A Rainbow Over Cozumel/My First Trip With Barnacle Busters by Adam Chapin

On May 26, I arrived at LAX at 3am, sleep-deprived. The airport was cold and practically empty except for a small group of smiling travelers, the Barnacle Busters. At the time, only a few of them were familiar me. Little did I know that by end of the trip, I would consider them all friends.

 

After a short layover in Dallas, we arrived safely in Cozumel. As soon as we entered the airport terminal, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour flooded the streets so much that our taxi to Scuba Club felt more like a boat than a van. Thankfully however, there would be almost no more rain for the entire week. In fact, the next morning, a rainbow could be seen over our hotel and in the distance as we headed to our first dive sight, the Paradise Reef. It was a sign of the amazing week that was to come.

              

It had been a few years since I had gone diving in the tropics, so every dive we went on left me in awe of its beauty. Over the week, I experienced my first drift dive, wreck dive (C-53 Felipe Xicontencatl), deep dive (including the 90-130’ Devil’s Throat swim through), night dive, and cenotes dive (Chac Mool), and by the end of the trip, I had completed enough specialty dives to earn my Advanced Open Water certification. Special thanks to Buck for taking his time to review the textbook with me in between dives.

                               

 

Some of the highlights for me included breathtaking swim-throughs at Palancar Reef, a 4-5’ sea turtle grazing on the ocean floor at Paradise Reef, a 6’ green moray eel swimming out in the open with its gorgeous undulating body, a gigantic spiny lobster roaming for food in full view, a pair of nurse sharks cruising along the edge of a reef, a thrilling wreck dive that was guarded closely by 3-5’ ft long barracuda, a night dive off the shore in the middle of a thunderstorm (we thought the flashes were from someone’s camera!), and my first cenotes dive which felt more like a breathtaking spacewalk than a dive.

                           

 

              

 

Almost better than the dives were meal times, which were always fun thanks to the amazing group we were with. Everyone had positive energy and were a pleasure to talk to and connect with. We always were able to laugh at ourselves. For example, I quickly became known as Malaria Mary thanks to the 100 or so mosquito bites on my legs that I gained on Day 1. (Special thanks to Alice for teaching me to apply hot air from a hair dryer to the bites to make the itch go away!)

                                            

Special thanks to my patient roommate and dive buddy Mic Mandula. Thanks for compromising with me on A/C temperature settings and for putting up with the sound of me blasting my mosquito bites with a hair dryer every morning and night! And another special thanks to Buck, Chris, and Karen for serenading us with their voices and ukulele at the End of Trip Party. All in all, I had a terrific time and would highly recommend traveling with the Barnacle Busters to those of you who have yet to do so.

Saturday’s Salps

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when seven of us joined a full boatload aboard the Cee Ray, for a day of diving. For most of us, it was the first in 2018. A lot of us were trying out new gear: Michael had a new wetsuit, Adam had a new BCD and one of us even had a new knee!

All of the new gear (and the knee!) checked out and we enjoyed decent visibility and fair conditions. However, Buck and I called it quits after two dives … because it was COLD! I don’t think I’ve ever dived in 58-degree water off Catalina before! The bright side of the chilliness was that the kelp was back, in abundance! The sun was out, so it made for some spectacular and colorful views.

The other amazing spectacle was the variety of Thetys Vagina salp (yes, that is the name!) floating around. These were some of the most curious looking creatures and I’d never seen anything like them before. They were everywhere! And check out the pic of Rex with a rope-like giant  siphonophore, an unusual sighting since these are generally deep water creatures.

Gia photographed a Giant Sea Bass,  Jeff & Michael saw a small ray, and of course, we all enjoyed the old standards: garibaldi, kelp bass and schools of blacksmith.

After a taco-bar lunch we celebrated Gia’s birthday with old-fashioned cake-and-ice-cream followed by a carb-induced nap all the way home

It was an excellent start to 2018 diving with summer-like sunshine and a very compatible group of divers. Thanks to the crew of the Cee Ray for treating us so well.Next up: Casino Point on May 19th. Join us!! 8:15AM Express out of Long Beach, 3:50PM return.

 

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Squids and Co2

There is a new study supporting the scientific world’s concern on the effect that rising levels of CO2 will have on our planet’s environment. There has been quite a bit of research conducted on fish populations, but very little on any higher invertebrates. This time, researchers chose to study what increased levels of carbon dioxide has on two types of squid. After pumping up the CO2 levels in tanks and observing pygmy and big fin reef squid, they noticed some differences in their feeding and hunting activities. The results, while preliminary, are potentially troubling to say the least.

While our current leaders tend to react with mistrust, or absolute denial, of the scientific data that is presented to them, the continued research and collation of information must continue to ensure the long-term health of our one and only planet. After all, on the day the political tides change, we need to be ready with fact based plans to address the continued depletion of our world’s natural resources. You can check out the article in full here at earther,com.

 

 

Expanding Your Underwater Horizons

You probably already know that we recently posted the upcoming certification class schedule (see blog post 2018 Event Schedule). As per usual, Buck is planning to be ready to conduct a monthly class for interested, potential open water divers (and thus swelling the ranks of our membership further!). But what you may NOT know is that Buck is also more than willing to organize and teach certification classes for Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver accreditation.

Advanced Open Water Certification is a great way to hone your diving skills with a focus on things that will increase your confidence and ability to dive stress free; like bouynacy control, underwater navigation, and fish identification. And Rescue certification builds even further on the Advanced Underwater certification by bringing in diver awareness on their surroundings to identify and proactively fix problems before they arise. It helps assure that you, and those around you, will ably conduct an enjoyable, incident-free day of diving.

If these sound like good options for you, let Buck know! He only schedules these courses based on student demand. You can email him here or talk to him when you see him at the next club event. As someone who has completed both, I can attest to the great personal strides I observed in my dive habits by learning the skills taught in these classes.  You won’t regret having taken the time to learn just a little bit more about the sport.

Closing Out 2017 Dive Season

A postcard day greeted us as the Cee Ray left the dock in Long Beach, headed for Catalina. This was our final charter of the year and we were determined to have a good day. And we did, in spite moderate swell and some strong currents at the dive sites. Eagle eyed Chris spotted two octopuses, abalone and lobster were abundant. No Giant Sea Bass but a harbor seal and sea lions visited our divers from time to time. Certification day for four brand new divers!!

Speaking of Giant Sea Bass, imagine hanging out with five Giant Sea Bass on your certification dive! Well, that’s exactly what happened the next Saturday at Casino Point. The big guys were rampant and docile, seemingly posing for our cameras. At one point 5 big ones were milling around, allowing close encounters. Senoritas were darting in, cleaning the big guys of parasites. Of course I didn’t have my camera but several others did and snapped away throughout the dive. In addition, we spotted a good sized barracuda, clouds of blacksmith 

Casino point continues to be a favorite site for both certifieds and dive classes, evidenced by the crowd there. We chatted with many friends and colleagues during surface intervals and finished the day with two more new certified divers. Congratulations to Srdjan Stakic, Kevin Lewis, Iona  Brokie, and Lauren Chu on their new certifications!!!

Interested in a trip over in December? Drop us an email and let’s pick a date!

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