Thursday, Jan. 4th 2007
I got a late start on 2007 at Palancar Horseshoe with Jim, Robert, Terra, Will and Joe. We swam around the mountainous reef structures. The towering formations are always impressive. We were lucky and had very little current.
Will was happy when I announced that we were going to dive Dalila. The first little turtle was not shy. The second little turtle was a tad more skittish. We saw some huge barracudas stalking a school of blue striped grunts and upsetting the creole wrasse. A black grouper sat under a coral head and a giant snapper made a distant pass. I found an old spear encrusted with algae and I brought it up. When we got back to the marina I turned it over to a marine park employee.
Friday, Jan. 5th
I took Terra, Will, Robert and Joe on a 70 foot dive to Palancar Gardens while Cheryl, Hank and Daniela snorkeled over us. It was nice to not have a lot of current. Will commented that the visibility was a bit down and I agreed.
Daniela and Hank joined us on the dive at Paradise. We saw a spotted moray with a banded cleaner shrimp on his head. There were several splendid toadfish and a peacock flounder. No one came over to see the lobster that I pointed out. Oh well.
Saturday, Jan. 6th
My first tank was on Palancar Horseshoe with Hank, Daniela, Vince and Kristen. Henry snorkeled over us. When Hank rolled in he hit his head hard on something. I didn't see what happened nor did I even know that he hit his head until I got back on the boat and he told me. I don't know if he hit it on Daniela's tank or the bottom of the boat. But judging from the bump I tend towards
Daniela's tank. Ouch. He still enjoyed his dive and it wasn't a big deal, but we were very careful on the next entry at Dalila
Dalila was a great dive! As I was showing everyone a splendid toadfish I heard Kristen shouting through her regulator. When I looked up a 6-foot nurse shark was swimming by off in the distance. It was probably close enough for the divers. We saw some of the biggest groupers that I have seen in a long time. About 40 minutes into the dive a big fat green moray eel was just sitting out in the open posing for Vince's camera. That was it! Daniela is now hooked on diving. She just loved it!
When I got back Lisa, Mark, Marcus and Ben were waiting for me and I took them on a resort course at Paradise. I asked Ben what he wanted to see this week and he told me that he would like to see eels and stingrays. That is exactly what we saw on our dive.
We saw a full sized golden tail eel and a tiny spotted moray. Mark pointed out a couple of yellow stingrays. All of these critters were small but Ben, being the only certified diver in the group will spend the next week out on the reefs and we will see if we can find him some big eels and big stingrays.
Sunday, January 7th
I dived at Palancar Gardens with Chad and Ali for their Open Water certification dives. Chucho came along to dive with Ben, Kristen and Vince. Chucho’s group saw a bunch of turtles. All we saw were an old pair of sunglasses and lots of fish.
I worked on skills with Chad and Ali on Colombia Shallows. Chucho’s group saw more turtles! As I was anchoring my buoy line I disturbed a yellow stingray buried in the sand. Chad loved seeing all of the anemones.
Monday, January 8th
We had a great dive on Palancar Caves with Kristen, Vince, Ali, Chad, Daniela and Ben. As we approached the reef an eagle ray appeared. We spent several minutes with the eagle ray. It even swam right over me. We also saw a couple of southern stingrays and a couple of turtles too.
There were no big animals on French Reef other than a southern stingray. It was a nice relaxing dive with light current.
That afternoon I did some beach diving with Mike and Laura for their divemaster training. We practiced “demonstration quality skills”. We are learning to make everything look smooth and easy.
Tuesday, January 9th
I took Mike, Laura, Chad, Ali, Ben, Vince and Kristen to Colombia Deep. We saw both of the anchors, swam through a cool cave and Mike & Laura found a turtle. Chad chased after an eagle ray but of course could not catch it!
We had a fantastic dive on Cedral Wall! We saw several turtles. All were very hungry. They were sitting on the bottom eating sponges surrounded by angelfish. They didn’t seem to mind our presence at all. We saw a pair of green moray eels. One really big one was in a crevice with its tail sticking out. Another had a black grouper sitting right up against it and we all got a good looksy at that one. On our way up a medium sized nurse shark swam below us.
Wednesday, January 10th
I went back to Palancar Gardens with Kristen, Vince, Chad, Ali, Mike, Laura and Ben. We all saw one small turtle sitting on the reef taking big bites out of a sponge.
Carlos took us back to Cedral Wall again for another exciting dive. First I saw a shark swimming off in the distance but no one else saw it. Then we saw another small shark sleeping on the bottom. It got up and swam away because it was pissed. It came back and settled down in a new place. Later we saw a green moray eel with 4 groupers hanging around it. Later another small shark swam away. A big lobster wiggled its antennas at us. Mike found a huge green eel’s tail sticking out from under a coral formation. He poked it and it turned around to bare its teeth. Mike thought he was going to be bitten!
Thursday, January 11th
Everyone was happy to go to Santa Rosa Wall. Everyone was: Mike, Laura, Chad, Ali, Tammie and Greg. We swam through plenty of caves but we saw no big creatures on that dive.
On Tormentos a good sized shark swam past and waved hello to Ali. We saw several splendid toadfish and a big spotted eel swam all around.
In the afternoon we practiced the “demonstration quality skills” again for Mike and Laura’s divemaster certification. We also sat around and observed real students with their instructor. Laura was trying to guess which was the instructor and which were the students.
Friday, January 12th
Brad, Sonja, Pat, David and Carol did the first dive of the day with me on San Francisco Wall. We saw a big turtle swimming below us and a spotted moray eel.
Brad and Brennan got on and we took them to Tormentos and Yucab. There were loads of small eels and a splendid toadfish. We also saw a huge southern stingray.
Brad and Sonja got off and we went to Las Palmas. There were lots of big lobsters everywhere. I could not believe how many splendid toadfish we saw. One swallowed my lure/torture device and I felt terrible. At the end of the dive David lost his camera. I spent about 30 minutes searching for it. I backtracked everywhere that we had been. When I arrived back at the splendid toadfish that swallowed my lure I grabbed a hold of the line that was still sticking out of his mouth and tugged. Out popped my lure. My guilt was relieved. Now I could sleep at night knowing that my metal lure was not in the poor fish’s belly. Of course, there was no hook on the lure, in case you are wondering.
Saturday, January 13th
I had an interesting morning a Punta Sur. Some things are just not meant to be and we shouldn’t force them. As David, Patrick, Carol, Brad and Brennan rolled in Pat came up under the boat and tried to break the hull with his skull. I had not seen that happen. I was oblivious to the situation...as we have to make a quick descent to the bottom in order to get in the cave. We descended to 80 feet. As I sat in front of the entrance to the cave system called the Devil’s Throat, David pointed up over my head and made the shark signal. I swam up in the direction that he pointed but never saw the shark. As I was about to go in the cave, Pat gave me the “go up” signal. I passed him my slate and he wrote “dizzy” on it. He indicated that he wanted us to go in and he would wait for us outside above the cave. NO WAY. I am not leaving anyone alone on Punta Sur for 10 to 15 minutes. So I aborted the dive.
It turned out to be a great thing because we went to Horseshoe, which is where Brad really wanted to go and we had great dive. As we descended we encountered a huge southern stingray and a turtle. Later in the dive the turtle showed up again. It was a beautiful dive.
We did the 2nd tank on Cedral Wall. I saw 4 juvenile spotted drums all of them flitting around together. There was a pair of big puffers and a green moray eel with his black grouper accompanying him. The grand finale was a huge spotted eagle ray with a big bite out of the right rear side.
Sunday, January 14th
I hadn’t been to Palancar Caves in a while so off I went with David, Patrick, Carol and Pete. We swam through all of my favorite tunnels. We saw a big southern stingray and 3 more turtles on that dive.
Pete said that he had never seen a splendid toadfish before, so I chose Dalila for the second tank. I know where there are a few of them on that site. I found a couple of different toadfish for Pete. David found one as well. A good-sized hawksbill turtle (which is all that we have seen lately) was sitting on the bottom feeding. The turtle was surrounded by pretty angelfish. David and Pete were wishing that they had brought their cameras with them at that moment.
Monday, January 15th
Back to good old Palancar Gardens with Warren, Accu-Al my weather man, Pete, Hugh, Mary Beth, Claudio and Bonita. I saw 3 different turtles. Warren and Pete pointed out a spotted eagle ray. We saw the same ray 2 more times at the end of the dive. It was very easy to tell that it was the same ray because he had no tail.
Pete took a picture of a big crab that I discovered on French Reef. Al showed us a big green moray eel that came out and swam around for maybe 5 minutes. It almost seemed like it was following us around.
Tuesday, January 16th
I did the first tank on Santa Rosa Wall with Pete, Al, Mary Beth, Hugh, Claudio, Doug and Austin. We had an uneventful dive. (That is a good thing considering.. ) Al commented that there is a lot of fish and that Santa Rosa is looking better now these days. Pete was surprised to see so much sand on the reef from Wilma. It was the first time that he had seen it since the hurricane came though in 2005.
I did the second tank on Dalila. I got to show Mary Beth the splendid toadfish. Pete found the same turtle from a few days past and we saw a huge nurse shark just lying about in the open on the sandy bottom. Al thought that I wasn’t looking so he tweeked its tail and it swam about 10 feet and settled down again. You’re busted Al! I was too far away to scold him.
Wednesday, January 17th
I wanted to show Mary Beth, Hugh, Pete, Al, Claudio and Bonita that the reef has recovered best from Wilma. We had a calm dive and we practiced buoyancy control skills as part of Claudio and Bonita’s Advanced Certification.
We did the next one on Colombia Shallow so that Claudio and Bonita could learn navigational techniques. Pete took pictures of yellow-headed jawfish poking their heads up out of their holes in the sand. We saw a small turtle and a southern stingray. Right before Al, Pete and I went up (as we had reached the time limit) we saw a rather large spotted moray.
I did a night dive on French Reef. Only 5 minutes after arriving below, I found a small 4 foot nurse shark and we followed it under a ledge. We saw tons of big crabs and lots of little lobsters. Bonita found the first octopus and it was really large. I found the 2nd octopus, that was normal-sized. Bonita found a slipper lobster out walking about.
Thursday, January 18th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Rob, Matt, Al, Claudio and Bonita. Chucho came along to help. I took Claudio and Bonita down to 130 feet for their Advanced Certification and Chucho kept the others up in a normal range. During the safety stop we saw a loggerhead turtle, that is really uncommon for Cozumel.
Per Al’s request we went to Cedral Wall. We saw 2 hawksbill turtles and one was really, really large turtle. We found that same small nurse shark that lives there and it was sleeping under a ledge. Al decided to wake it up. The turtle turned around in its hole and faced Al.
Friday, January 19th
Bev, Steve, Al and Ursula came diving with me on Palancar Bricks. The current was like swimming in a washing machine. Poor Ursula hadn’t been diving in a year and that was a hard dive to start out with. We saw a small turtle going up for a breath of fresh air and by the time we finished the dive, the current had calmed down.
On French Reef there was almost no current. I was very grateful. A small hawksbill and 2 gray angels posed for Steve’s camera. We saw a pair of lobsters either fighting or mating. I guess no one knows exactly what they were doing except those lobsters J One was fending off the other with its antennas. We saw a couple of crabs as a big spotted eagle ray glided by us.
Saturday, January 20th
Al, Ursula, Claudio and Bonita accompanied me on a dive to Colombia Deep. Coming out of the first swim-through a small spotted eagle ray zipped past. Later in the dive a huge eagle ray appeared right in front of us from behind a coral head.
On Dalila we found Al’s big shark again. We even parked right next to it.
Sunday, January 21st
I dived French reef with Patti, Andrew, Elaine, Ron and Kathy in the afternoon. I was very happy that there was almost no current for their first dive of the vacation. We saw splendid toadfishes, a big lobster out in the open and a crab.
We tried to do a night dive on French Reef. The current carried us to Dalila instead of French Reef. Oh well...we just go with the flow. For the first 30 minutes of the dive all I saw was just one lousy lobster. I was swimming around trying to figure out what to say to everyone when we got back on the boat. The first 30 minutes of the dive kinda sucked. Then I spotted the first big octopus. FINALLY ... Patti was going to see an octopus after all these years and hundreds of dives. We always get skunked on the night dives. The first octopus was really large and it was a white spotted octopus. We almost never see those in Cozumel. The next 2 octopuses were common octopuses and were much smaller. Patti was a very happy camper!
Monday, January 22nd
The first dive of the day was at Yucab with Patti, Andrew, Rich, Elaine, Ron, Kathy and Fred. The current was going the wrong way but it was an easy dive. We saw a spotted moray eel out swimming around.
We did our second dive on Tormentos. There were quite a few good-sized lobsters and a splendid toadfish.
Tuesday, January 23rd
I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Patti, Andrew, Rich, Elaine, Ron, Kathy and Fred. Fortunately the current was light because it was none too cooperative. After watching a small turtle feast on the side of the wall we had to fight the current to get over to the next turtle, that stayed with us for a while.
Then I went to Dalila. Another turtle was just sitting on the bottom having lunch. Right next to it was the big nurse shark that I have been seeing in the same general area for weeks. Patti accused me of pushing her into the shark. I accused her of wanting to pet it. We had a lot of laughs over it.
Wednesday, January 24th
I asked Carlos to drop Patti, Andrew, Rich, Elaine, Ron, Kathy and Fred and myself off on Palancar Caves. I got Palancar Bricks instead. Oh well. We saw 2 turtles. The second one was close enough for Patti to pet but of course she didn’t. I wagged my finger at her. We also saw a couple of southern stingrays there.
Ron found the little shark on Cedral wall. It was well hidden down in a hole full of warm water. That water must have been a good 5 to 10 degrees warmer than that water that we were swimming in. It was really strange. Ron also discovered the little turtle that headed straight up over our heads to the surface for a breath of fresh air. I searched for the spotted drums that I had seen before and they were gone. I wonder if something ate them. At the end of the dive a strange looking cloud of murky whitish water encircled us cutting the visibility down to about 10 to 15 feet. It looked like a giant cloud of milk coming at us. I swam the group away from the wall and over to the shallow Cedral Pass. Everyone came up. No one liked not being able to see. Can I blame them?
Thursday, Jan. 25th
We couldn't go out in the morning because the port was closed. After the weather report at 10:30 the harbor master changed his mind and let us go out...so Ron, Kathy, Rich, Elaine, Patti and Andrew came with me to Palancar Gardens. As we entered a cave...several southern stingrays awaited us on the other side. One was the biggest southern stingray that I have ever seen. It had to be at least 7-feet across. One smaller ray latched onto the back of the big one and a third ray just swam around and around. I think they were doing the "wild thing".
We tried to go to Dalila. Silly me, I didn't check the current so we ended up doing French reef instead. We saw lots more southern stingrays and Andrew proclaimed it "Ray Day". Kathy showed us a 6-foot nurse shark.
Friday, Jan. 26th
Our first roll back of the day was on Santa Rosa Wall with Kathy, Ron, Elaine, Rich, Patti and Andrew. We saw lots of splendid toadfish. I even convinced one of them to come out and show Ron and Elaine its splendid yellow fins.
Our second entry was on San Francisco Wall. There was a small turtle, more toadfish and some small lobsters. It was almost impossible to drag Patti away from the huge, fat green moray eel. She found a new friend and took lots of pictures.
Saturday, Jan. 27th
Per special request, we went to Colombia Deep with Andrew, Patti, Rich, Elaine, Kathy, Ron and Len. Andrew wanted to see the bricks, anchors and the old boiler from the 1800's shipwreck. Both the deeper anchor and the boiler are now really covered up in sand once again.
There was another big, green moray eel waiting for Patti on Paso del Cedral. It was in the old feeding spot from the last decade. Old habits are difficult, and die hard. We saw tons of barracudas and a spotted eagle ray.
Sunday, Jan. 28th
My first tank of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Ted, Jeannie, Jeff, Lanna, Ursula and Detlef. We discovered a cleverly camouflaged spotted scorpion fish on the reef. Lanna and I watched as some long, spiny tentacles from a brittle star wiggled around on a sponge.
My second tank was on Cedral Wall. A huge male hawksbill turtle shared Sunday brunch with french and queen angels. Jeff and Lanna saw a spotted drum but I missed it. We ran into a school of assorted barracuda at the end of the dive.
Monday, Jan. 29th
I took Denise, Lester, Ted, Jeannie, Ursula and Detlef to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw a turtle that I recognized from the last week. It has a small inwardly curved deformity on the right rear side of its shell. I am going to pay more attention to that in the future as to where exactly I see that same turtle again.
Dalila produced a couple more turtles. Chino showed me a big green moray eel, but it was so far down and under the reef. Therefore, I was unable to show it to the other divers. It was too difficult to see.
Tuesday, Jan. 30th
Ted, Jeannie, Jeff, Lanna, Ursula and Detlef accompanied me to Palancar Caves. Coming out of the last cave, a small nurse shark hid under a coral formation. After we finished diving at the caves, Jeannie, Ted and Detlef went up to the surface. Jeff, Lanna and Ursula drifted over Palancar Horseshoe at 15 feet. We floated right into the same little turtle with the deformed shell from the sighting on the day before. It was almost in the exact same spot. I guess it is all about paying attention. :-)
On French Reef Detlef pointed to a small nurse shark hiding from the strong current we experienced. At the very end of the dive, I was able to show Lanna a small turtle.
Thursday, Feb. 1st
We had strong southeast wind. Therefore, I picked Yucab for my dive with Ted, Jeannie, Jeff, Jim, Mike, Mildred and Nick. Jeannie found a small turtle and it was not shy. I found a big green moray eel that disappeared as soon as Jim and Jeff came over for a look-see. Nick was impressed by all of the large angelfish that permitted us to come close to them..
To stay out of the chop, we did our second dive on Tormentos. We discovered a juvenile spotted drum, a scorpion fish and a big turtle. I showed Jeannie three different kinds of tunicates. Jeannie was studying the Underwater Naturalist Specialty course.
Saturday, Feb. 3rd
Nick wanted to see lots of fish....so I took Nick, Mildred, Ted, Jeannie, Kurt and Nancy to French Reef. Kurt and Nancy very quickly learned how to deal with current. They picked up the drift diving techniques right away. Nick got some good pictures of a gray angelfish and a white spotted file-fish. Ted and Jeannie worked on their Underwater Naturalist Specialty for a small bit of time.
Nancy and I drifted over the resident 7-foot nurse shark on Dalila. We didn't even notice the shark, until Mildred pointed to it for us. We observed symbiotic relationships on the dive, the most obvious being the little fish clinging to the big shark's belly.
Sunday, Feb. 4th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Carmen, Jeff, John and Mike. We found a small turtle right off the bat. That turtle went up to the surface and Carmen was able to got a silhouette shot. I swam around the coral head and found another turtle waiting for us. After about 30 minutes the current picked up, so I led everyone into the caves to get out of the current.
During the surface interval, Carmen asked to see a moray eel. I picked Cedral Wall as my best "moray eel place". I knew the current would be strong, but Carmen (the flag) is no stranger to current :-) I briefed them all how to go slowly and to stop in the current and we rolled in. The first big green moray eel we found was really docile. I just could not resist caressing its soft, velvety head. Carmen got about four good pictures. ( Carmen, I am still waiting to see the pictures….) The second big eel was not so happy to be bothered by divers and there was no gentle caressing going on. Both eel were both a good 6-feet long.
Monday, Feb. 5th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Carmen, Jeff, John and Mike. When I rolled into the water, I saw a small nurse shark on the bottom underneath us. I then realized that it was face-to-face with a big green moray eel. A bunch of small groupers were trying to get in on the action. By the time everyone got down and swam over to join me, only the eel was still there.
On Tormentos we saw quite a few splendid toadfish and a bunch of little lobsters. A large octopus was being chased by a grouper and it responded by being stressed out and squirted its ink.
Wednesday, Feb. 7th
Mike, Laura, Jeff, Carmen, John and Mike came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw two small turtles. When Carmen was taking pictures of the second one, I was wondering if it was the same turtle with the deformed shell. However, I admit that I was just too lazy to swim back for a better look.
I asked where we were going for the second dive and Carmen picked Tormentos again. Laura and I bobbed my little yellow lure in front of a couple of splendid toadfish. We saw another small turtle. Mike and Mike saw a really big turtle, but I missed seeing it.
Thursday, Feb. 8th
I had a good dive on Palancar Caves with Carmen, Jeff, John, Michael, Annie and Dan. The current was like a washing machine. Sometimes we moved into the canyons and caves, so it wasn't as noticeable. On Dalila the current was really swift. However, everyone seemed to enjoy the wild ride. We saw tons of critters. There were two turtles, three nurse sharks ( big ! ) and a huge spotted eagle ray. Carmen said that dive made her entire week!
Saturday, Feb. 10th
I took David, Annie and Michael to Palancar Gardens. I saw a little turtle way off in the distance, but it was so far away and it was not worth swimming everyone over to see it. We swam through lots and lots of caves.
I went back to Dalila since it had been so great over the last week. I found a tiny little colorful nudibranch sliding over the sand. Lots of barracudas intimidated Annie and the resident 7-foot nurse shark swam right past us in a hurry to get somewhere.
Monday, Feb. 12th
I dove Amanda's Reef with Chucho, Annie, Michael, Paul, Sharon, Jean, Tom and Rebecca. We split the group. Chucho's group saw a swimming nurse shark that circled back and visited them twice. Annie and I saw a turtle swimming down to the bottom way off in the distance.
On Chankanaab we saw enough lobsters to open a restaurant. One lobster was so big that Rebecca said that it was scary looking and didn't want to get too close! Personally I thought that the huge barracuda was much scarier. We saw a giant snapper that swam in and out of caves in the reef.
Tuesday, Feb. 13th
Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall. There were big waves and Paul, Annie, Michael, Tom and Rebecca got down rather quickly to get out of the waves. Once we were out of the waves, we discovered that there was also quite a bit of current making our deep dive a bit stressful. Annie saw a turtle, but I missed it. Everyone sucked up quite a bit of air since we went a lot deeper than usual this dive.
Tormentos was calm for the first half-hour, thank goodness. However, there were tons of divers everywhere. Since the south wind was so strong that day, every single dive boat in Cozumel seemed to pick Tormentos! The current kicked in for the last 15 minutes of our dive and I got my exercise. We saw a spotted moray, a peacock flounder and an arrow crab.
I did a night dive on Chankanaab because there tends to be less current there than on Paradise. We were lucky and there was almost no current or waves. Michael found the first big octopus. It was a common octopus. A minute or two later, a Caribbean octopus joined it and they glided along the bottom together for an eternity. We followed them around and we were all fascinated. Then we found a squid that after a minute or two, freaked out and squirted its ink to escape us. It darted right under Paul. We also saw the usual collection of lobsters and crabs.
Wed. Feb. 14th
We had a nice dive on Palancar Bricks with Brad, Talen, Michelle, Tom, Rebecca, Paul, Annie and Michael. It was a bit hectic at first but it is such a beautiful site. Annie, Michael and I saw two turtles. I think everyone else saw only one.
Then we had a nice easy dive on Paradise. Brad was very pleased and kept telling me so all throughout the dive!
Thursday, Feb. 15th
My first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Pat, Karen, Chris, Tom, Rebecca and Doug. We had another calm, easy dive and swam through the archways and watched the sunlight beam through the holes in the reef overhead.
On French reef I was cruising along when I saw the tail and dorsal fin of a nurse shark in a big cave so I just slid right in the water. The nurse shark was just sitting on the bottom and we all sat in the cave with it. Then to get out of the cave we came up through a hole in the roof overhead.
We saw a huge lobster walking around without a care in the world. A big eagle ray swam by with something big in its mouth. It was probably a conch because that is one of their favorite foods.
Saturday, Feb. 17th
I had a boat full of friends on Palancar Gardens with Al, Carol, Carol, Barb, Deanna and Kim. We had some current but nothing to write home to Mom about. We got a late start that day because of the north wind. We didn't get out until late morning when the wind calmed down and the harbor master let us go. We did our second tank on Yucab. We saw two splendid toadfish, a juvenile spotted drum and tons of lobsters. A small turtle was sleeping in a cubbyhole and we managed to observe it without disturbing it at all. Deanna showed us a huge nurse shark just swimming by off in the distance.
Monday, Feb. 19th
I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Carol, Deanna, Mike and Andy. Deanna pointed out a turtle as it made its way up to the surface for a breath of air. A huge lobster strutted around a circular coral formation and we followed it as it tried to get away from us! Dalila was action packed that day. We started out picking up an extra diver who stayed with us for 30 minutes. We swam right up to Al's big old nurse shark. I had to gently pet its tail because I had promised Al that I would do that for him since he couldn't come with us that day due to illness.
We also saw a couple of sleepy turtles and a spotted eagle ray. There were plenty of southern stingrays too. Sorry Al!
Tuesday, Feb. 20th
It was a joy to have Brad and Cassie with me after so many years. I hope they don't wait that long to come back again. We saw both anchors and the boiler that was so buried in the sand, I actually had to look for it. The first turtle we saw was sleeping under a big coral head. The other turtle was blending into the reef on top of the coral as we drifted over it. Cassie wanted to stay forever visiting with those turtles.
A big green moray eel greeted us at French Reef. It was trying to get at a splendid toadfish in a hole. The only reason that I know what it was after is because the eel didn't like us hanging around, so it took off. When it left the toadfish bolted out of the hiding hole and swam to a new den elsewhere.
Wednesday, Feb. 21st
I went to Palancar Gardens with Carol, Carol, Deanna, Scot, Scott, Pamela, Warren and Tony. We had an awesome dive! We saw three different turtles. Carol showed Deanna and I a big green moray eel swimming through a series of caves. We watched the eel from above, through the holes in the roof of the caves. There was a point when we had to decide what we wanted to look at, the eel or a turtle. Deanna and I picked the eel and we swam after it. Carol picked the turtle. When we couldn't see the eel any more Deanna and I came back to the turtle and to Carol.
On Paradise we visited my old friend the sail fin blenny. We saw lots of groupers, a couple of golden tail eels and searched the algae beds to no avail for a seahorse for Carol. Just before we surfaced, Deanna and I sat in the middle of a huge school of big-eyed scads. They formed a circular wall all around us. A protective barracuda made a slow pass to stake his claim to the meal. Then a spotted eagle ray came by and we followed it off into the blue.
Thursday, Feb. 22nd
Dive one was at Palancar Caves with Carol, Deanna, Mike, Marilyn, Vitek, Paula and Leigh. The first turtle was a little tiny baby. The second was pretty small too. The third turtle Mike found in a crack in the reef. That one was pretty big and it swam right up beneath Paula. It was really hard to keep the bunny ears that Paula brought me to stand upright in the current. The bunny tail pinned to the butt of my wetsuit was hidden behind the tank.
Dive two was on San Francisco Wall where we saw plenty of big groupers and lobsters. We switched the bunny tail off to one side for the second dive so that it could be photographed.
Friday, Feb. 23rd
Vitek, Paula, Leigh, Mike, Marilyn, Warren, Scot and Pamela dived at Palancar Bricks with me. Leigh and I counted four turtles. The girls brought me a lovely tiara to dive in. I was queen of the flock that morning.
I took them back to French reef where the big green moray eel was waiting for Warren. Alas, his regulator started free flowing and not only did he miss the shot of the eel but he had to get back on the boat because the regulator would not stop free flowing. Bummer! There were also lots more turtles.
Carol, you are going to kill me. You went home one day too soon.
In the afternoon I took Alyson and Rob to Paradise for dives 1 and 2 of their certification class. On the first dive we saw a few goldentail eels and conches. I pointed out a tiny juvenile spotted drum to Alyson.
On the second dive I found a big yellow seahorse scooting around in the sandy area around the three finger leaf algae. It was scooting from one algae plant to the next and hanging on for a minute and blending in perfectly. Carol, I have two witnesses that took pictures. I am soooo sorry that I found that the day AFTER you left. Please forgive me!
Saturday, Feb. 24th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Paula, Vitek, Andy, Karl, Dan, Alyson and Rob. As Andy was showing us a big lobster down below us, I showed Rob a turtle swimming downward as well. We didn't have much current for Andy to practice drift diving techniques, but it was a nice dive.
Per special request we went to Colombia Shallow. We woke up a big turtle as we landed on the bottom and it swam away. Alyson enjoyed swimming through the schools of yellow and silver fish. She pointed out a slipper lobster. I found a mantis shrimp hoping that Vitek could get a picture of it. They are very shy creatures. We saw a southern sting ray and a couple of crabs.
Sunday, Feb. 25th
I dived one of my favorite dive sites, Palancar Horseshoe, along with Paula, Vitek, Leigh, Karl, Dan, Alyson, Rob and Ann. Everything was going along just normal until Vitek started after the big puffer fish. He took a bunch of pictures of it before it hid under a ledge. Then a barracuda came along and Vitek swatted its tail. This pissed it off...so it turned around and charged him. Vitek stuck his foot in its face and it changed its mind. It decided that Vitek was just too big and too aggressive to mess with…. The barracuda then shot under the coral. That frightened a hidden turtle that popped out of its resting place and Vitek got some more good pictures.
We went to Dalila in search of sharks for Dan. We found the resident 7-foot "big boy" and Karl found another medium-sized shark. We also saw a spotted moray, some big groupers and southern stingrays.
Monday, Feb. 26th
I went to French Reef because Dan wanted to see a big green moray eel. My divers were Paula, Vitek, Dan, Karl, Tim and Leanne. We saw black groupers and yellow fin groupers. The darn green moray eel showed up AFTER Dan had gotten back on the boat. Next time I going to put a leash on it and go right back!
We went back to Dalila by popular demand. Not only did we see both of the big nurse sharks again, but just as Tim was going to the surface a pair of spotted eagle rays hovered over the sand together. Once again, Vitek was there with the fantastic camera.
Tuesday, Feb. 27th
My first tank was on Paso del Cedral with Vitek, Paula, Leigh, Ann, Tim and Leanne. We had an amazing dive. It was just one great critter after another. As we arrived at the reef we floated over a very large male hawksbill turtle napping on the bottom. Right away...a 5-foot nurse shark swam past.
The schools of grunts were visibly upset by something, so I started over for a closer look. I counted 8 or 9 groupers before the big, fat green moray eel swam out of the cave below. The grunts scattered. Then we saw another small turtle and a really big nurse shark. I really believe that the big nurse shark was the same "big boy" that I normally see on Dalila. It's just gut instinct. However, I can't prove it.
The second tank was on Cedral Wall and we had a whole lot more action. As Vitek was taking pictures of a corkscrew anemone, a giant spotted eagle ray swam by. Then we saw another turtle take off up over the reef. I found a tiny little baby nurse shark well hidden under the coral. Then we found that big male turtle again. It had gone back to sleep and we woke the poor thing up once again. At the end of the dive, we saw the big nurse shark one more time right before Paula became got low on air.
Wednesday, Feb. 28th
Paula, Vitek, Karl, Dan, Tim and Leanne came with me to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a couple of big lobsters. I scooped the sand out of a few local sponges.
We searched the same algae patch on Paradise for the little seahorse for at least 20 minutes. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack and we didn't find the little bugger. Oh well.
Thursday, March 1st
I started my morning on Tormentos with Paula, Vitek, Ann, Roberta, Joe, Brian and Liz. We had quite a dive. The first turtle that we saw was a small hawksbill, followed by a rather large loggerhead turtle. The loggerheads are pretty uncommon here in Cozumel. We also saw a big hawksbill snacking on something on the bottom with a couple of angelfish. We saw little stuff too like a juvenile spotted drum, a couple of peacock flounders, a big lobster. Paula found two spotted scorpion fish.
We went back to Paradise and we got lucky...or smart or whatever. There was another divemaster pointing out a big orange seahorse not far from the sailfin blenny. It was pretty close to where I had seen the yellow one earlier in the week. We also observed a bunch of splendid toadfish and a spotted moray eel.
Friday, March 2nd
We had some seriously strong South East wind and we couldn't make it any further south than Paso del Cedral. I even asked Carlos if he thought that it would be OK for us to stay there. He said that it was OK...so there we dived. There were big waves and not much visibility due to the water being stirred. We saw a big green moray eel and a huge spotted eagle ray. There were a couple of jumbo-sized lobsters just out walking around... brave as can be.
Yucab had less waves and better visibility. I am fascinated by those juvenile spotted drums and Yucab had a pair of them together. There were more splendid toadfish and a 6-foot nurse shark swimming nearby.
Saturday, March 3rd
I had a perfect morning on Las Palmas with Paula and Vitek. Paula was our critter finder and she showed us a lot of little goldentail moray eels. She dropped her weight pouch right in front of a pair of big octopi. I coaxed a splendid toadfish all the way out of its hiding hole. Vitek got some good shots, but I screwed up my photos by using the wrong viewfinder. We had some good laughs at my photos when I got them developed the next day.
We spent 30-minutes searching the algae beds at Paradise for a seahorse. Another divemaster dropped down right on top of us and it took him all of one minute to find the big yellow seahorse and point it out to us. I felt like an idiot. I did however swim around when Paula was low on air marking the territory so that I could find it again MYSELF! I used the last of my air and my whole roll of film taking pictures of the yellow seahorse. The pictures came out OK but not nearly as good as Vitek's.
Sunday, March 4th
Back to my favorite, Palancar Horseshoe with Paula, Vitek, James, Ken, Anita and Lorenzo. Anita pointed out the first turtle. It was up at the surface off in the distance. The second turtle was that little baby turtle that Carlos likes so much. Paula found two more stonefish. She is amazing.
On Colombia Shallows we saw tons of stuff including a turtle, a huge eagle ray that everyone with a camera took turns chasing and a pair of burrfish. Paula found those too.. of course.
Wednesday, March 7th
Laura, Megan, James, Lou, EJ, Jim, Matt and Jackson came with me to Palancar Gardens. We swam right up to a very large hawksbill turtle feeding on a sponge. A few angels hovered about waiting to have a go at that sponge when the turtle got out of the way. A huge crab clung to the reef under one of the archways that we swam through. Laura and I watched a southern stingray as we did our safety stop.
I had to find that little yellow seahorse on Paradise for Laura. After two sailfin blennies showed us their sails (Laura and I love blennies) we searched the algae beds for about 20 minutes. I was soooooo relieved that I was able to find the yellow seahorse myself that time. Laura would have spent the rest of the dive staring at it if I had let her.
Thursday, March 8th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with James, Lou, Laura, Megan, Jim, EJ, Matt and Jackson. It was Jackson's first dive on a wall. Both he and Lou were enthralled with the drop off and the deep blue abyss. They were very impressed.
There were tons of big lobsters on Chankanaab. EJ found a big crab. I showed Laura a lemon yellow colored blackhead blenny.
That afternoon I went to Yucab with James, Lou, Anita, Ken, Loren, Jen and Del. It was pretty late in the day and we wanted something shallow and easy for Jen's ears. We saw more big lobsters and a couple of turtles. The first turtle was sitting still for the cameras. The second was surfacing for a breath of fresh air. It then returned to the bottom for a closer viewing. Jen found the first spotted moray eel out in the open on the sand. I found a big, fat spotted moray just swimming about.
The last dive that day was on Tormentos. There were yet more lobsters and one very curious slipper lobster. A very hungry toadfish came 2/3 of the way out of its den and snapped at my toy. We came up when it started getting dark.
Friday, March 9th
James requested Colombia Deep. James, Anita, Ken, Lorenzo and Lou were my divers that day. After the first swim through we drifted over a pair of turtles in about 80 feet of water. Then we hung a right turn and went to see the two anchors from the 1800s shipwreck. After the anchors I took them through a beautiful cave. A few minutes later a spotted eagle ray appeared. At the safety stop we saw an immense turtle.
Then we went to Anita's favorite spot, Colombia Shallow. The usual schools of fish were abundant and a few very large lobsters were out strutting around...bold as can be.
I did a refresher for Steve and Anita that afternoon. James came along because he would never miss an opportunity to dive. We did the refresher on Paradise. I found loads of sailfin blennies but no seahorse. It was frustrating to say the least. A hermit crab walked right over the front door to a sailfin blenny's house and the little fish was so upset that it came all the way out of the hole and fluttered above its home. Two toadfish were partially out of the hole and we got a good look at them.
The fourth dive was on Las Palmas where there were a lot more splendid toadfish, one goldentail eel and one spotted moray. There was a coral head that had maybe 6 or 7 lobsters beneath it...waving their antennas at us as we passed them.
Saturday, March 10th
James picked French Reef and that was a good one for Kevin, Steve and Anita. A turtle floated overhead for a while and then joined us at the bottom.
Cindy joined us for a dive on Palancar Gardens. Kevin loved the dive so much he said that it was one of his all time favorites. At the end of the dive a huge green moray eel swam around below us in and out of the caves.
Sunday, March 11th
I took Joe and Andrew to see the towering coral formations at Palancar Horseshoe. We had beautiful conditions and we saw a squishy, soft, furry sea cucumber. I just love those things. Maybe I am nuts, but I like to pet them. They are like huge, soft caterpillars and they just cruise around in the sand. We did our safety stop with a southern stingray passing by us.
On Cedral Wall a small nurse shark (4 feet) zipped past us. I was so engrossed in watching it go by that I almost missed the other small nurse shark resting on the bottom right behind us. We also saw two hawksbill turtles. The first one swam right over Joe's head. The second one just sat on the bottom with its entourage of pretty angelfish while dining on a leathery sponge.
Monday, March 12th
I took Alex, Kris, Jake, Craig, Lisa, Steve and Anita to Palancar Gardens. The current was a little "loco" and pushing us just about every direction that it could. Thankfully, it was also mild, so it just meant that we had to do a little extra kicking that we normally don't have to do. Craig was quite impressed to have seen four turtles on that dive.
On Dalila the current was normal and heading northbound, as usual. The divers did their first real Cozumel drift dive. We drifted right over another turtle on the bottom.
That afternoon I dived on the beach at Paradise with Mike, Laura and Nikki. Nikki was getting certified. On her first dive we saw two spotted morays, tons of flamingo tongues, a lizardfish, a scorpion fish and two yellow stingrays.
Tuesday, March 13th
I spent all morning on the beach with Mike, Laura and Nikki. We completed confined water training dives 2 through 5 and also open water dives 2 and 3. Mike and Laura got credit for the internship part of their divemaster training. We saw lots of sail fin blennies while we searched the algae patch for a seahorse. After hours of searching and no more air...we came up empty handed.
At 3:30 pm we went over to the boat and met up with Steve, Anita, Craig, Jake, Kris and Alex. I had a little tantrum over the tank situation but got over it quickly. I found a couple of splendid toadfish for Craig and a bunch more sail fin blennies. After a good 20 minutes of searching that old algae patch I found an orange seahorse clinging to the base of an algae plant. I just left Mike and Laura there with the treasure. I told Laura to take her time and that I would see them back on the boat. We saw tons of goldentail morays and a huge spiny lobster out and about.
The night dive was definitely above average. Laura started us out on the right note by showing us a huge octopus. We saw three more during the rest of the dive. We saw a splendid toadfish completely out in the open and Mike got lots of pictures. We saw zillions of crabs, a few giant lobsters, more spotted eels than I could count too. There were 2 snake eels, 3 spanish lobsters and a big, huge squid.
Wednesday, March 14th
My first dive that day was on Palancar Gardens with Mike, Laura, Nikki, Kristin, Greg, Randy and Jarid. As we were coming around a big coral head on the drop off, a turtle swam right over the reef. A lobster hid in a hole at exactly 60 feet.
Mike picked Dalila for the second dive. Even though it was rush hour and there were hundreds of divers everywhere, we still had a fantastic dive. We saw the big 7-foot resident nurse shark which swam by at close range. A dinosaur-sized lobster was on a walk about. We floated over a turtle lunching on a leathery sponge. Two small nurse sharks hid in a small, dark crevice. They were probably trying to hide from all of the divers.
Thursday, March 15th
I went to Palancar Caves with Craig, Kris, Jake, Mike, Laura and Nikki. We saw the turtle with the deformed bit on the back right-hand side of its shell. It has moved a tad south from Horseshoe to Caves. I was seeing it last month over by the cement block on Horseshoe. I think we saw a total of three turtles over all.
Mike requested Colombia Shallow. We saw a humongous lobster out walking around and there were a few southern stingrays. Nikki enjoyed swimming through the schools of fish.
I did an afternoon dive on Paradise with Mike, Laura, Nikki, Brian and Rob. There were several goldentail eels and lots of snails big and small, in the sand. That means plenty of food for the spotted eagle rays.
Friday, March 16th
I did two training dives on Paradise with Craig, Don, Mike and Carolyn. We saw three different kinds of eels. We saw the common spotted moray and goldentail eels but I was really pleased to also see a chain eel. I haven't seen one of those in a long time. They are one of my very favorites. Carolyn spotted the big crab that lives in the cave. There are always lots of big rainbow parrotfish there too.
Saturday, March 17th
To complete Craig, Don, Carolyn and Mike's certification dives we went to Palancar Gardens first. We saw a sea turtle up close. It kind of followed us a bit and re-appeared after a few minutes. We also saw a little tiny baby turtle that went over the top of the reef and disappeared right before the first good cave. I found a juvenile spotted drum. I know just where to find it again next time.
We had good conditions and an easy dive on French Reef. We saw a huge snapper and a big black grouper.
Monday, March 19th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Wendy, Sandra, Chad, Elisa and Don. The current was wicked. As we descended, a weight pouch fell out of Don's BCD. I went over to get it and the current started pulling everyone out to the blue water. I had to fight to get everyone back to the reef. Once we were all down behind the coral that blocked the current...things got much better. After the dramatic start and quite a bit of swimming, we had an exciting dive. We spent some time with a hungry turtle and I found that little spotted drum again. Coming out of the last cave we swam up to a big green moray eel that just sat there while everyone took its picture.
The current was much calmer on Dalila. We saw several huge barracudas and another turtle.
Tuesday, March 20th
We did a couple of easy shallow dives. The first one was on Colombia Shallow with Tut, Rob, Bryan, Jen, Michelle, Steve and Jim. There was a huge lobster and a big crab waiting for us. The turtle that we saw was very friendly.
When the getting is good...I just keep going back for more you know. We went to Palancar Gardens where we saw a little baby turtle, a big barracuda, a couple of big groupers and a 6-foot long green moray eel.
Friday, March 23rd
Everyone loves Palancar Horseshoe. My divers were Tut, Chuck, Moni, Ron, Ryan and Clare. Pancho came along to help me since Ryan and Clare were working on getting certified and I didn't want to bore the other divers. Pancho showed everyone a turtle that went up to the surface to breathe and then it came back down again to re-join us. Tut burned up 500 psi chasing after a puffer fish to get a picture. Who would have thought that the puffer could swim so fast? Pancho pointed out a big crab. I discovered a big green turtle swimming over the reef just as we were heading up.
We went to Paradise because I promised Tut a seahorse. There was some current as we got in but as soon as we reached the algae patch the current was roaring. It was blowing so fast that the visibility was reduced by all of the particles that the current lifted off of the bottom and blew about. I just blew off the search for the seahorse and headed for the safety of the shallows. I think Pancho felt a little performance anxiety to find the seahorse and he just kicked hard against the current looking for a seahorse. We ended up getting separated. Chuck and Moni got winded and aborted the dive. The seahorse quest was shot to hell, but Tut had a good time anyway. He is used to those currents.
Saturday, March 24th
I went back to Palancar Gardens with Ian, Barbara, Stacie, Jody, Chuck, Moni and Andy. (They hadn't seen Palancar yet ) I swam through loads of swim throughs and archways. We saw a big green moray eel being followed by a couple of black groupers.
Tormentos produced a spotted moray eel and a big lobster.
I finished up Clare and Ryan's certification that afternoon. Ron, Mami and Andy joined us on Chankanaab. We saw another green moray eel that kinda swam up to me. It was enough to get me to put my hands behind my back……A huge spotted eagle ray glided by in the distance.
Their last certification dive was on Paradise where we had tons of crabs everywhere. A couple of splendid toadfish smiled at us too. I found a juvenile spotted drum. They must be in season. Ron was our Superman on that dive. He is the one who found the little yellow seahorse.
Sunday, March 25th
I took Tut, Stacie, Jody, Kirsty, Samantha and Dan to Palancar Horseshoe to see the towering coral formations. Tut showed us a turtle going up to the surface. We saw two crabs. One was dead and one was alive. The dead one was bigger. The girls screamed when I put the pinchers of the dead crab on my nose.
I took Tut to my best shark place, Cedral Wall. We got skunked! However, we did see four different turtles so we had a great dive anyway.
Monday, March 26th
It is a winner this month so I just keep going back to Palancar Gardens. Chuck, Moni, Dan, Kirsty, Samantha, Mitch and Dolores all came up smiling. We saw a little turtle swim downward and hide behind the reef. The juvenile spotted drum fluttered around in circles as always. A lobster big enough to feed everyone on the boat crawled around out in the open for us.
I wanted something easy for the second dive so I picked French Reef. We saw a southern stingray and a big hawksbill turtle swam right up to Dan. Another large lobster pranced around to show off for Moni since she hadn't seen many on the other days of diving.
I was late picking up Rob, Tina, John and Kevin that afternoon. We went to Chankanaab for lots and lots of lobsters and crabs. That place has the crabs in the afternoon. We saw another little black and white spotted drum and another big ray.
Paradise was my last stop where I poked at the sail fin blennies to make him display his "sail". We found two spotted morays, loads of crabs everywhere and just one lobster. When Rob came up he declared that place "Splendid toadfish heaven". I lost count of how many we saw.
Thursday, March 27th
It was time for a change...so I took Dan, Kirsty, Stacie, Jody, Mitch and Dolores to Santa Rosa Wall. We had a minor traffic jam as we reached the caves. We escaped the crowds by swimming over to the shallows where we were greeted by a small turtle and a lobster. The current was quite forgiving and we had a nice dive.
I found a baby nurse shark on Cedral Pass. It was in a cave and I frightened the poor thing out. A huge southern stingray loomed in the distance. There were schools of huge barracudas and they were too numerous to count. At the very end of the dive a large turtle sat contentedly nibbling on a sponge. Stacie practically had to push the angelfish out of the way to get a picture of its face. It was quite cooperative for the camera.
That night I took the same group to French Reef for a night dive. Tut joined us. I only saw three octopi. Some of the divers saw four. There were tons of big crabs, spiny lobsters and a slipper lobster too. We saw one spotted moray and we turned off our lights to check out the bioluminescence.
Wednesday, March 28th
I dived Dalila with Tut, Sam, Kirsty, Dan, Moni, Chuck, Stacie and Jody. My goal was to find a shark for Tut and Sam. Tut was King Neptune of the Sea when he found Al's big nurse shark just sitting there on the bottom. We parked and had a good look. Then we drifted over a pair of hawksbill turtles. One got up and swam away from us. The other one tolerated us. Kirsty and Sam saw a pair of southern stingrays. We also saw a big grouper, a huge barracuda and lots of puffer fish.
Once again I struck out on Paradise. Sorry Tut, no seahorse this trip AGAIN. But I saw a strange phenomenon. Near the big block there were thousands of tiny baby sea hares sliding over the sand. I haven't seen even one sea hare since Wilma but there were more babies there than I have ever seen. Tut got a picture of them and he better send me a copy!
Then I did a resort course at Paradise for Scott, Andy, Nate, Matt and Tom. Despite the current the boys all dived well. They looked like real certified divers! We found a spotted moray and a goldentail eel too.
Thursday, March 29th
Rob, Kevin, Tina, John, Heidi, Dan, Sam, Kirsty and I had one hell of a day! First we went to Colombia Deep where a turtle swam right by us and down to Raul. Since I had 8 divers and he only had 2 divers, Raul being the gentleman that he is, went over to the wall and left the anchor to us. Then, that lucky dog Raul saw a black tip and two other sharks that were not just nurse sharks. No fair! Everyone really loved the big turtle at the top of the reef when the dive was almost over.
We went looking for Jorge's finger on Cedral Wall. Instead we found seven turtles, three nurse sharks and a big green moray eel! It was a fantastic dive. I recognized the first nurse shark. It was the one that I call "Notchka" because she has a small half moon shaped "notch" in her dorsal fin. I am also sure that the last turtle that we saw was the same one that sat really still for Stacie the other day.
Friday, March 30th
Back to good old Palancar Gardens. When I get a good reaction out of the divers I just keep bringing them there! My happy campers were Chuck, Rob, Kevin, Tina, John and Heidi. We saw a few turtles, lots of juvenile spotted drums and a couple of southern stingrays.
The action started after Chuck surfaced. As we were looking at another turtle, Tina and I were joking around. Then her eyes got really big when the nurse shark swam up. This apparently bothered a hidden green moray eel, that appeared from below and we didn't know which one to look...as they were swimming in different directions. Talk about difficult decisions. Once they were both out of sight, I discovered another turtle sitting on the bottom. As I pointed out the turtle, someone else started pointing madly at a big spotted eagle ray. We had sensory overload.
We agreed to go back to Cedral Wall looking for Jorge's finger. Instead of a finger we found more turtles that I bothered to count and a couple of very photogenic green moray eels. We had a perfect day!
Saturday, March 31st
Jill, Bernie, Cedra, Mike, Scott, Derek and Debbie came diving with me to dive on Palancar Gardens. After going through all of the tunnels, we saw a big lobster strolling around on top of the reef. As we watched the lobster...a nice hawksbill turtle swam right up to the group.
Debbie was happy when I announced that we were going to Dalila. We saw several turtles. One sat still while continuing to eat chunks of sponge. We saw three nurse sharks on that dive. They just kept getting bigger and bigger with each arrival. The first shark was about 5 feet long and well hidden. The second one was at least 6 feet long and it was swimming. The final shark was Al's "big boy" and it doesn't make any effort to hide from us. It had a couple of remoras clinging to it.
Sunday, April 1st
I went to Palancar Caves with Kevin, John, Scott, Derek, Debbie, Dawn, Sam and Bill. We saw a couple of turtles coming out of one of the swim-throughs. I found a tiny little seahorse that looked just like the algae to which it was clinging.
Then we went to French Reef. There were lots more turtles and a bunch of big crabs.
Monday, April 2nd
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Scott, Debbie, Sam, Dawn, Bill, Joseph and Frank. We all saw a couple of turtles. I showed them a soft, squishy sea cucumber. I think that they are so cute!
On Paso del Cedral there were lots and lots of barracudas and large groupers. We saw more crabs and a few lobsters.
That afternoon I took Bob, Tom, Linda and Laura to Palancar Shallows. There were two big southern stingrays that swam right past the ladies. Everyone took pictures. We stayed very shallow and worked on preparation for the skills of certification.
I did a fourth dive that day on the same spot, Palancar Shallows. I swam with Tom and Laura over to see the drop off.
Tuesday, April 3rd
I went to San Francisco Wall with Sam, Dawn, Bill, Joseph, Frank, Kristen and Brian. Sadly I found a big green moray eel that had been badly injured. About 3 or 4 inches of its lower jaw had been torn off and was dangling to one side. It was very upsetting to me and I decided not to point it out to the other divers. I don't know if that could have been a result of a fight with another eel or if a poacher had accidentally hooked the eel and it broke away. I am worried that the poor eel will not be able to survive if it cannot hunt.
I rarely go to Punta Tunich. That is one of Sam and Dawn's favorites...so we went there. Boy, did we get our exercise on that dive! For most of the dive the current was pushing us out to sea towards the deep blue water. We had to kick constantly just to stay on the reef.
We saw a beautiful healthy green moray eel and a turtle hiding in a large crevice to get out of the current. When Sam and Dawn were finishing their dive, I decided to stop kicking against the current and just float to let them see where the current took us. They were both impressed. The current took us out to sea for our safety stop and we floated over the blue abyss. We could not see anything around us except blue. The bottom was hundreds of feet beneath us.
I finished up Tom, Laura and Linda's certification on Palancar Shallows again. We saw a small lobster and a school of horse-eyed jacks. Tom was curious about going deeper so I swam him through a cave at 60-feet and he loved it. Thankfully, there was no current that afternoon.
Wednesday, April 4th
I tried to dive the C 53 wreck with Scott, Derek, Debbie, Sam, Dawn, Bill, Tom and Kevin but the current was too strong. We decided to go next door to Bolones de Chankanaab instead. The current there was pushing hard out to sea. Everyone dropped straight down to the bottom 70-feet below and held on. After a short rest, we all crawled over to the reef that offered a lot of protection from the current. We had a great dive.
We found Scott's big spotted eagle ray that was feeding in the sand. When it noticed us, the ray did a U-turn and swam in front of us...before it simply took off. We saw two giant lobsters just strolling about, a Peterson's cleaner shrimp and a spotted moray eel.
Dawn and I love seahorses, so we went to Paradise. Scott found a fat pregnant male. It was kind of brownish orange. Usually they are found in pairs when one is pregnant...so we started looking for the female. I found a smaller one the exact same color only 30-feet away. But then, Dawn found the big yellow seahorse nearby...so I don't know which one is the mother. I wonder if seahorses can have more than one mate? Three seahorses on one dive was a record for me! We also saw a few splendid toadfish, a barracuda, lots of sail fin blennies and a pike blenny.
Thursday, April 5th
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Scott, Derek, Debbie, Dawn, Sam, Bill, Kevin and Megan. We didn't see any turtles until the very end of the dive. When we finally did see turtles, we saw lots of them! One came up to the surface right next to us while we did our safety stop.
Dive two was on Cedral Wall. After 40-minutes we crossed over to Santa Rosa Shallow where we were greeted by more turtles. One sat very still, put a flipper around a gorgonian to hold on and feasted on a sponge. Beautiful angelfish surrounded it snapping up bits of sponge that fell out of the turtle's mouth.
Friday, April 6th
We had west wind that day which made for some seriously choppy seas. Dawn, Sam, Bill, Brad, Amy, Joseph and Frank were my divers. We had big waves and I had a short temper, so we went to Chankanaab. Underwater we had very calm conditions. We encountered a black grouper that had a snapper inside of its mouth. It looked like the snapper was too big for the grouper to swallow and it got stuck. The snapper was still alive and moving its mouth. That was weird. We saw lots of lobsters and a couple of crabs.
Surprise, we went to Paradise! Dawn found her big yellow seahorse again and made Amy's day. We also saw a splendid toadfish, a dinosaur sized lobster and a pipefish. Brad had to look really hard to see the big stonefish camouflaged on the bottom.
Saturday, April 7th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Brad, Amy, Tom, Frank and Joseph. Brad kept pointing out turtles for us. He also showed us a crab. We had beautiful conditions and a perfect dive.
Amy requested French Reef for the next dive. It was a great choice. We saw a huge crab with immense claws just crawling around on top of the reef. Amy found a small turtle perched on the reef having lunch. Next, a very, very big nurse shark with two remoras stuck to its face swam right up to us and then took off. When we came up, the first words out of Amy's mouth were, "That was crazy! I could see all of its muscles moving as it swam!" She was very pleased and excited.
Sunday, April 8th
My first tank that day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Tom, David, Holly, Kent and Bill. We saw a couple of different turtles. A green turtle was hanging out in about 5-feet of water, snapping up thimble jellyfish.
My second tank was on Colombia Shallows, where we saw plenty more turtles. Kent found a huge lobster. Bill says that it was the size of a beagle. Tom said that he had never seen a lobster so large. Kent also showed us a big green moray eel.
Thursday, April 10th
I did a nice, easy shallow dive on Chankanaab with Holly, Kent, Chris, Bill and Meagan. We saw tons of lobsters and a hidden crab. Meagan liked viewing the big schools of fish best of all.
That afternoon I picked up Debbie, Craig and Jay. They brought lots of snorkelers with them. We all went to Palancar Gardens, since Palancar Gardens is good for both snorkeling and diving. Debbie swam right over the first turtle that was hiding in a hole in the reef. The second turtle was smaller and impossible to miss. It went to the surface to breathe for a minute or two and then swam back down right in front of Craig and Debbie's faces. It has absolutely no fear of us what so ever. It almost seemed to want to be noticed.
Wednesday, April 11th
I did two dives on Paradise to start Eric and Sue's Open Water referral. On the first dive we saw lots of big crabs, a southern stingray swimming by, a spotted moray and a large school of big eyed scads.
On the second dive we went looking for the seahorse but only found a jellyfish. (ouch !) A rather large gray ray was resting in a coral cave.
Thursday, April 12th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Ted, Jeannie, Bill, Stacy, Steve and Christine. Bill led the way. My little spotted drum was well hidden deep in the crevice. We saw a big lobster at the end of the dive.
A turtle was off in the distance on Dalila. Steve saw a shark, but I missed seeing it. Everyone loved the huge spotted eagle ray that glided past us.
I finished up Eric and Sue's certification on Paradise. The first tank we did was close to shore. We saw lots of big crabs and a small lobster. We also saw a few eels, mostly golden tails and one big spotted moray.
I took Eric and Sue over to the reef at Paradise for the final certification dive. There were several different splendid toadfish and a few big rainbow parrotfish. Sue found the big yellow seahorse. We spent a good five minutes enjoying its company.
Friday, April 13th
I don't know why I chose San Francisco Wall on Friday the 13th. We actually got lucky with the ocean conditions that day. My divers were Ted, Jeannie, John, John, David, Pat, Sharon and Christine. One of the Johns pointed out "Notchka" the small nurse shark. I named her after a character in a book. Notchka has a small "notch" carved out of her dorsal fin that makes her very easy to identify.
I had no luck finding the seahorses on Paradise that day. I did play the old rubber seahorse trick on poor Sharon. As I was nearing the end of the first section of the reef, I hung my big red rubber seahorse on a purple rope sponge. Then I sat down in the sand to watch the show. It was Sharon who happened upon the imposter and she was quite enthusiastic in pointing it out. I pretended not to know what she was pointing at and she started getting suspicious. I called everyone over to watch too. ( I am sooo terrible ) When everyone was paying attention I snatched it up and stuck it in my mouth. Sharon went into hysterics with laughter. She was laughing so hard her mask filled up with water. That was the best part of the dive. We did see a bunch of squid in the algae patch but no living, breathing seahorse.
Saturday, April 14th
My first dive was on Palancar Gardens with David, Pat, Christine, Sharon, Ted, Jeannie and Stacy. The biggest turtle in the world swooped down upon me from on top of the reef. It was headed straight toward me. I wondered if it wanted to check me out, mate with me, or just take a big bite…… At the moment that I was thinking that perhaps I should worry, it veered off and disappeared over the top of the reef. My eyes must have looked like a new diver's seeing a turtle for the first time. I am not kidding! It was the biggest turtle that I have ever seen. It was a male loggerhead.
Dalila produced a bunch of mega barracudas that were definitely not shy. Christine was pointing out a small two-footer and I smiled because I could see the big daddy off in the distance. When that monster came over and smiled at her, I wondered what she thought. I also found a couple of hungry splendid toadfish. I tortured them with my little lure.
That night I dived Chankanaab with Ted, Jeannie, David, Sharon, Pat and Christine. I only saw one small lobster. There were tons of crabs and we saw a gold spotted eel. The highlights of the dive were the bioluminescence and the Caribbean reef shark that started to swim away, doubled back at us and then changed its mind and left. I wonder if the shark was attracted by our lights.
Sunday, April 15th
I took Ted, Jeannie, David and Sharon to Yucab. The first turtle was kind of small and it was eating a sponge. Then as Sharon was staring at a barracuda, a medium-sized nurse shark swam past us. Later we saw another pair of turtles, one within about 100 feet of the second turtle.
We had a motor fail and an impending storm so I insisted on diving Paradise again. I wanted to be right in front of the marina, just in case. We saw two huge rainbow parrotfish, a couple of splendid toadfish and various golden tail moray eels. After about 45 to 50 minutes it started getting dark. I got nervous and called the dive. I didn't want to get caught in the storm. It got really windy by the time we pulled into the marina.
Monday, April 16th
For a change of pace I brought Mike, Laura, Ted and Jeannie to Santa Rosa Wall. We had almost no current at all. Mike showed us a huge spotted eagle ray gliding through the blue beneath us.
We all did a night dive on Tormentos. The colors of the reef were beautiful. The reds and oranges really stood out. Mike found crabs and lobsters. He also pointed out a spotted moray and a baby octopus. Overall, there wasn't much going on there compared to diving on Paradise at night.
Tuesday, April 17th
Mike, Laura, Ted, Jeannie, Brian and Steve accompanied me to Palancar Horseshoe. It was very unusual to see a big nurse shark cruising beneath us at a fast pace. We also saw a turtle that Laura correctly identified as a hawksbill.
Cedral Wall showed us five hawksbill turtles. Most were sleeping on the bottom and we awaken the poor things. The second turtle was huge and it was a male. It took its time swimming away. As Laura, Steve and I were ascending, I looked down and discovered a large green moray eel hunting a black grouper below us. She was just beautiful to watch.
I did a shore dive with Mike and Laura that afternoon so that they could finish up their dive master certifications. They completed the rescue evaluation, the stress test and the mapping project.
Wednesday, April 18th
My morning divers were Mike, Laura, Kathy, Patti and Dave. We saw tons of turtles on the Gardens. Laura was a good girl and resisted the temptation to reach out and pet the turtles as they swam up to her and/or past her. We also saw a stingray, a spotted drum, a nurse shark and a huge crab.
Then we did an easy dive on French Reef where we saw big turtles and little turtles. Two lobsters were out crawling around on top of the reef.
I did a resort course for Mark and Linda that afternoon at Paradise. We saw one spotted moray and a big crab.
Thursday, April 19th
We had perfect conditions on Punta Sur with Mike, Laura, Kathy and Patti. The first turtle that we saw was hidden in a cubbyhole and taking a snooze. I took a picture of it but the picture didn't come out. The third turtle would not pose with Laura. I chased it around a bit trying to get it to go over to Laura but the darned thing was completely uncooperative.
Laura came up from the second dive, which was on Paradise, exclaiming that it was the best dive ever! Laura has over 100 dives with me and she liked that one the absolute best. It was because we found four seahorses. That is a NEW record for me. They were all the yellowish/greenish colored ones. We didn't see any orange or brown ones. The first two seahorses were found by other divemasters. Mike found the third one and I found the fourth one. I also found a red-lipped blenny, a pike blenny and a few sail fin blennies.
Friday, April 20th
I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Patti, Kathy, Mark, Linda, Dave, Steve and Mike. We saw crabs and found a big green moray eel. Patti thought the huge snapper looked angry. It certainly had some impressive teeth on it. Kathy also found a little golden tail eel..
We swam around Colombia Shallows admiring the big schools of fish and the sand dollars that were scattered all over the bottom. We saw a big black grouper under a ledge and more crabs.
Saturday, April 21st
My first stop was on Palancar Caves with Patti, Kathy, Mike, Steve, Troy and Marianne. We swam through the reef and I told Marianne that it is like Swiss cheese down there. All of the sponges were smoking or producing that white stuff that looks like wet Wonder Bread. When we got back on the boat Patti had fun asking Kathy if she knew that we were swimming around in sponge sperm.
On Dalila, Patti went after an eagle ray in the distance. During our safety stop I was glad that Patti was wearing her tank-banger. My head was turned and I never saw the pair of spotted eagle rays that she discovered. They were feeding in the sand. The two rays promptly joined by a pretty green turtle. What a great way to make a safety stop!
Sunday, April 22nd
We went back to Palancar Horseshoe because Chad and Ali didn't get to see it last time they were in Cozumel. Patti, Kathy, Steve and Mike didn't mind going back either. As soon as we got down, we spotted Patti's friend...the huge snapper with those big, pointy teeth and the white scratch on its head. Since Andrew wasn't diving with us this week I think that Patti's new boyfriend is that big snapper. It likes her. We saw a pair of turtles together but as soon as we got close the little one took off. Later, a different turtle got so close to Patti that it startled her.
Cedral Wall was like watching a turtle parade. We counted seven turtles in total. The first one was that large male hawksbill from the other day. All the remainder were females. (Lucky boy turtle…..) They were all big. Kathy said that the green moray eel seemed to come out at Patti but I don't believe that. We also saw a few big groupers.
Greg and Suzanne came with me to Paradise that afternoon to work on Greg's certification. On the first dive we ran into Roberto down below and I decided to follow him around. We saw two seahorses. One was yellow and the other was that brownish/orange pregnant one. Roberto showed me a sail fin blenny that was white and gray. I have never seen the white and gray ones display their sails. It is only the black ones that I have seen do that.
On the second dive Suzanne found a big lobster with a spotted moray hiding behind it. A tiny juvenile spotted drum fluttered around in front of the lobster. We found another seahorse. It was bigger that the first two and it was sort of dark greenish yellow.
Monday, April 23rd
I took Chad, Ali, Patti, Kathy, Suzanne and Greg to San Francisco Wall. There were several golden tail morays and few good-sized groupers. At the end of the dive, we found a huge snapper for Patti. A large puffer swam below her on the safety stop and she was tempted to go back down and take a picture of it.
There were schools of humans in front of us and behind us that morning on Tormentos. My group did a great job of staying together and not getting mixed up with the other groups. We saw a turtle that swam right towards us and we also saw a little spotted drum.
Tuesday, April 24th
I dived at Palancar Caves with Chad, Ali, Suzanne and Greg. We found three turtles for Suzanne, and we also swam through all of the pretty caves. There were a lot of other dive groups again down below. We dived on Cedral Wall in search of more turtles for Suzanne. Carlos dropped us off right on top of a big one. We saw a few more turtles throughout the dive. Chad found a small one near the end of the dive. We all stopped for a good look.
Wednesday, April 25th
We had a bit of current on Santa Rosa Wall that morning with Chad, Ali, Troy, Marianne, Suzanne, Greg, Jeanette and Jill. The current was swift but we had a good dive. We spotted a huge lobster on top of the coral out and walking around just as we got to the bottom. There was a big spotted eel behind a black grouper, a southern stingray and a huge barracuda.
Next we went to French Reef and saw tons of good critters. The first was a big green moray eel. Then a medium-sized nurse shark swam by us. Chad found a turtle and I found another green moray eel.
That afternoon I went to Palancar Gardens with Pat, Frank, Debbie, Dustin, Bridger and Brandy. We had light current and everyone chased the big stingray at the end of the dive in the shallow sandy area.
On Chankanaab we saw tons of crabs and lobsters. We also saw a golden tail eel, a spotted moray and a one more southern stingray.
Thursday, April 26th
We went back to French Reef by popular demand with Suzanne, Greg, Chad, Ali, Ken, Judy, Troy and Marianne. We saw a couple of turtles and a ton of fish. I made Chad laugh and his mask filled up with water. Troy got a picture of the big crab. There was a bit of current on Dalila and poor Judy spent most of the dive swimming against it. It was a big surprise to see her finish her air before me. She almost always has at least as much air as I do if not more.
Friday, April 27th
I went to Palancar Gardens again because Ken and Judy just love that reef. Suzanne, Greg, Jill and Jeanette all dived deeper with me, while Ken and Judy stayed shallow with all of the angelfish. We saw a turtle well hidden under a ledge and on the side of a towering coral formation. It was contentedly eating its breakfast and let us all have a good look at it. Jill found a nurse shark lying on the bottom.
We waited until the other group of divers swam right past it and then we moved in for a " looksy. "
Our divers decided on Paradise for the next dive. Another divemaster from a different group found the yellow seahorse for us. Jill found a very interesting little octopus with really long tentacles. I think that I have seen one like it before, but it has been years. It is similar to a pygmy octopus (but just a tad different.)
Samantha, Jon, Tiffany and Neil got on and we went to Palancar Caves. We had a great dive and saw lots of marine life including three turtles and a nurse shark. The conditions were fantastic. Next, we were off to Cedral Wall in search of more turtles for Samantha. She found her very own turtle out and over the wall. We all had to kick against the current to stay with it.
Saturday, April 28th
We went back to Palancar Gardens but a section further north with Ken, Judy, Eric, Angie, Jill and Jeanette. As we were coming out of one of the many tunnels, Eric saw a spotted eagle ray. I completely missed it.
On the safety stop with Ken and Judy we saw a graceful 5-foot green moray eel undulating against the current. It is amazing to watch them swimming so easily in that current.
At San Francisco Wall I was poking my head under all of the ledges looking for interesting creatures and was startled to see a big mouth full of long pointy teeth smiling out at me. It was a big dog snapper and his choppers were very impressive. There is a reason why they call them dog snappers. It must have been almost 4-feet long too.
We also saw lots of lobsters and some baby peacock flounders flitting around in the sand. I did a couple of afternoon dives with Samantha, Jon, Tiffany and Neil. The first one was on Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a couple of big groupers. The current was kinda strong.
The next dive, we had a much more relaxing time on French Reef where, upon arrival, we were greeted by a Caribbean reef shark. I tried to keep up with it but it was just too fast for me. Even when it was swimming at a relaxed pace, it surely could move. We saw a bunch of turtles, which is what Sam loves. She also found a spotted moray..
Sunday, April 29th *** MY BIRTHDAY ***
I took Ken, Judy, Troy, Marianne, Angie and Eric to Colombia Deep but we didn't go deep at all. In fact, I didn't bother to check the current before we all rolled in the water. The current was going the opposite direction of normal. The current was so mild that I decided that we could swim against it. Ken made fun of me when we got back on the boat. He said he thought that it was funny that all of the other dive groups were swimming the other direction. No harm done, since the current was extremely mild anyway. Makes a good story, however.
Then I took them to Ken and Judy's favorite reef, Colombia Shallow. Marianne had fun swimming through the big schools of fish. I found a spotted scorpion fish camouflaged on the reef. We watched a big school of blue tang feed on algae.
Later in the dive I found a large green moray in a hole.
Monday, April 30th
There was some grumbling on the boat about how much sand was on Tormentos. My divers were Ron, Kathy, Ken, Judy, Eric and Angie. We saw several lobsters, a couple of spotted morays and I found a red-lipped blenny! If the red-lipped blennies are territorial and stay in the same area, I know that I can find him again next time. I remember where I saw them. I just love those little guys. They are very elusive.
Fortunately there wasn't much current on Las Palmas and we could take our time and look at the little stuff instead of flying by it. We saw zillions of small eels, three splendid toadfish and a small hawksbill turtle. There were lots of spotted drums too.
Tuesday, May 1st
My first tank of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Ken, Judy, Ron, Kathy, Angie and Eric. Everyone was very pleased with that dive. Aside from the gorgeous coral formations we were treated to a spotted eagle ray, a couple of turtles and a big crab. Judy showed Ken and me a pair of spectacular juvenile spotted drums. There were a couple of big groupers on Dalila, a big snapper and tons of colorful fish.
Saturday, May 10th
Stupid, crazy me! Now why would I want to dive on my vacation?????? For that matter, in the arctic waters of Monterey Bay, California? Everyone always asks me where I go on vacation. Well there you have it. California..... My friend Paula rented a dry suit for me. It turned out to be way too small. Paula, Vitek, Leigh and Kyle took me on a shore dive at Lover's Cove in Monterey Bay. The dry suit was so tight over the new warmies that Paula bought me plus my favorite sweat shirt, that Vitek had a hard time zipping up the back of my suit! Once I got in the water Paula and I worked together as a buddy team to get our gloves, mask and fins on. Once that mission was accomplished we started swimming out to Vitek who was leading the dive. He was half way to the dive site on the surface. My heart was pounding hard and my breathing was labored. My feet floated up and I had a hard time keeping them in the water to kick. I should have used some ankle weights in that dry suit. I swear I felt like a beginner diver! Well, I know what to do when feeling overexerted because I tell people all of the time what to do :-) One needs to stop, rest and get the breathing under control, then move on at a slower pace. So I told Paula what was going on with me and she stopped and waited with me. She is such a good friend.
After my heart stopped pounding and I felt that I could breath again I asked myself honestly, "Am I nervous about this dive?" . The answer was ABSOLUTELY NOT! So what was my problem? Vitek looked back and shouted at me, "Hey, are you waiting for Carlos to come and get you? Because if you are, he isn't coming!" Ha ha ha!!!!!!!! So we all laughed and I started out again away from shore. I didn't get far before I started to breath heavy again and my heart rate was out of control. I stopped, rested and thought about it for a minute. Then I announced that I was getting out of the water! I told everyone to go have a good time and that I would see them when they came out. It took me a really, really long time to get back to shore because I kept having to stop and rest a lot on the way in. Hiking up the sandy beach and up 4 flights of stairs in a too tight dry suit and 35 pounds of weight (not to mention the steel tank) made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack. Once I got my tank and belt off I asked a passing diver to please unzip my drysuit. I was just dying to get out of it. As soon as she unzipped it I could feel my rib cage and thorax just pop out into place. As soon as the suit was off I could breath and my heart rate went back to normal immediately. Whew!! What a relief. Duh. I was squeezing myself to death.
That afternoon I went to the local dive shop and rented a wetsuit that fit. I rented a 7mm farmer jane, 7mm jacket and a 7mm hooded vest. That makes 21mm of neoprene around my middle. That should do the job, right? I knew that I would probably freeze my ass off the following day on the boat dives in a wetsuit anyway but I was very determined to dive.
Sunday, May 11th
I did a boat dive in Monterrey Bay with Paula and Vitek. So I suited up in my rental wetsuit and jumped in. As soon as I began my descent the icy water (48 degrees) actually hurt my face and the exposed part of my forehead. The cold and pain were shocking and disorienting so I just willed myself to wait it out. I knew that I would "get used to it". In a couple of minutes sure enough, it stopped hurting and I just felt a bit cold so I "warmed my wetsuit" :-) Boy, what a relief. At that point I figured that I was over the hard part and I would do just fine. We had huge swells at the surface that caused surge down 40 or 50 feet. The anchor line was yanked out of our hands with each passing wave but I was grateful for the 30 + feet of visibility that we had that day. When we got to the bottom Vitek took a compass bearing and led the tour towards the shallow water. Paula and I followed. We saw beautiful anemones and brightly colored bat stars. There wasn't much kelp. The reef was composed of huge boulders sloping down at an angle. About 25 minutes into the dive I decided that I couldn't take the cold anymore and I signaled to Vitek that I was going up. Paula said that she wanted to go with me so up we went. The safety stop felt like an eternity. Up on the boat my hands and feet were completely numb and I had to ask the divemaster for help to get my gloves off. The boat has a hot water hose which I used to douse my hands and get the dexterity back. They were completely white which happens to me when I get cold. Then I put lots of warm water in my booties and waited for the sensation to come back to my feet. They started to recover but promptly went numb again so I decided that it would be a good idea to take off my booties, wrap my feet in a towel and sit in the sun. When I took off the booties and rolled up my wetsuit I was startled. The bottom of my feet were completely white. My ankles were swollen to the size of small cantelopes and there were 2 to 3 inch crimson and deep purple bruises surrounding my ankles and on my heels. It was quite un-nerving. Vitek didn't seem impressed but Paula looked worried. I had no idea what had caused that and I didn't want to take any chances so I decided not to make the second dive. Shit.
When I got up Monday morning at Sylvie's house I called DAN. The guy on the phone told me not to worry about it. He said that when our bodies get cold the blood vessels in the extremities shut down forcing the blood to protect the vital organs. This caused a big back up at the ankles and the blood vessels just popped. That would explain the bruising. He said that the swelling should go down soon and he told me that I could fly in an airplane that night.
After the flight from Sacramento to Houston my ankles really swole up again and so did my calves. I slept with my feet elevated that night and now my feet and ankles look normal again.
Moral of the story: Never be afraid to abort a dive if things are just not right :-)
Friday, May 18th
I wasn’t really working when I went to Paradise with Chucho and the Hawes family. I just got in with my camera with the intention of taking pictures of the seahorse. I got shots of squid, sail fin blennies, and a hermit crab but no seahorse. I searched and searched with total determination for an hour and 25 minutes before I gave up. We got low on air. Oh well………
Sunday, May 27th
I attended Nick Fittipaldi’s memorial service on Paso Del Cedral. All of the Dive Palancar boats were there with all of the staff. Also aboard were Nick’s close family members and dearest friends. It was very sad to watch Donna, his daughter, cast his ashes into the sea. She had a very hard time letting go of her daddy. We all got in and dived with Nick. Nick’s best friend had found a large, flat stone and carved Nick’s name in the stone. He placed it on the platform at Cedral in memory of Nick. I am sure that Nick is honored. We all miss him sorely, but it is reassuring to know that he is now diving with us for eternity.
Later that morning I went back to work officially. I chose my easy place on Palancar for Mom, Craig, John and Audra. Conditions were calm. At the end of our dive a small turtle swam right up to my Mom and said hello.
Then for an encore performance of the relaxing dive we went to French Reef where there was no current. At the beginning of our dive we saw another turtle on its way up to the surface for a breath of fresh air. We saw groupers, a big snapper and a huge rainbow parrot fish. I found lots of tiny iridescent nudibranch in the sand.
Monday, May 28th
This day I did four dives starting with Palancar Gardens with Mom, Wendell, John, Audra, Craig and Susan. Wendell was a bit frustrated that someone had stolen his brand new digital camera out of his suitcase but he was determined not to let it ruin his trip. But when that turtle just sat there perched on the reef chomping away on something Wendell must have been fuming. My little juvenile spotted drum is almost to the intermediate stage now. We saw a southern stingray at the end of the dive.
There was no current on Dalila. Now that is really strange…….. We saw another turtle go up to the surface to breathe and then come back down again to join us. Two very large black groupers made an appearance.
In the early afternoon I headed out to Palancar again to work on some certifications with Keena and Michael. Chucho, Greg, David, Lindsay, Jessica and Pat came along too. The current was absolutely wild! My divers did great in that crazy current and made me proud. We saw so many turtles on that dive that I lost count.
Usually when the current is horrible in the south it is quite calm in the north so we went to Paradise. It was a nice, easy dive, thank goodness. Without much current, we saw a big school of fish called big-eyed scads. There were so many of them that they formed a circular wall all around us. It is one of the most amazing things that you can experience while diving. We hung out in their school for a good 10 minutes. Keena found a couple of eels and I did too. We also saw tons of big crabs, enough to open a restaurant. Michael’s favorite part of the dive was the tiny little octopus that I found that later disappeared into a dark hole.
Tuesday, May 29th
I did another four-dive day starting on Palancar Caves with Mom, Craig, Wendell, Chris and Stephanie. The current was clipping right along and going the opposite direction of normal. The dive was not exactly easy but it was a pleasant one and we saw a few turtles.
We enjoyed less current on French Reef and we had a better dive. There were more turtles than we could count. Chris took a great picture of Mom with a turtle. We also found a splendid toadfish and a southern stingray.
Dive number three was on French Reef again hoping for the same good conditions with Keena, Michael, Greg, David, Lindsay, Jessica and Pat. Instead, we got fast current. However, it was still a good dive. The troupers were getting used to the current by then. The biggest turtle in Cozumel swam right up to Gary and almost pushed him out of the way as Gary fumbled trying to get to his camera. A big lobster tempted us too.
Then we were off to Tormentos to see a big splendid toadfish and a fat moray eel. There were yet more lobsters and Pat chased a big black grouper, but couldn’t catch it.
Wednesday, May 30th
My first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Mom, Craig, Chris, Stephanie, Julie and Dave. On the way out I asked every dive master that I encountered how the current was and where I should go. Everyone recommended the Gardens. Craig said that it was the best dive yet. We didn’t have a lot of current and we went through all of the tunnels and archways. I showed everyone my spotted drum.
My second tank was on Paso Del Cedral. I wanted to show Mom Nick’s memorial stone. Thankfully, we had light current and Mom got to stop and pay her respects. We saw huge barracudas on that dive.
Thursday, May 31st
I tried to go to Santa Rosa but the current was just too strong. So I took Pat, Gary, Keena, Miguel, Jessica, Chris and Stephanie to Yucab instead. I was more interested in a safe and easy dive than a struggle. We had some nice, normal current and we got to see a big 7-foot nurse shark and two turtles, so everyone was pleased.
Chankanaab had almost no current at all and we saw tons of fish. Everyone loves that big school of fish at the beginning of the dive. We saw a dinner-size crab too.
Friday, June 1st
As long as the currents are wild I just keep going back to Palancar Gardens because it offers good protection from the currents. Luke, Serge, Sterling, Robin and Sam had not been to Gardens yet so it was the perfect choice. Mom came too but she doesn’t mind going back to the same place twice. Anyway, we had a wonderful dive with just enough drift so that we didn’t have to kick, but not enough current to be difficult. It was Cozumel drift diving at it’s finest. A big, old loggerhead turtle with barnacles growing on its back swam slowly right up to us. We also saw a small hawksbill turtle at the end of the dive.
We went back to good old French Reef where we saw a big green moray eel completely out in the open. We also saw another turtle there. The diving conditions were excellent. That is why I chose that site again.
Sunday, June 3rd
I dived Chankanaab Bolones with Serge and Luke. We had perfect conditions on that dive. I got to thinking that maybe those wild currents were caused by a combination of the full moon, low tide and tropical storm Barry to the north of us. Is it possible that Barry sucked all of the water up northward to the Gulf of Mexico where it was swirling around? Anyway, I am very grateful for the lovely diving conditions again. I had been taking the easy dives for granted for so long. On Bolones we saw a few lobsters and a grouper at a cleaning station.
The second dive was on Chankanaab Shallow. I told Luke that he had really good karma because he had told me during the surface interval that he wanted to see a shark and we found a big one on the bottom under a ledge. I haven’t seen a big nurse shark on Chankanaab for years. I have seen little Caribbean reef sharks there, but no big nurse sharks. We also saw a jumbo-sized lobster on that dive.
Monday, June 4th
Paul, Debbie, Danny, Jason, Danielle, Jim and James came with me to Palancar Horseshoe. Fortunately the current was still mild and we had a nice, easy dive.
Debbie requested a seahorse so off to Paradise we went. I proudly found the big yellow one. Everyone took pictures of it. A big barracuda swam right through our group and made some divers nervous. We followed three rainbow parrotfish as they did what all rainbow parrotfish do.
Tuesday, June 5th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Chucho, Joe, Blake, Laura, Mike and Joe since they had not been there yet. We saw three turtles, all within a few feet of each other. The baby turtle bumped into the big turtle while trying to swim away from our group of divers.
We were so lucky to have mild current on Colombia Shallow. While we were driving home after the dives, Carlos pointed out the wicked current on the usually calm French Reef. That is where I had been diving all the last week to try and avoid strong currents. It looked simply HORRIBLE at French Reef and I felt so lucky to have just had an easy dive!
At the end of the day I took Mike and Laura on a private seahorse hunt on Paradise. Laura found the first one well hidden under two large algae plants. It was kind of brownish orange and blended in well. I have no earthly idea how she spotted it. I found my big yellow seahorse buddy in its usual spot. Mike took loads of pictures and will be bringing me a CD of them.
Wednesday, June 6th
In the morning Mike, Laura, Joe, Joe and Blake accompanied me to Palancar Horseshoe. Thankfully the current was perfectly normal. We had a great dive. During the last minutes of the dive Laura discovered a turtle and swam off after it.
On Dalila we found a big green moray eel in a dark cave. Blake had no second thoughts about following my example and sticking his head and shoulders in the cave for a better look.
A visit to Paso Del Cedral was Laura’s idea. She says that we always find good critters there. We visited Nick’s stone. We saw a toadfish and a big nurse shark that swam around us. Laura found two green moray eels. I swam right past the first one and never even saw it. I still don’t know how she found the both of them. She must have been looking hard into every hole we passed. Right before we ascended, a medium sized turtle stood on its tippy toes to poke its head into a sponge. Five angelfish swarmed around it feeding on the sponge that the turtle opened up for them.
Thursday, June 7th
Once again I intended to dive Santa Rosa Wall. When Mike, Laura, Joe, Joe, Blake and I got in the current was slow and northbound. I had interviewed another boat captain that was finishing the dive and he assured us that the current was light. It was light indeed and after 10 minutes it started pushing out towards the channel. That was OK because the reef protected us. But after a few more minutes the direction switched and the current was lightly to the south. Mike agreed with me that we should change directions, so we ended up diving Cedral Wall instead. We swam up to a pair of hawksbill turtles huddled together in a feeding frenzy along with a group of angelfish. One scurried off upon our approach, but the other stayed with us and put up with the cameras. We kept seeing more turtles throughout the rest of the dive but I suspect that they were actually just the same two turtles moving about.
As I got in to check the current on Paso Del Cedral I spotted a large turtle just sitting on the bottom. The current was about 3 knots and Mike could not get down fast enough to get a shot of it. The current slowed down to next to nothing after about 10 minutes. When Joe got low on air I stayed with him until Carlos came to pick him up. The visibility had diminished to about 40 feet at that point and I could not find the group again. Mike, my newly certified divemaster came to the rescue and rounded everyone up for a safety stop. Then he got sneaky and stole Paul’s safety sausage and blew it up to signal Carlos. The changing current was making it hard for Carlos to follow us and it created a bit of stress.
Friday, June 8th
Yippee! I had an easy dive on the C53 wreck with Paul, Joe, Bernardo and Mirila. The current was mild and a big lobster waggled its antennas at us from under the wreck. Paul took pictures of everyone looking out of the porthole in the wheelhouse. Paul said that the current that day was probably the best that it had been on all of his dives at the wreck.
Chankanaab turned out to be Joe’s favorite dive so far. We saw a spotted moray eel on the bottom and a southern stingray glided by. Of course, we also saw the usual lobsters.
Saturday, June 9th
I finally got to dive Santa Rosa Wall with Bernardo, Mirila, Joe and Paul. We saw the big black grouper in his usual spot on top of the reef just before the cave. Paul found us a fantastic turtle. It was pretty darn big and it was feasting on a leathery sponge. It sat very still for us and we hung out with it for about 5 minutes, watching it bite off big chunks of the sponge and swallow it.
Paul requested French Reef where we saw more huge lobsters, a couple of which were actually out walking about. We saw another medium-sized turtle with a gang of colorful angel fish.
Sunday, June 10th
I went back to good old Palancar Gardens with Chucho, Paul, Mike, Grace, Lauren and Brandon. The men ventured deeper down the wall while I stayed in 20 to 30 feet of water with Grace and the children. We saw lots of pretty fish and Brandon did a great job on his skills.
We swam through the big schools of fish on Colombia Shallow and we chased a humungous lobster around and about. We also saw a crab with claws almost as big as my hands. The first turtle that we saw was a common hawksbill turtle. The second turtle that we saw was the much less common green turtle. Lauren and I got a good look at it.
Monday, June 11th
I went to Chankanaab with Brandon, Lauren, Grace and Mike. A pair of groupers drew my attention. As I got closer, I realized that they were hunting with a big green moray eel. All of the colorful sponges are back and now there are loads of fish. Chankanaab is making a nice come back after “Wilma.”
On Paradise I found lots of sailfin blennies and yellow stingrays. I spent 40 minutes combing the algae beds for a seahorse, however, to no avail. But we did see a little tiny octopus that was really cool.
Tuesday, June 12th
Chucho and I took our large group of divers to Palancar Gardens. Our divers were: Denise, Lester, Mary, David, Candy, Scott, James, Debbie, Kathy, Shawna and Chrissy. We had ideal conditions for a first dive of the vacation. Scott said that he saw a black eel. I didn’t see it, so I am not exactly certain what kind of eel it was that he saw...but he saw one! Chrissy showed me a huge crab way deep down at the bottom of a crevice.
Mandy got in and joined us on French reef where Chucho found us a small turtle. The turtle was uncooperative, so Chucho swam around the far side of it and chased it back over to the group and we all had an opportunity to enjoy a good view. Chucho also showed us a lobster and an 80-pound grouper. It was quite impressive.
Wednesday, June 13th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Denise, Lester, Mary, David, Candy, Scott, James, Debbie, Kathy, and Courtney. Denise asked to see shark and all that I could find for her was a big turtle and a bunch of barracudas. I think that it was the same turtle that Paul found a few days before. It didn’t seem to mind our group visit. It just kept munching away like we didn’t even exist.
Our second dive that day was on Paso Del Cedral. Denise really liked that dive a lot, because there were so many fish. We had a nice dive and a lot of drama...
Jorge came swimming at me with open arms for a big hug. I shook my finger “no” at him and pointed to Chucho. Chucho picked a fight with Jorge down there and got his new knife out of his BCD pocket. He went after Jorge with it. Jorge just rolled his eyes and waited for Chucho to go away. Chucho tried to shave Jorge’s head with the knife. Jorge just gave Chucho the finger. Actually, he gave Chucho the finger a bunch of times. It was comical and irritating at the same time.
As I was taunting the splendid toadfish with my yellow spinner William swam up and caught me. We saw two splendid toadfish, a spotted drum, a huge crab and a spotted moray eel. At the very end of the dive we saw another turtle.
Thursday, June 14th
We went to Palancar Horseshoe with Chucho, David, Denise, Lester, Mary, Candy, Scott, Chrissy, Shawna, Courtney, Kathy, Debbie, James and Rhonda. David was my hero. He found a nurse shark lying on the bottom in 80 feet of water. Denise had been asking to see a shark for days so David saved my day. Next, we swam past a huge crab clinging to the reef. Late in the dive, I found a turtle. As a bonus, on our safety stop, I also saw Carlos’ little baby turtle.
Mandy joined us again for our dive on Paradise where Mary found the big yellow seahorse. One of the several splendid toadfish came completely out of its burrow with no help from me...believe it or not. We also saw the sailfin blenny display its impressive dorsal fin. Chucho tickled a spotted scorpionfish under the chin. I found a harlequin pipefish behind a goldentail moray in a hole. David discovered a spotted moray on the bottom and we also saw a couple of yellow stingrays.
Saturday, June 16th
I took Lisa, Craig, Don Ricardo and Carey to Cedral Wall. We descended right on top of the first turtle. There were so many turtles there, that I just stopped counting them. Lisa guessed maybe 5 turtles, but who knows. Craig and Lisa found a pair of immense lobsters dueling it out. On our safety stop, a southern stingray fluttered beneath us.
Don Ricardo got off of the boat so that Lauren, Megan, Jim and RaeAnn could get on board.. We went to Colombia Shallow to swim through the schools of fish. Craig lost a weight pouch when he rolled in. The BCD was brand new and it was the first day of diving. Aack!
We swam past a baby turtle and another southern stingray. No consolation, but I found a $1 dollar bill on the bottom of the sea. !
Sunday, June 17th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Craig, Lisa, Carey, Don Ricardo and Tony. There was a big hawksbill down around 85 feet peacefully dining, oblivious to the divers. Tony saw a school of huge barracudas. We only saw one really large barracuda on the bottom.
We had a nice drift dive on Dalila. We got to see three more turtles. Unfortunately, it was after everyone else had gone up. Tony chased a small nurse shark around for a while. The nurse shark was way too lazy to follow him.
Tuesday, June 19th
Erik, Joanne, Michael, Greg, Jeff and Robin started their week of diving with Tony and I on Palancar Gardens. At the end of the dive, Tony showed me a turtle that I recognized. It was a large female hawksbill. On its left side midway down the shell there is a slight inward curvature that is very distinct. I pointed it out to Tony and told him that we should name that turtle. We also sat on the bottom with a 4-foot nurse shark. I pointed out to Tony that the shark had a horizontal slice about an inch long on its dorsal fin. This was a “critter ID” day for me.
Cedral Wall had a good drift. We saw 3 different turtles ranging in size from small to large. On the safety stop Robin and I swam after a pair of nurse sharks swimming below us in the deep water over the drop off. There was a big one followed by a smaller one. It was quite the sight !
Wednesday, June 20th
Richard wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall. We picked up a guy named “Steve” somewhere along the way. (at least that was the name written on his octopus) He hung out with us for about 30 minutes. Then when he hit 700 psi and I took him up. Carlos located his boat for him.
We floated past Nick’s marker stone on Paso Del Cedral and we paid our respects to him. We saw schools of fish and Lauren led us on a tour through the cave.
That afternoon I got together with Bad Bob, Kay, Paula, Amber and Ken. We saw loads of turtles on Colombia Shallow. I found a scorpionfish on the bottom. He was highly interested in my yellow spinner. We found molted shells from both a lobster and a crab. There was a big stingray on the sand. We also saw an electric ray.
Then we were off to Paradise where Kay showed me a fat spotted moray eel. There were 2 splendid toadfish on that dive. We swam with a yellow stingray and several sailfin blennies came out and to say “hello” to us. It only took me 3 minutes to find the big yellow seahorse. I think that is a record for me. It was just waiting there for us in its usual territory.
Wednesday, June 21st
It was time to take Lisa, Craig, Richard, Carey, Ken and Tony to Palancar Gardens. No trip is complete without going to the Gardens! Tony commented when we came up that the reef is really recovering well there and that reef is the reason that people come to Cozumel to dive. Tony says that there are no other reefs quite like Palancar in the world and he would know!
RaeAnn, Meagan and Lauren joined us for our dive on French Reef. We saw 2 huge turtles and a few lobsters. RaeAnn was mesmorized by a large stingray being followed by a bar jack in the sand.
Friday, June 22nd
We had a good day of diving that started on Palancar Caves with Randy, Tony, Linda, Peter, Joanne and Michael. Aside from the usual turtles, I found a tiny little pipehorse that looks just like a piece of seaweed. It has a leafy look to it with little decorations on its head and body called papillae. Linda said that it looked like one of those sea dragons that you see in the magazines.
And now on to the next diving drama, I told Carlos to drop me off right on top of Jorge for the second tank. Jorge being the pompous little (shit ) that he is, was playing hide and seek. He told his captain to drop him off on Dalila and then drive over and sit by Palancar point and wait for me. Half an hour later, when I asked the captain where Jorge was, they played a little joke on me. The captains dropped me on top of Sergio, not Jorge. Ha ha ha. The joke is on me. (Sergio is rather conservative, but a good sport.)
We had a great dive, despite Jorge’s game of hide and seek. We saw three more turtles and a swimming nurse shark.
I did some afternoon dives with Randy, Bob, Kay, Erica and Paula. The first one was on Chankanaab where Kay showed me a spotted eel on the bottom. We also saw tons of lobsters.
They asked to go back to Paradise to see the seahorse. Bob found the brownish orange seahorse. When I showed it to Erica she just glanced at it briefly and acted like she had seen a million of them and was not particularly interested.
I almost had to pry Kay away from it. She and I fell in love with the seahorse. I found more splendid toadfish. Paula almost put her hand right on an octopus that soon disappeared into a hole in the coral. Randy and I hung out in the middle of a school of big-eyed scads. The school was the size of half of a city block. They surrounded us and formed a shiny, flashing wall of silver movement. They completely enclosed us in a fascinating display of synchronized swimming.
Saturday, June 23rd
I went back to Palancar Caves with Lisa, Craig, Richard, Carey and Randy. They hadn’t been there yet this week and I wanted to show them the little pipehorse. The same little guy was in the exact same place. Lisa took a video of it. We also saw a big turtle.
When we got to Cedral Wall I could tell before we even got in that the current would be swift. Everyone on that dive was extremely comfortable in strong current and we all enjoyed the ride. The only turtle spotted on that dive was at the very end when Randy, Carey and I were on our way up.
Monday, June 25th
Paula asked for a seahorse so I took David, Paula, Lisa, Craig, Carey and Don Ricardo to Palancar Caves. Not only did we find the little pipehorse, but we also saw a group of turtles.
There was a large swimming nurse shark on Cedral Pass. Craig needed to complete his vacation with a green moray eel. We got it on that dive. There were huge black groupers, barracudas and a pair of lobsters all together in a cubby hole.
Tuesday, June 26th
Chucho brought his friends Kenny and Isabella. I brought Bob, Todd, David and Paula. We ran into Jorge again on Palancar Gardens. Chucho behaved himself this time. Jorge showed us a giant lobster out walking around. A turtle was hanging on the side of an underwater cliff in the current. A stonefish with extra large cirrus peered up at all of us.
We encountered another turtle on French Reef and a stingray on the bottom. Paula lost her weight belt at 35 feet. I held her down while Chucho recovered the belt and put it back on her waist.
Wednesday, June 27th
I took David, Paula, Todd, Bob, Kay and Bad Bob to Santa Rosa Wall per David’s special request. The current was moving right along. Bob and I watched as the sand was being sucked down into the abyss. We saw a very large grouper and a school of horse eyed jacks. Both have been living on Santa Rosa Wall for as long as I can remember.
Kay and Bob love Punta Tunich so we checked that one out for their last dive of the vacation. I checked the current that seemed okay at first glance. Then it started picking up steadily and about 10 minutes into the dive, it was moving rapidly.
Despite the fact that we were flying around, we saw some great stuff. Sometimes it seems that the more difficult the dive, the more sea creatures one sees. Todd took pictures of a big puffer fish. We flew past a huge turtle and we saw two different nurse sharks. Everyone liked the dive despite the fast current.
Thursday, June 28th
David requested Colombia Deep. Todd, Bob, Paula and Mille were our divers that day. We swam through some beautiful caves and we accidently woke up a big turtle resting in a dark recess on the bottom. I showed everyone the anchors from the 1800’s shipwreck and we saw a group of large gray stingrays.
On Colombia Shallow, Bob showed me a tiny little turtle. Todd was taking pictures. I found a huge lobster’s head. It looked like the poachers got it just that morning or possibly the night before. We saw another normal size turtle that cruised around with us for about 5 minutes. I found another lobster of equal size but this one was still alive, thankfully. We saw more really big southern stingrays at the end of the dive.
Friday, June 29th
Todd and Bob and I went to Bolones de Chankanaab. Todd got a lot of pictures of spotted morays. There were three of them. One was really big and out swimming around. The other two just poked their heads out of their hiding holes and smiled for the camera. We saw loads of lobsters and Bob found a juvenile spotted drum.
We dived Paradise in search of Todd’s mask. He had dropped it getting back on the boat the night before on a night dive with Chucho.
We also wanted to find a seahorse. We found neither. Our found treasure consisted of the top half of a large plastic water bottle and a broken statuette. Oh well…..
That afternoon I did a resort course for Kim, Aaron, Andrew, Jacob and Jordan on Paradise. We saw a five foot green moray eel grinning at us from inside of a cave. We also found a rather large crab.
Saturday, June 30th
I did another resort course for Juan, Maria, Juan Jose and Alex. We had quite a bit of current that morning so we made two attempts at the dive before we succeeded. We saw lots of colorful fish. Sometimes we had to swim against the current and sometimes we just floated with it.
Sunday, July 1st
Toro came to help me with my group this morning. He snorkeled with Barbara and Richard on the first dive. I scuba dived with John, Dylan and Bob. We saw a spotted eagle ray which is pretty uncommon this time of year. We also saw a southern stingray off in the sandy area.
I swam around the top of Palancar with my student divers. Barbara and Richard joined us. We saw a big spiny lobster and a school of blue tangs.
Monday, July 2nd
My first dive of the day was on Palancar Caves with Roberto, John, Dylan, Glen, Kara, Chris and Angela. We saw a small hawksbill turtle and a lobster.
We got some swift current on Dalila for a true Cozumel drift dive. We saw another good sized turtle just sitting on the bottom surrounded by lots of pretty angelfish. Another turtle was off in the distance. Angela, Chris, Kara and Glen got to see a small nurse shark.
Tuesday, July 3rd
I took Chris, Angela, Kara, Glen and Bob to Palancar Bricks. We found a bunch of turtles and a baby nurse shark about two and a half feet long sleeping under the reef. Kara named him “Jaws”. She is really a lot of fun. Chris said that he saw a name tag on the shark that said, “Hi, my name is Jaws”.
Paradise had swift current and we finished the entire reef in 35 minutes. I knew it was impossible to find the seahorse in that kind of current. We saw a stonefish and a yellow stingray. Everyone enjoyed the rainbow parrotfish.
Wednesday, 4th of July
I chose Palancar Horseshoe for the first dive with John, Dylan, JT and Amy. The only critter we saw was a small lobster. Fortunately, we had swimming pool like conditions and we all enjoyed the tour of the towering coral formations.
Amy found a good sized lazy turtle napping on the bottom at French Reef. I found another small turtle up on top of the reef. We had nice, mild current for a relaxing dive.
Thursday, July 5th
I went to Palancar Caves with Bob, John, Dylan, Amy and JT. The first turtle was solo but then we saw a pair swimming together! After we found the little pipe horse another big turtle glided by.
On Paso Del Cedral John pointed out the first big turtle as it flapped slowly against the current. Another group of divers chased a big nurse shark out of a hole and it came right to us. Then an extremely large barracuda greeted us with a big grin and some sharp, pointy teeth. We saw another small turtle at a distance. We had a fast current on that dive.
Friday, July 6th
I went back to the old standby, Palancar Gardens with George, Jarod and Jeremy. Gordon, Courtney, Cailey, Vonda and Venda snorkeled above us. Gordon pointed out a stingray from above.
On Palancar Horseshoe Gordon, Cailey and Courtney joined us for a scuba dive after a refresher on the beach. We saw a turtle go up to the top, breathe a few times and come back down again.
We did a third dive on Chankanaab with rainbow parrotfish making new sand. We inspected two different kinds of sea cucumbers on that dive.
Saturday, July 7th
I dived at French Reef with JT and Amy. At the very end of the dive, I found a big nurse shark lounging on the bottom, partially hidden by a coral formation. Amy took a picture of it. When JT went over for a look the shark got scared and took off.
Rachel and Dave joined us for a dive on Colombia Shallows. We swam through schools of fish and encountered a small turtle. I discovered a baby nurse shark in a hole and Dave went back for a second look. A pair of big barracudas paid us a visit and we saw loads of yellow stingrays everywhere.
Sunday, July 8th
Grace, Mike, Lauren and Brandon came back to dive with us again and they brought their friends Brian, Gill, Sydney and Zach with them. We did a shallow, easy dive on Palancar Gardens that morning and Chucho came along to help out. Chucho found a couple of lobsters. One was really big and out in the open. A very large loggerhead turtle swam past us and then sat on the bottom in the deep water. Its massive shell had several large barnacles attached to it.
Zach sat out the second dive on San Francisco Wall. Chucho pointed out a small nurse shark swimming baneath us. Mike said that there was another shark later on, but I missed it. Oh well.
Monday, July 9th
James, Robert, Traci, Mike, Caitlan and Nick came with me to Palancar Gardens. After swimming through countless caves we drifted over the top of the coral reef. Mike and Caitlan studied a turtle for a few minutes.
Conditions were good so we went to Cedral Wall. A medium sized nurse shark swam below us and everyone dipped lower than the dive plan to get a look. While inspecting a small cave I was surprised by a big turtle and a big green moray eel poking their heads out together at me. It was a Kodak moment and I can not tell you how adorable they looked huddling there together.
Thursday, July 10th
I took Mike and Brian to the Devil’s Throat. Toro took Grace and Gill on a deep dive. I told him to keep them at 80 feet but Grace bravely wandered down to 100 ft. ... crazy girl. I had not been to the Devil’s Throat for a while. The plastic Jesus on the cross-bolted to the wall of the cathedral was new to me. I had seen the wooden cross before, but no Jesus. We saw a big southern stingray below us in the sand as we swam over to the shallow area at the end of the dive.
The kids joined us on Chankanaab for an hour and 20 minute dive. We swam through schools of snappers and saw a couple of lobsters.
I did a night dive on Paradise with Mike, Laura, Nikki, Meagan, Mike, Traci, Nick and Kaitlin. There were zillions of crabs, only one lobster, and one moray eel, but we saw at least seven octopi. That was amazing!
Wednesday, July 11th
I went to Palancar Caves with Laura, Mike, Nikki, Meagan, James, Robert and Becky. We startled a little turtle that bewilderedly swam right through all of us trying to get away. Mike took a picture of the little pipe horse for me. It has such big, round eyes.
Dalila was a kick ass dive! We saw 3 turtles, 3 sharks and a big old lobster. It was a great day.
Thursday, July 12th
I wanted lots of reef for a long dive so I had Carlos drop me off half way down Yucab After Mike, Laura, Nikki, Christy and Jan finished Yucab we saw all of Tormentos as well. Splashing in we saw two big nurse sharks huddled together on the bottom. There were several big groupers and a splendid toadfish. Laura found a juvenile trunkfish. They are so cute to watch as they just bob around in little circles. They look like a little spotted bubble.
Mission accomplished on Paradise. We found a nice reddish brown seahorse for Laura. We saw tons of sail fin blennies and a snake eel.
That night I went back to Paradise with Mike, Grace, Lauren, Brandon, Brian, Gill, Sydney and Zach. We saw several large octopi and a big lobster out cruising around. Big crabs were just everywhere, and we saw a spotted moray.
Friday the 13th
We played it safe on Palancar Gardens with Brian, Gill, Sydney, Zach, Mike, Grace, Lauren and Brandon. The first turtle we saw was perched calmly having breakfast. The other two were swimming out and about. I think everyone but me got to see a big shark. Mike got it on video.
Then we went for the easiest dive on the island at Colombia Shallow. There are big schools of blue striped grunts all over the place. A big rainbow parrotfish and a turtle swam right through our little school of humans. We saw a big southern stingray and Gill showed me a green moray eel upside down in a crevice.
Saturday, July 14th
My first tank that day was at Palancar Caves with Jan, Christy, Betty and Larry. We saw a couple of turtles, a lobster and my little pet pipe horse. He was right where he is supposed to be. We had beautiful dive conditions.
On French Reef there were several splendid toadfish and a turtle.. We saw more lobsters. Jan made a hand signal for wanting to eat them.
Sunday, July 15th
I started my day on Palancar Horseshoe with Christy, Jan, Bobby and Shelly. We saw tons of turtles. Some were just hanging out. One was finning downward and another went up. Jan asked me to find a Christmas tree worm. That was easy. So then she made it harder. She asked for a flame scallop. That I could not produce. I asked her if she would settle for a rough file clam. A bright red bivalve is a bright red bivalve anyway, right? There was a big green moray eel on that dive too.
Dalila had lots of current and loads of colorful fish.
Monday, July 16th
Jan and Christy asked if we could go back to French Reef. I was happy to accommodate that request. Michael and Maureen were just starting their week of diving and that is an easy site. Bobby and Shelly are happy doing shallow dives too. There were loads of big southern stingrays everywhere. I wondered if they were gathering there to mate. As Michael glided right over a particularly large one, a loud speaker in my head was booming, “Not so close Mr. Steve Irwin”.
Christy, Jan and I saw a lot of turtles. I showed Maureen a crab that tried to crawl into a hole with a big lobster. The lobster fended it off by waving its antennas at the crab.
Our second stop was Colombia Shallow. I spent the entire hour and a half searching for a bright red bivalve for Jan. All I could come up with was a closed knobby scallop. The baby nurse shark was in a different hole further to the south that day.
Wednesday, July 18th
Kevin wanted to go to Palancar Caves. Jeff, Michael, Maureen, Shelly, Bobby and Ally were happy to go where ever. We saw several different turtles and the last one was an uncommon green turtle with a pretty, perfect shell. I checked on my little buddy the pipe horse and he was doing just fine. No one seemed too impressed by him except Kevin and me.
I tried to make the second dive as easy as possible so I picked Paso Del Cedral. We saw more turtles and a bunch of barracudas. I cleaned some sand out of a sponge and Maureen helped with other sponges.
Thursday, July 19th
I went back to Palancar Gardens with the Campbell family. I keep going back there whenever I have young kids that can’t go deeper than 40 feet. Michael, Maureen, Jeff and Kevin were with us and they went a tad deeper. Everyone had a great time on that dive. We saw some turtles up close and personal. Michael discovered a big green moray eel.
We did a real Cozumel drift dive on Dalila. Maureen predicted that we would see a nurse shark and we did. It was actually at the end of the dive and it was a pretty big one too. We also saw lots of turtles and an even bigger green moray eel. It was out swimming around a bit before it ducked into a hole and hid from us.
Friday, July 20th
My first dive of the morning was on Palancar Gardens with Kristi, Charley, Debbie, John, Michael, Maureen, Shelly and Bobby. We swam through lots of archways. Near the surface, we saw a turtle eating jellyfish.
Then on to Dalila. I know that we saw about 3 or 4 turtles, but the rest of the dive is kind of a blur. I don't remember a whole lot more about that specific dive.
In the afternoon, I took Kevin, Jeff, Ally, Gina, Mike, Alex and Hunter to Palancar Gardens. We all stayed really shallow in the water. The conditions were ideal and Hunter got to see his very first turtle.
There were so many turtles on Colombia Shallow that afternoon that I just lost count. We also saw lots of crabs. Ally showed me a huge lobster. Upon closer inspection I discovered two more in the same hole and yet another pair a few feet away.
Ally then showed me an electric ray and a big southern stingray that swam by us.
Then I did a night dive on Paradise. I spent the whole entire day on the boat... plus the evening! Mike and I think that there were at least 8 octopi. We had a fantastic night dive. We saw a big lobster, tons of crabs, a splendid toad fish, 2 spotted moray eels and a snake eel. It doesn't get any better than that!
Saturday, July 21st
I dived at Colombia Deep with Kristi, Charley, John Wayne, Debbie, Ally, Kevin and Jeff. We swam over to check out the anchor and we also swam through a beautiful cave. We watched a turtle glide through the blue water nearby.
On the second dive at Colombia Shallow we saw 3 turtles and some small lobsters. When I showed Ally a tiny baby pipehorse she wrote on my slate, "How the F*&^%%$ did you see that? It was almost microscopic and camouflaged.
The third tank that day was on Las Palmas for a treasure hunt. We found 4 or 5 splendid toadfish. Several were very hungry and snapped at my lure. A couple actually came all the way out for us. We also found a spotted moray, a goldentail eel, yellow stingrays and a bright red hermit crab.
Sunday, July 22nd
For old times sake, I took Kathy, Alan, Kristi, Charley, John, Debbie, Kevin and Jeff to San Francisco Wall. Kathy, Alan and I had an amazing dolphin experience there on their last trip. This time there were no dolphins, but we did see a couple of turtles, another splendid toadfish and some large groupers.
Kristi, Charley, John Wayne and Debbie wanted to go back to Las Palmas for the next dive. This time around it was not as exciting as the last trip. We found 2 baby turtles and a couple more splendid toadfish. There were some more yellow stingrays.
Monday, July 23rd
We had a nice dive on Palancar Caves with Kathy, Alan, Kevin and Jeff. I checked in with my little buddy, the pipehorse, and he was doing just fine. We also saw a couple of turtles.
On Cedral Wall there was one extra huge black grouper and lots of regular-sized grouper. A nurse shark was lying really still all allowed Kathy to take pictures of it.
Tuesday, July 24th
Kathy, Alan, Kristi, Charley, Debbie, John, Monica and Bob came with me to Palancar Gardens. We discovered a southern stingray, a turtle and a rather nervous nurse shark.
On French Reef another stingray and another turtle awaited us. The schools of Creole wrasse got me to thinking about Jan and Christy. (Jan says that the Creole wrasse swim like penguins.)
Then we were off to Chankanaab where a darling little juvenile trunkfish bobbed around in circles for us. There were 2 or 3 lobsters hanging out together. I showed Charley a brittle star on a bright red sponge. That makes a spectacular picture. Everyone liked the clusters of white feather dusters.
Wednesday, July 25th
First of all, I went to Santa Rosa Wall with Kristi, Charley, John, Debbie, Alan and Kathy. I saw a big turtle near the top of the reef. It was cloudy that day and overcast. However, we again saw lots of splendid toadfish. By the 4th toadfish, one nobody cared anymore and they stopped coming over to take a look!
The current was light on Santa Rosa, so I decided to dive Punta Tunich for the next stop. It turned out to be a really fine decision. We saw a baby nurse shark, a big, fat 6-foot green moray eel, a spotted moray and a southern stingray. There was no shortage of big critters that day. The highlight of the dive was a gift from Alan. He pointed out a giant turtle surrounded by half a dozen angelfish
Thursday, July 26th
Kathy requested Palancar Bricks. Alan, Kristi, Charley, Debbie and John Wayne were our dive buddies. This time I counted six turtles! The first and the fifth one were both absolutely huge and they were both lying on the bottom posing for the cameras. One of the turtles was a darling little baby.
Eric and Roslyn met us and came along for the night dive on Paradise. Eric found the first octopus. Debbie found the third one. I found the second and fourth octopi. There were tons of big crabs everywhere and Charlie swam around thinking about garlic butter and dinner.
Friday, July 27th
My first tank of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with John, Tami, Eric, Roslyn, Kristi, Charley, John and Debbie. Debbie showed me a beautiful little spotted drum. I delighted in watching a hungry bar jack hunting a school of bogas and Creole wrasse. I watched a serious battle between 3 secretary blennies against 2 invading blennies.
I ran into William on Paso Del Cedral. He showed me all kinds of good stuff. He found a big green moray eel and a big nurse shark. We also saw a couple of turtles.
At 2:00 pm Gary, Lisa, Jared, Ethan and Jeff climbed on board with Carlos and I, and off we went to Palancar Caves. We saw two turtles that delighted Lisa.
Our late afternoon dive was on Tormentos with a shy splendid toadfish. A big green moray eel smiled at us from deep within his cave.
Then we all did a night dive on Paradise. There were a couple of crabs, a snake eel and a pair of octopus that were either fighting or mating. Who can tell? Another big solo octopus made an appearance along with a yellow stingray and some sea cucumbers.
Saturday, July 28th
For a change of pace, I took John, Tammy, Eric, Roslyn, Kristi, Charley, John and Debbie to Santa Rosa Wall. At the surface before the descent, I looked down upon a nurse shark lying on the bottom beneath me. A lobster wiggled its antennas at me and we swam through the big cave. A big grouper followed us around for a while. That was too cool.
On French Reef John Wayne showed me a big old green moray eel way back in a dark crevice. A rather large turtle lounged on the bottom and Charley got some good close photo op of it. Kristi and Debbie asked me for a seahorse so we went to Paradise. I found it just in time! It seemed to take forever and everyone was starting to get low on air. What pressure! We also saw those cute little sailfin blennies and some squid.
Sunday, July 29th
I went to Palancar Caves with Dimitri, Kelsy, Pam, Dan, Jen, MaryAnne and Dave. That was the second time in a week that I did not find my little buddy the pipehorse. I think he is gone for good. I hate to think what might have happened to the little guy. Let's just hope that he got sick of all the camera flashes and moved on.
Dalila had unusually mild current. All of the good stuff was right at the end of the dive. We saw the biggest grouper that I have seen in years. MaryAnne and Dave pointed out a nurse shark swimming below us. As I was doing a safety stop with Kelsy, a big turtle swam down from the surface right past us. Dimitri got a picture of it.
Monday, July 30th
My divers were Dan, Jen, Dimitri, Kelsy, Pam, Roger and Alec. We all went to Palancar Horseshoe. We saw a big grouper and a lobster.
We spent the entire dive on French Reef looking for a turtle that Jen had requested. I got so lucky that I found it just in time...as everyone except Pam was low on air. But Jen got her turtle and she was one very happy camper!
Tuesday, July 31st
Dive one was on Colombia Deep with Jake, Pat, Janelle, Brian, Pam, Dimitri and Kelsy. The current was a little odd and we swam through a beautiful and mysterious cave.
Dive two was on Colombia Shallow. We saw a dinner-sized lobster prowling the reef. A good-sized nurse shark was lolling about on top of the coral. Kelsy and I could not resist the urge to just give it a little "pet."
Wednesday, Aug. 1st
Ursula and Detlef came off of a cruise ship to join Pam, Roy, Kayla, Alec and Roger for a dive on Palancar Caves. We had a beautiful dive...swimming through all of the lovely caves. There was a big lobster there and a grouper to visit.
On Yucab a juvenile smooth trunkfish that Roger described as a "black and white marble" bobbed around in tight little circles. It was quite entertaining. Roy took pictures of the colorful sponges. We saw a turtle from the surface.
That afternoon I took Andy and Maggie diving on Palancar Gardens while the rest of the family snorkeled above us. It was Maggie's first Cozumel dive and they were very excited. We had swimming pool like conditions and we couldn't have asked for anything any better.
One small turtle on Colombia Shallow seemed to be leading our dive. Or perhaps we were just following it. Maggie loved all of the big schools of fish everywhere.
Thursday, Aug. 2nd
My first tank was on Palancar Gardens with Pam, Janelle, Brian, Lauren, Cheryl and Roger. We saw 4 turtles in all. Some were big, some were small. One surfaced and came back down to us. I saw a big spotted eagle ray. That is very uncommon for this time of year. They are usually here in winter. We also saw a scorpion fish, a spotted drum and a few big crabs. A large lobster was over our heads in a cave. I saw a spotted moray slithering around trying to find a good hiding place.
There were a few more turtles on Cedral Wall and of course loads of pretty angelfish.
Friday, Aug. 3rd
That morning I went to Palancar Horseshoe with David, Pam, Roger, Cheryl, Lauren and Brian. I showed Lauren a bunch of brittle stars clinging to different sponges. I also found a big arrow crab. Brian showed me a turtle.
We had some current on Tormentos. We were rewarded with a couple of big groupers. Trying to keep the group together, I parked Brian in the sand to wait for David and Pam to catch up. I looked down and was amazed to see a tiny bright pink nudibranch with neon blue spots on its back. With a wave of Brian's hand it disappeared. While I was trying to relocate it, I spied an adorable little pipefish. That was way cool.
Saturday, Aug. 4th
On Santa Rosa Wall with Pam, Ed, David, Roger, Cheryl, Lauren and Brian there was a turtle that Lauren pointed out, however, I missed it. I hate when that happens. Everyone else comes up all excited about something that they all saw and I didn't have a clue. That doesn't happen too often but it sucks when it does!
We tried to outrun a squall by heading for the Caleta marina but we didn't get there before the rain started. We got off of the boat and huddled against a building for protection and watched the lightning show. When the storm was over, we dived Paradise. I was on a quest to find the seahorse. Well the little bugger eluded me this time around, but we did see a bunch of splendid toadfish, a pair of sailfin blennies and some spotted morays. It was a very good dive.
Sunday, Aug. 5th
The plan for Punta Sur was for David, Pam, Roger and Lauren to dive the Devil's Throat with me. Chucho was to take Cheryl and Brian on a normal 60 to 70 foot dive. I didn't check the reef well enough when I got in and I had Carlos drop me off in the wrong spot. Oops! We never made it to the Devil's Throat but we had a spectacularly beautiful dive. No one seemed upset that we missed the Throat. Guess it is a good excuse for them to come back……….
Brian requested Paradise as the second dive. There were no complaints out of me. He wanted to see splendid toadfish. We only found on splendid toadfish, but we did get to see two seahorses. One was my favorite big yellow one and the other was the brownish/orange one. They were pretty near to one another in the algae patch. That made everyone very, very happy.
Tuesday, Aug. 6th
I went snorkeling with the whale sharks in Holbox with Mike, Laura and Rodrigo. Those beasts are just immense and we had to swim as fast as we could to keep up with them.
Sunday, Aug. 12th
Back to work again on Palancar Gardens with Jim, Kathy, Mary, Nick, Graham (my favorite diver in the world) Andrew and Alan. The boys found a couple of lobsters. Mary showed us a turtle and as we were coming over the top of the reef to finish the dive we saw a huge snapper complete with its own small school of fish surrounding it. We also saw a beautiful small Caribbean reef shark.
Dalila had mild current again. We saw a really big rainbow parrotfish. Jim found a splendid toadfish. Graham used his brand new flashlight as a tank-banger to alert us that he spotted the big hawksbill turtle feasting on a sponge.
Monday, Aug. 13th
I took Jim, Kathy, Mary, Nick, Graham, Andrew and Alan to Palancar Horseshoe. Before we even got in Graham asked me to find him an eagle ray and a shark. I told him no way. Spotted eagle rays are out of season and that he has to come back in January if he wants to see one. Guess what……! . Coming out on the wall from between two tall towers of coral a huge eagle ray glided by right in front of Graham and I. Then Andrew tugged on my fin and pointed to a second eagle ray following it. Now that was really exciting! We also saw a turtle.
We went in search of Graham's shark on Cedral Wall. We had no luck on the shark but we saw a couple of turtles and some lobsters. That afternoon I did a resort course for Jim, Brian, Garrett, Ben, Chris and Jim Jr. at Paradise. We saw rainbow parrotfish, Mexican piranhas and a couple of spotted eels. Jim showed me a yellow stingray.
Tuesday, Aug. 14th
Then it was back to Palancar Gardens with Jim, Kathy, Mary, Graham, Nick, Matt and Chris. The first turtle was off in a dark corner. Kathy found the second one which used its two front flippers to perch itself on the reef and dine on a sponge. I saw a splendid toadfish come all the way out of the hole in a failed attempt to eat a juvenile Creole wrasse.
We looked for little critters on French reef and found a bristle worm and a mantis shrimp. We also observed a rainbow parrotfish and a barracuda very closely….
Wednesday, Aug. 15th
Jim, Kathy, Mary, Graham, Nick and Rodrigo accompanied me to Colombia Deep. My favorite diver, Graham, requested a shark and an eel. I figured that it would be impossible. When I spied that 6-foot nurse shark way back under a dark overhang I was jubilant. Graham shined his flashlight on it so all could get a good look at the shark. Ten minutes later Nick found a big green moray eel. I was then triumphant!
Then we went to Colombia Shallow with mission accomplished. A medium sized nurse shark came out and swam right beneath Kathy. I don't know who was more surprised, Kathy or the shark. The boys charged the schools of fish and Jim studied the micro fauna. Fun was had by all !
I did a resort course for Nellsyn and Maddie on Paradise. Midge, Lee, Ross, Bunker and Rodrigo came along with us. We saw a goldentail moray eel, an arrow crab and a pipefish. The seahorse eluded me once again. I lured a splendid toadfish half way out of its den. Midge agreed that it is indeed splendid.
The girls did so well on their resort course that I took them all over to Chankanaab for another dive. Three lobsters were out cruising around. A couple of crabs showed up...one of which had some very impressive claws. We also saw a big southern stingray and a midnight parrotfish.
Thursday, Aug. 16th
I dived at Palancar Gardens with Dan, Sarah and Laura. The water was a bit murky and choppy but it was nice and calm down below the surface. Everyone enjoyed the first dive of their vacation and all of the nice swim-throughs. The same splendid toadfish came half way out to say hello to us.
Dan requested Paso Del Cedral for the next dive. We had excellent conditions and we saw two different swimming nurse sharks.
My afternoon dives were with Nellsyn, Maggie, Midge, Lee and Ross on Palancar Gardens. Once again we had a nice tour through Palancar's "Swiss cheese" coral formations.
They wanted to see sharks, so I thought the same ones might still be hanging around on Paso Del Cedral. We didn't see any sharks but we were treated to a graceful 6-foot long green moray eel out swimming about. It was being followed by two large black groupers which are what originally drew my attention. We got up close and personal with the green beast. We also glided over a small turtle munching away on a sponge.
Friday, Aug. 17th
I had an easy day with Sarah, Dan, Bruce and Mallorie on Palancar Horseshoe. We forgot all about the lobster we saw after I spotted three Caribbean reef sharks schooling in 30 feet of water on an undersea point. I actually got close enough to look right into one's eye. Unfortunately, Bruce and Mallorie were already on the boat and they missed the little sharks.
As we were admiring a turtle on French Reef I realized that there was another really big turtle sitting on the bottom nearby. I was confused and didn't know which one to watch. We also saw a southern stingray and more lobsters.
In the afternoon I dived on Palancar Horseshoe with Zach, Bunker, Lee, Midge, Nellsyn, Maggie and Ross. We saw those three little sharks again but this time they were not all together. We spotted them one after the other, after the other. It was really exciting for all of us. However, Bunker, Maggie and I were the only ones that saw the turtle go by.
There was a crab picking at something on the bottom at French reef. I scolded the girls for trying to pet the turtle. They didn't notice how much they would scare it.
Saturday, Aug. 18th
The morning dive was on Palancar Horseshoe with Bruce, Mallorie, Steve, Kyle, Clay and Matt. I wanted Bruce to get a chance to see the three little Caribbean reef sharks that he missed the day before. We found them all right! They were hanging around a couple of turtles. My eyes darted around trying to decide which to look at. Finally I picked the sharks. I see turtles all of the time :-)
We swam through schools of fish on Colombia Shallow and we saw another turtle. Mallorie said that she never wanted to see a shark and surprise, we found two more on that dive. These two were nurse sharks. The first was just a baby and it took her a minute to figure out what she was looking at. But the big nurse shark that swam by had her eyes popping out of her head. I think we cured her of her fear of sharks that day!
Midge, Lee, Bunker, Zach, Ross, Nellsyn and Maddie did their last two dives of the vacation with me that afternoon. We went to Tormentos where we saw a spotted moray eel and a big nurse shark out in the open swimming about. Everyone chased after it.
On Paradise we saw three toadfish, a golden tail moray, a big lobster and loads of crabs.
Sunday, Aug. 19th
I did two dives at Paradise walking in from shore, since Chucho had taken the Enigma II out of the water in anticipation of Hurricane Dean. Matt wanted to finish his certification, Steve came here to dive and Clay was just along for the heck of it. We saw a bunch of spotted moray eels and yellow stingrays. I was hoping to see a seahorse and say goodbye before Dean ripped out the algae beds along with those beautiful little seahorses. I searched and searched but couldn't find one. I always wonder what the seahorses do in a hurricane. I wonder if they just go deeper to avoid the waves and surge.
Monday, Aug. 21st
Carlos, Chanchipa and Chucho drank tequila and orange juice as the finished up the afternoon. Chucho made poor Chanchipa go up on the roof and take down the tiles on the palapa in the back yard. I saw on the internet that Dean was headed way south of us so I didn't bother with boarding up the windows.
Fortunately, Dean missed us. Last night we had lots of strong wind and rain. There was minimal damage done here in Cozumel. I saw on the news today that the road on the other side of the island is in pretty bad shape...but town is just fine. We drove from Chankanaab to the Melia and I only counted 5 coconut trees down. There was a bit of sand on the waterfront but really not much more than after a strong northwind.
Here in Cozumel we are all fine. It will take a day or two to get the boards off of the windows and the boats back in the water. It is still windy right now as I write this at 2:00 pm on
Tuesday, August 22nd.
No problema :-)
Thursday, Aug. 23rd
We got the boat back in water in time to take James, Len, Virginia, Paul, Tina, Big James and Alan to Santa Rosa Wall. I expected worse conditions than we got from hurricane Dean. The surface was completely calm and there was almost no current. The visibility was not as good as usual. We only had about 80 to 100 feet of visibility that day. That is a generous guess but who would complain about that? My dive computer read the water temperature at 83 degrees.
Everyone wanted to see a lot of fish so we did our second dive on Paradise. We saw a splendid toadfish come completely out of its hole, a crab with giant claws, a lobster and a tiny little juvenile smooth trunkfish. The baby trunkfish got me thinking about Roger and the Las Palmeras Margaritas.
Friday, Aug. 24thI took Bob and Kay to Cedral Wall early in the morning. It was the best dive I have had in ages. We had just the right amount of current. The first hawksbill turtle was eating sponges. A pair of French angels swarmed his mouth trying to snatch some scraps. The second hawksbill turtle was smaller and cruising around. Then we saw a pair of lobsters and a small nurse shark. The small nurse shark was in the old feeding spot where Chucho used to feed a big nurse shark 10 years ago. A huge green moray was fully visible and we stayed with the eel for a few minutes. When we left the big eel we ran into an old loggerhead turtle. The turtle had some moss-looking stuff growing on its shell. That turtle was so huge that Bob described it as a Volkswagon with flippers.
Wolfgang, Gloria and Garrett joined us for our next stop on Colombia Shallow. It looked like God took a big snow blower and blew sand all over the place. On the shore side of the reef we saw patches where all of the sand was gone, leaving chunks of white coral broken during Wilma. And there were big, white sea shells tossed all around. On the channel side of the reef, Dean dumped 2 to 3 inches of that sand and covered up algae, hydroids and sponges. The reef had a new dusting of power on it just like it did after Wilma. Colombia Shallow is the first reef to show any significant sign of Dean damage. However, I must say that all of the huge schools of fish were still there, right in same spots that they were previously. Garrett saw three turtles and there were tons of beautiful live conch shells that we didn't see before the storm. We also saw a pair of lobsters who were hanging out together.
Saturday, Aug. 25th
I went back to Santa Rosa Wall with Kay, Lee and Diana per Lee's request. Lee seemed particularly happy in the swim throughs so I took him in a bunch of them. It looks like Dean swept away a little more of the sand that covered the reef at Santa Rosa, so that was a benefit of the storm.
Then we went to one of Kay's favorite reefs, Punta Tunich. That reef was pristine. The visibility was at least 150 feet, the current was swift, normal for Tunich, and there is no sign of Dean damage anywhere, whatsoever. We had an exciting dive. First we saw a small turtle duck into a hole and settle down for a siesta. When it realized that we weren't leaving...the poor little guy took off to find a new place for a snooze. I checked a big hole in the bottom and found two enormous nurse sharks huddled together inside. These sharks were so big that Kay asked me if they could be 8-feet long. I guess that wouldn't be too far off base. These were two of the biggest nurse sharks I have ever seen. Then we saw a normal sized (4 foot) loggerhead turtle that was pretty shy and swam off quickly.
Sunday, August 26th
I hitched a ride for Scott and me on a friend's boat that morning. We went to Santa Rosa Wall. There were schools of humans everywhere. We saw a couple of groupers and a couple of turtles. Las Palmas was a better dive. We saw two splendid toadfish and I got a pretty good picture of one of them...with Tom's help. I am always on a quest for a good toadfish shot. We also saw a small hawksbill turtle and a green moray eel that kindly posed for my camera.
Monday, August 27th
I took Jeremy, Kay, Bob and Scott to Palancar Gardens. We saw a few groupers and a few turtles. My spotted drum was gone.
We ran into lots of other divers. We went back to Tunich in search of those big sharks but didn't find them. Instead, we saw loads of turtles. One guy that was diving with Scuba Du grabbed a turtle with both hands and when I wagged an angry finger at him he just smiled and didn't let go. When I lunged at him with murder in my eyes he let it go. He doesn't realize just how close to death or dismemberment he came that day! I had PMS. Scary…….
Tuesday, August 28th
Mike and Laura wanted to go to Punta Sur. Scott was a good sport and was willing to go along with it even though he doesn't like deep diving much because it screws up his bottom time. Scott has a very conservative computer. Laura spotted a pair of small reef sharks swimming around the top of the reef. That is where we ended up, spending most of the dive anyway. It is a beautiful spot and we saw lots of turtles and a southern stingray too.
I picked Cedral Wall for the second dive. There was almost no current to speak of and more turtles than I could count. I maxed out my computer on both dives. That made me super tired at the end of the day.
Wednesday, August 29th
I did some more long dives and maxed out my computer again. The first one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Mike, Laura, Bob, Kay, Jeremy and Scott. We didn't find the little reef sharks that I had seen right before Dean blew through, but we did see a group of turtles and Laura showed us a graceful spotted eagle ray.
A pair of nurse sharks awaited us on Dalila. We lounged in the sand next to them just studying them for a while. They were sleeping together under a coral overhang. We found a third shark later in the dive and a couple more turtles.
That afternoon I took Mike and Laura to Paradise where I counted 5 splendid toadfish. Both Mike and I were frustrated that we hadn't brought our cameras on that dive. There were golden tail eels and pike blennies galore. The pike blennies were making courtship displays. Laura found "Spike" the sail fin blenny and gave him a little tickle under the chin. We lost Mike for a few minutes when we decided to go and look for the seahorse in the algae patch. It only took a minute to find Mike but we never found the seahorse.
Thursday, August 30th
Mike asked for Chunchacaab. Laura and Scott didn't complain. We could not have asked for better conditions. Usually there are big rollers there but the surface was flat and calm on that particular day. Normally there is strong current there but we had almost no current at all. The current was so mild that I decided to swim against the current for the first 15 minutes of the dive because the reef looked more interesting in that direction. We stayed on top of the reef to extend our bottom time. We saw a huge nurse shark swim beneath us. Mike found a small turtle. The abundance of sea fans there is really beautiful.
We had poor visibility on French Reef. The contrast to the conditions on the first dive was kind of a letdown. Since there was no current, Laura and I took off our fins and went for a walk in the sand on the bottom. While we were there, we also saw another turtle.
Friday, August 31st
Bob and Kay didn't want to go to Palancar, so I picked French Reef for the first dive. Jeremy, Leah, Aaron, Kerry and Ron had never been there before and it was all new to them. We saw a turtle and as Aaron was going after it, I spoiled his fun by tugging on his fin and showing him his air gauge. It was time for him to go up. Oh well……
There was a plethora of animals on Cedral Wall and everyone was stoked up when they got back on the boat after the dive. It all started just as we first got in and we were still floating on surface. A fully grown nurse shark swam below us as we waited for group two to roll in. Kerry spotted all of the turtles on that dive. I think there were 3 or 4 of them.. I showed everyone a green moray eel resting in a hole. The same little nurse shark was in the feeding spot hole again too.
Sunday, Sept. 2nd
Charlie, Paul and Frank accompanied me to Palancar Horseshoe. Upon reaching the bottom I found a baby 2 foot nurse shark trying to hide from us under the reef. Paul asked me where “Mommy & Daddy” were. We also saw a couple of dinner sized lobsters along the way.
At Paso Del Cedral I cleaned off Nick’s memorial stone. We practiced swimming through the cave there to get ready for the Devil’s Throat. There were lots of really big barracudas all over the place.
Monday, Sept. 3rd
I took the boys to Punta Sur. Carlos dropped us off right at the Devil’s front door. We had a beautiful dive with ideal conditions but we didn’t see any big critters that morning.
Charlie asked me what we would see at Dalila. I just told him “fish” because that is the only thing that I could promise! We saw a big black grouper parade and several lobsters. One of which was out stomping around and showing off. It was really big. We also saw a big green moray eel. We only got to see it’s face because it was quite shy in it’s hole.
Tuesday, Sept. 4th
My first dive of the day was at Palancar Gardens with Oleta, Chucho, Charlie, Frank, Paul and Bob. Chucho took the boys through a bunch of caves. Oleta and I stayed up on top of the reef and worked on her certification skills.
Colombia Shallows looked good that day. We saw a huge black grouper, a lobster and a school of six really big barracudas. Chucho found “Jaws” the baby nurse shark under a rock, the boys saw a turtle too. Oleta and I didn’t see any turtles. Oh well.
Thursday, Sept. 6th
I finished Oleta’s certification on Palancar Caves with Bob, Chris, Ann, Charlie, Frank and Paul. Arriving at the bottom we encountered a southern stingray and a pretty green turtle. Later we saw a hawksbill turtle perched on the coral feasting on a sponge. At the end of the dive Paul was poking his head in a crevice and out popped a green moray eel! He almost had a heart attack!
French Reef had loads of pretty fish and one really big turtle.
Friday, Sept. 7th
I dived Palancar Gardens with Carol, Charlie, Frank and Paul. Frank finds everything. He found the big crab and a juvenile spotted drum. He also showed us a sleeping turtle. I found 3 lobsters huddled together.
There was another spotted drum on Cedral Wall. Frank found another sleeping turtle and a big nurse shark.
Monday, Sept. 10th
My first tank that day was on Tormentos with Lisa, Guy, Bob, Oleta, Deann, Ed and Rich. We had a nice, easy uneventful dive. I pointed out a splendid toadfish. Lisa really liked the pretty angelfish and colorful encrusting sponges under the ledges. There was one big grouper too. I think he is always there.
A good sized turtle perched on the wall at San Francisco. I was the only one who saw the second turtle below us. I discovered a five foot nurse shark as it passed below us.
Tuesday, Sept. 11th
Dive number one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Rich, Lisa, Guy, Ed and Deann. Ed wanted to go through the swim thrus. I thought of those as a challenge for Lisa our newly certified diver but she said that they were fun!
Dive number two was on French Reef again because I wanted easy conditions. Ed explored every swim thru he could find. We all got to see a turtle and Guy took a picture of it. Rich discovered a big green moray eel in a tunnel. Ed went right in after it! It was a very good dive.
Wednesday, Sept. 12th
Mom wanted to go to the Devil’s Throat. Rich placated us and came along. We saw a green moray eel in a hole up on top of the reef and a darling little turtle sound asleep. Mom was happy to get to go through the Devil’s Throat again. She loves that dive.
Mom got off and I took Rich to Cedral Wall. I looked in every nook and cranny. I found 2 sleeping nurse sharks. We saw 5 different turtles. Two of which were really big. One was a male but the rest were all girls. All turtles this day were hawksbills.
Thursday, Sept. 13th
Rich, Steve, Jenn, Ed, Deann and Mom came diving with me at Palancar Caves. We swam through lots of big archways. We saw a turtle and lobster.
There was a lot of action on Cedral Wall that day. Steve and Jen saw the first turtle. Ed and Deann saw the first green moray eel. I saw neither…… Then I got it together and showed Mom a small green moray eel. The little nurse sharks were in the exact same spots as the day before. We saw another turtle up close. Then Ed pointed out a large green moray eel as we were heading up. I couldn’t resist going back down for a quick peek.
Friday, Sept. 14th
For a change we dived Santa Rosa Wall with Steve, Deann, Rich, Jenn, Ed, Lisa and Guy. We had quite the dive. The current was swift and we couldn’t really stop and look at stuff. We flew past 3 barracudas.
We went to Dalila in search of nurse sharks and we were rewarded with two! We also drifted past a big, lazy turtle.
Saturday, Sept. 15th
On Mexican Independence Day we went to Palancar Gardens with Steve, Jenn, Marila, Bernardo, Greg, Brian and Gill. Brian saw a big green moray eel free swimming but I didn’t get to see it. We all saw the turtle resting at the surface before it’s next surface dive.
I found a tiny baby turtle on Paso Del Cedral in the platform area. The big green moray eel was in his usual spot. Another turtle appeared later on and we saw tons of barracudas, big and small. Steve saw a barracuda with a big fish hook sticking out of it’s mouth.
Sunday, Sept. 16th
Back to Punta Sur by special request. Chucho took Mom, Bob, Mirila and Bernardo through the Devil’s Throat again. I stayed on top of the reef with Oleta, Jenn and Steve. Carlos dropped us off in the wrong place. Since the visibility was so bad that day I didn’t even notice until we swam up over the top of the reef to where the wall was supposed to be. Instead I found more sand, lots of it and really deep. I asked for a peek at Jenn’s compass because mine was worn out. I found West and started kicking in 60 feet of water. Somehow I wound up going South instead. I just got disoriented. When we didn’t find the wall and the bottom was getting deeper and deeper I asked for the compass again. I found West again and eventually got to the wall at the beginning of Punta Sur reef. I wrote on my slate to Steve to look for small reef sharks. As soon as he finished reading what I had written I found the little shark. Then I told him that they are usually in small groups of 4 or 5. As soon as I held it up for Steve to read he pointed behind my head and there was a school of 4! Boy, I got lucky! Steve smiled and accused me of planning the whole thing. I was just relieved to be able to save a screwed up dive and have fun J
Steve announced before we descended on French Reef that he was going to look for nurse sharks. I informed him that he had seen all the sharks that he was going to see for the day. So he made a liar out of me! He found a five foot nurse shark sleeping way back in a dark recess. He used his light to show it to everyone. Later I found another one on the bottom below us. We also saw 3 turtles on that dive.
Monday, Sept. 17th
Mom doesn’t get sick of French Reef. She loves that place. So I took her back there with Stacie and Jody because I wanted something easy but full of marine life for the first dive. I looked in a cave and found a big nurse shark in there. As I called Jody over the shark swam out the other side. Then a second big shark scooted out of a hiding place and took over where the first shark had been sitting. I looked for the first one but it had disappeared.
At Dalila we saw one turtle after another. I got some good shots of Mom and Stacie with the first turtle. It was just sitting there feasting and it was surrounded by queen angels. After the third turtle we saw a huge green moray. It really didn’t like me swimming right up to it and taking pictures. The very last turtle on that dive was on it’s way up after the big stingray. What a day!
Tuesday, Sept. 18th
Jody was scuba diving with me. Stacie, Ann and Tammy snorkeled above us. Jody and I saw tons of turtles. I tried to get the splendid toadfish to come out and smile for my camera but he wanted no part of me.
The girls liked Palancar better than Colombia Shallow. I thought that Colombia Shallow was pretty cool that day, but what do I know J I got in alone at first to check the current and found a turtle instead. I swam a long way and when I found a small nurse shark sharing a small coral head with a turtle I told Carlos to put everyone in the water. I tried everything short of just pulling to try and get that shark to come out and swim. I wanted the snorkelers to be able to see it too. It just would not budge! The shark was totally uncooperative. We should have tipped him the day before….. I didn’t bother the second shark because the snorkelers were too far away. I took lots of pictures of the schools of grunts.
Thursday, Sept. 20th
The Harbor Master announced on the marine band radio that the current on Santa Rosa Wall was dangerous that morning. Great. I know that it would strong just about anywhere. When Carlos’ friend called on the radio to report where he was and that the current was strong I decided that I was taking Mom, Dave, Steve and Bruce to French Reef. French Reef has a bottom so if the current wants to go crazy at least we can’t get sucked down. I got lucky. The current was perfect at French Reef. We had a great dive with a big turtle and a swimming nurse shark. We also saw a spiny lobster and a slipper lobster. Mom had never seen a slipper lobster before. There were also plenty of big groupers.
Avoiding current we did our second dive on Chankanaab. It was relaxing and we saw enough lobsters to open a restaurant. We saw another slipper lobster there. How strange. I don’t see them for months and months and then there are 2 on the same day. I found a green moray eel. I saw the whole thing but everyone else just saw the tail.
Wednesday, Sept. 26th
Roger the groom, Roger his dad, Mike (AKA Blaine) Marcus, Linda, Don and Ricardo dived on Palancar with me. We saw an 80-pound black grouper and Don sucked down a good 300 psi going after it for a picture. We saw a huge barracuda and Richard saw a turtle.
Yucab had some drift to it. When Marcus took off his fins the current did most of the swimming for him. Poor guy was getting blisters from the fins and he looked so funny down below, floating along with his fins under his arm, kicking and going nowhere. We saw three different turtles. The first one was small and just rather sitting there. The second one was large and demolishing a sponge. The third turtle took one look at us and took off in a huff !
Friday, September 28th
J.F. and Natalie were staying at Reef Club. Natalie brought me an open water referral. We did a couple of dives on Cardona in front of the hotel. We had a bit more current than I would have preferred, at least for Natalie’s first training dive. J.F.’s brand new regulator free-flowed a lot underwater. Good thing the dive was shallow. After J.F. realized that he could keep diving, everyone settled down and the dive went smoothly. J.F. must have been angry to have just purchased a new regulator and to malfunction on his very first day!
For the second dive, on Cardona, for some mysterious reason, J.F.’s new regulator was working just fine. This dive was much easier than the first. There was less current, no equipment problems and we saw a spotted moray eel and a southern stingray. Natalie was very pleased and pointed at every pretty fish we saw.
Saturday, Sept. 29th
Once again, it was only Natalie, J.F. and I. We went to Palancar Gardens. J.F. found Natalie’s first turtle. She was absolutely ecstatic.
It just kept getting better at Dalila. We drifted over a coral head and found a medium-sized nurse shark lolling about. Then we saw a second big shark that swam off when J.F. took a picture. We saw a third shark later in the dive. Natalie told me when we got back on the boat that she saw a fourthy shark that apparently I had missed.
We did a 3rd dive on Paso Del Cedral that day. We had another great dive. The big green moray eel was in its normal spot. We saw a timid nurse shark hide in the cave system. A smaller nurse shark taking a nap. It was a fantastic day!
Sunday, Sept. 30th
My first dip of the day was on Chankanaab with Jason, Pheobe, David, Andy, Natalie and J.F. We had a nice easy dive with not much current. Jason found us a couple of lobsters.
We had a bit of excitement on Paradise. Nine minutes into the dive the current stopped. It gradually changed direction. After about 30 minutes it got a bit crazy, so we hid behind the coral and waited for it to calm down. We finished the dive right where we had started it. After we got on the boat we had to rescue three divers that were floating into the construction zone. They waited too long to go up and they were floating right into the Puerta Maya construction project. What a disaster. We tossed them a rope and dragged them back to the reef and out of the construction zone. Then their boat came and picked them up.
Monday, Oct. 1st
Back to Palancar Gardens with J.F., Natalie, Jason, Andy, David, Pheobe, Amy and Bryan. The only turtle that we saw was on its way up to the surface way off in the distance. Amy and I came out of a cave and confronted a humungous barracuda. On Jason and Pheobe’s safety stop we saw a baby green eel swimming around looking for breakfast.
Natalie wanted to see some sharks so we went back to Dalila. J.F. found the first shark which was really big and swimming right past us. We later found a smaller one lying on the bottom. Bryan got some good pictures of the nurse shark and sadly, he then later lost his brand new camera when he was going up the ladder. Jason dropped his mask getting back on board the boat. Carlos drove me back to where he thought that the camera fell and I got back in to do a search. Unfortunately, I only found the mask, and not the expensive camera……………..
Thursday, Oct. 2nd.
My first tank was on Palancar Horseshoe with Natalie and J.F. We did a 100-foot dive for Natalie’s Advanced Certification course. It was strange to be looking upward at a turtle for once.
We did navigation at Colombia Shallows. We saw two turtles. Natalie was fascinated with the big horse conches and queen conches in the sand.
Then we went to San Francisco wall to practice Peak Performance Buoyancy Control. We swam under ledges and overhangs. We tried not to touch the bottom, top or sides as we did. It is hard to do! Natalie mastered hovering on that dive. She found a juvenile peacock flounder in the sand.
Wednesday, Oct. 3rd
J.F. requested Santa Rosa Wall and my other divers were Natalie, Rich, Jason, Amy and Bryan. Unbelievably, the conditions were perfect. There were no waves, very light current and good visibility. We had a beautiful, relaxing dive with big groupers and a turtle that Amy pointed out to us.
Normally Cedral Wall is one of my very favorite spots. This day the current picked up quite a bit of speed and it was a challenge for the first half of the dive. I crossed the group over to Paso Del Cedral to get out of the current and we swam right up to a little turtle. J.F. and Natalie found a giant lobster posing sideways in a hole.
Thursday, Oct. 4th
I took Jason, Pheobe, David, Andy, J.F., Natalie and Rich to Colombia Deep. When we got in the water there was absolutely no current at all. Gradually, however, the current kicked in. We found two large nurse sharks sleeping side by side under a coral formation right next to the big anchor. Then the current really kicked in and we flew around in a sand storm. J.F. said that it was like diving in a blizzard.
Colombia Shallows had nice calm current. We had a pleasant dive with a two small turtles, a couple of big stingrays and Rich found a mega-sized lobster. As Pheobe and I were heading up a big nurse shark swam off and we went back down and chased it for a minute.
Friday, Oct. 5th
Since J.F. and Natalie were diving for two weeks, I was trying to pick different reefs for them each day. We went to Palancar Caves with Josh, Lucy, Amy, Bryan and Rich. We had a lot of issues to work out at first. The last issue was a group of divers that just barged right in on us and got all mixed up with our group. I got pissed off and asked my divers to just sit down in the sand and wait for the obnoxious group to move on.
Well as soon as I stopped, I looked downward. Low and behold, there was a little pipehorse right beneath me and right under my nose. I could swear that it was the same one that lived about 100 meters north in another beautiful archway. We used to go and visit it all of the time but it disappeared one day. I could just swear that this is the same one!
Then Josh pointed out a turtle on the wall. I headed over to where I had seen the turtle and when I looked back J.F, he was pointing at something that I had just swum past us. I reluctantly went back for a look and surprise! I was looking at another big turtle just sitting there on the bottom. Duh! I completely missed it. We ended up seeing four different turtles on that dive. The last one was a baby. Rich and I watched it bury its head in a hole looking for some good eats.
French Reef produced another three turtles. There was quite a bit of current but everyone managed it well. I had to laugh when Josh was looking at a big green and orange rainbow parrotfish and it let loose a huge poop. Parrotfish contribute to the underwater environment by making sand for the bottom.
Saturday, Oct. 6th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with Josh, Lucy, Rich, J.F. and Natalie. The North wind made the surface choppy but it slowed the current way down and we had a beautiful dive. Josh showed us a big turtle paddling around in the deep blue water.
On Tormentos we saw several big groupers, a few lobsters and a big, scary barracuda at a cleaning station. It had its mouth open and was getting its teeth cleaned. Those choppers sure are impressive!
Sunday, Oct. 7th
I went to the C53 shipwreck with J.F., Natalie, Jaime, Debbie, Guiellermo, Amy and Bryan. Amazingly there was no current. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions. I was surprised that there were no lobsters or crabs under the shipwreck. Normally we see loads of lobsters and crabs. We saw a tremendous snapper with pointed teeth that hung out on the deck.
What a great dive we had on Las Palmas!!!!!!! Upon reaching the bottom we found a 5-foot green moray eel sitting around under a small coral head. It didn’t take me long to find a nice splendid toadfish for Amy. Everyone got a good picture. Then we came up on an extra large turtle just sitting on the coral. It seemed to pose for the cameras. After we saw a couple of golden tail morays I found another good-sized turtle napping under a coral formation. Debbie said that the turtle looked like it was scratching its back on the coral but what I think it was doing was trying to wiggle its way out from under the coral head and escape us.
Monday, Oct. 8th
The first stop of the day was on Palancar Caves with J.F., Natalie, Amy, Bryan, Josh, Lucy, Debbie and Jaime. When we got in everything was pretty normal. Gradually, the current got faster and faster. We ended up flying over the reef for the last 15 minutes of the dive.
We tried to go to Yucab, but every time I got in to check the current, it was just too strong. So I asked Carlos to drive us over to Chankanaab where the current is always weak, as a rule. When we got in and began our descent. The current was swift but it kept getting worse and worse until we were just flying in a snow storm again. We finally gave up and went to the surface after half an hour. The current was just crazy everywhere that day and it stirred up the sand reducing the visibility to 10 or 15 feet. It was just insane! I have not been in such difficult current for years. We actually finished the entire reef at Chankanaab in 6 minutes and the rest of the dive was spent flying over a sandy bottom.
Tuesday, Oct. 9th
I had a special request for sharks so I took Josh, Lucy, Debbie and Jaime to Dalila. We saw two enormous nurse sharks lying side by side on the bottom. Then we saw a big old turtle that Debbie pointed out. A pair of black groupers swam by so I started looking around and found a big green moray eel. Then we saw another shark that swam right beneath me. We saw a big southern stingray. Lastly we saw one more turtle. Back on the boat Josh said, “That dive rocked!” And that was an understatement!
I thought that it would be fun to show Lucy the schools of pretty yellow and blue striped grunts on Colombia Shallows. We saw a yellow stingray and another southern stingray too. We also saw two more turtles and I got a great shot of the girls with the turtle.
Tuesday, Oct. 16th
After a week off from work, I went to Palancar Gardens with Rich, Shawn, Mike, Lexi, Lant and Justin. We had some current, but nothing too strong, thank goodness. We were really lucky. We saw 4 or 5 turtles, a big nurse shark and a swimming green moray eel.
The kids wanted to see sharks so I took them to Dalila. We saw two more sharks and a couple more turtles. Overall, it was a very successful day.
Wednesday, Oct. 17th
Shawn wanted to go to the wall. Rich, Amanda, Lexi, Lant and Justin were happy to just be diving. We had fantastic conditions. The current was light and the visibility was good. Lant took about 10 minutes to get to the bottom with her stubborn ears, but that was not a problem because we didn’t have much current. We swam through several caves on that dive.
We went to Paso Del Cedral in search of barracudas and amoebas for Shawn. (He asked to see amoebas but I think he meant anemones) We saw a few big fat barracudas but I think Shawn missed the school of 20 small barracudas. We also saw a turtle feasting on a sponge and a pair of nurse sharks swimming in circles around each other. It looked like they were playing with each other. Maybe they were mating.
Thursday, Oct. 18th
I went to Palancar Horseshoe with Rich, Amanda, Mitch, Laura, Tim, Jr. and Tracy. Everyone got to see the turtles. Amanda and I saw a big green moray eel free swimming at the beginning of the dive. We all got to see a second green moray eel much closer at the end of the dive.
We had a good turtle day on French Reef. We saw five more turtles on our second stop. We also saw a bunch of big black groupers and an empty lobster shell that the owner had molted when he grew out of it.
Friday, Oct. 19th
I had a perfect day at work on Palancar Caves with Amanda, Rich, Andy, Mandy, Michelle, M.D. and Curt. We saw six turtles and Andy showed us a nurse shark sleeping in a hole. The best part for me was the pipehorse at the first cave... because today it had its mate hanging on to the same piece of algae. It was way too cool to see them all tangled up together.
Cedral Wall provided us with four more turtles and a big green moray eel. Our grand finale was a 60foot nurse shark out in the open. We saw that shark just before we had to go up.
Sunday, Oct. 21st
Al, Amanda and I took out our new boat the Maximus for her maiden voyage! We went to Palancar Caves. I brought my camera and took pictures of the two tiny mated pipehorses. I found a little pipefish in the same area too. I spent a good 20 minutes shooting the little buggers. I am afraid that poor Al was bored out of his skull while I took pictures. We also saw a spotted scorpion fish and a turtle. Both Amanda and Al said that diving from the Maximus was fantastic!
We saw a couple more turtles on Cedral Wall. I told Amanda to look for nurse sharks. At the first hole that she looked inside, she found a small one. She was impressed. However, I just thought of Rich and knew that he would not have been impressed, since he had seen me do that two or three times before during the last week. I just smiled. :-)
Monday, Oct. 22nd
I dived Palancar Caves with Al, Samantha and Daniel. We saw a wonderful turtle right before the first cave. We had strong south wind that day which causes big waves. Poor Sam got very seasick.
We saw barracudas everywhere on Paso del Cedral. We found a decent-sized nurse shark lying about in the sand.
Tuesday, Oct. 23rd
I just know that Al never gets tired of Palancar Horseshoe so I took he, Gary, Mike, Jaime, Samantha and Daniel there. We had a nice, relaxing dive. I admired the pretty purple vase sponges and the yellow tube sponges with the brittle stars in them.
Dalila was great! Jaime found two different big green moray eels there. I found a pair of big nurse sharks together again in almost the same spot. I found a smaller nurse shark napping under the reef. There were three magnificent turtles and assorted rays. Jaime found a big octopus hiding in its den.
Thursday, Oct. 25th
I went to Palancar Gardens with Amanda, Damien, Al, Amy, Brad, Wendy and Ron. We almost didn’t get to go diving that day due to high winds and big waves. The port opened up late morning. I called everyone on the phone and asked if they still wanted to go. It turned out to be amazing. Brad brought along a diamond ring and asked Amy to marry him under water during the safety stop! She showed me her brand new diamond ring when I came up. Good thing he didn’t lose the ring during the scuba dive!!!
We saw a few more turtles on French Reef. Amanda, Damien, Wendy, Ron and I saw a huge lobster out in the open. Amanda and I went over to lie down next to the 6-foot nurse shark in the sand for perspective.
Friday, Oct. 26th
My first immersion of the day was on Colombia with Amanda, Damien, Al, Wendy, Ron, Ken and Melissa. We saw a little turtle. Amanda found a furry sea cucumber. Wendy took a picture with a big sea star. We saw a small nurse shark just before we came up from the dive.
My next immersion that day was on Dalila, where we saw a couple of turtles and a big eel. There was a big gray southern stingray there.
Sunday, Oct. 28th,
Al agreed to dive the shipwreck C53 with Amanda and Damien. He made Amanda very happy. Amanda has more that 300 dives in Cozumel and had never been to the shipwreck. She absolutely loved it. I brought my camera and took pictures. I tried to email them to Al but they all got sent back to me as undeliverable. We saw glassy sweepers. All of the photos with my strobe came out great.!
Finally I got my shot of a splendid toadfish. I had been trying to get a good picture of one for years. Damien helped by convincing the toadfish that it should come out and pose for me. We saw a small nurse shark in a little cave on the wall and we found a juvenile smooth trunkfish for Amanda. They look like little brown marbles with whitish/yellow spots and they just bob about in the same little spot. She had specifically said that she wanted to see one...so it was special.
Monday, Oct. 29th,
I did a resort course for Jason, David, Rick and Mark on Palancar. I tell Carlos that the point of the Horseshoe in 20-feet of water is my “student site”. We saw a puffer fish, a tiger’s tail sea cucumber, a lobster and tons of crabs. It was an afternoon dive, so that is why we saw those crustaceans.
Thursday, Oct. 30th
John and Adam wanted to see a seahorse so I took them to Palancar Caves first in search of my little pipehorses. The mated pair was gone. I searched and searched for about 10 minutes before I finally gave up. They must have gotten sick and tired of all the traffic and changed locales. We saw two beautiful turtles on that dive.
We continued our seahorse search on Paradise since I bombed out on Palancar. I was quite relieved when I found the little yellow seahorse clinging to the three finger leaf algae. John found a really big orange seahorse that was impressive. A pike blenny gave us a mating display. I visited Spike, Laura’s little sailfin blenny and told him “hi” for her.
Happy Halloween! October 31st
I took Adam and John diving on Colombia while Lisa and Justin snorkeled above us. We saw a huge old turtle with barnacles growing on its back. It swam right up to us at first. Then it got nervous and suspicious and went around us. We also saw a big crab. Later, we swam through a cave.
Lisa and Justin joined us on the second dive at Colombia Shallows. Of the several lobsters that we saw on that dive, John said that the one standing sideways under the ledge was the biggest lobster that he have ever seen. I showed Lisa a huge one-clawed crab. ( It must have lost the other one in a battle.) We also Sfound a big heart urchin with a mortal bite wound from a hungry triggerfish. It was a long dive since it was so shallow.
Saturday, November 3rd
I dived on Palancar Horseshoe with John, Adam, Lisa and Justin. We stayed nice and shallow. Greeted by a southern stingray upon reaching the bottom, we saw a lobster and we later swam over a small turtle.
Jason, David, Rick and Mark joined us for a dive on Palancar Gardens. We saw more stingrays and another baby turtle. Chucho found a small nurse shark hiding from us in a crevice in the reef.
Sunday, November 4th
I took Warren, Paul, Barry and Dan to Palancar Gardens. We saw a big green moray eel and a grouper swimming about. We also saw a southern stingray. Poor Dan flooded his camera and Barry lost his camera. The guys had a good sense of humor about it, however.
That pair of big nurse sharks were waiting for us on Dalila. They were in the exact same spot, nestled together, but you can tell that they are getting sick of divers. We didn’t even get close before they got aggravated and swam off away from us. We saw five different turtles, both large and small. My favorite was the one turtle, pigging out with it’s harem of angelfish.
Monday, November 5th
Diving on Cedral Wall with Paul and Barry, I stopped counting the turtles at around six or seven. We had gorgeous dive conditions and saw two nurse sharks. One shark was small and swimming beneath us. The other shark was medium-sized and had a big black spot on its dorsal fin. Guess I should name him “Spot” if I see him again.
Since the current was light and conditions were ideal, I took the boys to Punta Tunich.
And it was another spectacular dive! Paul said that I really outdid myself that day. We saw a large group of turtles. A big green moray eel was stretched out on the bottom of a cave with two black groupers nearby. A really big spotted eagle ray approached us slowly, with a conch shell in its mouth. We got to spend a good minute or two with this beauty.
Last of all, Notchka swam by. I hadn’t seen her for a really long time. It was good to see her again. It looks like she has grown about a foot since the last sighting.
Tuesday, November 6th
Paul requested Punta Sur. We saw a school of five small Caribbean reef sharks at the beginning of the dive. Little Gustavo showed me where Nick’s memorial plaque was placed in one of the caves at Punta Sur. Warren took a picture of it for me.
On Dalila we saw a 4-foot nurse shark lolling nearby. There were also three or four turtles. I pointed out a southern stingray to Warren.
Wednesday, November 7th
Paul, Dan and Barry came with me to Colombia Deep. We swam through lots of caves. I found a big, fat green moray eel in a hole. Its tail was sticking out for a couple of feet. Paul and I saw a baby turtle.
Then we went to French Reef where we swam with a big turtle and a big nurse shark. I followed Mr. Juan-der-ful around because he was diving in a “little Speedo.” We played and laughed a lot together.
Thursday, November 8th
I dived at Palancar Gardens with Barry, Dan, Chris, Barbara, Paula, Elisa and Don. Although we had to fight the current for 8 minutes just to reach the reef, once we got there, the current was calm. We saw a small turtle surface for air and we swam through a bunch of caves.
On Paso Del Cedral we saw another little turtle in the company of some pretty angels. We also saw a huge barracuda, a big black grouper and a sleeping nurse shark.
Friday, 9th November
Paul asked if we could go back to Punta Tunich with Elisa, Don, Paula and Ken. We had big waves that day and a ripping current. Everyone liked the dive except Paul, since his computer didn’t work on that dive and neither did the camera’s strobe. He was very frustrated, to say the least.
Don got video of the big loggerhead turtle that swam right up in his face. Then I found a baby nurse shark in a hole but everyone was too lazy to swim back against the current to have a look. I made them swim back though when I found the big octopus just sitting on top of a pile of seashells. We also saw a couple more turtles on that dive. The last one was so big that we were not sure if it was just the first one all over again...just further on down the reef.
Paula found my favorite big yellow seahorse on Paradise. We stopped by to say hi to Spike for Laura. I also found a couple of splendid toadfish.
Friday, November 16th
I came back to work just in time to take Dave, Michelle, Kurt, Bud, Jim, Janelle and Tyler diving on Palancar. There was mild current that morning...blowing us toward shore. We had a bit of a work swimming to the reef. It was worth it however, because when we arrived, we discovered a turtle having breakfast with a gray angel and a queen angel. Everyone was fascinated by the school of horseeyed jacks that passed us closely.
Janelle missed the turtle on French Reef but Tyler took a picture of it for her. We saw a pair of crabs doing battle on the reef and an empty crab shell lying on the bottom.
Sunday, November 18th
Chucho, Todd, Trevor, Kristen, Chantal, Marc, Mike and Riley were my divers on Palancar Horseshoe. Chucho led the group while Trevor, Kristen and I hung out in the shallow water. Trevor did skills for Open Water Training dive number one. Later, we joined the other divers just in time to see the 3rd turtle they found.
Schools of blue striped grunts were everywhere on Colombia Shallows. We also saw several schools of small barracudas. One southern stingray was in the sand. A well- hidden lobster waved its antennas at us from its hiding place.
Monday, November 19th
My first tank of the day was on Palancar Caves with Marc, Chantal, Kristen, Trevor, Mike, Riley, Todd and Mark. Coming out of a swim through. I looked up to find a small turtle overhead dining on a tasty sponge. I felt very fortunate that we had no waves or current to deal with. We saw an octopus hiding in his den of seashells on the bottom.
We saw a big crab with humungous claws at Dalila. Mike illuminated it with his flashlight for us. I saw a grouper acting funny, so I went over to investigate. I found a big green moray eel outstretched on the bottom. Trevor grabbed my fin and tugged as we floated over a 5-foot nurse shark. I would have missed it completely had he not gotten my attention. It always makes me wonder just how many sharks, eels, turtles and rays have a drifted over or past without seeing them. Lastly, we saw a big hawksbill turtle just sitting around doing nothing. It didn’t mind that we spent time ogling it.
Thursday, November 20th
I went back to Palancar Gardens with Marc, Chantal, Kristen, Trevor and Todd. We swam through the caves and tunnels. We met up with Chucho and the other group of divers at the end of the dive.
The current was amazingly slow on Cedral Wall. I found my favorite 6-foot long green moray eel in her usual spot. I wanted to spend the entire dive petting her soft little head but I figured that everyone would get sick of watching that after a while,, so I spent just a minute or two with her. I blew her a kiss before I reluctantly moved on.
We ran into a pair of happy turtles. Todd got an up close and personal experience with one. Kristen flirted with the other one.
Wednesday, November 21st
Per special request, I dived the C53 shipwreck with Marc, Chantal, Kristen, Trevor, Todd, Jim and Victoria. We saw lots of brittle stars covering the red sponges that are encrusting the hull. There were huge cushion stars littering the sandy bottom. Everyone enjoyed the challenge of swimming through the wreck.
We had a second special request for seahorses\. We went to “Pasto de Cebadal” at Paradise. It gave me great pleasure to be able to fulfill the special request. I found a small one and Chantal pointed out my favorite big yellow one. We were also treated to small golden tail morays, a few spotted eels, a huge crab and two splendid toadfish.
Thanksgiving, November 22nd
Rod, Matt and Sandy came with me to Palancar Gardens. The first turtle settled down and started biting off big mouthfuls of the Thanksgiving sponge. The second turtle glided down from above and was much bigger. I wonder how close it was to the snorkeler group moving, above us.
Ty, Heather, Erin, Becky and Austin joined us for a resort course on the beach. Then I took them on a shallow dive at Horseshoe. Fun was had by all. Austin is now hooked on scuba forever.
Friday, November 23rd
I took Lisa, Charles, Todd, David, Marc, Chantal, Kristen and Trevor to Colombia Deep. We all went a little deeper than the dive plan. We saw the bricks and the anchor at the end of the dive.
On French reef Charles saw a big crab. A green moray eel was out hunting with a grouper. Todd showed us a big turtle as we went up. A southern stingray swam by us.
Saturday, November 24th
My first dive was on Palancar Horseshoe with Marc, Chantal, Kristen, Trevor, Kathy, Alan and David. I put a turtle on the reef for Marc to take pictures.
OK, I am lying. But the turtle did sit really still for Marc while he took photos.
The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral where we saw two green moray eels. The first one was in the usual moray spot. David found the second one that was pretty darned big. Kathy and I chased a small nurse shark around at the end of the dive.
It was a long dive.
Sunday, November 25th
Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Kathy, Alan, Ted, Jeannie, J.F., Joe and Roberta. Coming out of a cave, a small turtle swam right up to us. J.F. saw a turtle sitting on the reef and we saw another smaller one at the end of the dive.
Wow! What a lot of work on Tormentos! The current was swift and the group got separated. It was a bit chaotic most of the dive...but it all worked out in the end. We enjoyed the colorful encrusting sponges on the underside of the ledges.
That afternoon I took J.F., Shanon, Sean, Laura, Steve, Larry and Denise to Palancar Horseshoe. Chucho and I split the group. I kept Larry, Denise and Steve shallow and we did skills for open water training dive #1 and Chucho led the certified divers down over the wall. We all got to see the big turtle off in the blue water. My group also saw a stingray.
On Colombia Shallows Denise showed us a big green moray eel out swimming around ...on the hunt. We saw a spotted eagle ray and another big turtle. I was jealous because when we got back on the boat we found out that Chucho’s group saw six spotted eagle rays swimming, all together!
Monday, November 26th
Marc, Chantal, Kristen, Trevor, J.F., Joe and Roberta were probably getting a little “Palancared out” so we took them to Santa Rosa Wall where the traffic jams usually are in the morning. We planned a multilevel dive using the wheel for Roberta’s advanced certification. Right as I arrived at the wall, I saw a huge nurse shark take off swimming against the current. I pointed and shook my rattle but no one else saw it but me.
Kristen and Roberta finished their navigation on Chankanaab. We saw lobsters and crabs on that dive.
In the afternoon I went to French reef with J.F., Shanon, Sean, Steve, Laura, Denise and Larry. We saw a big green moray eel out swimming around. J.F. got a picture of it. We also saw a crab and a lobster. Sean, J.F. and I saw a huge turtle right before we came up.
We all had a fantastic time on Dalila. First, a medium-sized nurse shark swam off to the deep water. Later we saw a few turtles. The last turtle was huge. A second nurse shark swam 10-feet away from J.F. and smiled for his camera.
Tuesday, November 27th
I spent the entire day at Paradise tied off to the mooring buoy with Ted, Jeannie, J.F. and David. We completed about half of the Rescue Diver course. It was hard work and tiring. However, it was very satisfying as well.
Wednesday, November 28th
Once again, I spent the entire day from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm on Paradise near shore almost completing the Rescue Diver course. We got tired after hours of giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a non-breathing diver and then towing them back to the boat. The really hard part was getting them on board the boat after we arrived. Thank goodness, Carlos is a strong man. To get a diver back on board the boat, it always took one rescue diver and Carlos pulling hard. We were exhausted at the end of the day.
Thursday, November 29th
My rescue divers were ready to go out and have some fun. I took David,
J.F., Ted, Jeannie, Joe, Roberta, Annette and Mike to Colombia Deep.
We saw a turtle with a funny looking dome shaped shell. J.F. showed
me a hungry toadfish in a hole. Mike and
Our second stop was on San Francisco Wall where we saw a couple of southern stingrays in the sand. I also saw a peacock flounder on the bottom.
Friday, November 30th
I dived Santa Rosa Wall with J.F., David, Ted, Jeannie, Joe and Roberta. We descended upon two turtles doing the wild thing. It was quite a show. One was nibbling on the other’s flipper. They didn’t care that we were all watching them. Later another turtle swam right up to join us.
J.F. requested Yucab, since he had never been there before. A feisty toadfish took the bait of my lure. Of course there is no hook on it, so no harm done. The boys took pictures of a banded coral shrimp and a black long-spined sea urchin under an overhang. They were surrounded by colorful encrusting sponges.
I did more certification dives that afternoon for Bruce, Jim, Josh, Sue and Debbie on Colombia Shallows. Once we hit the bottom, Jim and I took off after a small nurse shark that was out swimming around. We saw a hawksbill turtle and one baby green turtle. The guys saw a stingray, but I missed it.
The next dive was on Palancar Horseshoe where we were rewarded with another turtle and a huge crab. One of the girls was kind of leery of the big crab. I thought that was humorous, but enjoyable.
Saturday, December 1st
To finish up the certification dives, I took Bruce, Jim, Josh, Sue and Debbie to Palancar Gardens. First we saw a big turtle. Then a 6-foot green moray eel that was paired up with a big black grouper, who swam under our group. They were so close to us that we could have reached down and petted them. I was worried that it might freak someone out, but everyone loved it! Later we saw one more turtle.
They all got certified after the dive on Colombia Shallows. We saw queen conches littered everywhere. We also saw a big helmut shell. A small lobster was bravely standing around on the reef. At the end of the dive we spent several minutes with an extra large southern stingray chowing down on invertebrates in the sand. The stingray was accompanied by three smooth trunkfish. One of those trunkfish had no tail, but kept wiggling its cute little butt anyway. When we got back on the boat, I told Josh that the big parrotfish we saw was called a “poo poo fish” and he almost believed me. The rainbow parrotfish just swim around eating and making new sand constantly.
Monday, December 3rd
I dived on Palancar Gardens with Mike, Janet, Larry, Shane, Joe & Don. We had perfect conditions. The surface was flat and there was no current. We saw a small turtle off in the distance.
One of the boys requested to see a seahorse so we went to Paradise, of course. It was a shame that the boys were already up on the boat when Janet and I found the big orange pregnant seahorse. I was so happy to see that more seahorses are on the way!
Tuesday, December 4th
Bruce, Mike, Jim, Tony & Jason came diving with me on Colombia Deep. We visited the anchor and swam through my favorite cave.
Wow! What a great dive on Cedral Wall! First we saw two small nurse sharks hiding from the current in different holes about 25 feet apart. Then we saw another medium- sized nurse shark swimming around. I found my favorite green moray eel and when I reached out to pet its sweet little head I could hear Bruce warning me not to do that through his regulator. That eel is so soft that I just can’t resist. I just adore it. Then we came upon a giant turtle just sitting still while Bruce and Mike took lots of pictures. A minute later we drifted over a hungry turtle eating a sponge. At the end of the reef a decent-sized nurse shark was lying about out in the open on the sand.
Wednesday, December 5th
My first tank was on Palancar Gardens with David, Shane, Brett, Dana, Bruce, Kay and Amber. A big eagle ray glided right at us. It was breathtaking. We also saw three turtles.
There was definitely a lack of critters this day on Colombia Shallow. We only saw one turtle at the end of the dive after we had swum over to Palancar.
Thursday, December 6th
My divers were Bob, Kay, Amber, Jason, Tony, Ken and Judy. We saw three big turtles throughout the dive. They moved slowly so we got to hang out with them for a while. I coaxed a splendid toadfish out of a hole so everyone could see the long yellow ribbon like fins that earns it the title “splendid”.
We went to Paradise in search of seahorses. We found two of them! The first one was well camouflaged and was a kind of yellow. The second one was small and orange colored.
Friday, December 7th
My first dip of the day was on Palancar Horseshoe with Bruce, Bob, Chris, Ken, Judy, Dustin and Darrin. I think Horseshoe is Bruce’s favorite dive. The towering coral formations are good for multilevel dive plans.
There were two turtles on Dalila and one small nurse shark. Thankfully, there was not much current.
Saturday, December 8th
My divers were Chris, Bruce, Ken, Judy, Shane, Dana, Dave and Brett. We swam through lots of tunnels and saw a few turtles. Dave took after a turtle but couldn’t catch him.
The boys wanted to see a shark so I took them to Cedral Wall. We saw four sharks! The first two were small ones, about 3 to 4 feet long. Nestled into a hole next to the 2nd shark was my favorite green moray eel and I gave her a little pet. We saw a couple of turtles before Bruce alerted us to the two huge nurse sharks swimming in circles around each other. That was quite a show. I think it is the same pair that was on Dalila last month.
Sunday, December 9th
Patti, Andrew, Rich, Elaine, Ron and Kathy started their week on Palancar Gardens with Ken, Judy and I. While Elaine was showing everyone the big lobster she spotted, I was pointing out a big turtle down below us. We crossed paths with Pingo from Dive Palancar and he showed us the brown seahorse on the bottom in about 60 feet of water. That was a good score!
Both Ken and Judy love Colombia Shallows. There were two different kinds of puffer fish and some lobsters. We also saw a shy 8-foot eagle ray. Ken and Judy saw a couple of turtles but I missed them.
Monday, December 10th
Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Ken, Judy, Patti, Andrew, Elaine, Rich, Ron & Kathy. Ron showed us a green moray eel and we saw a couple of turtles.
On Dalila we all saw the big spotted eagle ray. Ron showed us a 5-foot nurse shark and I didn’t push Patti in to see him. The miracle of this trip was the big octopus out in the open. Patti loves octopi. We also saw a southern stingray and a few turtles. When I asked Ron how he saw everything, Carlos answered for him. Carlos said that it was the new mask that caused him to see everything :-)J
Tuesday, December 11th
I went to Palancar Caves with Patti, Andrew, Rich, Elaine, Ron, Kathy, Ken & Judy. We saw a nurse shark sleeping in a cave beneath us. No one went down for a closer look. We also saw a big lobster.
We went back to Colombia Shallows for Ron and Kathy to try out some really fancy full-face masks that permit them to talk to each other. When Ken took a picture of the little turtle that he found, it was alarmed and swam off. It must have been those funny-looking masks. Ken found a pair of baby nurse sharks curled up together under a small coral head. Later, we saw another turtle and a crab with huge pinchers.
I did an afternoon dive on Palancar Horseshoe with Roy, Nikki, Ray and Brian. We found a good size turtle deep below us. Nikki went down for a good look. We also saw a shark just sleeping peacefully on top of the reef.
We got a late start on Tormentos, so the flashlights came in handy. We saw a southern stingray chowing down in the sand and a dinner-sized lobster out prancing around showing off. We shined our flashlight on a splendid toadfish which retreated back into its den.
Wednesday, December 12th
My first dive of the day was on Colombia Deep with Chris, Ron, Kathy, Elaine, Rich, Patti and Andrew. Ron loved the mysterious cave. Rich got a little turned around in there. Someone pointed out a crab that had some hefty claws on it. The crab was clinging to the reef upside down.
There was swift current, that doesn’t faze Patti at all on Cedral Wall. The big critters seem to love that current. Right beneath us on the way down...a small nurse shark napped in a crevice. We saw a couple of turtles. One of the turtles was nestled into a cave with my favorite big green moray eel. The two nurse sharks were hanging out together in the same spot at the end of the dive. It was a real adventure.
Thursday, December 13th
My divers were Patti, Andrew, Ron, Kathy, Rich, Elaine, Chris and Frank. We saw two turtles up close and personal. A hungry toadfish snapped at my teaser. Elaine showed us a southern stingray swimming over the reef.
I cleaned Nick’s memorial on Paso Del Cedral with a scrub brush. We saw a ton of big lobsters and a couple of small turtles. Frank pointed out a good-sized nurse shark. Patti found a little sandy eel at the end of the dive.
Tuesday, December 18th
Bill Jr., Krista, Mike and I had an amazing dive on Palancar Gardens! We saw two turtles. One was down deep below us and one went into an archway with Bill. After exiting the archway a big green moray eel swam around below us. Then I turned my head to see a big nurse shark being followed by four large black groupers. We swam back against the current a little and I found Pingo’s little brown sea horse. What more could we ask for?
Bill Sr. Dana, Simon and Rachel joined us for the 2nd dive on Colombia Shallow. They were taking the resort course. That dive was a bit chaotic but we saw two nurse sharks and some big puffers.
Thursday, December 20th
My family arrived for the holidays and I took my sister Melanie, Will Sr., Will Jr., Wayne and Kim to Palancar Gardens. That is the perfect reef for a first day of diving. It is an easier descent, and it is also really great fun. The current that day was pretty darn fast and we spent most of the time up on top of the reef in the shallow water. We had a great turtle day. We saw five different turtles. All were small or medium-sized. Will showed us a green moray eel on the bottom.
To keep things easy I took them to Colombia Shallow. There were two more turtles there plus an octopus in a hole. Kim enjoyed the schools of pretty yellow fish and the black durgeons were her favorite.
Friday, December 21st
I went back to Palancar Gardens with Emily, Ed, Melanie and Mom. We didn’t see any turtles this time but we saw the free-swimming green moray eel being followed around by a big black grouper. I found the seahorse again too. Mom was very pleased.
There was more swift current on Dalila. We drifted past one small turtle and also a really big turtle just sitting still for Ed’s camera. We spooked a southern stingray hiding under the sand. All you could see were his eyes and tail until he flapped and swam away. I also found a big green moray eel hiding in a small cave.
Saturday, December 22nd
Ed requested a wall dive so I took Emily, Ed, Mike, Michelle and Mom to San Francisco Wall. Thank goodness we didn’t have much current that day. We saw a cute little turtle and Mom really liked the wall.
There was almost no current at all on Chankanaab. There was a pair of lobsters in a hole and a crab. Ed took pictures of the big school of fish and he pointed out a lizard fish to Emily.
Sunday, December 23rd
I dived Palancar Caves with my Mom, Melanie, Panchito, Ed and Emily. It was a beautiful dive with very little current. We saw a couple of turtles and a spotted eagle ray. A big crab was out in the open .
French Reef was calm also. We drifted over a huge turtle and a large southern stingray flapped around in the sand.
I did my first afternoon dive on Palancar Horseshoe with Dennis, Diane, David, Kenneth and Krista. Boy, were we lucky! First we saw a small turtle and a nurse shark. Next, a small nurse shark was sleeping under a coral head nearby. We also saw a lobster on that particular dive.
My second tank that afternoon was on Paradise where we saw a goldentail eel and a huge lobster. It was late in the afternoon, so the lobster was on the prowl for dinner.
Monday, December 24th
I started on Palancar Horseshoe with Mom, Diane, Dennis, David, Kenneth and Krista. I saw Dennis swimming down and out to sea so I was wondering why and went back to investigate. I took a good look and discovered that he was trying to get a picture of a big spotted eagle ray at about 100 feet. Krista and I are the only ones that saw that ray besides Dennis.
On Dalila we squeezed into a small cave to get a better look at a sleeping nurse shark. It was about 6-feet long. The shark was hiding in the shadows of the cave. It was a bit tight and the sand got kicked up, so I didn’t take Diane into the cave.
Tuesday, December 25th
My Christmas Dive was on Palancar Caves with Ed, Emily, Esther, Erica, Tom & Brett. We saw a small turtle. Tom said that he felt like he was in a James Bond movie swimming through all of those tunnels. They had never seen anything like that before.
Eric and Ashley joined us for the second dive on Colombia Shallow. We swam with huge rainbow parrotfish and a couple of southern stingrays. We saw a crab with big pinchers but the really fun part was showing Ashley the little 3-foot nurse shark sleeping under the reef.
Wednesday, December 26th
I went back to my good old Palancar Gardens with Dennis, Diane, David, Kenneth, Krista and Chris. We had perfect diving conditions that day. Kenneth and I spotted a big octopus on top of the reef. It was thinking that it blended well into the environment. We got to sit and look at it for a few minutes before we had to go up.
There was a small green sea turtle on Colombia Shallow. Usually we only see hawksbills. Poor Dennis lost his new digital camera. Carlos drove around looking for it but we never found it. That was a big bummer.
Thursday, December 27th
I did a refresher course for Ben, Jackie, Chris and Drew. We saw the huge school of big- eyed scads that formed a kind of wall around us. It was breathtaking. Chris took lots of pictures.
We did a second shallow, easy dive on Chankanaab but didn’t see any lobsters. That is so weird. We did see a really big barracuda and lots of feather duster and Christmas tree worms.
Friday, December 28th
Toro came along to help me since I had a mixed group of certified divers and students. Toro took Chris, Shannon, Bernard and Duncan on a normal dive over the drop off. I stayed in the shallows with John, Sammy and Sara. They did skills for their Open Water Certification dives. We saw a big stingray sucking invertebrates out of the sand.
On French Reef a small turtle got a good close look at us. It didn’t seem to mind us very much. Shannon went through all of the caves with Toro.
Saturday, December 29th
I did another resort course in the morning on Paradise for John, David, Jessica, John, Jim and Brett. They were all great students. We had ideal conditions and we saw a spotted moray eel. The school of scads was still hanging around and we played in the middle of the school for quite a while.
Sunday, December 30th
I taught a resort course on Paradise for Gracie, Deb and Swami. The big school of scads were there and we sat right in the middle of them as they surrounded us completely for a brief time. We saw a goldentail moray eel and a spotted moray, as well. I showed Deb a splendid toadfish. We saw an octopus in a hole. I showed Swami a spotted scorpion fish.
The afternoon was busy as I took Bernard, Duncan, Jackie, Ben, Jessica, John, Jim and Brett to Colombia Shallow. We saw lots and lots of marine life. First, of all, we found the baby nurse shark that tried to hide from us underneath a big rock. We then saw two turtles. One was really large and moving slowly. We found an octopus in its den and a big southern stingray. All the crabs and lobsters were out and visible since it was an overcast day.
The boys had so much fun at Paso Del Cedral that we chose it for the last dive of the day. We saw a small nurse shark swimming and two humungous green moray eels. Another turtle came and said “hello” to us. Three lobsters wiggled their antennas at us from a hiding hole.
Monday, December 31st
The last two dives of the year were on Paradise with Erick, Joann, Dianne, Caitlan and Courtney. We swam in the big school of fish on the first dive. On the second dive we went over to the reef. I found another dive master showing a group of photographers a pair of big seahorses. They were hanging on to a gorgonian by the tails. They were absolutely gorgeous and amazing.
Happy New Year – More next year ! Alison