Jan: As a whale enthusiast, I read your posting with great interest. I have been watching three grays feeding in front of my house for the last month. One of them appears to be a juvenile similar to the one you photographed. Since they have been hanging out on the east of Whidbey, I doubt it is the same. The ghost shrimp feeding that they pursue while they are here is described as a "high risk strategy". I suspect that will lead to a high mortality. Thanks for posting this. - Curt
Yesterday I managed to reach the beached dead Gray whale just few minutes ahead of the knives. While the scientists were setting up their workstations, I had chance to scoot around the dead body and snap some pictures. What was amazing were the parasites making the poor whale their home. The lice especially look like stuff of nightmares. So here are some scenes, probably more than you care for My friend Mary Jo Adams was there too, her photos give you better idea what was going on there, I had to stay behind the cordoned area, that when the telephoto came handy. I have to give them credit, they dug into the task on hand with enthusiasm I probably could not muster...
Possession Point Fingers dive. Locked gate translates into pushing a dock cart down the hill (easy), before the dive and uphill (hard), after the dive. But the reward is a nice dive. The bad news is that the numbers and diversity of marine species is noticeably way down, here, as in all other places around Whidbey Island. And checking my notes from past years, it is not a seasonal occurrence. :(
Driftwood Park dive. Three healthy Sunflower stars, surprisingly, no other species of star found there. Painted greenlings guarding eggs, and of course, lots of Wrinkled dogwinkle snails and their eggs. Juvenile Wolf-eel, only one today. And not so welcome news from the local newspaper :(
On the day of our flight from Mexico back to Seattle, Maya and I visited the beach in Playa de Carmen. We found that to the dismay of tourists seeking frolicking in the sand and water, that the beaches are fouled with piles and piles of sargassum seaweed. The cleanup workers are busy to cleanup the mess, but it seems to be thankless job as the wind and currents keep bringing more in with every tide change. Diving cenotes sure was much better alternative On my first cold water dive after returning from Mexico, I found possibly unpleasant connection between the shores of Yucatan and the shallows of Keystone Jetty. Different species of Sargasso seaweed seems to invade what used to be Bull kelp forests. We always had some of the Japanese wireweed here, but never in these quantities. It is too early to know if it is to the detriment of the Bull Kelp since the new kelp is just beginning its annual growth, but in my opinion, every drastic change is worrisome .
Chronologically this was not the last dive, but since I opened the March Yucatan odyssey with the fabulous Hells Bells in El Zapotes , which we visited on dive #3, I decided to conclude the show with photos from dive #7, which also offered very unusual formations. And I was lucky to have my strobes still functioning properly on this dive. How the "bubbly" textures on so many stalactites and stalagmites, columns and even the floor were formed remains a mystery to me.I tried to dig up some info on line, but failed. Thank you Dirk Penzel from Cenote-Diving.com for a great week of diving. The twelve dives in the magical underground of Yucatan will always have a special place in my memories.
Dodging tropical downpour, we endure the short drive from The Pit to cenote Nicte Ha in the back of a pickup truck. As is usual in the tropics, by the time we make it to the next cenote, the rain is gone and we prepare for the next dive, my last one of this week long trip.
This was my second time diving The Pit. Unlike in November, this time without Maya, and sunbeams and with misbehaving strobes. But I was in a good company of Dirk, Peppe and fellow Washingtonians, Carl and Nanci.
Jan: You are getting spoiled. You are doing a new dive, in warm clear water, with your daughter. I would not dismiss any of the adventures I had with my sons. Is that Maya using the side mounts ? -Curt
Cenote Angelita. It is famous, but I think it is a little bit overrated. Yes, the Hydrogen sulfide layer is quite impressive, but there isn't much else there. And again, if you carry camera, regardless how small, if it is in a housing, you are categorized as professional and it will cost you 500 pesos for the permit. I don't think my photos are worth 500 of anything... But as Dirk said, dive here once and that is enough to last you for the rest of your life.