The first thing we saw on the dive at Cousins was an enormous tightly packed ball of thousands of Black Stripped Salema fish close to the surface.
They maintained a polarised defensive formation - equally spaced and facing the same direction always moving in unison making it difficult for a predator to single out one target. We swam towards the middle of the ball and they parted and closed again behind us leaving us totally enclosed in the formation. This was a fantastic experience, never to be forgotten! A sealion attacked the formation for breakfast from below and the whole shoal dodged in a rippling knock-on motion. The coral in the area is also spectacular. Layers of black coral ledges are endemic to the area. We saw a lobster hiding in a crevasse and also saw a few Pacific Seahorses clinging to the ferns. They are the only seahorses in the Eastern Pacific and are quite large (10-20cm). We also saw a Giant Frogfish, Longnose Hawkfish, a few Whitetip sharks, a Coral Hawkfish, A Spotfin Burrfish (smooth puffer) and a few Wahoo (similar to Barracuda).
To top it all off we encountered a lone Scalloped Hammerhead Shark and got to within about 5m above it at a depth of 18m. A fantastic sight at close quaters. The dive site mainly consisted of a series of ledges of beautiful black coral and green sea ferns to a depth of about 15m followed by a dropoff to about 30m. An amazing dive site and probably our best dive ever for the shear beauty and variety of species. We were utterly delighted on leaving the water and found it difficult to imagine any dive living up to it!
Because the visibility was so good (12-15m) our dive masters Paulo and Javier decided to take the second dive at Bartolome in the hope of finding Hammerhead sharks and Manta Rays - a fantastic prospect so we all agreed. At the beginning we saw a couple of Tropical (or Flowery) Flounder, a few big Whitetip Sharks, a colourful male Pacific Boxfish, a few Trumpet fish, a Green Sea Turtle and a couple of venomous Stone Scorpion fish. And to crown it all, a Manta Ray floated effortless by and passed into the blue!! A great dive and a fantastic day with an outstanding variety of exotic species!!
A cup of Lyons tea for two back at the hostel and then it was off to meet some of the other divers, David and Linda from Michegan, USA and Aubin from Canada, for dinner.
Another fantastic day of diving! Down to Scuba Iguana for 7am and a cold cup of tea - must remember to boil the kettle tomorrow! Diving today was at Cosins Rock (world famous in diving circles) and Bartolome. Conditions were perfect on the way out in the boat, relatively calm waters and no wind. It became a bit choppier as we left the protection of the bay but this was offset by the appearance of Bottle-nosed Dolphins beside the boat - a great start to the day!