It had been far too long since I had been scuba diving in Cozumel, so I couldn’t wait to go a few weeks ago (March 2015), and it certainly did not disappoint–especially after this long, cold winter in the Northeast.
Of course, we had our typically wonderful welcome at Casa del Mar, a lovely and friendly resort specializing in dive travel. Plus, it was my first time diving with Cozumel Marine World – a newer dive operation established and run by local experts and good friends who know the Cozumel and Palancar reef areas like the backs of their hands.
As usual, Cozumel was fantastic. We saw many spotted eagle rays – probably on 4 or 5 different dives – and lots of turtles, grouper, nurse sharks, and other large fish. We even had dolphins swimming with the boat on the first day – always a bonus.
More so than usual, though, this time I found myself really focused in on the tiniest critters. It seemed like there were arrow crabs everywhere I looked, and I got my first decent shot of a pretty little anemone shrimp.
A trip there also wouldn’t really be complete without a sighting of the endemic Cozumel Splendid Toadfish. I couldn’t find a great source today online, but according to Wikipedia:
The splendid toadfish, Sanopus splendidus, also called the coral toadfish and the Cozumel splendid toadfish is a species of toadfish entirely endemic to the island of Cozumel. Commonly found under coral outcroppings. Dens can be spotted by the sloping sand patch. They are very difficult to coax out in the open.
I’ve seen them before, but these guys turned into the real diving highlight of this trip, for me. Not only did we see a bunch throughout the week in their typical little hiding spots, like this:
But on the week’s night dive, our skilled dive masters, Paulino and Jeremiah, also found one out swimming around, fully exposed, so we could see its unique patterning and coloration. We all spent a good, long time with the fish, getting a good look at its markings. Just beautiful. I didn’t have my camera that night, but am still hoping we might get a picture from a fellow diver on the boat (a new acquaintance who I’m not in touch with, so…I’m actually not too hopeful…), but then again, I have the memory burned in my brain. In the meantime, here’s an example of this beautiful fish:
That sighting pretty much made our whole night.
I already miss being there, so here’s looking forward to the next one. Gracias, gracias, gracias.