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Old 02-27-2010, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

One of my friends in So. Florida sent this to me yesterday and thought you guys would enjoy the Pics. The images and water clarity along with all the Sails is pretty stunning. Seeing this makes me wonder how we ever are lucky enough to catch a billfish.

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<DIV class=postcolor id=post-242842>I recently had the chance to fill a last minute spot on a trip to Isla Mujeres put together by award-winning videographer, wetpixel moderator (and all-around good guy) Shawn Heinrichs. I'm sure I'm not alone in having been drooling over the pics - from the cover of the current issue of Wetpixel, the trip report from Eric and Tony (http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=34224), Nigel's POTW winner and two Honorable Mentions at Our World Underwater, it's clear that the sailfish of Isla Mujeres are the hot ticket these days.

Isla Mujeres is a small island off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula about a 30 minute ferry ride from Cancun. It's obviously very touristy, hosting (literally) boat loads of partying day-trippers from Cancun, but it's still not over the top. No whistles tweeting and guys pouring cheap tequila down your mouth and shaking your head if you know what I mean. Think a smaller version Cozumel maybe 25 years ago. And the "port" (really just a few docks) is kinda picturesque with lots of personalized pangas on the beach along with a dozen or so sport fishing boats lining the docks. The skies were overcast when we boarded one of those sport fishing boats, the "Lilly M" at 6 a.m.

Unfortunately, it had been stormy and windy for the last few days. We pounded out through the 5-6 ft swells under gray skies, the front clear plastic wind screen looking like the inside of a washing machine. After about an hour we decided to head back - too rough and too gray. There'd be no sailfish that day - not an auspicious beginning.

The wind continued to blow all night, but there were less clouds and the sea was somewhat calmer when we boarded the next morning. About an hour after leaving the dock, Capt Rogelio steered the boat towards a small group of birds working near the surface and pretty soon we were on our first bait ball. When I came up with this image on my screen, I knew we were in for some great stuff

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="1" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113137.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 360 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>

I had thought since the sailfish bring the bait balls pretty much to the surface that we'd be mostly snorkeling. You want to wear your snorkel for sure, but it turns out it's typically more like "scuba lite": they fit you with pony bottles and a small harness (no bc) and wearing a 3 mm wetsuit and 4-5 lbs, you're neutral at about 15 ft. And the Lilly M is a sport fishing boat - clean and well-kept, but there aren't a whole lot of accommodations made for divers. There's a 2 ft wide swim step and that's about it. There's none of this giant stride/back roll float on the surface while they hand me down my camera stuff. When they spot a bait ball, they speed over to check it out, you gear up and sit on the rail with your feet over the back on the swim step. As Capt. Rogelio backs the boat up, First Mate Juan hands you your camera and when you're as close to the action as possible, Rogelio yells "Go! Go! Go!" and you leap into the water with your rig and start swimming like hell towards the birds. Or the bait ball. Or the first sailfish you see. Anything to give you direction because the action moves fast - those poor little sardines are swimming for their lives!

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; CURSOR: pointer; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="3" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113460.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 432 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>

In addition to the constant action we had occasional sun, so some pretty good light, even if the water did have a lot of particulate. We followed that bait ball for almost 2 1/2 hours. Jump in, swim like hell, get picked up, get in front of the ball, jump back in, swim like hell, get picked up - repeat. I thought I was in pretty good shape and I got totally crushed. Even with the action going off and Rogelio urging me on with "Mas, Phillipe, mas!", I found myself panting out a reply in my crap spanish: "Cinco minuto, por favor, cinco minuto..." Still, we got some great images and earned our cervezas that night!

The next day the seas were calmer but the sky was cloudier. This time we had to search for our first bait ball. Eventually we found one and were able to stay on it for 30 minutes which gave us some more great action

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; CURSOR: pointer; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="5" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267118774.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 432 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>

but after it was over there were no more fish to be found. We motored around for another hour and a half before calling it quits.

The next day it was dark. I mean DARK - heavy clouds threatened rain, but as luck would have it, we found some of the best water clarity yet. As Eric said in his post, you're always hoping for 3 elements to come together - fish, sun and clear water. So far we had the most important - fish - but were only able to manage getting 1 out of the other 2 at any time. Even with the dark skies, we found several bait balls and stayed on them for most of the morning and still came home with some good stuff



Our last day, it was just Shawn and me on the boat - Bob had gotten enough footage for his project and left the day before and Michael was happy with his haul of images and video so stayed ashore with his wife and young daughter (go figure!). As we motored out, we had high hopes - the sun was coming through! We were on our first bait ball by 7:15 which only lasted 20 minutes or so. As we waited for more action to develop, the sun crept higher in the sky and it looked like it was going to stay clear. We started to see bird action all around us and jumped in on our next ball and hit the jackpot - as we jumped in an out trying to keep up with the action, there were more sailfish than we'd ever seen! "How many?" Rogelio asked. "Every sailfish in the ocean!" Shawn exclaimed with a big grin.

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="8" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113301.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 360 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>

By mid-morning, there were several bait balls around us and we hopped from one to the other. The sails were charging and slashing at the bait, picking off fish right and left

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; CURSOR: pointer; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="10" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113272.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 360 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="12" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113257.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 360 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="14" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113122.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 432 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>

As soon as the sailfish would finish off one we were on to the next. This went on all morning! Whenever the bait would slow down and stay in one place for a few moments, we'd take turns getting into the thick of it before the bait was off and running again

<DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; CURSOR: pointer; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="16" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113314.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 417 ] - Click to view full image</DIV>
Shawn at work

By 1:00 we were cooked. 5 straight hours! Even though the sun was still high in the sky and we could see pockets of birds around us, we just couldn't take any more. Shawn and I both passed out on the ride back to port and that night celebrated our amazing luck on our last day.

Special thanks to Shawn, Anthony and Kin at Keen M International, and Capt. Rogelio and Juan for perfect drops every time. I can't wait to go back!

Phil

More pics at http://gallery.me.com/philsokol#100206
<SPAN class=edit>Attached image(s) <DIV class=resized-linked-image title="Click to view full image" style="PADDING-RIGHT: 2px; PADDING-LEFT: 2px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 2px; WIDTH: 508px; CURSOR: pointer; PADDING-TOP: 2px" _is_div="1" _resize_id="18" _src="http://wetpixel.com/forums/uploads/monthly_02_2010/post-14526-1267113098.jpg">Reduced: 94% of original size [ 540 x 360 ] - Click to view full image</DIV> </DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV>

<SPAN class=signature>--
<DIV class=signature>Phil Sokol
Canon 50D, 40D, Subal, dual YS 250's, Tokina 10-17, Canon 60mm and 100mm
"Hey Dean! How do you work this crazy thing?!" Jerry Lewis</DIV></TD><TD class=post2 id=post-main-242842 vAlign=top width="100%"><DIV class=postcolor id=post-242842></DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
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Old 02-27-2010, 06:02 PM   #2
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Those pics are awesome..... Looks like you guys had a great trip, THANKS for sharing.... You sure know what to do with a camera....:bowdown
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Old 02-27-2010, 06:39 PM   #3
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Beautiful pictures, that place is off the chart. We were fortunate to spend Dec-Mar there last winter and it is really unbelievable. I was so tempted to jump in and see for my self the underwater scene. Your pictures are so good I am not sure if I don't need to make the jump the next time I am there or if it makes me want to more......I think they make me want to check it out for myself even more.
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Old 02-27-2010, 07:03 PM   #4
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Excellent pics. (screen saver):bowdown
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:09 PM   #5
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Absolutely outstanding pictures. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:30 PM   #6
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Great pics! Bet that was an awesome trip-
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:32 PM   #7
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

wow
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:40 PM   #8
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Incredible.
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Old 02-28-2010, 12:08 AM   #9
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Them old Poor herring had no chance! It was like at a All you can Eat bar! Who ever said, " A picture Is Worth a thousand Words" Was 1000% correct! UNBELEIVABLE PHOTO'S! Need some Wahoo shots next!:clap
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Old 02-28-2010, 12:35 AM   #10
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Default RE: Pretty cool underwater Pic from Isla Mujeres

Incredible pics. Thank you for posting.
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