Scuba diving at Cozumel

Lost count of how many times I’ve been down to Cozumel to go diving. Really got spoiled by the warm water and the ease of getting out to dive down there. Also went a few times to the Sea of Cortez, the Channel Islands of Southern California and did a little fresh water diving around Minnesota, but always found the water was cold, visibility was often poor and, especially in fresh water, there just wasn’t as much to see. Made a half-dozen dives off Maui and that was fun, but it was pretty expensive compared to Cozumel. There’s some pretty diving on the mainland of the Yucatan, too, but because of winds and high surf it can be difficult to get the boats out from Playa del Carmen, Akumal and other beaches scattered down the beach to Tuluum. It’s a rare day the boats don’t go out on Cozumel.

Here’s a few pictures I took on various reefs along Cozumel.

Splendid toad fish. Most toad fish are a pretty drab green or reddish-brown except around Cozumel where this species lives. During night dives one often hears toad fish croaking.
A three-foot wingspan stingray.
Lots of huge angelfish around Cozumel. Black, grey and blue ones larger than a dinner plate.
A french lobster hiding in the reef. They look like foot-long cockroaches.
This grouper is about four feet long. Not the biggest I’ve ever seen but there are quite a few to be seen of different species. Saw once that was easily six feet long. The dive guide figured it weighed a couple hundred pounds. In years past, we used to take bread along on the dives and feed them, but that is now against the rules in the national park that encompasses the west side of the island.
One of many hawksbill turtles.
An octopus sitting on a sponge. These guys aren’t real big, usually less than two feet long, but they’re fun to play with. Generally only out and about at night and they’re very curious. The trick is not to shine your light in their eyes, approach slowly and put your hand out. Often they’ll reach out a tentacle and “taste” you with their suckers. Doesn’t hurt and during an interaction with one they put on quite a display of color and texture changes. I used to take a can of crab meat along to feed to these guys. Once I was feeding two of them, but I kept the can of meat in the pocket of my BC. While I was playing with those two, a third crafty little one snuck into the pocket and chowed down. Had a heckuva time getting the can away from it when i discovered the sneaky critter.
One of many parrot fish. Have seen some almost four feet long and they come in all different colors of red, blue and green. They eat coral and crap sand sand.
A royal queen fish. They don’t get as big as parrot fish but I’ve seen ones just about all the colors of the rainbow.
A red horse fish about six inches long. Surprisingly, this one was out in the open. Usually they’re well concealed in the reef and easy to miss if you don’t keep your eyes out looking for them.
A couple of cuttlefish. These guys will follow divers drifting along the reefs but they’re pretty shy about letting you get very close. These guys are about 10 inches long.
A five-foot barracuda. These guys are sneaky about trailing divers. I’ve looked over my shoulder a few times to find one a mere foot or two away, but when you turn to face them they dart away and they are fast.
Another hawksbill turtle feeding on a sponge with two black angel fish waiting to snag any scraps the turtle tears loose.
This nurse shark and green moray eel have been hanging out together for a couple years in this overhang. The only time they weren’t there when we looking for them was on a night dive when they were both likely out feeding. The shark is about five feet long and the eel is about a foot longer. The eel seems to like to be stroked down the length of its body and will come out and play while the shark tolerates being touched but seems ill at ease about it.
A lion fish, an invasive species that started showing up around Cozumel about 10 years ago. it’s the only fish that can be hunted in the national park and they actually encourage divers to take spears along to kill them. Spiny lobsters make short work of the carcasses and groupers will eat the small ones if they’re dead. Haven’t seen any other critters actively hunting lion fish. Apparently those spines are pretty nasty with toxic points, but once they’re dead they don’t seem to bother the fish I’ve fed them to.
This spotted eagle ray is about nine feet across and swam right by me. It’s the biggest eagle ray I’ve seen but occasionally one gets to see some huge manta rays. Once saw four of them and the smallest one was easily 15 feet across its wingspan.
Another nurse shark. These guys spend their day mostly sleeping in the reef and get active at night.
This is about the biggest green turtle I’ve seen around Cozumel. Unfortunately, this one appears to have been hit by the prop of a boat or something and has some pretty deep gashes in its shell just above the tail.
Another visit with the green moray.
Diving the intentionally sunk wreck of a Mexican Navy ship. I was there when they towed it out and sank it back in the late nineties. even though there are quite a few holes cut in the hull for access to the interior it is dark and spooky inside. Interestingly, each separate cabin along its length is a nursery of sorts for different kinds of fish and over the years different corals and sponges have sprouted around the superstructure.

About zingstrom

Journalist, free-lance writer, photographer and aviator.
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1 Response to Scuba diving at Cozumel

  1. debiholt says:

    These photos are absolutely gorgeous!

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