University of Alberta Scuba Club’s Cozumel Experience

We want to share this with you; a guest post from the University of Alberta Scuba Club. Here is what they had to say about their trip to Blue Angel!

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Over the University of Alberta’s reading week, the U of A Scuba Appreciation Society had the experience of a lifetime with Blue Angel Scuba School. We also had the privilege of being one of the first groups to organize our training schedule entirely through the newly formed Blue Angel Scuba School.

U of A group shot, with the No Problem boat in Cozumel

The initial planning for the trip, all the way through to the final execution of diver training, was facilitated by veteran dive instructors and dive operators; it was the experience of a lifetime, let us tell you why…

Diver Training

The U of A Scuba Club has been building a reputation for having a lot of diver training on our trips, and this trip was no exception. For the week that we were there we needed to complete 7 PADI Open Water Diver Referrals (the “open water” portion of the Open Water certification), two Peak Performance Buoyancy specialties, three Deep Diver specialties, two Night Diver specialties, one Rescue Diver certification and one Emergency First Response Instructor course!

**phew** That’s a lot of training!

Kari Taylor Atkins with three Deep Diver students!

Scheduling all that training into the the short week that we had was definitely a challenge, but we carefully planned every dive in advance and made contingencies for delays along the way (and good thing we did). Our seven Open Water divers took to their new underwater environment like… well, like fish in water! By our third day of diving, everyone was diving confidently in their buddy pairs.

New diver on the reef.

Everyone who signed up for diver training made leaps and bounds worth of progress with their diving skills, especially the divers who participated in the Deep Diver and Peak Performance Buoyancy courses (which are highly recommended by the divers that completed them). Even our novice divers made vast improvements in their skills throughout the week, simply by having a great set of dive instructors and divemasters as role models for the rest of us.

Diving

Boat dives were the main focus of our trip, and with most of our diver training out of the way, our group prepared for the spectacular views of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Out of the 10 boat dives that we did throughout the week, we got a comprehensive view of all the different ecosystems that interplay to form all of the beauty that Cozumel is famous for –  from the towering coral heads of Palancar Bricks, to the sandy shores of La Francesca and more.

U of A scuba club underwater in Cozumel

As a group, we racked up an impressive list of fish, shark, octopus, coral and plant species throughout the week. We had playful meetings with humongous parrotfish, majestic views of hawksbill turtles, lucky sightings of camouflaged seahorses, and nocturnal encounters with caribbean reef octopuses. Several of our participants even claim to have seen rarer green turtles and fleeting glimpses of eagle rays!

octopus on a night dive

Although shore diving seems to pale in comparison to boat diving on the reef, the Villa Blanca dive site in front of the Blue Angel Resort grew to be a favourite among many of our trip’s participants. The convenience of diving in proximity to our hotel rooms and restaurant was what initially drove our divers to explore what Villa Blanca had to offer, but after a number of day and night dives from shore, we quickly realized that the diversity of life on the shore dive rivaled some of the best diving from the boats! Juveniles were especially prevalent on the shore dive, but they were a lot trickier to find than their mature counterparts!

diver in the sunset

Fun on the Island

Our trips often coincide with Cozumel’s famous Carnival, and this year we were lucky to join in with the locals to celebrate the culture of the island. Cozumel islanders dress up in some of the most ornate costumes and parade down the main street with their music blaring and good times rolling.

dancing in the carnival parade in cozumel

After all the fun we had at the Carnival and underwater, we had to give back to the people and the environment of Cozumel. We did so by organizing an afternoon cleanup of a 2 km stretch of beach on the east side of the island. The soft white sand beaches of Cozumel are immeasurably beautiful, but they are marred by human garbage that drifts in the sea and washes up on shore. After a few hours of hard labour and 34 bags of garbage, we returned the beach to its natural and beautiful state.

beach clean up in cozumel, with the university of alberta scuba club

Our Thanks

Our experience with Blue Angel Scuba School was, in one word, AWESOME! It can’t be overstated how great our experiences were; from Open Water referrals and specialty training with Kari, dive mastering by nurse shark finder Aldo and eagle ray detector Norman, videography by Tony, and the one-on-one Rescue Diver and EFR training with Matthew, every part of the diving experience was professional and enjoyable.

Thank you Blue Angel Scuba School, you’ve created memories for a lifetime.

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