As our dive boat approached the dock, at Blue Angel Resort in Cozumel, we noticed Jeanie Buscher waiting to greet us. Mary and I had just completed our morning dives at Barracuda and San Juan; what an adrenaline rush, wicked fast current and evil down drafts as you literally fly through the water. Jeanie’s husband Mike had been diving with us so we thought she was there to see Mike. Jeanie leaned in as the boat was being tied off and excitedly told us that Victor had seen a juvenile spotted eagle ray on the Blue Angel shore dive. Mary cut her eyes at me; and that usually means we are “going in again”, and so we hurried to the dive shop with our gear in tow for a fresh tank.
After our second day of diving with Blue Angel Dive Shop, Mary and I went up to the Blue Angel Restaurant for lunch. Sergio and Benji were our servers and they brought out a large towel to our table and began folding it. Once it was folded they each rolled their end toward the middle stopping every so often, between laughs and giggles, to pull it tight. The towel slowly formed into some sort of head dressing not resembling anything I had ever seen before. Sergio and Benji asked me to close my eyes and then placed the head dressing on my head. You should have seen the confused looks on the diners at the other tables. They did not know whether to laugh or run from this nut! It was awesome! And so began the ritual of Sergio and Benji trying to outdo themselves each day with a new and creative costume for me when I came to lunch.
Mary swimming out of the tunnel at 130ft on dive site in Cozumel called Devils Throat and Cathedral.
Brandon wrote me an e-mail of their experience that is both funny and informative so I asked Brandon if I could share it on my site. These are the experiences that separate a traveler from a tourist. Mary and I are enriched by meeting folks like Alia and Brandon and we hope you enjoy the story of their Belize "home stay" experience.
Mary and I observed that the lionfish has a tendency to huddle and hunt in groups of three to four. The group will pin their prey with their pectoral fins before swallowing them whole. Recent research by Dr. Mark Hixon and his team from Oregon State University with support from NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) found that lionfish reduce the net recruitment of coral reef fishes by an estimated 80%. The consequences to the Caribbean eco-system cannot be overemphasized. Dr. Hixon’s team observed one lionfish eating 20 small wrasses during a 30 minute period. Recent studies have disclosed that the small fish that are consumed by the lionfish, (stomach content analysis has documented predation of cleaner fish), if reduced significantly will impact the abundance of reef fish by one-fourth and diversity by one-half.
We tried several times to get a better shot but the reef scorpionfish kept moving around and every time my flash went off he moved to a different spot. You can’t see it but the wall was covered with long-spined urchins and every time I moved in closer the spines would rotate and point toward my hands making for a very unpleasant experience on several occasions.
I have rarely seen a reef scorpionfish that was not using a long-spine urchin for protection. I believe this may be a symbiotic relationship called facultative commensalism, which means that the scorpionfish gets a safe place to rest (smart little bugger) but the long-spine sea urchin receives no benefit from the relationship.
I really like the color and texture of this sponge. Notice the reef scorpionfish in the background.
Overshadowing the coral the barrel sponge prevents light from reaching it and as boring sponges burrow into it from below they will eventually erode and destroy the whole coral head.
We were diving with Kay Wilson of Indigo Dive St. Vincent at “The Steps”. This dive site is next to the shore of St. Vincent at an ancient (relatively speaking) spot where islanders would come to bath and throw their trash out. You might find a treasure of trash sunk into the sand like old bottles but more than likely, you will find a wealth of critters on this dive.