The Mama Viῆa Wreck in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Today is a clear, warm day in the water: 30m/100ft visibility and water temperatures are easily surpassing 29c/85f. As I descend into mild current, the outline of a ship wreck comes into focus and the large looming shadow of an old shrimp boat blurring in the distance makes for an impressive and inviting first impression of my experience scuba diving in Playa del Carmen.
Directly opposite Xcaret and one of 15 or so dive sites in the channel of water that sits in between ‘Playa’ and the Island of Cozumel lies the wreck of the Mama Viῆa. The shrimp boat was scuttled just south of Barracuda Reef in 1995 for the purpose of making an artificial reef. It is now home to a variety of sea life. You can reach the Mama Viῆa after a 20 minute boat ride. It lies at 28 meters and is recommended as an advanced dive because of the possibility of strong currents.
After our easy descent, we approach the old shrimp boat from the stern. The boat has 3 levels and it’s possible to penetrate the middle deck. But first we explore its rusty outline and the sandy bottom on which it rests.
The wreck tilts slightly to the port side and it is this side that we choose to explore first. We see trumpet fish, soft corals and a big giant moray eel resting inside a small hole. A rainbow wrasse or 2 dart about inside the empty windows as we go passed. Arriving at the bow we see surgeon fish dart in and around the rusty features as they try to escape our bubbles. Rounding down the starboard side we are treated to the site of a big school of barracuda a little ways out in the sand and we stop to take photos. Although we didn’t see them this time, this is also apparently a place where bull sharks are spotted and there is a famous bull shark dive site nearby.
The middle deck is very open and spacious, with open windows all around, so we do not hesitate to wander inside in single file. It also creates a nice shelter from the current. A big school or soldier fish hang out in the first chamber. Our guide points up to the ceiling to an air pocket – I’m intrigued. So I reach my underwater camera into the air space to make for an interesting shot, it worked! We exit.
Before leaving to make our ascent (as a deeper dive, average dive time is 30 -40 minutes depending on air consumption rates) we see a large sting ray swimming around in the sand. She lets us get close enough to take a few photos and this was a nice end to our dive before we made our way back up to our safety stop.