San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

December Does it Best for Divers

DECEMBERdivers droppingdown in CostaRica might decideto check out bothof the rich coasts.Conditions duringthis month changefast. Last week isno predictor forthis week. Whilesweet conditionson both coasts arehard to forecast,December oftendoes it for divers.Big waves and rain are restocking thereefs of the South Caribbean after the dryseason’s usual underwater hunting free forall.The reefs in and surrounding CahuitaNational Park and the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge areoften picked clean after two months ofsummer and clear, calm seas inSeptember and October.November’s wind, waves and currentstirs the sea and brings life up from deeperand distant reefs. If the Caribbean laysdown for a few days or a week inDecember, the water can turn clear andblue overnight. This is the time for thebest chance to see some of the bigger residentsof this marine world.AFTER a month’s winter of waves,the reef life blooms like a sunny spring.The holes are full of lobster, the crevassesfull of jack. Sharks, dolphins and mackerelcome for the feast. Human huntersshow up the first day the water is clearenough to see a meal. They begin to cleanout the shelves of the reef-like shoppers ata supermarket.Luckily, in December, a session ofwaves in never too long to wait. Andwhen the swell kicks in, divers wait onthe beach while Mother Nature restocksthe shelves.Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is alsoworth a visit for diving in December.From the Bat Islands in Guanacaste’sSanta Rosa National Park in the North toCano Island Biological Reserve in thesouth, summer has kicked in early.Sunny skies light up every dive as thedry season sets in. A warming of the easterntropical Pacific, also known as an ElNiño, is apparently beginning to affect theworld’s weather and this means extremelyclear water for Pacific divers due to dangerouslydry forests and rivers on the leftcoast.DURING the last El Niño, CostaRica’s Pacific became as clear as mostlocals could remember. While amazingvistas of underwater sites opened up,marine life thinned out greatly.Sea life, apparently, prefers La Niñaand her cooler waters to the bathtub warmof El Niño. A long-lasting El Niño wouldbleach corals a bone white as they losethe symbiotic algae that gives them theircolor. Reefs with out their algae are ingrave danger. Previous Niños havealready destroyed the most spectacularreefs of Cocos Island National Park. Sothis might be the time to check out Pacificdiving before the sights evolve over thisnext dry season.DECEMBER is also the time whenthe northern hemisphere’s marine mammalsshow up for a tropical winter. Themost famous is the humpback whales thatarrive to give birth, court and mate.Many others pop up around the solstice,including Pseudorcas, BottlenoseDolphins and Fin Whales. These greatbeasts might be seen all over the Pacificcoast with Caño Island BiologicalReserve being the hotspot.Make sure youshow the animals and reefs and waters therespect they deserve and need to survive.Ask your guides or clients to do the same.LET the big stuff come to you, justlook at the little things and insure that youand your hotel or home put trash andwaste where it belongs.As usual now is the time to go divingin Costa Rica. E-mail for information, or with contributionsto the report.

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