March 6th, 2007
Based on feedback from my last Cozumel update, I figured it was about time to post an update about one of my favorite dive destinations. Around the same time, my friends down at Deep Blue sent me an email giving me the local scoop on the current state of recovery after Hurricane Wilma, as well as a heads up about their new Cozumel Dive Guide. Here’s the latest from my favorite dive operator down there:
We are happy to report that 2006 was one of the mildest hurricane seasons ever in the Caribbean. The reefs are recovering at record speed from the very active 2005 season and the marine life is more abundant than ever.
Eagle rays, turtles, nurse and black tip sharks are everywhere. The island itself has fully recovered. Vegetation is lush and green again and all waterfront hotels, shops and other facilities are fully rebuilt. It’s back to the beautiful paradise it’s always been.
One diver from Northwest Dive Club noticed a lot of remaining damage back in August of ’06.
The reefs have taken a horrible beating. All the purple fans are gone and the hundreds of Conch that once were everywhere have been replaced with dead shells. The beautiful basket coral the Island was famous for are now in warped shapes and in many cases, non-exsistant. Many of the reefs are now completely covered with sand or twisted dead pieces once-living rocks. Large fish are gone and it is common to only see 1-2 Queen Angelfish on a dive, compared to hundreds 2 years ago. In Devil’s Throat, the Coral Cross has been destroyed. Evidence of Emily and Wilma still remain in large areas where the sand looks poorly swept across the ocean floor. It breaks my heart to see this devistation. – Pinkpadigal
While another, who had never been to Coz, found the diversity and abundance of life to be terrific.
It was diving in an aquarium! The water was so clear. We saw a crazy amount of different wildlife, and I shot a lot of pictures. So many different fish, it would take awhile to type them all out, and I’m not motivated enough to do so. Most fish have very vivid colors. We saw nurse sharks, and both Hawkbill and Green Sea Turtles, Barracudas, Green and Spotted Moray Eels, as well, Southern Stingrays, and Spiny Lobsters, amongst many other things. Splendid Toad Fish can be found only in Cozumel, so what trip wouldn’t be complete without seeing them. Of course, there are all sorts of sponges and coral. I have never dove Cozumel before, so I can’t say much about the post-hurricane damage, but according to our fearless leader, he only noticed some changes (a lot more sand in some places), but not much, and everything seemed really healthy. By the way, because all diving is inside a marine preserve, neither gloves, nor knives are allowed. – Diver_C
Either way, Cozumel remains one of the World’s diving meccas and if you haven’t already been diving there, you should go at your soonest opportunity. While you’re there, you might want to take the short ferry ride over to Playa Del Carmen and go diving in the cenotes, a beautiful network of freshwater caves.
Another note from the Deep Blue crew, is that they’ve just released the second edition of the highly-acclaimed Cozumel Dive Guide, complete with 3D graphics of the dive sites. The first edition of the book was one of the best of its type I ever saw while traveling. From their site:
The main focus of this book was to produce quality underwater maps of Cozumel’s 25 major reefs from a never before seen perspective, and to provide divers with the most comprehensive, concise and accurate portrayal of Cozumel’s reefs available to date. Each map is accompanied by a description of the reef’s physical characteristics, typical marine life found there, and possible dive plans.
If you’re in Cozumel or have recently returned from there, feel free to add your own account of the current conditions there – for the benefit of divers planning a trip to island.
Entry Filed under: Travel