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Cozumel Day 1: Palancar Horseshoe & Dalila Reef February 10, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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My first day of diving for this trip was February 8th, 2009. Our boat Shamu was waiting at the dock when I got down to the beach at 8:35, with Capitan Mago and our Divemaster Arturo from Blue XT Sea Diving. They had told me 8:30 to 8:45 and were right on time. We headed directly south to the first dive site called Palancar Horseshoe. It was a fine day, cloudless at 8:30 but with a few clouds over the shoreline by the time we started the dive.

We were in the water at 9:04, initially heading west, before turning north which is the general direction you go when Diving in Cozumel. I presume this change in direction is where the name Horseshoe comes from. The dive was fairly dull, although we saw a sea turtle, the sting ray depicted below, and some large grouper. Toward the end of the dive we passed the memorial to Martin, who owned a local dive shop but passed away a few years ago. It’s in a sandy stretch where I also saw the stingray.

cozumel-20080208-stingray

I got as deep as 92 feet but spend most of the first part of the dive at 80 feet, then went progressively shallower to take advantage of the multilevel profile. I was under for 50 minutes in all, and the water was 78F (25C) which is several degrees cooler than my November trips. I was also a bit underweighted with 10 lbs. This was the weight I’d used in 2007 but it didn’t work as well this time, and I found myself having to swim downward on to maintain my safety stop depth. On Dive #2 I went to 12 lbs which was much better.

Between dives we stopped on the beach for about and hour and a half, during which I walked back into the scrub for a bit and came across a bird they told me was called a Pavo Real (in English, literally a Royal Turkey, but usually called a Peacock). I heard him before I saw him, as he slowly walked away from me. About 20 minutes later I went back with my camera and he was sitting down again, and before he got up and walked away I took a couple of pictures. There were also a pair of iguanas sunning themselves nearby but I didn’t try to get a picture of them, as there are plenty running around the grounds of the hotel.

cozumel-20080208-pavo-realEventually the others returned from the nearby hotel where they were having a Coke, and we headed off to our next dive at Dalila Reef. This dive, a full hour, also looked a little desolate, although I put my camera on its macro setting and looked for some of the small stuff.

From watching the TV series, The Last Frontier, with John Stonemen, I’d learned about one of his favourite reef inhabitants, the Damsel Fish. This little fellow, perhaps 2-3″ long, defends his section of the reef against all other fish, although for the most part he shied away from me. He was swimming in and out so much it was hard to get a good picture, especially with the delay between pressing the shutter release and the taking of the picture, but after a few tries I got something I thought was reasonable.

cozumel-damsel-fishHe didn’t want to have too much to do with me, but whenever another fish came by, he’d chase it away.

Soon enough, fighting the current in order to take photos became tiresome, and I continued on to other things.

The next little thing I saw was an Arrow Crab Spider Shrimp. The most remarkable thing about the photograph is the splashes of red and orange that were revealed by the flash. The background looked dull in natural light.

One unusual thing about the dive was that the current wasn’t strong, and was mostly flowing from North to South, which is opposite the usual direction.  The dive lasted just over an hour, and right at the end we saw some large fish, including a huge midnight blue parrot fish gnawing away at the reef.

cozumel-20080208-spider-shrimp

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1. Cozumel Wrap Up « Chronicle of an older diver - March 21, 2009

[…] Cozumel Day 1: Palancar Horseshoe & Dalila Reef […]

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