July 1, 2002 - July 2, 2002 - July 4, 2002 - July 5, 2002 - July 6, 2002
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July 3, 2002: Cozumel, Mexico

A Coz 2002 dive
"Columbia" - "Dalila" - "Villa Blanca"
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The afternoon dive was done at "Villa Blanca," or "White House". It's barely a short boat ride from the Papa Hogs dock, but it's a very interesting reef.
Diving in the Caribbean Sea:
  • Directions from Tampa: This is one of those trip things. Getting there from Tampa usually involves a plane ... though it could be a boat ... but you won't be driving there. Cozumel is "in" the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
  • Conditions on the day of my visit: Sunny, maybe a little more cloudy than previous days

  • Personal Notes: Not sure about the other two reefs (this will change after a review of pics and video), what I can tell you is that "Villa Blanca" had lots of Scorpion Fish on this dive (one of my favorites!), and is the closest thing to a "Papa Hogs House Reef".

    Also, as we had decided to stay with Papa Hogs the day before, and I had brought my Yoke regulator along, I switched my gear from my DIN reg to the Yoke.

Videos!

My Codecs Page so you can get what you need to see these.
Columbia
[VIDEO LINK] 9.6 MB Swimming through some coral formations.
[VIDEO LINK] 2.0 MB Another swimthrough.
[VIDEO LINK] 2.3 MB A drive-by of a Scrawled Filefish.
[VIDEO LINK] 8.1 MB Kind of neat, but a little over rated, another swimthrough. Sorry about the black parts ... but there's a chimney you'll see ...
[VIDEO LINK] 2.9 MB I really like Sand Tilefish ... they swim in a really neat way, almost snake-like.
[VIDEO LINK] 4.0 MB Here we have a small turtle making her way around the reef.
[VIDEO LINK] 977 kB Some garden eels; it's really hard to get close to these guys.
Dalila
[VIDEO LINK] 2.4 MB A very pretty (and apparently, a little curious) Yellowtail Damselfish. I love the bright spots.
[VIDEO LINK] 2.5 MB Trunkfish are pretty cool - they have a wierd shape to them and sometimes I think you can even see when the current hits them broadsides.
[VIDEO LINK] 7.1 MB Sand Tilefish can be quick swimmers, and they dart around a lot. In a high current situation, it can be difficult to get a good shot of them.
[VIDEO LINK] 1.2 MB This starts out as footage of a large black grouper, and all of a sudden there was a big black nurse shark ...
[VIDEO LINK] 6.5 MB It's rare to see a school of Trunkfish, but here's one.
[VIDEO LINK] 3.9 MB Parrotfish in general aren't that much of a surprise any more ... but Midnight Parrotfish are the exception - and they are usually very big, too. Midway through there's some footage of my dive computer: 43 feet down, having been to 67 feet max; I have nine minutes of air left (906 psi); and I have been down for 45 minutes. I was on Aluminum 80's - which is why the dive's kind of short.
Villa Blanca
[VIDEO LINK] 6.9 MB I think that Sargassum Triggerfish kinda look better than the Queen Triggerfish do; here's a Sargassum just kind of hanging around.
[VIDEO LINK] 4.9 MB With an ugly looking body shape, Peacock Flounder are actually quite beautiful fish. Though seemingly well cameoflaged, when you finally make one out, I think the patterns and colors are quite striking.

Pictures!

Not a large number of pictures by my standards (at least on the first two dives), but I think as the week went on, I worked more on video than stills, leaving the stills to either very easy shots that wouldn't take long to set up, or things that I didn't already have stills of.
Columbia
What I thought were probably Queen Triggerfish, were more than likely Black Durgon (same family, but the Black Durgon is identified by the pale blue lines on the base of the fins, and the absence of the features unique to the Queen Triggerfish). There were a good number of these, I think.
The Eric Signature Photo, the "Sun At Depth."
My favorite fish, a Scorpion Fish. Mind you they weren't always that common ... but then who knows? Maybe we just didn't spot them.
Our Dive Master, Naum. Notice the absence of thermal protection. My computer says the temperature rarely varied from 82 degrees, which for water is warm; but most folks wear at least a shorty in that (particularly if you're going to be diving it all week). Even Naum, later on in the week, would wear something.
A Smooth Trunkfish. There were a lot of them, and it wouldn't have done the trip justice to not get at least one photo of one. I ended up getting several.
Dalila
About midway through the dive (I think), we came across two little Trunkfish (too big to be Juvies, which resemble yellow polkadotted walnuts more than fish). Here's one; his buddy is hiding.
Here's the other Trunkfish. I guess they just didn't want to get photographed together. Of course, with the current moving the way it was, it wasn't always easy to get set up for a photo, and for all I know these guys were getting tossed around a bit.
An extremely large Midnight Parrotfish. My ID book says that max size is three feet ... this guy was probably a bit over two.
Villa Blanca
It's always cool to see a different variety of the same type of fish, like this Ocean Triggerfish.
This Banded Coral Shrimp may be hard to see, because of his translucent body, small size, white background, and position on the rock. Look to the right of dead center.
When I saw crabs that were this big, I always got a little hungry. I love crab legs.
Lobster on the other hand, for some reason I don't quite like the taste of. But there were quite a few in Cozumel.
Quite a few Splendid Toadfish, too. If I had to find something that appeared to be fairly unique to Cozumel, these guys would be it.
As indicated in the above narrative, there were a lot of Scorpion Fish, at least on our first visit to Villa Blanca.
I thought about color correcting this photo, but I think it really doesn't need it. Most of what's around this Scorpion Fish is actually that green.
I didn't bother to ID this guy beyond "Star Fish."
Villa Blanca's topography seemed well suited to Scorpion Fish; the reef sections were broken by sandy areas with only a few rocks in them ... ideal locations for a Scorpion Fish to sit and wait.


Dive data for dives on this day:

Dive Site Name Max Depth Minutes Water Temp
157 Columbia 103 feet 51 min. 82 F
158 Dalila 67 feet 56 min. 82 F
159 Villa Blanca 66 feet 58 min. 82 F
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