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Cozumel - August trip report and many, many pictures.


Great Dive Trips at Bargain Prices with the Sea Divers


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Posted by Jim Lyle on August 25, 2010 at 12:36:21:

COZUMEL, TWENTY YEARS LATER - AUGUST 2010

Twenty years! Every year, for twenty years, we have returned to Cozumel. Yes, we have dived all over the world, but we always find time to squeeze in a couple of weeks at our favorite place in the world. Counting all of our trips, we've spent more than a year on the island and done hundreds of dives. You might think we would get bored, but there's always something new and while there might be better places to dive wrecks, soft coral, or to see big animals, Cozumel always delivers. We've seen the devastation that a hurricane can have on the reef and watched in amazement at its recovery.

Scuba Club Cozumel is our home-away-from-home. Check out their website:
http://scubaclubcozumel.com

Scuba Club Cozumel is a semi-all-inclusive hotel: room, meals, diving; it’s located a short walk south of downtown San Miguel on the water. A dedicated dive resort for divers, SCC has been our favorite getaway on Cozumel Island for many years. The ambience of Spanish tile architecture is appealing to those of us who hate cookie-cutter hotels. The staff members are gracious, friendly, and attentive to your needs without being intrusive. Unlimited shore diving is included in the price – take a tank and go diving whenever you want on the house reef. The dive boats are reasonably fast, with marine heads, oxygen, radios, and shade. Tanks are the ubiquitous Al-80’s, filled to 3000 psi. Nitrox is pumped from a new membrane system and is available for extra cost. Food is great and varied: buffet breakfast, diver special lunches or order off the menu, and choice of three entrees for dinner. SCC also offers a "Light" plan that does not include dinner. Eat, sleep, dive – it doesn’t get much better than this. Oh, they also have free internet connection available in your room. (No phones or TVs in the rooms – IMHO, a good thing on vacation.)

I was on the 11:30 plane, so I got to Scuba Club in time for lunch (can you say, "chiles rellenos?") After a quick run to Chedraui for supplies, I did a shore dive with the camera just to take some pictures. The usual suspects were around, eels, grunts, puffers, large drumfish and a cute octopus. Oh, yes, a couple of lionfish, too.

I'm going to keep the text to a minimum; you've read it all before. What follows is a photo narrative of my latest three weeks in heaven, including a few new finds, a lionfish hunt, and many friends.

SHORE DIVE

Under the pier in front of SCC

Dog snapper (Lutjanus jocu)

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus)

Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus)

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) have invaded Cozumel; they are everywhere.

El Paso del Cedral Wall & Tormentos

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris)

Midnight parrotfish (Scarus coelestinus)

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

SHORE DIVE with 50mm lense and a Subsee 10X adapter

Bumblebeeshrimp (Grathophyllum americanum). Aren't they cute? Only about a quarter of an inch long, these little shrimp are often found on sea cucumbers.

Sgt Major (Abudefduf saxatilus) eggs - The eggs hatched that night.

Juvenile smooth boxfish (Lactophrus triqueter) with a small parasite on its rear end.

Long snout seahorse (Hypocmpus reidi) – We found two seahorses in the rubble in front of the hotel.

Snapping shrimp (Alpheus spp).

Very small snails; identified as Marginella sp by my good friend Leslie Harris at the LA Museum of Natural History.

Eunicid worm

Spongy decorator crab (Marcocoeloma trispinosum)

Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus)

¡FIESTA!

Piñata

SANTA ROSA WALL AND CHANKANAAB "SUR"

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica)

Juvenile spotted drum (Equetus punctatus)

Dive guides have been encouraged to kill any lionfish they find in the Marine Park. They are using small, Hawaiian slings and then feeding the dead fish to groupers, eels, lobsters, and even anemones. Hopefully, some of the larger fish may learn to hunt the invaders.

Martin – indicating he's found one.

Mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis) eating lionfish

Seahorse (Hippocampus reidi)

SHORE DIVE

True tulip (Fasciolaria tulipa). I caught this one in the act of laying her egg cases.

Goldentail moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)

Lionfish (Pterois volitans)

Scuba Club Cozumel now has a gym!

COLOMBIA DEEP & SAN CLEMENTE

Betsy in action

Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus)

Coney (Cephalopholis fulvus)

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panuluris argus)

SHORE DIVE

Banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)

True tulip (Fascioloaria tulipa) cruising the sand.

DALILA & TORMENTOS

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Loster eating lionfish

Nurse shark (Ginglymostom cirratum)

It's practically impossible to photograph the entire reef to show people what it really looks like. The closest I can come is with some wide angle images.

Betsy with seahorse

The iconic splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus), endemic to the island and aptly named.

NIGHT SHORE DIVE

Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus)

Sleeping parrotfish (Sparisoma viride)

West Indian Chank (Turbinella angulata)

Red hair swimming crab (Portunus ordwayi)

They've built a new pier just south of SCC in front of the lighthouse. It looks like a ferry landing. At some point all this development has to come to a screeching halt…

PALANCAR CAVES & BOLONES DE CHANKANAAB

In the dive briefing, Martin said, "Bolones de Chankanaab, not Cojones de Chankanaab."

Juanita and turtle

Rock beauty (Holocanthus tricolor)

Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis)

Rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia)

Boga (Inermia vittata)

"Here. Smell this!" the diver said, offering a bootie to his buddy.

"Eew, I don't want to smell your rotten, old bootie."

"No, I mean it. Smell it. It's OK."

"Hey, that's nice. No odor at all. How'd you do that?"

"Head and Shoulders shampoo. Put a tablespoon in each bootie and wear them. No stink."

SHORE DIVE

Thuridilla picta (Thuridilla picta)

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis)

Peacock flounder (Bothus lunatus)

Lobster

Redeye Sponge crab (Dromia erythropus)

SAN FRANCISCO & YUCAB

Jellyfish (Aequorea aequorea?)

Honeycomb cowfish (Acanthostracion polygonia)

Gobies (Gobiosoma sp)

Queen angelfish (Holocanthus ciliaris)

Queen triggerfish (Balistes vetula)

Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus)

Spotted trunkfish (Lactophrys bicaudalis)

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana) and Betsy

Trumpetfish (Charonia variegata)

SHORE DIVE

Pyramid in front of Hotel Hermosa's pier.

"Open wide" – glasseye snapper (Heteropriacanthus cruentatus) being cleaned by a juvenile gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus)

EL PASO DEL CEDRAL WALL & TORMENTOS

Juanita's 500th dive. You go, girl!

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris) & grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci)

SHORE DIVE

Squat anemone shrimp (Thor ambionensis)

Rusty goby (Priolepus hipoliti)

Spotted cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus)

Red reef hermit crab (Paguristes cadenati)

File clam (Lima scabra)

PALANCAR GARDENS AND PARADISE

FLOODED CAMERA ON PARADISE! Mea culpa. User error, I failed to "click" shut one of the port latches on my housing. As soon as the camera was handed to me in the water, it completely flooded with saltwater. Camera/lens are now paperweights. Electronics in the Ikelite housing are fried. I lost all images from first dive.

Fortunately, I carry a little point & shoot camera, Olympus 1030sw, and an underwater housing for it that I've rarely used. So, with the dslr dead, I tried to see what I could do with a more basic camera. Unfortunately, the 1030 doesn't have manual control, so you are pretty much stuck with the camera's settings, limiting what I could do. On the other hand, I was in the water with a camera in my hand. The next few pictures were all taken with the little camera.

SHORE DIVE

Squid eggs

White spotted hermit crab (Paguristes puncticeps)

Squid

DALILA & CHANKANAAB

Coney (Cephlopholis fulvus)

Coney being cleaned

Turtle & angels

Goby (Gobiosoma sp)

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus)

Spanish hogfish (Bodianus rufus)

Social feather duster (Bispira brunnea)

SHORE DIVE

Chank egg case

I contacted Ikelite via email; they said to open the housing's bulkhead and cut all the wires except for the black and white ones. This gave me manual control of my strobes, bypassing the fried electronics in the housing. With my backup E-330 camera and remaining lenses, I was back in business with my dslr. No more playing with the P&S. Kudos to Ikelite for their quick response and great customer support.

COLOMBIA BRICKS & VILLA BLANCA

Brain coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis)


SHORE DIVE

John said he had seen a frogfish on a shore dive. Since frogfish are rare in Cozumel, we had John take us back to where he had seen it. John didn't have a clue; we couldn't find it. John did have a picture, so we knew it wasn't a hoax.

Juvenile highhat (Pareques acuminatus)

Arrow crab (Stenopus hispidus) & file clam (Lima scabra)

PALANCAR CAVES & SAN FRANCISCO

A couple of tiny opistobranchs found on the sand inshore from Palancar.

(Chelidonura hirundinina)

(Gastropteron chacmol)

SHORE DIVE

We searched again, in vain, for John's lost frogfish.

Mask eaten by some creature overnight!

CHANKANAAB BOLONES & CHANKANAAB

Mel and submarinefish

Mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis

Mixed school

Jesus and giant hermit crab (Petrochirus diogenes)

Sand diver (Synodus intermedius)

SHORE DIVE

We found the frogfish! Luckily, John's picture had a brown sponge in the image. Once we found the sponge, the frogfish was right there.

Frogfish (Antennarius multiocellatus)

Yellow stingray (Urolophus jamaicensis)

Brittlestar on sponge with arrowcrab

Banded clinging crab (Mitrax cinctimanus)

COLOMBIA DEEP & SHALLOWS

Turtle and John

Colombia Shallows

Nurse Shark (Ginglymostom cirratum)

Queen angelfish (Holocanthus ciliaris)

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda)

SHORE DIVE

Star eye hermit crab (Dardanus venosus)

PALANCAR CAVES & EL PASO DEL CEDRAL

Spotted scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)

Red seahorse

Jayne arrived from Los Angeles with a replacement lens and Roger's E-330. It's nice to have great friends. Thanks to Judy and Margaret for making it happen.

SAN FRANCISCO & SAN CLEMENTE

Schooling grunts

Margates (Haemulon album)

SHORE DIVE

Sharptail eel (Myrichthys breviceps)

Triton's trumpet (Charonia variegata)

Here's what the artificial reef looks like in front of SCC

PALANCAR HORSESHOE & PARADISE

"How fast was the shark going when it hit the wall?"

Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis)

White grunt (Haemulon plumierii)

Atlantic thorny oyster (Spondylus americanus)

NIGHT SHORE DIVE

Frogfish (Antennarius multiocellatus)

Juvenile French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus)

Octopus

EL PASO DEL CEDRAL & YUCAB

Mike

Jayne

Cathy

Four of a kind. Horseeye jacks (Caranx latus)

Tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris)

SHORE DIVE

Jayne and George looking for seahorses

Arrowshrimp (Tozeuma carolinense)

SAN FRANCISCO & TORMENTOS

Lionfish hunt (seven kills)

Yellowfin grouper – red variation (Mycteroperca venenosa)

SHORE DIVE

Octopus eye

Magnificent urchin (Astropyga magnifica)

White spotted filefish (Cantherhines macrocerus)

Brown doris (Discodoris evelinae) for you nudiphiles.

SANTA ROSA WALL & VILLA BLANCA

Felix cumpleanos, Jayne.

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus)

Yellowfin grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa)

Juvenile lined sole (Achirus lineatus) Identification supplied by Cindy (Quinn) and Les Wilk.

COLOMBIA DEEP & SHALLOWS

Fireworm (Hermodice carunculata)

Banded butterflyfish (Chaetodon striatus)

Hasta Octubre. We are going back to Cozumel in October for two-weeks.

Cameras: Olympus E-330 (Ikelite housing with dual DS-125 strobes) and Olympus 1030SW (Olympus housing with single DS-125).

Travel Agent: Debbie at Maduro Dive (800)327-6709 Ext 216



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