Hol Chan was my first dive in Belize as well as my first salt water dive. Curtis, Kristen, Nick and I boarded the boat at 9am. Our dive master, Felipe, was our boat driver and guide for the morning. After a short 8 minute boat ride we arrived at Hol Chan, a local reef. Felipe gave us a quick briefing of the area, as well as hand signs for different aquatic life we may see such as nurse sharks, turtles, rays and barracudas. I was getting ready to enter the water when Felipe told me he was having trouble with my regulator hose leaking. He told me it would be fine as long as I kept an eye on my gauge and asked me if I was comfortable with it. I told him I was alright with it, but when he opened the air tank there was a super loud constant whooooshing noise. The expression on my face must have changed drastically because he immediately said we were swapping regs. After a quick swap I was in the water. I should have checked my BC first because it wasn’t inflating and I was kicking like crazy not to sink like a rock. And through my struggles I hear Curtis muttering “jilly… look… boat… shark.” I tried looking for it, but I was concentrating too hard not to sink the whole 6′ to the bottom. I swam closer to the boat and Felipe made a few quicky adjustments (apparently his reg doesn’t hook well to most BCs) and after that we were on our way.
We saw lots of schools of fish swimming about and hovering in the coral. There were tons of horse eyed jacks, silver fish with giant horse like eyes. Felipe was a great guide, searching for things of interest for us to look at like hidden eels, sand dwelling creatures, marine life hiding in shells and crab skeletons. He pointed out a tiny baby black and white fish that was less than an inch long. It looked similar to an angel fish. The water was so clear it didn’t even look like we were 30′ down. There were snorkelers on the surface and it was neat to see them from a different perspective.
It was also the first time I got to try out my new MiniReef digital diving camera. It worked out really well, much better than a disposable. The pictures turned out real well while I was holding still, but with the current it was hard to hold the same spot. Especially since most of my subjects were moving and I didn’t have time to get my buoyancy under control. And I think I might have been slightly overweighted as well.
I didn’t even notice we were ascending until we were back in the grassy 6′ water. Then there it was. The nurse shark was back. He was just a little guy, maybe 3 feet long, and I don’t think my picture turned out well because he was too far away. Then we spotted a ray floating around at a distance, as well as a turtle. Soon we were back on the boat and on our way to Shark Ray Alley for a bit of snorkeling.
At Shark Ray Alley Kristen and I were the first in the water and there was a huge shark right below us. The water was only about 8 feet deep, so he was pretty close. He didn’t seem to like our presence much because he swam off right away, but not before I got a great pic. One of the boats there had food for the fish. Of course there were more horse eyed jacks. There were a few rays and one of them was huge. There were a few nurse sharks too. Curtis and Nick touched the shark and said it felt like sandpaper. I petted a ray, it was squishy and slimy feeling. We snorkeled there for a while and I was having just a heck of a time getting my mask to seal on my face. It kept flooding, then my eyes would get all stingy, then my mask became permafogged. But even with the mask issues it was well worth it to be swimming with sharks :bigsmile:
**CHECK BACK SOON FOR PHOTOS**