Cozumel Scuba Diving


with Alison
 
Wednesday, January 2nd

I dived Palancar Caves with Loke, Mary, Sarah, Matt, Bob and Sean. We went through a few tunnels. When I thought that we had missed most of the sharks I gave up and was swimming along the drop off when another group ahead of us pointed out to sea. A group of 5 sharks swam past and under us. Matt swam over and got a good look :)

I asked Carlos for French Reef but he dropped me off on my ¨Secret Spot¨. Guess we had a little miscommunication. We did have a great dive though. We found crabs and lobsters. One rock had about 8 lobsters under it. We saw a huge green moray eel out swimming around too.

Thursday, January 3rd

Dive one was on Palancar Caves with Scott, Adam, Reba, Catherine, Courtney and Spencer. We had some whacky current which kind of blew us here and there but it was mild and manageable. I saw 4 different sharks. They were all solo. I think Adam saw a couple of sharks but most divers only saw one. There was a turtle that went to the surface for a breath of air.

I took them to Paradise for the second dive. Adam pointed out a flounder and we saw a family of little lobsters wiggling their antennas at us. We saw the biggest southern stingray ever and I took them over to see the seahorse.

Friday, January 4th

It was Kirsten`s first dive in 2 years and she didn`t want to go deep so I told Phillip, John, Matt and Max to stay right below me in about 60 feet of water while I hovered around in about 40 feet of water with Kirsten. I pointed out all the good caves for the boys to explore. Kirsten and I waited above while the boys explored. Kirsten counted a total of 3 turtles. Phillip pointed out a small spotted eagle ray and it hung around for a while.

I took them to Paso Del Cedral for our second stop. There were lots of other divers there but no one complained because we saw so much good stuff. At the very beginning of the dive we drifted over a pretty green turtle. Then we drifted up to a big hawksbill sharing a meal with some angel fish. I found enough lobsters to open a restaurant. A rather large nurse swam past us in the distance. We observed a big southern stingray as it foraged for lunch in the sand. John found a big octopus hiding in it`s den. After Kirsten and Phillip had gone up I found another small 4 foot nurse shark lounging in the sand. It was a critter filled dive.

Saturday, January 5th

Tank number one was on Palancar Caves/Horseshoe with Loke, Greg, John, Diane, Melissa, John, Morgan and Matt. We stayed up on top and those lucky divers saw a school of 5 sharks parade by. We also saw a hawksbill and a green turtle right after the sharks. John showed us a big lobster in a crevice and I highlighted it with my dive light.

I wanted out of the current and waves so I insisted on Chankanaab reef for our second dive. Not only was it nice and calm but we saw a bunch of lionfish. I shot and missed the big one but I got the little one and fed it to a hunger trigger. We saw 3 huge permits kind of playing together. We also saw a big crab and a lobster.

Sunday, January 6th

Matt and Max didn`t care where we dived. John, Melissa, Morgan and Matt asked for Santa Rosa. We pulled up and started suiting up at Santa Rosa and the flat circles started developing at the surface. Carlos pointed them out and asked me if I still wanted to dive there. I told him no. I told him to drive around and find a spot without too much current please. I suggested Bricks because there is an area 60 feet deep with lots of hiding places and a good, solid bottom. We could avoid the drop off if we wanted to. I was a little hesitant to get in seeing more of those flat circles. Carlos assured me that the strong current was out in the deep water. So I got in and checked knowing full well that the current was kick up sooner or later. Fortunately the current never got bad and I never went to the wall. Instead we played in the area closer to shore and did some nice swim throughs. We also found a 6 foot nurse shark also hiding from the current. Everyone was impressed.

I asked for French Reef for the second dive. The current there is usually pretty divable even when it is soaring elsewhere. We swam through the long caves and looked at a pair of lobsters. A hawksbill turtle swam right under the girls and I was worried that one would try to reach down and pet it. It was a nice, easy dive.

Tuesday, January 8th

The surface was choppy but there was no current on Colombia Shallow. My divers were Matt, Max, Dave, Dani, Kaity, Chris and Bria. It was a multicritter dive. I saw 3 turtles and Dave showed us a baby nurse shark on the bottom. I found a small green moray at the end of the dive but the only diver who came over for a look was Max.

The only critter we saw on Palancar Horseshoe was a big crab. Chris said that he liked that dive better anyway because of the amazing scenery.

Wednesday, January 9th

I took Dave, Dani, Kaity, Chris and Bria to Palancar Gardens. When we first got in the visibility was terrible. We could only see for about 40 feet. Dave and Dani certified in Monterrey Bay where you could only see about 5 or 10 feet so 40 feet was just fine for our needs. About 15 minutes into the dive the visibility opened up. I took them through some archways and tunnels. When we came out we were greeted by a turtle. We also saw an enormous lobster.

Dani and Bria got off of the boat for our second dive on Yucab. They missed the big spotted eagle ray and spotted moray. Yucab has lots of schools of fish and is very colorful once again.

Thursday, January 10th

Jackie, Keith and Christian wanted to go to Palancar Caves. Matt and Max love the caves. Gail and Mark have never been to Cozumel before and didn`t mind the waves. We had almost no current on that dive. The visibility was not great but it was better than the day before. We saw a turtle go up to the surface and come back down again. Coming out of one cave I swam right over a sleeping turtle and Jackie pointed it out. She also pointed out the school of little sharks as they swam below us. I dropped down to 70 feet and they were just faint shadows below me. I saw about 7 or 8 of them swimming in circles. They finally figured out how to get away from the divers! They were down deep.

I asked to go to Paso Del Cedral for the second dive because Donna had emailed me and asked me to put some flowers on her daddy`s grave for her. I cut some bouganvillia from my back yard and put it under his marker stone. We saw the green moray in her usual spot and when I wiggled a finger at her she came right out. We saw a couple of small nurse sharks and another really big green eel at the end of the dive. We also saw a big octopus in it`s den. It was a great dive.

Friday, January 11th

I dived Colombia Deep with Al, Mel, Dave, Dani, Kaity, Chris and Bria. We saw one turtle and swam through some caves. Kaity wasn`t real wild about the caves but the boys loved them.

Dive numero dos was on ¨My Secret Spot¨. The first big critter we saw was a medium sized nurse shark on the hunt. The next big critter was a turtle sitting on the bottom sharing a meal with a pair of gray angels. Then a huge spotted eagle ray swam by and we all chased after it for a better look. We also saw a big crab, a big lobster and I found the octopus` den but he wasn`t home.

Saturday, January 12th

Carlos my divemaster took Mel and Al on a normal dive at Palancar Gardens while I stayed up top and did some skills with Chris and Ellen. Mel and Al saw a turtle and chased a small nurse shark over to Carlos. He had fun pretending to be a divemaster for the day.

We all went to Colombia Shallow. Al and Mel chased a big spotted eagle ray over to for Carlos to see. They saw tons of turtles on that dive. They liked it because it is a good place for photography. Al has a ¨Go Pro¨ video camera and Mel has a SeaLIfe still camera.

Sunday, January 13th

The first stop was on Palancar Horseshoe with Mel, Al, Mike, Holly, Ellen, Chris and Susan. We had good conditions for our dive.

The second stop was on French Reef where we saw a turtle and a couple of spotted eagle rays. When I watched Mel take off after the eagle ray for a picture she was swimming like mad. I just imagined how hard she was breathing and how fast that air gauge was going down! I hope she got a good picture :)

Monday, January 14th

My divers were Mike, Holly, Al, Mel, Allan, Cheryl, Jaime and Todd. We went to the caves to look for the little reef sharks and so did every other dive boat in Cozumel. We were surprised upon entering the water to find a crazy current and schools of humans everywhere. It seems to me that the current gets crazy whenever we have lots of divers on the island. Despite the hard current we still had a good dive. We saw 3 different little sharks and it looks like they have grown a bit. We saw several turtles too. We did have to work hard to stay together and not get mixed up with other groups of divers though.

My Secret Spot had a good current blowing too. It was clipping right along. We saw a bunch of turtles. Holly pointed out the biggest one. While some divers were chasing after a big nurse shark others took off after the eagle ray. The spotted eagle ray was HUGE!

Tuesday, January 15th

Our first stop was on Palancar Bricks with Mel, Al, Mike, Holly, Denise and Lester. We had a moderate current but nothing like what we had the day before. We drifted around and looked at turtles and lobsters. When only Al and I were still down we drifted over to Caves and found a school of 4 little sharks. Al took off like a bolt of lightning and shot video of them with his Go Pro. We saw one more solo shark right before we came up.

huge lionfish

Our second stop was on Paso Del Cedral. Mike had requested a splendid toadfish. The current was roaring. We flew over the platform in 3 minutes. When we arrived at the green eel she was feeling feisty and she came out and charged Holly. That made Holly and Denise a little nervous. I did find a toadfish but everyone was swimming around looking at the green eel who had decided to swim around in front of us. We followed her over to the reef where she stopped briefly and then continued on with us. We saw a rock with a bunch of lobsters under it and we found a spotted eagle ray off in the distance. Everyone went after the eagle ray and wasted a bunch of their air :) Then I found the big octopus in his den and when I was taking Denise up for a safety stop Lester found a huge crab. While Al and I did a safety stop we saw a rather large nurse shark out swimming around. Cedral always has tons of big critters.

Wednesday, January 16th

Mike, Holly, Al, Mel, Doug and Laura came with me to Palancar Gardens. Twice I watched as Al swam off into the distance after a spotted eagle ray. I was feeling a little under the weather and stayed put. They found a small nurse shark and took video and photos of the sleeping baby.

We went to Mel`s favorite reef, Dalila for our next dive. We saw lots of turtles. The current was surprisingly forgiving. We saw a big swimming nurse shark on that dive.

Thursday, January 17th

I was worried about a cold front that was due to blow in sometime during the morning and I just didn`t have the guts to be far from the marina. So I took Al, Mel, Mike, Holly, Allan, Allan and Carmela to Chankanaab for the first dive. The only big critter that we saw was a crab. The boys entertained themselves by taking photos of fish.

At Paradise I searched for the seahorses to no avail. When we came up the waves were really big and I was glad that I didn`t have a long boat ride back to the marina.

Saturday, January 19th

The surface was still choppy when I arrived at Palancar Bricks with Allan, Pam, Laura, Doug, Jen and Alex. The bottom was clear and calm. We had a beautiful dive with turtles everywhere. My favorite turtle was fighting with some angelfish over a chunk of sponge that the turtle had bitten off. The angels tried to steal it away and the turtle was swimming around trying to reclaim it. We saw a big crab, a lionfish in a dark cave and a bunch of lobster all huddled up together.

Since conditions were good I took them to Cedral Wall. The turtles were bigger there and we saw a nice sized spotted eagle ray. My sweet green eel was in her usual spot and I gave her a little caress on her soft little head.

Sunday, January 20th

It was still a bit choppy when Gary, Pam, Allan, Jen, Alex and I arrived at Colombia Deep. Thankfully there was not much current and we had an easy dive. Coming out of the first cave I found a turtle sitting on the bottom in 80 feet of water. I had announced on the boat that the maximum depth would be 70 feet but it was worth the little dip down there. Gary decided at that point that he would like to go deep so he pointed his head down and started kicking down. Alex had a very concerned look on his face because he didn`t know Gary. I giggled and waved goodbye. Every time Alex turned and search the blue below us for Gary I giggled again. Gary rejoined us about 10 minutes later and we saw a big green moray having a strange encounter with a hog fish.

Gary requested French Reef for the next stop. Conditions were ideal. Jen was so proud when she found the big turtle perched on top of the reef munching away. It was fun to watch because every time the turtle chewed, little puffs and clouds of lunch burst out of the turtle`s beak. We saw several turtles more during that dive and we stopped to take pictures of the intermediate stage spotted drum.

Monday, January 21st

I did my first dive on Palancar Caves with Jen, Alex, Allan, Gary, Alain and John. I had promised Jen some sharks and I bombed out. We didn`t see even one little shark! We did see the little green turtle in her usual spot and a hawksbill too. There was a pair of dinner sized lobsters hanging out together in a recess of the reef. It was a nice dive despite the schools of humans everywhere. Jen didn`t like the crowds though.

I asked Gary where we would see a shark and he suggested that we go look for ¨The Mugger¨ who steals his lionfish. We went to ¨Secret Spot¨ and it was Alain that pointed out the big nurse shark that swam by. So Jen did get her shark that day. We saw several turtles and Gary caught a lionfish and fed it to a snapper which had been hanging around waiting for a meal.

Wednesday, January 23rd

I dived Palancar Gardens with Gary, Mark, Ryan, Cheryl, Allan, Kim, Trevor and Darrell. We had flat seas and calm current. It was ideal except for the overcast sky above. The crabs and lobsters acted like it was sunset so we saw lots of both. One of the lobsters was big enough to feed 2 people! Trevor pointed out the shark swimming below us. Late in the dive a good sized spotted eagle ray made a slow pass. It was close enough and slow enough for everyone to get photos.

The second dive was on Paso Del Cedral. The first big animal we saw was a turtle eating a sponge on the bottom. Then we saw a nurse shark swim by. At the end of the dive a six foot nurse shark swam right under Mark. I think Gary might have gotten a good picture of it.

Thursday, January 24th

There were some waves at the surface but very light current at Palancar Bricks. My divers were Gary, Allan, Cheryl, Dave, Susan, Chuck, Glenn and Marcia. I tried to stay shallow for Dave and Susan but everyone ended up drifting down to 60 feet anyway. We saw several turtles and I was surprised to see four of the little reef sharks up on top. They seem to have continued their migration south. When we finished the section of Palancar called ¨Bricks¨ we continued on to the Caves and found one lone shark up top. It was the one that is a little bit bigger than the others. I swear they look bigger than they did several months ago. I wonder how fast sharks grow.

On my Secret Spot we didn´t see any other divers. We did see one huge lobster crawling around under the reef and a turtle up on the top. Gary found a big nurse shark sleeping in a dark recess.

Friday, January 25th

It was raining and gray out when I arrived at San Francisco Wall with Gary, Allan, Cheryl, Dave, Susan, Dan and Joanne. The surface was flat and the current was northbound but not really fast. We dropped down and I drifted right over a turtle on the bottom. Cheryl waved her hands at me and pointed it out. I checked the hole where the nurse shark had been and found Buster, my favorite green moray eel hanging out in the shark´s spot. A big black grouper was sitting next to Buster and they both smiled back at me as I told them hello for Chace.

On Yucab we had the same current. We saw another green moray eel and a giant spotted eagle ray swam slowly against the current off in the distance. At the end of the dive Cheryl, our turtle finder discovered a loggerhead turtle hiding under a ledge. The turtle didn`t like us hanging around so it got up and swam off.

Saturday, January 26th

I wanted to go back and see if Buster was still in the same area so I took Gary, Pete, Kelly, Dave and Kasia to San Francisco Wall. I didn`t see Buster but Gary shot a bunch of lionfish, I saw one hawksbill turtle, one green turtle and a couple of juvenile spotted drums. I just love those little drums......

On Chankanaab the biggest lobster in the world was out prancing around and strutting his stuff. Brad and Sonja who had joined us for this dive missed it. Gary brought the camera and not the spear so when I pointed out lionfish he couldn`t shoot them.

I took Brad and Sonja to Paradise. Sonja asked for a splendid toadfish and I found one. We also saw swimming golden tail eels, a spotted moray and just as soon as Brad signaled low on air I found the seahorse! While we made a safety stop a big eagle ray glided by in the distance. Sonja swam her butt off trying to get a picture.

Sunday, January 27th

John, Bette, Ken, Anita, Trisha, Gary, Kristy and Lee asked for Colombia so we did the deep part first. We found a few lobsters huddled together in a hole. We all stopped to check out a pair of furry sea cucumbers and everyone took photos.

We saw tons of turtles on Colombia Shallows. Most were hawksbills but there was one green turtle too. I pointed out an immense spotted eagle ray off to the East side of the reef. Right after the eagle ray Lee showed us a big nurse shark. I found the most adorable little spotted drum that Bette took a video of. It was a really nice dive.

Monday, January 28th

I picked Palancar Bricks for my first stop with Pete, John, Bette, Ken, Anita, Trisha, Gary, Kristy and Lee. The seas were flat and there wasn`t much current. Pete showed us a photogenic turtle. We never got to the end of the reef where the little sharks hang out.

I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨ where I searched for subjects for Anita`s new macro lens. I found flamingo tongues, a Christmas tree worm, a bristle worm and a smiling stone fish. At the very end of the dive Pete took off like a bolt of lightning after a big nurse shark swimming against the current.

Tuesday, January 29th

It was Todd, Heidi, Dave, Kristen, Colleen, Debbie and Craig´s first day of diving. Pete sort of led the way. Someone had been reading my dive log and asked to see the sharks. I told Carlos to drop me off about half way down the Bricks. We went through a big swim through and flirted with the wall. About 15 minutes into the dive Pete signaled for the sharks. We all went over for a look but they quickly disappeared. It wasn`t long before they reappeared and everyone got a good look. Later in the dive Heidi and Craig hung out with a very friendly turtle.

Pete requested Colombia Shallow. We had a Grand Slam. We saw all four big critters: several turtles, 2 nurse sharks, one green moray and a spotted eagle ray. (Only Heidi and Craig saw the last two) It was Colleen and Debbie that pointed out the first turtle that was napping right next to a shy nurse shark. Everyone got lots of photos of the two. We also saw quite a few lobsters.

Wednesday, January 30th

We had south wind so I took Todd, Heidi, Kristen, Colleen, Debbie and Craig to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a bunch of turtles there. The first turtle was easy to spot and it surfaced for some air. The second turtle was below us in about 70 feet of water. Kristen pointed to it but it took me a few seconds to figure out what she was pointing at. It was a big one. We saw a couple more after that too. There was one big shark but I was too lazy to swim back for a look. While Craig and I did our safety stop we watched as a big spotted eagle ray glided by below us.

Kristen requested a seahorse so Paradise was our second dive site. It didn`t take long for me to find it this time. Everyone took pictures. As we got closer to the cruise ship pier we crossed over towards the shallow area. There we saw tons of spotted eagle rays. As we chased one big ray, others swam after another pair heading the opposite direction. We saw several more in the last 15 minutes of the dive.

Friday, February 1st

It was rough and choppy when John, Chad, Todd, Heidi, Craig and I arrived at Palancar Gardens. Once we got under it was nice and calm. We were greeted by a big eagle ray that made a slow pass off in the deep. In the caves and swim throughs we found a huge lobster and a few crabs. Heidi spied a large green moray that disappeared into a cave. At the end of the dive I found a medium sized nurse shark sleeping in a hole. I grabbed Heidi`s camera and stuck it down there in the hole to take a close up.

I picked French Reef for the second stop. The first nurse shark swam right up to us and I think it might have been Gary´s mugger. The second shark was really big and it was way back in a dark spot hiding from our cameras. The third nurse shark was that big one that Gary took a bunch of pictures of the week before. We also saw another spotted eagle ray and lots of turtles. One turtle was huge and it was sharing a meal with some angels. Todd pointed to his hand and then to the turtle. I looked at the turtle´s flipper and didn`t see anything. Then Heidi got a little closer and pointed to it`s back. Stuck to it`s back was a fish hook with a yellow, fuzzy lure and a long piece of fishing line attached that was wrapped around the turtle´s flipper. I slowly and carefully removed the hook and then unwrapped the flipper. The turtle didn`t even flinch. It infuriated me that the poachers are not only harming the reef but the turtles too.

Saturday, February 2nd

I let Pete pick the reef for the first dive since it was his last day of diving this trip. Heidi, Todd and Phil didn`t really mind where we went. Pete picked the Bricks to go look for the little sharks again. We saw a group of 7 that kept swimming around just out of photo range in a little circle. We all kicked hard against the current until they took off and then we drifted around and found another pair of sharks. Later we found a solo shark that appeared and reappeared several times. Heidi and Pete took off after a turtle while I took Todd and Phil up.

Pete picked Dalila for our second spot. We saw lots of turtles and lobsters. Pete found a big green moray but by the time I swam back for a look it was gone!

Sunday, February 3rd

It was another choppy day at sea when Heidi, Todd, Joe, Michael and Paul arrived on Palancar Caves to dive. It was nice and calm underneath and we saw a bunch of turtles again. At one point we were taking pictures of a turtle up close and another turtle went up to the surface right behind it. We saw enormous lobsters and crabs out parading around too. Todd found a pretty little juvenile spotted drum and got a great shot of it.

On the platform at Cedral we found 2 turtles and the biggest barracuda on Earth! That thing was a monster and Heidi said it was scary looking. I agree. I didn`t want to get too close to it and piss it off. I found a big octopus hiding in his den. Paul pointed out a small lionfish and since I have my old tool back I was able to shoot it. I carried it around until I found something that wanted to eat it. A queen trigger fish tried to rip it off of my spear. I just took the lionfish off and a few fish came over and made a meal of it.

Monday, February 4th

Terry, Amp, Robin and Andy are new divers so I asked Michael, Paul and Andy if they would like to go to Palancar Gardens. We had kind of a weird current but it was a good dive. We saw enough big lobsters to open our own restaurant. We also saw a southern stingray and when the green eel swam under Terry everyone could hear her scream! At the very end of the dive I found a big nurse shark sleeping under the reef and Andy went back down for a photo.

I took them to Andy`s favorite spot, Colombia Shallows for the second dive. We saw several turtles and Terry was our shark finder. It was a nice, easy dive.

Tuesday, February 5th

My divers were Fulvio, Dave, Michael, Andy, Marcus and Paul. We had absolutely perfect conditions for diving on San Francisco Wall. The surface was flat and the current only moved enough so that we didn`t have to kick. We just floated along and found a huge boy hawksbill turtle and on our safety stop we saw an enormous spotted eagle ray gliding around below us.

Yucab was our second stop. There were loads of colorful fish. Andy pointed out a big octopus that had just finish a meal of 4 large queen conches. Dave took pictures of the orange and red sponges that grow on the underside of the reef.

Wednesday, February 6th

I dived Palancar Horseshoe per special request with Rick, Susan, Andy, Marcus, Paul and Phil. We saw a few big lobsters and a couple of nice turtles. I shot a small lionfish and tried to feed it to a green moray eel. The eel wasn`t interested in the lionfish but a queen trigger came and snatched it right off of my stick. Susan stopped to take pictures of the jack knife fish and she tried out her new heavy duty wetsuit.

On ¨My Secret Spot¨ we saw more turtles and a sleeping nurse shark. Rick shot a small lionfish and fed it to a snapper. We saw huge lobsters prancing about and crabs stuck to the side of the reef. Gary`s big nurse shark with the raggedy dorsal fin chased Andy and Rick around. Andy got a nice close up of the big shark. He was surprised at how close that shark got and how it swam right up to him.

Thursday, February 7th

Tank number one was on Palancar Bricks with Rick, Susan, Andy, Marcus, Phil, Darrin and Jenny. Orlando came along just for fun and it was good to be in the water with him. I put him to work! While everyone was checking out a turtle I showed Orlando his favorite sea creature, the furry sea cucumber. We also saw the school of 8 little sharks. It was a really good dive.

Tank number two was on French Reef. We only saw one turtle but everyone concentrated on the little stuff. Orlando pointed out a spotted drum, a queen trigger followed me around begging for a lionfish and we saw tons of lobsters on that dive.

Friday, February 8th

Rick was having a good time swimming around shooting lionfish while Susan, Phil, Sergio, Brad, Cassie, Ronnie and Dave watched. Rick saw a spotted eagle ray off in the distance but he was the only one who saw it. There was one turtle that dipped down deep in front of us. A big nurse shark came out and swam around below us for a minute. The most interesting part of the dive for me was all of the big lobsters out and about. There was one pair dancing around together and another big boy strutting his stuff.

The big critters on Paso Del Cedral didn`t come out until the last minutes of the dive. First a six foot nurse shark swam past followed by 2 big black groupers. When only Susan Rick and I were down another pair of large nurse sharks swam by. Phil showed us some southern stingrays too.

Saturday, February 9th

I asked Rick, Susan, Carol, Deanna, Chace, Sergio, Dave and Andy where they wanted to dive. Dave said that Andy likes swim throughs so I took them to the caves. We saw a huge lionfish. I spotted from above. It was in 80 feet of water and swimming. We also saw a big spotted moray and a turtle. Deanna filmed a family of lobsters up in the shallow water.

On ¨My Secret Spot¨ we saw everything! Susanita found an octopus in his den. I heard Chace screaming through her regulator as a big green moray swam below us. We saw turtles and then we had a shark parade. While Sergio made a safety stop we saw the big nurse shark with the ragged dorsal fin. I think I want to give that shark a name. Maybe I will call it ¨Gary¨? Then we saw another nurse shark that Rick frightened out of it`s slumber. After Sergio went up a third nurse shark swam by. Deanna asked me where the spotted eagle ray was but the only ray that went by was a big gray southern stingray. It was an exciting, action filled dive.

Sunday, February 10th

This was Carlos` birthday. He had originally planned to join Rick, Susan, Chace, Carol, Deanna, Andy and I on the dive at Cantarell to see the eagle rays. Carlos was a little worn out from the previous night´s festivities (the Carnival Parade) so he skipped the eagle ray dive. We had to work hard against the current for the first 5 minutes because it was pushing us out to sea. Once we were settled on the top of the wall the current slowed right down. We parked in my favorite parking spot there and watched as a group of 3 big rays made a close pass. I wondered to myself if that was going to be the whole show. It didn`t take more than a couple of minutes and a squadron of 20 huge rays slowly glided by above our heads. Everyone shot photos and HD video as they flapped and eased past us. At the end of the dive we saw one more lone eagle ray in the shallower area.

Susan`s favorite reef is Paradise. Deanna burned up a ton of air chasing after a big spotted eagle ray. I found a splendid toadfish and later brought them over to see the seahorse. Chace found a pipefish close by and Carol found a stonefish. Late in the dive we found another stonefish and a big crab.

Monday, February 11th

I asked Carol, Deanna, Chace, Gary, Lou, Dave, Ronnie and Melissa where they wanted to go and Carol piped up with San Francisco Wall. Chace wanted to find Buster and that is Gary`s favorite reef so off we went. We had a little current but nothing unmanageable. The first big critter was a spotted eagle ray that Deanna saw. She didn`t waste her air chasing it. Then a nurse shark swam past us going against the current down below us. Gary got his first lionfish sting. He found 3 little ones in a hole together. He shot them and got rid of them. Then he went to adjust the rubber band wrapped around his spear and a spine was stuck in the rubber band. It poked him in the index finger. Fortunately he wasn`t badly injured. It stung but it was not a serious sting since the fish had probably injected most of it`s venom into the rubber band and the bit that poked him was not the ¨business end¨ of the spine. He had a little pain but no big deal. After Gary`s boo boo the girls started bugging me about finding Buster. I gave them a hand signal that was not appropriate for children. Chace decided to take out her regulator and call for Buster…………. Buster…………… Buster………….. Well, he must have heard her because he popped up out of nowhere and swam right past everyone. Deanna burned up about 300 psi following and filming Buster swim. Last but not least we saw a big male hawksbill turtle. It was a Grand Slam. We saw all 4 big critters on that dive!

I wanted something easy so I took them to Yucab for our second dive. The girlies found a big green moray but I was too far up current and too lazy to swim back for a look. Someone found a huge male loggerhead turtle. Carol swam alongside it to get in the video and I swear that turtle was bigger than Carol. Right after the big turtle passed we saw another smaller one.

Tuesday, February 12th

Gary asked for Colombia Deep. I asked Carol, Deanna, Chace, Andy, Dave and Ronnie if they could put up with the waves and no one objected. So that is where we went. Aside from the huge schools of humans from Dressell divers we had a good dive. But it seemed that everywhere we went there were Dressell Divers behind us, in front of us, in the caves all around us and off to one side. Gary shot a bunch of lionfish down deep and one of the divemasters from Dressell thought that Gary was one of their divers and went down there to pull him back up. Gary felt attacked and was pretty pissed off. The rest of us stayed up above and looked at turtles and lobsters.

The second dive was on Cedral Wall. We saw tons of turtles. I found a friendly little green moray (about 5 feet long) and she struck different poses for everyone`s cameras. Someone found a shark in a cave but I never saw it.

Wednesday, February 13th

Carol requested Santa Rosa Wall. I didn`t bother asking Gary, Deanna, Chace, Rick or Susan if they were OK with that. I did ask David but he said that Santa Rosa was fine. It turned out to be a pretty exciting dive. While Rick was shooting a small lionfish Gary was much deeper and we couldn`t see him. After Rick had his fish on a stick Gary started coming up from the deep with a lionfish too. The boys got together and Gary`s fish was MUCH bigger than Rick`s fish. They get much bigger down deep. We drifted around and at the end of the dive we came upon a rather large nurse shark feeding on something in a hole. It stuck it`s big head in the hole and it`s whole body writhed and flopped around as it tried to suck breakfast out of the hole. Then it swam right up against Orlando and he didn`t flinch. Deanna got the whole thing on video.

We had another Grand Slam on Chankanaab. While everyone was poking around looking for splendid toadfish in the holes I looked up to do a headcount and found a giant spotted eagle ray that had swam right up to our group. Everyone loved that ray. After we passed a juvenile spotted drum Orlando pointed out a big nurse shark just lying around out in the open. As we watched the shark swim off someone pointed down to a long green moray right under the reef. Towards the end of the dive we found a turtle too. David showed me a big crab. There was the usual assortment of lobsters. I pointed out a yellow headed jawfish with a mouthful of eggs. We saw just about every interesting critter Cozumel has to offer.

Thursday, February 14th

The wind was from the South again so I took Gary, Carol, Deanna, Andy, Melissa, Amy and JT to Bolones de Chankanaab for our first dive. It was nice not to have any current to speak of. We saw tons of big lobsters and crabs which we always see there. Carol took some great photos of a turtle. While Deanna was getting ready to go film the turtle the submarine came by which was much more interesting than the turtle. It is almost spooky the way that it appears out of the blue and fades away again……… Gary shot only 1 lionfish there and he fed it to a snapper. Andy and I watched a big grouper slip into a hole after some breakfast.

I stayed up north on Yucab and Tormentos. So did every other dive boat in Cozumel! It was a comedy of errors on that dive. First we lost Andy`s camera. Melissa saved the day when she saw it floating away behind me. Then Carol`s second stage regulator went into a full blown free flow. Deanna, her dive buddy spotted the problem first and shot over to help her. I intercepted and stuck my octopus in Carol´s face. She reluctantly took it and I deflated her jacket and then mine as we made an emergency ascent. Carlos came and picked her up and we finished the dive with no further drama. Gary admired the beautiful sponges growing under the overhangs there. They make for gorgeous photos.

Friday, February 15th

Orlando came with us to escort Carol, Deanna, Andy and Gary on a regular dive. I took Erika, Tim, Sarah and Andrew on some training dives at Palancar Gardens. I stayed up top with the family while the others went down deeper. Gary shot 3 lionfish on that dive. After the skills were completed we joined up with the others in the shallow area. We saw a small turtle and Tim pointed out a pair of big lobsters walking around.

Sarah expressed concern about seeing a shark. I found a 4 foot long nurse shark on Colombia Shallow and as I got close I scared it away. Sarah discovered that sharks aren`t necessarily dangerous. We saw a pretty green turtle. At the end of the dive Orlando found a lionfish. Gary wasn`t around so I had to shoot it myself. Everyone was surprised that I actually hit it :)

Monday, February 18th

After the cold front blew through Sarah and Andrew wanted to finish their certification dives. Erika and Tim brought Lisa and Mike to dive with them. Amy and J.T. had missed 2 days of diving due to the storm so I let them pick the first dive. They picked Palancar Horseshoe. We had very mild current on Horseshoe which made the dive easy for us. We saw an enormous lobster out in the open. I turned and asked Erika if she was OK and she said no. I went for a look and she was deflating her BCD and it wouldn`t stop inflating so I disconnected the hose. I swam the group over to a sandy bottom and sat her down to check the hose. I reconnected it and it seemed fine. We put a little air in, let it out, put a little in, let it out and it was working fine. We didn`t give it another thought.

Over on Cedral there weren`t too many waves so we did our second dive there. The kids pointed at every fish they saw. I found a big green moray that smiled for everyone`s cameras. There seemed to be lots of big crabs everywhere and the odd lobster. During this dive Erika´s inflator hose starting acting up again. We disconnected it and left it like that for the rest of the dive until it was time to go up.

Tuesday, February 19th

The first dive was on Palancar Bricks with Bill, Gary, Mindy, Brian and Julie. We saw tons of turtles but we didn`t see the little sharks. We were down an hour and a half and I got cold.

Ashley joined us for our second dive on Colombia Shallows and we saw a ton of turtles there too. Most were hawksbill but a couple of them were the less common green turtles. We saw lots of lobsters, a huge puffer fish and a school of big barracuda. That made Ashley quite nervous because she didn`t know if they are dangerous or not. It was cute to watch her back away from them. I found one small nurse shark lounging around on the bottom and that didn`t seem to bother her at all.

Wednesday, February 20th

We only had 3 divers on the boat this day: Gary, Bill and Agnes. Agnes was a little rusty so we went to Palancar Gardens. While I was checking out Bill`s broken fin strap in 40 feet of water Gary said that a big green moray swam below us. Gary also pointed out a nurse shark but I was just too far away to see it. He caught a few lionfish on that dive too.

Gary loves to go to ¨My Secret Spot¨. There are a bunch of nurse sharks hanging out there. He found a pair of big octopi in a little mound of reef out a short distance from the main reef. We saw a few small turtles and while Gary and Bill stopped to look at something I parked Agnes behind a big overhang. To entertain ourselves while waiting for the boys to catch up I started searching the dark recesses for critters. I found a decent sized lionfish and I called Gary over. I had to hold the flashlight for him while he shot. As it turned out there were two of them in the hole and he got both. I pulled him out feet first and he fed them to a waiting snapper. While he was feeding the snapper ¨The Mugger¨ smelled blood and came over looking for something to eat. First it made a slow pass and disappeared. I checked Agnes` air gauge and it was time for her to go so we watched the boys from above. The Mugger came back and circled the boys, swam right up to Gary and I wondered if it would nudge him again or bite him. It seemed to be attracted to the spear. Then Gary stuck his camera out and took a close up of it`s face. The big shark swam off. Just a few minutes later Bill showed us another small nurse shark hiding under a dead coral head. The boys took lots of pictures.

Thursday, February 21st

Someone asked to see the sharks on Palancar so I took Gary, Ashley, Bill, Tim, Erika, Andrew, Sarah, Mike and Lisa to the Bricks. We got skunked on the sharks. Ashley was the only person on the boat that didn`t want to see them but she ended up being the only one who did! They swam past in the distance and ducked behind a coral head. Andrew had a leaky mask that must have had a crack in it somewhere. The first turtle swam right up to Sarah and kind of pushed her out of the way. Erika got it all on camera. We saw other turtles later in the dive and others got a chance at pictures.

Someone asked for a seahorse so off to Paradise we went. I led them all over to the area where the seahorse lives and after a couple of minutes of searching I heard Tim shout through his regulator and he pointed it out. A spotted moray made a grand show for Bill while he took photos. The eel actually swam right up to the camera and took a couple of nips. I think it saw it`s reflection in his fish eye lens and attacked. Then it swam over to a protected area and waited for us to go away.

Sunday, March 10th

After a couple of nice relaxing weeks of vacation I had 5 regular customers on my first day back to work. I asked everyone where they wanted to go and no one (Doug, Jody, Terry and James) answered except Hunter. He asked for the C53 wreck. That choice suited me just fine as we had south east wind and it was more sheltered up north. There was a bit of current but it was managable. We had a good dive and Doug got lots of nice photos. We enjoyed watching two big brittle stars do a slow dance on a red encrusting sponge.

Our second dive was on Yucab. Aside from the schools of humans everywhere we saw nesting ocean triggerfish all over the place. We approached a school of big barracuda and a rather large lobster came out from under the reef and smiled for the camera.

Monday, March 11th

It was rough and choppy at the surface when David, James, Doug, Jody, Hunter, Terry, Julie and I arrived. Once we got to the bottom we had a little current but not a lot. Arriving at the drop off we were greeted by a small Caribbean reef shark. Only David and I saw it. I wondered if it was one of the sharks that we had been seeing way down south. I wondered if the family had disbanded. I guess I will have to go down there to find out :) We swam through some caves and we saw a couple of turtles. The highlight of the dive was looking down on a big free swimming green moray eel while Doug, Jody and Hunter did a safety stop. The boys were still down at the bottom and they took lots of pictures. We also saw a ton of big lobsters on that dive.

David really liked ¨My Secret Spot¨. We saw a few turtles but the really big turtle was at the end of the dive. We saw more lobsters and when Terry was at the surface waiting for the boat to pick him up a huge spotted eagle ray swam under him. James and David heard me ringing the bell and they came over and got to see it too.

That night I took them to Paradise. There was a flotilla there when we arrived. My group did a great job of staying together and following me. We saw loads of lobsters, tons of crabs and a few spotted morays. Terry found a snake eel. I found five octopi. That was a big night. Sometimes you can do the whole night dive without seeing even one octopus. The dive was a big success!

Tuesday, March 12th

The seas were calm and smooth as I headed to Colombia Deep with Julie, Terry, James, David, Doug, Jody and Hunter. We ran into a group or two of other divers occasionally. We saw a few turtles and lots of lobsters. David found a sleeping nurse shark. I watched David as he looked around. It was as if he was thinking, ¨Where is that kid? That kid will like to see this!¨ I called everyone over for a peek. It was overcast that morning so the lobsters thought that it was sunset and they came out in the open more.

On French Reef we saw more turtles and lobsters. It was an easy dive and I took them through that really long cave. My intermediate stage spotted drum was still in it´s usual spot.

Friday, March 15th

After a couple of days off due to bad weather Carlos and I took James, Terry, Angel, Troy, Stephan and Bran diving on Palancar Caves. The first turtle we saw was the little green one that used to sleep on top of the reef at the end of the dive. The second turtle was saw was the more common hawksbill. I was very surprised to see a four foot reef shark make a slow pass. It was not too bothered by our presence which was nice. It allowed everyone to get a good look. We saw a lionfish and I got out my sling and gave it to Eduardo. Eduardo is a much better shot than I am so I figured that I would let him do it. He missed! For some reason that embarrassed him.

Our second tank was on San Francisco Wall. We had a bit a current on that dive but it wasn`t too bad. The only big critter there was a southern stingray. This time Eduardo pointed out the lionfish. I sent him after Stephan so I had a go at it and got the little bugger. I tried to feed it to a hungry lobster but it kept drifting away in the current before the lobster could grab it.

Sunday, March 17th

Marty, Joseph, Ruth, Angel, Troy, Mark and Helen were my divers on Palancar Gardens. We had a little bit of current but not much to speak of. Arriving on the bottom we were greeted by a big lobster crawling around. At the end of the dive a nurse shark, probably ¨The Mugger¨ followed us around, swam between my legs and bumped Mark a little. It was fun.

We went to my secret spot for the second dive. Angel and Troy spent the whole dive doing navigational exercises. Helen scouted out the big nurse shark that lives in the neighborhood. Mark got a good picture of it.

Monday, March 18th

The waves were good sized on Palancar Horseshoe. Orlando came along to hang out shallow with Ruth, Roman, Helen and Mark while I took Angel and Troy on their deep dive for the Advanced Course. After we did a few skills at depth we rejoined the group and watched Ruth chase a turtle around.

The waves were still big so we went to Paso Del Cedral where we also had a good current going on. The diving conditions were a bit challenging on this morning. We saw a bunch of little lobsters and Roman pointed out a HUGE black grouper getting it`s teeth cleaned at a cleaning station. A five foot green moray danced around for us before she headed into a hole. Mark went over and ¨convinced¨ her to stick her head back out and I grabbed the camera from Troy and took some photos. Then everyone started getting low on air and we started the ascents.......

Tuesday, March 19th

The wind had calmed and since it was Helen`s birthday I let her choose our reef. She picked Palancar Gardens for our first dive. Our divers were Helen, Mark, Ruth, Ben, David and Max. There wasn`t much visibility due to the big waves the day before which caused all the crabs and lobsters to think it was dusk and they came out for us. David called it a ¨dinner plate dive¨. At the very end of the dive the same shark swam by but Helen missed it……………

We searched for half an hour for that sea horse on Paradise and I never found it. It really pissed me off. The divers were all happy though because I found 2 splendid toadfish, one of which had just gorged itself on a big fish and it`s belly was huge. Mark found a bunch of golden tail eels and Helen found an octopus in it`s lair.

Wednesday, March 20th

Since it was David`s birthday I let him choose where Max, Fulvio, Helen, Mark, Marty and Joe dived. Fulvio likes the wall so we went to San Francisco Wall first. Helen the hunter found all the good stuff. First she found a huge lionfish, then she found a small turtle sleeping in a crevice. Later in the dive she showed us all a big green moray. There were a lot of lobsters on that dive too.

David`s choice was Paso Del Cedral. We had hardly any current at all and were pleased to find a 5 foot long green moray in her usual spot. There were several groupers that probably weighed as much as Joe. More lobsters galore and a really big nurse shark swam under Helen and Mark as they were boarding the boat!

Thursday, March 21st

Mark, Helen, David, Max, Sara, Mike and Ruth came with me to Palancar Bricks. There was no current and we had such an easy dive. The turtles were everywhere it seemed and they sat still for photographers. Sara especially enjoyed the big angelfish.

There wasn´t much current at all on Dalila either which is weird. Ruth pointed out the first shark as it swam by. Everyone was happy because Helen got her shark! We saw a dinosaur sized lobster down in a hole and it wiggled it´s antennas at us. The second shark was hiding behind a big green moray eel under a little ledge. Sara pointed out the last shark which was really, really big. It swam below us on the safety stop trying to get lunch out of a hole. Everyone was quite excited when we arrived at the surface.

Friday, March 22nd,

Sara, Mike, Kerilyn, Jeff, Bob, Sheryl, Shelby and I drove south towards Palancar but the waves were getting too big so I decided to just stop at Cedral Wall and dive there. Since there had been almost no current the day before I was hoping for not much current this day. Well I gambled and won! There was almost no current at all and we saw TONS of turtles. It seemed like every 2 or 3 minutes we would see another one. Sheryl found an empty lobster shell and back on the boat I explained to her that lobsters molt.

I took them to Yucab to get out of the waves. We had a very lovely dive. Bob made friends with a sergeant major. Shelby pointed out a trumpetfish and everyone pointed out the big barracuda right over my head. At the same time another bigger barracuda was right over Bob`s head. We sat and watched another barracuda at a cleaning station getting his teeth cleaned. Bob, Sheryl and Shelby stopped to watch a big lobster walk around.

Sunday, March 24th

The wind from the Southeast was still pretty strong so I didn`t want to take Gary, Sam, Patrice, Ann-Muriel, Julie, John and Joelle too far down south. We went to Gary`s favorite, San Francisco Wall. I told Gary that I was going to show him where the big lionfish was at the beginning of the dive. He took off down the wall and I searched the cave. I found the lionfish not in the cave but out in the open and Gary was gone so I just shot it myself. I carried it around for a little while until a hungry queen trigger snatched it right off of my stick. We saw lots of lovely lobsters and at the end of the dive we found a pair of big lionfish. Gary shot the big one first which wiggled right off the end of his spear and swam away. The last one was not so lucky. Someone pointed out a small nurse shark swimming along the wall during the dive and I think it may have been the same shark that we saw later on at the end.

Punta Tunich was our second stop and we only found one small turtle. The current was mild thankfully and we ducked into the hole with all those pretty glassy sweepers. We saw more lobsters and when only Gary and I were down we saw a rather large nurse shark lounging around in the sand below us.

Monday, March 25th

The sea was only a little choppy at Palancar Caves when Gary, Julie, Seth, Sonomi, Sam, Mike, Joelle and Frenny got in to dive. Thankfully there was no current and we had a really nice dive. We saw several turtles, Gary shot a big lionfish and Mike saw a small reef shark go by. I missed the reef shark but Gary and I saw a nurse shark on the safety stop.

The sea was very calm for our second dive at my Secret Spot. We saw lots of lobsters and Sam got his video of sharks. The first shark was swimming past us. The second was sleeping under a ledge. The third shark was that really big one with the raggedy dorsal fin. It came over and sniffed at Joelle first and then came right up in Gary`s face. He took a bunch of close up photos of the big guy. We all loved the show. We also saw some turtles on that dive too.

Wednesday, March 27th

The cold front had not quite dissipated and we had some decent waves at Colombia reef with Gary, Julie, Joelle, Mike, Jon and Karen.  We seemed to see turtles every few minutes.   Two were the uncommon green turtles and the rest were hawksbill.  I am guessing that we saw at least 10 turtles on that dive.  Gary went deep and shot a lionfish.  I found one in a cave and shot it myself.  It was an easy, relaxing dive.

The waves started to calm down on French Reef where we saw more turtles.  We also saw a spotted moray eel and several lobsters.  One big lobster was out for a stroll during our safety stop.  When Joelle and Mike were getting on the boat we saw that big nurse shark again lying around on the bottom.

Thursday, March 28th

The surface was a lot calmer when I took Gary, Carolyn, Steve, Jon, Karen, Karen and Ted to Palancar Gardens.  However, the current kicked up…….  I can tell that the current is going to start getting stronger and stronger as the next few weeks come.  Someone pointed out a pair of squid at the very beginning of the dive.  We had a ¨Dinner Plate¨ dive with tons of lobsters and crabs.  They were out prancing around and fighting.  Gary and I watched a pair of big lobsters go at it until one cowered and ran off.  We also saw green turtle.

Mike joined us for the second dive on ¨My Secret Spot¨ after he had a brief refresher in 5 feet of water during the surface interval.  The current was calmer and it was an easy dive.  We saw more lobsters out and about so I wonder what it is that is calling them out in the open during the day.

Friday, March 29th

I dived Palancar Caves with Julie, Jeannie, Camilla, Jon, Karen, Karen and Ted.  We saw several hawksbill turtles and took them through some swim throughs.  One turtle had a harem of angel fish as it munched away on a leathery sponge.

I promised them nesting ocean triggerfish on Yucab and they weren`t there!   The only ocean triggerfish that I saw was one that Jon pointed out.  We did see lots of interesting fish though.  We saw yellow headed jawfish and Julie found an eel.

Saturday, March 30th

Jeannie, Camilla, Jon, Karen, Karen and Ted requested that we stay closer to town for our first dive.  Someone suggested Santa Rosa Wall and off we went.  There was hardly any current and we had a nice dive.  We saw two nurse sharks.  The first one woke up and swam off.  The second one stayed put while everyone took a look.  We also saw a couple of turtles, a big grouper and at the end of the dive Jon pointed out a big spotted eagle ray.

On San Francisco Wall we saw 2 more spotted eagle rays.  I suspect that the first one we saw was the same one as before.  The second one was smaller and swimming the opposite direction.  I shot a medium sized lionfish, cut off the stingers and fed it to a mutton snapper.  We watched as a big trunkfish nipped at a furry sea cumber that rolled itself up in a ball as a defense mechanism.  Karen found what looked like a decorator crab inside of an anemone.  We also saw some more turtles on that dive.

Sunday, March 31st

The first tank was at Palancar Gardens with Jeannie, Camilla, Rick, Ted, Karen, Karen and Jon.   We had almost no current.  It was strange but the only critters we saw were lobsters, crabs and fish of course.  We didn`t see any big animals.

On Dalila we saw 3 different turtles and lots of lobsters and crabs.  The green eel was in her favorite spot but the little nurse shark wasn`t in the hole behind her.   It was a long dive.

I picked the first reef for Jeannie, Camilla, Karen, Jon, Mike, Kelli, Mike and Sheila.  I chose Palancar Bricks.  I had to take a pass on the big lionfish that Jon and Karen showed me because it was 4 diver´s first dive of the vacation and my attention was in demand elsewhere.   We saw a nice turtle on that dive and some lobsters too.

Camilla and Jeannie requested Colombia Shallows for the second stop.  We saw several hawksbill turtles and one small green turtle.  A large nurse shark made a slow pass.  There were lots of big barracuda, crabs and lobsters on that dive too.

Tuesday, April 2nd

After a bit of debate Jon, Karen, Jeannie, Camilla, Mike, Sheila, Mike and Kelli came to an agreement to go to Palancar Horseshoe.  I had Carlos drop us off just a wee bit south of the usual drop to allow everyone to get down in a shallow area.  That is where Jon and I saw the little reef shark go by.  I missed the turtle swimming by but I did catch one lionfish on that dive.

Mike requested ¨My Secret Spot¨.   I was surprised that we didn`t see any nurse sharks but we did see a bunch of turtles, big lobsters and crabs.  There was one free swimming green moray eel and later another big green moray hiding in a hole.  I got close to the opening to have a peek at the moray´s smiling face and I felt a sting on my forehead!   Ouch!   I stuck my face right into a branch of stinging hydroids!   Duh!

Wednesday, April 3rd

We had strong southeast wind so I took Daniel, Michelle, Raymond, Julie, Martin, Jeannie and Camilla to Paradise for the first dive.  Camilla was watching a goldentail moray swim around and when it came out of a hole another goldentail poked it`s little head out and smiled at us J  I searched for the seahorse for the last and final time.  I guess it is just gone now.  I found a mask with a snorkel attached and at the end of the dive I found a 6 foot long gaff.  That might come in handy someday……………?

On the ride back a pod of dolphins swam right past our boat and put on quite a show for our divers.

I wanted to take them somewhere nice so the furthest south we could go in the white caps was Yucab.  I taught our newbies techniques on how to go slow and stop in current.

Thursday, April 4th

Camilla, Jeannie, Kelly, Ed and David got on board and I told Carlos to start driving south until we saw white caps.  We ended up on Jeannie´s favorite reef, Palancar Gardens.   We saw several turtles and a big crab.  We swam through the caves and had a very pleasant dive.

In search of critters we went to Cedral Pass.  We were rewarded with 3 hawksbill turtles and one green turtle.  I saw a bunch of nurse sharks.  The first two were kind of small, about 4 feet long and they were each lying on the bottom napping.  The third one was bigger, maybe 6 feet and it swam right past us.  I think it was that same one that I saw later in the dive.  At the very end of the dive Camilla and I floated over a really big nurse shark which promptly got up and swam off with it`s remora stuck under it`s belly.

Sunday, April 7th

I asked Peggy, John, Kelli and Ed where they wanted to go and Peggy picked Palancar Caves.  We had a little bit of current but nothing to complain about.  The first turtle we saw was on the bottom sharing a meal of leathery sponge with a harem of angelfish.  We saw several more turtles throughout that dive.

Peggy picked Dalila for the second stop and we saw lots of big critters.  There were 2 nurse sharks.  Both were swimming.  The second one passed right below Peggy and I.  I wanted to reach down and pet it.  I was counting the turtles and when Kelli pointed out the 4th turtle I stuck out 4 fingers indicating that it was the 4th one of the dive.  The 5th turtle dive bombed us after being up top to breathe.  Ed pointed out the 6th turtle which was the biggest one.  The green eel was in her usual spot and everyone went over to say hello.

Monday, April 8th

I asked Peggy, John, Mark, Wayne, Neil, Jerry, Karen and Marcos where they wanted to go diving and Carlos answered for them.  Carlos said, ¨Palancar Bricks!¨  So off to the Bricks we went.  Immediately upon reaching the bottom we were greeted by a turtle.  It wasn`t long before we saw another.  In fact we saw a lot of turtles including a green turtle near the end of the dive.  We also saw many schools of humans.  I thought that high season was over.  It seemed that if we waited for a group to pass another group just appeared one minute later.  It was weird to see that many divers in the water during the second week of April.

There weren`t many boats on Colombia Shallows.  We saw a lot of turtles there too.  One was  a big male loggerhead.  Since the thimble jellyfish are in right now the turtles are showing up to eat them.  They will start mating and in a few more months start laying eggs.

Tuesday, April 9th

On Palancar Gardens the current was a little wacky but not problematic.  For the first 30 minutes it was heading southbound but it was so light that it was hard to tell if there was any current at all.  When it did kick in it did strange things.  There was a slight up draft right before we went into the caves and when we came out of the caves it headed northbound as usual for a while before switching direction again and started pushing Peggy, Marcos, Alane, Steve and Mark towards the shore while Neil and Jerry did their safety stop.  We saw a bunch of turtles on that dive and a nurse shark swam past off in the distance.  There were a few crabs out and about.  The boys said that it made them hungry.

On French Reef the current went northbound the whole dive.  We saw several more turtles and a huge lobster.  Towards the end of the dive someone pointed out Gary`s big nurse shark with the raggedy dorsal fin.  Every time I see that shark I think of Gary.

Wednesday, April 10th

Bob and Kay asked to go to French Reef.   Even though Peggy and Mark had been there the day before they didn`t seem to mind going back.  That was a perfect depth for Frank and Eric since they were ¨newbies¨.    Bob pointed out the first turtle which was a loggerhead.  The next turtle was a hawksbill.   We saw some big crabs on that dive too.

I had promised Mark and Peggy a dive on Paradise.  We got in and I discovered that the current was going the opposite direction of normal so I had to put everyone back on the boat and we drove to the other end of the reef and got in again.  What a pain!   We were rewarded with a spotted eagle ray which disappeared quickly and reappeared later on.  It swam right over Bob`s head.  I saw a huge lionfish but it scooted into a hole when I started to get my spear out.  We saw spotted morays and golden tail morays.   We searched for a seahorse but didn`t find one.  Bob`s weight pouch fell out of his BCD when he was getting back on the boat so I went down and searched for it.  It took a while but I found it.

Thursday, April 11th

I headed south towards Palancar with J.C., Peggy, Eric, Marcos, Karen, Neil and Jerry.  The waves got to be too big so I asked Carlos to turn around and head back to ¨My Secret Spot¨.   We had big waves there but thankfully the current was not too fast.  J.C. came up from that dive so happy.  His comment was, ¨It was so nice not to be blown around and crashed into stuff in the current!¨   I guess he had a wild ride the day before with another dive operator.  Only Neil and I saw the big turtle off in the distance.  I saw Jerry point out a southern stingray.  A huge lobster smiled at us as we drifted past.  It was a nice, easy, pleasant dive.

I wanted to keep it easy so I took them to Santa Rosa Shallow.  I had my fingers crossed that I could come up with some big animals there.  We saw another lobster and a big crab and a turtle way off in the distance.  I was really happy when I found the big green moray eel.  Everyone was able to stop and look at it because the current was so mild.  Up on top of the reef a big nurse shark cruised by.  It was another really good dive!

Friday, April 12th

We headed south again and this time I arrived at Palancar with Peggy, Eric, Scott, Sara, Marcos, Jerry, Neil and Karen.  We swam through the tunnels and saw some turtles.  I shot a good sized lionfish but it wiggled off of my stick and slipped away into a crack in the reef.  At the end of the dive Marcos filmed a pair of big lobsters walking around or rather chasing one another on top of the reef.   We did our safety stop watching a southern stingray in the sand.

The current was cookin´ at Cedral.   We blew through that whole reef in about 35 minutes.  We continued on to Santa Rosa again because the current was too swift.   I tried to show Peggy a splendid toadfish but it was deep in it`s borough and she couldn`t see it even with my flashlight.  Karen and Neil pointed out a big nurse shark swimming by in the distance.  The current slowed down when we arrived at Santa Rosa Shallow again.

Monday, April 15th

It was everyone`s first day of diving for this year so I took John, Margot, Carley, Justin, Judy, John, Jorge and Darryl diving on Palancar Gardens.   I brought Orlando along to help.  We had a chaotic start but thank goodness there was no current for the first 30 minutes of the dive so we got everyone down and settled and on their way.  We swam through some archways but I skipped the caves.  I didn`t see any big critters on that dive but Jorge found a nurse shark sleeping under the reef.  I was busy helping everyone with the safety stop so I couldn`t go down for peek.

We went to Colombia Shallows for our second dive where Jorge pointed out a friendly turtle that swam right up to Darryl and said hello.  Judy, Margot and I stopped to look at a baby nurse shark under the reef and when we came up from the coral head Jorge had disappeared.  I knew where to look for him so we caught up in just a minute or so.

Tuesday, April 16th

I asked Carlos to take Carly, Justin, Margot, John, Judy and John to Palancar Caves.  He drove around, saw current and told me that he found a spot with less current and dropped us there.  We were at the end of the Bricks and we floated over to the caves.  We saw a bunch of turtles on that dive.  The last turtle was that little green turtle that lives up on top of the reef.  She was in her usual spot.  Judy took a picture of her and I was thinking about Paul's great shot of the same turtle in the same spot.

There wasn`t too much current on French Reef.  We saw more turtles and the teenagers explored the caves with their dad.  At the end of the dive a huge lobster walked around on top of the coral much to Carly`s amazement.  When we got back on the boat she said that the lobster was as big as her!   Well, not quite, but it was a big lobster.....

Wednesday, April 17th

The waves had calmed down and Carlos took Judy, John, Jorge, Mark, Sheila, Elliot, Allison and Zach to Palancar Bricks.  Orlando came along to give us a hand.  Fortunately the current was gentle.  After seeing a turtle or two Jorge started rattling his noisemaker and pointed over my head.  A huge loggerhead passed over me from behind and went to the surface to breathe.  After a few breathes it came back down and swam around some more.

The current was pretty fast on Dalila.  Everyone hung together well and we saw at least 10 turtles.  We also saw a big swimming nurse shark and the green moray eel was in her usual spot.   Everyone had a great time despite the strong current.

Thursday, April 18th

It was Lance and Jean`s first day of diving this trip.  George asked to go to the Devil`sThroat.  Mark, Sheila and Elliot were diving nitrox so the Throat was out but he asked about the Cathedral.  That was within the depth limits for nitrox so we went there.  I normally don`t take divers to Punta Sur on their first day but I know Jean and Lance and they are really great divers and they were comfortable with a deep dive on their first day so off we went.  We got lucky on the conditions.  The surface was not too choppy and the current was mild.  Carlos dropped us exactly where we needed to be.   Elliot was taking off in the wrong direction and I called him back to the group.  He came right back as soon as I asked him to.  Later on the boat he told me that he was following a 6 foot reef shark!  Sh**!   If I had known that I would have followed him!   Mark saw one too and we don’t know if it was the same one or a different one.  George got his own shark but it was a nurse shark.  He went down and filmed it with his ¨Go Pro¨.

I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨ because Jorge had never been there before.  It was kind of boring until we got to the end.   At the end of the dive we saw a bunch of turtles and a couple of nurse sharks but most of the divers were already back on the boat by then.

Friday, April 19th

I took Lee Marie, Mike, Lance, Jean, Jorge and Darryl to Palancar Gardens for a nice easy first dive.   We did have big waves again but mercifully there was almost no current.  We swam through all the nice archways and tunnels.  The lobsters were out in full force.  We saw a ton of them out walking around and I showed everyone a big crab.  We saw a turtle or two and it was a good dive.

On Santa Rosa Shallow Jorge found a small nurse shark.  Everyone gathered around for a gander.  A divemaster from Dive House pointed out a spotted eagle ray and then a second eagle ray appeared.  Jorge used up all his air swimming after them and getting them on camera.  I tried to get a lionfish but it scooted into a hole and got away.   Jorge pointed out a huge black grouper and we argued on the ride back to the marina about how much it weighed.  We finally agreed that it might be around 75 pounds.  It was a big boy!

Saturday, April 20th

The surface was much calmer.  Jean and Lance requested Santa Rosa Wall.  Lee and Mike didn`t have an opinion but did prefer to stay in the 60 foot range.  We got in and instead of waves we got current.  It took a while to get everyone down and a big nurse shark was waiting for us on the bottom.  It was hard to stop and take pictures so we just swam around a bit until we got to the wall.  Arriving at the wall I decided to stay away from the blue water until the current slowed down so we drifted around on the shallower sandy side of the reef.  We saw lots of color and marine life including a big lobster, a huge grouper and I found a fat green moray eel in a hole.  Lee was very impressed by the size of it.  After Lee and Mike went up we saw another big nurse shark swimming around, a southern stingray and a spotted eagle ray right before we went up.

On San Francisco Wall we battled the current again and then it slowed down after about 30 minutes.   I found another big nurse shark there at the beginning of the dive but it was too much work for the divers to swim back for a look.  We took photos of more big lobsters.  Jean pretended to fly underwater.  

Sunday, April 21st

I took Jean, Lance, Lee Marie and Mike to Palancar Bricks first.  The current was a little weird but it was mild so it wasn`t an issue.  We saw tons of turtles on that dive.

Then I took them to French Reef where we saw more turtles.  Jean turned and faced into the current to watch a big lobster cross the reef.  We swam through the long cave and saw a big crab.

Monday, April 22nd

I dived Palancar Caves with Jesse, Toler, Andy, Carrie, Joe, Lance and Jean.  There were schools of humans everywhere we looked!   I tried to dodge them and we sat and waited for them to go away but as soon as two groups passed another 2 groups replaced them.  It was 15 minutes into the dive until they all went away.  We saw a few turtles and a huge lobster on that dive.  We also stopped to check out a furry sea cucumber.

Back on the boat Joe told me that he took a picture of a big seahorse.  He said that Toler found it.  I didn`t believe them but Joe said that they took a photo.  Someone suggested on the boat that we go back and look for it.  It didn`t take much to convince me!   He said that it was in 38 feet of water right before we saw the sea cucumber.  He said that it was in a hole between 2 rocks with its tail wrapped around something.   Hmm....  That could be just about anywhere.   We went back to the same spot.  On the way to the search area we saw a bunch of turtles.  One was that same little green turtle that sits in the same spot every day that Paul and Judy took pictures of.  When we got to the area that they thought the seahorse might be hanging out at, I searched for about a half an hour and I didn`t find it!!!!   Grrr.....  Joe got a a picture so I know they weren't just pulling my leg :)

Tuesday, April 23rd

Toler, Jesse, Joe, Loren, Jennifer, Andy and Josh came with me to Palancar Gardens.  We had beautiful conditions!  There were no waves, light current and gin clear water.  We saw a few big lobsters out patrolling and someone pointed out a big crab.  A gi-normous loggerhead turtle swam by in the distance.  At the end of the dive Jennifer showed me a big lionfish and I got it.

I was in the mood for ¨My Secret Spot¨.   We had more good conditions but a wee tad more current.  I spied a grouper shadow hunting with a big green moray.  Andy and Loren missed it because they were too far back to see.  We saw a large hawksbill turtle on the bottom with a couple of angelfish and we saw more big lobsters on that dive.

Wednesday, April 24th

Palancar Bricks is where I decided to take Joe, Loren, Andy, Josh, Carrie, Andy and Jay.  There were a couple of turtles on that dive but not everyone saw them.  The first turtle was way over in the shallow area and I think only Andy and I saw it.  The second turtle was really fun because I turned around to check on the group and it was swimming up from the deep behind everyone and we were looking at the bottom of it`s shell.  Only the last divers in the group saw that one.

I thought that the current was mild on Dalila but everyone else thought that it was strong.  Carrie found a turtle sleeping under the reef with only it`s flipper sticking out.  The first nurse shark that went by was small, maybe 4 feet long.  The second shark was big and fat, maybe 7 feet long.  We saw that one from above while we were doing our safety stop.

Thursday, April 25th

Dive one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Jay, Joe, Andy, Carrie and Carolyn.  Upon arriving at the bottom we were greeted by a pair of huge groupers.  We had a bit of current for the first half of the dive and there were plenty of divers around us.  Carrie found a big lobster and we saw a southern stingray as we made our safety stop.

Dive two was at Paso Del Cedral.  We saw a baby turtle swimming around.  I shot a big lionfish and a pair of hungry queen triggers gobbled it up.  First they picked at it while it was on my spear.  Then one aggressive trigger snatched it and swam off with it.  The other fish fought to get in on the meal.

That night I took Loren, Andy, Josh, Carolyn and Toler to Chankanaab for a night dive.  When we came up everyone was so enthusiastic.  They said it was FABULOUS!  WONDERFUL!   THE BEST NIGHT DIVE EVER!   I just thought it was kind of normal J   We saw the usual critters, lobster, crabs and spotted morays out and about.  There were tons of big lionfish and a small one too.  I found splendid toadfish but by the time Andy got back for a look it had gone back into it`s hiding hole.  Toler saw a slipper lobster and asked what it was.  Loren saw an octopus but when he tried to show it to me it had disappeared.

Friday, April 26th

I asked Joe, Jay, Carolyn, Loren, Andy, Jennifer, Josh and Rich where they wanted to go.  I don’t remember who answered but someone asked for Horseshoe so off we went!   Rich pointed out the first turtle which was feasting on a tasty sponge.  The second turtle was that small green turtle that lives just south of the drop off for Horseshoe up on top of the reef.  It was on it`s way back down after surfacing for some fresh air.  The third turtle was a little baby hawksbill that Loren pointed out on his safety stop.  While Jennifer and I were making a safety stop I saw a big green eel swimming around with a grouper.

I picked the next stop which was on French Reef.  I wanted something easy.  I got what I wanted J   There was almost no current.   Jen showed us a nurse shark which got frightened out of it`s hiding place and swam off.  I found a big splendid toadfish for Loren.  While Jen and Andy watched a pair of huge lobsters dual and battle I saw a big nurse shark go by.

My Birthday, Monday April 29th

It was nice and calm at Palancar Gardens for the group's first day of diving.  My guys were Tom, Frank, Dennis, Christophe, Tim, Rob and Gwenn.  Not everyone liked the swim throughs and they went around or over.  But everyone did like the little reef shark that made a slow pass and then doubled back again for a quick hello.  We saw both hawksbill and a green turtle on that dive.

On Colombia Shallow we saw more hawksbills and another green turtle.  A big crab was spotted in a recess of the reef.  There was plenty of good light for the photographers and we did a long dive.

Our third dive was on San Francisco Wall.  Gwenn commented that he had seen enough turtles for the day.  I think it was Christophe who found the small nurse shark way back in a dark nook.  We had plenty of flashlights to get a good look.  There were lots of baby lobsters and I showed them a furry sea cucumber.

Tuesday, April 30th

I asked Tom, Frank, Dennis, Christophe, Tim, Rob and Gwenn to choose between Palancar and Santa Rosa Wall.   They chose the wall!   We did have a bit of current and we had to kick back when I found the little nurse shark in a hole. The shark was frightened and swam out and away when we peeked in.  We saw a few big groupers, some big rainbow parrot fish and a lobster or two.  While I was doing a safety stop with Dennis someone spotted a shark going by but I didn`t get to see it.

The second dive of the day was on Cedral Pass where we had schools of humans everywhere.  We saw a big nurse shark go by and a couple of turtles including one small green turtle.

The third dive of the day was in a strong current at Punta Tunich.   The boys did an excellent job of staying together and working as a team.  We saw a small nurse shark, a big green moray and at the safety stop we saw a turtle.   The boys seemed to like flying around in the current.

Wednesday, May 1st

Eduardo took Tom, Frank, Dennis, Christophe, Tim, Rob and Gwenn out for 2 dives in the morning.   I showed up that afternoon at 4:30 and took them to Dalila for the first dive.  On Dalila we saw tons of turtles, one of which was green and the rest were hawksbill.  We saw an enormous nurse shark and the big green moray was in her usual spot.  There were loads of lobsters and one particularly large one crawled around under a ledge for a while with everyone watching.

We did a night dive on San Clemente.  That was the first time I did a night dive on San Clemente.  Most of the lobsters were tiny.  There was only one really big one out walking around in the sand and a large octopus crossed it's path.  Frank got my attention and we called the group over for a look.  We saw several slipper lobsters, at least 3 snake eels and lots of basket stars.  We definitely saw lots of different stuff on that reef.   We also saw one big crab and a bunch of spotted morays.

Thursday, May 2nd

I asked Tom, Frank, Dennis, Christophe, Tim, Rob and Gwenn where they wanted to me to take them and Christophe answered, ¨Horseshoe!¨   Horseshoe was his first Cozumel dive ever and he has never stopped being impressed with those huge, towering coral formations.  At the very end of the dive a huge loggerhead turtle swam by.   Tom swam off after it taking video.

Everyone liked the second dive which we did at the end of French Reef and the first half of my ¨Secret Spot¨.  We saw a few turtles and someone pointed out a small lionfish which I speared.  I think that ¨The Mugger¨ smelled blood and charged our group a little while later.  First the nurse shark swam right into Tim, brushing into his hand.  Then the shark swam right under me and all around the other divers.  He disappeared for a few minutes and then came back for a second pass.   It was swimming fast and obviously was very excited.   It is not really scary  watch all this, it is exciting.

Friday, May 3rd

The wind was from the Northwest and the surface was very choppy.  We went down south to the Bricks for our first stop.  Every one wandered around and explored the big reef.  We saw a couple of turtles and some lobsters there.

They asked to go through the cave at French Reef but Carlos made a boo boo and dropped us off in the wrong spot so we never got to go in the cave.  It was a nice dive anyway.  There were the usual turtles and Gwenn finally got to see his stingrays.  While Tim was pointing to a turtle under the reef, Gwenn was pointing to the shallow area and making the stingray sign.  I chose to check out the ray.  It turned out to be the right decision.  Gwenn found a lovely spotted eagle ray feeding in the sand.  We saw a few more rays.  They were southern stingrays.  We saw a ton of lobsters on that dive too.

Only Gwenn, Tim and Frank stayed for the third dive on San Francisco Wall.  It was the crustacean dive!  There were lobsters everywhere and a big crab that was missing one of its huge claws.  It probably lost the claw in a battle.  I would hate to see how big the other crab was!   We saw more southern stingrays in the sandy area and Frank said goodbye to all of the sea creatures for this trip.

Monday, May 4th

The group for the whole week was Karen, Karen, Karen, Sharon, Kathi and Debbie.  We established nicknames for 2 of the Karens so that there would be no confusion.   One Karen is nicknamed ¨Spike¨ and another Karen became Carolina.  For the first dive of the week we went to Palancar Gardens.  Coming out of the first cave one of the ladies pointed out a turtle so I turned around and went back so the ladies could take pictures.  Next a small reef shark swam by.  We saw big lobsters, a crab and a stingray on that dive.

The girls asked for a toadfish.  I found splendid toadfish on Dalila for them.  We also saw a green moray, a turtle and a nurse shark. 

That afternoon I took the three Karens to Cardona where we spent an hour and 20 minutes looking at lizardfish, spotted morays and little lobsters.

Tuesday, May 5th

We searched for the seahorse at Horseshoe but instead of finding a seahorse I found a huge sleepy nurse shark.  We saw tons of little stuff.  Debbie was startled by a big octopus.  Apparently the octopus was startled too because it shot it`s ink and scooted away.  Karen watched a small reef shark swim off into the blue.  A pair of lobsters were stomping around on the side of a big coral formation and someone found a fat spotted moray up top.

There was plenty of action on French Reef.  I shot 2 lionfish.  Both were big and the first one wiggled off of my stick and got away.  I fed the second one to a hungry mutton snapper.  A big black grouper kept swimming by with the tail of a black durgon sticking out if it`s mouth.  A large green moray kept swimming around underneath us and we saw some big lobsters.

On San Francisco Wall I pointed out a spotted cleaner shrimp and a tiny juvenile spotted drum.  It was a good dive for macro.

Wednesday, May 8th

I asked Carlos to drop us off on Palancar Caves but he dropped us off a little to the south.  The ladies move slowly so it took 30 minutes to get to the first cave.  Part of that was due to a delay to photograph a rather large nurse shark lounging about under an overhang.  We also saw a small reef shark down below us about 130 feet deep or more.  When we arrived at the first cave we were greeted by several other groups of divers.  We went through the first cave and then the girls decided it was time to get up on top of the reef where it was shallow and there were no other divers.   We saw a turtle up there on top of the reef right as we were heading up.

I took them to my ¨Secret Spot¨.  Karen really liked that site.  It was full of big lobsters and crabs.  I went in a cave and started to look for an exit off to the right but I wasn`t quite sure if there was one or not.  So I turned around to find Carolina right behind me.  Her eyes looked like saucers and she pointed wildly to a HUGE crab right behind me.  Later on the boat she told me that as soon as I went into that cave the huge crab scrambled down from above, scampered across the sand and started trying to grab my fins with it`s claws.  That sucker was BIG and it was a bit scary while it was going on.  The crab had blocked my exit and Carolina was telling me that the crab had been attacking my fins so I got out my Hawaiian Sling, hooked a piece of something in the sand and started intimidating the crab until it backed away from Carolina and the exit.  That was my very first crab attack ever!

That afternoon I took Karen, Karen, Karen and Sharon to Paso Del Cedral for a late afternoon dive.  We saw lots of lobsters and crabs as to be expected and one splendid toadfish.  A big spotted eagle ray swam past and we saw a few turtles too.   As we were driving home after the dive a Karen spotted a pod of dolphins.  Carlos turned the boat around and we drove around watching them and taking video for about 15 minutes.

Thursday, May 9th

I let them choose between Colombia and Santa Rosa. They picked Colombia.   There was a bit of current but nothing unmanageable.  We enjoyed all of the long swim throughs but we didn`t see any big critters on that dive.

I took them to Colombia Shallow for our second stop.  They puttered around and took thousands of photos.  My favorite find was the pair of tiny juvenile spotted drums that Carolina found.  We saw a turtle or two and lots of big barracuda.


I sent them out with Julie for the third stop.  They went to Yucab.  They told me that they saw a big shark and a turtle.  Julie found a pipefish.

Friday, May 10th

Karen wanted to drift and it was her birthday so I took them to Punta Tunich.  I had warned them about the swift current, made a plan on how to stick together and when we got in, SURPRISE!   There was almost no current at all!  We did see a couple of turtles and lots of lobsters.  When everyone went up I snuck into the hole with the school of glassy sweepers and the big green moray.

We went looking for splendid toadfish on Chankanaab.  I found 5 but I only succeeded in showing the group 3 of them.  The others were just too far back in their holes.  We saw spotted morays and a big crab too.

On Tormentos I pointed out a really big bristle worm wiggling around on a gorgonian.  Kathi was surprised at the size of the parrotfish.  Karen busied herself taking photos of tiny blennies and passing barracudas.

Saturday, May 11th

I took Karen, Karen, Karen and Kathi to San Francisco Wall first.  I asked Carlos to drop us off in the blue water and we swam to the wall.  We didn`t see any big critters on that dive, just lots of macro stuff.  We found a red snapping shrimp that was snapping at my stick as I pointed it out and I found a cute little fuzzy crab that lives inside the anemone. 

The girls requested Paradise as their last dive.  We found more of those cute little fuzzy crabs and more shrimp.  At the end of the dive I found a big spotted scorpion fish.

Monday, May 12th

I took Cara, Blake, Greg and Morgan on a resort course at Paradise.  During the class I assured them that we wouldn`t see any sharks.  I told them that we may see small stingrays and not to touch them.  Well I couldn`t believe my eyes when I found a big, fat 6 foot nurse shark lying around on the bottom.   I don`t think I have ever seen a big shark on Paradise before.  Maybe in a thousand dives there I might have seen a few baby nurse sharks over the years but that was a first!

Monday, May 13th

Linda, Rob, Ken and Kyle were all newly certified doing their very first dives after training elsewhere.  Ken requested to see turtles and ray so I took them to French Reef for our first dive.  I don`t know if Ken got to see the hawksbill turtles.  The first one went up to the surface for air and Rob followed the turtle filming it with his ¨Go Pro¨ video camera.  A big nurse shark swam past in the distance and Amanda pointed it out.  She also pointed out a smaller turtle which was much closer to us.  I found another big nurse shark which stopped swimming, parked behind the reef and waited for us to catch up and have a look.  We saw lots of big groupers too.

We saw families of small lobsters on Paradise.  We didn`t see any big creatures but Linda found a yellow stingray.  There were enough fish at that site to keep everyone happy and entertained.

Thursday, May 16th

Amanda came with me to Palancar Gardens to dive with Blake, Stephanie, Edo and Makiko.  Everyone was a pretty new diver so we stayed shallow and kept it easy.  We saw a lobster and a crab and some big black groupers on that dive.

The second dive was on Paradise where we saw a few yellow stingrays and lots of pretty fish.

Sunday, May 19th

After a couple of days off it was the first dive of the vacation for Maria, Cindy, Jen, Alex, Jorge and Derrick.  They requested Colombia Deep.  We saw some turtles and lobsters and swam through a bunch of caves.

The second dive was at Dalila where we were greeted by more turtles, one of which was a loggerhead and a lot of lobsters to make them hungry and ready for lunch.   My green moray eel was not in her spot.

That afternoon I took Jorge, Amanda, Pat, Peter and Ryan to Palancar Gardens.  The newly certified boys did very well on their first real ocean dive. 

They did so well in fact that I let Orlando take them to San Francisco Wall for the second dive and I sat on the boat.  They saw a couple of turtles and a shark I was told.

Monday, May 20th

Per special request I took Maria, Cindy, Jen, Alex, Jorge and Derrick to Punta Sur.  I split the group.  Amanda and I took Jen, Alex, Jorge and Derrick to the Devil´s Throat and sent Maria and Cindy with Orlando on a normal dive a bit south of us.  Although the conditions were excellent the dive did not go smoothly.  We had to wait our turn to go into the cave system and it was like Grand Central Station down there.  Everyone had issues on that dive but most were glad that they got to go there.

That afternoon I took Pat, Ryan and Peter to Palancar Caves.  The boys really liked the tunnels and we saw lots of turtles.  One of the boys pointed up to a pair of turtles overhead.  They had gone up for some fresh air.  I could see that the big one was a boy and the little one was a girl.

The last dive of the day was on Dalila and I got to ¨Wow¨ the boys.  I counted 6 turtles, one of which being a loggerhead.  One swam right up to Ryan and we got a thumbs up on that one.  I found a big nurse shark lying on the bottom.  It didn´t move and they couldn`t see its head so I kind of ¨persuaded¨ it to swim for the boys.  They got a kick out of that.  After Ryan and Peter were on the boat Pat and I saw another big nurse shark swimming around.

Tuesday, May 21st

Alex, Jen, Jorge, Pat, Ryan and Peter were my divers and I let them pick the reef. They chose Palancar Horseshoe.  We had small waves at the surface but underneath the water was as calm as a swimming pool.  The temperature was 82 degrees and the visibility was a little less than normal at around 100 feet.   We stopped to check out a furry sea cumber and a turtle appeared.  Jen and Jorge took turns photographing it. 

Jen has been asking for a seahorse for 2 years now.  During the surface interval I asked all of the divemasters around where the seahorses are on Punta Tunich.  They gave me very explicit instructions.  They said that just after the cave full of glassy sweepers I should turn towards land.  Once the bottom topography flattens out I should look for the very biggest sponge that I could find.  They said that there are a pair (red and black) just behind the sponge.  We followed the instructions and when we arrived there was already another group studying the pair of seahorses.  I called Jen over and we got in line.  The divemaster from the other group called his group to go and we moved it.  When we came up Jen said that dive was her favorite dive ever!   Wow!   Not only because of the seahorses but also because there were so many pairs of angel fish for her to take pictures of.


That night I took them to Yucab for a night dive.  Jorge was the only one of us who saw an octopus.  He said that it sprawled its tentacles out and made itself into tent and then proceeded to change colors.  Alex found the first turtle.  I am not sure if it was swimming when he found it or if we woke it up.  There was a second turtle late in the dive which was sleeping and we didn`t wake it up.   We saw the usual crabs and lobsters but I am blaming the lack of octopi on the bright moon light.  We usually don`t see many octopi on a full moon.

Wednesday, May 22nd

I took Martina, Derek, Alex, Jen, Jorge, Pat, Ryan and Peter to Palancar Caves.   We saw several turtles including the little green one that lives at the end of the reef.  Alex said that a huge lobster came down from above him inside of a cave.  He said that it was the biggest lobster that he had ever seen!

They decided on ¨My Secret Spot¨ for the second stop.  Jen was in turtle heaven there.  Aside from the usual hawkbills she found one big turtle sleeping in a hole and she got tons of pictures.  Jen had been asking me for a spotted eagle ray but all that I could find was a southern sting ray.  I pointed it out and the group turned and swam towards the sand where the ray was.  On the way to the ray they discovered a huge old loggerhead turtle with barnacles all over it`s back.  The behemoth was sleeping and the divers thought that it was dead.  After a few minutes it moved it`s eyes, then it`s head.  Slowly it awoke and wiggled a bit to get free of the rock that it had tucked itself under.  Then it slowly swam off.  Sorry to disturb your nap big guy!

Thursday, May 23rd

I asked Amanda, Corky, Al, Kathye, Leon, Cindy, Maria and Martina where they wanted to go and I got a bunch of interesting answers.  We settled on Palancar Horseshoe but for some strange reason Carlos took us to the Bricks.  That´s OK, it was a nice dive and no one really cared anyway J  Amanda showed us a juvenile spotted drum.  We saw more than one turtle and it was a nice, easy dive.

Keeping it easy we went to Colombia Shallows and saw more turtles.  We saw many lobsters and a big crab.  First Martina pointed to something under the reef.  Amanda went over for a look and then I thought that she made the sign for shark.  So I called the whole group over but when I got down there myself I found a lobster, not a shark.  Hmmmm……………….  Oh well.

Friday, May 24th

My divers were John, Amanda, Corky, Al, Kathye, Leon, Cindy and Maria on San Francisco Wall.  We had an easy, uneventful dive.   We saw small lobsters and a splendid toadfish.  Maria showed me a golden tail moray.  There were no big critters on that dive.

We always see big critters on Dalila and this day we got turtles.  The first sighting was a pair of turtles sharing a meal with some angels.  We saw a few more turtles too along the way there.

Amanda wanted to see the seahorses on Tunich so I took her and John there for an afternoon dive.  We saw a bunch of turtles, shined the light on the glassy sweepers in the cave and found only the red seahorse.  We must have spent 20 minutes looking for the black seahorse but it was nowhere to be found.

Sunday, May 26th

I dived Palancar Gardens with Brian, Jordan, Mike, Lizzy, Mikey and Mina.  The only turtle we saw was at the very end of the dive and most divers missed it.  The dive went well though and everyone enjoyed themselves.

All the turtles were waiting for us on Colombia Shallow.  One was the uncommon green turtle and the others were hawksbills.

Monday, May 27th

I went back to Palancar Gardens with Patsy, Bob, Matt, Max and Stephanie.  We swam through the caves and Patsy took photos of the yellow headed jawfish.   Matt and I saw a turtle before we went up.

On ¨My Secret Spot¨ we had a close encounter with a hawksbill turtle and I found a big nurse shark sleeping under the reef. I tried to get it to come out and swim for everyone but the shark wasn`t going for it.  Later in the dive Matt showed us another nice sized nurse shark lying on the bottom.  Patsy showed us a huge lobster prowling around and a southern stingray swam by too.

Tuesday, May 28th

Tank number one was with Patsy, Bob, Brian, Jordan, Mike, Lizzy and Mikey.  Cathi and Ryan snorkeled over us while we dived.  We went to the Horseshoe and had a bit of adventure.  First we saw a big lobster prancing around.  Then we watched as a furry sea cucumber rolled around on the bottom.  A turtle swam right up to us and crossed through our group saying hello to everyone and at the end of the dive we saw another big lobster strutting his stuff.

Ryan joined us for tank number two.  Julie led the group while I kept a close eye on Ryan.  We saw more lobsters and I think it was because it was a rainy, overcast day and the lobsters thought that it was evening and dinner time.  Julie found a small nurse shark with it`s head in a hole while apparently feeding.  Everyone thought that was really cool.

Wednesday, May 29th

Sue said that she wanted to see a turtle.  I told Barry, Brian, Matt, Max, Mike and Lizzy that we were going to Palancar Bricks to find a turtle.  We found a small one just as soon as we arrived at the bottom.  Max found a medium sized nurse shark as well, just napping in a hole right by the little turtle.  Shortly after that we found a big lobster and a yellow stingray.

I asked Matt and Max if they wanted to go to Dalila and the response was not exactly enthusiastic but we sure had a really nice dive there.  We saw a few more turtles, one of which swam right up to us.  The current there was gentle for a change.

Friday, May 30th

I let Patsy choose which reefs we went to.  She had a ¨bucket list¨.  Brian, Scott, Jonathan, Jordan, Carol, Mark and Bob didn`t seem to mind.  Patsy chose Palancar Bricks for the first dive.  We saw several turtles.  One of which just swam right up to each member of our dive team.  Everyone had fun taking pictures.  The boys loved the swim throughs and canyons.

Patsy chose Colombia Shallow for the second dive.  We saw a small turtle sleeping on the bottom, lots of lobsters and a crab.  During the last few minutes of the dive we watched as a bar jack shadow hunted with a southern stingray in the sand.

Saturday, May 31st

Matt, Max, Patsy, Bob, Carol, Mark, Neel and Donnell had not been to Colombia Deep yet this week and the weather was still holding out so we did our first tank there.  I shot a big lionfish and I worried that Donnell might disapprove but back on the boat she said that it was a good thing that somebody realized how much damage they do to the reef.  When I went into the long cave a huge lobster was smack dab in the middle.  As soon as we entered it scooted over to a dark crevice to hide.  Mark and I were the only ones that saw it.

Another dive on Patsy`s list was Paso Del Cedral.  I was surprised that the current was not that strong there.  I was also surprised that we saw no turtles or sharks there.  However, we did see loads of big barracuda.  When we first rolled in an extra large barracuda swam right over to us.  The divers decided back on the boat that the barracuda had to be at least 5 feet long.  I looked it up in the Fish ID book and it says that the great barracuda can get up to 6 feet long!   I learn something new every day :)

Sunday, June 1st

The wind was actually calmer than the previous day.  It was Scott and Julie`s first dives of the vacation and they are newly certified so I took them, Carol, Mark, Bob, Donnell and Neel to Palancar Gardens.  That always makes for a nice easy descent.  The first turtle appeared from behind and I just caught a glimpse of it.  Scott and Julie missed it completely.  They did however get to see a turtle while making their safety stop.  It was a small one and it paddled around below them while they waited for 3 minutes before ascending.   That´s always a nice way to spend a safety stop :)

I wanted to keep it easy so I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨.   All the big critters appeared after everyone was on the boat.  Carol and I saw a turtle, a huge nurse shark lying on the bottom and at the very end we ducked down into a crevice to see a big green moray eel.

Sunday, June 2nd

The heavy rain had calmed the sea.  It was flat on top and the current was almost nonexistent on Palancar Caves where Matt, Max, Carol, Mark, Bob and Todd dived with me.  Since it was overcast the splendid toadfish thought it was evening and poked it`s head out of the hole and smiled at Carol.  We ran into another group of divers who were looking at a pipefish in the sand.  A crab also thought that it was time to come out and eat.  The little green turtle was in her usual spot.

Nate and Jim joined us for the second dive on French Reef.  As soon as we arrived at the bottom I found a small nurse shark sleeping in a hole.  Later in the dive a couple of big nurse sharks were out swimming around.  The big one swam just up ahead of us for most of the dive and a small barracuda followed Carol and I around for more than half of the dive.  I shot a large lionfish and a big snapper gobbled it up.  I heard someone ringing their noisemaker and Carol was pointing at 3 big billfish that swam by.  Carol saw one with its dorsal fin extended.  We looked them up on the internet and they were sailfish.   I only see billfish about once every 2 years!

Monday, June 3rd

We were late leaving the marina to pick up the divers because it was raining hard and we didn`t want to leave the harbor until the visibility cleared a little.  When there was a break we went around the cruise ship pier to pick up Patsy, Bob and Todd.  When we headed out to pick up Ken, Mary, Tony, Carol and Mark it started to rain again but HARD.  Soon Carlos couldn`t see land and he was using the compass to figure out which direction he was driving.  I told him to pull back into the marina and wait for it to pass.  It is only a quarter of a mile from the cruise ship to the Caleta and in that short, slow drive the rain cleared so we kept going.  By the time that we got near Fiesta Americana there was ZERO visibility again and Carlos decided to look for a buoy and tie off to wait it out.  I went and stood on the bow in the driving rain as a spotter for the buoy.  Then I went to the back of the boat to get the buoy and tie off.  By the time that we got all tied off and I was wet and exhausted the rain broke again!  Off to pick up the other divers we went.  After all was said and done we were an hour late picking everyone up.  The rain cleared but we had big waves.  Carlos convinced me to dive on Santa Rosa Wall because it was right there.  We had a great dive!   Two different turtles swam right up to us.  We saw big groupers and a huge lobster.  Patsy discovered a very camouflaged spotted scorpion fish.

San Francisco Wall was close so that was our next stop.   There we saw a small nurse shark swimming around, another big turtle and Patsy showed us a big green moray eel.  We saw tons of lobsters, a golden tail eel and I showed Carol another splendid toadfish.  I pointed out Patsy´s favorite fish – a big balloon fish.

Tuesday, June 4th

It was still raining cats and dogs when I took Matt, Todd, Scott, Julie, Ken and Tony to Dalila.  We tried to go to Palancar but the waves were just too big.  Once we were on the bottom it was fun.  There was a medium strength current which brought us up to a few turtles.  Someone found a big old green moray eel and Todd showed me a big lionfish but I couldn´t stop to shoot it because some of the divers were drifting away.

They picked Santa Rosa Shallow for the second dive because I told them that there wouldn`t be much current.  The only real interesting critters we saw were a splendid toadfish and a big lobster.

Thursday, June 6th

The waves were still pretty big but the rain had stopped.  Matt, Max, Ken, Mary, Julie, Scott and Tony were all very happy that the sun was out!  We braved the waves to go to Palancar Horseshoe.  The coral formations there are very impressive and we had no current.  We saw a big lobster out and about and Tony found the little baby turtle that lives there.

They wanted to go somewhere that they haven`t been yet so I took them to Cedral Wall.  We had a good current on that dive but we saw a big shark and a huge turtle.  It was really funny because I was trying to tell Matt to look down because that turtle was right below him.  He was looking all over and didn’t see it until he was practically sitting on it!   We saw more lobsters on that dive and I wondered if it was mating season or something because so many were out walking around this day.

Friday, June 7th

Finally the sun came out and the waves calmed down.  I took Tiffany, Adam, Tony, Scott and Julie to the Caves.  As soon as we arrived at the reef I saw first one turtle swim down from the surface, then a second large turtle glide down behind the reef.  As I was searching for the big turtle yet another small turtle appeared.  All three turtles were in the same area during the first few minutes of the dive.  We didn`t see any other turtles on that dive.

There was almost no current on French Reef.  We explored the long caves and I showed them a crab with big claws.  I wonder if it was the same one that attacked me a few weeks prior……?

Saturday, June 8th

The sun was out and shining on this day.  It was Mike and Eric´s very first ocean dives ever.  Mark and Lauren brought Allison along to snorkel so we went to Palancar Gardens on our first dive.  We stayed in 40 feet of water and we saw tons of big lobsters out on the prowl.  We dipped down to 60 feet once to get a look at a turtle but promptly returned to 40 feet.  At the end of the dive Kevin pointed out a big green moray eel out swimming around.  Allison is afraid of eels so I told Lauren not to tell her that we saw a big one!

Colombia Shallows is Kevin´s favorite shallow dive.  We saw several small turtles sleeping under the coral heads.  We saw a few more out swimming around.  I found a baby nurse shark under the reef.  It was only about 3 or 4 feet long.  Everyone seemed to love that dive and Carlos snorkeled over us with Allison.

Sunday, June 9th

It was another sunny day with calm seas so off we went to Palancar Bricks.  My divers were Mark, Lauren, Mike, Eric, Lisa, Chad, Tony and Kevin.  There was hardly any current at all and we just paddled around looking at all the big spires of coral rising up from the deep.  We saw the usual lobster and Tony stopped to gaze at a feeding turtle.

The only turtle we saw on French Reef was at the safety stop.  It was headed up to the surface for a breath of air.  Eric was really thrilled with the long cave that we swam through.

Monday, June 10th

Mark, Lauren, Allison, Mike, Eric, Tony and Kevin came with me to Palancar.  Kevin requested the caves so I took them through the wider ones.  We had bright sunshine and minimal current.

The current was moving right along on Dalila.  It was worth it though because we saw a turtle and a 5 foot nurse shark swimming by.  Everyone was tired when we got back on the boat but they were all smiling!

Wednesday,June 12th

This time I picked the reef that I took Tony, Kevin, Laura, Jamie, Robbie, Lindsey and Sean.  I chose Palancar Horseshoe because their littlest one Tyler was snorkeling over us and I wanted to make sure that he had plenty to see too.  I showed the kids a huge lobster and Tony explored some caves.

Because we had a snorkeler and it is Kevin`s favorite, we went back to Colombia Shallow.  There we saw big nurse shark and a small turtle.  Kevin said that when he was off on his own for a while he saw 4 or 5 nurse sharks all swimming together.  It has been a while but I have seen that at Colombia Shallows before and I am sorry that I missed it!

Thursday, June 13th

Orlando came along to help me because I had one 10 year old diver.  I took Rebecca, her 2 older brothers Nathan and Jacob and her dad Michael diving while Orlando took my seasoned divers: Julie, Greg, Tony and Kevin.  We had nice, flat seas and Palancar Gardens proved to be an easy dive with ideal conditions.  Orlando took the older divers through all of the caves.  Tony had a very good time.

The second tank was on ¨My Secret Spot¨.   Once Rebecca and Nathan were on the boat her 17 year old brother and dad went down and joined the group.

Saturday, June 15th

We had more nice conditions with Bob, Kay, Greg and Tyler.  Jenny and Matt snorkeled over us on Paso del Cedral.  We drifted over a big turtle sharing a tasty sponge with a pair of angelfish.  Then I spotted a big green moray eel shadow hunting with a pair of black groupers.  The snorkelers could see the whole thing from the top.

Jenny and Matt joined us for our second dive on French Reef.  Jenny got close the second turtle on that dive.  I saw another green moray swimming around but by the time I got everyone´s attention the eel had slithered into a hole and was gone!   Jenny showed me the first bristle worm and Kay showed me the second.  I pointed out a big crab to Jenny and Tyler. They both found that crab fascinating.

Sunday, June 16th

Carlos and I picked up Rick, Matt, Eric, Kelly, Bob, Kay, Greg and Julie at the same pier and we took them to Palancar Caves. Greg pointed out the small green turtle on the bottom as we arrived. It appears that she has moved a little further south from her usual spot. We found the cast off shell from a huge lobster that had molted. It was so big that it left all marveling just how big that lobster was going to be now that it had outgrown that shell.

We found more turtles on Colombia Shallow. I think I saw 3 or 4 hawksbill turtles on that dive. We also saw a school of barracuda and lots of pretty fish!

Monday, June 17th

Rick, Matt, Eric, Kelly, Bob, Kay, Simon and Nathalie came with me to Dalila. I didn`t give them a choice. I just announced where we were going J First we saw a big green eel hiding behind a big grouper. Later we saw a pair of turtles and a few small swimming nurse sharks. There was action all throughout the dive.

On San Francisco Wall it rained as we got into the water and it rained for the first 10 minutes that we were down there. We didn`t see any big critters but Kay found a splendid toadfish and she also saw a big green moray that I missed!

Tuesday, June 18th

I let the divers (Rick, Matt, Eric, Kelly, Greg, Simon and Nathalie) pick the reef. They came up with Palancar Bricks. It was great because we saw several turtles and a big southern stingray. Nathalie disappeared for a few minutes as she thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the big ray and fun was had by all.

I picked Cedral Wall for the second tank. We saw a few big turtles just sitting still on the bottom munching on tasty sponges and sharing with hungry angelfish. The highlight of the dive was a free swimming green moray eel. It put on quite a show. I was checking out a big lionfish deep in a cave that I couldn`t get at, when I noticed the two big turtle droppings right in front of the cave. Everyone laughed when I wrote on my slate ¨TURTLE ****¨ and some even took pictures because it looks so much like human doings……….

Wednesday, June 19th

Carlos called in sick so we had Hugo cover for him. I asked Hugo where Alex was seeing all the sharks and he told me they were on that long strip of reef just south of Colombia Deep so I told him to take me there. I only had 5 divers: Nathalie, Simon, Rick, Eric and Matt. It was a deep dive and we saw a ton of small turtles. The formations were quite impressive but we didn`t see any sharks.

I found two big nurse sharks on ¨My Secret Spot¨. The first one was taking a nap under the reef and sat really still while everyone took photos. The second one was out swimming around. It was a little ways out but it was so big that everyone got a look. We saw a southern stingray flapping around and a big lobster pranced about in a dark space.

Thursday, June 20th

Ola and Ellie were working on their advanced certification and requested the shipwreck as one of their dives. I asked Rick, Eric, Matt, Kelli, Nathalie and Simon if they would be OK with that. There was only one objection so I did ¨rock/paper/scissors and won. Off to the wreck we went. It turned out to be a more than usually interesting dive because I found a huge green moray eel under the ship and the fields of garden eels had grown and they were everywhere in the sandy areas. Kelli said that she liked the spotted moray better than the big green eel. I don`t get it but she sure liked that little eel!

Ola and Ellie also chose a drift dive as part of the course so I took them to Punta Tunich which normally has the fastest current on the south part of the island. It was a slow day with a 2 knot current and I was quite happy with those conditions for teaching. The first nurse shark I found was sleeping in a hole. When I approached it got pissed off and swam away. Then I found a little turtle hanging out with some angels. I headed over to look for the seahorses and there was a HUGE nurse shark lying on the bottom just where the seahorses live. I was praying that the shark did not squish them. Behind the big sponge was a darling little juvenile smooth trunkfish that can be described as a polka dotted marble or a single dice. It is just adorable to watch. It took me a few minutes to find the big black seahorse. By then most of the group had drifted off and they had to swim hard to get back to see it. I think it made Nathalie´s whole week when I showed her the seahorse. She was soooo enthusiastic.

Friday, June 22nd

I had promised Rick, Eric, Matt and Kelli a dive on Santa Rosa Wall before they went home so I didn`t give Ola, Ellie, Sandra or Mike a choice. I just announced where we were going. Ola and Ellie did their deep dive for Advanced there and it went very well. I took a shot at a lionfish and missed. It escaped into a crack in the reef. The only turtle we saw was at the very end when only Rick, Eric and Matt were still down but the turtle was very cooperative with Rick´s photo shoot.

For the Navigational dive I took them to French Reef. After completeling the exercises we saw a big nurse shark swim by. Ola burned up all of his air chasing after it. One of the boys pointed out a big spotted eagle ray going by. It had no tail. It was strange to see an eagle ray in June. I always wonder if it was a hammerhead that bit off its tail……………????

Saturday, June 22nd

It was a picture perfect day and I took Ben, Dawn, Scott, Matt, David, Jeff, Ola and Ellie to Palancar Gardens. Ola and Ellie practiced buoyancy control swimming through the caves. It was Dawn´s very first open water dive after certification and she was thrilled when she got back on the boat!

I wanted to impress them so I took them to Dalila. We saw several small nurse sharks that were in the 5 foot range. The boys got very excited each time I pointed out another shark. We saw a couple of small turtles and at the very end of the dive. Ola and I saw an enormous nurse shark lying about in the sand. When I got back on the boat the boys told me that it was their best dive ever!

Sunday, June 23rd

I had a private charter. Rich, Cori and Mason were my certified divers. I gave a class to Scotty and Toby and they came diving too. The ladies snorkeled over us while we swam around in 25 feet of water at Colombia Shallow. On the way out a dolphin followed the boat for a little while. On the bottom I found a turtle sleeping under the reef. We woke it up and it swam up to the surface. We saw several more turtles throughout that dive. We also saw some big barracudas and some groupers.

The ladies were feeling a little seasick so they got off of the boat and us divers went to Santa Rosa Shallow for our second dive. The kids chased the fish and had fun.

Monday, June 24th

By special request I took Ben, Dawn, Scott, Matt, David and Poppy to Colombia Deep. We saw a few turtles and went through all of my favorite swim throughs. Scott saw a nurse shark swimming behind us but I missed it.

The current was still slow so I took them to Cedral Wall for the second dive. We had a fantastic critter dive! I counted 6 turtles. Most of them were just sitting on the bottom feasting on tasty sponges and sharing with angels. We disturbed a rather large nurse shark out of its resting place. I had not seen it until it got up and swam off. I checked the regular eel holes and both were occupied! The first was the small green eel, maybe 5 feet long and still a teenager. My favorite old sweet moray (at least 6 feet long and fat) was in her favorite spot. She had 2 big lacerations from a recent fight with another green eel but she didn`t seem to be bothered by them. I just love that eel soooooo much!

Tuesday, June 25th

We were a little overstaffed on Palancar Caves with Orlando along to buddy up with 10 year old Mason. Mason`s dad Rich stayed up top with them while I took Kristy on a private tour. We saw one turtle after another. I am guessing we saw at least 10 turtles on that dive. At one point I called Orlando over because a pair of turtles were frolicking in circles but Orlando pointed off to the East to let me know that there was another turtle nearby. Some sat on the bottom eating, some swam up to the surface to breathe and one was off on the blue.

I sat on the boat while Orlando took them diving on French Reef. I don`t know what they saw because I didn`t go on that dive! I know that they saw a lot of other divers because Dressell Divers from the Iberostar hotel dropped off two full boat loads of divers right on top of our little group. Orlando said it looked like it was raining divers when he looked up.

Wednesday, June 26th

I took Ben, Dawn, Rich, Cori, Mason and Poppy to Palancar Gardens. Poppy chased a pair of turtles that were swimming below us on the drop off. Ben stopped to take a photo of a big crab.

The second dive was on ¨My Secret Spot¨. Orlando stayed up top with the family and I took the adults down to the bottom. Orlando found all the good stuff. He found a big nurse shark and a big turtle. I missed them both. I only saw a bunch of lobsters and a crab.

Monday, July 1st

After a nice 4 day rest I met up with Dawn, Ben, Mike, David, Jeremy and Cayce. Orlando came along not because I was paying him but just for fun. We picked Gardens for the first dive and right at the beginning Orlando pointed out a small turtle behind us. Since Orlando was officially ¨not working¨ he did what he really loves to do: explore the caves. He would disappear and then reappear. As long as I could see bubbles coming up I didn`t worry. I would stop and wait, check and when I was satisfied that he was OK I would just move on. The action was at the end of the dive. As Dawn and I hung on the line doing a safety stop ¨The Mugger¨ (a 6 foot long nurse shark) swam right up to Orlando`s feet. Right up to them within an inch. We all waited to see if it would bite but it did not. The shark swam back down and away. Meanwhile we had spotted a huge green moray eel and commenced looking for that eel. Then ¨The Mugger¨ came back and had another go at Orlando. As Dawn and I started drifting away another shark appeared but this time it was a reef shark and swam right past Orlando. He could not have had more fun! Everyone just watched to see what would happen. The sharks just swam off and we all went up.

I took them to Punta Tunich because Dawn had been asking to see a seahorse all week. The current at Tunich had been so slow all month that I was not expecting what I got. I got a rip roaring flying current! There was no way to stop and look for seahorses. Heck we couldn`t stop and look at anything! So I got frustrated and crossed them over to Yucab. We saw a big crab and a big lobster there.

Tuesday, July 2nd,

I had a cancellation and wound up with only 2 good divers: Mike and David. So I ride shared with Eduardo`s boat and we went to Palancar Caves. It was a pretty dive but we didn`t see anything of note.

Mike loves current so he talked Nacho into taking us to Cedral Wall where we flew around and saw a bunch of stuff. A big green eel poked her head out at David and said hello. Nacho showed us a big turtle hanging out with a huge grouper. On our way over to Santa Rosa Shallow I was checking out a hole in the sand that must have been made by a big southern stingray when I noticed a small spotted scorpionfish just sitting in the sand. That was quite interesting!

Wednesday, July 3rd

I brought Orlando with me to take care of Nathan and Emily who were in various stages of certification and both teenagers. Eric, their dad stayed with them. I hung out with Armando, Aidan, Cacey and Jeremy. The wind was from the south so I took them to Chankanaab. A big splendid toadfish was halfway out of its borough because the skies were dark and cloudy. We saw a few lobsters and I was so pleased when I found the 5 foot long nurse shark sleeping on the bottom.

The next stop was on San Francisco Wall where we had a bit of current. Everyone managed it well and we saw enough lobsters to open a restaurant. I found a small lionfish and I decided that it would be better to go get the divemaster that I had seen right behind me and let him shoot it for me J I found another sleeping nurse shark. This one was harder to see because it was in a dark cave.

Thursday, July 4th

I celebrated the Fourth of July with Jan, Jim, David, Parker, Carey, Eric, Emily and Nathan. We went to Palancar Gardens. There was a little current but nothing to write home to mom about. We practiced good buoyancy control swimming through those caves. At the very end of the dive Jan and I watched a hawksbill turtle feeding and a juvenile spotted drum flitter around.

The second dive was on French Reef where we went through the really long cave and everyone got to see the big turtle on the bottom. We also saw a crab and several lobsters on that dive.

Friday, July 5th

I was planning on taking Jan and Jim on a deep dive for their advanced course. I brought Orlando along to stay shallow with Ken, Wendy, Armando, Aidan and Andres. Things don`t always work out like we plan them. The dive turned out to be a mess. First, when we got in the current was blowing us towards shore, away from the reef. Ken got a cramp in his leg and was not able to swim well. Once we got to the deep area I took them through a swim through and proceeded to my favorite cave. That is where everything started going wrong. Following procedure I checked everyone`s air before entering. Ken was low on air from swimming with one leg. I sent Wendy and Ken up with Orlando and then headed for the cave. When I arrived the cave was FULL of divers from another group that had come in from a side entrance so I turned around and waited. Good thing! Jim signaled to me for the slate and wrote me a note that the regulator was hard to breathe from. So I passed him my octopus. While he was on my octopus, I stuck his regulator in my mouth and it seemed just fine to me. So I passed him HIS octopus and had him try it. He said that it was just fine and that he was OK to continue the dive. So I turned to the cave again. It was full of even more divers from another group and what was worse, some of them started coming out and joining OUR group. THEIR divemaster had gone through and went to the other side of the reef. I decided to blow off the frickin´ cave and crossed everyone over to the shallow area. The only really good thing about that dive is that we saw a lot of turtles. One was a loggerhead but I am the only person that could tell the difference.

Armando really likes those caves and he asked if we would take him to the Gardens for the second dive. He asked if we could split the group. I said yes and off we went. I stayed up top in 25 feet of water with Jan and Jim doing navigational skills while Orlando led them through all of his favorite caves. We met up towards the end of the dive and all worked out just fine!

Saturday, July 6th

Jan and Jim requested the wreck dive and I asked David, Carey and Parker if that would be OK and they said yes. We were lucky that there wasn`t much current on this morning. We found Orlando´s favorite sea creature crawling around on the wreck – the furry sea cucumber. Jim was very curious about the garden eels and went over for a good look. He soon discovered that as you get closer they disappear into the sand!

I was in no mood for a wild current so I took them to Chankanaab for the second dive. It was a nice, easy relaxing dive. We saw a lot of big barracuda there.

Monday, July 8th

When we pulled up to Palancar Gardens I noticed that the current looked strong. It was Paul, Mike and Rob´s first dive of the vacation and Kaleigh, Cabe, Jennifer and Chris` very first ocean dive ever! I asked Carlos to run me a bit more to the north where the current looked better but I KNEW that sooner or later the current was going to catch us. I was fortunate enough to have 5 minutes to get everyone to the bottom before it kicked in. We stayed up top in the shallow water away from the drop off. We flew around a bit and we saw TONS of turtles. When we came up I apologized to Jennifer and Kaleigh for hard conditions and their response was of surprise. ¨That was hard conditions?¨ ¨That was a blast!¨ Boy, was I relieved! They had a great time because they got to see a lot of turtles.

I wanted something easy and Cindy was snorkeling over us so we went to Colombia Shallow. We only saw one turtle there but we saw a big crab and some small lobsters on that dive. Everyone liked the schools of yellow fish. We had almost no current at all.

Tuesday, July 9th

I went flying around in the current again with David, Melissa, Paul, Chris, Jennifer, Kaleigh and Cade. I told Hugo to drive around and find me a spot with no current. We wound up on the very end of Palancar Bricks but mostly dived on the Caves. We saw a bunch of turtles again including a pair of small green turtles at the very end of the dive whom had gone to the surface to gulp up some fresh air. When I got back on the boat I asked everyone what they thought of the dive. The consensus was the current was stronger the day before, they liked being able to hide in the reef and stop and Kaleigh said that it was her favorite dive as of yet!

There was a good current on ¨My Secret Spot¨ but it was not as strong as on the first dive and it was actually getting to be routine and quite manageable. We ran into Jorge down there and I couldn`t get around his group so I wrote on my slate asking him to park his people for just a minute and let me pass please. The dive got much better from then on. We saw a huge turtle and Jen found a sleeping nurse shark. Chris says that he got a good picture of the shark. Kaleigh got a a really good look at it. J Later during the dive Paul, David and I startled another decent sized nurse shark and it swam off.

Wednesday, July 10th

I did the same thing that I did the day before. I asked Hugo to take Julie, George, Kristy, Kim, Paul, Gregory, Vladimiro, Mike and I to Palancar and drive around to find a place with less current. We wound up in the same spot as the day before but it was all new divers so no one had been there yet. We only saw one turtle and one big lobster but the divers were thrilled. They were all relatively new divers so they had never seen a big coral reef like that before. They were very, very happy when they came up. The current was OK but not too strong and everyone dived well.

I wanted something easy. When Mike suggested that we go to Colombia Shallow I was all over that. We saw a bunch of turtles, even one pair together. I found a baby nurse shark under the reef and later a BIG nurse shark also hiding under the reef. It was a very good dive!

Thursday, July 11th

Paul asked to go to Colombia Deep because he said that it would be a good photo opportunity to take pictures of Kaleigh, Cade, Jen and Chris at the anchor. Dave, Vladimiro, Julie and George didn`t seem to mind where we went. As we approached I saw that there were a lot of other boats on Colombia so I announced that we were going to Palancar Bricks instead. It was a great dive! We saw tons of turtles and I found a sleeping nurse shark. As we approached it got up and swam away. Just a few minutes later I found a pair of good sized nurse sharks lying together on the bottom. I took them through some cool caves and everyone agreed that it was the best dive yet.

Paul and I conferred and decided on Paso Del Cedral for the second stop. When we arrived Carlos warned me that the current was pretty strong. I almost told him to drive us somewhere else. Then I thought about getting everyone ¨un¨ - suited up and driving around and decided to just ride it out. It didn't turn out to be that fast and we were greeted by a big swimming nurse shark upon reaching the bottom. Another small nurse shark smiled at us from the little cave where the green moray usually sits. We saw lots of turtles including one pair of big hawksbills swimming around together and several small green turtles. Half way through the dive David showed us yet another big nurse shark swimming off in the distance. It was too far away for photos. But we saw lots of turtles, lots of sharks and everyone loved the dive.

Friday, July 12th

Paul, Fulvio, Mike, Vladimiro, Chris, Jennifer, Kaleigh and Cade were my divers on Colombia Deep. It was so nice not to have any current for the dive. The divers were surprised that they had to actually kick to move around. Paul took lots of photos over by the anchor and we saw a few turtles.

The current started out slow on Dalila but by the time we finished the dive we were drifting along at a good rate. The green moray eel was in her usual spot and we saw more turtles. That made Jennifer very happy.

Saturday, July 13th

I got really lucky as there was not much current at Palancar Gardens where I took Paul, Vladimiro, Scott, Andrea, John, Julie and George diving. We had a nice, easy descent. About 15 minutes into the dive I noticed that the bubbles from the divers below and in front of us were going sideways, not up. I huddled my divers up in a protected area and waited a minute before proceeding. Fortunately there was a good place to hide from the current and it quickly passed. We made our way over to the caves and all went well for the rest of the dive.

The current was OK when we got in at French Reef but gradually throughout the dive it got stronger and stronger until we were flying around on our safety stops. We saw a whole bunch of turtles and it was a good dive despite the fast current. I think they really liked the long caves too.

Sunday, July 14th

I had a nice dive on Palancar Caves with George, Julie, Vladimiro, Scott, Alex, Andrea and John. We saw a couple of turtles but we didn`t make it through the caves. George asked me to take him back there sometime when the sun was shining

The next tank was on ¨My Secret Spot¨ which is not quite so secret anymore J I found a small nurse shark sharing a hiding place with a big green moray eel. We saw a few turtles. The last turtle that we saw was a green turtle. I drifted over a big nurse shark lounging around in the sand. Too bad everyone´s camera batteries had gone dead!

Monday, July 15th

Andrea, John, Alex, Richard, David, Rick, David Jr. and Steve were my divers on Palancar Gardens. We saw a lot of big groupers and I took them through all of the caves. I was so grateful that there wasn`t any strong current. We had a nice, easy dive.

There was actually more current on Colombia Shallow but it was mild. We saw TONS of turtles and a few lobsters. John really liked that dive and we stayed down an hour and a half.

Tuesday, August 6th

After 21 days of hard earned vacation and a new paint job on the boat, Carlos and I picked up Rich, Judy, Rich, Jean and Kathleen and asked them where they wanted to go. First Rich said that he wanted to see turtles. Then he said that he wanted to go to San Francisco Wall. I took them to Dalila first for the turtles. The current was RIPPING and we flew past 3 different turtles. We also flew past several nurse sharks. Rich had left his camera back at the hotel but we were flying around so fast that it probably wasn`t such a good day for stopping and taking pictures. Since all divers aboard are veteran divers the current didn`t bother them too much.

The current was better at San Francisco Wall. We saw quite a few southern stingrays and some lobsters there. My favorite things about San Francisco Wall are all of the colorful sponges. There are orange, red and yellow sponges in abundance there.

Wednesday, August 7th

Michael joined our group and we were off to Santa Rosa Wall by special request. There was a decent current there too and lots of schools of humans. We saw quite a few extra large black groupers in the 70 to 80 pound range. Large lobsters came out and pranced around for us on the reef.

I chose Yucab because I wanted something fairly easy that the photographers could stop and take pictures in. Rich found half of a lobster, the top half that is and it was being devoured by lots of different colorful fish. That made for a very interesting photographic subject. He took pictures of the schools of fish. At the end of the dive a huge lobster was out walking on the bottom. As Rich and Rich swam back to take pictures a friendly turtle joined the rest of us on our safety stop.

Thursday, August 8th

We decided to do both Colombias that day and of course we started on the deep one. Thankfully the current was mild and it turned out to be a fairly easy dive. My divers were impressed with the beautiful formations there.

There were a few small turtles and lots of little stuff to look at on Colombia Shallow. I found a cute little nudibranch that I have never seen before out crawling around. I showed Kathleen a trumpet fish camouflaging itself in a gorgonian.

Friday, August 9th

It was time to go to Palancar on day four of the group´s trip. Dona joined the group too. First we stopped at the Horseshoe but the current looked bad so I told Carlos to drive around a find a spot with no current. He settled us on the Bricks. There was little current for the first 15 minutes of the dive but after that the current quickly picked up. There were plenty of turtles for Rich to photograph but he missed the biggest one that Judy, Dona and Kathleen stopped to watch.

Rich asked to go back to Dalila because he wanted to see the nurse sharks now that he had his camera. Thankfully the current had slowed WAY down and it was a good dive. I showed Kathleen a splendid toadfish in a hole. We saw a couple of turtles and I could hear Dona screaming in her regulator every time she found another lobster. We didn`t see any nurse sharks this time and I told Rich that it was his fault because he brought the camera.

Saturday, August 10th

Michael, Dona, Judy, Rich, Jean, Rich and Kathleen all came for the last day of the group´s dive trip. I suggested a few reefs and they seemed very excited about my ¨My Secret Spot¨ so that was our first stop. We saw tons of turtles and lobsters and one very big southern stingray.

I asked if they would like to brave the waves at Palancar for the second dive or if they would like to do something less exciting the other direction with less waves. They all shouted, ¨Critters!¨ so we took them to Cedral. The current was FLYING! We flew up to a pair of big lobsters playing around out in the open. All being very experienced divers there was no problem to stop and watch. Judy chased a baby turtle and later in the dive she found another small green turtle. When we arrived at Santa Rosa Shallow I expected the current to calm down. Instead it just turned into a big sand storm. Rich had to stop taking pictures because of the backscatter. It was a real adventure. I was feeling sorry for another divemaster that flew by us with a group of newbies out of control. We could hear him off in the distance banging on his tank trying desperately to get their attention. I was happy that I had such good divers.

Sunday, August 11th

In the morning I took James and Jim to Paradise for their first dive. We saw 5 lobsters huddled together under a small coral head. I found a snake eel right next to a goldentail moray. Jim found a huge crab. We saw several barracudas on that dive too.

The next stop was on Chankanaab where I pointed out 2 splendid toadfish. The guys really liked the big midnight parrotfish and they found another big lobster.

In the afternoon I took Carlos´ sons David and Cristian, his nephew Cesar and his daughter in law Ali to Paradise for a resort course. Carlos` wife rode along on the boat and took care of their granddaughter Emily while the rest of the family learned to dive. We saw a spotted moray and a lobster close to shore. I took Cristian out to the big reef and he found a huge crab. He really seemed to enjoy that scuba diving.

Monday, August 12th

Dan, Mike, Trevor, Brian, Ryan, Sue, Scott, Laura, Greg and Chris were my divers that morning. I normally won`t take 10 divers but they were all one big group and wanted to dive together. Space was tight on the boat but we made it work so that they could all be together. I told Carlos to drive around Palancar and look for a spot with not too much current. He dropped us about half way down the Caves. That was a great place for everyone to get situated after some not having dived for 5 years. It is about 30 feet deep there and there are 40 foot areas that are completely protected from the current. After everyone was neutrally buoyant and relaxed I headed for the drop off. One young man (maybe Brian?) pointed behind my head and made the shark sign. There were 3 little reef sharks above and behind me. A fourth little shark showed up soon after. I completely missed the turtle and the lobster. I think Orlando found those critters. It was a good dive with lots to see.

I wanted to avoid current at all costs so I took them to French Reef. We had a nice, mild current which was just right for our group. The first nurse shark we saw swam from the shallow to the deeper water and disappeared. The second nurse shark we saw was only about 5 feet long and it was swimming off in the deeper water as well. The third nurse shark was big and it was resting on the bottom and everyone got to swim back for a good look. We saw several turtles and Orlando discovered a big octopus on the reef and a huge green moray right next to it. Not everyone was able to swim back against the current to see the octopus and moray eel. That turned out to be a great dive too!

Tuesday, August 13th

There was almost no current on Palancar Horseshoe when I took Jim, James and Adam diving in the morning. We saw a big crab, a couple of dinner sized lobsters and it was Adam that pointed to the baby turtle when I swam right past it! Jim took video of a big grouper at a cleaning station. He said that the little fish just swam in and out of it´s mouth as the big fish just sat there agape.

The current picked up on French Reef and we drifted along at a good clip. A small spotted eagle ray swam right up to us and I looked it right in the eye. I found another big crab and a 6 foot nurse shark swam past us in the distance. At the end of the dive Jim took video footage of a large hawksbill turtle that swam by and on our safety stop I felt a tug on the string as the men showed me a big lobster patrolling below us.

Saturday, August 17th

Carlos and I took Brad, Sarah and Kasia to Chankanaab for the first dive. We saw big rainbow parrotfish and a huge black grouper. I had told them about the splendid toadfish there but we had quite a bit of current at the beginning of the dive so we couldn`t stop and look for the toadfish. After about half an hour the current died down and started to turn us around.

We went back to the marina to pick up Susana and Stephan. We all went to Palancar Gardens. I found a huge lobster and I drifted right past a small turtle on the bottom. As I was pointing to the lobster I saw Stephen pointing to something else. I swam back for a look and that is when I saw the turtle. Everyone really liked the swim throughs at Palancar.

We went back to the marina and dropped of Kasia, Brad and Sarah. I took Susana and Stephen to Chankanaab since they had missed the first dive. We saw more lobsters and the big grouper and there was no current so I found a couple of splendid toadfish too!

Sunday, August 18th

Dive one was on Palancar Caves with Clay, Colby, Taylor, Heather, Kendell, Brayden and Randy. Thankfully we have no current at all and we dropped down on a turtle that was feasting on a sponge. I spent the whole dive looking for the little sharks but never found them.

Dive two was at Colombia Shallow. Kendell found her shark! A six foot nurse shark swam by and she pointed madly which caught my eye. We also saw a couple of turtles that were not afraid of us at all. One turtle swam right up to us before surfacing to take a breath of air. We saw several lobsters on that dive too.

Monday, August 19th

The sun was shining and the ocean was calm when I took Steve, Belinda, Lee, Morgann and Ryan to Palancar Caves. Steve only had one day to dive so I wanted to go look for those little sharks again. We found them! There were only two this time but we got a good look. We also saw a couple of hawksbill turtles and the girls saw a green turtle at the end of the dive.

The current was so calm that I decided to go to Dalila for the second dive. They loved all of the lobsters hiding in the holes. A big nurse shark swam past us and we stopped and said hello to the big green moray eel in her usual parking place. The divers were thrilled!

Tuesday, August 20th

Lexa, Mary and Hanna came over from Playa del Carmen to go diving. We picked up Lee, Belinda, Morgann and Ryan on the way to Palancar Gardens. We had ideal diving conditions. The surface was flat and the current was non-existent. We had a very easy dive. I found a pair of turtles together and everyone went over and took photos. We swam through all of the canyons and between the formations.

On Colombia Shallow we had no current again. We saw tons of schools of fish. There was only one turtle. Morgann found a big crab. I busied the divers showing them heart urchins, yellow headed jaw fish and a helmet conch.

Wednesday, August 21st

Heather, Emily, Jeff, Belinda, Lee, Morgann and Ryan were my divers at the end of Palancar Gardens. I had a special request to go through the archways and swim throughs there. We saw a lot of good critters on that dive including several big lobsters, a big crab and a photogenic turtle. The highlight was when a six foot long green moray swam past us. Everyone went after it with their Go Pros and took photos and videos.

On San Francisco Wall a small nurse shark about 5 feet long swam by in the sandy area. At the end of the dive I found Buster, my favorite green moray eel with the crooked jaw and I didn`t want to leave him. I was so happy to see Buster. It had been a very long time since I had seen him. I blew him a kiss and floated away in the current.

Thursday, August 22nd

Nathan and Kay were my only divers and we had flat, calm seas at Palancar Gardens. They asked to see big animals and we saw a nurse shark, a couple of turtles and a few big lobsters. We swam through the caves and about half way through the dive a mild current kicked up.

At Dalila the current was not that strong. When we drifted up to a green turtle we were able to swim against the current easily for 5 minutes watching it scratch the back of its shell against the reef. I guess that is how green turtles keep their shells free of barnacles and algae. A small nurse shark made a brief appearance. We also chased a small hawksbill a little deeper than we should have been. It was a nice, easy dive.

Sunday, August 25th

Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Jennifer, Howell, Heather and Mike. We had perfect diving conditions and great visibility. Jennifer showed me a free swimming green moray eel and I found a small turtle at the end of the dive while we were making our safety stop.

Dive two was on Cedral Wall since there wasn't much current. We dropped down on a pair of turtles swimming in little circles around each other. During that dive we saw a total of 8 hawksbill turtles. Some were really big and just sitting on the bottom sharing a sponge meal with angelfish. We saw 2 green morays. One was in a hole on the bottom and when I got close she got up and swam away. The other was smaller and hiding deep back in a cave. I had 4 very happy divers when we got back on the boat that day.

Monday, August 26th

It was a picture perfect day at Palancar Bricks with Katrina, Jon, Mike and Heather. We stopped so that Mike and Jon could take pictures of a hawksbill turtle sharing a meal with several queen angels and gray angels. We swam through the caves until Katrina´s computer said that it was time to come up.

Right before we got in at Paso Del Cedral I told everyone that since the batteries went dead on Jon´s camera we were going to see a lot of good critters. It was true! Arriving on the bottom we were greeted by a lovely green turtle munching on something. Then I found a nurse shark sleeping way back in a hole. We drifted up to a bunch of lobsters and a snapper that made Jon think about dinner. Heather called me over to have a go at a small lionfish. I shot and missed. It was just too small. A small hawksbill swam by and Mike discovered a 5 foot nurse shark lounging around in the sand. Then he pointed out a green moray eel under a small coral head. As soon as we stopped for a look a second big green moray swam up and appeared to kiss the first one and then it cuddled up and blocked our view of the first one. While we all made a safety stop a big spotted eagle ray foraged for lunch below us. It was an action packed dive.

Tuesday, August 27th

Since Heather and Mike had never been to Punta Sur I offered to take them there. When I mentioned it to Katrina and Jon she asked, ¨Isn`t that the place where you and Jon shot lionfish?¨ I said, ¨Oh yeah, Jon, go get your Hawaiian sling.¨ We dropped down and immediately I saw a 5 foot Caribbean reef shark swimming around below us. When we got to the reef a pair of big mutton snappers started going crazy and showed me a big lionfish. I called Jon over. As soon as he had it on the end of the stick the biggest snapper came over and ripped it right off of the barbs. The snappers followed us around and were rewarded with 2 more after that. As I was coming out of a cave Heather pointed over my head and I looked up to find 2 small reef sharks right over me. While we did our safety stop we watched a turtle having breakfast below us.

I took them to My Secret Spot after that and we saw 2 nurse sharks out and about. We also saw a big turtle, lots of lobsters and a huge crab.

Wednesday, August 28th

Jon had asked to go to San Francisco Wall so this was a good day for it. The first big critter we drifted up to was a turtle sharing a sponge with some pretty angelfish. The next biggy was a spotted eagle ray. It was approaching us on the wall side. When it saw us it veered out towards the blue and looped around us. The boys both took video I think. Late in the dive a medium sized nurse shark patrolled the top of the reef. We saw several clusters of small lobsters and a few dinner sized lobsters too.

After the wall we went to Punta Tunich. I searched for the seahorse for at least 15 minutes to no avail. We did see a couple of turtles and the big green moray was in her usual spot behind the glassy sweepers in the cave.

Thursday, August 29th

It was another gorgeous, perfect day. Mike, Heather, Jon and I let Katrina pick the reef and she chose Colombia Deep. John brought his Hawaiian Sling. He shot at three lionfish but only got one. We saw more turtles of course and we swam through my favorite caves.

The current was still and calm on French Reef. Mike had a go at a small, fast lionfish. A huge hawksbill sat still and posed for cameras. Another little turtle was atop the reef and somewhat cooperative as well. The first nurse shark was pretty big and it swam right off into the distance. The second nurse shark was ¨The Mugger¨ I think. It swam right under the ladies and they didn't even notice until the nurse shark was done checking for lionfish and swimming away. I saw a load of crabs on that dive. By the time that we got to the long cave Jon was out of bottom time so we had to pass over the cave and stay about 30 feet deep for the rest of the dive.

Friday, August 30th

Kathy, Jim, Nick, Graham, Ruth, Heather and Mike came with me to Palancar Caves. We saw a turtle down about 10 feet below the maximum depth on the dive. I decided it was worth it and went down for a looksy. As I was headed for a big archway I heard Mike`s tank banger and I swam back. I found Mike and Heather making the shark signal. The three small reef sharks were swimming overhead. We watched them for a minute and a fourth shark appeared. Heather said that she saw a total of five.

On Dalila we found a small shark in the little cave where the green eel usually hides. Another medium sized nurse shark swam by about half way through the dive and at the end a really big one, maybe 7 feet long and fat cruised below us on our way up. I drifted right over a big turtle that Heather pointed out. I had been watching another smaller turtle go to the surface and that is why I missed the big one. When the big one got up and started to swim another turtle decided it too wanted to go for a swim and we didn`t know which turtle to look at!

Saturday, August 31st

My divers were Jim, Graham, Mike, Heather, Dominic and Denise. Mike requested Santa Rosa Wall so off we went. We took our time getting over to the drop off and there was a little bit of current that morning. Drifting along the top of the wall I looked under a ledge and found a big nurse shark. It was quite easy to take photos of the shark because it just laid there. I went over to look at the big grouper and the divers found a really big nurse shark lying in the sand about 10 feet away. We saw tons of lobsters and several southern stingrays too.

We went looking for a green moray eel on Cedral Wall. My favorite eel was in her usual spot. We also saw a huge hawksbill turtle munching on a sponge with some angels all around it. The boys pointed out a big crab on that dive.

Sunday, September 1st

Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Kathy, Jim, Nick, Graham, Ruth, Heather and Mike. They had asked for towering coral formations and there were plenty at the Horseshoe. We saw crabs and lobsters. Graham found a big lionfish in a dark hole. He shined his light on it but I couldn`t get a clear shot on it.

They asked for critters so I suggested Dalila but no one seemed enthused so we went to San Francisco Wall because Kathy asked about diving the wall. We saw tons of lobsters and a few big crabs. As I was showing Graham some lobsters he shined his light in the hole and discovered a sleeping nurse shark behind the lobsters.

Friday, September 6th

Garet and Jay told me that this would be their very first ocean dive after learning to dive in lakes in Texas. They said that 60 feet was fine for them and they were young, in good shape and looked adventurous. So I decided to take them to Santa Rosa Wall. We saw the big groupers and a bunch of lobsters. Garet loved swimming through the caves. Jay liked floating out over the blue water and checking out the abyss.

They liked the wall so much that I took them to San Francisco Wall next. As soon as Jay was climbing up the ladder at the end of the dive a big male turtle swam right up to Garet. It was very impressive. When we came up I told Garet not to tell Jay what he missed :)

Saturday, September 7th

It was pouring rain at 9:00 am so we waited until almost 10:00 am for the rain to let up so that I could take Jean Sebastien, Guiom and David on a resort course at Paradise. We saw lots of yellow stingrays and one big, fat spotted moray.

Sunday, September 8th

We had nice weather. Gary kept insisting that we go to Palancar Bricks. Gay, Teri, Kim, Joe and Denise didn`t seem to mind so off we went. Both Teri and Deni were slow getting to the bottom due to ear problems. When we found the first turtle I turned around and asked Deni if she was OK and she gave the ¨something´s wrong¨ signal. I grabbed a hold of her and started slowly ascending. She just didn`t look OK and couldn`t seem to communicate what the problem was so I took her to the surface. It turned out that she had a bad case of vertigo and couldn`t tell up from down. I put her back on the boat and told Carlos that if she gets any worse to call me up. I let everyone know that we may need to go up if we hear Carlos rev the motors. Then we continued with the dive. We never got the emergency recall signal and we finished the dive with 2 more turtles too J

We sent Deni home in a taxi and went to Yucab. We didn`t see any big critters there but is sure is a pretty reef.

Monday, September 9th

Gay, Teri, Kim, Joe and Gary chose Palancar Caves for the first dive because there are some little sharks there. I thought that it would be perfect because they could practice good buoyancy control swimming through the tunnels, canyons and caves. We saw one turtle at the beginning of the dive. Gary saw a solitary reef shark but we missed it. Inside of an archway I took a shot at a lionfish. About half way through the dive we saw a group of 4 little reef sharks go by. Gary was in a cave at the time and he only saw a couple of them when he came out.

Joe picked Dalila for our second stop. What I thought to be mild current, the group thought to be wild current J Gary and Kim saw a turtle at the end of that dive but Gay was already on the boat by then and missed it.

Tuesday, September 10th

Victoria, Matt and Susan joined Gary, Gay, Teri, Kim and Joe for the day. I needed to go somewhere easy so I chose Palancar Gardens. We had very nice conditions. We saw a turtle swim down from the surface and park on the reef. I saw Gary checking out something up ahead and swam over for a look. I caught the tail of a big green moray eel disappearing under the reef. I tried to guess where it would come back out again and found it a little to the south. Everyone swam over for a good look. At the end of the dive Gary and I saw a nurse shark trying to suck something out of a hole.

I wanted mild current so I took them to French Reef. Right away we saw a nurse shark. I think it could be the same one that Gary and I saw on the safety stop of the first dive since we were actually pretty close by. During the dive we saw 2 more nurse sharks and they were all swimming around. We saw a huge crab and some lobsters too.

Wednesday, September 11th

It was only Gary, Gay, Teri, Kim and Joe with me. Gary wanted to go to Punta Sur. Gay wanted to go to the Devil`s Throat. No one else wanted to go to the throat. We got down there and found poor visibility and a few white caps. Carlos drove around and looked for a clear spot. We ended up on the part of the reef between the Devil´s Throat and Colombia Deep. We did the deep dive for their advanced certification. When we were finishing up the skills Kim pointed behind me and I turned around to see a big turtle right behind my head. Later in the dive we saw more turtles.

I took them to Chankanaab to practice natural navigation. There were crabs and lobsters everywhere. There was one huge crab right next to a big lobster under an overhang. That would have made a good dinner for someone.

Thursday, September 12th

I took Joe, Kim, Gay and Teri to Paradise to practice navigation. Gay was a bit distracted during her square navigational exercise. Thankfully there was no current. They took pictures of a big crab, a spotted moray and lizardfish.

There was very mild current on Tormentos. They all got pictures of the pretty red, orange and yellow encrusting sponges growing under the overhangs. A big grouper swam by us at the safety stop.

Friday, September 13th

It was Joe, Kim, Gay and Teri´s last day of diving for the trip. They finally got to go to Colombia Shallow! We saw countless turtles on that dive. Most were hawksbill but Joe woke up a full grown green turtle from her nap. We saw tons of lobsters. There were 2 lionfish. I shot one but the other one got away.

I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨ and Joe said that it wasn`t very secret because he saw other divers there. We also saw a ton of nurse sharks. The first one was swimming around at the beginning of the dive. Joe pointed out a small (4 foot long) nurse shark swimming right at me. I turned around and noticed the tail of a really big nurse shark just under the reef below me and when I went for a closer look I discovered another huge nurse shark lying right next to the other. We saw 4 nurse sharks on that dive and some big crabs too. There was only one turtle which was off at a distance swimming up to the surface to breathe.

Thursday, September 19th

We had strong south wind and I recommended that we stay up north. Rick suggested Barracuda Reef.  Susan, Steve and Trina told him to shut up and we ended up on Bolones de Chankanaab.   The current was mild but pushed out to sea most of the dive.  We just hid behind the coral heads and they took pictures of a huge barracuda at a cleaning station, a splendid toadfish halfway out of its hole and Rick shot a small lionfish.

We planned on diving the shallow at Chankanaab but Steve changed everyone´s mind and we went back to Paradise.  You don`t have to twist Susan´s arm to get her to go there.  It`s her favorite spot!  We saw lots of little spotted and golden tail eels.  Susan took pictures of 2 secretary blennies.  The highlight of the dive for me was a pair of rather large crabs in a fight.  The crab on the bottom had clenched the crab on top´s claw and somehow they managed to wedge both claws into the reef and neither could move.  They fought with the free arm and after a while I just had to get involved.  I got out the stick that I use for lionfish and poked and prodded a bit until I was able to use it as a lever and free up the stuck crabs.  The one on top scrambled away and the one on the bottom wanted to stay and do battle.  It was quite entertaining J

Friday, September 20th

Bobby and Shelly had not been diving in 7 years!  Tara and Terry brought their very own instructor (Jamie) with them too.  I didn`t ask Rick and Susan where they wanted to go.  I just announced that Palancar Gardens would be the best spot because the initial decent is easy J  They took lots of pictures of the big groupers and we swam through a bunch of archways.  We worked all the bugs out on that dive and figured out how much weight everyone needed.

I picked ¨My Secret Spot¨ for the second dive.  I was hoping to see all the big nurse sharks and turtles that I saw the week before.  After about 45 minutes I realized that it just wasn`t going to happen so we floated around on top of the reef for the rest of the dive.  Only Jamie, Rick, Susan and I were down when Jamie started pointing wildly.  I rang the bell and called Rick and Susan over without even knowing what he had found.  When we got there 5 bottle nosed dolphins appeared and they seemed to be playing and one was nosing around in the reef as if looking for something.   We only swam with them for a minute before they disappeared but Rick got it all on video!!!

Saturday, September 21st

Rick wanted to go see the little sharks.  We went to Palancar Caves.  Coming out of the first cave Tara, Terry, Bobby and Shelly all got to see the small reef shark go by.  Susan and Rick were lagging behind and missed the shark sighting.  We swam around a bit, saw a few turtles and then saw another small shark.  To be honest I am not sure if it was the same one or another one.   Then Rick found a big nurse shark lying on the bottom under the reef.  Tara said that she liked that one better because it was so much bigger.

We had a good current on Paso Del Cedral.  We flew around for 9 minutes before we dropped down to the deeper part and the current slowed up a bit.  There we found a huge turtle and everyone stopped to take photos.  We drifted past schools of blue striped grunts and French grunts.  Rick wandered off at the end of the dive to take a picture of a yellow headed jawfish with a mouthful of eggs.

Sunday, September 22nd

It was nice and sunny when I took Amanda, Damien, Andres, Karin, Robert, Bobby, Shelly and Susan to Palancar Gardens.  We dropped down and soon Shelly was pointing out a turtle below us.  Everyone took lots of pictures except Damien because he was testing out his new housing without the camera.  It was Robert´s very first dive in the ocean.

I wanted something easy so the second dive was at French Reef.  We saw another turtle there, a big crab and while Susan and I did our safety stop we watched a nurse shark swim around below us.

Monday, September 23rd

The sun was shining and the sea was relatively calm so I took Amanda, Damien, Robert, Larry, Betty, Rick, Susan and Lou to Palancar Bricks.  We saw loads of turtles and Amanda was quite pleased with the dive.

The current was cookin` at Dalila.  Since everyone else was an experienced drift diver Robert got a quick lesson on how to hide behind the reef to get out of the ¨wind¨.   We dodged the current and watched a big lobster prowl around.  Amanda pointed out an immense crab under the reef.   We saw half a dozen hawksbill turtles and finished the dive with a hungry green turtle.  There was one big nurse shark swimming past and one small nurse shark huddled under a small coral head.  It was an action packed dive.

Tuesday, September 24th

Lou, Betty, Larry, Tara and Terry came with me to Palancar Horseshoe.  With only 5 divers it was an easy dive.  A big spotted eagle ray made a slow pass underneath us.  We were at around 65 feet and it was a good 20 or 30 feet below us.   Lou didn`t see it because he was lagging.

Lou did get to see the eagle ray on French Reef.  It didn`t seem intimidated or bothered by us at all.  Right below the eagle ray a big turtle sat on the bottom munching on something.  A six foot green moray swam and danced for us.  I saw a big nurse shark off in the distance and Tara`s eyes looked like they were going to pop out of her mask.  Later while Betty, Larry and I were doing a safety stop a really big nurse shark cruised the bottom.   Lou was still down there and he got a good look.  While Lou and I were heading up another smaller nurse shark followed by 3 groupers hunted for lunch and entertained us.   It was a Grand Slam dive!

Wednesday, September 25th

Tank number one was on Santa Rosa Wall per special request.  Andreas asked to go to the wall.  Betty smiled and agreed.  Larry, Karin, Amanda, Robert and Damien didn`t seem to have an opinion.  I got in to check the current first and it was OK.  There was some current but it wasn`t really fast.  We saw several big gray stingrays in the sand.  We saw 2 enormous groupers and a big lobster with a broken antenna.  I skipped the caves because they were full of other divers.

Safia joined us for our second dive on Colombia Shallow.  We saw several big turtles and lots of little lobsters.  Safi really seemed to enjoy herself.

Thursday, September 26th

Amanda, Damien, Andreas, Karin, Jenn and Chris dived Palancar Caves with me.  Robert and Safia snorkeled over us.  We didn`t find the little sharks but we did see a ton of turtles.  Two were green turtles and the rest were all hawksbill.  The turtles sat very still for flashing cameras and didn’t seem to mind a bit.

Safia and Robert joined the dive team at ¨My Secret Spot.  The current was a little swift.  Amanda and I took turns holding on to Safia so that she wouldn`t just float away J   We saw a huge lobster and some more turtles.  At the very end of the dive as Andreas and Karin were getting ready to go up a really big nurse shark swam below us.

Friday, September 27th

The sun was shining and the sea was flat on Palancar Bricks where Jennifer, Chris, Amanda and Chris accompanied me for the first immersion.  We saw lots of turtles and they really enjoyed the impressive coral formations.

Chris dropped his mask on Dalila and I went down to get it.  I could easily swim against the current with no effort.  It didn`t take long for the current to kick up.  It started getting a little faster when Jen pointed out the swimming nurse shark off in the distance.   By the time we saw the second shark which was much bigger by the way, the current was really cooking.   Chris showed me a family of 3 lobsters and I showed Jen a huge crab.  We saw lots of turtles again including one very pretty green turtle right before we started heading up.

Saturday, September 28th

Carlos dropped us off (Chris, Jen, Chris, Amanda, Vicki and David) half way down Palancar Caves.  I took everyone through a bunch of swim throughs and we landed on the beginning of Horseshoe.  The turtles that we saw on this dive were all surfacing to breath or coming down from the surface so they were all pretty much over our heads.  While I was taking David up for a safety stop Jen found a big green moray eel but I missed it.   I just saw that she was pointing at something but I couldn`t see what…………..

The current was nice and calm on Paso Del Cedral thank God.  David`s mask was leaking a lot and I took him to the surface and told him to loosen it a little.  When we came back down we landed on a medium sized nurse shark swimming by.  No one else got to see it.  Jen got my attention when a huge turtle sat around on the bottom.  After passing up the turtle I turned around and found David´s mask completely full up with water.  I took him to the surface and it took a while for Carlos to come and get him.  I went back down, gathered up my divers and finished up the dive.  We saw a big barracuda on that one.

Sunday, September 29th

It was Andy, Vonnie, Cindy, Cindy and John´s first dive of their vacation.  Andy requested to go to Caves.  I told him that Vicki and David went there yesterday so we took them to the Gardens.  The current was running southbound for the first 10 minutes.  Then it stopped and turned around.  I turned the group around and just ¨went with the flow¨.   I highlighted a big lobster with my flashlight and a friendly turtle swam by.   That turtle went by while we were still heading southbound so when we turned around and went northbound we saw that same turtle again.  Later in the dive we saw another turtle.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the tunnels and swim throughs.

We got dropped off at the beginning of French Reef but the current was going southbound again so we ended up diving the Gardens again.  It looked entirely different coming from the opposite direction J   We saw loads of turtles.  At one point I followed a small hawksbill until it ducked down into a hole.  When we looked down we saw another really big turtle in the hole with it and they swam in little circles around each other and entertained my divers.   I am not sure it if it was Andy or Vonnie that pointed out that nurse shark down on the bottom.  It was hunkered down hiding from the current and everyone had to kick hard to get back and look at it.

Monday, September 30th

My divers were Andy, Vonnie, Cindy, Cindy, John, David, Vicki and Lynne.  Andy requested Palancar Caves so I asked David and Vicki if they would mind going back there and they said that they didn`t.   The conditions were pretty good for most of the dive on Caves.  The current picked up towards the end of the dive though so we had to kick a lot to stay on the reef and not get pushed out to sea.  Fortunately that was only for about 10 minutes.  The first lobster that I found was under a ledge.  John shined his light on it but the light was very weak so I used my light to show everyone.   As it turns out the brand new light had flooded!!!   The second lobster was sitting on top of the reef for everyone to see.  That one was HUGE!

We decided to try for French Reef again.  Carlos dropped us off about half way down so we missed the first 30 minutes of French Reef.  The current was really cooking and just as we got to the bottom I ducked everyone into the cave to get out of the current.  We flew along and saw turtles off in the distance.  Not only did we dive the last half of French Reef but we ended up right at the drop off for Dalila!

Tuesday, October 1st

It was Rose and Daniel`s first real ocean dive so I told Lynne, Andy, Vonnie, Cindy, Cindy and John that we were going to start out on Palancar Bricks.  Vonnie told me at the end of the dive that she felt like there was less current on that dive than the day before.

In the spirit of keeping it easy I chose Colombia Shallow for the second dive.  We dropped down on a 5 foot nurse shark napping under a rock.  We saw more turtles than I could count and John showed me another nurse shark swimming by.  The second shark had a big black spot on the port side of it`s tail.   We saw lots of lobsters on that dive too.  It was a nice, easy relaxing dive.

Wednesday, October 2nd

My divers were Andy, Vonnie, Cindy, Cindy, John, David and Vicki.  Andy asked to go to Punta Sur.  We drove out there and I was getting ready to go in and check the current when Carlos told me that the current looked strong and there was a diver floating over in the deep blue water all alone.  We all looked and the diver started waving their hands asking for help.  I waved back, told everyone that we were going to Colombia instead and we waited until that diver´s boat drove over and picked them up.  Enough said!   The current was OK on Colombia Deep.  As soon as we hit the bottom we picked up an extra diver from Blue Angel.  I recognized the tank.  He was swimming against the current and was obviously lost.  When he saw our group he joined us.  I asked him how much air he had so that I would know if he was starting the dive or ending the dive.  He told me 2200 so I invited him to join us.  He spent about 30 minutes with us.   When we came out of a swim through I turned around to see a group of divers with the same red topped tanks behind us and I took him back and placed him with his group.   We saw a couple of big southern stingrays and a cool lobster out strutting his stuff.

Vonnie requested Dalila for her 100th dive with me!   The current was clipping along but everyone was used to it by then and we had a nice dive.    I floated right past the turtle but they got my attention so that we could all stop and have a look.   I pointed out a nurse shark swimming by but not everyone saw it.   It was a nice dive despite the current.

Friday, October 4th

I dived Palancar Horseshoe with Jim, Doreen, Andy, Cindy, Cindy, John, Lori and Lynne.  I was very thankful that we didn`t have any current to speak of.  There were many lobsters on that dive but the really impressive moment was when we saw one extra huge lobster together with a normal sized lobster.   Andy named the big one ¨ Moby Lobster¨ which was a very fitting name.

On Paso Del Cedral we flew around in the current for the first 10 minutes of the dive.  We flew past a ginormous barracuda with a head bigger than mine!   When the bottom dropped to 55 feet the current slowed and the rest of the dive was a piece of cake.  As we drifted over a 7 foot long and fat nurse shark, we woke it up.  It bolted out of its hiding place and swam right underneath Lori.  I screamed through my regulator to get her attention but she was looking the other way.  By the time that I got out my noise maker and captured her attention the shark was swimming away.  John took off after it and shot a video.   Later in the dive we found another big nurse shark.  This one was just resting on the bottom as well when we drifted up to it.  It too woke up and swam off.

Monday, October 7th

I dived Palancar Gardens with Tim, Kurt, Dawn, Andrea, Chris, Kate and Lynne. Thankfully there was very little current and we had a really nice dive. We saw a really big lobster and a crab too.

By special request we dove Dalila. That was a great dive! We saw a few turtles and one nurse shark. The most exciting part of the dive for me what when Tim showed me a 4 foot reef shark nearby. I was surprised that it actually took a minute or so to swim off. They are usually such shy creatures.

Tuesday, October 8th

We had a cancellation (4 divers) and I ended up diving with Tim and Kurt only on Santa Rosa Wall per Tim´s request. We had a fast current but the boys were up to it. We saw lots of big groupers and some southern stingrays. The boys complained that they burned through their air fast because I kept swimming from one reef to the other. The problem was that we finished the whole reef and we were looking at sand so I took them to the next reef over. Well, we had to kick our butts off to get there…………….

They asked to go to ¨My Secret Spot¨ for our second dive. We still had a ton of current there and we flew by a bunch of good stuff like turtles, a shark and a bunch of lobsters.

Thursday, October 9th

I didn`t even ask Kurt, Tim, Dawn and Adrienne where they wanted to go. I just announced that we were going to the Bricks. We had perfect conditions and we had such a relaxing easy dive! We saw several turtles and every time I pointed out a southern stingray I could hear Adrienne screaming through her regulator.

Adrienne got off of the boat before we went to French Reef. What a shame L She missed the best dive of the week. We saw a whole bunch of turtles and they were all eating stuff on the reef and sitting still for us. The current was nill and I saw that turtle that has a bite out of it´s right rear flipper. We drifted over a big nurse shark lounging in the sand and when we stopped for a look we discovered that there was another big shark right next to it! After those sharks swam away we saw another big nurse shark cruising the reef below us. That is when I wrote on my slate, ¨Too bad Adrienne is not here!¨ During our safety stop we saw another smaller, maybe 5 foot long, nurse shark swimming around below us. As I was driving home that day after work I passed Adrienne´s cruise ship at dock and wondered what she had done after the first dive and was sorry that she didn`t stay………………

Friday, October 11th

First I took Jimmie, Sharon and Mark on a dive to Yucab. They wanted to try drift diving on a shallow reef and Yucab was close and easy. During the first half of the dive a big nurse shark swam by. I tried to get everyone`s attention but they had floated up current and couldn't see it because they were so far ahead of me. I pointed out a lobster and a splendid toadfish to Mark. He was the closest to me. It was an easy dive.

We drove over to the Caleta to pick up Sharon and Tammie and they requested Palancar. Tammie wanted to go to the caves and Sharon asked for Gardens. Gardens was shallower and easier so I took them there. After a few swim throughs I felt t strong tug and it was Mark. He was pointing wildly at a big turtle that perched itself on the reef and made a meal of a leathery sponge. We saw a big southern stingray during our safety stop.

Mark, Sharon and Jimmie got off and I ran over to Paradise with Tammie and Sharon only. We went slow and looked for interesting critters. We saw lots of crabs and lobsters. I pointed out flamingo tongues, tiny crabs and I coaxed a splendid toadfish out of it´s hole. Tammie`s favorite was the juvenile smooth trunkfish bobbing around in a protected niche of the reef.

Sunday, October 13th

Kristi, Paul, Kathy, Alan, Gary, Ken and Kris came to the marina early. I showed up a little late and we took off to pick up Mark at Residencias Reef. Gary wanted to go to Palancar Bricks and no one else complained so off we went! We had a very nice dive with almost no current at all. We saw a friendly turtle up close but I skipped the gorgeous caves because two divers were low on air.

It was shark day at Dalila. The first one was acting weird. It was in a big hole and it seemed unsettled. It circled a bit before escaping out the rear of the cave and swam off. The second nurse shark was only about 5 or 6 feet long and it seemed enamored with Kristi. It swam right up to her and for a minute I actually wondered if it might give her a little ¨kiss¨. I was also wondering if Kristi was frightened. She seemed curious and happy so it was all good. We found another one sleeping under the reef and the fourth nurse shark we saw was probably the one that liked Kristi so much. The very last one was huge and it was swimming below us while we did our safety stop. It was an action packed dive.

Monday, October 14th

My divers were Gary, Kristi, Alan, Kathy, Ken, Kris, Jen and Chuck. Gary asked to go to either Colombia or Santa Rosa. I told him Santa Rosa was out. Chuck asked to see the little reef sharks that he had read about in my dive log. I told him that I had checked the Caves and hadn't seen them on the last 4 dives there. I promised to take him to look for the sharks another day. As we were about to enter the first nice cave Alan shook his noise maker and made the shark sign. We all came up for a look and there were 2 small reef sharks up top! Yeah! We found them! They moved! We also saw a turtle, a big ray and some garden eels.

Gary picked French Reef for the next one. That turned out to be a great dive too. Luis was cruising by with his one diver and he told me that there was a shark underneath us. We all stopped for a look. Then Luis pointed out a turtle and he showed us all 2 small pipe horses that blended in with the algae. I didn`t have to do any critter finding on that dive. I just followed Luis around and he did all the work J When only Kathy, Gary and I were still down Kathy pointed out another turtle and she waved goodbye because we were going up.

Tuesday, October 15th

Tank number one was on Santa Rosa Wall with Gary, Mark, Kathy, Alan, Jen and Chuck. We had very little current. As soon as we got over the wall my divers spotted a big nurse shark swimming south against the current below us. Throughout the dive we saw lots of huge groupers and a few stingrays. I was a naughty girl and at the end of the dive I saw a green eel swimming below us and I dropped down to take a picture. I went a little too deep but didn`t worry because I was on 36% nitrox. When I heard someone breathing right next to me my heart stopped. Ah Sh**! That will teach me to break the rule! Shame on me! Up we went…..

Taking advantage of the lovely conditions we did our next dive on Cedral Wall. We had a green moray eel fest there. The first one was swimming around and made a bee line for Jen again. The second was big and sweet and in a hole. I took lots of pictures of her and I was feeling very affectionate for her…………. The third one was at the end of the dive and I am the only one that saw it. We saw big turtles, small turtles, hawksbill turtles and one green turtle. Everyone was pretty excited when we surfaced.

Wednesday, October 16th

It was Deanna´s birthday and I asked everyone where they wanted to go. Someone asked for a wall. Since we had gone to Santa Rosa the day before we went to San Francisco Wall. There weren't any big critters, just a bunch of little lobsters. Gary shot a few lionfish and fed them to some hungry snappers.

My Secret Spot was a little boring and Gary went up early. We only saw one turtle and Gary found an octopus in it`s den.

Thursday, October 17th

My dive team was Carol, Deanna, Chace, Ally, Kathy, Alan, Gary and Kristi. Alan finally spoke up and asked for Palancar Caves. Orlando came along for fun so I assigned him the task of taking everyone through the caves while I stayed up top with Carol and Ally. There was a bit of confusion at the beginning of the dive because some divers chased a turtle under the reef and others swam off. Meanwhile another group mingled in with us. Once things were straightened out and we were on our way I watched Orlando guide everyone through caves until they got sick of it and opted not to follow him anymore. They came up top and joined us. We saw another turtle on that dive and a big lobster out patrolling in the sand.

Kristi asked for critters so we went back to Cedral Wall. I missed the first shark. I saw Carol pointing and making the shark sign but she was pretty far back and I didn`t bother swimming over for a look. The first turtle was a small hawksbill. The second turtle was a big green turtle. I stopped to look at a spotted drum and shortly afterward a big green moray swam by. Kathy showed us a big nurse shark sucking something out of a hole and we saw another turtle towards the end of the dive. Deanna filmed it with a bunch of angel fish chomping up the table scraps.

Friday, October 18th

I dived Dalila with Chace, Carol, Deanna, Kathy, Alan, Gary, Kristi and Aly. The current was ripping but we saw a lot of good stuff. Everyone was an experienced drift diver so the current really wasn`t an issue. As soon as we got to the bottom someone pointed up over the top of the reef and there was a pair of spotted eagle rays going by. As they passed, Gary pointed out a big turtle on the bottom with about 5 angelfish. The big green moray was in her usual spot but no one else saw her because they were all too far away. We saw another turtle or two and at the very end of the dive we swam hard against the current to check out a pair of huge nurse sharks together on the bottom.

French reef was full of critters too. We saw a few turtles and a couple of nurse sharks. A medium sized green moray swam around for the crowd. Chace and I spent 5 minutes looking for the little pipehorses and we found them!

Saturday, October 19th

Gary, Bob, Kay, Carol, Deanna, Chace, John and Aly dived Santa Rosa Wall with me. We had a bit of current and all the action started at the end of the dive. We finished the reef on the wall and swam over to the shallows. En route the current slowed down so Orlando invited Miss Chace to take off her fins and dance. Deanna filmed the underwater waltz. Arriving at the shallow reef I noticed that the big school of fish seemed upset and acting funny. I went over for a closer look and discovered a big green moray swimming around. It went under a rock and then came back out and startled Deanna and Orlando.

We went to Kay`s favorite reef, Cedral Wall for our second dive. The first shark was waiting for us when we hit the bottom. It was big and it was swimming around. It wasn`t long before Orlando found an octopus in a hole. We floated around a bit and saw another big shark, a small shark and a turtle. Chace found a tiny nudibranch that she even knew the name of!

Sunday, October 20th

There was almost no current at all on Bolones de Chankanaab when I took Bob, Kay, Chace, Carol, Deanna, Aly, John and Gary. Gary shot a lionfish as soon as we hit the bottom. We saw lobster and crabs and eels on that dive. There was a pair of cute little goldentails together and also a big fat spotted moray poking it`s head out of the reef.

We had a lot of current at Punta Tunich! The big green moray was in her usual spot behind the glassy sweepers in the cave. We stopped to look for the seahorse to no avail. We saw quite a few turtles at the end of the dive, especially while I did an extended deco stop with one diver who accidently went into mandatory deco.

Monday, October 21st

Chace took a day off so my divers were Gary, Bob, Kay, Carol, Deanna, John and Aly. I asked where we were going and someone said, ¨Bricks!¨ I asked the group if there were any objections and off we went. We had a bit of current there but all being good divers it just wasn`t an issue. There were 3 turtles at the bottom in the first 3 minutes. We saw more turtles later on but the dive started off well with the 3 turtles, two of which were green turtles. We also saw LOADS of big groupers and a photogenic nurse shark that posed with Aly for the camera.

Bob wanted to go to Colombia Shallow and the group vetoed the site. Instead we wound up on French Reef again. The majority rules………… Gary found the first shark. It was small and well hidden under the reef. He must have been searching for lionfish when he found that shark. Then we saw a lot of turtles. Aly chased one around for about 5 minutes. I couldn`t find those little pipehorses and Carol seemed to be the only one interested anyway. A big shark was right behind Aly, Bob and Kay. When they turned around the shark took off and disappeared. It was an action packed dive.

Tuesday, October 22nd

I took Aly, Carol, Deanna, Chace, John, Todd and Chad to Colombia Deep. We went looking for those little baby sharks but didn`t see a one! We did find one small nurse shark sleeping under the reef and Chace showed us another medium sized nurse shark well hidden in a dark crevice but no baby reef sharks appeared………

It is kind of a tradition for the girls to go to Paradise every trip so we obliged. The current was wicked for the first 30 minutes of the dive and then it died off. The girls bottom crawled and found a Painted Elyssa nudibranch, a tiny baby flounder, the smallest lionfish on Earth, a snake eel and a balloon fish. Despite the tough conditions we had fun!

Thursday, October 24th

The current was weird and a bit strong on Palancar Bricks. I kept Gary, Todd, Kristin and Patric away from the wall on that dive. For the first 20 minutes it kind of felt like I had a diver sitting on my tank and I felt like I was dragging someone else around. The current went up, went down and sometimes just stopped. When we crossed from one big formation to another I looked back at Gary over a wide sandy area and the bubbles were swirling all around him but not going up. It was not a really hard dive but it was strange and we got a lot of exercise :) The divers got to see a spotted eagle ray and a turtle.

On Dalila we dropped down on a huge lobster out crawling around. The big green moray was in her usual parking spot. I saw a turtle but apparently I missed the shark. Despite the strong current the divers were happy. It was a small group of good swimmers.

Friday, October 25th

It was raining lightly when I took Cindy, Ken, Tor, Todd and Chad to Palancar Gardens. Thankfully the current was pretty normal and not strong at all. When I was in a big archway I turned around to check the divers coming out of the cave. When I turned back I discovered a HUGE green moray eel about 1 foot from my face swimming right at me. She passed me and swam right up to Tor. She wiggled and swam through our group and Todd watched as she swam off. She actually startled me. I love green eels so much so it was strange when it actually startled me! We saw tons of lobsters on that dive and some were very, very big.

On ¨My Secret Spot¨ Tor showed us the first turtle. It was relaxing under a ledge. We all swam up and took a good look. Then a big crab snapped at Tor with its claws. He laughed and backed away. At the end of the dive we drifted up to a pair of turtles on the bottom. It was a very nice dive.

Saturday, October 26th

Jackie, Keith, Tim, Wenoah, Brian, Julie, Todd and Chad came with me to Palancar Caves. We had lovely diving conditions with almost no current. We saw a nice turtle swim up for a breath of air and come back down again. I took them through all of my favorite caves.

There was a bit of current on Paso Del Cedral. There was a lobster fest going on. We saw lobsters everywhere! We saw a couple of turtles. While I was watching one turtle swim off I heard Keith make a sound in his regulator and I turned around to find him making the shark sign and pointing to a big nurse shark swimming away. I showed them a southern stingray buried in the sand. After taking a few divers up I came back down and discovered everyone looking at a big green moray eel. It was a very nice dive!

Sunday, October 27th

The first tank of the day was on Palancar Gardens with Wenoah, Jaime, Becky, Keith, Jackie, Tim and Mike. The conditions were ideal with very mild current. We saw a bunch of lobsters and one turtle. I shot a small lionfish but I couldn`t find anything to feed it to.

Wendy joined us on Colombia Shallow for the second tank. I stopped counting the turtles after 5 or 6. I have no idea how many turtles there were but I do remember one was a green turtle. I drug Wendy over for a closer look at the shark. That was when the water seeped into her mask. She must have been smiling or something. Jackie found a huge crab. Keith called us over to show us a juvenile spotted drum that he was taking pictures of. It was a critter packed dive.

Monday, October 28th

Gary, Becky and Jamie got on board at the marina. Jackie, Mike, Keith and Tim got on the boat at Iberostar. The security guard was there on the pier to hassle us along with the manager. After a lot of negotiations we took off to Colombia Deep for our first dive. We had a little current during the first 10 minutes of the dive when we were close to the drop off in the deep part. Then we scooted over for a photo shoot at the anchor. After that we cruised around in the shallower area with little current. Gary shot a couple of lionfish and I skipped the caves this time. There were too many other divers at the caves and I didn`t want to be in a crowd. We saw a turtle or two and the end of the dive and it was a nice, easy dive for us.

We had the perfect amount of current on ¨My Secret Spot¨. We didn`t have to do much kicking. The first nurse shark swam right under Becky, Jamie and I. I had to resist the temptation to reach down and pet it. The second shark was tiny, maybe 3 to 4 feet long and sleeping under the reef. We saw more turtles throughout that dive and we saw tons of lobsters too. Gary found a splendid toadfish and when I got back on the boat he scolded me because Jackie wanted to see it and I didn`t tell her…….

Tuesday, October 29th

I had the same group so it was an easy dive on Palancar Bricks. They requested swim throughs so I took them through my favorites there. It seems that I swam right past a big lionfish because I found out about it when I got back on the boat. We saw some nice turtles on that dive. Gary shot a few small lionfish but couldn`t find anything to eat them.

There was light current on Dalila which is always a treat. We drifted up to a divemaster showing his group a splendid toadfish. They took off and Jackie got to see her splendid toadfish but I couldn't get it out of the hole for her. There was a small (maybe 4 feet long) nurse shark that kind of followed us around for the first 15 minutes. Later we saw another small nurse shark. While I was counting heads a big green moray slithered right up to us and swam amongst us and put on a show. That other divemaster in the group ahead of us showed us a turtle. After the boys went up we saw a few turtles, a small nurse shark in a hole and a really, really big nurse shark on the bottom below us while we did our safety stop.

Wednesday, October 30th

It was only Gary, Jackie, Keith, Tim, Mike and I so we went to Punta Sur. I took them through all the big caverns and Gary shot a few lionfish. We saw a turtle or two. Thank goodness we had really nice conditions with light current. It was a very pretty dive.

Keith requested swim throughs again so we went to French Reef. We went through some caves, Gary shot a lionfish and fed it to a mutton snapper. We saw a turtle or two. When only Jackie and I were still down at the end of the dive a big spotted eagle ray swam by accompanied by 3 remoras. The ray was heading southbound. After about 10 minutes the big boy appeared again but this time swimming northbound. We discovered one of it´s table scraps in the sand. It was a half eaten conch that was being nibbled on by a queen triggerfish.

Thursday, October 31st

I had the same group and they asked for Palancar Caves. I took them through every single swim through that I could find. We saw a few turtles and a couple of lobsters. When Keith reached out to pet one tranquil turtle I shook my finger at him and then went over and started petting Keith on the head. I think everyone was laughing at that.

The dive on Cedral Wall was the Grand Finale of their week. First we saw a small hawksbill. Mike stopped to point out a lionfish for Gary but no one wanted to swim back against the current. We drifted a bit and found a small green turtle. A big nurse shark swam by off in the distance. The first huge turtle swam up to the surface for a breath of air. While we waited for it to come back down Tim discovered a second huge turtle sitting on the bottom. It was just a turtle fest :) We swam around a bit before we came to the big green eel in her usual spot. I became a hypocrite because I just could not resist reaching out and petting her soft, sweet head. Everyone was impressed but I was in love. I felt like an ass for giving Keith a hard time about petting the turtle when I couldn`t keep my paws off of my favorite eel…. Right after the eel two more big sharks swam by. It was an action packed dive with one big critter after the next!

Saturday, November 1st

I took Johnny, Huy, Dang, Nina, Brian, Judy, Van and Henry on a resort course at Paradise near shore. Some of them had never been snorkeling before much less scuba diving so it wasn`t easy for them to catch on. It took a while but eventually everyone settled down and they got to the bottom and swam around with the fishies. I am not sure if it was Nina or Van that had a problem with her ear. Orlando paid extra attention to Judy and she finally joined the group. We saw clouds of fish and Johnny pointed out a lionfish. I decided it was better not to shoot it. I didn`t want to horrify them :) When we got back to the boat some divers said that it was AWESOME. One diver said that it sucked. I guess he is just not much of a water person?

Tim and Venus were waiting for us when we got back to the marina. I took them out for a resort course too. Tim took to it like a fish but Venus needed a little more time to acclimate. Both really enjoyed the scuba dive and Tim said that it was the best thing that he ever did! They were very excited and I am sure that they will come back as certified divers someday.

Monday, November 4th

It was the first day of diving for Margie, Jeff, Mike, Rory, Jen and Sylvain of their vacation. I took them to Palancar Gardens because Rory and Jen were very newly certified. We had excellent conditions and a nice, easy dive. I think we saw one turtle on that dive.

The second dive was on Dalila which Jeff absolutely loved. We saw a nurse shark and another turtle or two. He and Jen loved seeing all of the colorful fish. There were quite a few lobsters on that dive too.

Tuesday, November 5th

Mike, Adam, Jeff, Margie, Sylvain, Alejandro and Linda were diving with me on Palancar Bricks that morning. Once again the conditions were spectacular. We had smooth seas and almost no current. We saw several turtles and at one point there were 2 turtles together. There was a bit of confusion when I went through the big caverns so I just skipped the rest of the swim throughs for the rest of the dive.

Michel joined us on French Reef for the second dive. It was like swimming around in an aquarium. Margie took tons of photos and we saw a shark, some turtles and I found that little pipehorse in the algae. There seemed to be lobsters everywhere.

Wednesday, November 6th

Jeff requested Palancar Caves. I brought Orlando with me to take Jeff, Margie, Mike and Adam down through the caves while I stayed up top in shallow water with Matt and Garrett. Garrett being only 11 years old and newly certified needed to stay very shallow. The good part about staying up top is that we saw a whole bunch of turtles. I am guessing at least 6 or 7 turtles. Some were up close. They just sat there eating while we checked them out.

Jeff loved French Reef so much that we decided to go back there. Orlando and I couldn`t find the little pipehorse. A small nurse shark swam right below Garrett and I, so close that we could have reached down and petted it. We also saw a turtle or two. Adam came out of a cave motioning for me to come and look. He found a decent sized lionfish and I shot it. When I came out of the cave Orlando waved me over because he found another one. I took a shot at the second one but missed.

The night dive with Jeff, Adam, Mike, Margie and Sylvain was the best. We saw a lot of big octopi. I am guessing maybe 5? While we were looking at one octopus we woke up a huge turtle and it was right next to Mike. Later in the dive we saw another small turtle and some crabs. I didn`t see any lobsters which I thought to be strange. I saw one moray eel too.

Thursday, November 7th

I stayed shallow with Matt, Garrett, Sylvain and Michel. Orlando took Jeff, Margie and Mike down to the bottom at ¨My Secret Spot¨. The dive was pretty uneventful until the end when I found a big nurse shark and showed it to everyone. There was one dinosaur sized lobster on that reef as well.

All of the turtles were on Colombia Shallow. I stopped counting after a while. There were big ones and small ones but they were all hawksbill turtles. We saw enough lobsters on that dive to open a restaurant. Mike found a big claw from a crab on the bottom and I took it over and put it right in front of Garrett`s face. He didn’t think it was too funny but his dad and Sylvain sure did! You could see them laughing through the mask.

Friday, November 8th

I asked Doug, Mike and Adam where they wanted to go and it was pretty unanimous. They wanted to go to Santa Rosa Wall. There was almost no current and we had a beautiful, relaxing dive. We saw 2 pairs of southern stingrays and a big grouper. I showed them a peacock flounder in the sand and there was a big crab in the cave. Since it was overcast a splendid toadfish was halfway out of its hiding hole and I highlighted it with my flashlight.

The current was light at Punta Tunich. The big green moray was not in her usual cave but I found a baby green moray nearby. A small turtle swam alongside of us at the end of the dive for a little while. I found an octopus in its den covered with seashells but it was kind of hard to see. I could clearly see it´s eye but it`s tentacles were tucked away inside.

Saturday, November 9th

I took Paul, Dave, Adam and Mike to Palancar Caves because Adam asked to go to the swim throughs. The boys rented my camera and took loads of pictures of turtles. They also took photos of the furry sea cucumber and a bristle worm and of course the reef itself.

I chose the site for the second dive. Since the current was light I picked Cedral Wall. We saw turtle after turtle after turtle. I remember counting the fourth turtle and then after that I just forgot all about it. We saw about 30 or 40 little lobsters all hanging out in that mysterious hole with the warm water in it. The battery went dead on the camera when I pointed out the juvenile spotted drum. On the way over to look for my sweet green moray a big nurse shark swam by twice. When we arrived at the moray`s lodging I found a rather large nurse shark occupying her spot. Everyone was pretty excited when we all got back on the boat. It was a great dive and the current was unusually gentle.

Sunday, November 10th

Steve was doing dives 1 & 2 for his certification. His buddy Chris was doing his first dives after his certification as well. I brought Orlando along to keep Paul company down at 60 or 70 feet while I hung out in 20 – 40 feet of water with Steve and Chris. We did some skills and a 40 minute tour. We saw a big lobster and Chris pointed out a lionfish. I felt like an idiot when I took a shot and missed it. It was a pretty big one so I shouldn`t have missed it…

We only saw one turtle on Colombia Shallow but we did find a big octopus which was a real treat. It was surrounded by the empty conch shells that he had been dining on all night. We saw tons of little lobsters and Orlando pointed out a few flamingo tongues too.

Monday, November 11th

Carol and Bob arrived on a cruise ship. We picked up Ali, Curt, Paul, Steve and Chris along the way. Paul asked to go to Santa Rosa Wall. I was a little hesitant but knowing that the current would be calm and knowing all divers on board I decided to go for it. Thankfully there was almost no current at all but Steve seemed to really feel it :) While Ali was still working on her ears the rest of the group dropped down and hung out with a turtle sitting on the bottom. We saw lots of big groupers. Paul found a big lobster but I was otherwise occupied and couldn`t go back for a look. While I was taking some divers up Paul, Ali and Curt had a photo session with a big turtle.

There was very little current on Cedral too. We saw soooooo much good stuff there. First I found that nurse shark in the hole where it always is and then a turtle swam down from the surface and swam against the current. The group in front of us was looking at something so when we arrived at their spot I searched until I figured out what it was. It was a big green moray eel and everyone really liked seeing the green moray. Ali`s eyes looked like saucers. About 5 minutes later there was another big green moray but it swam into the cave system before our group reached it. While Bob, Carol, Chris and Steve were making a safety stop I looked down to find a pair a huge spotted eagle rays swimming below and a rather large nurse shark following close behind them. Paul took off after then and got some photos.

Tuesday, November 12th

Amber, Meaghan, LaCasta, Jeff, Ali, Curt, Paul and Christi were my divers on Palancar Gardens. As we were coming out of the last swim through Ali spotted a hawksbill turtle sitting on the bottom in 75 feet of water. It was a little deeper than the dive plan but everyone swooped down for a good look and a few photos. At the end while making a safety stop with the girls I saw Paul, Curt and Christi swimming after something. I looked hard and discovered a nurse shark going by. I yanked on the string and showed the ladies the shark. I could hear Amber scream with joy through her regulator. I guess she had been hoping to see a shark :)

On Dalila I saw a bunch of splendid toadfish. Two were half way out of their holes. By the time I got Paul over for a picture they had gone back in again. I later saw another one and tried to get it out to no avail. It seemed that there were lobsters everywhere. They were small and clustered together in groups of 3 to 6. While Paul and I were doing a stop at the end of the dive I looked down to find a big green moray out swimming around. I handed Paul the buoy line and I grabbed his camera. I dropped back down and took a bunch of pictures of the eel swimming around. It was very frisky and it kept swimming right at me. I wondered more than once if it would bite my fingers off. We circled each other and danced and I took loads of photos.

Wednesday, November 13th

Tank number one was on Palancar Caves. I stayed up top with Ryan and Andrew while Orlando went through all the caves with Paul, Mike, Steve and Chris. We saw one big turtle and one small turtle. It was a very easy dive.

Tank number two was on French Reef and we had really nice conditions. Ryan got to see his very first shark. Orlando took the boys through the long caves.

Thursday November 14th

The day started out calm and clear with Curt, Ali, Mike, Peggy, Steve and Chris on board. They asked for critters and I found them on Palancar Bricks. When we jumped in there was a southern stingray sitting on the bottom below us. Fifteen minutes into the dive we swam over a large nurse shark sitting on the bottom below us in about 100 feet of water. It swam off as we passed overhead. Towards the end of the dive we saw a small turtle.

Cedral Wall was an action packed critter dive. We drifted up to turtle after turtle after turtle….. The two big ones were in their usual spot and a small green turtle separated them by about 15 yards. I counted a total of 4 sharks but the group only saw 3 sharks. The big green morays were very impressive. One green moray swam out of its hiding place and went right up to Curt and Ali and got in Ali`s face. I think she might have peed her wetsuit at that point. I saw the big eel chasing her as she and Curt started heading up to get away from it. I was busy looking at the shark that no one saw when it first charged her. The last green moray was my sweet baby and I gave her a little caress on her soft little head before taking Peggy up for her safety stop.

Friday, November 15th

Bill, Jill, Chris, Carla, Paul, Joe and Peggy came with me to Palancar Gardens. It had been raining hard the last few days and the water was green, not blue from the run off from the mangroves. Everyone enjoyed the big coral formations and swim throughs but we didn`t see many critters.

I wanted to show them critters so we went to Cedral Wall. This time there WAS current. It was clipping along at a normal Cozumel rate. We stopped to take pictures of hawksbill turtles and a small green turtle. That same frisky eel was still in the same area and she came out a bit at Jill but nothing like the show she put on the previous day. Paul took pictures of the spotted drum and as I was making a safety stop with Carly and Chris we looked down to find a nurse shark lounging on the bottom. Promptly following the nurse shark we saw my favorite sweet eel. While only Joe, Paul and Peggy were still down another nurse shark swam by and right before we went up we saw a southern stingray in the sand.

Saturday, November 16th

I argued a little with Fulvio about where to go on the first dive because he was only doing one dive and then getting off. Fulvio wanted something really shallow and easy for his friend Charlie since it was his first boat dive ever. Paul wanted to go to Yucab. Ben and George wanted a wall. Peggy just flat out didn`t care. The first dive was at San Francisco Wall which was close to Fulvio´s ride home and close to Yucab where we would do our second dive. We had more current than I like. Charlie had on too much weight so I planted him in the sand and took 6 pounds out of his weight pockets and carried them around the whole dive. His mask was REALLY foggy so I taught him how to put a little water into it, swish it around and blow it out to clear the mask. He did great :) At the end of the dive a pair of big spotted eagle rays swooped up from the blue and paid us a short visit. They split up. One swam around the Eastern shallow side of the group and the other swam over the wall on the Western side of our group. Paul of course swam out over the wall to photograph the one on the blue water side.

We only found one blue parrot fish on Yucab. I doubt very much that Paul got a good picture of it. I found a green moray eel sliding under the reef and brought everyone over for a peek just before I took the boys up.

Sunday, November 17th

Tim brought his son Kevin to get certified so I brought Orlando to take Paul, Joe, Peggy, George and Ben on a tour at Palancar Gardens while I stayed up top with Kevin. Tim decided to go play with the big boys so Kevin and I did some skills and later caught up with the group just as they were coming out of a cave. They chased a small turtle out of the cave so Kevin could get a good look too. We saw a second turtle at the end of the dive. The second one was small as well and it had a small nick in the left rear part of its shell.

I need shallow water for the skills for certification so we all went to Colombia Shallow for our second dive. We saw more turtles than I could count. Some were sleeping, some were swimming around and some were eating. They were all hawksbill turtles and only one was a male. Ben or George pointed out a good sized nurse shark cruising past our group. How cool is that to see turtles and sharks on your certification dives?

Monday, November 18th

Steve and Anastassia wanted to see a wall and do a drift dive. Peggy wanted to see a toadfish. Tim, Kevin and Joe didn´t have any special requests. Paul said that he was ¨Palancar-ed out¨. So I let Paul pick and he chose Santa Rosa Wall. We saw a TON of groupers throughout the whole dive. There were loads of big ones that appeared every couple of minutes. A pair of big spotted eagles were a bit skittish out in the blue and Paul took video. We saw a couple of turtles on that dive and the last one was really big and sat still for Paul`s camera. When only Paul and I were down we floated up to that big school of grunts in the shallows. There were 5 medium sized groupers hanging out and a couple of them were sitting on the sand. I told Paul to look for a green moray. It only took me about 30 seconds to find it. It was under a ledge behind one of the groupers. When Paul got in close for a photo it slithered out and swam right at him. Then it hid in a tiny hole in the reef so Paul and I went up and got on the boat.

I know where there is a splendid toadfish on Dalila and there is usually quite a bit of current there too so it would satisfy the toadfish request and the drift dive request. I found 2 toadfish on that dive. I also saw a couple of turtles and a small spotted eagle swam past us close enough for photos. However, there wasn`t much current that day so Anastassia didn`t get to experience a real drift dive after all.

Tuesday, November 19th

Dive one was on Palancar Horseshoe with Melinda, Scott, Mark, Ben, George, Peggy, Tim and Kevin. We swam around the big towering coral formations. I found the empty shell of a big lobster that had molted. That was pretty interesting for the gang. George showed us a big green moray eel tucked away down under the reef.

Dive two was on Paso Del Cedral. We had mild current, just enough so that one didn`t have to kick, just float around and enjoy the show. Right after we got in that huge barracuda with a school of shiny silver fish loomed off in the distance. A decent sized turtle swam right up to us. I found a big green moray eel and I shined my light on it so everyone could see it better. At the end of the dive a big turtle swam right up to our group, mingled around with us and smiled for cameras just before it took off to the surface for a breath of fresh air. While doing a safety stop Ben discovered a big nurse shark swimming right behind Peggy and Kevin. I pointed wildly and when she turned around it was right there close to her. It was a fun dive despite the schools of humans everywhere

Wednesday, November 20th

After much debate with Tim, Kevin, Mark, Ben and George we came up with a plan. The first dive would be on Punta Tunich because Tim had never been there before and the second would be on Cedral Wall because it was the last day for Ben and George and Cedral Wall is a ¨don`t miss¨ dive. The current was mild on Tunich and we kept seeing big sharks. The first one swam right up to George and almost kissed him. The second one was lying in a hole on the bottom. The third one had its head stuck in a hole and wouldn`t come out. We hovered over about 2/3 of its body but couldn`t see it`s face. I shot a big lionfish in the hole where the glassy sweepers live. I fed it to a bunch of hungry coneys and queen triggerfish.

On Cedral Wall we saw more sharks! Many, many sharks…………… I think maybe there were 7 sharks but I lost count. They ranged in size from 5 to 7 feet long and all were out swimming around. There were several turtles. One guy with a huge camera from another group actually bumped into the really big turtle while taking a VERY CLOSE shot of it. His divemaster gave him hell about it. I laughed out loud and made fun of George because we were all checking out that feisty green moray when he came around the other side and the eel charged him. He was so not expecting that. I heard him shouting in his regulator and I started imitating him and laughing. He just backed away from that eel as fast as he could. It was really fun! We stopped for a look at the spotted drum. While Tim was making a safety stop I looked down and saw a pile of conch shells. I abandoned poor Tim and went down to show his son Tim the octopus in the hole. Kevin had been asking to see an octopus every day so I figured that Tim would forgive me for ditching him for a minute or two since it was so important to Kevin to see that octopus! The dive was a big success. George said that it was the best one all week. How could it not be?

Friday, November 22nd

Dive one was on Palancar Gardens.  I stayed up top with Les while Orlando did the regular 60 foot dive through the archways with Todd, Dionne, Anne, Patrick, Tim and Kevin.  After completing some skills with Les we swam over to join the group.  Les pointed out a turtle that the deeper divers didn't see.

I did more skills with Les on Colombia Shallow.  By the time we caught up to the group we had missed the shark that swam past.  We saw a couple of turtles and a big crab on that dive.

Saturday, November 23rd

Larry, Tyler, Kelly, Dionne, Byron, Les, Ann and Patrick were my divers on Palancar Caves.  The highlight of the dive was the big octopus that Larry found.  It was out and about and splayed its tentacles for us and it changed from brown to turquoise right before our eyes.  We stayed fairly shallow for most of the dive and we saw plenty of critters.  We saw several turtles and I found a small nurse shark at the end of the dive.  We spotted a crab in one of the caves.

I needed to go somewhere fairly easy so I took them to French Reef.  The second turtle that Ann showed us was a big green turtle.  Twice a large nurse shark swam by.  Both times our photographers swam off after it for a good shot.  I could tell that it wasn't the same shark because one had a raggedy looking dorsal fin.  Tyler played with a huge lobster and I found that little pipe horse in the sand.  Ann and Patrick sat and watched it for a while.

Dive Cozumel - Pipe Horse

Sunday, November 24th

First we picked up Rich and Jeanette at La Ceiba.  Then we drove over and picked up Annie and Patrick at the Aura.  I picked the reef that morning.  I chose Palancar Bricks.  We had nice conditions and we saw one turtle.  I sent Patrick and Annie through my favorite caves while Rich and Jeanette did a safety stop.

Rich and Jeanette sat the second dive out while Ann, Patrick and I dived Cedral Wall.  The current was clipping along but they are actually diving professionals so the current was fun.  The first big critter to swim by was a nurse shark.  Then we visited and photographed a couple of turtles.  After the turtles we stopped for a photo shoot of the spotted drum.  The feisty green moray was in the same spot and after the moray eel I saw a big nurse shark off in the distance swimming around.  My sweetie was not home but I found Kevin´s octopus again at the end of the dive.

Monday, November 26th

I had 5 divers cancel so I took Anne and Patrick to the Devil's Throat.  We got dropped off a little south of the cave and Patrick pointed out a small reef shark cruising by.  As we entered the cave system a 6 foot nurse shark sat right in the entry.  We waited until is swam off to enter.  Later in the dive we saw a turtle and I saw a lionfish in the cave but I was a little stressed at the time so I just left it alone.

Then we did a night dive on Santa Rosa Shallow.  There was no moon so we saw TONS of octopuses.   The more moonlight there is the less octopus you will see.  We played ¨turn off the lights¨ and it was REALLY dark.  It was almost creepy.  We couldn’t see each other, the reef, nor the surface.  Usually we can see pretty well with no lights.   There wasn't very much bioluminescence either so we promptly turned the lights back on.  There were zillions of lobsters of all sizes.  It must be a special lobster season.  It was a special treat to watch an octopus hunt a lobster.  It reached out with a tentacle to grab it and missed.  Then it scooted closer, tried again and missed.  The lobster finally escaped but the octopus put on a good show.  I only saw one eel, one slipper lobster and one crab.

Tuesday, November 26th

No one cancelled so I took Chris, Heidi, Shelly, Robert, Susan, Jay, Anne and Patrick to Palancar Caves.  We didn't go through many caves but we did see a few turtles and a few lobsters.  Everyone was happy and it went well.

Patrick asked to see a splendid toadfish so I took them to Dalila.  Old Faithful was in his usual hole and refused to come out.  Both Anne and Patrick got a few photos.  We saw both hawksbill and green turtles.  The divers were impressed by the massive size of the parrotfish.  At the very end of the dive Patrick showed us a spotted eagle ray and he took off after it for a good shot while we all hung out doing a safety stop watching him from above :)

Saturday, November 30th

After 3 days of bad weather and not being able to go out diving I took Terry, Deb, Ryan, Kat, David, Barb, Jeff and Camilla to Colombia Deep.  It was an absolutely gorgeous dive.  We had no current and when we arrived at the reef we chased off 2 small reef sharks.  About 3 minutes later another reef shark cruised by but this one was noticeably bigger than the other two.  Coming around a turn a huge spotted eagle ray made a very slow pass and allowed everyone to photograph it with their GoPros.  We saw a few turtles later in the dive and a pair of big lobsters too.

On Colombia Shallows we saw 2 small nurse sharks hiding under small coral heads.  There were a couple of turtles and a big nurse shark swam right between Barb's legs.  We finished the dive checking out an octopus in its den.  It was hiding behind a pile of empty conch shells.

Sunday, December 1st

We had beautiful weather on Palancar Gardens.  My divers were Matt, Louise, David, Tim, Jeff, Barb and the twins.  When we got in there was almost no current at all.  It was about 10 minutes into the dive when the strong current hit suddenly and unexpectedly.  We were almost to the cave system so I motioned to the group to hurry up and get in the caves.  They realized what was happening when they had to fight to get around the corner to the protected area.  Once they settled down in the sand where there was no current and caught their breath we swam leisurely through all of the beautiful caves.  We saw a big southern stingray in the sand.  We also spotted a big lobster and Jeff showed us a turtle.

Barb loved French Reef so much that she didn't want to come up.  We saw several turtles on that dive and I saw 3 big nurse sharks.  Most of the divers didn't see the first one because it passed us quickly followed by a big grouper.  The second made a slow pass right through our group.  The third shark was sleeping in a dark nook.  I shined my flashlight on it so that all could see him.

Monday, December 2nd

I took Patrick, Cindy, David, Tim, Jeff, Barb, Mary Jo and Monica to Palancar Caves.  I was so happy not to have any current.  Barb invented a game for us and we were looking for ¨things that hide, camouflage and have teeth¨.  I searched nooks and crannies and we were all much more observant than we normally are.

The critters were on Paso Del Cedral and so was the current.  It was clipping along at a good 2 knots when we first got in.  After about 10 or 15 minutes it slowed down to around 1 knot.  A big nurse shark followed us around for a few minutes.  I began to wonder if anyone had a fish in their pocket or something.  The first turtle was a green turtle. Their shells are so pretty.  The last turtle was right next to Barb and Jeff and it was a decent sized hawksbill.  David found an octopus and as Barb was going up the ladder David and I ducked back down to watch a huge spotted eagle ray scrounge for food in the sand.

Tuesday, December 3rd

The first tank was on Santa Rosa Wall with Matt, Louise, David, Tim, Jeff, Barb and the twins.  We had hardly any current at all.  The only big critter that we saw was a rather large black grouper.  We saw 3 lionfish.  I took a shot at the first lionfish and missed.  I got the second one and Louise hung back and watched as a hungry trigger fish gobbled it up.  The third lionfish was a baby and way too small to shoot.

The second tank was at San Francisco Wall and we had a little more current there.  Once again, we didn't see any big critters, just big black groupers.  There were loads of lobsters and Louise pointed out a white spotted filefish and a scrawled filefish.  I think she really likes those filefish :)

Wednesday, December 4th

We had strong south wind and I asked Matt, Louise, David, Tim, Jeff, Barb, J.F. and Nathalie if they wanted to do 2 shallow fishy dives up north to avoid the waves or if they wanted to venture south in the big waves to do one big reef and later one shallower fishy dive.  Someone spoke up and asked for one of each.  I asked Carlos to take us to Palancar Bricks but we ended up on Colombia for some reason.  It turned out to be a great dive.  We saw several turtles but the last one was a big female loggerhead.  At the very end of the dive we saw a small Caribbean Reef shark and it passed us close enough for David to get a good picture.

Barb asked for a nice easy dive for our second stop so I took them to ¨My Secret Spot¨.  Jeff bugged me until I divulged the true location of ¨My Secret Spot¨ and David made dirty jokes.  We saw one of everything on that dive.  The first was a big nurse shark swimming past.  Then we saw a huge spotted eagle ray scrounging around for eats in the sand.  David filmed it for a few minutes before it decided to turn right and head for the wall.  All of the action came at the very end of the dive.  First I found an octopus in its den.  Then we saw a huge lobster crawling around on top of the reef.  When only David, J.F., Nathalie and I were still down a big green moray swam by.   I thought to myself as she disappeared off into the green water that the only thing we didn't see on that dive was a turtle.  It wasn't 30 seconds later that we floated over a turtle.  The dive was complete with one of everything!

Thursday, December 5th

I dived Palancar Caves with Gary, Greg, Nathalie, J.F., Matt, Louise, Craig and Eric.  We had gorgeous conditions and the beginning of the dive was the best part.   When we reached the first cave I took a peek under a coral head and found a sleeping nurse shark.  It is not the first time that I have seen it there.  Just before entering the first cave a big spotted eagle ray with a conch shell in its mouth made an appearance.  The rest of the dive was spent touring all of the swim throughs in the reef.

Gary picked Dalila for our second stop.   The current was nice and mild.  We saw plenty of turtles throughout the dive.  When I stopped to show the divers a splendid toadfish Gary pointed to a big eagle ray off in the distance.  I decided it was better not to go charging after it as it was swimming away from the reef and the bottom was getting deep.  I found the same octopus in the same hole but J.F. and Nathalie found another big octopus that was out crawling around on the reef.  At the very end as Craig and I were ascending we saw a nurse shark swimming around below us.

Friday, December 6th

It was pretty choppy out at Punta Sur but fortunately there was not much current so it was easy with my eight divers:  Gary, Louise, Matt, J.F., Nathalie, Mike, Tracy and Eric.  We went a little deeper than planned but it turned out to be a beautiful dive with a few turtles to keep us occupied.

Gary picked Paso Del Cedral for the next one.  As we descended we watched a big nurse shark lying on the bottom.  The big barracuda and the school of shiny food fish were in the usual spot.   The little nurse shark was in her usual hole but she was hard to see because there was a big green moray in there too blocking the view of the shark.  A big green eel went slithering by and I swam with it for a while.  Another divemaster scolded me for it.   Someone found an octopus buried under a pile of empty sea shells and there was a second octopus at the end of the dive too.

Saturday, December 7th

Dive one was on Palancar Gardens with Gary, Craig, Laura, Eric and Noaa.  We swam around through the archways and saw a turtle, a lobster and a crab.  It was Laura's very first warm water dive.

I took them to French Reef for our second dive.  We had another ¨one of everything¨ dive there.  The first critter was a big spotted eagle ray.  It was obvious that it had a conch shell in its mouth.  Some fish followed it around waiting for scraps to fall out but the only thing the big ray dropped were bits of conch shell.  Off in the distance I saw a free swimming green moray but it was far enough away that I didn't bother chasing it.  Late in the dive we saw a turtle and a nurse shark.  I love it when we see lots of big critters!

Sunday, December 8th

Tank number one was on Palancar Bricks with Eric, Laura, Rich, Elaine, Susanita, Rick, Fulvio and Charlie.  There was no current at all and I stayed out of the pretty caves because Elaine was not really excited about going through caves.  We saw a few lobsters and a turtle or two.

I wanted to find my sweet green moray for Fulvio and there was very, very mild current so I took everyone to Cedral Wall.  The ladies found the current daunting but the guys found the current fun. Charlie fell in love with all the turtles.  When only Fulvio, Susan, Rick and I were still down we found a nurse shark sleeping on the top of the reef.  Fulvio saw another shark swimming out in the blue over the wall.  On our safety stop we looked down and waved to the big green moray eel on the bottom underneath us.

Monday, December 9th

I spend the whole first dive up on top of the reef with Rick, Susan, Gary, Craig, Eric, Laura and David looking for those baby sharks.  I totally bombed out.  Not only did we not find the baby sharks but the only critter of any size that we saw was a southern stingray.  I guess the same thing that happens on a fishing trip happens diving.  Sometimes you just get skunked!

We saw lots of turtles on ¨My Secret Spot¨.   We also saw a splendid toadfish and I showed Susan a peacock flounder.  I used my flashlight to show everyone a nurse shark sleeping under the reef.  The lobsters seemed to be everywhere on that dive.

Tuesday, December 10th

Rick, Susan, Alan, Craig, Eric, Rich, Elaine and David were my divers and they picked Santa Rosa Wall for the first dive.  We did have bit of current but everyone managed it well.  Our first stop on the reef was to observe a big green moray that swam up and then hid under a ledge.  Our second stop was just past the cave.  David showed me a lionfish.  We both turned to look for Rick.  He was really far away so I shot the lionfish and fed it to a hungry coney.  David took a picture of the coney swimming off with the lionfish tail sticking out of its mouth.  We saw tons of huge groupers.   Susan said that one swam right up to her and she also took lots of pictures of a big turtle.

The current was a lot calmer on San Francisco Wall.  I took a shot at another lionfish and missed.  I just barely grazed it.  Buster swam right up to us and then promptly found a calm place to sit and hang out.  He had about 4 big groupers following him around shadow hunting.  We saw another big turtle on that dive too.

Wednesday, December 11th

The only place that Eric had not been was Palancar Horseshoe so I just announced to Gary, Rick, Susan, Eric, Rich, Elaine, Tony and Tami that we were going there.  We had absolutely no current and it was a nice, easy, relaxing dive.  Rich commented that he was impressed with all of the beautiful gorgonian fans growing on the reef.

I let Gary pick the second dive.  We went to Paso Del Cedral.   We were greeted by a big turtle the floated up to the surface, took a few breaths of air and came back down to rejoin us.  As we were watching a big nurse shark go by another one appeared close by.  I didn't know which to look at, the one on my right or the one on my left……………  They kind of followed us around for a while.  One would appear and then disappear.   A minute later another would appear.  We also stopped and said hello to the big green moray.  I kept my hands to myself.  Gary showed me a splendid toadfish and late in the dive I showed Gary another splendid toadfish.  Rick and Susan disappeared after a couple of spotted eagle rays but I didn't get to see them.

Thursday, December 12th

Gary took the day off of diving to let us go to Palancar Gardens.  I took Jessica, Kevin, Tami, Tony, Jim, Rick and Susan there.  We had no current to speak of and I found a big green moray eel in about 50 feet of water in a dark recess.  I used my flashlight so show all of the divers the eel.  Coming through the first set of archways I discovered a 5 foot long nurse shark curled up napping in a protected area.  The rest of the dive was uneventful.

Keeping it easy and taking advantage of the fact that Gary was not there I took them all to Colombia Shallow.  Tami and Tony were very happy with their bottom time.  The dive is so shallow that they got 20 minutes more bottom time than normal.  During the first 10 minutes of the dive we saw an octopus in its den, a big southern stingray and a couple of small spotted morays.  Half way through the dive everyone was taking pictures of a small (3 and a half foot long) nurse shark and when I looked up Jim was pointing off in the distance and making the sign for shark.  It was a big one that swam by.   It was strange but we didn't see any turtles on that dive.  We almost ALWAYS see turtles there.

Friday, December 13th

I picked the first dive site for Gary, Rick, Susan, Jim, Andre, Celia, Jessica and Kevin.  I chose Palancar Caves.   We had zero current and it was an easy dive.  It appears that I swam right past a turtle because Jessica made the turtle sign and pointed back.  Andre got a little mask squeeze but it seemed to fade as the morning wore on.

I let Gary pick the second dive site.  He chose Cedral Wall.  The current was minimal and we had an action packed dive.  First a 6 foot nurse shark swam by.  Then the eagle ray parade began.  The first one was humungous.   The second one was pretty big.  The third eagle ray was kind of medium sized and they glided by one at a time about a minute apart.  Then the turtle parade began.  The first 2 were small but then the bigger ones started showing up.   I think we saw around 6 turtles on that dive.   We finished the dive with one more spotted eagle ray that appeared right after Rick went up.

That night Rick talked everyone except Gary into doing a night dive.  We went to Paradise.  Fortunately for me there was no current.  We saw 3 common octopuses and 1 octopus that looked like a white spotted octopus but the tentacles were too short.  The tentacles were about the same length as the body.  I wonder if it might have been a Mexican four spot octopus.  We saw loads of big crabs, a few lobsters and a couple of spotted morays.  We saw 2 snake eels and one electric ray.  Everyone was very happy at the end of the dive.

Saturday, December 14th

Shane, Larry, Scott and Hannah arrived early on a cruise ship.  I woke Jeff and Suzanne up to tell them that we were leaving a little early.  I was not able to reach Jessica and Kevin but it all worked out fine.  We went to Palancar Bricks and saw a few turtles.  I found a small nurse shark hiding under the reef and we swam through my favorite cave.

There was barely any current at French Reef either.  The first lionfish was huge and beautiful.   I thought to myself that it was a shame to kill such a magnificent animal.  I pulled back against the rubber band on my Hawaiian sling and the rubber band snapped. I still had a bit of rubber band left but it was not enough to give full force and the tip of my spear bounced off the poor fish and it swam away.  The second lionfish was smaller and when I shot at it I trapped it between the rock and my spear so that it couldn't get away.  I fed it to a hungry mutton snapper.  Shane pointed out an eagle ray passing in the distance.  Kevin pointed out a southern stingray in the sand.  During the safety stop we passed over a gi-normous loggerhead turtle.  When Shane swam down next to it the turtle was much bigger than Shane!  The size of that turtle´s head is what really impressed me.  I just imagined it snapping off someone's hand or arm or something if we had pissed it off....  We saw another small hawksbill turtle on that dive but after that behemoth the little turtle was just cute.

Sunday, December 15th

There was no wind and we decided to go to Santa Rosa Wall with Rick, Susan, Jim, Jessica, Kevin, Suzanne and Jeff.  We had a nice easy dive with little current.  We saw tons of big groupers but that was it for the larger critters.

On Paradise we saw the stuff Jim had asked for:  a spotted drum, two splendid toadfish and a lot of spotted morays.  Susanita took pictures of the trumpet fish and the lionfish Rick speared.  We saw a big spotted eagle ray go by in the distance.

Monday, December 16th

I can't believe that the harbor master let us out.  We had north wind with whitecaps.  It was Kevin, Jessica, Danny and Miranda´s only chance to dive for the next 2 years so they decided to go out and brave the waves.  We went to Colombia Deep and I saw one big turtle way down deep below us.  Kevin saw a small turtle but I missed it.  We saw garden eels and a couple of southern stingrays there too.

There was no current on Dalila.  We saw 2 splendid toadfish and loads of small lobsters.  All of the critters appeared right at the end of the dive when everyone was low on air.  First I found a small nurse shark in the eel hole.  The shark was irritated and swam away.  Then the eel that is normally in the hole swam by and headed over to that hole.  Kevin said that he could hear me screaming in my regulator when I saw the eel.  I sure do love those green morays!   Lastly a turtle appeared at the same time that the eel was disappearing.  Then we all went up.  It was not easy getting back on the boat in those big waves………………

Tuesday, December 17th

The wind was not quite as strong but it was overcast and cold.  I took Andrei, Cecilia, Steven, Alexis, Jeff and Suzanne to Colombia Deep per special request.  Underwater we had perfect conditions and we saw a small turtle and a bunch of little lobsters.

The next dive was on Dalila because Suzanne wanted to see sharks.  We saw a few small turtles, more lobsters and I checked the same hole that I had seen the shark in the day before but it was empty.  After checking the shark hole Suzanne gave me the thumbs up.  I took her up, watched her make a safety stop and get on the boat.  Not 2 minutes later that same damn shark swam by.  Fortunately Jeff was still down and he took video or photos of it for proof!

Thursday, December 19th

It was Emily and Taylor's first dive after certification in a lake in Texas.  Cilla, Bruce and Terrell had not been diving for a couple of years.  Terri was refreshed but didn’t mind starting out at an easy spot.  Eduardo had a diver and he came along to dive with us.  We went to the Gardens and the current was very, very mild heading southbound.  Bruce showed us a big lobster on the enormous brain coral.  I pointed out a big crab under the reef and Terry took photos.

There was minimal current on Paso Del Cedral.  I stopped and said hello to the little nurse shark that is always in the same hole.  While I was showing everyone the little shark in the hole Eduardo was ringing his bell and pointing at a huge spotted eagle ray.  His eagle ray trumped my little shark!   Then we floated up to one turtle after another.  We drifted for a while admiring the fish until about 35 minutes into the dive we found another nurse shark just lounging about on the bottom.  The last big critter was a pretty green turtle that took her time waking up and paying attention to us before we all started going up one at a time.

Friday, December 20th

The first tank was on Palancar Bricks with Terri, Irving, Cilla, Bruce, Terrell, Emily and Taylor.  The only turtle we saw was on the safety stop.  We watched it go up to the surface right in front of us.  When we were back on the boat there were several reported lionfish sightings but no one seemed to know how to make the sign for lionfish.

There was no current on Dalila and we stopped to check out a baby lionfish and a splendid toadfish.  I woke up a small nurse shark sleeping in a hole.  Just before we started heading up a really, really big nurse shark and another small nurse shark made a slow pass and Terri filmed the show.

Saturday, December 21st

The wind had picked up and it was choppy down south.  Bruce, Cilla, Terrell, Emily and Taylor asked for Palancar Caves.  Melanie had mentioned that she gets seasick but it didn’t seem too bad.  Teri didn't seem to have an opinion.  We swam through almost every cave down there and saw one little turtle.  Poor Mel got seasick on the boat so we dropped her off on the beach.

She sat out the second dive on French Reef where we saw that free swimming green moray eel.  Teri shot a video of it swimming around.  We also saw the underside of a turtle that was turned upside down while munching on something on top of the reef.

Sunday, December 22nd

Sarah, Jessica, Rex, Sydney, Joe and Kate were not certified.  Lee and Joe were certified but had not been diving in years so I took them all on a resort course at Paradise.  It was a bit like herding cats but Orlando came along to help and everyone had a good time.  We saw a couple of big spotted morays and a couple of small goldentail morays.  I showed Sydney a live conch shell and used my flashlight to show off a small lionfish.  The dive was fun and pretty but a bit chaotic.  Thank goodness for Orlando.   I made him do all of the work.

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