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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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July 2024    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 50, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Coco View, Roatan, Honduras

why 2000 divers have visited five or more times

from the July, 2024 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

Coco View from the over-water gazeboAfter a backward step off the dive boat CoCo Nut 1 on my first dive of the week, I dropped to 15-feet. I was the first diver in and was startled when something bumped me hard on the back of my leg and shoulder. Then, a grayish-striped fish nearly three feet long slipped in front of my mask, one eye staring at my eye a few inches away. Ah, yes. Our divemaster Gringo Gomez had told us to be on the lookout for a school of curious Atlantic spadefish. And here I was surrounded by 20, some in my face, others nibbling on my wetsuit as if it had to be cleaned of cooties.

After other divers descended, the spadefish, shaped like the largest angelfish I'd ever seen, tagged along until we went over the wall and dropped to 75 feet. In visibility close to 100 feet, I noticed the south end of a northbound spotted eagle ray cruising into the blue while another soon passed within 15 feet. For half an hour, I followed Gringo (his real name) along the wall, spotting spiny lobsters in the dark crevasses (sometimes as many as a dozen), a huge channel crab, and tiny cryptic teardrop crabs, nearly invisible on branching corals. And, of course, the usual reef fish. Schools of horse-eyed jacks cruised off the wall, and an occasional solitary barracuda cast a wary eye. As we ascended to the sun-lit shallow reef, Gringo and Edgar, the other divemaster, pointed out interesting critters. Schools of Creole wrasse cascaded around the coral heads. Clouds of small fry were everywhere in coral crevasses. Cleaner wrasse crewed the cleaning stations for Nassau grouper, and a large hogfish and the spadefish returned for their mysterious encounters. Under the boat, Gringo pointed at a 4-inch-diameter hole disappearing into the sandy coral rubble bottom. With his tickle stick, he cautiously pushed a pebble down the hole. Up popped a scaly-tailed mantis shrimp clutching the pebble with its front claws. It threw it on the sand, glared at me with those weird eyes, and zipped back down the hole. We dropped in another pebble. The mantis emerged halfway, throwing the pebble farther. He was as round as a beer can and a few inches longer. The locals call them "thumb splitters," Gringo later told me, because they can cause quite a contusion or even break a finger. This was one of my top Caribbean dives; I've had hundreds....

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