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Posted by Jim on August 28, 2023 at 15:43:57:


Once again, Deborah, I, many of our friends and relatives returned to Cozumel, Mexico, for warm water scuba diving, sun, and fun - an annual affair for over thirty years. We have always stayed at Scuba Club Cozumel – our home away from home. Life is good.

Scuba Club Cozumel website; check it out.

Mike/Ingrid, Mark/Lucianna, and Doug/Jodi joined us early in our vacation. Many others appeared over the following three weeks, which included a surprise celebration. Read on.

We arrived at the hotel before lunch, unpacked a few t-shirts, bathing suits, and dive gear; did a short shore dive in front of the hotel to check out our equipment and my camera in anticipation of the next day's boat dives.

Water temperature was 83-84 degrees F the entire time we were there - normal for that time of year. Visibility varied but was somewhat milky and less than the normal 100 feet – perhaps due to changing currents sweeping silt up from the shallows. Daytime temperatures were in the low nineties with high humidity – much cooler than some parts of the US. We experienced a few thunder storms but none of them interfered with the diving.


Red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Invasive to the Atlantic and Carribean. Juveniles are black, adults are red.

Snapper school – the reefs are very fishy.

Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus)

Peacock flounder (Bothus lunatus)

Sunday, August 6

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Lucianna/Mark, and Jodi/Doug.


Nestor, dive guide extraordinaire.

Many colorgul sponges.

Flamingo tongues (Cyphoma gibbosum) with egg sacs! These are small snails; what you see are not shells but their colorful mantles extended over the shell. The shells themselves are an uninteresting white color.

Mixed school

Juvenile French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Intermediate French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Reef Star


Mike S

Jodi and Doug


Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) intermediate stage

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus)

Monday August 7, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Lucianna/Mark, and Jodi/Doug.


Doug with loaner Olympus TG6

Peacock flounder (Bothus lunatus)

French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Snapper. "I will bite you!"


Juvenile blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus). Yes, juvenile blue tangs are yellow!

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) – It's hard not to like such a colorful fish, despite the fact they are very shy when a camera is pointed in their direction.

Channel clinging crab (Mithrax spinosissimus) (huge claw)

Lettuce slug (Elysia crispata). In Cozumel, these slugs are pale and often on a pale background.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). Neither related to seahorses nor pipefish, pipehorses are in their own family. This little guy was less than one-inch long. I don't know how Nestor finds such little critters.

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus) with a banded coral shrimp cleaning its face. Drew calls them "purple catfish."

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus). Normally all you see is the toadfish's face; this one was under a ledge, showing the body and its gorgeous yellow fins.

Threespot damselfish (Stegastes planifrons)

Tuesday August 8, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Lucianna/Mark, and Jodi/Doug.


Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus) I can't resist posting lots of images (endemic to the island)

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus) – one of my favorite fish, colorful and often very patient when a camera is shoved in its face.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) flyby. We either saw two sharks or the same one twice.


Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus) (yellow phase)

Squirrelfish. No trip report is complete without a picture of a squirrelfish.

Large channel clinging crab (Mithrax spinosissimus)

Butter hamlet (Hypoplectrus unicolor) – not common in Cozumel.

Wednesday August 9, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Lucianna/Mark, and Jodi/Doug.


Blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) – less than two feet long. We saw three of them; this is the only one that came close enough for me to take a picture.

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica)



Ocellated frogfish? (Fowlerichtys ocellatus) – very, very small about one-inch long! Nestor said he noticed it because it moved. Eye/mouth are on the right, tail is on the left. Sightings of frogfish are very, very rare in Cozumel.

This picture was shared by Doug.


Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus)

Lucianna and seahorse

Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi)

Rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor)

Coney (Cephalopholis fulva) – yellow phase with blue freckles

SHORE (night dive)

Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus)

Foureye butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus). The theory is any predator of this fish will be confused as to which end is the head and which is the tail. The bar through the eye camouflages the real eye.

Stoplight parrotfish (sparisoma viride) sleeping in its colorful pajamas.


True tulip (Fasciolaria tulipa)

Our second, larger group arrived at Scuba Club: Mike T, Jana, Dave, Beth, Drew, Deb D, Warren, Deb W, Mark W, John, Peggy, Joe, Pam, Kathleen, Chris


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor: Deborah, Mike S, Lucianna/Mark, and Jodi/Doug, Deb/Mark W. The second group of divers with Daniel: Jana, Dave, Beth, Drew, Deb D

Ismael, Vladimir, Nestor, Daniel


Brittlestars –curled around the gorgonium during the daytime, these little brittle stars come out at night.

Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus)

Blackcap basslet (Gramma melacara). No, the picture isn't upside down. This colorful little fish is most often found in holes in the reef and often orients itself belly up.

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus). Acrobatic lobsters doing a head stand.


Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter). "Come give me a kiss."

Yellowface pikeblenny (Chaenopsis limbaughi) displaying to a female of the species.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Lucianna/Mark, and Jodi/Doug; Daniel with John, Jana/Mike, Beth/Dave, Drew


Giant hermit crab (Petrochirus diogenes)



Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi)

Coney (Cephalopholis fulva) One of my favorite fish to photograph, colorful and not that shy.

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus) Proof that God has a sense of humor.

Split-crown feather duster (Anamobaea orstedii). Who would have thought worms could be beautiful?

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis) in an anemone

John/Peggy's wedding

Peggy, Jim, John

Chris, Kathleen, Peggy, John, Joe, and Pam

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor: Deborah, Lucianna, Deb D, Jana, Beth, Dave, Drew


Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata)

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris). Deb D found this big moray eel under a ledge and called me over to take this picture.


Beaugregory (Stegastes leucostictus) juvenile. Skittish little fish under a ledge.

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata). Similar to Coney but there are no dark spots on the lower lip.

Green razorfish (Xyrichys spendens) tiny juvenile, less than one-half inch long!

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda)

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Mark/Lucianna, Mark/Deb W; Daniel with Jana, Mike, Dave, Beth, Drew, John


We saw only a few turtles on this trip. This is very troubling; normally they are observed on most dives. I'm hoping they have all gone on vacation to Disneyland and will return soon.

Not the best turtle pictures I have taken. There was a strong current and I only had a short opportunity to fire off a couple of shots as I flew by.

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota)

Porkfish (Anisotremus viginicus) "Tastes like chicken?" "Tiene gusto a pollo."

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris). Mark K called me back to look deep under a ledge where this large green moray eel was hiding. I was able to crawl under and take one picture before the eel decided to back into the coral.

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). A young, gullible barracuda responded to my waving my hand and swam up to me, close enough to take its picture.

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus) "They call me Sandy." Notice the banded cleaning shrimp on the left.

Permit (Trachinotus falcutus). One normally can't get close enough to take an acceptable picture of a permit.


Cottonwick (Haemulon melanurum) school

Scrawled cowfish (Acnthostracion quadricornis) in sponge.

We chose to dive Villa Blanca in hopes of finding a batfish. We found two. They are very well camouflaged as you can see from this picture.

Roughback batfish (Ogcocephalus parvus)


Monday, August 14, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Mark K, Lucianna, Deb and Mark W. Daniel with Mike T, Jana, Dave, John, and Deb D.


Mark over the wall

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota)

Deborah and turtle


Reef scorpionfish (Scorpaenodes carribaeus)

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata)

Bluestriped grunt (Haemulon sciurus) up close and personal.

Fighting Giant hermit crabs (Petrochirus diogenes)

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans), RIP

Banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Deb W, and Mark W; Daniel with the Trevinos, Deb D and Warren.


A spotted eagle ray was seen but not photographed – too far away.

Barred hamlet (Hypoplectrus puella). Hamlets are not very common in Cozumel and tend to be very shy. When a camera is pointed in their direction, they swim away, stop to see if you are following them. Click – gotcha.

Sponges. This gives you an idea of what the reef looks like under artificial light.

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris). Yet another queen picture.

Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta). Think small, less than one-half inch long.

Lineshout goby (Gobiosoma sp). These little gobies are "cleaners" – picking parasites and debris off client fish.


Deb and Warren

Horse-eye jacks (Caranx latus).

Branched anemone (Lebrunia danae). The guide books say this anemone is "common" in the Caribbean, but I would beg to differ.

Leech headshield slug (Chelidonura hirundinina). Another, very small sea slug.

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana) and jack, hunting.

Wednesday, August 16,2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Deb and Mark W; Daniel with Mike T, Jana, Dave, Beth, Drew, and John


Jim and Deborah

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus) juvenile. We've not seen as many of these juveniles as usual. They swim back and forth frenetically, almost as if they were on uppers.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum). I was lucky this shark chose a ledge to sleep under that I could light the whole fish with my strobes.

School – another fishy place

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas). Rarer than the more common hawksbill turtles, it's always a pleasure to find one to photograph. Exit stage right.

Sleeping basket star. At night the basket star unfolds to feed.

Basket star feeding at night.

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus)


Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus). This is a little, tiny fish that hides from photographers.

Coney (Cephalopholis fulva), bicolor phase. I like coneys; they are colorful and often allow close approach with a camera. They come in a variety of color phases, from yellow, to bicolor, to red.

Trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus) pretending that it is invisible.

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans) a large adult. Polo's reef is not usually dived and is off the main reef where dive guides have been killing these invasive fish. The lionfish have no predators here and are a threat to the normal fish population.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Deb W, Mark W, Scott, and Margaret; Daniel with Jana, Mike T, Beth, Dave, Drew, and John.

Lettuce slug (Elysia crispata). This is a much better picture of the slug than I took earlier. There's better contrast and you can clearly see the head and body markings.


Spotted cleaner shrimp (Pericimenes yucantanicus) on carpet anemone

Purple-crowned sea goddess nudibranch (Felimare kempfi). Nestor pointed out this very exciting nudibranch crawling across the sand. Approximately one-inch long, I've only seen three specimens in over thirty years of diving!

Grunts (Haemulon album) in a window

Michael S

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). Pipehorse are small; this one was extremely small – like a thick thread. Interestingly, no fringed head decorations on this one – juvenile?

Coral Diver, night dive on Paradise Reef, with Daniel, Beth, Jana, John, Drew.

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis)

Marginella – a small snail, about half an inch long crawling along the sand.

Marginella – another species of snail with a different colored mantle.

Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus). Drew found this octopus out hunting!

Blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) I disturbed its sleep.

Friday, August 18,2023

Trevinos: Drew, Dave, Beth, Mike and Jana.

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S., Mark/Deb W, Scott/Margaret; Daniel with Jana, Beth, John, Jeff, and Karen.


Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi). You can never have too many pictures of seahorses.

Coney (Cephalopholis fulva). The same can be said for coneys.


Goby (Coryphopterus sp). Often overlooked are the myriad little fish on the reef. There are thousands of this one-inch fish on the sand. I took this picture because of the contrast between the fish and the patch of algae.

Spotted scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri). These fish are so well camouflaged they think they are invisible – you can stick a camera in their face and they won't move. I love the Indian headdress on this individual

White grunts (Haemulon plumierii)

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Mark and Deb W; Daniel with Jeff, Karen, Tim and Marne.


Jeff and Karen

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris) swimming down the reef with me taking its picturen


Mating painted elysia (Thuridilla picta)

Pederson cleaner shrimp (Ancylomenes pedersoni)

Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus)

Spotted scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)

Banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus)

Porcupine fish (Diodon hystrix)

True tulip (Fasciolaria tulipa)


Spinyhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria spinosa)

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Reef Star with Nestor, Deborah, Mike S, Scott, Margaret, Cathy, Amy; Daniel with Jeff, Karen, Tim and Marne.

Jeff, Margaret, Jim, Deborah, Karen, Mike


Porkfish (Anisotremus viginicus)

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). Yes, another one.

Spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari). Hail Mary shot from too far away to properly photograph.


Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter) juvenile. Also called "dice."

Shortnose batfish (Ogcocephalus nasutus)? May be roughback batfish.

Lantern bass (Serranus baldwini). A colorful, little (two-inch long) fish often ignored by u/w photographers.

Monday, August 20, 2023

Reef Star with Daniel, Deborah, Mike S, Scott, Margaret, Tim, Marne, Cathy, and Amy.

Tim and Marne

Cathy and Amy


"Chocolate chip" sea cucumber (Isostichopus badionotus)

Milk conch (Strombus raninus) "I see you!"

Bearded fireworm (Hermodice carunculata). Do not touch!

Spotted moray (Gymnothorax moringa) showing his teeth.

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus), intermediate stage.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Coral Diver with Nestor, Deborah, Mike, Margaret, Cathy, and Amy.


Spotted cleaner shrimp (Pericimenes yucantanicus)

Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta). Yes, it looks plastic, but it's a real sea slug. This one was about a quarter of an inch long…very small.

Lug worm poop. The lug worm lives under the sand and excretes waste on the surface.

Margaret and Nestor


Squat anemone shrimp (Thor amboinensis), also called "sexy shrimp" as they pump their tails up and down, up and down…

Spinyhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria spinosa). Very, very small, less than the diameter of a pencil eraser.

School of grunts

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). Normally shy, I found this barracuda under a ledge in the reef being cleaned by a Spanish hogfish. Undeterred by my presence, I was able to take a bunch of pictures before the fish swam away.

File clam ( Ctenoides scaber) formerly named Lima scabra

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Coral Diver with Nestor, Deborah, Mike, Scott, Margaret, Cathy, and Amy.






Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus) intermediate stage, beginning to get its spots.

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus) Although similar to graysbies and coneys, red hinds are much larger and rarer in Cozumel waters.

Red hind face.

Leech headshield slug (Chelidonura hirundinina) Think very, very small, approximately half and inch long.


Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota) headed for the surface to take a breath of air.

Squat anemone shrimp (Thor amboinensis) another very small critter that hides in an anemone for safety. About a quarter inch long.

Bluestriped grunt (Haemulon sciurus). I couldn't resist taking an up close picture of this lovely grunt.

Thorny mud crab (Micropanope unator) on fire coral. Size – about one-quarter inch.

Yellowtail damselfish (Microspathodon chrusurus) juvenile. AKA, you little bastard. Fliting around and in the coral, it’s almost impossible to catch one in focus and not facing the other way! Gotcha!

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). Yes, another one.

Blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) being cleaned by Spotted cleaner shrimp (Pericimenes yucantanicus). The shrimp is on top of the fish's head.

Spotted cleaner shrimp (Pericimenes yucantanicus). See immediately above for relative size.

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota) "I'm out of here!"

Thursday, August 24,2023

Coral Diver with Nestor, Deborah, Mike, Scott, Margaret, Cathy, and Amy


Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis).

Goldentail moray (Gymnothorax miliaris). This is a smaller eel, only about 12 inches long.

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota)

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) and a small Sharksucker (Echeneis naucrates). Contrary to the name, sharksuckers do not "suck," they simply swim with the host and eat any spillage when the shark eats.

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata)

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)


Queen conch (Strombus gigas). I no longer eat conch chowder or fritters!

Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata)

School of grunts

Friday, August 25, 2023

Coral Diver with Nestor, Deborah, Mike, Scott and Margaret


Banded butterflyfish (Chaetodon striatus). Although these butterfly fish often hunt in pairs, it's hard to catch them lined up together.

Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) pair.

Tobacco fish (Serranus tabacarius). A relatively small fish, but colorful

French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) juvenile

Web burrfish (Chilomycterus antillarum). Uncommon in this part of the Caribbean.

Redband parrotfish (Sparisoma aurofrenatum). Although common, it's hard to catch one standing still for a photo.

Sargassum triggerfish (Xanthichthys ringens)Damn shy fish…as soon as you approach one it darts into the coral and hides, especially when a camera is pointed in their direction

Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi). This may be a seahorse we found on a prior dive in this area.

Coral Diver


Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter) juvenile

Sand diver (Synodus intermedius). I took this picture from only a couple of inches in front of its nose. Ambush hunters, sand divers sit on the bottom and wait for small fish to come close.

Rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor). Damned shy, but lovely fish.

Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus). The frost in the eye appears to aid in seeing in low light.

File clam

Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus) adult.

Leech headshield slug (Chelidonura hirundinina). Not too shabby for a slug!

The fine print: All images are copyrighted; do not copy or use without express permission from the author.
My camera: OM-1 in a Nauticam underwater housing, Zuiko 12-50mm zoom with macro switch, flip diopter for ultra macro, dual Sea&Sea YSD1 strobes.

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