got sick of the current, we swam over to Santa Rosa Shallow and swam with a big green moray eel that was out on the prowl.
That afternoon Chucho and I took a group of 13 divers from Grapevine Scuba in Texas to dive on Tormentos. The current was pretty strong there too. It was not as strong as the current on Cedral Wall but fast enough to challenge everyone. The divers did a great job considering the conditions and that it was the first dive of the trip. The critters we found on that dive were a splendid toadfish and a turtle.
We picked Chankanaab for the second tank because we just had enough current for the day and that is usually a pretty calm dive. Since it was late afternoon all of the crabs and lobsters were out patrolling the top of the reef.
Everyone was getting hungry by then and thinking about garlic butter. Sun Ki talked about how to make sushi when she got back on the boat.
Saturday, Oct. 21st
Chucho and I took the Grapevine Scuba Group to Palancar Horseshoe. CB took Sun Ki and Chris down to 100ft for their advanced deep dive. When they came up and joined the group I got behind them.
As they were passing through a tunnel, I spotted a small reef shark. I only got to show it to Darlene and Chris. Every one else was in the swim through at the time. Some one found a big crab and Chucho showed it to everyone.
Then we went to French Reef where we had strong current again. But we did see two turtles and that was fun.
Sunday, Oct. 22nd
The last day of diving for Grapevine Scuba's long weekend was at Palancar Caves where we saw a turtle. At the end of the dive when we reached Horseshoe again, the little reef sharks were there. Chucho saw five of them but I only saw three. CB saw a big green moray eel swimming around at 90 feet.
Then Grapevine Scuba finished their weekend dive trip on Paradise where a huge barracuda was being followed around by some little silver fish. We also saw a little eel. Rich got a good picture of an arrow crab.
Thursday, Oct. 26th
I dived at Palancar Caves with Mike, Laura, Aaron and Erika. We saw a big lobster in one of the caves. A shy turtle swam in the distance.
At the end of the dive Mike, Laura and I spent 5 minutes following around three little Caribbean reef sharks in the shallow area.
Dalila produced more lobsters, a medium-sized nurse shark resting in a hole, a friendly turtle and a bunch of splendid toadfish. I found a pair of scarlet lady cleaner shrimp. I put my finger out and one hopped on and started cleaning it. I pulled my finger away and Laura stuck out her finger for a cleaning. Well...out popped a snapping toadfish. Laura's eyes almost popped out of her head with surprise! That was definitely exciting. Those little suckers could take a good chunk of her finger off if she wasn't quick enough.
Friday, Oct. 27th
Aaron, Erika, Don and Elisa came with me to French Reef. That was an awesome dive! After we saw a turtle...two big green moray eels swam out from under the reef. The largest eel was chasing a second big one. The largest eel was swimming so fast that you could see its skin rippling all over its body.
Later a huge turtle glided slowly past us as we headed up.
When we got back to the marina after our night dive on Colombia Shallow, Chucho asked Elisa if she saw an octopus. Elisa answered him with something that I have never heard before. She told Chucho that she saw a sextapus. The octopus that we had seen was missing 2 tentacles. That was a very cute name for it.
A huge crab with giant claws marched around brave as could be. We saw a few lobsters, a snake eel, a yellow stingray and an electric ray.
Saturday, Oct. 28th
I took Don, Elisa, Aaron and Erika to Santa Rosa Wall. We watched as little tornadoes formed in the sand. The current wasn't really strong but it seemed to go different directions.
When we came up we noticed that the wind had picked up. We heard the weather report and I was surprised to hear that the wind was over 40 to 55 kilometers per hour with gusts up to 75 kilometers per hour. I asked Carlos what he thought and he said, "Don't worry, it will come in the late afternoon." Well you know how Carlos is. Might I be so brave as to say that he is usually full of shit?
During our second tank on Paso Del Cedral about 30 minutes into the dive the sky got really dark. I got very, very nervous. I could see Carlos right over us with the boat so I didn't worry. I knew that he would give me the emergency recall signal if the storm was coming toward us. I decided not to worry. Our emergency recall is that Carlos will rev the motors a few times. I nevertheless watched the surface waves for the next 20 minutes.
However, I didn't miss the big green moray eel and grouper nor the swimming nurse shark. While we did our safety stop it started to rain and the waves were huge as the storm arrived. I started to swear loudly through my regulator. Aaron actually heard me swearing. As it turned out the storm wasn't THAT bad, so we could dock at the pier at Occidental Grand but boy did we have a rough ride back to the marina. That was the first "Norte" of the season and the locals believe once the first "Norte" hits, hurricane season is officially over for us.
Monday, Oct. 30th
I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Leigh, Kyle, Don and Elisa. The current was pushing out to sea and south. Then it changed and started pushing us out to sea but toward the north...which is better. We had to do quite a bit of swimming. I burned up all of those calories from the margaritas and guacamole Don and Elisa force fed me the day before since the port was closed on Sunday.
Elisa showed me a little turtle on Dalila. It sat very still eating a sponge. Kyle and Leigh spent a lot of time with it. Next, I decided to lay down next to a sleeping nurse shark. I wanted to use my body as a yardstick. Elisa took a lot of photos so we will see who is longer, the shark or Alison.
Tuesday, Oct. 31st
Our Halloween dive was on San Francisco Wall with Don, Elisa, Leigh, Kyle, Dr. Bob and Kay. I looked down over the wall and saw a very large spotted eagle ray swimming toward us.
Kay showed us a big green moray eel just as Leigh was beginning her ascent.
Per special request we dived Paradise. Carlos gave me specific instructions on how to find the seahorse. He said to go to the end of the 2nd part and start swimming towards shore. Look for a tree trunk. The seahorse supposedly is on a small coral head next to the tree trunk. Just call me Blunder. I never found the tree trunk. I did however harass a splendid toadfish. That was the first time Bob and Kay had ever seen a splendid toadfish completely out of its hole. It showed us its beautiful yellow ribbon-like fins.
Thursday, Nov. 1st
The first dive of the day was on Palancar Caves with Don, Elisa, Leigh, Kyle and Louise. Leigh had requested a turtle, a ray and a seahorse. I did find a turtle for her napping in a cave 70 feet down. Another small turtle swam over the reef..
We also found a pair of those cute little reef sharks that Laura loves so much. They live right where Palancar Caves end and Horseshoe begins. They seem to just swim around in circles there all day, every day.
We went to Dalila because it is one of Elisa's favorite dives. We dropped down on a good-sized nurse shark sucking something out of a hole. We saw a bunch of lobsters and another turtle.
Friday, Nov. 2nd
Dive one was on Tormentos with Michelle, Dave and Louise. The first turtle was slow as it was feasting on a sponge. The second was large and Dave got a few good pictures. We saw two golden tail eels and a splendid toadfish. The current was a bit swift.
The rain started coming down at Palancar. We turned around and came right back to where we had come from to try and out run the rain. Hmph! It found us anyway.
We saw a bunch of barracudas and a few lobsters on San Francisco Wall.
In the afternoon I took Andrea, Tom, Ken, Ronnie, Leigh and Kyle to see tons of turtles on Palancar Gardens. There were little ones and big ones. Most were just sitting around on the reef. We got very close to a couple of them.
Louise joined us for a very successful night dive on Paradise. Not only did we see the usual lobsters and crabs...but we also saw a splendid toadfish, a snake eel and two octopi. There was another sextapus too. (that makes a total of three)
Saturday, Nov. 3rd
My divers were Don, Elisa, Leigh, Kyle, Louise, Bob and Kay on Palancar. Don't ask me exactly where Carlos dropped us off. There was a school of blue tang cruising the top of the reef grazing on algae. A baby black grouper hung out in the school and pretended to be a tang. It imitated the feeding behavior of the tangs, pretending to eat algae. But black groupers are carnivores. That was pretty strange to watch.
We had a very exciting dive on Paso Del Cedral. There was just one critter after another in this order: a big green moray eel, a huge nurse shark swimming along, a small turtle on the bottom, a small nurse shark sleeping and a 'humongous' turtle eating a sponge.
Later that day I took Becky and Randy for a rusty diver refresher review on Paradise. We saw a goldentail moray, a yellow stingray and an electric ray.
Saturday, Nov. 4th
My first dive of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Bob, Kay, Leigh, Kyle, Louise, Al, Mike and Jeff. We had a bit of excitement when Louise's mouthpiece came off of her regulator just as she was coming out of the cave. She handled it very well and finished her dive using her octopus.
On Las Palmas we found one dead lobster and one living lobster. Hmmmmm….. One small turtle and one really, really big one paid us a visit.
We saw the world's biggest crab on Palancar Gardens with Scott, Sara, Mike and Jeff. We swam over that old brain coral that is as big as my old Volkswagon beetle. Sara's eyes popped out of her head when she saw the big barracuda.
It was only Scott and Sara diving on Paradise. That reef has the crabs! They were everywhere! We also saw another large barracuda, a splendid toadfish, and a golden tail moray. Scott showed me a lobster.
Sunday, Nov. 5th
I went back to Kay's favorite reef, Paso Del Cedral with Kay, Bob, Al, Louise and Janet. Our dive was not quite as exciting as the one we did a few days prior but it was a nice dive. We saw a little turtle.
Then we went to Bob's old favorite, Punta Tunich. The current was pretty strong and it was a real Cozumel drift dive. A queen triggerfish was picking at a dead snake eel. That was weird to watch. Kay and Al hung back watching the show. There were quite a few large rainbow parrotfish nearby.
Monday, Nov. 6th
Our first dive of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Kay, Bob, Becky, Randy, Janet, Louise, Al and Bruce. At the end of the dive we encountered a small turtle that took a big bite out of an anemone. It is hard to describe, but it felt almost violent. The turtle later spit some of it out and just moved on.
We had a great dive on French Reef where we saw three turtles and a decent-sized nurse shark lying on the bottom under a dark overhang. Several southern stingrays were about and we also saw some crabs and lobsters.
Wednesday, Nov. 8th
I love Palancar Caves. It's always such a good dive. I went with Bob, Kay, Bruce, Janet, Randy, Craig and Millie. We swam through tons of tunnels and visited with the pair of baby reef sharks at the end of the dive.
Per Becky's request we went to Colombia Shallows. The first turtle was a small hawksbill. We saw a very, very large southern stingray.
Later a big loggerhead turtle passed by us. After 1 hour and 17 minutes we ran out of reef so we swam over to Palancar to hang out with those cute little baby reef sharks again.
Friday, Nov. 10th
Al needed to go back to Palancar Horseshoe. Accompanying us were Bruce, Randy, Becky, Craig, Millie, David and Patrick. At the beginning of the dive those little reef sharks circled over our heads. We counted a total of three that day.
On Dalila a very calm, hungry turtle posed for Bruce and David's cameras. A big nurse shark was snoozing out in the open on the bottom. I assume that it is the same one that I keep seeing in the same general area doing the same darn thing.
Saturday, Nov. 11th
Per David and Patrick's request we went to the Devil's Throat with Al, Bruce, Craig and Millie. Conditions were perfect for the dive. We did pick up a couple of extra divers coming out of the cave but it didn't take long for their divemaster to come and fetch them.
Craig, Millie and I saw a turtle. Everyone saw the huge southern stingray and the nurse shark swimming beneath us.
We had a fantastic dive on French Reef. Patrick was pointing below me and making the shark signal. I looked down to find a 5-footer swimming right beneath me. It disappeared into the reef like magic. Then as we were watching, a green moray eel facing off a grouper.
Al pointed out a small turtle just a bit ahead and more shallow than we were. Later in the dive we saw another big nurse shark out swimming around.
Sunday, Nov. 12th
My first dive of the day was on Colombia Deep with Paul, Mike, Jennifer, Rod, Lorraine, Roland, Patrick and David. The first big critter we saw was a southern stingray.
A big grouper hung out with us for a while.
After we passed the anchors, Lorraine found a nurse shark hiding in a nearby hole. Roland found a green moray eel.
Following the dive, when I got back to the boat, Paul told me that I had completely missed a turtle!
Cedral Wall was next, and one hell of a dive! Lorraine found the first little nurse shark. Mike showed me a big hawksbill turtle eating a sponge.
Later, we almost bumped into a baby turtle. Then came the pair of green moray eels. The largest and really large eel, swam after Patrick. At first I was going to tell him to stop swimming away. Then I realized that the damn eel had it in for him. I just hoped that the eel wouldn't bite him! I have not seen anything like that since we used to feed them many years ago.
The eel gave up after Patrick had ascended a good 15 feet. Then we then sat behind the reef and rested as we watched a turtle. As we were watching the turtle, the nurse shark swam by. Never a dull moment on that dive!
Monday, Nov. 13th
I went to Palancar Caves with Bruce, Paul, Mike, Mike, Roland, Lorraine, Rod and Jennifer. The little sharks usually at the end of the dive were not around. Jennifer and Rod saw an octopus completely out in the open scooting about.
Then we were off to French Reef where we saw a large green moray eel in a dark crevice, three splendid toadfish, a swimming nurse shark and one turtle that appeared during the safety stop.
Tuesday, Nov. 14th
Tank number one was on San Francisco Wall with Amanda, Bruce and Mike. A big green moray eel cowered in a cubbyhole.
One splendid toadfish appeared. A large lobster had molted and left its shell behind as he moved on..
Tank number two was on Tormentos reef. Big barracudas patrolled the reef as we spotted toadfish.
A small turtle parked right in front of Amanda and proceeded to pluck off big chunks of a sponge. It didn't seem to mind us staring at all. We enjoyed seeing quite a few lobsters.
Wednesday, Nov. 15th
I dived the C53 wreck with Rod, Jennifer, Lorraine, Roland and Paul. Paul says that he likes the wreck much better now after Wilma, because now it really looks like a shipwreck!
Our second dive was on Las Palmas where I tortured countless toadfish. Someone called me the toadfish queen. We also saw a baby turtle, an eel, a crab, a lobster and sea cucumbers.
Sunday, Nov. 19th
After a big Norte came in and cancelled our diving for a couple of days, I rented a big boat to take Annie, Michael, Dave and Dani out diving in the big waves. The surface conditions were very, very rough.
The current was strong, but it was worth all of the work. We found a nurse shark happily sleeping under a ledge. Dave had an opportunity to go over and take some pictures.
We also enjoyed diving with big groupers and small lobsters.
We chose Paradise for a short boat ride close to the marina. There were loads of splendid toadfish and a couple of goldentail moray eels.
Wednesday, Nov. 22nd
The Norte got stronger. We couldn't dive in Cozumel for days.
It was so disappointing that I packed up my group and took them on the ferry to Playa Del Carmen. The diving conditions over in Playa were so much better than in Cozumel. (It is more protected from the North winds.)
I reserved a private boat for Len, Steve, Adam, Amanda, Cindy, Murray, Annie and Michael. They took us to "Tortugas". We saw tons of huge turtles. Some of the turtles were loggerheads, uncommon in Cozumel. Others were hawksbills. Almost all of the turtles were much bigger than Cozumel turtles and lots of them had barnacles growing on their backs. Amanda and I saw a giant spotted eagle ray with no tail...way off in the distance.
Next we were off to Barracuda Reef. A six-foot nurse shark was way back in a cave.
We also saw a green moray eel, a spotted moray eel and a really strange looking sea-star that I don't often see in Cozumel.
Friday, Nov. 24th
Finally back to diving as usual on Palancar Gardens with Amanda, Jeremy, Jarod, Cody and Gordon. It was still a bit choppy, but not too bad. Amanda was quite a big help to me.
We saw tons of turtles on that dive. The ladies snorkeled over us at the surface during this dive. They also enjoyed seeing the turtles.
Amanda loved Colombia Shallows because of all the light that penetrates the shallow water. We saw a tiny baby turtle and several normal-sized turtles. The school of southern sonnets was back in their usual spot. It seemed like there were schools of fish everywhere.
Saturday, Nov. 25th
Leigh, Victor, Annie, Michael, Jim and Adam came with me to Palancar Caves. The little baby sharks at the end of the dive were, once again, nowhere to be seen. Leigh showed us a lobster.
French Reef is always very "fishy". A small nurse shark was napping in a dark recess. Several crabs were eating, but we couldn't figure out what it was that they were eating. I found a blue 1 and ½ inch lettuce sea slug. I think that might be the first one that I have ever seen! It was really cool. The colors were almost neon.
Wednesday, Nov. 29th
Well, I got out again to French Reef with Judd, Ingrid, David, Jeff, Matt, Sharon and Ron. The first turtle we saw was really large, but it was too far away for a picture.
The second turtle was only a couple of feet away from Matt and Sharon. Late in the dive we observed three different small spotted eagle rays. I guess the spotted eagle ray season is now officially starting. Huge!
On Dalila we saw one small baby turtle go up to the surface for a breath of air and then come back down again to visit us. I stayed still on the bottom of the sea next to a big, lazy nurse shark. We lounged in the sand together.
Another good-sized nurse shark swam by a few minutes later. We drifted past a hawksbill turtle feasting on a sponge. The turtle had the usual entourage of angelfish enjoying the scraps.
During the safety stop we saw another eagle ray and it was absolutely beautiful.
Thursday, Nov. 30thOn Palancar Horseshoe with Ken, Judy, Jay, Margie and Brian we didn't see too many large critters. Susan and the kids snorkeled over us while we dived. Margie spotted a large spotted eagle ray out in the blue.
We really enjoyed the towering coral formations.
Paradise is good for both snorkel diving as well as scuba. It is also good for photography and close to the cruise ship.
A splendid toadfish smiled for Jay and Margie's cameras.
We saw a peacock flounder and a sail fin blenny. He gave us a display of his dorsal fin.
There was a big eel that, unfortunately, I missed seeing.. A small goldentail came out and swam around us just to say hello.
Friday, Dec. 1st
I went to Palancar Gardens with Ken, Judy, Fred, Gary, Debbie, Nancy and Chris. We saw a lobster and a crab hanging upside down on the reef.
Ken and Judy used to love Colombia Shallows and I took them back there for the first time since Wilma. We found a small turtle napping under a small coral head. There were a couple of lobsters paired up in the same holes.
Southern stingrays were off in the sand.
Then the most amazing thing happened. Four big dolphins appeared. One swam right at me. I froze, held out my arms and hoped that it would stay. It looked me right in the eye and swam on. My heart was racing for a good 10 minutes!
Saturday, Dec. 2nd
I dived Palancar Caves with Al, Ken, Judy, Nancy, Chris, Matt and Sharon. I don't think everyone saw the turtles, but I know that at least Ken and Judy saw them.
At the very end of the dive, when only Al and I were still down on Dalila it all started to get exciting. First of all, a big nurse shark swam beneath us.
Then a huge green moray eel was out swimming around us. Large black groupers were following.
That afternoon I started Doug and Laura's Open Water Referral dives on Paradise. We were hoping to get the Referral done before another big Norte blew in. Carlos promised us all no Norte would come and he came through.
On Paradise we did skills for their certification. Laura saw an eel. I saw an electric ray but I didn't point it out because sometimes they can be a bit aggressive. We all saw the yellow stingray, lobsters, crabs and a precious little pipefish in the sand.
Sunday, Dec. 3rd
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Doug, Laura and David. Chucho took Ken, Judy and Al diving. Just as we descended, Roberto from Liquid Blue Divers spotted one of those cute little baby reef sharks. I was thrilled to see that at least one of them is still with us in Cozumel!
Colombia Shallows was a logical second dive choice. A turtle waited for us and I showed them some southern stingrays and lots of pretty fish.
Monday, Dec. 4th
I took Al, Ken, Judy, Laura, Doug and Dave to French Reef. There we saw a medium sized hawksbill turtle and a big green moray eel. The green moray was out swimming around in the open water.
Per Al's suggestion, we did our second stop on Cedral Wall. What an excellent idea. We saw a peaceful turtle sitting still and having lunch. I counted seven queen triggerfish which just happen to be Ken's favorite.
In the afternoon I went to Dalila with Cody, Cody's brother, Mike and Laura. We saw a small spotted eagle ray, another turtle and the same old big nurse shark that is always sitting out in the open in that particular area.
As we headed up, Laura, Mike and I saw two more nurse sharks, one right after the other. They were obviously hunting and feeding and being followed by a couple of black groupers.
We also saw another turtle hidden under the reef taking a little Mexican siesta.
We did a night dive on Colombia Shallows. We saw loads of crabs, lobsters and a couple of snake eels. Unfortunately, we didn't find any octopus.
Tuesday, Dec. 5th
Per Ken's special request Judy, Ken, Al, Mike and Laura came with me to Las Palmas in search of queen triggerfish. We found plenty of triggerfish and also lots of queen angels that make very colorful photos.
I saw more splendid toadfish than I could count. A little baby nurse shark was hiding from us under a small coral formation. I have seen it there before.
While Al and I were fishing for a toadfish I heard Judy squeal in her regulator. She pointed out a very big eagle ray going past.
Our 30-minute search for a seahorse on Paradise was unproductive. All I found in that algae patch was a pair of sail fin blennies. One flew up out of its hole with its sail up and fluttered around a bit before returning to his hole.
Wednesday, Dec. 6th
I went back to Palancar Caves with Al, Mike and Laura. At last, we had perfect dive conditions We didn't find the little sharks again, but Laura was thrilled with the little secretary blennies poking their funny little heads out of the holes in the star coral.
Tormentos rendered a small turtle feasting with queen angels all around. A five-foot nurse shark was irresistible to Mike. There were more splendid toadfish there. I never get tired of them.
Thursday, Dec. 7th
For a change of pace I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Dave, Mike, Laura, Steve and Lisa. A small turtle accidentally bumped right into Laura.
On San Francisco Wall, Steve was looking around in the sand for a peacock flounder and found one right away. We saw a 5-foot nurse shark lying on the bottom. He didn't appreciate our little visit. It was irritated and promptly swam away from us. Laura attacked me with a turtle ( turd ) I almost died of laughter. Naughty Laura!
Sunday, Dec. 10th
I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Ron, Mike, John, Good Bob and Mary. We found a crab with giant claws in a crevice down about 70 feet. Beneath the crab...was a big lobster below.
While diving on Dalila, I drifted right over a turtle that was feeding on a sponge. During the safety stop, we floated over a small spotted eagle ray. The ray was looking for something to eat in the sand. We saw a couple of big black groupers.
Paradise was the best dive of the day. I found zillions of splendid toadfish, but only one came out of the hole for us. We saw a yellow stingray, a spotted moray and a very, very big green moray eel. She was under a coral head and looked sick. She may have just been resting, however..
Monday, Dec. 11th
My first tank was on Palancar Caves with Bruce, Mary, Mike, John, Manette and Mike. We swam around and through lots of pretty coral formations. Bruce had a little trouble with his BCD inflating by all by itself.
We had calm conditions on French Reef with only a small amount of current. That was nice. The fish life on this reef is really abundant.
That afternoon I took Eric, Jason and Mike to Palancar Gardens and we swam under a little turtle in a cave. Since it was late in the day we saw lots of really large crabs and lobsters.
The last tank of the day was on San Francisco Wall, where we saw many more crabs and lobsters. We also saw a spotted moray. It was kind of eerie being down there on the wall as the sun went down and it started to get dark. It began to wonder what is out there in that deep blue water. You know, that old, "What comes out at night?" feeling.
Tuesday, Dec. 12th
At Dalila Eric showed us a turtle. Next, he pointed out a small nurse shark. As he was checking out a big black grouper, Mike discovered a 5-foot green moray eel behind the grouper. Manette didn't want to go into the hold to get a picture of the eel, so I stole her camera and went in by myself.
Eric, Jason, Mike, Manette and John came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. Eric found all of the good stuff. When he found the second turtle, we spent quite a long time visiting. Manette took pictures of the turtle when it settled down into a cubby-hole behind an orange rope sponge. Eric also pointed out the spotted eagle ray. We also saw more crabs and lobsters
Tank three that day was on Cedral Wall with Eric, Jason, Mary, Bob, Ken, Mary, Bruce and Mike. This one was an impressive dive! First a big nurse shark was lying on the bottom next to a big green moray eel. It took off when we approached. Then the nurse shark swam back again.
We saw a second big nurse shark go by later in the dive. Next, we drifted over the top of a turtle. We saw a bunch of crabs and lobsters. At the end of the dive we saw another solitary nurse shark...but the grand finale was a pair of sharks sitting in the sand together at the end of the dive.
We did a night dive on Paradise. I am not going to forget this dive for a long time. Aside from the usual crabs, lobsters and eels that we see, the excitement began when Chucho brought Mary up to the surface. As she was taking off her BCD she dropped it and Carlos couldn't grab it in time. It had all of the weights integrated and no air in it. It dropped to the bottom of the black night sea. Carlos is one smart son of a gun. He quickly found a long rope and tied a fender buoy to one end and 50-pound weight belt to the other end and dropped the weights where he thought that the BCD went down. I was still diving when I heard the emergency recall signal. I had no idea what had happened topside so I went up and skipped my safety stop. Chucho stayed and did a safety stop with the other divers. When I got to the surface Carlos explained what had happened. Chucho and I did a search. Carlos dropped me off near where he thought the scuba gear was located. By the time he threw the buoy/anchor combo overboard the boat had drifted a bit. I swam slowly against the current making long, slow sweeps with my flashlight over the bottom. It only took me about 10 minutes to find the lost equipment. It looked like a big lump from far away but the irregular shape of it gave it away. That was a relief. We were lucky in that it had landed in the sand... making it somewhat easier to locate..
Wednesday, Dec. 13th
For a change of pace we went to Colombia Deep with Bob, Mary, Mike, Mike, Mike, Manette and Carmen. If you forgot some one's name that day you just said, "Mike" and one was bound to answer . We swam under two different turtles and saw a spotted eagle ray way below us as we made our safety stop. I showed everyone both of the anchors.
Manette had requested a shark and we found one small one on Paso del Cedral. We also got to see a green moray eel and a couple of crabs and lobsters.
Next, it was off to Las Palmas with Eric, Jason, Jesse, Mary, Bruce and Mike. The biggest hawksbill turtle that I have seen in years swam right up to us. We saw loads of splendid toadfish. Mary found a pair of lobsters. Eric spotted a bunch of yellow stingrays. Paradise was full of the usual fish and lots of golden tail eels. We saw tons of crabs and few lobsters. Then we had a special treat! A huge school of big-eyed scads surrounded us and made a big wall of fish in all directions. That was a lot of fun. It was quite a spectacle.
Thursday, Dec. 14th
I dove on Santa Rosa Wall with Earl, Terry, Patrick, Rebecca, Kathy, Alan and Mike. The big turtle just swam right up to us. Alan pointed out another smaller turtle right beneath us.
Our second stop was on Tormentos where a small turtle snacked on a sponge. The sponges on Tormentos are bright red and orange and I think that it is now the most colorful reef in all of Cozumel.
Earl, Terry, Patrick and Rebecca got off. Mike, Manette and John got on and we went to San Francisco Wall. There was lots of pretty sunshine illuminating the colorful sponges and fish. We saw a flounder and a splendid toadfish. Talk about being the right place at the right time! As Alan was making a safety stop I turned my head to notice the boat floating over us. Carlos had his hand in the water with a weight in it and was using the weight to bang on the bottom of the boat to get my attention. Then he started making the hand signal for dolphin and then he pointed to shore. I didn't even bother to look around, I just turned and started kicking and pointing the direction Carlos had told me to go. It only took a moment before they appeared. Fortunately the whole group was paying attention and they followed me. First four large dolphins swam past us. They were very, very close. Then a huge pod of maybe 30 or more dolphin passed by us! I turned my head towards the deep water and a couple of them swam right up to Alan and I. Last of all, about 10 more came by. It was absolutely amazing.
On Chankanaab there were more crabs and lobsters than we could count. We saw various types of sea cucumbers and a yellow stingray.
Friday, Dec. 15th
I went back to Colombia Deep with John, Mike, Mike, Manette, Mary, Shirley and Dean. One small turtle was pointed out by Shirley. A larger turtle swam right at us. A spotted eagle ray glided below us on our safety stop.
Tank two was on French Reef. Another couple of turtles were hanging out. The first one was eating a sponge and we had to swim a bit to get close. There was another small one up on top of the reef.
Thursday, Dec. 28th
My first dive back from vacation was with Jeff, John, Jeremy, Tracy, John, Chris, Gail and Dave on Palancar Gardens. We had a bit of weird current, so we had to swim a little bit. I had a new wetsuit on and I didn't have enough weight. I felt kinda like a tourist and wore myself out on that one. We saw a small turtle as we were finishing up our dive.
I wanted calm and relaxing conditions so I picked Chankanaab. Several lobsters made an appearance and so did a big old crab. A huge snapper swam by and we saw some groupers.
In the afternoon Ruth, Mark, Sarah and Dov came with me to Palancar between Horseshoe and Gardens. We saw tons of stuff including crabs, lobsters, a big grouper and a green moray eel down deep.
We did a night dive on Paradise where we saw another huge green moray eel. It was probably the same one that I had seen before my vacation that looked sickly. Now it looked just fine. Tons of crabs and lobsters were seen but one really huge lobster came out and pranced around for us. Sarah and I like the snake eels that we saw. I found one splendid toadfish and one octopus.
Friday, Dec. 29th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Cynthia, David, Maddie, Stephanie, Ruth, Mark, Dov and Sarah. There were two small hawksbill turtles up in the shallow water. One swam out from under the reef and appeared right beneath Maddie.
I picked up a Donkey Dung sea cucumber on Paradise that Sarah tried to pass to Stephanie. Stephanie didn't want to touch it and that made us giggle. As usual there were lots of splendid toadfish. Dov and Ruth got to see why they are called "splendid" when I coaxed it out of its den. They have a long bright yellow ribbon like dorsal fin and two bright yellow pectoral fins which make them quite beautiful in their entirety. One of the golden tail morays that we observed had a nasty gash on its head. I wondered what predator did that to him.
Saturday, Dec. 30th
We went in search of Dov's first shark on Dalila with Ruth, Dov, Sarah, Mark, Todd, Gracie and Mike. First Gracie drifted over a turtle that Ruth could not resist. Then Dov found his very own little nurse shark and it was mission accomplished. Towards to the end of the dive I spied a huge spotted eagle ray feeding in the sand. Ruth was entranced.
As we were observing the first green moray eel on Cedral Wall, another jumbo-sized eel swam by us. When only Dov and Ruth were still down, we all swam over to Santa Rosa Wall and discovered a turtle just hanging out.
Sunday, Dec. 31st
I did my last dives of 2006 with Ruth, Mark, Dov, Sarah, Will and Larry. Per Dov's request we went to Santa Rosa Wall. The first turtle that we encountered was small and the current was so fast that we couldn't stop. Then we drifted over a humungous turtle on the bottom. Larry really loved swimming through the cave. He was all smiles when he came out.
There was also a strong current on Tormentos. Sarah took lots of photos and we saw another second turtle. We ran out of reef before Dov and Ruth got low on air. That was kind of a bummer that we had to go up... because the bottom dropped off to deep water and nothing but sand.