This is a quick post as I have left it until the last minute as we have been busy provisioning the boat and getting ready to leave.
We left Zihuatenjo and returned to Manzanillo on the 5th of March for a few days. First on Tristan’s and my agenda was another dive on the shipwreck and to check on our seahorse friends.
3rd March Dive (Tristan)
From the first glimpse underwater we knew it was going to be a muck dive, with so much growth in the water. There was a brief moment of panic to start us off when the camera slipped from mum’s hand while I was putting on my tank, though after a couple of minutes searching the sandy bottom below the dinghy we found it, the bright red standing out; next time we made sure to bring the floating handle!
I spent the beginning of the dive photographing arrow crabs and other critters that mum doesn’t find especially exciting, but she was very quick to point out a Felimida baumanni nudibranch, which we have only seen once before. She didn’t realise this at the time, but once we got closer to this sea slug we could see that it was resting after having just laid a sticky spiral of thousands upon thousands of tiny white eggs. The photos aren’t especially clear, but you can see the individual ova in this clutch. The proud mama looked very tired, barely moving at all, so we left her to her business and continued on.
This is a Felimida Baumanni nudibranch with her thousands of eggs. Photos by Tristan
We continued on finding several bright Pink Telja nudis and hundreds of Orange Cup Coral polyps. These stony corals usually only emerge during the night, but being covered by the deck of the San Luciano provides them with enough darkness to emerge, while enough light to photograph them; score! After mum got tired of me looking at coral polyps she dragged me away to seek out her favourites, the seahorses.
Pink Telja Nudibranch, photos by Tristan
Orange cup coral, photos by Tristan
Mum was pretty captivated by the seahorses so I headed off in search of octopuses in their usual hiding spots, though they seemed to have hurried off quickly after their fight the last time we dove in Manzanillo a month before. What I did notice though were several extravagant-looking aeolid nudibranchs laying thin strands of yellow eggs all over these weeds. These are Unidentia angelvaldesi, or Purple-Line Unidentia, and I have to wonder if the spawning of both baumanni and angelvaldesi nudis had anything to do with the terrible water clarity? Just that time of the year, maybe. Love is in the air… or water.
Purple-line Unidentia nudibranchs. The bottom right photo of the yellow is her eggs. Photos by Tristan.
3rd March Dive (Karen)
I eventually managed to drag Tristan away from the nudibranchs, completely unaware that they had eggs to find the seahorses. We did make our way up to the halfway point of the ship and managed to find the male seahorse, but not the orange one. They are definitely territorial and stay in the same area.
5th March Dive (Tristan)
The second dive was two days later, and while my intention was to immediately head for the new nudibranchs we saw last dive, we got a nice surprise from a Jewel Moray eel hiding on the wreck. You can see a long length of fishing line that must have gotten hooked on the wreck and has since become a part of the environment, covered in growth.
Jewel Moray Eel (Photo by Tristan)
The nudibranchs were all abuzz today, with Agassiz’s nudibranchs doing their typical craning neck to cross long gaps on their journey around the wreck, and a large Diomedes Sapsucker chewing his way across the weed. I saw several more Purple-Line Unidentias, and as we made our way around the hull of the wreck there were many Red-Tipped Sea Goddesses, or Sedna nudibranchs, cozying up to each other; in the photo here, there’s actually a third nudi hiding in the right hand corner. The Pink Teljas are a bit smaller, and harder to spot.
Nudibranch Photos from the top going clockwise: Agassizs, Diomedes Sapsucker, Red-tipped Sea Goddess, and a purple-line unidentia. (Photos by Tristan)
5th March Dive (Karen)
We did another dive on the 5th of March looking for more nudibranchs and their eggs, unfortunately, the water clarity had worsened and you could really only see a couple of metres in front of us. Once entering the wreck we quickly found the brown male seahorse who was happily swinging on his piece of rope. Tristan left me to my seahorse and went off looking for more nudibranchs eventually returning to show me that he had found the orange seahorse again.
This little guy loves his piece of rope he hangs on tight while the water slowly rocks him back and forth.
Tristan found the lovely orange lady quite happy hanging by herself.
Max’s 17th birthday!!! Our baby boy is so grown up now. Max started the day with the girls from Love and Luck coming to Utopia for breakfast, followed by a Tristan-led snorkelling trip and ending with Love and Luck joining us for a pizza night followed by a blueberry cheesecake and a vanilla cake.
After our a few days back in Santiago Bay, we decided to head north to Tenacatita where we caught up on some school work.
Andrew had read about the 2.5-mile water trail from Bahia Tenacatita through the mangroves and ending in a lagoon. So we headed off at 8 am in the morning while the tide was high through the breaking waves, which turned out to be a great surf spot for the kids and into the mangroves.
We did see quite a few different species of birds and a small crocodile, which as we approached with the dinghy it quickly dove deep into the water and disappeared. Love and Luck spotted a green iguana which we all eagerly watched.
We did take a wrong turn and quickly realised it when we reached a dead end and had to do a three-point turn in the dinghy. We eventually found the right waterway which narrowed to nearly impassable to reach the large lagoon.
By the time we began our return trip it had started getting hot and there were far fewer birds around. Of course Willie who joined us for the trip kept us entertained.
12 – 15 March
Julie and I had been keeping in touch with a boat, Distant Star, over the past few months and had been waiting for them to come and join us. Finally, on the 12th of March, they arrived in Tenacatita in the evening on Ilo, their eldest son’s 17th birthday. Both Luka and Makawi’s (15th birthday) quickly followed behind Ilo’s birthday. Ashe cooked a delicious coconut cake for Luka’s birthday using a coconut that one of the boys had collected from a nearby tree.
Happy Birthday Luka!!
Distant Star has been a great addition to our group encouraging all the kids to get active again and there has been lots of surfing, volleyball, Bocchi, a walk to a waterhole and another beach and a few beach BBQ’s where we have enjoyed the delicious Marlin that Distant Star shared with us.
Our walk to the nearby beach required us to walk up a rather large hill and scramble down through brush and through a resort to reach. Tristan was quite excited when he spotted these cute little creatures, apparently called Coatis, or coatimundis. They are found in south and central America, Mexico and the southern part of northern America.
And a few photos of people….
While Ashe, Julie and I went for a long beachwalk the kids had a sand castle competition. The parents got to judge and the winners were …….
The winner was Heidi, Tristan and Ilo’s group who sculpted the turtles
Then the time came which we have all been dreading, saying goodbye to our very dear friends Mark, Julie, Heidi, Lucy, Sally and of course Willie, who we already miss so very much. After our beach adventure, we had a pot luck dinner over on Love and Luck before a very sad goodbye. But it’s not really goodbye just so long until we meet again next year in the Pacific. Wishing you guys a safe, fun and happy adventure back in the States this year and a Pacific crossing next year!
Finally Ava got her braces removed after 29 months and 3 weeks they are off. She was very pleased. A few of the brackets were replaced last year in Puerto Vallarta and they proved difficult to remove, so much so that he had to numb her gums to do it. Now we have to wait 10 days for the retainers to arrive and we are finally free to leave Mexico.