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Scuba diving day

Written on: Monday February 25th, 2008

A journal entry from: Puerto Rico, FEB08

Sometimes diving on a tropical island isn't as easy as you might think.  Apparently there USED to be a diving outfit in Esperanza, but a tank explosion resulted in the owner retiring from the industry.  Fortunately we met a cool guy on the ferry to Vieques, Nev, who works at the diving shop in Isabel Segunda.  We called there yesterday to set something up for today, but were told that there was no diving today; call again tomorrow.  So we did, and we got the same response.  How does a diving shop exist if they never take anybody out??  When I asked to talk to a manager about finding time to squeeze in a two tanker before we leave the island, I got Nev.  Sweet.  Nev said that he is the only guy currently at the store that can take people out, but he needs to stay at the store all day.  However, if we are comfortable with it, we could rent the gear from him and go on our own, using a map that he'll give us to find the dive site.  Are you kidding?  Perfect!

So we hired a cab to bring us to Isabel, get the dive equipment, and take us to the pier, which apparently is the best dive spot on the island.  We rented two tanks each, and per Nev's instruction, tied the second two to the bottom of the ocean to avoid having them stolen while we were below making bubbles.

The dive site consists of a rock pier that is accessible about 3/4 of the way to the end.  At this point there is a guarded fence that you are not allowed to cross; however, you can hop in the water and swim, or in our case dive, past this point.  At the end of the pier there is a wooden pier that juts out left of the stone pier.  This is the desired location, as many fish take shelter amongst the timber supports.

After suiting up we hopped in.  Jon was a little rusty but eventually got the swing of things and we began the dive.  Being a shallow dive (max depth 40') with little or no coral, I didn't expect to see much.  But there were countless starfish around as we began descending.  We saw a fair amount of the usual tropical fish as we got to the wooden pier.  At this point there was some miscommunication as Jon dissapeared for ~7 minutes.  Not wanting to begin a haphazzard search for him, but also not wanting to abandon the dive, I returned to where we were last together and waited...and waited.  Eventually he made it back, and after a quick verification that he was ok, we continued the dive.  We saw a couple large turtles and some good sized french angelfish before returning to the starting point to change out the tanks.

On land we discussed what happened on the first dive and vowed to stick together on the upcoming one.  As Jon just about ran out of air on the first dive, we snorkeled over to the wooden pier for the second dive to ensure enough air to get to the end of the pier, and back to the drop in location.  This dive went much better and we were rewarded with multiple turtle sightings, as well as a few eagle ray sightings.  Lots of fish, tons of conch, some hard corals, an eel and even a lobster.   Mmmm...this could have made for a tasty dinner!  But all we did was shoot photos, not fish.

We made it back to the dive shop, dropped off the gear and headed home for another wonderful experience: the bioluminescent tour!  After nightfall, we joined a tour traveling to Mosquito Bay to kayak into the center of the bay and become overwhelmed by the world of dinoflagellates.  These are tiny micro-organisms that, when disturbed, shine a bright blue color (at least here...other parts of the world yield other colors)!  At this particular location there are about 700,000 dinos in a cubic foot of water, making it one of the brightest bio bays in the world! 

As we paddled into the center, you could see the increase in dino quantity via the brighter and brighter shade of blue.  Eventaully we stopped to swim among them and experience the sparkling all over our own bodies.  This was a very cool experience, helped by fortunate timing of very little moon combined with cloud cover to block out other light sources.  I highly recommend that anybody who has the chance to experience this, do so.