So Much Life Just Below The Surface
by Fernando Gonzalez
Diving Cozumel; the great joy and relaxation that
comes from being under water, and remaining submerged
from l5 min. to even 9O min. while experiencing a unique
diving environment. Here lies the second largest barrier
reef in the world!
Everyone is always amazed at the variety of colorful
fish, sponges, and coral formations. The diversity that
makes up our coral reef system is like walking through the
middle of the Amazon Forest, but underwater.
The magnificent diversity of the topography is seen
from one reef to an other, in as little as a 2 nautical mile
range, as well as the same reef but at different depths.
The western reefs of the island, the world famous
Palancar, and Colombia, among many others, are amazing. The
first thing we notice are the magnificent colors of black,
purple, red, green, orange, blue, yellow, brown, as well
as other colors the human eye can not discriminate. If you
stop and really look, you'll be surprised to find at
least 10 different species of sponges in a small area
(1 sqr. meter or 3.5 sqr. ft). In deeper water some sponges
can grow to gigantic dimensions. We can find about 3000
different species, some in fresh water as well. They all
have an outstanding regeneration process ; developing
into full adult size from a small piece of another one.
But it is a slow process, taking a few years. They
reproduce sexually as well as asexually, and usually in
Spring and Fall, but this varies. You can witness this
process, literally seeing the release of sperm, which
invade females through their water circulation system
and fertilizing process goes on for about 2 weeks.
Sponges also play an important role for the reef
dwelling animals. Many invertebrate organisms live in
the crevices deep inside the atrium of the sponge, such
as brittle stars anemones, arrow crabs, pistol and
cleaning shrimps. Many other sea animals find protection,
either temporary or permanent, inside the small internal
spaces of the sponges. Researches have found crabs, clams,
flat worms, barnacles and others, living within sponges.
In addition to the western reefs, the north and
eastern reefs have a great diversity as well, but it is
almost like diving on a different island.
Come and enjoy Cozumel's hidden beauty.
Fernando Gonzalez A.
PADI MSDT 24430