Mama Viña Wreck Site
The Mama Vina is a wreck of a shrimp or crab boat intentionally sunk in 1995. The wreck itself is not very big and lies at a depth of about 90ft. There is abundant marine life around the wreck. The wreck can be easily explored from the inside with enough space to move about. But watch out for the fire coral around the doors and windows!
We walk to the dive shop Scuba Playa and meet our guide Fabian. Gear up, take a short walk to shore and wade to the small dive boat. We have a ~20 min boat ride since the site lies about 5 miles south of the Scuba Playa Dive shop in Playa Del Carmen. I’m with my friends Ken, Don, Judy and Dennis. We are all in good spirits and ready for this dive.
Upon descent we realized just how strong the current was and swim towards the wreck. The visibility is quite good. Reaching the bow the current swiftly brings us back to the stern. We whip around and swim up the side back to the bow and explore the ship from the outside. I peak in through the windows here and there by the bow. There are several Queen angelfish to see. But now it’s time to explore inside the ship.
I enter from the stern side following Fabian. He lights up the school of fish for me as I film (GoPro Hero 10) them shining in the light. Following Fabian to exit back to the open bow he gives me the turtle sign and to the right. I’m wearing just a swimsuit and shorts so as I exit the door my leg brushes some fire coral. I feel the immediate fiery sting but the pain is short-lived. I spy the large turtle and focus on filming him.
We are all at the bow watching the turtle nibble. He eventually leaves the bow to open water as we give him one last glimpse and waive good bye.
We surface and climb back into the boat. This is the not so pleasant part of any small boat dive, climbing back up that ladder. Sitting down and sighing relief I look at my leg which already has the red rash and welts from the fire coral stings. Still not feeling any more pain though. We talk about everything we saw and experienced while we get under way to the next dive site.
Barracuda Dive Site
A shallow reef with a strong current and many different coral formations. Like most of the reefs in Playa there’s lots of sand and open space with a long wall with cavelets and arches. It’s a very short boat ride just north to Barracuda.
We gear up again after about 45 min time and descend to the bottom.
Another very strong current. At one point I’m looking at everyone with fins kicking, we are all moving fast but perfectly perpendicular to our facing direction. When we spot something new to look at we swing around and angle our way over. Of course we overshot a couple interesting things and struggled to get just a couple feet backward. Overall our aim was pretty good.
The fish are huddled in large schools all along these walls. We see a trumpet fish, a moray eel, lionfish and a nurse shark in one of the many cavelets on this dive.
Back on the boat we talk about our fire coral stings, seems everyone got a little bit but I got the worst of it. After several days more I still had the red welts with no change. There’s no pain but it’s sporadically itchy. I kept putting isopropyl alcohol to try and inactivate the toxin followed by periodic hydrocortisone and topical lidocane.