Reflecting on 2019
By Jon Anderson, December 30, 2019
In 2019, I was very fortunate to do 140 dives which interestingly is the exact same number I did in 2018, perhaps we have reached an asymptote. In these 140 dives, I spent 5 days 15 hours and 20 minutes underwater, completed my 500th lifetime dive, dove in several new destinations, revisited some favorite places, had my first major article published in Alert Diver and most importantly got to share many dives with Rebecca as well as friends, new and old. To say 2019 was a great year underwater would be an understatement.
Instead of posting a group of photos selected by an algorithm that is based only on the number of Instagram likes received, I have decided to do something a bit more authentic. I dove each of the 12 months of 2019 except September so I have selected 12 photos and written 12 short captions, one from each month (two from August) to reflect on the amazing year that 2019 has been! Several of the photos have not yet been shared or published otherwise, Enjoy!
Cavern diving guide Cesar Alejos descends through spectacular beams of light in Cenote Sugar Bowl on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This was Rebecca and my first dive trip together, although she wasn’t a fan of diving in the cenotes she ended up completing her Advanced Open Water certification and we shared many ocean dives together.
A Giant Oceanic Manta Ray passes through schooling jacks at Mexico’s Revillagigedo Archipelago. I couldn't believe this once in a lifetime opportunity unfolding in front of me and feel very lucky to have captured it. This trip to Revillagigedo was a prize I earned in the 2018 SoCal Shootout and I am so happy two of my closest dive buddies, Aaron Smith & Michael Alyono, were able to accompany me on this amazing trip!
A Sabertooth Blenny peers from its beautiful hard coral home at Isla Cerralvo near La Paz, Mexico. This was taken during the first of serveral trips that I dove with researchers from the UABCS PFA group after meeting Dr. Carlos Sanchez-Ortiz on the boat in the Revillagigedo Archipelago.
Rebecca swims beneath a large school of jacks at Balicasag Island in Bohol, Philippines. This was my first time in Bohol and I was happy to be able to share the underwater beauty of the Philippines with Rebecca for the first time. We also had a amazing stay at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao thanks to their generous prize that I won in the 2018 Monterey Shootout.
Between the Purple Urchin and Giant Sea Star on this busy patch of reef lies a Hilton’s Aeolid Nudibranch. This was taken while diving with new dive buddy Tom O'Leary off his boat for my first time at the Outer Carmel Pinnacles in Carmel, California. This photo ended up taking 1st Place in the Save Our Shores Waves & Wildlife Photo Competition and was displayed at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, CA.
A large fever of Mobula Rays (Mobula munkiana) swim just below the surface of the Gulf of California near La Paz, Mexico. After seeing many posts of these huge schools of mobulas rays, I set out to find them. My friends at UABCS helped me hire a local fisherman to take us out in an area were they were rumored to be in blue water, we were successful!
A Whale Shark swims just below the surface of Bahia Los Angeles in Mexico’s Gulf of California. Split shots have always been one of my favorite types of underwater photographs, while I did not attempt many this year I was happy to have some success capturing the essence of sustainable whale shark tourism in Bahia de los Angeles.
August (1 of 2)
A Gulf Signal Blenny displays its namesake dorsal-fin in Mexico’s Gulf of California. Photographing this behavior has been one of my underwater photography goals since moving to Mexico. I finally learned to find these macaroni-sized blennies after 3 trips to La Paz. On a later trip, further North in the Midriff Islands, I was able to get several good shots of this beautiful fish and its unique behavior.
August (2 of 2)
A Onespot Fringehead (Neoclinus uninotatus) peeks from its home in empty barnacle shell in Monterey, California. Monterey will always be one of my favorite places to dive despite only getting 14 dives there in 2019. I was lucky to stumble upon this particular fish during the 2019 Monterey Shootout and this shot earned 1st Place in the Advanced Macro Traditional Category!
Two large fish-eating anemones make the eyes of a vibrant sugar skull shaped boulder at Monterey’s Point Joe near Monterey, California. This dive site faces Northwest, the direction of Monterey's prevailing swell, meaning it cannot be dove often. These large anemones are one of my subjects to photograph in Monterey. After posting this photo several friends suggested it looked like a Dia de Los Muertos Sugar Skull which is all too appropriate considering I am living in Mexico and this holiday is celebrated at the beginning of November.
A school of Blue and Gold Snappers demonstrate the success of Cabo Pulmo National Park in Mexico. Despite the weather not cooperating I am glad the small group of friends I invited here got some diving in to witness this conservation success story first-hand. The schools of fish are incredible and it is definitely a place I will return to in the future.
An Arrow Squid displays beautiful green spots along its red mantle, looking like it's ready for Christmas! This was taken over deep water in Cozumel, Mexico during a Blackwater exploration dive. Since moving to Mexico about a year ago I have wanted to try Blackwater diving here and have been working toward that goal. This was the first deployment of my own travel-ready downline that I designed with Kraken Sports throughout 2019. I was fortunate to be introduced to Memo at Aldora Divers in Cozumel who was as enthusiastic about this as me. As far as I know we were the first to do an organized blackwater dive in Cozumel. Interestingly, Cozumel is also where I was first certified to dive 17 years ago. It was meaningful to return to the island where it all started for me and introduce a totally new type of diving to them. I look forward to taking my downline more new places in 2020!
Let's make 2020 just as memorable!