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COZUMEL - August 2018 "Welcome home!"


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Posted by Jim on September 07, 2018 at 16:13:57:

COZUMEL AUGUST 2018 "Welcome home!"


Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris).

We flew from Los Angeles to Cozumel, Mexico, via Dallas; arrived on time and our luggage all showed up at baggage claim; thank God for small miracles. The shuttle bus from the airport to Scuba Club Cozumel was crowded but we were the first passengers to be dropped off.

At the front desk, Norma greeted us with, "Welcome home!" Then it was off to the dive shop to turn in our paperwork, pick up our weights, followed by lunch and unpacking. I put my camera together and we suited up for a shore dive in front of the hotel. Warm (86 degrees F), clear water...it doesn't get much better than this.

Check out Scuba Club Cozumel's website: Scuba Club Cozumel

Shore dive - Deborah and I slowly finned into a mild current looking for little stuff and snapping the odd picture to check out my rig. A great start to a great vacation.

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis). I love their blue claws.

Spotted scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri) Crazy looking head gear. They are so well camouflaged they just know you can't see them and they don't move when you stick a camera in their face.

I don't know which snail lays these egg cases; I've never caught one in the act.

Social feather duster (Bispira brunnea). Who knew worms could be so pretty. Well, Leslie Harris at the LA Natural History Museum, AKA the worm lady, does.

Social feather duster (Bispira brunnea) Up close.

Reef urchin (Echinometra viridis)

Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus) Pufferfish inflate with water as a defense mechanism. Threatening a puffer is not considered good manners for divers.

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans) are invasive fish from the Pacific. They are pretty but without predators they can decimate the local fish populations. Efforts are being made to market lionfish; it is said they make great fish tacos.

Banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus). These small shrimp are "cleaners" who will pick detritus and parasites off of "customer" fish.

Scuba Club Cozumel is a mostly inclusive dive resort located on the shore south of town. We have been coming here since the early nineties, once or twice a year and for up to three weeks at a time. Deborah recently looked at our log books and found we have spent more than a year of our lives in our favorite place on Earth. Yes, it's that wonderful. Cozumel is easy to get to from the U.S., accommodations and diving are inexpensive, the local people are friendly and most speak English with a Texas accent. Scuba Club Cozumel is clean, comfortable; the food is great; and the diving operation is on site. I normally don't leave the resort until it's time to go home. Try it, you'll like it.

Coral Diver with dive guide Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, and two divers from Kansas City (Jim and Joe).

San Francisco Reef - a relatively shallow wall dive with interesting coral overhangs encrusted with colorful sponges and reef life.

Water absorbs color; the deeper you go, the less color you will see. However, using a flash strobe brings out the vibrant colors of sponges and corals.

Sponges

Honeycomb cowfish (Acanthostracion polygonius)

Coral Diver

Paradise Reef - shallow reef structure and large "grassy" areas to explore.

Nestor was our excellent dive guide. He likes to dive and can spot very small critters for our enjoyment.

Spotted scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri) Hiding in an azure vase sponge, waiting to ambush some unsuspecting little fish for dinner. This kind of reminds me of Grover from Sesame Street.

Sharpnose puffer (Canthigaster rostrata) about an inch long, it differs from the gold face toby by the dark bands on the tail.

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis)

Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus) A small fish, about one inch long, fringed filefish hide in gorgonium or in the turtlegrass, changing color and texture to match the background. They turn away from the camera or hide behind the gorgonium playing "You can't see me!"

Highhat (Paraques acuminatus). This little fish, a member of the drum family, was about a quarter of an inch long and flitting from place to place. Imagine trying to point the camera at the moving fish while hoping to achieve autofocus. Got him!

Longsnout butterflyfish (Prognathodes aculeatus)

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). I was able to creep up on this big guy hanging out behind a coral head. Slow, non-threatening movements allowed me to get up close and personal.

Look at those teeth!

Cottonwicks (Haemulon melanurum)

Spotted moray (Gymnothorax moringa). Check out those teeth; there's a row down the top center of the mouth. What goes in this mouth stays in.

Coral Diver with dive guide Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, Laurie and Claudia.

Palancar "Caves" - big coral structures covered in colorful sponges, nice, slow drift dive.

Deborah drifting over the sand between coral heads.

Barred hamlet (Hypoplectrus puella) Dart away, dart away, look back at the photographer who takes snaps your picture! Gotcha!

Coral Diver

Yucab Reef - a shallower reef in a moderate current.

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans) Lionfish have invaded the Caribbean. Heavy hunting in the Marine Park has kept their numbers down. Unfortunately, elsewhere they have taken over the reefs.

Honeycomb cowfish (Acanthostracion polygonius) "Give us a kiss!"

French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) often travel in pairs.

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) and Margaret. "Got butter?"

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), the first of many we saw on this trip.

It was tall ships week! Every four years, training vessels from several South American countries visit the island.

Waiting to load the boats.

Coral Diver with dive guide Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, and Laurie.

Bolones de Chankanaab - offshore from Chankanaab Reef, Bolones consists of large coral heads (bommies) scattered across a sandy bottom.

Juvenile yellowfin grouper (Mycteroperca venenosa). Yes, those are the fishes colors! Weird.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). Only distantly related to seahorses and very hard to find - an inch or so long with crazy growths sticking out of the head! Imagine a thick black thread.

Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus) playing "you can see me."

Spotted cleaner shrimp (Pericimenes yucantanicus). This is another of the "cleaner" shrimp offering a valet service to passing fish.

Another shot of the enemy, Red lionfish (Pterois volitans). They may be undesirable but they are pretty!

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata). Similar to coneys, graysbies lack the two black spots on the lower lip.

Chankanaab Reef - a shallower, long reef system where the current normally runs the "wrong" way due to an eddy north of Punta Tunich. Chankanaab is a very fishy place.

Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta). Deborah pointed out these sea slugs to me. They are on a patch of grassy algae, their food source. Another macro image shot with a 10x diopter.

Whitespotted filefish (Cantherhines macrocerus).

Coney (Cephalopholis fulva). Note the two black spots on its lower lip.

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus). This colorful toadfish is endemic to Cozumel and a real treat to find. They hide in their holes, only coming out to grab a passing fish or crab.

Ocean triggerfish (Canthidermis sufflamen) at a "cleaning station" with a juvenile hogfish doing the job.

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris). You can see the "crown" which gives these fish their name. However, what do you call a male queen? Hmmmm? How about a juvenile, Princess?

Rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor). It's a shame rock beauties are so shy of cameras.

White grunt (Haemulon plumierii) school. Shortly after this picture was taken, the school bolted for the surface of the reef. We all looked around to see what had spooked them and noticed a tiger grouper (below) swimming down the reef.

Tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris)

Tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris)

Cardinalfish (Apogon sp) hiding in an anemone. This is my favorite image from the trip. I don't know what makes it so appealing, but I really like it.

Coral Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, and us.

Los Pecios, also known at SCC as Nestor's Reef. There are two small wrecks on this site that were sunk as artificial reefs offshore from downtown San Miguel. These wrecks are not normally dived but Nestor made arrangements to take us there for an afternoon dive. The dive starts on a sandy bottom with scattered small corals that are nurseries to small fish. After a drift over the sand we encounter concrete forms that were used in construction of the ferry pier covered in sponges and home to myriad fish. The dive ends after the second wreck.

Peacock flounder (Bothus lunatus). Flounders are born with eyes on opposite sides of their heads. As they mature, one eye migrates to the other side. Flounders are "sinistral" with the two eyes on the left side in the mature fish.

Highhat (Paraques acuminatus) juvenile. Although similar to juvenile spotted drum and jackknife fish, these fry have a bar on the nose.

Mike pointing out a giant hermit crab in its shell home.

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus). This image captures Los Pecios. You can see the sponges on the concrete forms and one of the wrecks in the background.

Caribbean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepiodea). Nestor pointed out this solitary squid hovering above the sand. Moving slowly, I was able to creep up to within photo range. The squid was a female laying her eggs in a hole in the reef. She let me get within touching range. Sadly, she will die shortly after laying her eggs. Squid are very intelligent creatures and fun to interact with.

Coral Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, and Laurie

Dalila Reef (the wall) consists of long coral mounds running parallel to the island. There was a strong current. We saw three large turtles and a nurse shark, as well as many, many fish feeding.

Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter). "Haven't I seen you here before?"

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota). This was a large turtle, about three feet across, munching on sponges.

Angelfish crowd around a second turtle hoping to catch bits of sponge leftovers.

Margaret

Tormentos Reef - a low lying reef with white sand on both sides. At the end of the reef is a single large sand dune, below which is a field of turtle grass.

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). I don't know how Nestor finds these itty bitty creatures; he has good eyes.

Pipehorse showing how small they are.

Pipehorse showing the headdress. Dr. Seuss?

Roughhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera). Talk about small; these blennies are only a few millimeters in width. I guess it helps that they are yellow and you see them when they move.

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris)

Scott drifting over the large sandbar at the end of Tormentos.

Coral Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike and us.

Caracolillo is a dive site with a long tunnel running parallel to and under the reef. Unfortunately, we dropped in down current from the entrance and missed the cave. Up on top, we looked for small stuff and eventually moved over to the sandy bottom.

Ornate elysia (Elysia ornata), a sap sucking slug.

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas). Scott found this little green turtle under a ledge. Green turtles are less common than hawksbill turtles in the Caribbean.

Milk conch (Lobatus costatus) laying eggs!

Chankanaab Reef. This was a repeat of this reef for macro photography.

Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta). Sex is interesting in this species; the male injects the sperm hypodermically. Ouch! This pair of slugs just finished coitus and were going their separate ways.

Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) and Margate (black) (Anisotremus surinamensis)

White grunts (Haemulon plumierii)

Headshield slug (Chelidonura hirundinina). This specimen was unusually large for this area, about one-half inch long.

Coral Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, Mark/Lu.

Palancar Horseshoe. Of all the dive sites on the Palancar Reef system, the "Horseshoe" is one of the most spectacular with huge coral buttresses the size of apartment houses. We drifted along in a mild current marveling at the view.

Channel clinging crab (Mithrax spinosissimus)

Shortfin pipefish (Cosmocampus elucens) are not related to pipehorses. Got it?

Coney (Cephalopholis fulva) bicolor phase.

El Paso del Cedral Reef. Named for the small town in the middle of the island, Paso del Cedral is a short and fishy place. The dive starts over a flat bottom well before the reef. Nestor pointed out a nurse shark hiding in a hole. When we looked up, another large shark was free swimming behind us. I, unfortunately, did not get a picture. Closer to the reef, a very large green moral eel had his head stuck under a rock. Once we got to the reef itself, I started capturing images of the fish life before we had to surface.

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus).

Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus) and Sailors choice (Haemulon parra).

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata). "Why the long face?"

Nestor

Schoolmaster (Lutjanus apodus)

Bluestriped grunt (Haemulon sciurus)

Scuba II with Sergio, Scott/Margaret, Mike, Lu/Mark, Doug/Jodi, and us.

La Francesa Reef - a moderately large reef with a small dropoff to sand at fifty odd feet deep.

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) with a trio of small jacks following in its wake.

Horse-eye jack (Caranx latus)

Stareye hermit crab (Dardanus venosus) carrying its shell home.

Lined elysia (Elysia pratensis)

San Clemente Reef - low reef structure with lots of little things to see and photograph.

There are many colorful little fish on the reefs and I don't often try and take pictures of them as they are constantly flitting from place to place, but this little guy intrigued me as I couldn't identify it. It turns out to be a juvenile sunshinefish (Chromis insolata).

Reef scene

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus)

Shore dive. Mark and Lu had reported seeing squid on their shore dive so I took time to go look. I found two cooperative squid and a bunch of interesting fish.

Spotted moray (Gymnothorax moringa). If you look closely, you will see a little angelfish at the eels head cleaning.

Bearded fireworm (Hermodice carunculata). It's not a good idea to touch a fire worm as the bristles break off in your skin and hurt like crazy, hence "fire" worm.

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Young lionfish are reddish; older ones are black striped.

Spotted scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri). "You can't see me!"

Caribbean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepiodea)

Bluespotted cornetfish (Fistularia tabacana). Cornetfish are longer and skinnier than trumpet fish and have a long, long tail. Normally very skittish, I was able to get close enough to this one to get a couple of pictures. A fishy band: trumpet, cornet, pipe, drum, and bass?

Cornetfish. God must have a sense of humor!

Scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus). You have to wonder who comes up with these patterns.

Nestor taking down our tanks.

Reef Star

Coral Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, Mark/Lu, Doug/Jodi, Deb D, and us.

Punta Tunich. "Rocky Point" juts out of the island about halfway down. The current is normally very strong at this dive site, but not this morning. We drifted slowly down the rolling "hills" covered in sponges and corals.

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus). There's a patch on Punta Tunich were many splendid toadfish are found in their holes.

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana). I always think of Dracula the vampire when I see these rays soaring over the reefs.

Intermediate spotted drum (Equetus punctatus). Note the spot on its nose.

Chankanaab Reef. Since we had dived here twice before, we elected to start halfway down the reef.

Scott

Barred hamlet (Hypoplectrus puella)

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus). The adult spotted drum have the numerous spots that give this fish its name.

Reef scene showing the colors brought out by my strobes.

Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis). No trip to Cozumel is complete without a picture of a squirrelfish.

Fiesta night

Coral Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, Mark/Lu, Doug/Jodi, Deb D.

Dalila Reef - we went out to the wall, a series of parallel, elongated hills covered in life with many fish. The current was ripping. Deborah and Mike dropped in on a spotted eagle ray but I was last in the water, further down current, and never saw it. Damn!

Freckled seahare (Aplysia parvula). I was sheltering behind a coral head when I looked down on the sand beneath me and found this little sea slug, about an inch long. Reference books say it is "rare" in the Caribbean.

Mark showing the proper use of a muck stick in the current.

Paradise Reef - The current was running the "wrong way," from north to south. We entered the water midway on the reef and did it backwards ending up on the sand flat looking for small stuff.

Divers on the "grassy" area fanned out looking for little critters.

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus). You have to wonder why this fish is so colorful and yet hides its beauty in a hole in the reef.

Doug watching a trumpet fish on the sand.

Margate (white) (Haemulon album)

Longfin damsel (Stegastes diencaeus) juvenile

Los Pecios - our second, afternoon dive on the two little wrecks (los pecios) with lots of little things to see.

Los Pecios sponges

Jodi

Glasseye snapper (Heteropriacanthus cruentatus). This fish is nocturnal and was hiding behind the door to the bridge on one of the wrecks.

Highhat (Paraques acuminatus)

Wreck

Coney (Cephalopholis fulva) yellow phase with freckles.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). This is a "pregnant" male. The female transfers the fertilized eggs to a pouch on the male who then broods the eggs until they hatch.

Spotted scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri). Camouflage personified!

Wreck

Coral Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, Lu, Doug/Jodi.

Polo and Ernesto

Palancar Reef "Gardens." Huge sponge covered coral heads along the drop off with many swim throughs.

Nestor

Mike

Deborah

Lucianna

Deb

Jodi

Channel clinging crab (Mithrax spinosissimus). This is the largest crab in Cozumel, spanning about two feet.

Blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus). This school of blue tangs has been hanging out over the inside of Palancar Gardens for as long as I can remember.

Lined sole (Achirus lineatus). Think small; this adult sole is less than one inch long and pretty uncommon and/or hard to find.

El Paso del Cedral (the wall). We flew the reef in a very strong current. Turtles, sharks, and other critters were hard to photograph as we sped by.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum). In the strong current, I looked up to see this shark headed straight towards me.

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus). For some reason this hind was skittish and didn't want me to take its picture. Hinds are similar in appearance to coneys and graysbies.

Greater soapfish (Rypticus saponaceus). Another serendipitous find as I was sheltering behind a large sponge. They are called soapfish because they secrete a slimy substance on their skin.

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota) headed to the surface to breathe. It's amazing that aquatic turtles feed and sleep underwater while holding their breath.

Coral Diver with Nestor, Mark/Lu, Mike.

Palancar Reef ("Bricks"). Part of the Palancar Reef system, "Bricks" is further south with large buttresses of coral separated by white sand. Unfortunately, the current was very strong and visibility dropped due to sand kicked up by the current.

Deborah. You can see a little of the reef structure behind her. It looks brown in the image because water absorbs color, but the encrusting sponges are very colorful when photographed using strobes up close.

Tormentos Reef. The current was mild here and flowing in the "wrong" direction so we dropped in on the middle of the reef and drifted south instead of north.

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus) "Peek a boo!"

Dog snapper (Lutjanus jocu). This big fish was hiding under a ledge. It's was about three feet long.

Goldentail moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)

Sand diver (Synodus intermedius). Yes, I know they all look alike.

Rounghhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera). You have to love the "hair do." Less than a quarter inch in diameter and hard to see without a magnifying glass.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). The last time we found as many pipehorse as this trip was another year in which the sargassum arrived. Perhaps there's a relationship...or not.

Pipehorse up close.

Lineshout goby (Gobiosoma sp). Gobies are often "cleaners" offering their services on top of a coral head.

Scuba II with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike, Warren/Deb.

Dalila Reef. This was a repeat of a previous dive and we were looking forward to a strong current. We weren't disappointed.

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota) and Margaret

Blue chromis (Chromis cyanea). These are shy fish and hard to photograph.

White grunts (Haemulon plumierii) hiding in a gorgonium.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) swimming up the reef.

Yucab Reef. Strangely, there was little current on this reef, only a few miles north of our first dive of the day, Dalila, where we were swept along.

Goldentail moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)

Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta). This sea slug was crawling across a sponge; it's about half an inch long.

Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus giganteus)

Yellowface pikeblenny (Chaenopsis limbaughi). Note the grains of sand to give you an idea of how small these fish are.

Lettuce slug (Elysia crispata). Lettuce slugs are sapsuckers, living on algae.

Juvenile yellowtail damselfish (Microspathodon chrusurus) . These juveniles are next to impossible to photograph! They are camera shy and flit from place to place very quickly making it very, very difficult to capture. I got lucky.

Sailfin blenny (Emblemaria pandionis) out displaying to other males and females in the area.

Scuba II with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Warren/Deb, Mike.

Palancar Reef "Horseshoe." The part of Palancar Reef known as the Horseshoe is in the middle of the reef complex and is the most spectacular formation in Cozumel. We had a nice, slow drift on the outside of the drop off. A couple of turtles were highlights of the dive.

Margaret

Southern stingrays (Dasyatis americana). Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Mike coming through the reef.

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus) intermediate stage.

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota)

Chankanaab Reef - With a very mild current, we started at the beginning of the reef, but instead of following the main reef, we diverted to the sand flat at the very start and spent the whole dive looking for little stuff.

Intermediate stage gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus). The bars fade as the fish matures.

Intermediate stage French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)
also showing the intermediate bars on the side.

Juvenile stage French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Brown garden eels (Heteroconger longissimus). Garden eels retreat into their holes in the sand when divers approach making them hard to get close enough to photograph. This cluster of eels was a little more forgiving and I was able to capture an image.

Scarlet-striped cleaning shrimp (Lysmata rathbunae). Their white antennae advertise they are open for business.

Pederson cleaner shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni). Another cleaner shrimp.

Headshield slug (Chelidonura hirundinina). We found many sea slugs on this trip.

Coral Diver with Geiser, Scott, Margaret and us. With only four divers on the boat, what a treat!

El Paso del Cedral Wall. The current was very strong on this site and all the fish were out feeding. We got the trifecta: sharks, turtles, and green moray eel.

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas). This is a one chance fly by photograph. Point the camera and push the button as you are carried past. There's no going back in the current.

French grunts (Haemulon flavolineatum). It's wonderful seeing all the schools of fish on some dive sites.

Dog snapper (Lutjanus jocu). This is a big fish, resting under a ledge and not shy.

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris). Green eels can get up to five feet long. I had to crawl under a ledge in the reef to get this image.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) feeding. In all of the years we've been diving, I've never seen a nurse shark feeding before. This one was munching on a blue tang.

Porcupine fish (Diodon hystrix). Normally very shy and solitary, I am very pleased with myself that I was able to photograph not one but two of these fish.

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana). As we were ascending to do our safety stop at fifteen feet for three minutes, Geiser pointed out this ray resting on the sand below us. I checked my remaining air, no decompression time, and dropped down to get this shot.

Tormentos Reef. The current was very mild at this site and we slowly drifted the "wrong" way looking for little stuff.

Roughhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera) male. "What cha looking at????"

Roughhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera)

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris). Yes, I know; another picture of this pretty fish. I can't help myself.

Lettuce slug (Elysia crispata). I keep trying to get an interesting image of this slug. This is the best I could do.

Spotted cleaner shrimp (Pericimenes yucantanicus) in an anemone. Deborah found this one in an anemone and called me over by tapping on her tank.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). I hope you aren't tired of seeing images of pipe horses. They are extremely small and hard to spot. Some years, like this year, they are everywhere, other years, they aren't around. You have to love their head decorations.

Dive Cat with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, Mike/Jana, James/Emma; and a second group with Pepe, Gary/Jayne, Cathy, and Kristin.

San Francisco Reef. We were going to Santa Rosa reef to celebrate Jayne's birthday but opted to dive San Francisco Reef thinking it would be a better choice with some new divers in the group. As it was, a strong current flowing off the reef and into the deep was uncomfortable on SF and would have been a disaster on Santa Rosa. Good choice.

Emma. "Looking good!"

Emma "What's that?"

Lesser electric ray (Narcine bancroftii). I'm not sure if there's a "greater" electric ray or not.

Paradise Reef was the second dive site with a mild current flowing from North to South (the wrong way).

Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta). Coitus!

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris). Yes, another one!

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata). "I have teeth and I know how to use them."

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus). "See my little teeth? They may not be as sharp as the graysby's above, but I can still bite you."

Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi). FINALLY! This is our first seahorse sighting in two weeks of diving. For some reason, seahorses are either missing or harder to find this year. There was another one nearby but I didn't see it.

Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi) Margaret photographing the seahorse. Can you see it?

Tuca elysia (Elysia tuca). Thanks to Anne DuPont for help with the identification.

Night dive from shore. The currents were screwy - first strong one way, pause, and then flowing the opposite way. Still, I was able to poke along looking for little stuff.

Mushroom scorpionfish (Scorpeana inermis). This is not a baby. Adult mushroom scorpionfish are only 1 to 2 inches in length and have little upside down "mushroom shaped flaps on their eyes.

Redhair swimming crab (Achelus ordwayi)

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata) wearing its night colors.

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Up close portrait; photogenic even if they are invasive and a threat to other fish populations.

Chain moray (Echidna catenata). The only place I've ever seen a chain moray eel is in front of Scuba Club.

Dive Cat with Nestor and the group of twelve plus four divers from Brasil.

San Clemente Wall prior to swimming over to San Clemente shallow to finish the dive.

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris) about five feet long.

Up close and personal. Lots of teeth!

Yucab Reef - slow current. We started on a coral head where James found a large, green moray eel under a ledge. We then crossed over a large grassy area before joining the reef itself.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Lettuce slug (Elysia crispata). This slug is climbing off an algae that is its food source.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). This one doesn't have an elaborate headdress like some of the others we saw.

Juvenile French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Flamingo tongue (Cyphoma gibbosum). What you see is the "foot" of the snail extended over the white shell. In this image you can also see the "eye!"

Cottonwicks (Haemulon melanurum)

Reef Diver with the group of twelve, afternoon dive.

Los Pecios. TWO BATFISH and a SEAHORSE!!!!

Deborah

Shortnose batfish (Ogcocephalus nasutus). Batfish are either very rare in Cozumel or are so camouflaged they are hard to find. This was a rare treat.

Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi) - a very pregnant male!

Yellowface pikeblenny (Chaenopsis limbaughi). Very small, about two-inches long.

Rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia) terminal phase, munching on coral. A lot of the "sand" on the reef is parrotfish poop.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Squat anemone shrimp (Thor amboinensis) - also called "sexy shrimp" as they constantly pump their tails up and down. Hey, I didn't make that up.

Reef Diver with Nestor and the group of twelve.

Palancar Reef "Horseshoe." Too good not to repeat, we went back to enjoy the part of Palancar known as the horseshoe. Lovely mild current and clear water.

My sister, Jana.

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus).

Reef Diver

El Paso del Cedral Reef "Bajo." Swimming nurse sharks, a turtle, and many colorful fish!

Rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia) following Nestor.

French grunts (Haemulon flavolineatum)

Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus).

Yet another nurse shark!

Bluestriped grunts (Haemulon sciurus)

Yes, I know.

Mixed school of grunts, et al.

Dive Cat with Nestor and the group of twelve.

El Paso del Cedral Wall. We returned to this dive site to possibly find a turtle. We hit the trifecta: turtle, green moray, and shark. Plus, we were treated to a "real" shark, a reef shark.

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota). Not the best picture as I was descending in the current and only had a few seconds to snap an image.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum). The number of nurse sharks out swimming has been unusual. Normally, we see them sleeping under a ledge during the day.

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris) - another big eel.

Reef shark (Carcharhinus perezii). A "real" shark, this reef shark was cruising the wall and I was able to get close enough to snap off a photo. Sharks other than nurse sharks are very uncommon for divers to see in Cozumel. It's funny how a shark common in other locations and rare here gets a lot of attention.

Chankanaab Reef (bajo).

Scarlet-striped cleaning shrimp (Lysmata rathbunae). Margaret said she had never seen one of these shrimp. I remembered where we had seen them on a previous dive and was able to find the coral head to show her.

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) with divers.

Green turtle

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). Nestor is very, very good at finding them.

Dog snapper (Lutjanus jocu) - hiding under a ledge on Chankanaab Reef.

Reef Diver with Nestor, Scott/Margaret, three divers from Brazil.

Palancar Reef ("Caves"). This part of the Palancar Reef system is called "Caves." There are a number of swim throughs between the coral heads.

Brazilian divers.

Tormentos Reef. The current was going North to South and we had to swim into the flow to move up the reef. We looked for little stuff once again.

Roughhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera). Every so often, the blennies leave their holes to grab a bite to eat as "food" passes by. Unfortunately, the action is too quick for me to react and grab a shot of the whole fish.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). I can't help myself. Pipehorse are so small and difficult to photograph I have to share.

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus)

Giant basketstar (Astrophyton muricatum). Active at night, during the day the basketstar curls up in a ball.

Dive Cat with Nestor, Mike, Jana, James, and Emma.

Palancar Reef "Gardens."

James and Emma

Tiger grouper (Mycteroperca tigris)

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica).

Paradise Reef. The current was running North to South - the wrong way. We dropped in near the pier and drifted towards the El Presidente hotel.

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris). "Goodbye!"

Banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus).

Bar jack (Caranx ruber) and yellow stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis). The jack shadows the ray hoping to nab any little fish that the ray stirs up while hunting in the sand.

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus). "Y'all come back soon!"




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