A school of grunts patrolling a coral head at Akumal.
Another note to photographers is that
you should beware the merging of fresh and
salt waters, as this will blow any good shot
you thought you were going to get. If you
own a saltwater tank and have added back
fresh water to make up for evaporation
losses, you know the blurring effect I speak
of—only here it is not a slow and controlled
thing. If you have never experienced this
phenomenon, then think of the little “heat
devils” over hot asphalt in the hot summer
months. The effect is quite similar.
Back at the resort and talking to others
on the beach, it seemed that everyone else
got to see turtles over the previous few days
except for my fiancée and me. Maybe our
chance would come this afternoon.
Between breakfast and lunch, we went
back out on the resort house’s reef but
again failed to spot any turtles. However,
I did come across two cuttlefish hiding
out in and pretending to be part of a
branching sponge. Juvenile queen angelfish
were visible, as was a rather large (about
18-inch) grouper. French grunts in a large
school were also present, as well as a
juvenile yellow-tail damsel Microspathodon
chrysurus, which was still in its cute blue-speckled phase. I happened to look down
on a coral head and saw a yellow morph
cleaner goby. While I cannot be sure of the
exact species, I think it was an Elacatinus
oceanops, though it was equally likely to
have been E. randalli or E. evelynae.
Blue-headed wrasse Thalassoma bifasciatum.
and in this same spot on our way back
was a roughly 3½-foot-long barracuda.
Mangroves were plentiful, and among the
roots you can easily find juvenile fish.
Small snails can also be found in the tide
pools formed among the rocks.
Going out much farther, we came
across sergeant majors by the dozens,
which will do wonders for a tourist a bit
saddened by the constant reminders not
to touch the coral. So you want to touch
some sea life? Okay, get close to the rock
of one of these darling damsels; they’ll
swim right on over and bite you until you
go away. Do not think for a moment that
it is just an algae-covered rock. Oh no,
that is his algae covered rock, and you’d
better not touch it.
The French angel I was stalking just
plain refused to hold still long enough for
the auto focus on my backup camera to
allow me a shot. Oh, how I missed my SLR
and the ability to manually focus, but alas
it was not meant to be, I guess. At least the
damsels will let you get good pictures, if
only the price wasn’t fish bites that made
you giggle uncontrollably.
Something I did not consider was that
while morning is a great time to see fish, it
is not a great time to photograph them. It’s
like they know they can hide in the sun
rays, which they probably do, as it would
also be effective against any predators’ eye,
not just my lens. While many of these fish
would not allow me to photograph them,
they were still beautiful and worth seeing.
Behind Ancient Walls
The ruins of the ancient Mayan city of
Tulum are on the coast, and the city is
believed to have been a lookout point;
it certainly has a wonderful view. The
morning is the best time to go, as it is
quieter. If you have rented a car, try to beat
all the tour groups in, as this will give you
more time to view things—it will also be
more tranquil. If you go early, you will see
beautiful birds, iguanas perching in the
sun, and (of course) the ruins themselves.
As you work your way through the paths
around the various houses, you will end up
on a platform that looks out over the ocean.
The view is breathtaking, plain and simple.
The ocean looks almost endless from this
location, which serves as a good place to
view the ruins as well. Entering into the city
requires passing through a tunnel; if you’re
very tall like my father, who is 6 feet 5 inches,
you will have to stoop down. I myself, being
6 feet 2 inches, walked through the tunnel as
if it was designed for me.