Diving Cozumel – Part 2 – Getting Wet

                In the last post, I told you how we got to San Miguel (Cozumel is the name of the whole island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula) and told you about our adventures on dry land. Now it’s time to get wet.

                The Caribbean Current flows east to west across the top of South America and is deflected north at the bulge of Central America gathering speed to rush through the gap between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba. On its way north the current splits around both sides of Cozumel Island.

                The result of this is a nearly perpetual flow of water over the reefs popular for SCUBA diving. Known to the SCUBA community as “drift diving.”

                Belize, Ambergris Caye, where I dived last year [see an earlier post] isn’t significantly affected by the Caribbean Current because it lies in what looks on charts and maps much like a bay.

                On all the eight dives that Tiana and I made we were dragged along by the currents. On one particular dive, the curent was moving faster than a brisk walk on land. The upshot is if you are only interested in watching the scenery go by, just cross your fins, stick  your arms out like wings and and pretend you’re Superman. On the other hand, staying in one place to take a close look or properly frame a picture can be a daunting prospect as well as swimming alongside a Loggerhead Turtle for a great photo op.

                Having experienced both drift and still diving, my fascination for hanging around one place to peek  in the pockets and crevices of the coral makes the latter more attractive.

                Swimming against the current takes some effort, which results in heavier breathing, which can become a problem. A real problem! A diver can suck only so much air through that itty bitty tube and the tank only holds so much, besides!

                Speaking of photo ops I’d brought along three cameras, two Canon 750 ELPHs) with underwater housings. (One is mine, the other was a loaner from my son Geoff to Tiana) and my Canon 60D for which I don’t have a UW housing. I’m not sure I want one; the housing cost more than the camera with lens and a waterproof flash about half that much more.

                Just before we left the states, I purchased a GoPro HD2 — especially for the trip. If it hadn’t been for my granddaughter being there, my language at the condo would have stained the walls purple when I unpacked my gear and didn’t find the GoPro. I remembered exactly where I’d left it on the living room coffee table. So much for the check list I’d put together for packing.

                The cameras worked great and between the two of us we took, probably, a couple hundred photos. We spent the first couple days learning some techniques. Later on I’ll tell you why my camera caused me some problems, personal problems as you will see.

Nothwithstanding, I had a great time diving Cozumel with Tiana. With our personal guide we explored some swim-through experiences, 

swam (swum, swimmed) with… well, had a chance to swim with a Loggerhead Turtle, saw countless exotic (to me anyway) fish, scared up a ray, saw fascinating corals and plants…,Tiana saw the squid, I didn’t — I saw the shark, Tiana didn’t. Overall, it was a great adventure.

For me, the most attractive fish was the Spotted Drum. I took the picture on the left of a juvenile. As the fish matures, its body shape changes a lot.Tiana took the picture below of a mature Spotted Drum. We saw several Drums and, like I said, had to capture their pictures as we sailed by.

One of the more exotic was the Monkfish.This one had backed under a ledge in the coral with just his snout visible. The head is huge compared to the rest of its body. One site on the Internet refers to it as the “All Mouth” fish. Apparently it is pretty tasty: I found several recipes for preparing the Monkfish.

Look close just to the right of center an you’ll see a Spider Shrimp. I’d guess stretched out, this critter might have spanned ten inches — toe-to-toe, so to speak.

                We came across a few crabs  and several lobster.  The lobster were pretty good size, maybe in the four to five pound range. [Pardon the blue cast — the flash didn’t fire for this one.]

On a dinner plate, I prefer crab. I think the flavor of lobster is overrated.

            The following pictures will give you an idea of the gamut of fish shapes, sizes and colors we saw in our eight dives.

        For me, the Loggerhead Turtle was probably the most impressive creature. One we came across had just a small part of his, maybe her, body sticking out from under a ledge. 

                A recent National Geographic television show pointed out that the Loggerhead is on the endangered species list.

 

The Nat’l Geographic videos somehow don’t convey the effortless grace of this huge reptile as it swims through the water.

            I was fascinated by the plethora of coral — sizes, shapes, colors. I’ll stick to fish (and one large reptile)  in this post and put the coral in Part 3.

So, until I find some time to work on Part 3 – the Living Coral, see ya next time.

The GOG