535. Melissa's Reef. Trunkfish. Lionfish hunters who shouldn't have had spears and who floundered around the reef. 82F. 57M. 28634.
534. El Aquario to Lighthouse drift. My first dive back was the same as my final dive in December before leaving the island. An unusual profile that has you drifting across the boat channel. Not ideal for unfamiliar divers. Barracuda. Cero. Orange-spotted filefish. Flamingo tongue. Dark mantis. Ocean triggerfish. Queen angelfish. Horse-eyed jacks. Lionfish. Permit. Cryptic teardrop crab. Donkey dung sea cucumber. 59F. 58M. 28577.
533. El Aquario drift to Lighthouse, Moonlight, and Half Moon Bay Wall. My final dive on the island, with José and Andy. Beautiful drift with three of my favorites: hawksbill sea turtle, green moray, and four porcupinefish. Those are the three creatures that I wanted to see most today. Ocean triggerfish. Permits. Bermuda chub. Cero. Honeycomb cowfish. Scrawled filefish. Yellowtail damselfish. Yellowhead jawfish. José killed four lionfish. 132F. 55M. 28519.
532. Pablo's Place to Texas. Mantis shrimp. Orangespotted filefish. Barracuda. Harlequin pipefish in lettuce coral. Channel clinging crab. Lobster in barrel coral. Swimming green moray that followed us for nearly 10 minutes. 69F. 59M. 28464.
531. El Aguila. New profile at the wreck (thanks, Manon). Caribbean sea spiders on fire coral. Gaudy clown crab. Porcupinefish with hook in its mouth. Bearded fireworms. Christmas tree worms on top of the mast, appropriate for the Christmas season. Hermit crabs. 109F. 57M. 28405.
530. Overheat to Green Outhouse. Bridled burrfish resting on the sandy bottom. Peppermint shrimp. Green sea turtle with sharksucker harassing. Rock beauty. 81F. 55M. 28348.
529. Seaquest. Common squat lobster. School of Bermuda chub. Blue parrotfish. School of horseeye jacks. Southern stingray feeding. Baby lionfish. Queen conch. Tigertail sea cucumber. Swimming green moray with black grouper. Headshield slugs (leech and Berolina). Pipefish. One of our divers (not my buddy) disappeared during the dive. We initiated a search and found him two minutes later at the surface. He got sick and surfaced immediately without alerting his dive buddy. Always tell your dive buddy before you surface. 89F. 57M. 28293.
528. Half Moon Bay drift north. Hawksbill sea turtle. Green sea turtle scratching himself against some soft coral. Honeycomb cowfish. Scrawled filefish. Another cold day with lots of surge. 90F. 52M. 28236.
527. Haller Deep to Jolly Roger. Sharksucker harrassed us the entire dive. Big one too. Blackspotted nudibranch. Lettuce sea slug. Queen angelfish. Giant anemone with black and yellow gobies, maybe two or three dozen. 75F. 56M. 28184.
526. Bear's Den. Midnight parrotfish. Ciliated false squilla. Cero. Flamingo tongues. One of my dive buddies got tangled up in the cave. Got his octopus stuck on a rock while in a tight spot. Monster tricolor damselfish (black, white, orange). Not monster as in big, but Monster as in Monster my dog. Damselfish just remind me of Monster. 88F. 53M. 28128.
525. Two-tanker to Spooky Channel and Bear's Den. Terrible conditions. We were through the channel and to the wall in about 10 minutes. Strong surge. School of houndstooth at the bottom of the channel. Slender filefish. Spiny lobster. The usuals (e.g. black triggers, parrotfish) and an adult, spotted drumfish on the wall. 93F. 50M. 28075.
524. Pea (walnut) along the wall. Black with yellow spots. Creole wrasse. Cero. Yellowhead jawfish. Rock beauty. French angelfish. Queen angelfish. Longsnout butterflyfish. 77F. 57M. 28025.
523. Mandy's Eel Garden to Willy's Wonder and back. What appeared to be an egg casing of some sort, sticking an inch or so outside the sandy bottom. Hogfish. Leech headshield slug. Hairy clinging crab. Lettuce sea slug. Tiny crab smaller than a pencil eraser, darting about the sand. Ascended with a strong downpour. Quite beautiful to just lay backward, trim, facing the sky, and watching the rain hit the surface. 86F. 60M. 27968.
522. Seaquest. Mask problems. Foggy and flooding. Still, managed to spot what we think is an elysia at about 40 feet. Smaller than a grain of rice and barely perceptible even with good vision. Mickey Charteris later ID'd it from Manon's photo as a juvenile painted elysia. Probably my proudest find in diving to date. Also my 499th dive in Honduras. Black aglaja. Three scrawled filefish and five jolthead porgy. Barracuda. Trunkfish. Spotted moray. 46F. 61M. 27908.
521. Canyon Reef to Hole in the Wall. Strong surge. Mediocre visibility. Two Caribbean reef squid. Permit. Green moray. Three lettuce sea slugs. 71F. 54M. 27847.
520. Pillar Coral to Overheat. The largest bearded fireworm I've ever seen, at least twice as big, on the pillar. Gaudy clown crab. Two porcupinefish. Hairy clinging crab. Lettuce sea slug. 114F. 56M. 27793.
519. El Aquario. Perhaps my final dive with José. Thrilled to have gotten in the water with him again. The best captain I've known and a great friend. He spotted a pea, scorpionfish, and baby highhat drumfish. Lettuce sea slug being eaten by a damselfish. Queen triggerfish eating an urchin. Giant anemone with banded clinging crab. Neck crabs, including an active, smaller one. Hawksbill sea turtle. 76F. 59M. 27737.
518. Turtle Crossing. Ciliated false squilla. Baby mantis shrimp. Two hawksbill sea turtles, one with a queen angelfish picking up sponge scraps. Scorpionfish. 50F. 58M. 27678.
517. Pablo's to Texas. Scorpionfish. Permit. Hawksbill sea turtle. Two stingrays. Buffalo trunkfish. Spotted trunkfish. Barracuda. Yellowhead jawfish. Midnight parrotfish. 75F. 51M. 27620.
516. Canyon Reef. Beautiful swimthroughs with Manon. Within the first minute of descending, baby hawksbill sea turtle, porcupinefish, and channel clinging crab with claws spread wide. Adult hawksbill. Green sea turtle. Green moray. Another swimming green moray. At least three porcupinefish overall, including a mother and baby in the swimthroughs. Bearded fireworm. Three trunkfish. Baby starfish. Baby yellowtail damselfish. 81F. 57M. 27569.