In June 2022 Diving with Heroes embarked on its first international excursion since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Diving with Heroes traveled to Cozumel, Mexico, to experience what Jacques Cousteau dubbed the most spectacular diving in the world.
The divers stayed at Iberostar Cozumel, an all-inclusive resort at the far western end of Isla Cozumel, and dove with Dressel Divers on-site. While the resort is the furthest from the airport, it is the closest to all of the favorite dive sites -- the divers spent a minimal amount of time on the dive boat shuttling to and fro. The current was subdued so each dive was a leisurely drift over vibrant reef. The group enjoyed fishes of all shapes and sizes including: white-spotted filefish, splendid toadfish (which is endemic to Cozumel), humongous rainbow parrotfish, giant basket star, loggerhead turtles, and southern stingrays.
One afternoon the group visited San Gervasio, a Mayan archaeological site. They learned about the Mayan culture and how they paddled to Tantun Cuzamil (Isla Cozumel) to make offerings to Ix Chel, an aged deity of childbirth, fertility and medicine. Amazingly, the group learned that stone used to construct San Gervasio's sacbe ('raised white road') was mined on the mainland and paddled over in the Mayan's canoes.
The highlight of the week was a day trip to the mainland to snorkel with whale sharks. After journeying with Heaven Under Earth Divers to Isla Mujeres, each diver got to jump in the water and swim with the whale sharks. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea and they congregate in the waters off Isla Mujeres each summer to feed. Diving with Heroes' mascot is Reggie the whale shark, so encountering whale sharks in the wild was especially meaningful. Despite their size, scientists are still working to understand more about their species. To DWH, whale sharks embody the wonder of the underwater world…grand and mysterious...and that was felt by all of the divers.
The group logged 11 dives in Cozumel, including a night dive where they found lots of Caribbean reef octopus and a dive on the C-53 wreck. The divers earned their SDI specialty certifications for Drift Diver, Computer Nitrox Diver and Marine Ecosystems Awareness Diver. One diver also earned their SDI Advanced Diver certification. A total of 32 certifications were earned during the course of the week.
DWH Beneficiaries: Felipe Chuab, Carlos Gonzalez, Marc Hale, Rodney Hickey, Katara Trammel and Lisa Vien.
Returning Alumni: Neal Hamilton (as a DWH volunteer), Ethan Hughes, Julio Villanueva and Rocio Villanueva.