DIVE COZUMEL | GULF OF MEXICO
Whilst on a 7 day Carnival cruise around the Gulf of Mexico, we arrived at Cozumel Island. The one and only advertised dive from our cruise ship described a deep water experience including a drift dive along a large wall. However on the day, the local currents were far stronger than they had known in recent times, so our dive plan changed at the last minute.
We ended up doing relative shallow dives close to shore to avoid the danger of those large currents. Even so, we still had a 3-4 knot current and had I have wanted to stop and look at something of macro photographic interest, it would have to have been in the lee of a bombie or in a sea floor depression.
The dive site chosen was about 5km off shore, straight out from the main harbour where our cruise ship had berthed. We had the ship in our sights the whole time, but despite that proximity to the harbour, the waters were clean and crystal clear.
The dive was a mixture of rock, coral and sand, mostly sand. The feature of Caribbean diving is that of a reduced diversity to what divers of Pacific waters experience. So the diving here is somewhat repetitive and the colour not as intense, but you cannot substitute for the gin clear waters which is a rarity for divers on the eastern coast of Australia, and the vivid colours it provides.
As a videographer, I was given my own recognisance on the dive. The only condition was that I stay within visual distance of the group. Well that was a huge bonus as in those conditions that meant I could be anything up to 20-50m away!
It is good to compare the Caribbean with the Pacific to appreciate their differences. We swam through shoals of bluestriped grunts but the relative few number of angelfish and butterfly species I saw was compensated by for their size. There were big queen angelfish, a stunning large grey angelfish, as well as a small juvenile striped french angelfish battling against the strong currents.
A beautiful camouflaged stingray was matched by a smaller spotted version which blended perfectly into the sea bed. A large Nassau grouper was just resting near a rocky ledge, whilst was two barracuda swam by. A stunning bright yellow filefish was followed by an equally attractive honeycomb cowfish which was busy hunting. I also saw an eel I had never come across before, snaking through a bed of sea grass, totally unperturbed by my presence.
The sea fans, sponges and soft corals are also fairly specific to the Caribbean. For a diver lacking marine biology training, the main difference would be the greater colour and diversity of sea life in the Pacific. But the clarity of the Caribbean waters and the excitement of travelling at some speed across interesting terrain was good also for experienced divers.
So this dive on Cozumel was a teaser for me. For a novice diver, it would certainly hold a lot of interest and new experiences. And the bright sunshine and water clarity were stunning.
But for me, would I go again to Mexico? Yes I would, but next time I would hope to dive with the recent aggregations of whale sharks in Mexico. To experience and possibly interact with those in these gin clear waters would be one of my bucket list items. Watch this space!
[Underwater photography by Tony Isaacson. Video Editing by Irene Isaacson]