8/11/2012 - Cozumel Trip Report
Time to summon my inner Jim Lyle. I thought I would write up our first warm water trip in one report rather than bore everyone with daily digests.
We arrived on August 3rd to find heat and humidity the second we stepped off the plane. We couldn't wait to get in the water. We made our first dive without cameras to get used to diving without drysuits, lots of lead and to become accustomed to being able to see where we were going.
The area in front of Scuba Club Cozumel is made up of debris from Hurricane Wilma, the pier and several artificial reefs. There is plenty to see while not getting much deeper than twenty feet.
On Sunday morning we began learning the ropes. Breakfast at 7:00, get on the boat after 8:00 and speed away to the southern dive sites. We still had some learning to do. Merry and I are so used to dropping down an anchor rode, looking around the area without swimming much, then making a slow ascent up the line. We call our boat No Pressure for many reasons, one being that there is never any rush. We needed to pick up our pace a bit for Cozumel.
As soon as the boat slowed, everyone else seemed to have their gear on. We listened to the pre-dive briefing, then hurridly threw our gear on, finding ourselves the last ones in the water. Once on the bottom, the real race began. Being the only photographers in our group, we had to make a mad rush to catch up with the group each time we stopped to take a quick shot. Bill Holzer called it drive by shooting. I sucked through an aluminum 80 in thirty-five minutes. I needed to skip to plan B.
I told our divemaster Pepe that we might fall behind the group sometimes and he understood, although he still worried when he didn't see us.
Adding to the new speedway form of diving were a few monkey wrenches thrown in for good measure. Merry had a leaking computer, strobe and SPG over the next two days. All were minor and easily fixed. We felt a bit overwhelmed.
We took a day off from boat diving on Tuesday to relax by diving in front of the hotel, shooting macro. On Wednesday, Hurricane Ernesto edged by, leaving rain and wind. The harbor was closed, so we had an extra day to plan our boat diving techniques.
On Thursday we had a blast. Huge Midnight Parrotfish, barracudas, pipehorse, Flamingo Tongues and sponges of every size, shape and color splattered the reefs. We finally learned to dive Cozumel. We could have used another week.
On Friday we opted for a quick beach dive, knowing we were flying out this morning.
Our schedule was more than we expected. Eat, boat dive, clean up, eat, shore dive, eat, night dive, clean up, sleep. Repeat. Can't wait to do it again!
Diving in groups was not quite what we expected. Each sighting of a fish created a clusterf*** of divers. I wanted to protect my mask from being dislodged, so I stayed back.
Merry explores the reef before heading back in the strong current toward our group.
Spinyhead blenny, Acanthemblemaria spinosa
Big eye, Priacanthus arenatus
Stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride
Sharptail eel, Monopenchelys acuta
Spotted moray, Gymnothorax moringa
Spotted drum, Intermediate, Equetus punctatus
Juvenile Highhat, Pareques acuminatus
Gray angelfish Pomacanthus arcuatus
Queen angelfish Holacanthus ciliaris
Common lionfish Pterois volitans
Nurse shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum
Sand Diver, Synodus intermedius
Blue Striped Grunt, Haemulon sciurus
Merry shoots a Whitespotted filefish, Cantherhines macrocerus
Ocean Surgeonfish, Acanthurus bahianus at a cleaning station
Honeycomb cowfish, Lactophrys polygonia
Blue Striped Grunt, Haemulon sciurus
Sailors Choice, Haemulon parra with Blue Striped Grunt, Haemulon sciurus and Gray Snappers, Lutjanus griseus
The meanest fish in the sea, Sergeant Major, Abudefduf saxatilis guarding his nest.
Midnight Parrotfish, Scarus coelestinus
French Angelfish, Pomacanthus paru
Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus
Lantern Bass, Serranus baldwini
File clam, Lima scabra
Star eye hermit crab, Dardanus venosus
Flamingo Tongue, Cyphoma gibbosum laying eggs
Social feather duster worms, Bispira brunnea
Squat anemone shrimp, Thor amboinensis in a giant anemone, Epicystis crucifer
Bearded fireworm, Hermodice cariculata
Christmas tree worm, Spirobranchus giganteus
Yellowline arrow crab, Stenorhynchus seticornis
Spotted cleaner shrimp, Periclimenes yucatanicus
Banded coral shrimp, Stenopus hispidus
Spotted spiny lobster, Panulairs guttatus
The strangest sighting I had all week was Bill and Corinne Holzer enjoying their personal underwater rodeo.