Added 5 May 2007
Monday, 12 March 2007, Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur, Mexico
I was up before the sun and out on the beach taking pictures before anyone else was out of bed. It was a beautiful morning and roaming the beach was imminently relaxing. Upon returning to camp, Chuck made all of us french toast for breakfast. Soon after that we set off to kayak down to Cabo Pulmo with our snorkeling gear to explore the reefs there. The reefs at Cabo Pulmo are the only living coral reefs in western North America. It is also the largest living coral reef system in the Eastern Pacific ocean. It is relatively unknown, but is highly regarded by those who know it. Even so, I didn't know what to expect, but I didn't expect much.
We had a really pleasant paddle to Cabo Pulmo, but I did have one minor technical difficulty. I tried to adjust my new ONNO paddle and must have twisted it had the wrong way, because I got it to a certain point then it got stuck. I ended up having to have Chuck help me get it unstuck.
When we got to Cabo Pulmo, we beached the boats, donned our snorkeling gear, and tried to figure out what to do from there. There was a reef close to shore, but we weren't sure if it was a decent place to go. We weren't sure we wanted to swim all the way out to the second reef though. After watching a couple swim out to the close reef, we decided to trust that they knew what they were doing and went out to the same reef.
I have never snorkeled before, and I have an admitted minor phobia of being underwater, so I got out into the water, put the mask on and the snorkel in my mouth, and proceeded to basically hyperventilate. I was getting plenty of oxygen, but I couldn't slow my breathing down. I concentrated on breathing normally, overcame my body's natural fear of having it's head underwater, and managed to succeed. Everything went well in the breathing department from then on. The only problems I had after that were that my moustache was allowing water to leak slowly into my mask. Fortunately, I had spent a little more money on a mask with a purge valve in the nose-piece, so I didn't have to remove the mask to purge it. I had surprisingly little problems with seawater in my mouth, but did get some up my nose, which always hurts like heck. Other than that, it was great. The water was slightly chilly, but my farmer john style wetsuit was perfect and kept me comfortable.
The snorkeling itself was phenomenal, and we saw all kinds of really beautiful fish of all types of colors and types. We also saw a sea cucumber, and several different types of starfish. I could scarcely have asked for a better first time snorkeling experience. The only thing I wish we had seen that we didn't were sea turtles and some of the bigger fish in the area, such as grouper and sharks.
The whole time I was taking pictures using a waterproof case that I got for this trip. It worked pretty well except that I couldn't see the LCD display well enough to actually see what I as taking a picture of, so I just had to point the camera in the general direction of the object of interest and hope for the best. As a result I got a lot of pictures of sea bottom and not much else. I also got quite a few shots of half a fish. I will have to figure out a better arrangement in the future.
Marisa was having problems with her snorkel and was getting tired, so she headed back in before Chuck and I. After a while, we headed in to check in on Marisa and have some lunch before deciding what to do next. Marisa was content to just sit on the beach, and knowing that I wouldn't get another snorkeling opportunity like this for a while, I wanted to go back out for a little while. Chuck joined me and we went out for another hour or so, this time seeing a few new species.
Here's the rundown of what we saw:
Purple surgeonfish (Acanthurus xanthopterus)
Chanco surgeonfish (Prionurus laticlavius)
Convict tang (Acanthurus triostegus)
King angelfish (Holacanthus passer)
Panamic sargeant major (Abudefduf troschelii)
Beaubrummel (Stegastes flavilatus)
Graybar grunt (Haemulon sexfasciatum)
Machete (Elops affinis)
Bluechin Parrotfish (Scarus ghobban)
Island wrasse (Thalassoma grammaticum)
Mexican hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia)
Azure parrotfish (Scarus compressus)
Reef cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii)
Finescale triggerfish (Balistes polylepis)
Barred Pargo (Hoplopagrus guentheri)
Orangeside Triggerfish (Sufflamen verres)
Yellowfin surgeonfish? (Acanthurus xanthopterus)
Rainbow basslet? (Liopropoma fasciatum)
Blue-and-gold snapper? (Lutjanus viridis)
Panoramic porkfish (Anisotremus taeniatus)
Mexican goatfish (Mulloidichthys dentatus)
Indigo wrasse? (Psuedojulis sp.)
Cortez rainbow wrasse (Thalassoma lucasanum)
Guineafowl puffer (Arothron meleagris)
Bullseye puffer (Sphoeroides annulatus)
Balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus)
Gulf sun star starfish (Heliaster kubiniji)
Tan star starfish (Phataria unifascialis)
Sea cucumber sp.
After we were done snorkeling, we kayaked back to camp and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around or taking walks along the beach. Marisa is a major beach comber, as it turns out, so she was out trying to find cool shells and such quite a bit. It was here that she earned her first nickname of the trip, Beach Comber, or Beach for short.
While we were all sitting around camp relaxing, a pelican landed near the stern of my kayak, which was down on the beach. I instantly knew his intentions and kept eyeing him warily. He sidled up along my kayak, scarcely taking notice of me, though my eyes were firmly fixed on him. When he got to the bow, sure enough, he jumped up and stood on the bow of my kayak. The last thing I wanted was a big pelican poop on my nice new kayak, so I got up to scare him off. I didn't want to scare him too much and make him poop, but I made arm waving gestures as I approached. The pelican remained resolute. I finally stopped when I was within five feet of him, trying to convince him to find another perch. Finally, after moving to within 3-4 feet of him, he flew off. Had I cared to, I probably could have lunged at him and caught him. The rest of the day passed rather uneventfully but blissfully.