Cold Water Kitty

It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Cuddly Slugs: Part 3

When I started this series, I had the best intention to post once a week, but then a squirrel ran by (I got distracted) and it was five months later. 🙀  Better late than never, though.

I am sad to report that I have no pictures of the slug that I made in 2012.  And I have no idea who won the slug, so I can't even hit that person up for a picture!  (So if you happen to have the slug, put me out of my misery and let me know!)  I've searched high and low in our network-attached storage device, email accounts, phones, and Facebook, and I can't find any pictures.  In the summer of 2013, my laptop was stolen (along with everything else of value in our house, which is luckily not that much), so I'm pretty sure that's why I have no photographic evidence.  For a while, I also couldn't even remember what slug I made.  And then I stumbled across some of the fabric that I used to make it, and I finally remembered it was a Doto amyra.  Dotty the Doto!
Photo by Robert Lee
Dotty the Doto component

(Don't worry, that will be the last sad story about a stuffed slug lost to history in this series.)

In 2013, after having two years to recover/forget how tricky it was to make the Spanish shawl, I decided to made another aeolid -- a Flabellina trilineata.  It really wasn't any easier the second time, and overall I don't think it was awesome as the original.  But the glowing lines that it's named for looked pretty nice.  John and Carol won the slug that year, and Carol was *really* excited to finally get one!
... the trilineata
Photo by Clinton Bauder
I think somewhere around this year, I stopped naming the slugs.  I just couldn't make a good name out of trilineata. (I don't think the Spanish shawl got a name either.)

In 2014, I was once again traumatized by the aeolid-making experience from the previous year, and decided to go a bit simpler.  (I was also probably hosed at work, which may have contributed to that decision.)  So I went with a Tochuina tetraquetra (which has since been renamed), which is a cool, pretty dorid.  I used beads and sequins to make the glowing tubercles, and ribbon for the fringe of gills that runs around the mantle.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Photo by Dionna House :)

I also lost all photographic evidence of this slug, but luckily, who was the Dionna winner, took some pictures for me.  Thanks, Dionna!

That's it for today.  I promise the next installment will be in less than 5 months!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Cuddly Slugs: Part 2

Time for my next installment of stuffed slug creations.

In 2010, I made a total of three slugs.  The first one was already shown in the previous post.  The other two were Christmas-time slugs.  First, I made a slug for my niece, Lucy.  She lives in southern California, so I decided to make a slug from down there.  I chose Mexichromis porterae, since from my limited SoCal diving, this was one of my favorites.  It also had the nice property of being pretty colorful, and not being too complex for my sewing skills.  I think this slug came out quite well for a few reasons.  First, I came up with a pretty good way to construct a dorid with a colored border on the mantle.  Second, I found the perfect color of wide wale corduroy to make lamellated rhinophores :)
Portia the Mexichromis porterae
Photo by Clinton Bauder
By the way, I nicknamed this slug Portia.  I forgot to mention in my previous post that some of the early slugs had nicknames -- including Rusty the Rostanga and Dori the Doriopsilla.  I never came up with a good nickname for the Hypselodoris, so I referred to it as Hypsy.  I guess now that the species name has changed to Felimare californiensis, I could call it Felix.

Unfortunately Portia didn't exactly with stand the test of time.  One of her yellow stripes peeled off, which I guess was a consequence of using adhesive instead of stitching, and giving a hand-made stuffed animal to a very tiny human.

For the Capwell party, I used my excellent new dorid construction technique to make a Cadlina flavomaculata.  Cady turned out kind of huge, but I guess it's more to love.

Photo by Mark Lloyd
Cady the Cadlina
In 2011, I made what still seems like one of my most ambitious slugs yet, and I think my favorite slug yet (I know, I probably shouldn't have favorites, or at least not admit to it).  Drum roll please...

I made a Spanish shawl.  It was obviously way more complicated than a dorid.  The orange cerata have pipe cleaners in them to give them some stability.  That also means you can bend the cerata and "style" them in the orientation that you want, which is kind of fun.




More to come...
Photo by Clinton Bauder

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Merry Slugmas and Happy Nudi Year!

Every year in December, Jim and Bev have a holiday party that involves a white elephant-style gift exchange.  Most of the attendees are from the dive community, so there are lots of ocean and dive-themed gifts.  Many years ago, I had the (excellent, if I do say so myself) idea to make a stuffed animal version of a sea slug as our entry in the gift exchange.  And I have been doing that every year since then.  I've also made a few bonus, non-white elephant sea slugs as gifts for people.  When I was working on my 2019 creation, I realized that the first year that I made a stuffed nudi was 2009, so this was the 10th anniversary of slug-making.  I thought that this warranted a blog post to finally showcase the slug collection.  I've literally been thinking of doing this for years, so this is finally a forcing function!

In order to do this, I first had to find pictures of each slug.  This turned out to be a bit trickier than I expected.  I know I took pictures of each slug, but some have been lost on old phones I think.  I managed to cobble together pictures of all but two of the slugs, and figured out which two were missing.  I had a guess as to who won those two, and I got one of the two right -- Dionna won the slug in 2014 and was kind enough to send me a picture of it!  I still haven't found a picture of 2012's slug, but maybe the recipient will read this post and let me know :)

By my count, there are a total of 15 slugs in the collection, which is way too many to cover in one post!  So I'll break this up into 3 or 4 posts, which I'll post weekly during January, covering the slugs chronologically.  Just to warn you, they get WAY better over time.  When I first started making slugs, I was a beginning seamstress, and now I'm at least intermediate (not because of the slug-making but because I've made at least a dozen quilts over that time).  The slug at the beginning of this post is one of the 2019 slugs.

For the original slug, I kept it easy and made a dorid, whose characteristics I knew pretty well -- a Doriopsilla albopunctata:


Photo by Clinton Bauder

It's a bit hard to see the little white spots in the picture of the stuffed version, but they are there!

The stuffed Doriopsilla was quite a hit at the party that first year, and Clinton was having a house warming party shortly after that (and was *very* disappointed not to win the original slug) so I made him a Rostanga pulchra as a housewarming gift.  Suzanne, who won the Doriopsilla also had the idea to give her slug to Clinton as a housewarming gift, so he ended up with two slugs!

Photo by Clinton Bauder

Before I made this slug, I knew that Rostangas have interesting rhinophores, but I learned a lot about the shape of them while doing research for the stuffed version.

A few months after that, Clinton was travelling to Mexico to dive with Alicia Hermosillo and asked if I could possibly make a slug for her -- she was the scientific advisor for our BAUE nudibranch project, so it seemed like an awesome thank you gift to her!  After a bit of discussion with Clinton, I settled on Hypselodoris californiensis, which Alicia has studied.  (Apparently it's now called Felimare californiensis, grumble grumble).  I have never actually seen this slug, but it sure is pretty!  Below, it is posing with Clinton's other two slugs (and I love how the slugs match his table runner!).


Photo by Clinton Bauder
Alright, I think that's a good start.  More to come soon!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Rob's Birthday Weekend, Part 1: Italian Ledge

Flag rockfish!
We've been trying to dive Italian Ledge since 2010.  One time (I think in the summer of 2010), we had a boat/crew arranged and I sprained my ankle a few days before the dive.  Another time much more recently (I think it was 2015), we actually made it out to the site, but it was just too rough, so we bailed.  There were several other times when we had boat and crew arranged but cancelled because of weather.  So, when Rob said he'd talked Jim into taking us out on his birthday, and that we would shoot for Italian Ledge, I was not optimistic.  But I went along with it.  We discussed gas plans and deco plans (and Rob once again proved that he doesn't know how to plan deco).  Leading up to the day, the forecast looked bizarre.  The wind didn't look too bad from a wind speed perspective (10 to 15 knots) but the wind wave forecast was bad (5 to 6 foot wind waves).  This has been happening a lot recently, to the point where I suspect something has changed in the model NOAA uses.  The swell looked good and flat though.

Greenstriped rockfish
We met at the luxuriously late time of 8:30 at K-dock, though it didn't feel as luxurious as it should since we arrived in Monterey at 10PM the night before.  Joakim was kind enough to play crew for us.  We loaded the boat and got going.  It was flat.  Not lake flat, but very comfortably flat.  We got out to the site and there was a lot of circling around.  Between Rob's and Jim's GPS units, there were multiple numbers.  But we found the right one on the depth sounder and dropped the ball.  It had a lot of line on it.  I asked if it looked like there was current on the line and it looked like there was no current.

Yelloweye rockfish
We jumped into the water and when I looked down the vis looked great but a little green. We headed down the line, which was straight up and down, since there was no current. Around 20 feet we encountered a murky layer, which persisted down to maybe 100 feet. I think it opened up a bit there, but it was hard to tell because it was dark deeper than that.  It got quite dark on the way down.  And it seemed like we were going down that line forever.  Around 190', there were suddenly fish.  A lot of fish, mostly olives.  And before you know it, we could see the top of the reef at 250'.

Mystery sponge
As far as I know, Italian Ledge is mostly known for its fish life.  So that's what we were expecting to see.  We immediately saw a few different kinds of interesting deep fish, like some big yelloweyes and several starries.  We saw a lot of starries throughout the dive.  The reef was more interesting than I expected (since I expected it to be not at all interesting).  It was like a dive in the bay (Corynactis, metridium in some spots) but with more relief, since the site goes from about 250' to about 300'.  There were also a bunch of vase sponges, and some yellow sponges that kind of reminded me of vase sponges, but they were shaped like more shapely vases, that flair out at the top.  There was a small school of fish hanging around near the top of the structure, which included several bocaccio.

Basket stars
We started to head down deeper, but before we did, we passed a little ledge right before the reef dropped off that had eight or so basket stars in a 10 square foot area.  It was the most basket stars I've ever seen on one dive in the Monterey area before.  But we saw lots more basket stars throughout the dive, I'd guess at least 20 basket stars over the whole dive.  As we headed down to the sand, we stopped to look at a spot with a couple more basket stars and some crinoids.  And while Rob was looking at this, I noticed that right next to us was a purple sea fan!  It was kind of bent over and looked like it wasn't feeling super awesome.  Not sure if something was actually wrong with it or if it was just growing at a strange angle.

Purple sea fan (and greenspotted rockfish)
We continued out over the sand where we saw lots more crinoids (and basket stars) and we came across our first flag rockfish.  Yay!  If you've read much of my blog, you probably know that I'm somewhat obsessed with flag rockfish.  I wasn't necessarily expecting to see them here, but I wasn't surprised either.  Once we swam around that area a bit, we came across a few more flag rockfish, probably a total of four, ranging in size from pretty small to what I think of as normal full-sized flaggy (based on the ones we've seen at Birthday Wall and Consolation Prize). 

Bocaccio
From there, we headed back up the slope a bit shallower and looked at the other fish that were around.  There were a lot of really big lingcod.  In fact I think all of the lingcod that we saw on the dive could be described as really big.  There were also quite a few more starries and a variety of young of year, including yelloweyes, pygmies, and squarespots.  We saw one rockfish that looked unlike any others, and I had no idea what it was -- which was apparently a greenstriped rockfish (thanks to Milton Love and Tom Laidig for helping us to ID some fish).  One other cool find (after the fact) was that the little rosy-looking rockfish (there were a lot of rosies too, or fish that looked like rosies anyway) next to the purple sea fan was a young greenspotted rockfish.  That is a new one for me.  Or maybe not... maybe I've seen them before and thought they were all rosies.  Apparently there are a bunch of rosy lookalike species.

Juvenile yelloweye rockfish
By this point, it was time to get a bit shallower, so we headed up the structure and over to a patch of metridium, and watched some bocaccio and some more BIG lingcod.  As it was just about time to go, a bocaccio swam by, but there was something odd about it.  It had some big black splotches on its side near the back of its body.  I didn't know what that was, but the fish was not cooperative for a photo, and we were out of time.  I described this to Milton Love who said it is melanism, a form of non-fatal skin cancer (Figure 1 of this document has a pretty good picture of it).  So I thumbed the dive to Rob and we started our ascent while he got out his bag and worked on attaching that to the reel.  We paused at 230' so he could put up the bag and then continued up to 190' for our first deep stop.

Starry rockfish
The deco was pretty uneventful, though I would call it "arduous" because it was just so long.  When we got to 70', I realized we'd left the bottom over 25 minutes ago and yet it felt like we were just about to start our deco.  Luckily when we got to the murky layer, the water warmed up, and then at 20 or 30', it really warmed up.  Before we got into the water, there was a lot of bird activity near where we dropped, and there were whale watching boats not that far away.  So I was half expecting to see a whale swim by on deco.  That didn't happen, but while we were at 20', a squid swam by just below us.  Then a few minutes later, he swam by again.  And then again.  So he kept us somewhat entertained during our long (35 minute) 20' stop.  Even though it was substantially warmer at 20 feet (my gauge had 55 degrees, so it was probably 56 or 57), by the end of the stop, I was starting to get cold again.

When we surfaced, the water was lake flat.  On the way back to the harbor, I made Rob a cup-o-noodles for his birthday :P After we got back to K-dock and packed things up (but not really, since we left most of our gear on the boat for tomorrow's charter), we went to lunch at Little Chicken House 🤮

I managed to smoosh a lot of Rob's pictures from the dive in here, but there are a few more on the BAUE gallery.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Mexico 2019

After over six years without a cave diving trip to Mexico, we finally managed to get back there.  I guess we have Bobby to thank for that, since he seemed determined to go there.  He setup a trip (with Karl and Kevin) around July 4, when he was off from school.  Rob and I initially didn't want to go to Mexico in the dead of summer, but eventually we gave in a decided to join them.  The heat was not as bad as I expected.  Actually the heat was exactly as bad as I was expecting when we were just out and about.  But when we were getting ready to get into the water (which was what I was really really not looking forward to -- getting into my drysuit in that heat), and we were in the shady jungle, it was really no worse than our previous trips to Mexico (in September, May, and April).  For an undergarment, I wore the fourth element base layer top (that I stole from Ted) that I normally wear under my undergarment and fleece pants.  I am so glad I didn't bring a real undergarment.  This was plenty warm, in fact there were several times when we were in the salt water when I was feeling a little toasty; when we'd pop back up into the fresh water, the one degree cooler water would feel so refreshing.

Trendy Tulum cocktail
Tulum has changed a bit since we were last there.  Back when we used to go there, it seemed like no one (outside of dive buddies) had heard of Tulum.  Now it is apparently a trendy beach vacation spot!  There seems to be a ton of construction going on there; all along the highway, there are billboards for vacation properties and condo developments that are being constructed.  There is even a project underway that will have a private airstrip just across the highway from Puerto Aventuras.

Trusty old Pub cocktail
Zero Gravity has moved since we were last there, to just outside of the PA gate.  They have apartments available to rent above the shop (which is where we stayed) and there's also a cafe in the same building, which is a good place to hang out with air conditioning and wifi.  I found the apartments to be extremely convenient and nice enough to stay in.  We've stayed in some really swanky places in PA before, and this was much more basic.  But the convenience probably outweighs the desire to stay someplace fancier.  Even though we were staying outside of the PA gate, we walked into PA on about half of the nights we were there, to eat at The Pub.

Enjoying the fruits of Rob's business travel
There are also new options for flying to Cancun on American Airlines.  United is a much more sensible airline to fly from SFO, but Rob has status and a zillion miles on AA (some of which we used for our tickets for this trip), so the option to fly through Phoenix (which we did on the way there) instead of DFW is nice.  This option seems even nicer since our flight home, through DFW, got diverted to Houston due to thunderstorms in Dallas.  But at least we had cushy lie-flat business class seats to wait out the thunderstorm in :)

Alright, without further ado, the daily reports:
Mexico 2019: Tortuga
Mexico 2019: Jailhouse Downstream
Mexico 2019: Mayan Blue
Mexico 2019: The Crack (and Beyond) at Naharon
Mexico 2019: Naharon to the Battleship Room

It only looks like Oreo is trying to strangle Pepper
We got back on a Saturday, which gave us a day to recover and play with the kitties before going back to work.  The kitties were in super cuddly moods after a week away.  (Apparently Ted didn't adequately cuddle the kitties.)  Here they are taking a break from the cuddling to groom each other.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Mexico 2019: Naharon to the Battleship Room

For our final dive of the trip, I decided we would go back to Naharon and do the dive to the Battleship Room.  We did this dive in 2011, and when I was coming up with proposals for the last dive for Kevin, Karl, and Bobby, I stumbled across the report from that dive.  And I thought it would be fun to do it again.  Also, on Thursday we didn't get to spend quite as much time in Southwest Sacbe, so I figured we'd get another chance today.


We were extra efficient getting going this morning and getting out of Zero Gravity, and made it down to Naharon at like 8:50.  All of the signs there say that they open at 8, but they weren't open yet.  I suddenly remembered Danny talking about how they had been waiting at the gate from 8 to 9 when we were at Mayan Blue, and figured they'd open at 9.  We just happened to arrive at 9 on Thursday, so I didn't even think about it.  A few minutes before 9, someone showed up and we paid and drove in.  We were also super efficient about staging our gear in the water and getting geared up and I think we started the dive around 9:30. 🙀

The directions for how to get to the Battleship Room in my previous report were spot on, though the times were a little vague, so I'll include more detail this time :)  The whole swim between the South Sacbe jump and the T, I was counting minutes, worried I wouldn't have the gas to get the whole way there.  I'm pretty sure I had the same feeling the last time we went there.  Anyhoo, Rob took an interesting route on the way to the mainline, we'll just call it "experimental", which I suspect put us a couple minutes behind the times I reported on the last dive.  So we got to South Sacbe jump at 22 minutes.  Very shortly after that, there was a slightly annoying restriction.  It wasn't that resticted, but there are lots of craggly rocks that you are working your way through, which things can get caught on.  Like your light cord.  Or the remote strobe cord wound around your light cord.  That got seriously entangled around a pointy little piece of rock below me, and after I managed to get it uncaught, I looked down and saw the cover for the strobe sensor on the bottom.  Doh!  I didn't notice it come off at all.

The South Sacbe tunnel is very pretty -- bright blue water, bright white walls.  But for the most part the walls are the craggy cheesy texture like in the crack.  It's not very decorated, which I misremembered.  I thought that this line looked more like Southwest Sacbe.  Oh well, it was still a nice swim.  I dropped my first stage at 34 minutes, and between there and the T, there were some more restrictions that I would not have wanted to carry two stages through.  I especially thought this while watching Rob squeak through with his stage and camera :)

We hit the T at 47 minutes.  So either we were swimming faster than last time, or my numbers in that post were approximate.  Just like last time, at the T, there was an arrow pointing back the way we came which said "Cristal" and one pointing to the right said "Mayan Blue".  From here, there's a lot of time spent right around the halocline, and the rooms get taller and a little wider, and "dirtier" looking.  I guess that's just because of the part above the halocline :)  I wasn't sure how much longer until the Battleship Room, though my wishy washy description led me to think it would be around 10 minutes.  After about 10 minutes we were in a pretty big and long room, right in the halocline, when I dropped my second stage bottle.  Somewhere right around there, the line changed to gold line.  I missed the change, but it happened just before I dropped my stage.  I was thinking that on the way out I wanted to find the exact point where it changed.

At the end of that room, there was a dip down and a pinch point and when we came back out that, I think we were probably technically in the Battleship Room.  It took another minute before I realized this, though, When I saw a nice big stalagmite pointing at an angle like a gun.  The room got wider as we went, before eventually starting to get narrower.  We swam slowly through it.  The room wasn't as big as I remember it.  I think this is most likely because the last time I went there, I had never been to Eagle's Nest.  But after going to Eagle's Nest, this room was not comparatively that huge :)  We continued swimming for about 15 minutes.  I'm not sure where the end of the Battleship Room technically is, but I suspect that we made it past the pinch point that shows 1550' from Mayan Blue on the Mayan Blue map.  We continued until the line was about to dip down through another pinch point and we turned it there.  We meandered back through the room at a leisurely pace, and ended up back at the start at 1:28.

When we got out of the room, I picked up my stage bottle and after I got onto it, I noticed that we were back on white line.  So I missed the switch again!  I think it must have been right before the stage drop, so I was busy doinking with my bottle both on the way in and out.  I shot a bit of video on the way out, after we passed the T and we had some gas to burn.  Rob took pictures too.  I would shoot a bit of video, then hand the video light head off to Rob (because I think it looks dumb in pictures) so he could shoot pictures.

When we got back to the Southwest Sacbe line, we dropped our stages and continued up that line.  We decided Rob would take pictures on the way in and I would shoot video on the way out.  I think I got the better deal on this, since I could use the swim in to find spots I wanted to video on the way out.  I took a few sequences where I swam ahead of Rob, signaled him to start swimming and then video'd him coming through a decorated area.  We had a good time with that for a while, and then we headed out.  My light never died through all of my switching light heads (phew!) because I was diving Kevin's light battery (which he'd left for Rob to use) and Rob was diving mine.  Both Rob and I have pretty new light batteries (Rob's is *really* new since he uses his EOS a lot for local diving) so their behavior on this trip is pretty disappointing.

Meat
Once we finished up there, we headed straight out to the cavern for some deco.  The dive to the Battleship Room is relatively shallow (55 feet-ish) compared to yesterday's dive, so only had 12 minutes of deco.  Woot!  My heels were killing me from my tight spring straps and I was dying to get them off!  Since this was the end of diving for the week, we took apart our gear in the parking lot :(

After packing up, we headed to Don Cafeto's for lunch.  I was determined to get the arrachera, which I've decided is the closest thing to Super Carne now that it's closed :)

Last ice cream cone of the trip :(
After that, we headed to the gelato place for one last cone.  I got Bailey's :)  I think this makes it 5 out of 7 days that I managed to have gelato during the trip, which is probably a personal record.

Arca, swanky Tulum restaurant
After we got back and laid out our gear to dry, we pondered how to spend the afternoon.  Since we didn't have to get up early the next morning, I was pretty determined to do something more exciting than nap the afternoon away and eat at the pub for dinner :P  Rob's hairdresser (who he refers to his "stylist") had recommended a couple of shi-shi restaurants in Tulum, so we decided to check out one of those, Arca.  We stopped at the beach bar in Akumal for a drink on the way to Tulum, and then undertook the long drive through the Tulum beach scene to get to the restaurant.

We didn't have a reservation, so we ate in the lounge area, which was equally as shi-shi as the main restaurant, but with possibly more comfortable seating.  Everything that we got was super tasty -- we had the roasted red peppers, bone marrow, suckling pig roulade, and something else that I can't remember.  I liked the hipster music playing in the background.  The only downside was that nothing on the dessert menu sounded tasty enough to get, though to be fair, I am not sure I really understood what at least some of the items were.  I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a nice place to eat in Tulum.  It was way more expensive than all of the other places that we went during the week, but not very expensive by Bay Area standards.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Mexico 2019: The Crack (and Beyond) at Naharon

Kevin, Karl, and Bobby dived Naharon the day before we arrived, so we had to save it for after they left.  It is one of my favorite caves in Mexico.  I like pretty much all of the sections that I've dived that are below the halocline.  Today we rented scooters so that we could make it to the crack and still have time to get some pictures and video in the crack.  We've done the dive as a kick dive, but that doesn't leave you a ton of time in the crack for photos and videos.

Since it was just the two of us, we were a bit speedier getting ready and out of ZG in the morning, and made it down to Naharon at 9.  We were the first divers to get there, but another car with divers (who we'd seen at Mayan Blue yesterday) showed up while we were getting ready.  After looking at the various sets of stairs and platforms, we decided to go with the obvious and easy set of stairs right by where you park, even though the stairs in the water were a bit broken.  We got into our drysuits and then got in to put gear in the water (and cool off).  The ropes that run across the cenote for "swimmers" to hold onto are also convenient for clipping off gear :)

The plan was to scooter to just before the second dome, and drop our scooters there.  We'd go to the crack, right at the T and turn whenever gas or something else called for it.  Then on the way back out, we'd take the jump to Southwest Sacbe and spend whatever time we had left/felt like down there.  We hadn't really decided whether we'd stay on Southwest Sacbe or go to South Sacbe.  So that was the plan.  Once we got going, Rob installed the reel.  That took approximately forever :)  By the time we had installed the reel, dropped O2 bottles, and Rob had mounted the strobe on my tank, my gauge read 12 minutes.  We finally got going and then a minute or two later, got to the Desconocido jump.  Once that was installed we really got going.

The cave was even darker than I remember.  I thought at first that the viz might be worse than usual, but it was probably just dark.  I also didn't remember how much time you spend in the halocline!  I felt like Rob wasn't doing an awesome job managing his position and the halocline and the line, but I think on the way out I wasn't doing any better, so I can't really blame him.  There were a bunch of passages where you could be either above the halocline or below the halocline or, if you wanted to be on the same horizontal plane as the line, then you are righ in the halocline.  I found that a little annoying!  Anyhoo, I didn't have any memory of how long it took to make it to various waypoints, so I'll mention those here for future reference :)  From the Desconocido jump, it took 10 minutes to get to the first dome (which comes up to 45-ish feet) and then 5 more minutes to the second dome (which comes up to 30-ish feet; in a previous blog post I said 25 feet, but I did not see it get that shallow today).  Also in a previous post I said that the second dome is "cozier" than I'd remembered, so with that thought it my mind, I was expecting it to be a squeeze.  There's really only one section that is small, and it's at the very top, when you swim through a low wide slot that's maybe two body lengths long.

From there, we kicked for a while.  I dropped my stage 9 minutes past the second dome.  I was in and out of the halocline for a long time, and actually I was spending as much time above the halocline as I could, since that was easiest to see the line without disturbing it.  I remembered the jump being after we were definitely below the halocline (not in it).  We kept going a few minutes longer and the tunnel got a bit narrower with cheesy-textured walls once we got below the halocline.  Rob started to suspect that we'd missed the jump.  I couldn't imagine that we'd missed it, but I also didn't remember the passage looking like this.  I suggested that we go another 5 minutes and then turn it if we didn't find the jump.  Then like 2 minutes later, the passage got quite a bit narrowed and headed up a slope as it turned to the right.  At this point Rob stopped again, and asked if we should keep going.  I told him to keep going 3 more minutes (hey, we agreed on 5!).  He headed up the slope and junk started raining down on me.  I grabbed the line and thought it was still not so bad that I couldn't follow him.  I took one or two fin kicks and got wedged into a spot right on the line.  I think I needed to be further to the left of the line and holding my arm out to hold the line.  At this point the viz was getting worse and worse and I decided to give up, and wait for Rob to turn around.  I waited for what felt like forever.  First I went to the bottom of the slope and waited there for a minute or two.  But the viz was getting worse and worse so then I moved a few fin kicks further back and waited there for a couple minutes.  Finally I saw Rob's light, and we headed back out.

We swam back a bit more than 5 minutes before finding the tunnel we were meant to jump to.  When we got to the tunnel, we were in a passage where I'd be swimming above the halocline, so not really even looking for the tunnel because I was sure it was after we were below the halocline :(  Anyhoo, for future reference, the tunnel is about a 10 minute swim past the second dome.  Once we found the tunnel, Rob put the jump in and I did some mental math to figure out our turn pressure and when to drop my stage.  Once we got going, Rob was stopping, turning around, and taking pictures, pretty frequently.  So we were moving pretty slowly through there.  We eventually made it to the T (where I dropped my stage), and went right.  After about 5 minutes, the passage started getting a bit smaller, and you had to put some thought into where to swim.  The passage itself wasn't really smaller, but the decorations were jutting out in odd ways so you had to swim around them.  Then there was a section where the tunnel became a bit less decorated, and this seemed like a good place to turn around, so I signaled Rob.  When we turned around, I switched lightheads to the video lighthead and got my GoPro out, so I could get some video of the passage.  I took a few minutes of video, and then put the camera away and switched back to my regular light head.

When we got back to the spool, Rob asked me to clean it up (not sure why) so I did.  I was spooling up and realized that my stage was getting pretty low, so after I had half cleaned up the spool, I handed it off to Rob, so I could switch off my stage while he cleaned up.  I didn't want to get back to the line, finish cleaning up the spool, and *then* have to switch off of my stage while Rob stared at me impatiently.  My other stage was just around the corner, so I picked that up and we were off.  The swim and scooter out was pretty uneventful.  When I came up the second dome and entered the cozy "slot" section, *both* of my feet got caught up on the ceiling which scraped both of my fin straps halfway off.  So when I got out of the small section I had to flap around a bit to pull my fin straps back on.  We got out of the dome, picked up our scooters, and headed out.  We caught up to a team of three divers (I think the ones from Mayan Blue yesterday) on the way out, and they were kind enough to scoot aside and let us pass.

When we got to the Southwest Sacbe jump, another team had installed the jump.  We ditched bottles and scooters and Rob put the jump in.  Such a long jump.  So long that the other team which had installed the jump had run out of spool (I would never do that :P) like 4 feet before the line and had to attach another spool to make it work.  (Random aside, the spool that ran out line was a mighty fine-looking pink spool.  I need some pink spools.  Or even better some purple spools.)  When we came to the South Sacbe jump, Rob asked which way I wanted to go and I said to stay on the SW line.  We probably went up the line maybe 10 or 12 minutes before I called it on gas.  When I called turn, I told Rob I wanted to video on the way out, so he handed me the video lighthead (which he was wearing since it looks dumb in pictures to have a spare lighthead clipped to your chest D-ring).  I turned off my light, swapped lightheads, then turned it back on.  It came on briefly and then went out.  I thought maybe it was a bad connection, so I tried disconnecting the EO and then reconnecting and still it wouldn't come on.  Then I switched back to my regular lighthead and it wouldn't come on again either.  Sad kitty 😿 I thought maybe something was wrong with the cord, but Rob told me afterward that striking the light takes more power than running the light, so the battery may have been low enough to not strike but not so low that it wasn't working continuously before.  So I guess I should turn off my light late in the dive if I don't need to :)

So I had to swim out on a Scout light.  Boohoo.  3 out of 4 dives have ended with one of us exiting on a Scout light so far this trip!  The swim and scooter out from this point were uneventful.  When I got back to the Desconocido line, another team was approaching and I think they were waiting to take the Sacbe jump (they belonged to the spool that was already installed, I think).  When we got back to the reel and Rob started to pull it, I was just glad I didn't have to reel up all that way on a scooter!  It seemed to take forever (though Rob was being very efficient).  When we got to 20 feet, I figured out the deco, which was 24 minutes.  Okay actually I figured it out way back on the swim out from SW Sacbe, because I had a pretty good idea of how long it would be to get out.  I tried to pin myself to the ceiling for the duration, but the slope of the ceiling isn't really friendly to that.  I did it anyway for maybe half of the deco and then got annoyed by how uncomfortable it was, so then I just hung by the line.  Before you know it, it was time to surface.

We surfaced to way more people (swimmers and divers) than there had been when we got in.  I managed to extract myself from the water pretty gracefully even though some of the stairs were broken.  There was a group of 4 or so divers getting setup to get in, who very nicely helped us pull all of our bottles and scooters.  So that took no time at all.  It turns out they are from the bay area too!

Once we were all packed up, we headed to Tulum for lunch.  We decided to try someplace new, so we went to Burrito Amor.  I would definitely not recommend this as a post-dive spot.  The burritos were kind of small (a fine size for a normal meal, but not for a post-dive meal) and they did not have chips and salsa!  We managed to get some chips (which I think they will serve with guacamole), but they don't have salsa.  Also the "smoked pork" is really just ham.  Maybe it should have been obvious that I was ordering a ham burrito, but it wasn't to me.  But the mojito I got there was excellent -- the best mojito I've had on the trip.  The good thing about not being stuffed with chips as lunch was we had plenty of room for gelato!  I got key lime pie and Rob got a double scoop (!) of mango and coconut.

Swarm of baby sea turtles
Later in the afternoon, we decided to go to the Akumal beach bar for a drink and snack.  I don't know how this plan came about... if it was supposed to be a pre-dinner thing or an in lieu of dinner thing, but it ended up being in lieu of dinner.  While we were there, we noticed something going on on the beach.  There was a woman there that seemed to be doing something science-y.  So we went to check it out, and she was standing next to a pile of baby turtles.  I'm not sure if that's the technical term, but that's what it was.  They were tiny and so cute!  They weren't really moving and then all of a sudden they all started trying to crawl out of the pile.  So cute!  She was capturing them and putting them into buckets.  The beach in Akumal is completely covered with sargassum seaweed, which smells pretty gross (part of the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, which I hadn't heard about but randomly happened upon an article on CNN right after we got back).  Apparently the seaweed on the beach prevents the baby turtles from making it to the water.  So I assume that's why they were being packed into buckets.