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Divetalking » Reefs, Travel, Trip Report, Video, Videography » Mona Passage, PR Dec. 26, 2009 – Jan 2, 2010

Mona Passage, PR Dec. 26, 2009 – Jan 2, 2010

This trip was an interesting trip.
It started on Saturday December 26, 2009. The flight into San Juan, Puerto Rico
was uneventful and quite fast. The weather into PR that day was around 80 degrees
and the sun was shining. I have about a 5 hour wait for the shuttle to Mayaguez, a
three hour ride.
One van, my van and the van carrying all the dive gear left the airport at around
6pm for our first stop, the grocery store. There I search for super glue. See, while
waiting at the airport, I put my new video camera into the housing to find the
housing doesn’t quite work with this new camera. I discover I am only able to
turn the camera on/off. No zoom, no macro, no other controls may be reached
using the housing mechanism to press the neccessary buttons on the camera.
This was my bad. I decided at the last minute NOT to carry the camera the housing
was meant for and instead carry the new video camera, which  I presumed would
work with the housing. I didn’t test this at home and if I did, would not have carried
the video camera I did. 
I was frustrated and upset with myself and knew my videos would not be what I
wanted them to be for this long trek I just made. I convinced myself that on/off is
better  than nothing at all and maybe I can perform some editing magic to

The first shuttle of divers arrive at the dock in Mayaguez at around 8:30pm. We’re
glad to finally be at the boat after a long day of traveling. We meet the crew, fill
out the neccessary paper work and most of us stay up for a little while then head
to bed. Tomorrow, we will be at Mona Island.

I wake up to see out my window, large cliffs. We’re mored on the NW
corner of Mona island at a site called, One Particular Harbor. The site was not
a deep site and because of this and the surge, turbidity was higher than I would
have liked. We spent the morning performing one dive at this site and the after
noon performing two dives. Due to the lower than optimal visibility and the surge,
videoing was a bit challenging. The next day has us at a new site called
Yule Tide. Yule tide is on the SW side of Mona Island but more central to
that side on the island. This site had finger coral running perpendicular to shore
than would slope down starting at 110′ to 180’+. A nurse shark was spotted
and the usual spotted drum. I spent most of the dive in the 70 foot range
filming what I could for the two dives before moving onto Southern Pride.
Southern Pride was our afternoon site.

I like this site for the layout and formations. It had a flat sandy bottom with
scattered coral heads and a slop leading down to around 100′. Here I located
some of the largest lobster I had ever seen. One could put a saddle on their
back and ride them. Also sited were Lion fish. You will see them in the video.
The water was a deep blue, and visibility at around 80′. Simply a  beautiful site
and coral formations. 

This leads us to Wednesday, our morning dive is a site called Isle Bonita for
an attempted drift dive. I was on dive team 1 of 3. We enter the water from
the side of our vessle and drift away from the boat before decending into a
soup of sand and surge. It was like being in a washing machine. Up and down,
back and forth. At times you were face to face with a coral head, then pulled
back by the surge. I saw a nurse shark for about 5 seconds and the dive was
aborted. Up we went to flag our vessle to come pick us up. All teams aborted
their dive that morning. We head back to Mona were I make three dives at our
new remaining morning and afternoon at Southern Pride.

I began noticing the sea life seemed curious to their new guests, more inquisitive
than shy. I would have large jacks approach me and just swim around me,
looking as though they are studying this strange creature that enter into their
home. Some were friendly enough to actually approach the camera lens, then
peering over the lens to look at me as to say, pretty kewl, what are you?
These are just some of the reasons I love this sport so much. To be at one
with life still very unknown to most. It’s a serenity that give me the feeling
that it is possible to live together on this small planet with all creatures
large and small. It is moments like this that remind me that this is where I
need to be, where I belong and I must do all I can to understand the life
that is so close to us, yet so unknown.

This is the part of the trip where the membrane needed to produce fresh water
burst due to over pressurization. After our last dive of the day, we headed
back to Mayaguez to fill our tanks with fresh water. Talk about over time for
the crew. They must have been exhausted the next morning. We arrived
back at Mayaguez at around 11:30PM and departed at around 5:30am to
head back to Mono Island. A 5+ hour trek.

December 30th and we’re back at Mona Island. It was almost 12:30pm before
we were able to make our first dive of the day. We spend the day at one site
called, Bubbles and Blossom. This was a wall dive. A nice site where I made
three dives. The wall begins at around 60-70 feet and descends to over 200′.
Here I found two very large crab battling it out for space under a coral head.
I was able to capture them on video. Discovering the two at the end of my
dive, time was limited to the remaining gas I carried on my back. What a
site to see.
Also discovered was what I believe to be a pipe fish. No longer than 3 inches
in length, it caught my eye as I was swimming by. Looking at it I could not
figure out what it was. It appeared to be in the same family as seahorses I
thought to myself, yet it wasn’t a seahorse. Still the same, a nice discovery
for me. The final dive, my dive buddy pointed out a peacock flounder.
Another first for me. As he took shots of the eel, I observed where the
flounder was heading to see if it would land to get some stills and video.
It did not land and glided out of site. As we neared the end of the dive,
A shy turtle comes up over the wall and I was able to capture a small clip
of it gliding along, staying out of our way. A nice way to end a dive.
Once the night dive was over, we head back to Mayaguez to refill our fresh
water tank and pick up the new part. A membrane to help us produce
fresh water again. Another long day for the crew.

December 31, 2009. This time we stay off the SW coast of Puerto Rico
instead of heading all the way back to Mona Island. Our site, Isthmus.
A relatively shallow dive, 70′ that lead to a wall. I spend two of the
dives at around 70. I located three black spotted nudibrachs and
was able to capture them on film. A relatively nice site with good
visibility and very mild current. At this time, my ears are killing me
and I discontinue all remaining dives, including the midnight, New
Years dive which I believe I counted 6 people entering the water.
Pretty kewl.

Friday January 1, 2010 and only two morning drift dives are made
and a land excursion for anyone willing to go. I stayed on board
with the crew and one other guest where we watched videos and/or
knee boarded in the bay. It was the perfect way to end the trip for me.

Saturday, 01/02/2010 we wake up to find ourselfs back at Mayaguez
to disembark and head back to San Juan’s airport by shuttle. The ride
was nice and the scenery was spectacular. The forests are so alive, lush
and green. A very nice island.

I hope to make this trip again with proper video equipment and perhaps
earlier in the season to compare and contrast the sea conditions, which
were rough at times. Though I would like to report, I did not get sea sick
once on this trip due to what I believe is my daily dose of Triptone.

Though the main reasons why I took the trip did not come to fruition
I believe the trip could produce some spectacular sightings.

Until next time, Dive often, dive safe.

Check back to watch the video.

© 2009 – 2010, lars2923. All rights reserved.

Written by

PADI MSDT - I've been a diver for over 33 years. I became an instructor because I want to be creditable and able to transfer my knowledge and skills to newer divers. Beside, it cuts down on the expense of diving. NOT! My Motto: First in, Last out

Filed under: Reefs, Travel, Trip Report, Video, Videography

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