Published: July 29th 2015
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These sponges are indicative of Puerto RicoThese sponges are indicative of Puerto RicoThese sponges are indicative of Puerto Rico

They remind me of the pan flute.

Guanica, Puerto Rico

Diving Day One

SURPRISE!! This morning, my first day of diving in Guanica, Puerto Rico, I opened the door to the dive shop, and the guy on the other side looked a bit familiar. I took a second look, just as he also recognized me. What laughs we had. Curt, from my dive club in Washington, was there with his daughter Felicia. For one day of diving! The same day I was diving! Pretty amazing coincidence; more of that travel magic.

We took a small transfer boat out to the anchored dive boat, San Juan Divers. It was about a twenty minute ride to the first dive site. The ocean swells were pretty intense. There were about ten divers and one dive master. Pedro carried two side anchored tanks so it was pretty easy to identify him underwater.

I dropped down onto the reef. I had a little trouble with my left ear equalizing but it eventually worked itself out. The reef was incredible. Lots of color and teeming with fish of all kinds. We swam to where
EEK! EEL in my face!EEK! EEL in my face!EEK! EEL in my face!

Really this eel was a lot of fun. He just stuck with me, super close!
the bottom disappeared, then dropped over the edge of the wall and down to 90 feet. I was watching the depth pretty closely since on my last dive had gone into deco; too deep, too long.

About ten minutes into the dive I was suddenly face to face with a large green moray eel with a huge mouth. And I do mean face to face. I get close to eels in dens, real close, but a free swimming one was a lot different. It took a few minutes to get comfortable with him; eels swim so gracefully and travel so fast. I was set up for macro, but he was so near I had trouble getting a focus. He would rear up and peer into my mask, then drop back down and wriggle here and there, sometimes disappearing into the coral and rocks. Then he would reappear. It seems like he followed me for twenty minutes. It was quite exciting. Pedro saw us and tried to get the other divers’ attention with his rattle, but most were too far ahead to hear the signal. Eventually the nearest divers, and cameras, came back to check out what was
"May I look at that again?""May I look at that again?""May I look at that again?"

He came back over and over again.
going on. The moray still lingered.

Finally we returned to the reef. Pedro had speared a couple of lion fish and soon we had two sharks swimming around with us. One was quite small. The other much bigger. It was difficult to get good photos due to the murky water from all the wave movement above.

The real excitement was the exit. We did our safety stop and seeing the boat above, I swam to the surface. Then I had to chase the boat as spun away on the anchor line. When I finally had hold of the surface line I was spent, gasping for breath. I put my regulator back in my mouth as the swells lifted me six feet up and then back down, over and over again. My camera cord was still attached to my shoulder and it took me forever to release it; the line and the cord were entangled. At last I was close enough to hand my camera up to someone on deck. Then I had to wait as others got aboard, still riding the waves up and down. At one point I wanted to throw away the
"Hi. I am having a great hair day.""Hi. I am having a great hair day.""Hi. I am having a great hair day."

(Double click on the photo for full screen)
line and my regulator and just bob away into the sea. I talked myself into focusing on my breathing, slower and deeper. Finally I got to the boat, handed my fins to Nayda, the dive support person, and caught the flailing ladder with my grateful hands. My feet followed and I struggled to the rolling deck. With help from Nayda I made my way to the tank berth, released my tank and collapsed. I just sat there for ten minutes or more, getting my breathing under control, watching the horizon, and trying to get comfortable again.

By this time most of the people on board were turning green. I was doing OK until I decided to use the bathroom. Even though the captain turned the boat to eliminate some of the waves, once into that little closed space I began to get nauseous. The feeling never left me. The next dive was on a shallower reef and although more than fifty feet down, the rolling effect was still with us. We saw a huge nurse shark under a ledge but the sand was so stirred up with the water crashing above, I was unable to get a clear photo.

Thankfully, having talked with Pedro between dives, getting back on the boat after the second dive was much easier. I went directly to the weighted line hanging down for our fifteen foot safety stop. It was too rough to hang onto the line, but it was a visual reference to the exit point. I waited until the others were on the boat. Then Pedro took my camera and my fins, and all I had to do was pull myself to the boat on the drift line, catch the ladder and get on board. Everyone was very quiet on the return trip, most suffering from seasickness.

I said goodbye to Curt and Felicia, then spoke with Nayda, and told her I was going to take the next day off. Since conditions this time of year are pretty much the same day by day, I wanted plenty of rest before tackling the boarding process again.

Additional photos below
Photos: 8, Displayed: 8


Small fishSmall fish
Small fish

The corals and sponges took center stage, but there were lots of small reef fish.

The dives ended with Pedro feeding the sharks and large groupers.

By staying still, the sharks came quite close. Still hard to capture on film because of the particles in the water.

Tot: 2.305s; Tpl: 0.065s; cc: 6; qc: 32; dbt: 0.0308s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.3mb