Friday, July 25, 2008

July 2nd, 2008: Cozumel Night Dive – Paradiso Reef

We decided that we’d do a night dive while down there. We left from Caleta in a small motorboat with just the right amount of space for all 5 of us. Unfortunately Lisa was experiencing some ear troubles and didn’t want to push it in light of her desire to dive Devil’s Throat the following day, so just Susan, Vincent, Mark and I would be doing the dive along with our DM. We went to Paradiso Reef, which is just off the shore from Caleta where we had previously snorkeled. We received our dive briefing and soon we were splashing down.

Given that all of my night dives have been in the low viz of Monterey, I really wasn’t prepared for just how good our dive would be. Immediately upon descending, I was simply amazed by the visibility around us. We could see divers in the distance, their presence given away only by their lights that we could see were darting all over the reef like a sci-fi movie. It was amazing. Mark and I stayed toward the back of the group, intermittently turning off our primary lights in order to bask in the darkness and experience the dive in a bit more darkness. It was stunning. I really was so thoroughly amazed by the dive.

The dive lasted 71 minutes for me as I was the last diver down with our DM. Mark and Susan were down for about 65 minutes. It was astonishing. We saw sea snakes, sleeping parrot fish, rays skating along the bottom. What I wish I could remember is the name of the weird, long, thick worm-like critter that, according to our DM, are attached at one end to the reef, but that come out at night and feed on the reef. They were eerie, but amazing that things like that are “present” during the day but hidden. Of course we saw octopus along the dive, I believe that there were three of them in total. One fairly large one that entertained me as it tried to find safety in the reef, changing greenish whenever my light hit it. While I am a little bit intimidated by them (don’t really know why), I found it very intriguing to just rest in the water column and watch what I consider one of the most amazing sea critters. But what really struck me were the King crabs. One of the crabs was on the edge of the reef, hanging out, giant claws picking off bits of something, tenderly moving his claw back to his mouth, eating. I probably could have stayed there the entire night and he didn’t seem to mind.

In the end, I had about 550 PSI but thought that the other divers might want to go back so the DM and I headed to the surface just by the boat. It was an amazing dive and I can’t stop smiling as I think about it even now.

Dive #73 – Wednesday, 7/2/08 – Paradiso Reef - Cozumel, Mexico. 7:59 PM. Max depth 43 feet, average depth 32 feet. Bottom time 71 minutes (longest dive!). 550 PSI at end of dive. Water temp holding fast at 82°, night dive.

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