Pura Vida!
Brian A. Hopkins does Costa Rica

From the capital city of San Jose to the Pacific Coast (and beneath Mother, Mother Ocean's waves), to the rainforests, cloud forests, and beyond, these are my adventures in Costa Rica.  All photos shot by me, Betty, various obliging Costa Ricans, or our fellow adventurers from Blue Water Divers OKC.  The shot above is me on the stern of our dive boat, doing the "I'm the king of the world!" bit (from Titanic).

Our primary reason for venturing to Costa Rica was diving in the Golfo de Papagayo, but we also explored the rain forests around the Arenal Volcano, rafted the Sarapiqui River, and drove through the cloud forests and over the Continental Divide.  While at the Golfo de Papagayo, we stayed at the Occidental Costa Smeralda, a beautiful hotel terraced into the hills overlooking Culebra Bay.  Our only complaint about the hotel was the intermittent shuttle service, which often made for a lot of very strenuous walking up and down steep hills to get from our room to the restaurant, lobby, etc.  My calves will never be the same.  Above is a shot of Betty and me on the dive boat heading out our first morning -- me with hair and beard cut short for my underwater adventures.  Though Costa Rica doesn't have the beautiful corals of some place like Cozumel, it draws its share of divers who are attracted to the large schools of fish that congregate in the Pacific and the many large species that can be found: sharks like the hammerhead, bulls, and white tips, as well as whale sharks; rays like the manta, devil, and spotted eagle; etc.  We dove eight different locations in four days, in good and bad visibility, against gentle surges and horrendous, cling-to-the-rocks-for-dear-life currents designed for far more experienced divers than Betty and me, in water that was never cooler than 80 degrees F (with the exception of a couple thermoclines we found below 70-80 feet).  It was an awesome experience.

Dive services were provided by Diving Safaris of Costa Rica, located at Playa Hermosa.  I highly recommend them.  Tell Earl (the owner) that I sent you and be sure to request Debbie and Kiki as dive guides.  On the walk from the dive shop to the beach, be sure and say "Hola!" to the big iguana that hangs out there.  A beer in the little store across the street from the dive shop will cost you $6.50, so be sure and bring your own (to be consumed after your dive, of course).  Pictured above are some of the divers with us: (l to r) Zach, Diving Safaris dive master Debbie (a Canadian who fell in love with Costa Rica and decided to stay and work there), Shane, Steve, and Robert.

Our first dive was at Cabezo de Mono (Monkey Head) Island -- you can see why it is named that by looking at the shape of the island -- just outside Culebra Bay in the Papagayo Gulf.  My computer logged a max depth of 51 ft and 81 degree F water temp.  Visibility was a decent 50 feet or so.  This was a beautiful spot.  As we circled the island, we were rocked to and fro by a gentle surge.  After my initial "Oh my God, look at all these thousands and thousands of fish!" I started poking around.  Snuggled up tight under one spot in the reef I found a sleeping nurse shark, 4 or 5 feet long, the color of a cinnamon-skinned Latina girl.  I could have reached up under the rocks and grabbed the shark's pectoral fin; that's how close it was.

Crevices in the reef held green, zebra, and spotted moray eels.  They watched me carefully, mouthing dire, silent warnings, then slithering into their lairs when I extended a tentative hand.  You can see one squirming away through the rocks in the picture above.  (All underwater shots were made with a cheap, disposable camera, so please excuse the relatively poor quality.  A good underwater camera is on my list of equipment to purchase before my next underwater adventure.  Also, regardless of their placement in this journal, all the underwater shots were actually taken on our last dive, at the Meadows, the only dive that was shallow enough for the camera.  Rated for 17 ft, the camera functioned without leaking down to 41.)

I saw needlefish and trumpetfish, though it was a couple more dives before I learned to tell the difference.  (That's a needlefish in the photo above, approximately 3 ft long.)  A school of spotted eagle rays, a dozen or more, passed just at the edge of my visible range, their wings flapping in eerie silence, ghosts in the haunting blue gloom.

I soon learned to spot the expertly camouflaged scorpionfish that other, more experienced divers initially pointed out to me, flashing the hand symbol for this poison-spined ambush predator.  Can you spot the one in the photo above?  You really had to watch where you put your hands because there were so many scorpionfish.  There were starfish (our guide pulled one from the reef and placed it in Betty's hands, making her day -- her eyes were the size of silver dollars behind her mask), jacks, red snappers, groupers, guineafowl puffers, and oodles and oodles of spotted porcupinefish.

I especially liked the porcupinefish's big melancholy eyes.  When they stared at me, they looked like they had one hell of a sad story to tell, if only I could understand their language.  I would tweak their tails as they turned to swim away, trying to add a little excitement to their day.

Our second dive was at a spot called Virador, also just outside Culebra Bay.  47 ft, 80 degrees F.  These first two dives were essentially checkout dives, the guides' way of making sure us Okies weren't a bunch of screwups.  We were warned that if we missed a safety stop, we'd have to sit out the very next dive, and if we did it twice, we would no longer be able to dive from their boats.

My main memory of the Virador dive is hanging out with this huge school of grunts, all silver and striped in blue and yellow.  I drifted in among them, just one of the guys.  The school was so thick, that once inside, all I could see was fish -- a million little eyes watching me, wondering what I was up to, why I wasn't striped same as them, what I was doing blowing all those bubbles.  It was so totally cool to be there.  We also saw two white tip reef sharks, at least 8 feet long.  One lay on the bottom in a sandy canyon between the rocks and the other circled menacingly.  Betty and I were right behind our guide when he gave the hand single for shark and began creeping slowly over the rocks so as not to scare them away.  I eased up beside him, and with Betty hiding behind me, we watched the sharks from a distance of no more than six feet.  It's an interesting mix of fear and fascination being that close to a large shark.  Even as the adrenaline starts flooding your veins, you wish the shark would come closer -- and you're worried he'll decide you're not cool enough to hang out with and swim away.

Second day, first dive, the Catalina Islands at the southern end of the Gulf, an hour and a half boat ride.  Dolphins chased the boat, leaping in our wake and sometimes surfing the bow wave, and from the foredeck, you'd occasionally see schools of rays and jacks pass under the boat.

Betty catches some Z's on the way out there...

...while I wait impatiently to get back in the water.  We changed boats this day, to one that didn't have a nice transom to step off of.  This was our boat for the remainder of the week, basically a fishing boat.  To get in the water, we had to do the famous Jacques Cousteau back roll off the side and into the water, something Betty and I had never done before (same for some of the other divers in our group).  It was a bit unnerving at first, but after that first roll we were pros.

Me and one of the other OKC divers, Chris, between dives.

Pictured above is Betty tooling through the deep blue.  Catalina Island was a great dive, 70 feet, 83 degree F water, good vis.  We had a strong current for this dive, but it was totally cool because we were flying with the current, swooping down through absolutely gorgeous canyons.  In one we surprised a beautiful spotted eagle ray, 5 or 6 feet across, which stirred from the sandy bottom and flapped away and down a wall into the indigo of deeper water.  There were more white tips here, each bigger than the sofa in my living room, resting on the sandy bottoms of the canyons.  By the time we'd spot them, the current would have already swept us over or past them.  Each time the current swept me toward one, I wanted to hold up a sign that read, "Excuse me, Mr Shark.  I am honestly not rushing up on you like this on purpose.  Please don't take offense and bite me."  Here in the deeper water, we encountered some chilly thermoclines.  Where the current brought colder water up from the depths to merge with the warm water, everything would go freaky for a moment or two.  It was like we were suddenly swimming through a clear cooking oil.  It made you wonder if there was something wrong with your vision.

Our second dive of the day was at a place they called Fantasma, just north of the Catalinas.  The current here was absolutely wretched and for some inexplicable reason our dive guide chose to swim against it.  "Swim" is an inappropriate verb in this case, as what we really did was hand-over-hand it across the rocks on the bottom of the ocean.  It was like rock climbing, horizontally.  The experienced divers dubbed it a "flag dive," meaning you spent your time clinging to something and fluttering in the current like a flag flapping in the wind.  Many claimed it to be one of their worst dives ever, including one guy with over 4,000 dives logged, who has dived everywhere in the world.  Our equipment took a beating from the jagged rocks of the reef.  My dive gloves, virtually brand new, now have holes in the fingertips.  My fins are all banged up.  It was necessary to descend down the anchor line, since there was no way for the group to stay together in a free fall to the bottom. Just pulling yourself down the line in that current was a chore, and I was gnashing my teeth as I watched my tank pressure dropping during the friggin' descent, cherished air being wasted short of the ocean floor.  I wasn't so distracted, however, that I didn't notice the totally cool cloud of jellyfish through which we descended to the bottom.  There were thousands of them, little guys that could fit in the palm of my hand, tentacleless and transparent, undulating balls of jelly shot with neon blue striations.  At the bottom, visibility was a miserable 15-20 feet at best, often less.

At 71 feet beneath the surface, I lost Betty.  I had pulled my way down the side of a big rock to check out a huge moray hiding under an overhang.  When I worked my way back up the rock, Betty was no longer near me.  I looked back and saw her holding hands with the dive master (Debbie -- pictured with Betty above) bringing up the rear of the group, the two of them struggling against the current together.  They were just at the limit of my visibility.  Looking forward, I could only just barely make out the flippers of the diver ahead of me.  I knew if I hesitated, I would lose sight of him, which would mean all three of us in the back would be lost.  Reasoning that I should keep him in sight, while they kept me in sight, I broke the cardinal rule and abandoned my dive buddy.  I thought she would be fine with Debbie.  What I didn't know was that someone else had fallen behind the two of them and become lost.  Debbie sent Betty on ahead by herself and went back after the missing diver.  I traveled maybe another ten feet, looked back, and there was absolutely no one behind me.  Just over the next rock there was a sheltered canyon where everyone was trying to regroup.  When I arrived alone, Steve and Allen (two of the Blue Water instructors that had taught Betty and me to dive) saw that I was alone, and when I signaled that I had lost Betty, they went back after her, signaling that I should wait with the group.  Betty did good. She was totally lost, but she didn't panic.  We'd all been told that if we became separated, we were to search for the others for one minute, and if we didn't find anyone, we were to make our way to the surface.  Betty was getting ready to head topside when Steve and Allen found her.  Just as well she didn't have to surface on her own in that spot, though, as the current and surges were so bad that the safety stop was a difficult one to make.  When we finally did come up, we were a million miles from the dive boat.  When we returned to the dive shop, our group raised hell about the dive master who had led the dive and asked that he not work our boat again.  We never should have been working against that current.  Either the site should have been scrapped for another one or we should have been traveling with the current.  It was a scary thing, losing Betty for a few minutes, and I decided then and there not to separate from my dive buddy again, regardless of the circumstances.

Pictured above is Allen, owner of Bluewater Divers OKC.  He's a lot of fun to hang out with, rides his motorcycle way too fast, and is a great dive instructor.  He and I are planning to parachute together soon.

Third day, first dive, was Bat Island at the extreme north end of the gulf, another hour and a half boat ride from the dive shop.  Our boat actually blew a water pump on the run out there, but, amazingly, the boat captain was able to fix it in about 30 mins.  We all felt for him, down in the hold with that hot engine.  This is the dive where we were supposed to see large and aggressive bull sharks.  We were told that the boat would back into a wall, where we would descend quickly as a group to a sandy cul-de-sac against the wall.  The sharks would then come check us out while we sat on the bottom trying to look like something that doesn't taste good.  We were told to keep our hands in against our chests and smile a lot.  Once the sharks had checked us out, they'd ignore us from then on and we'd be able to scuba at leisure.  Unfortunately, except for a very large ghost or two in the gloom, really just passing shadows, I never saw a bull shark -- very disappointing!  This was my deepest dive; my computer logged 99 feet.  Had I been paying attention, I would have dropped another foot just to make it an even 100.  Of course, because it was our deepest dive, it was also our shortest: 33 minutes.  I want gills.  Running out of air and having to come back up just plain sucks.

The most memorable part of this dive -- for me, anyway -- was actually the safety stop.  At 20 feet, waiting three minutes to off-gas some of the nitrogen in our bodies, we were circled by this enormous cloud of jacks.  Each fish was about 24 inches long, silver and yellow and blue, and there were literally thousands of them.  That's me pictured above.

Back on the dive boat, we were joined by dolphins and devil rays that would leap 20 feet from the water to turn head-over-tail somersaults.  Totally cool; I had no idea rays did that.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of them, but a digital camera just isn't fast enough.  By the time you spot one and line up the camera, you've only got a fraction of a second to get the shot before the ray splashes back into the water -- and most digital cameras take a second or two to process the shot.  We were all hoping to spot a whale shark out here in the open water, but even though the dive crew had spotted a mother and baby just the week before, we never saw one.  We all kept mask, fins, and snorkels handy, though, just in case, hoping for the opportunity to swim with one.  As with the mantas, hammerheads, and -- for the most part -- bull sharks, we had no luck on this trip.  I really wanted to see a manta, as the locals claim to see ones with wing spans of 20 feet or more all the time.  We did our surface interval (off-gassing period between dives) in this absolutely gorgeous little bay with shallow, crystal-clear turquoise water.  There's some legend about the bay, something to do with a baby that was sacrificed to appease a hurricane or something (I only caught a little bit of the story that was told by one of our dive crew).  Entering the bay, there's a statue of the Virgin Mary on a hill, commemorating the legend (see photo above).  Anyway, it was a totally cool spot.  Rather than sit on the boat, after I ate my share of fresh pineapple and cookies, I grabbed my mask, snorkel, and fins, and jumped in the water, where I spent an hour or so chasing fish and picking things up off the bottom to show Betty.  There were huge conch shells on the bottom, but all of them were empty (local fishermen, I believe).  I wanted to bring one home, but we were told that we wouldn't be allowed back through customs with them (and they did search our bags leaving the country).  I fed the fish here a cookie.  And, sadly, I found a dying porcupinefish.

I brought up a rather large (and rare) piece of coral to show Betty, and she discovered that it had a little passenger onboard.  He was cute enough to warrant a photo.

Second dive of day three was at a place called Black Rock.  That's it in the photo behind me, really nothing more than a pinnacle of igneous rock protruding from the sea.  The incredible thing about this dive is that there were moray eels everywhere.  I doubt I'll ever see so many in one location again.  All different kinds: green, gray, spotted, zebra, and jewel morays. There were big ones: six feet long, bigger around than my thigh.  And little ten inch long babies that I wanted to catch and stuff in the pocket of my BC to bring home with me.  I touched several of them.  Betty says one tried to kiss her when she accidentally stuck her face too close.

We dove to 73 feet in water that was a glorious 85 degrees F, with visibility at about 50 feet.  I paid more attention to the small things on this dive, pulling in close to the rocks to examine little wrasses and gobies, barberfish and Moorish idols (there's a Moorish idol featured in the new Disney movie, Finding Nemo, which I just saw today -- a wonderful film!) and numerous types of angelfish.  That's me and Debbie in the photo above, and it appears she's point something out to me.  I found a baby scorpionfish disguised as a rock.  And sea cucumbers that looked like turds on the bottom of the ocean.  Parrotfish were nibbling the rocks and coral here.  If you held your breath and listened, you could hear them crunching away.

Last day of diving -- so sad to see "scubah time" coming to an end! -- was at two locations called Sorpresa (Surprise) and Los Meros (the Meadows), the latter actually in Culebra Bay.  Surprise took us to 88 feet and included schooling spotted eagle rays.  The Meadows was a nice long, shallow dive.  My computer logged a max depth of just 41 ft, shallow enough that I was able to stay underwater for an hour.  When it came time to surface, the dive master directed Betty and me to the anchor line to make our safety stop.  When we got there, we discovered Dana, who was waiting to surface.  I wondered why she hadn't ascended the line for her stop, but when I checked my gauges I discovered that we'd already traveled up the reef to a depth of just 20 ft.  Had I realized we'd ascended to that depth, I'd have spent more time on the bottom -- as it was, I came out with over 600 psi in my tank, wasted air and lost underwater time, dammit!  After having told the dive master we were going up, though, I thought we'd get in trouble for not doing so.  But we could have tooled around at the top of the reef, essentially doing our safety stop there at the 20 ft mark, for another ten minutes or so.  Next time I'll pay more attention to my depth gauge.  Featured in the photo above: (l to r) Steve, Betty, Chris, and Dana.

The Meadows was a cool dive.  There were tons of morays and scorpionfish and schools of striped grunts (in which I disguised my land-based self once again).  Debbie was an expert at finding nudibranches (essentially a sea snail wearing a Tournament of Roses Day parade float on its back) in the rocks.  They're absolutely beautiful, brilliantly colored, ranging in size from about the size of your fingernail to four or five inches long -- a quick search on Google will take you to websites with lots of pictures of them if you're curious.  We found a baby stingray hidden in the sand (see if you can spot him in the photo above), an octopus wedged firmly in a crevice where we couldn't get hold of him to take him out for a good look, and all manner of sea critters.  One of the divers found a sea horse (Betty and I missed it).  It was a wonderful, easy dive to wrap up the adventure.

Back at the hotel that night, Steve and I took mask, fins, snorkels, and lights down to the beach.  The sand was covered with hermit crabs, all shuffling along to destinations unknown, each carrying a coveted shell on its back.  In the water, we snorkeled about in the pitch black, surprising sleeping puffers and porcupinefish with our lights.  You could dive down, scoop them up off the bottom, and hold them in the palm of your hand.  They'd blink their sorrowful eyes dreamily and purse their fishy lips in little slumbering snores. I chased a stingray with my light for the longest time, occasionally looking behind me into the pitch black water, wondering if there might be something back there chasing me as well.  Though I have a good underwater light, its beam doesn't extend more than 10-15 feet in dark water.  Eventually, we retreated from the sea, as we were getting stung by some sort of unseen jellyfish or plankton.  We climbed the hill back to our hotel, found the pool completely empty (this was about 11 p.m.) and dove in to wash off our gear and ourselves.

Later, in the room, I packed away my gear.  Diving for this trip was sadly at an end.  But there were more adventures ahead.

From the Guanacaste Coast and the Golfo de Papagayo, we journeyed inland to stay at the Tabacon Resort at the foot of the Arenal Volcano.  Arenal is an active volcano.  The gray streaks you can see down the sides of the volcano in the picture above are lava tubes, each flowing with molten lava (you just can't see the glow in the daytime).  At night, the volcano would grumble and burp, and brilliant orange-red lava would go spilling down the sides.  Through my binoculars (Bushnell 10 x 50), I could watch molten boulders tumbling down the sides, fragmenting as they rolled, scattering in brilliant school bus-size sparks like the spray from an arc-welder.  The patio off our hotel room had a phenomenal, unobstructed view of this spectacle every night, though the volcano was often obscured by evening clouds and rain showers.  I got out of bed at 3 or 4 a.m. both nights we stayed there, just to watch the volcano after the skies had cleared.

Here's a shot of Arenal at night, which gives you some idea of the nightly spectacle.  (I didn't take this photo -- I nabbed it from a Costa Rican website.  My digital didn't have the zoom capability.)

Tabacon is known for its hot springs, a terraced series of pools naturally heated by the Arenal volcano, secluded away in the most gorgeous tropical garden you've ever seen..  Here I am standing on a bridge over one of the pools.  We didn't have nearly enough time to relax in these springs, basically only spending one evening there.  (We would have had two evenings, but Betty wanted to go into town and shop the second night.  Argh!)  The pools varied by temperature, some much hotter than my hot tub at home, some specifically designed for cooling down.  At the lowest level, there's a gorgeous pool containing a bar.  Pina coladas were about $5.00 each, and it was cool to sit in the water at the bar and sip our drinks.

While at the Tabacon resort, we explored the rain forest canopy.  Here's Betty getting harnessed up...

...and me on a zip line through the jungle.  Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Here's both of us with one of the guides.

And here's yours truly rappelling down from the canopy.  This was a fairly short and overpriced canopy tour.  If you decide to do one yourself, my advice would be to look for one other than the one located at Tabacon.

Everyone knows I'm a critter person.  I had a mental list of Costa Rican critters I wanted to find while in country.  While a number of them eluded me, I did manage to locate and get close to quite a few.  Above is a howler monkey, part of a troop of about 20 monkeys that our bus driver spotted off the side of the road in a guanacaste tree.

Another one of the troop, just hanging out doing monkey things.

A toucan (think Fruit Loops).  I actually got good at spotting these guys flying from tree top to tree top in the rain forest.  Their silhouette is pretty distinctive, what with that big beak thrust out in front of them. This one was actually caged in a walk-in enclosure at one of the places we ate one day.  I never got close enough to the wild ones to snap a photo.  Also saw tons of black vultures and turkey vultures -- they would sit in great flocks, wings extended to dry them from the afternoon showers (vultures have no protective oil in their feathers) -- several species of herons, hummingbirds, a gorgeous masked falcon (the exact name of which escapes me at the moment), several species of kingfishers, and other birds.  We also spotted a black panther, but again he was gone so fast that it was impossible to get a photo.

 

This gecko shared our room with us.  His little suction toes would carry him across the ceiling so fast that it was impossible to catch him.

While white water rafting, we found this poison dart frog.  Pop him in a blender with a milkshake for someone you're not too fond of and ... bye bye.  They're okay to handle as long as you don't have any cuts on your hands and you don't stick your fingers in your eye or mouth afterward.

Also while rafting, we located two sloths in branches overhanging the river.  I know he's hard to see, but he's there in the middle, hanging upside down by arms and legs.  Look closely and you can make out his face.  It took our river guides to spot these fellows -- there's absolutely no way I'd have ever seen them.  Our guides say that the sloth only comes down from his tree once a week to go to the bathroom.

At this river, I spotted a small crocodile (which submerged as soon as he saw me and was never seen again) and a Basilisk Lizard, which leaped up and ran all the way across the river, moving so fast it damn near broke the sound barrier -- no way I could get a picture of it.  They're commonly known as Jesus Christ lizards because of their water-walking ability.  You can see the locals in the picture above doing their laundry on the river bank.  Housing in the Costa Rican countryside ranged from what you see above, clapboard houses with tin roofs, to nicer homes like the one featured below.

The crime rate in Costa Rica is evidently very low.  The front doors of most homes were standing wide open at all hours of the day.  Many homes didn't even have front doors.

White water rafting the Sarapiqui River was a blast.  Here's Betty and me.  That's our river guide in the background.  He was pretty cool, even if he did fall out of the boat at one point.  Our trip downriver was filmed by guys in kayaks, so I'll eventually be getting a VHS tape of the whole wild ride.  It's the most fun you'll ever have being bossed around by some guy you never met before.

After rafting, we took a cab into the town of La Fortuna (a ten mile ride for a mere $4) so that Betty could do some shopping before we had to leave for the airport in the morning.  Later we reconnected with the rest of our group for dinner at an open-air steak place called El Novillo (the calf), where $10 bought one of the best fillet mignons I've ever eaten.  We sat and ate while Arenal grumbled above us, spewing lava down her slopes.  When the show became really spectacular, the restaurant owner would kill the lights so we could all see better.  Sitting in the cooling mist of a tropical evening, watching Mother Nature put on her grand show, I knew the Costa Ricans had chosen their national slogan carefully.  Pura vida.  Pure life.  To do anything less than get out and experience it is a pure crime.

The next morning, our bus took us up into the cloud forest (above the rain forest, where everything is permanently obscured in the heavy 100% humidity of the clouds) and down the other side of the Continental Divide into the Caribbean lowlands and back into the airport at San Jose. It was time to go home.  That's it until my next big adventure.  I can't recommend Costa Rica highly enough.  The people were friendly, gracious, extremely hard-working, and always helpful.  I was amazed at the national pride expressed by every native I talked to.  They are genuinely proud of their country, of its 97% literacy rate, of the fact that they have no military, no income tax, and very little crime, and they are especially proud of their country's natural treasures, having more natural parks and protected lands than any other country in the world.  Everyone I talked to knew so much more about their local flora and fauna than any American would ever know about the area in which he/she lived.  Next life, I think I want to be born Costa Rican.

Before you move on, however, here are some additional photos shot by our diving friends:

 

An excellent shot of the Arenal volcano with lava
spilling down the side in broad daylight.  Must have
been a heavy flow day for the old girl.

A gorgeous King Angelfish.  We saw quite a few of these in the 12 inch range.

Another one.  Better lighting in this pic, so his colors come across more clearly.
Depth robs you of color as the water filters out certain wavelengths, so a
strong flash on the camera is essential for decent pics.

Betty and myownself tooling through the canyons
of the deep blue.  Love those Atomic Split Fins!

A school of Barberfish, each about 8 inches long.

This is either a Hawkfish or a Cabrilla -- I ain't 100%
certain.  Body coloring looks more like the former,
but the tail looks like the latter.  Any ichthyologists out there
that feel like emailing and clearing up the mystery?

This is definitely a Mexican Hogfish, of the female
persuasion (the males look entirely different).  They
grow to about 30 inches, but I don't think this one was more'n a foot long.

A spotted moray eel.

More spots.  This time on a Spotted Puffer.

Starfish.

A Blunthead Triggerfish.

Mr Scary Himself, a whitetip reef shark, maybe eight feet long.

Another one sleeping on the bottom.  Be wary, wary quiet...

Betty and me hovering at 20 feet beneath the surface for our
three minute safety stop.  I've got my dive computer in my hand,
monitoring my depth and watching it count down the time.

My friends, the grunts.  (There's also a pretty little striped fella in the lower
right-hand corner -- looks like a Sergeant Major.)

More of 'em.  If they had Internet cafes on the bottom of the Pacific,
I know these guys would be emailing me.

 


Copyright 2011 Brian A. Hopkins, 2011-07-31 11:14, www.bahwolf.com