Cozumel trip report and pictures 2015

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Posted by Jim on August 25, 2015 at 13:37:24:

Cozumel August 2015

Despite our many, many dive trips to Cozumel, we always seem to find something new. This summer's trip did not disappoint: elkhorn coral crabs, pipehorse sex, a nudibranch, dwarf seahorse, fun with sponges, and much more.

I'm often asked where Cozumel is located. The largest island in Mexico, Cozumel lies east of the Yucatan Peninsula, near the resort town of Cancun.

From Los Angeles, you can fly direct to Cancun and then take the ferry across to Cozumel; or fly through Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, or Mexico City. Our usual route is via United Airlines from LAX to Houston International and then on to Cozumel. We first visited the island twenty-five years ago and, with rare exception, we have returned each year sometimes more than once a year and recently for two or more weeks each time. Retirement is wonderful. I figure we've spent more than a year of days on the island.

"Why?" you ask. To SCUBA dive in warm, clear water, home of many colorful and wonderful creatures. There are better dive destinations in the world, but none as convenient, affordable, and safe as Cozumel. We are what some people describe as "been there, done that" divers. Despite having traveled to many wonderful places over the years, we always try to make time to return to Cozumel.

Twenty-five years ago, we chose the Galapago Inn (now Scuba Club Cozumel) from an advertisement in Skin Diver magazine. Our experience was so wonderful we keep coming back and back and back, again. Sofia always greets us with, "Welcome home!" Those wonderful words are deeply appreciated.

Scuba Club Cozumel is an all-inclusive resort offering packages that include room, board, and diving. The dive operation is on site and, in addition to boat diving, you can do easy, unlimited shore diving in front of the hotel; a great place to play with the u/w camera. Rooms are clean and spacious, many with views of the Caribbean. The food is great, with a variety of Mexican and international cuisine.

Check out SCC'S website. Make a reservation and come see why we love this place so much.

SCC website

August 1 LAX – IAH – CZM

Our trip was uneventful and we arrived with our luggage and on time. Will wonders never cease?

Yes, I know, you want to see the pictures. Enjoy:

August 2

Shore dive SCC offers unlimited shore diving in front of the hotel; grab a tank and dive. The entry is by "giant stride" off the dock or an easy swim through a cut in the limestone. Relatively shallow, it's hard to get deeper than twenty-three feet directly off shore. A current usually runs from the south to the north, so the best practice is to swim into the current for the first part of the dive before turning and drifting back to the exit point. While not as colorful or dramatic as the coral reefs off shore, there's a lot to see if you look closely. Here are a few of the images from our first shore dive this trip:

Spineyhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria spinosa), smaller than a pencil eraser, but cute as a bug.

Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) these are the gills of the worm that stays hidden in its tube.

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis), a very strange looking, small crab. Looks like an alien from another world.

Nimble spray crab (Percnon gibbesi), very shy, I learned from Ron Tackett to zoom in under the reef structure to grab an image of these neat crabs.

Sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilus) eggs. The male sergeant major prepares a nest for the female to inspect and, if acceptable, in which to lay her eggs. The male then guards the eggs ferociously until they hatch. These eggs were freshly laid. I returned later to photograph the embryos before they escaped from their egg sacs.

Banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) (yellow). There are two colors of the banded coral shrimp, yellow and red. This one looks like a cross.

Scuba II with Raymundo (Mike, Margaret, Deborah, and us)

La Francesa

Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta), formerly known as Elysia picta, this sea slug is very small (less than half an inch) but very colorful. The slug feeds on the green algae. If a diver looks closely at the green patches on the reef, he/she will often be rewarded by finding one of these interesting critters.

Margaret and lobsters.

Viscous sponge (Plakortis angulospiculatus) . I've always loved the name of this sponge that looks like it is dripping slowly off the reef; viscous indeed!

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota) and Deborah. "Exit stage right!"

Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus), dressed in purple and yellow, the splendid toadfish is only found in the waters off of Cozumel. This shy fish hides in a sandy den, only coming out to eat or mate. We have spent hours looking for them. Betsy is a toadfish aficionado and is skilled at finding these colorful fish. Splendid, indeed!

Observer with Nestor (Mike, Margaret, Betsy, Deb D, Warren, Deborah, and us)


Linesnout goby (Gobiosoma sp), the famous underwater photographer Norbert Wu says, "Find an interesting background and wait for a fish to swim in front of it."

Juvenile Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter) These little juveniles look like dice and are very hard to photograph, constantly moving and turning their back to the camera. Patience frequently pays off.

Coney (Cephalopholis fulvus) getting a makeover by a goby at a cleaning station. "Do you think I should get a mustache wax?"

Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus), also known as a "puffer," this shy fish will inflate itself with water when threatened. There are a few, uncaring, idiot divers who will grab these little guys and get them to puff up. This practice is discouraged by responsible divers and resorts.

Yellowhead jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) with eggs. The male jawfish incubates the eggs in his mouth until they hatch.

Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus), an uncommon grouper due to overfishing, this individual was not shy and let me get in front of him to take a portrait.

Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter) being cleaned by scarlet shrimp. Scarlet shrimp are cleaners who pick parasites and dead skin off their clients; a symbiotic relationship in which both participants benefit. "Be careful near the eye!"

Scarlet-striped cleaning shrimp (Lysmata rathbunae)

August 3

Observer with Nestor (Mike, Margaret, Betsy, Deb D, Warren, Deborah, and us)

Palancar "Bricks"

Smiling nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) asleep under a ledge.

Some of the characters who joined us this year:




Deb D

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is less common in Cozumel's water than the ubiquitous hawksbill turtle.


Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). We saw lots of these very, very small fish on our trip last August. They are still there. Either we never noticed them before, or they really weren't previously on the reefs. The reference books say they are pelagic, but the ones we have been seeing are definitely sessile. Although physically similar to seahorses and pipefish, they are in their own separate classification.

August 4

Observer with Nestor (Mike, Betsy, Scott, Margaret, Deb D, Warren, Deborah, and us)

Palancar Gardens

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus). The presence of many large lobsters on the reefs is evidence that the marine park is healthy.




Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus). We never get tired of Cozumel's native fish.

Elkhorn coral crab (Domecia acanthophora). A friend who lives on Bonaire has been sharing on Face Book pictures of tiny, little clingfish that live on fire coral. Having never seen one , I made an effort this trip to look very closely at all the fire coral I saw. I didn't find any clingfish but there were miniscule crabs hiding on the coral I had never noticed before; always something new.


Jackknife fish (Equetus lanceolatus), there were two jackknife fish under this rock but only one would come out to play.

Scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus) is a ridiculous looking fish showing God has a sense of humor.

Coney (Cephalopholis fulvus), a colorful fish on a colorful background.

August 5

Observer with Nestor and Jesús (Betsy, Mike, Scott, Margaret, Mark, Deb W, Deborah and us)

Jesús has been working in the compressor room and hasn't been dive mastering for a year. He was on vacation when we arrived and came out to join us on this day. It was wonderful to see him again and to dive together again.

San Francisco

Yellow stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis) showing the eye and gill.

Reef scene. Lots of colorful sponges on the reef


Coney (Cephalopholis fulvus)


San Clemente Shallows – Cozumel muck dive

Sand diver (Synodus intermedius)

A very small roughhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera)

Flamingo tongue (Cyphoma gibbosum), a colorful snail, about an inch long. This shot shows the "face" of the snail.

Roughhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria aspera) and finger for scale.

Longfin damselfish (Stegastes diencaeus) juvenile

Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis) – I have to include at least one squirrelfish picture; it's a tradition.

Unknown seaslug which turned out to be an anemone. Thanks to Anne DuPont and Dave Behrens for clarification.

Squat anemone shrimp (Thor amboinensis) hiding in an anemone. Also known as 'Sexy shrimp," these delightful little shrimp continuously pump their tails up and down and up and down…!

Shore Dive

True tulip snail (Fasciolaria tulipa)

Elkhorn coral crab (Domecia acanthophora) are very, very, very small…sesame seed small and hide on fire coral as well as elkhorn.

Sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilus) eggs stage two, some of the embryos have developed eyes.

Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus). I spotted the octopus in his hole with a conch shell in its grasp. I moved the shell and the octopus retreated down its lair only to return with another shell. I slowly moved the second shell out of the way and you could see the thoughts in the octopus' eye as he pondered what had just happened. After a few moments of looking at each other, I offered my finger and one tentacle slowly reached out to investigate. Grasping with its suction cups the octopus tried to pull me down the hole! I guess it thought it had hit the jackpot and would feast on scuba diver that evening. Luckily, I'm bigger and stronger and won the tug of war with this intelligent denizen of the sea. Fun under water.

Nimble spray crab (Percnon gibbesi) each time I would get near enough to take a picture, the crab would move further back under the rubble. Waiting sometimes pays .

August 6

Reef Diver with Nestor (Mike, Betsy, Deb D, Deborah, and me) and Sergio (Scott, Margaret, Deb W, Mark, Roger, and Judy)

Dalila Reef

Schoolmasters (Lutjanus apodua) it's difficult to get a picture with all of the fish lined up. Usually, the school starts to come unraveled as you get nearer with a camera.

Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

School of trunkfish. This must be mating season for the trunkfish. I found this aggregation under the reef.

French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) and colorful sponges

Great barracuda ( Sphyraena barracuda)

Reef diver. Carlos signals that they have seen us and will soon come pick us up.

Paradise Reef

Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus) an inch long hiding in the turtle grass. "You can't see me!"

Coney (Cephalopholis fulvus) in vase sponge waiting for an unsuspecting fish dinner to swim by?

Margates (Haemulon album)

Channel clinging crab (Mithrax spinosissimus) Got butter?

August 7

Reef Diver with Nestor (Virginia, Mike, Betsy, Deb D, Deborah, and I) and Sergio (Scott, Margaret, Deb W, Mark, Roger, and Judy)

El Paso del Cedral Wall in a fast current, sufficiently strong that I didn't take many pictures on this dive as it was too hard to stop flying down the reef.

"La, la, la, la, la…" Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter)

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) and friends (juvenile queen angelfish and green moray eel.) I didn"t see the green moray until I downloaded the pictures from the camera.

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana)

Punta Tunich is noted for its strong current and it was really strong on this dive.

Rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia>) about three feet long.

Great barracuda ( Sphyraena barracuda)

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris) and friends. Scarlet-striped cleaning shrimp (Lysmata rathbunae), "Does this tickle?"

FLY! (Deb W)




Reef Diver

August 8

Reef Diver with Nestor (Betsy, Mike, Jim, Jan, Virginia, Deborah, and us) and Sergio (Scott, Margaret, Deb W, Mark, Roger, and Judy).

Colombia Reef

Jim P





Virginia and turtle

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota)


Jim and Jan on anchor. "Come here often?"

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica) with my index finger to show how small they are.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) and Deborah

Deborah and Betsy on a safety stop before surfacing. A new SCUBA specialty, formation diving.

Villa Blanca

Cottonwicks (Haemulon melanurum)

"Follow me; this way!"

Web burrfish (Chilomycterus antillarum)

Stareye hermit crab (Dardanus venosus)

August 9

Reef Star with Nestor (Betsy, Mike, Virginia, Bill, Brianna, Shanna, George, Deborah and us) and Sergio (Scott, Margaret, Deb W, Mark, Roger, Judy, Jim, and Jan)

Tormentos (second half of the reef)



Bill and daughters

Scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus)

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica)

Colorful sponges

Splendid toadfish (Sanopus splendidus)

Spineyhead blenny (Acanthemblemaria spinosa)

Nestor'S Reef (aka Los Bloques or Los Pecios) is located just north of downtown San Miguel. The concrete forms used to build the ferry pier were dumped in shallow water and are now totally encrusted with corals and sponges. These artificial reefs are home to many, many fish. There are also two small wrecks that were put here on purpose several years ago. This is a wonderful place for an optional afternoon dive. I learned about it from Bonnie Pelnar.

Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi)

Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus)

Juvenile scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus)

Lined sole (Achirus lineatus). We've only found a small number of these little flatfish over the years. This one was big…about two-inches long.


Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus) (adult)

Reef scorpionfish (Scorpaenodes carribaeus)

Atlantic yellow cowrie (Erosaria acicularis) – the mantle is pulled away exposing the beautiful shell underneath; about half an inch long.

Spineyhead blenny ( Acanthemblemaria spinosa )

Blenny on red sponge background. Colorful backgrounds add zing to pictures.

Sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilus) eggs stage 3, just before hatching.

King helmet shell snail (Cassis tuberosa) crawling along the bottom. This snail was baseball size.

Yellowhead jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) male with eggs in his mouth.

Nimble spray crab under urchin.

August 10

Reef Star with Nestor (Betsy, Mike, Virginia, Bill, Brianna, Shanna, George, Deborah and us) and Sergio (Scott, Margaret, Deb W, Mark, Roger, Judy, Jim, and Jan)

Underway on the Reef Star

Bill and his lovely daughters

Reef Diver

La Francesa Reef

George and hawksbill turtle

Squat anemone shrimp (Thor amboinensis) on sun anemone (Stichodactyla helianthus)

We saw a dozen large, hawksbill turtles on this dive!

San Clemente

Juvenile Smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter) aka dice.

Spotted cleaner shrimp (Pericimenes yucantanicus)

More fun with sponges. 'Scream"

"Betsy! Look up!"

August 11

Reef Star with Nestor (Bill, Corrine, Shanna, Brianna, Mike, Betsy, George, Deborah and me) and Sergio (Mark, Deb W, Roger, Judy, Margaret, and Scott)

Santa Rosa

Betsy jumping off the back of the Reef Diver

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)


Bill, Shanna, Corrine, and Brianna. Corrine said anyone who took the best image of their family underwater would win a prize. The prize? A big hug from Shanna and Brianna! I won, I won.

Bill and Corrine

Paradise Reef

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) greeting us on Paradise

Goldentail moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)

Mike's Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi). We usually rely on the dive masters to find seahorses as they are few in numbers and hard to locate. Mike spotted this one on his own. Great eyes, Mike.

Juvenile French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru)

Juvenile Jackknife fish (Equetus lanceolatus)

Fringed filefish (Monacanthus ciliatus) trying to hide from the camera. It's about an inch long and always moved to the opposite side of whatever it's using for cover.

Mike and his lovely wife Ingrid

August 12

Reef Star with Nestor (Mike, Betsy, George, Virginia, and us) and Sergio (Jim, Jan, Mark, Deb W, Mandy, and Ray).

Palancar Caves. We did a wonderful, long swim through the reef with very gentle current.

Sleeping turtle. How long turtles can hold their breath under water? According to several sources, up to two hours!

Monkey sponge

Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)

Yellow tube sponges (Aplisina fistularis)

Colombia Shallows

School of great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). Normally solitary, a small school of barracuda is often seen on this reef.

Spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) – I looked up just in time to see this eagle ray swimming directly towards me. I quickly fired off a shot and then another. Luckily the camera wasn't set to macro and the images are keepers. While common in the winter, it's rare to see them in Cozumel during August.

Coney (Cephalopholis fulvus)

Blue tang (Acnthurus coeruleus) being cleaned by a Spanish hogfish (Bodianus rufus).

An enduring school of blue tangs mobbing the reef like blue butterflies in a field. This frenetic school has been on Colombia Shallows for many years.


Shore night dive

Bumblebee shrimp (Gnathophyllum americanum). I noticed a tang leaning against a rock on the rubble out front of the hotel. As I approached, the fish swam off. Suspecting there was a cleaner of some sort, I looked very closely and saw the bumblebee shrimp. Normally these tiny shrimp are nervous and jump away from the camera. They are so small, it's nearly impossible to get a picture. This time the little beastie stayed in one place and I was able to get a few good pictures.

Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus) out hunting at night.

Boxcrab. Another small critter that is hard to find unless they move. As I was photographing the Caribbean reef octopus (Octopus briareus) above, out of the corner of my eye I caught glimpse of the crab. This one was about an inch and a half wide.

As I photographed the box crab, it would raise up its claws for a brief moment every twenty seconds or so. I have no idea what it was doing, but caught this image during a display.

August 13

Reef Star with Nestor (George, Betsy, Bill, Mike, Deborah, and me) and Sergio (Mark, Deb W, Jim, and Jan).

Colombia 90

Bill on the wall

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica). Ho hum, another one.

Dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae). Towards the end of the dive, we swam over to the sand area above the reef and looked for little stuff before surfacing. As I drifted over the bottom, I recognized the shape of a seahorse – a tiny one. I put my index finger in the picture to show the scale. I believe this to be a dwarf seahorse and not a baby long snout seahorse.


Yellowmouth grouper (Mycteroperca interstitialis)

Pipehorse. I played ring around the rosey with this pipehorse. As I tried to take its picture, it would turn away from me. Round and round I went trying to get a nice sideways image.

Yellowface pike blenny (Chaenopsis limbaughi). Another tiny fish that hides in the sand, usually in an abandoned worm tube, the pike blenny will retreat down its hole if approached by a diver. With patience, I was able to catch the little bugger before it disappeared from sight. The blenny is about an inch long and as wide as a pencil lead.

August 14

Reef Star with Nestor (Mark, Deb, Betsy, George, Mike, Bill, and us)

El Paso del Cedral

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris)

Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda)

Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus) school

Near the end of the reef, two nurse sharks approached the group; a large female pursued by a smaller male. Normally, these sharks avoid divers but Nestor had speared a lionfish and the scent of dead fish caused the two sharks to circle back to the group several times. At one point a shark ran into Betsy's camera and then swam under her; I was laughing so hard my mask filled with water. The sharks seemed happy to be around the divers and the photographers had a field day.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Perhaps attracted by all the commotion, a large black grouper joined the action

Black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci)

Villa Blanca

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis) on red. Once again, a colorful background makes the picture more interesting.

Coney (Cephalopholis fulvus) "No, I don"t have measles. Why do you ask?"

Mike about to be devoured by large sponge

Spotted moray (Gymnothorax moringa) "I will bite you if you come any closer with that camera!"

Sargassum triggerfish (Xanthichthys ringens) – these pretty fish are extremely shy and retreat under the coral as divers approach.

August 14

Reef Diver with Sergio (Betsy, George, Mark W., and us)

Palancar Caves - big cavern followed by a swim over the sand and the long swim through.

Pair of pipehorses (Acentronura dendritica)

Lined sole (Achirus lineatus)

Hawksbill turtle with two tags under the front flippers.

Turtle and Betsy

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica)

Juvenile jackknife fish (Equetus lanceolatus)


Lettuce slug (Elysia crispata)

Most of the pipehorses we have seen have been solitary. On this site, on this day, they were pairred up and active. Once I uploaded my images, I realized I had captured one pair in the act of transferring eggs from a female to the abdominal pouch on a male. Like seahorses, pipehorse males carry the eggs until they hatch.

A short while later, you can see the abdominal pouch full of eggs on the male pipehorse.

Shore with 60mm lens

Yellowhead jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons)

August 16

Reef Diver with Nestor (Betsy, George, Mark, Deb W, Jayne, Mike, Jana, and us). Sergio with Gary.

Chankanaab Reef

Red lionfish (Pterois volitans), an invasive species from the eastern Pacific Ocean, and a threat to local ecologies.

Pair of Jackknife fish (Equetus lanceolatus) or is it jackknives?

Elkhorn coral crab (Domecia acanthophora)

Indigo hamlet (Hypoplectrus indigo) are very shy fish and swim away from anyone with a camera. I chased this little sucker all over the reef until he looked to see if I was still following it. Got cha!

Paradise Reef

Bar jack with yellow sting ray. The jack hovers above the ray waiting for any unsuspecting little fish to be stirred up by the ray. There must be a shortage of the larger southern stingrays, the preferred hunting partner.

Many Squat anemone shrimp (Thor amboinensis). An unusual number of sexy shrimp on their host anemone. How many do you count?

Betsy and Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi)

Mike and seahorse

Queen angelfish (Holocanthus ciliaris)

August 17

Reef Star with Nestor (Betsy, George, Mike, Jana, Jayne, and us) and Sergio (Gary)

Palancar Gardens

Reef Star

School of horse-eye jacks (Caranx latus)

Gaudy clown crab (Platypodiella spectabilis) – only the third specimen we have ever seen in Cozumel in twenty-five years! Nestor found it and said he had never seen one before. The crab is only about an inch wide.

Juvenile Scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus)

Yucab Principio

Juvenile Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris)

Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus) "I'm holding on to the sides of this picture."

Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris)

Rock beauty (Holacanthus tricolor), a very shy fish that is difficult to photograph.

August 18

Reef Star with Nestor (Betsy, George, Jana, Mike, Jayne, Cathy, and us) and Sergio (Gary)

San Francisco in a blowing current. E-ticket ride!

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus)

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbriocota)

San Clemente

Yellowline arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis)

Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis)

New diver Gary

Pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica)

Mixed school of grunts (Haemulon sp)

Los Pecios with Nestor. We had so much fun on this reef, we decided to do it again.


Pair of Spotted drum (Equetus punctatus)

Longsnout seahorse (Hippocampus reidi)

Glassy sweepers (Pempheris schomburgki) inside one of the wrecks.

Whitenose pipefish (Cosmocampus albirostris) not to be confused with a pipehorse.

August 19

Reef Star with Nestor (Betsy, George, Jana, Mike, Jayne, Cathy, and us) and Sergio (Gary)

Colombia deep – unbelievably gorgeous! Happy birthday, Jayne! The reef is gorgeous, too!

Another pipehorse – we may have to change the name to Common Pipehorse.

Cathy spotted this fringeback dondice nudibranch (Dondice occidentalis) on the sand! Thanks to Anne Dupont for confirming the identification.

Blackline fireworm (Chloeia viridis) in a big hurry to get somewhere.

My wonderful sister trying to make bubble rings?

Hawksbill turtle – you can't have too many pictures of turtles!

Colombia shallows

Mixted school of grunts (Haemulon sp)

August 20

Reef Star with Nestor

Martin, Deborah, Rafael, Nestor

George, Gary, Sergio

El Paso del Cedral

Hawksbill turtle


Rainbow parrotfish (Scarus guacamaia)

Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus)


We were introduced to yellow safety flags in the Seychelles on a trip with Betsy and Tim. Far superior to safety sausages and visible for miles away, our dear friends made one for Deborah. I asked Betsy and Deb to demonstrate the use:


School of white margates (Haemulon album)

Red hind (Epinephelus guttatus)

Hawksbill turtle photobomb.

Los Pecios



Longsnout seahorse

Baby pipehorse (Acentronura dendritica)! This was Deborah's find of the trip. Pipehorses are tiny, but this one takes the cake.

Betsy and baby seahorse – can you see it?

Nestor with sign. He had seen the "pregnant" male seahorse in the area a couple of months before we found this baby.

Mantis shrimp (Lysiosquilla sp)

August 21

Reef Star with Nestor (Betsy, George, Jayne, Cathy, Jana, and us)

Palancar Caves, wonderful, long swim through opening on the wall over the abyss.

Viscous sponge (Plakortis angulospiculatus)

Swim through

Nestor on the exit over the drop off.

Green moray (Gymnothorax funebris)

Betsy and Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana). At the top of the picture you can see the nose of a very large barracuda about to swim between us.

Yucab and Tormentos

George and spiny lobster

Colorful sponge

Sofia says the credit card company called and we have to go home…

Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

Still images don't capture the full effect of scuba diving in Cozumel. Check out this excellent video, "Dreaming of Cozumel" by Mark W taken on this trip with his GoPro camera:

My camera: Olympus OM-D EM-5, Nauticam housing with dual Sea and Sea YS-D1 strobes. The lens used for nearly all the images above is a Zuiko 12-50 zoom. I have a lens port that allows me to access the macro switch on this lens and can achieve even more magnification with a 15X macro adapter.

All images are copy righted and may only be used with permission of the photographer – that would be me.

Lots more trip reports and pictures on my webpage:

Jim's webpage

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