False Killer Whales Sighted by Cozumel Divers Last Week

photos by Bonnie Pelnar, article by Jen Pobiak

Bonnie Pelnar, from Underwater Colours, was teaching a photo workshop at Scuba Club (which she does bi-annually) when she managed to capture these amazing images of False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens) underwater. Since it was during one of her photo-seminars, everyone on board the Reef Star was a photographer. We had just finished our dive at  San Franciso Wall and were heading north toward our second dive site, Santa Rosa. The captain shouted that he had seen whales and we started noticing several pods making their way north. There were at least 60 or more as they were cruising along side our wake and surfacing right along-side our boat, as well as along-side several other dive boats in the vicinity. After watching them for 15-20 minutes, several of us jumped in with snorkel gear and cameras.*

While we were in the water, several of the curious whales came to check us out. A friend of ours, Kevin Frillman, can be seen in one of the photos freediving with one of the whales. We saw him dive down and slowly turn and the whale did the same in synch! I had my own special encounter as two of the whales came toward me and circled me, one coming within arm’s reach. I cannot even begin to describe the shivers that I felt as I made eye contact with this beautiful, intelligent animal. It was an absolutely amazing experience. It reminded me that I am just this small entity, this little fish in a huge sea, yet we are all connected. There was this beautiful intelligent animal and we had this encounter for just a moment. It went on with its travels and I will be going on with mine, but I will never forget it as a constant reminder of just how precious our oceans resources and animals are.

*It is recommended to exercise great caution and not get in the water with these whales. Although social, there is no real documentation of how these wild animals interact with other species. The people in our group who entered the water were advanced scuba divers and photographers with past knowledge and experience of snorkeling and diving in deep waters with marine life. 

Quintana Roo named World Tourism Capital for Peace

Quintana Roo Governor Roberto
Borge Angulo was named Peace Ambassador, and the state was designated as the
2012-2013 World Tourism Capital for Peace by the World Organization for Peace
(WOFP) on Sunday.

These honors were given to
the region because it is considered a model for outstanding cultural and
tourism programs, as well as the preservation and promotion of Mayan culture,
the kindness of its people and its quality of tourism services.

During the event, the
governor said that the awards will serve to showcase to the world the region’s
tourism and culture. He was accompanied by Quintana Roo Tourism Secretary Juan
Carlos Gonález Hernández; the WOFP Director for Mexico, Central America and the
Caribbean Danclair Darío del Valle Hamilton; and WOFP consultant Juan Pablo
Mirabent Pizarro Suárez.

After receiving the
lifelong honorific of Peace Ambassador
, the governor spoke about the
significance of Quintana Roo’s programs being recognized by the United Nations
as a model for building a better world.

He said that the awards
imply more responsibility and new challenges, and that he will continue with
the intense task of promoting the region’s cultural, archeological and tourism
treasures, as well as increasing the quality of services, infrastructure and
life of the people of Quintana Roo.

“Quintana Roo was selected
among eight important international tourist centers because of its
sustainability, organization, and quality services and activities. It was
judged for its archeological sites and splendid culture, as well as the
people’s dedication to service, and its pleasant year-round climate,” he said.

Quintana Roo was selected
on May 7 in Geneva, Switzerland by the WOFP, an organization governed by the
United Nations, among the following international tourism center finalists: Rio
de Janeiro, Brasil; Giza, Egypt; New York, United States; Agra, Uttar Pradesh
State, India; Rome, Italy; Dubai, the United Arab Emirates; and Paris, France.

The state of Quintana Roo is an amazing, diverse and safe place to visit and live.  Cozumel is a wonderful jumping off point to experience the history, culture and wildlife of the Yucatan.  Be sure to stay in your home away from home.

Turtle Nesting Season Begins in 2012

May 15th is the official start of the 2012 turtle nesting season
according to the Comité de Protección a la Tortuga Marina. Brigades in search
of early nests have already discovered 10, nine of which have been discovered
in Playa Box, located on the eastern side of the island.

Cozumel is fortunate to be a protected breeding area to two species
of turtles, the loggerhead (careta careta) and the green turtle (chelonian
mydas). During the months of May through September these turtles come ashore to
lay their eggs on Cozumel’s eastern beaches. Sea turtles generally lay between
150-200 eggs each time and can nest up to 6 times in a breeding season. The
eggs take around 60 days to incubate before the baby turtles head toward the

Presidential Family on Vacation in Cozumel

Felipe Calderon and his family have been enjoying a quick pre-birthday vacation in Cozumel, at the Presidential Retreat, “Quinta Maya.” According to various sources, the First Family arrived, with security detail in tow, on Saturday, where they watched the Mexican Sub 20 team beat Columbia. Sunday morning, President Calderon and family accompanied by two patrols of security police, the municipal police, the military and a personal ambulance went scuba diving and visited Cozumel’s beaches. The President’s birthday is August 18th.

Turtle Nesting Season Well Underway

Cozumel is fortunate to play host to thousands of sea turtles coming
ashore to nest each year.
During the nights of May through September, on the Eastern shore of
the island, two species of sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on
the beaches of Cozumel.

The turtles, known as the loggerhead turtle (Careta careta or as they’re commonly known caguamas) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), generally lay
from 100-150 eggs and can nest up to 6 times in one season. Roughly 60
days later, the young hatchlings emerge at the surface of the nest,
typically at night when the temperatures are cooler, and immediately
head for the ocean following the light reflected off of the water’s

In addition, the bays and reefs of the Cozumel area are also
foraging areas where sea turtles such as hawksbill (Eretmochelys
imbricate) turtles and giant leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) turtles
have been sighted swimming just offshore.

Since the nesting season began this year, already over 600
nests have been identified. Of these nests 75 of them are loggerhead
turtles and 56 are from green
sea turtles. Volunteer brigades are patrolling the eastern side of the
island from Mezcalito’s down to the ecological reserve “Faro
Celarain” in search of nests. 

During the Cozumel nesting season, the City works in co-ordination with
local police and Federal armed forces to limit activity on the east side
at nights during turtle nesting season. In the evenings of nesting
season, only the salvation program participants with specifically
designated biologists, interns, and volunteers are allowed to walk the
beaches in search of nesting female turtles, turtle nests, and recent
hatchlings. Among their duties include the protecting and tagging of
females, the collection scientific data, the relocation of eggs to more
favorable locations on the beach, and the release of hatchlings to the
sea. From the data collected, the salvation program is then able to
determine turtle hatching success, behavior, distribution, and

At this time there are essentially two turtle salvation efforts in progress:

  1. The Parks and Museum Foundation’s Punta Sur Park Salvation Program
    – This program began in 2000 and covers the beach area from the
    entrance of Punta Sur Park all the way to the south lighthouse. Since
    access to the park is closed to the public at night, this program enjoys
    significant protection from poachers. This is a FOR PROFIT endeavor
    that offers tours that are publicized through the Cozumel Museum.
    Tickets for these excursions run about $50 per person and are sold
    through the Cozumel Museum downtown.

  2. The City of San Miguel’s Volunteer Salvation Program
    – This program began back in the late 1980’s and covers the beaches
    from Mezcalitos south to the Punta Sur Park entrance. What began as a
    grassroots effort by a few citizens interested in turtle conservation,
    eventually evolved into a small City funded program whereby the City
    relied upon volunteers to do the nightly work, but were able to fund the
    salaries of 2 biologists to supervise the sanctuary and the work of the
    volunteers. For many years, no other funds were available to further
    develop the program or to provide supplies, gas or vehicles for the
    volunteer groups working the beaches each night.

How can you particpate?

Beginning with the 2006 season, in an attempt to generate more interest
and increase awareness of Cozumel’s turtle population, the Turtle
Salvation Program’s governing Committee of Brigades has made a provision
to allow “one time guests” to participate in the Program provided these
guests are supervised and work within the structure of a Brigade.

Those wanting to participate and work with a
Brigade for 1 or 2 nights during their vacation stay must request
permission in advance, be approved and be assigned to a Volunteer

There are 2 ways to participate ~

Tourists visiting Cozumel or those living here who would like to work for an entire night (or morning) side by side with a turtle brigade can do so during the sea turtle nesting season for a nominal donation per person June 1 through November 15th annually.

Tourists visiting Cozumel or those living here who would like to observe, learn and release baby turtles one night for a few hours with a turtle brigade can do so during the sea turtle nesting season for a nominal donation per person from June 1 through November 15th annually. 

To make a request to participate or observe please visit
Turtle Brigade Participation Application or Observation Request Form

NOTE: Requests are submitted to an approval process and are handled
on first-come, first-serve basis. Please allow 1 week for a response.

Also, please remember to never take dogs to the other side
of the island during the turtle nesting season (day or night).  Many dogs will dig holes and take out the eggs.  Also, the scent of
dogs may discourage a female turtle to nest where she smells ‘predators’.

DWTS Karina Smirnoff sets Hot Winter Weather Date…in Cozumel!

From E Online:

Karina Smirnoff‘s wedding planning is coming along just as she has hoped.

The Dancing With Stars hoofer told us back in March that she and baseball player Brad Penny would be getting hitched in January…

We’re happy to report that she wasn’t fibbing to try and throw us off. The couple will become husband and wife on January 21, 2012. Smirnoff’s rep also tells E! News exclusively that the nuptials will take place in Cozumel, Mexico.

“I have a lot of family and friends that live in Europe and Israel, and Brad has a big family in Oklahoma,” Smirnoff, who recently stripped down for Playboy, told People magazine this weekend at Tao nightclub in Las Vegas. “It’s going to be a very diverse, colorful crowd.”

She also revealed that she’s deciding between six wedding dress. Yes, six.

All, however, have one thing in common. “I want the train to be as long as Hollywood Boulevard because it’s like, you only get to wear it once,” she told us in March. “I want it to be memorable. Like a princess.”

For the original article, go here:  http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/marc_malkin/b245878_dwts_karina_smirnoff_sets_hot_winter.html 

Passenger Ferries to/from Playa del Carmen and Cozumel

Currently, two ferry companies operate the route between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen on the mainland, Waterjets (blue and white) and Ultramar (yellow). The crossing takes about 30-40 minutes and departs from the Ferry Pier downtown. 

Between them, they run ferries back and forth, on the hour, almostevery hour, between 5am and 11pm. The price is around 155 pesos ($13.50) each way for adults or 93 pesos (approx. $8) for children. 

Buy a single ticket because you may need to use the other ferry company coming back and the tickets aren’t transferable. 

Mexico Water Jets Ultramar
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Note: timetables often change from month-to-month and even day-to-day. Please confirm times at the pier or by telephone prior to departure. Prices may change too and are meant here only as a guide.

Telephone Ultramar, Playa del Carmen (984) 803-5581. 

Telephone Waterjets, Cozumel 872-1508, 872-1588 or Playa del Carmen (984) 879-3112. 

Check this page for updates too:  


Airlines that fly into Cozumel

Air Canada 

Flights to/from Toronto/Montreal and the rest of the world. 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 1-888-247-2262
Mexico Toll Free: 01-800-719-2827

American Airlines – American Eagle 

Flights to/from Dallas/Fort Worth/Miami and the rest of the world. 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 1-800-433-7300
Mexico Toll Free: 01-800-904-6000
Cozumel: 872-0899

Continental Airlines 

Flights to/from Houston, New York (Newark/Liberty) and the rest of the world. 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 800-523-FARE (800.523.3273)
Mexico: 01-800-123-4710

Delta Airlines 

Flights to/from Denver. 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 800-241-4141

Frontier Airlines 

Flights to/from Denver and beyond. 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 800-4321-FLY (800-432-1359)
Denver Metro: (303) 371-7000


Flights to/from Mexico City. 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 1-866-285-9525
Mexico Toll Free: 01-800-01-12345
Mexico City: 11-02-55-55
Email: [email protected] 


Flights to/from Cancun and Merida.  As of 7/2011, it’s less than $60 USD to fly from Cancun to Cozumel.  And it’s a spectacular view!  Book online too!


United Airlines 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 1-800-538-2929
Mexico Toll Free: 01-800-003-0777


Flights to/from Toronto. 

USA/Canada Toll Free: 1-888-WESTJET (937-8538)
Mexico: 01 800 514 7288

Once you arrive at the airport, you will find a taxi desk in the arrivals area. They will call you a comfortable, mini-van taxi that you can share with other groups (colectivo) or take privately.

If you want to save money, walk about 500m (550 yds) across the parking lot to the road outside the airport and wait to hail a normal white with red-stripe taxi, although they can sometimes be slow coming.

Or, to avoid hassle at the airport and for the ultimate peace of mind you may book online the airport transfer van here.   If you’re staying at Casa Cascada, then you’ll purchase the Downtown fare.

Of course, you may also rent a car.  All major call rental companies are on the island and you may pre-book online.

Where to snorkel in Cozumel!

One of the places my husband and I always snorkel is the Barracuda Hotel.  If you’re staying at Casa Cascada, you can walk to the Barracuda for some awesome snorkeling right off the beach.  I’ve seen stingrays, all types of reef fish, a lionfish (and a stonefish) and of course, a few Barracuda. Enjoy their awesome pool with float up bar (and a great restaurant) while you’re there too!  http://www.hotelbarracuda.com 

Also, try the roped off area to the right of the Money Bar.  You can see rays, barracudas, octopus, turtles, crabs and lobsters. Snorkel all the way to the other end of the ropes and don’t forget to circle around the rocks and coral formations as that’s where most of the critters are hanging out. 

Punta Sur Park has a great long reef to explore. Costs money to get in, but well worth it!