Halloween in Cozumel, Mexico + lots of pictures

JuJee Beads, handmade flamework glass beads

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Posted by Jim Lyle on November 05, 2010 at 18:46:37:

Cozumel – October 2010

This was my second trip to Cozumel this year. In addition to our annual, August trip, we returned in October for a couple of weeks to join Betsy and Tim from England. Although Betsy has been to Cozumel several times, this was Tim's first trip. Gloria and Larry came down from Texas; Scott and Margaret came for both weeks; and Chris, from Scuba Board, filled out the last week [nice to put a face to a name]. Most of the time, we had our own small boat, so we could pick and choose where we wanted to go.

We stayed at our home-away-from-home on the island, Scuba Club Cozumel. I've written many trip reports in which I've extolled the wonderful attributes of SCC. Nothing has changed; we still love the place and plan on coming back as often as we can.

While we were treated to all the usual suspects, the highlights of the trip were many turtles, several seahorses, a few new critters, and some close encounters of the squid kind. I know you just want to see the pictures, so here goes:

Shore dive

Deborah found a black seahorse and a large spotted cleaner shrimp near the artificial reef made from the old pier.

Spotted cleaner shrimp (Periclemenes yucatanicus)

Big eye (Priacanthus arenatus)

Gray triggerfish cleaned (Balistes capriscus). Gray triggerfish are "rare" in Cozumel according to Paul Humann's book!

Goldentail eel (Gymnothorax miliaris)

My good friend and dive master, Jesús Zetina.

El Paso del Cedral

Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus). If you want to see or take pictures of porkfish, el Paso del Cedral reef is the place to go!

Porkfish with Scott

Chankanaab in the rain

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris). I didn't see the shark until after I downloaded the day's images to my laptop!


Yellowline arrowcrab (Stenorhynchus seticornis)

Ocean surgeonfish being cleaned ( Acanthurus bahianus)

Yellowline arrowcrab in azure sponge

Banded jawfish (Opistognathus macrognathus). [On my final shore dive of the trip, I noticed the jawfish was keeping its mouth closed. On closer inspection, I could see small eggs in his mouth. Unfortunately, we flew out the next day and I was not able to wait a couple of days to get a picture of the maturing eggs. I guess we will just have to go back.]

Spotted eel being cleaned (Gymnothorax moringa). There was a lot of cleaning going on!

Orange seahorse (Hypocampus reidi). There were three seahorses, located just a few fin kicks off the pier in front of Scuba Club Cozumel.

Red spotted hawkfish (Amblycirrhitus pinos). This shy fish is the only hawkfish in the Atlantic and adjacent waters. Hawkfish all have tasseled dorsal fins.

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)

The dive master explained, "On this boat, we will do a back roll entry."

New diver, "Why don't we do a front roll?"

(Long pause)

Dive master, "But, then you would still be in the boat."

Colombia Bricks great vis on this dive, well over 100 feet.

Marge with hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). There were many turtles on the deeper reefs on this trip. I took lots of pictures.

Hogfish (Nachnolaimus maximus). This is only one of the fascinating hogfish's color patterns.

Turtle on wall ( Eretmochelys imbricata). "Dive. Dive. Dive."

Jesus and turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricata). "He's following me!"

Deborah and turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricata). A close encounter of the turtle kind.

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana) with two permits and a trunkfish, hoping the ray stirs up small fish and crustaceans.

Punta Tunich

Black grouper under ledge (Mycteroperca bonaci)

Margaret and French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Gray angel (Pomocanthus arcuatus)

Divers and turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricata)

( Eretmochelys imbricata)


Green seahorse (Hypocampus reidi)

Deborah hates to skip a dive, fearing she might miss something. On the afternoon shore dive, she found a green seahorse! Back at the room, she said, "See, I told you I might miss something." "But, Deborah, if you hadn't gone, you wouldn't have found the green seahorse and you wouldn't have missed anything!" She's still contemplating the philosophical aspects.

Banded clinging crab (Mithrax cinctimanus) in giant anemone

El Paso del Cedral Wall

Turtle and French angelfish

The dive guides are trying to control invading lionfish by killing all of the ones that they see. Here is Alberto hunting:

Scott and turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricata)

Bolones de Chankanaab

Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

Whitelined sponge goby (Gibbosoma sp) According to a goby expert there has only been one other report of this goby in Cozumel.


Juvenile queenangelfish (Holocanthus ciliaris)

Highhat (Paraques acuminatus)

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus)

Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good. The trumpetfish yawned just as I pushed the shutter button!

La Francesa

Yellow tube sponge (Aplysina fistularis)

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). Is there a not-so-great barracuda????

Tiger grouper (Myctoperca tigris) being cleaned by a goby

Blue parrotfish (Scarus coeruleus)

Stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride)

Tormentos Shallows

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americanus)

Seafan (Gorgonia ventalina)


Deborah and seahorse

Swimming south, along the ironshore, we found a small school of squid that were not camera shy. I went back to see them several times over the next few days and got some great shots.

Caribbean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea). Please note: there are no cuttlefish in the Caribbean!

Deborah and squid – interspecies communication?

Harlequin pipefish (Micrognathus ensenadae)

Palancar Horseshoe

Yellowfin grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa)

El Paso del Cedral

Porkfish (Anistrmus virginicus)


There's always something new to see in Cozumel. This was our first encounter with a juvenile short bigeye (Pristigenys alta). The adults live in deep water (300-600 feet), only moving into the shallows to spawn. The juveniles are found shallow before they, too, move into deep water. It's always a treat to find something you haven't seen before.

Spotted scorpionfish (Scopaena plumeri)

Blonde to dive master: "I forget; do we do the safety stop at the beginning or the end of the dive?"

Santa Rosa Wall


Sargassum triggerfish (Xanthichthys ringens). These blasted triggerfish are common in Cozumel, but are very shy and will move into a hole in the reef just as the photographer gets into position. It's a shame, because they are very striking.

School of grunts (Haemulon sp)

Channel clinging crab (Mithrax spinosissimus)


Back to the squid school.

Tim and his buddies

Palancar Caves

Yocab + "Jesús' reef" + Punta Tunich

Green moray eel (Gynmothorax funebris)

Big black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci). "Coming through…"


School of grunts (Haemulon sp) under the pier in front of SCC.

Giant hermit crab (Petrochirus diogenes)

Margaret and squid

"The Full Zebra."

"Sometimes this challenge escalated into the Formal Zebra challenge (James Wood coined the phrase Full Assed Zebra for it). A pair of males takes an over-under position, put a Zebra on the skin, and often push each other at the posterior end of the mantle. The Zebra looked different depending on position; it was on white and the arms were widely spread if the squid was Under, on dark brown and arms less spread if he was Over. There was sometimes jockeying for position, useful because when we analyzed 21 displays the Under squid not only had brighter Zebra, it won the contest. This exchange took a full minute on average and the two males were oblivious to anything else happening at the time, which puts an open-ocean animal in danger." http://www.thecephalopodpage.org/Mather.php


Jesús with turtle

Punta Tunich

Scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus)

French angelfish (Pomocanthus paru)

Black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) and shark sucker (Echeneis sp)

Green moray with glassy sweepers (Gymnothorax funebris)

Rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia)


Another new find, a nudibranch, leather backed doris (Platydoris angustipes)

Sand diver (Synodus intermedius)


San Francisco

Yellowmouth grouper (Mycteroperca interstitialis)


Spinyhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria spinosa)

Red hair swimming crab (Oirtunus ordwayi)

Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus)

Rusty goby (Priolepis hipoliti)

Squat anemone shrimp (Thor amboinensis)

Sarget major eggs (Abudefduf saxatilis)


Rock beauty (Holocanthus tricolor)

Midnight parrotfish (Scarus coelestinus)


Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus), found only off the island of Cozumel

Indigo hamlet (Hypoplectrus indigo)

Hogfish2 ( Nachnolaimus maximus). This color pattern is very different from the one previously presented.



Shortfin pipefish (Cosmocampus elucens)

Lionfish (Pterois volitans)


Queen angelfish (Holocanthus ciliaris)

Villablanca. The dive of the seven cables. There are seven cables that bring power and phone service to the island. If the current is strong enough and your air consumption is good, you can sometimes cross all seven between the international pier and Scuba Club.

Bad (alive) lionfish

Good (dead) lionfish

Jesús with his catch – "Tastes like chicken."


Flamingo tongue (Cyphoma gibbosum). The pattern you see here is the mantle of the mollusk, the shell is an uninteresting pale white color.

Rough box crab (Calappa gallus)

Baby lionfish. It looks like this lionfish is infested with a parasitic copepod (reddish, behind & below the eye).

Bearded fireworm (Hermodice carunculata)

Blackfinned cardinalfish (Astropogon puncticulatus)

Halloween party!

My little buddy, Leo; he's four years old and has been to SCC three times!


Palancar horseshoe

Saw an eagle ray! Too far for a good picture. It's been a couple of years since eagle rays have been seen in any numbers off Cozumel. Hopefully, they will soon return.


Coney being cleaned (Cephalopholis fulvus) by a neon goby. "You need to floss more!"

Grey angelfish with school of grunts

Arrow shrimp (Tozeuma carolinense). If you look closely, you will find arrow shrimp in many of the feather hydroids on shallow reefs. They're tiny, so look closely.

Pair of four-eye butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus)


More "Full Assed Zebra"

Mushroom scorpionfish (Scorpaena inermis). No, this isn't a baby spotted scorpionfish. Mushroom scorpionfish are very small and can be identified by the unsidedown mushroom-shaped structures above the eye.

San Clemente & Yucab

No Cozumel trip report is complete without a picture of a squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis)

File clam (Lima scabra). On deeper reefs, the file clams have white tentacles instead of the red ones you see here.

Hind (Epinephelus guttatus)

The end of our underwater diving experience

Hasta año próximo - regresaremos.

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