Snorkeling off Isla Mujeres
There are some amazing snorkeling sites within a quick, easy dinghy ride from where we're staying at the beautiful El Milagro Marina on Isla Mujeres -- including some great old rusting wrecks and sweet shallow reefs full of amazing coral and marine life.
These areas are technically protected marine parks here in Mexico so we have to wear lifejackets -- which seems ridiculous to me as a PADI certified Divemaster (how exactly is one supposed to duck dive with a PFD on?) -- but I suppose they help protect the fragile reefs from the droves of people that pay upwards of $65 to go out there from Cancun on a daily basis to swim between the buoys and see some tropical fish.
Of course, wearing a PDF isn't going to stop these types of people from standing on the reef or taking a bit of fan coral home or losing their snorkles or fins -- but I suppose it helps in some small way. I fished two snorkles from the bottom --- I'm not sure how people are losing them in water that you can pretty much stand in -- but I always try and retrieve some plastic every time I go into the Caribbean. It's the least I can do.
Speaking of fish -- we saw some amazing schools of barracuda out there just straight chillin. Not sure if it's mating season for them or what but I've never seen such large schools of them anywhere else.
We also saw some cool cowfish -- MOOOOO! Maybe it was a boxfish but cowfish sounds cooler...
And then we saw this one fish that we're not sure what it's called. I'm working on my fish IDs but anyone with any ideas as to what this fish actually is -- hit us up in the comments below or shoot an email over to us!
As the icing on the cake we ended up running to this amazing sea turtle whose camoflauge is almost perfect. He seemed a little annoyed at being discovered so we left him alone munching on the grass and went about our snorkeling expedition. We didn't try to dive down or touch him, we both just watched and smiled and enjoyed being in the presence of such a gorgeous tortuga. I don't care how many times we run across these amazing creatures, I'm never going to get tired of seeing and experiencing them.
The day before we saw a couple of cuttlefish, but of course we left the GoPro on the boat. Cuttlefish, which a lot of people misidentify in the Caribbean as squid -- really do look like nothing else on this planet. Despite their name -- cuttlefish are not actually fish but rather molluscs. Go figure! They remind me that there's a lot of strange stuff under the ocean -- even in just a few feet of water.
We also saw a couple of cool starfish --- which are also not actually fish -- but rather marine invertebrates from the phylum Echinoderm.
Of course, the big norther storm that we've been waiting for to go down south on the Yucatan has finally arrived so doing anymore snorkeling here is probably going to be out of the question -- at least for the next couple of days while these gale force winds blow through -- but I'm glad we had the opportunity to explore some of the shallower sites here while we could.
I'll always have a found place in my heart for the Cancun - Isla Mujeres area -- it's the first place I went SCUBA diving -- the place I got my Open Water Certification. Shoutout to Lars Valentin wherever you might be for being an amazing initial ambassador to the world of SCUBA.
I saw three white-tipped reef sharks on my first dive at Manchones and was blown away by the amazing artistry at the underwater MUSA museum. I wish we were able to do some diving this time but at least we were able to get some sweet snorkeling in before we head on down Cozumel way.