Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It was a great day filled with plenty of excitement... Now off to Roca Partida

What a beautiful, sunny day here at Isla San Benedicto.

We started the day observing as many as 7 Humpback whales in the area. Throughout the day we watched on as the whales displayed behaviors such as head lobbing, pec slapping, tail slapping, spy hopping, and breaching(our favorite). It was nature at its best.

Our diving started at El Boiler with a strong current from the south, 73 degree (F) temp., and 40 foot visibility. We took it slow on this dive, spotting the many octopus, lobster, and green morays. During We even found two frogfish right next to eachother, which is unheard of in the Revillagigedos. the entire dive, we could feel the sounds of the Humpbacks. Next, we made our way to the east side where we made friends with a large Galapagos shark. This shark allowed us to approach very close as we watched her trace the same track again and again. As we made our way back to the ascent line we saw two mantas, one chevron and one black. They were curious and made a few close passes.

Dive two was similar to the first but this time the mantas hung out for longer. Two chevron mantas took turns getting cleaned by the bright orange clarion angelfish. We had a good interaction. We visited the frogish again and even checked in the Galapagos shark once more. This time we notice more details like the impressive size of this 10 ft. shark and that it was a seemingly pregnant female. It's very rare for us to find Galapagos sharks here in San Benedicto, so we were all very excited. On our way up the ascent line, dolphins swam into the area. A dozen or so Bottlenose dolphins swam in to say hello, or goodbye as it were, as we ended this second dive of the day.

Dive three began with a nearly 20 minute interaction with two mantas, both chevron. The passed back and forth, sometimes taking the time to get cleaned, other times just out of curiosity. Our group got many great photos and video. We joined Dani's group on the West side of the rock as they watched now two 10ft Galapagos sharks. Both were females, but we noticed them circling a specific rock and even stuck their nose under it as if hunting. We stayed their for nearly all of our bottom time enjoying very close passes as they swam "figure eights" in front of us. Eric's group spent this third dive drifting, but in transit they found many birds splashing into the water. A baitball! So they took a look under the water and found many silky sharks and dolphins attacking the sardines. They reported that the fish even tried to take shelter under the panga as the sharks and dolphins continued to plunder the school. It doesn't get any more real than that!

We spent dive 4 at Las Cuevas. Taking it slow for this last dive we checked out the caves and found four whitetip reef sharks there. We checked under boulders and found two green sea turtles, resting no doubt. One critter we don't see on many other dives is the Giant Electric Ray. Not so giant, as it is only a foot or foot and a half in length, we found many of them over the sandy bottom. Dani's group, while playing with an octopus, got a surprise when a tiger shark made a close pass while they all had their eyes on the rocks.
It was a great day filled with plenty of excitement. We're off to Roca Partida for some more amazing diving. Until next time...

Dave Valencia

Monday, February 27, 2012

Being underwater seeing all this life is so fun, think about joining us soon for a trip!!!

Hi all!!!
    Today was a great day to do 4 dives at Isla San Benedicto.  To start with I'm gonna say we have on board 22 very cool guests, that are divided into 3 small groups guided by our dive instructors David, Eric and myself Daniel.
    Weather conditions were: Flat ocean, very mild wind from north and
mostly a sunny day, a great day to work on your sun tan!!! We had mild current from the south all day long.  
    The first Scuba dive at el Cañon was awesome!!! The water temp was in the low 70's, as we reached the first depth of 60' a black manta that was about 12' in length was there already waiting to play! We continued our dive in search of hammerheads, so we headed towards the southern corner of the dive site. When we got there we held onto the rocks at 80' surrounded by lots of green morays, octopus, island jacks, barberfish, and we found a few hammerheads!  We hoped for a large school, and just had a handful, but to sweeten the pot, we had a couple silver tip sharks too.. ah, they are beautiful! Having found hammerheads and silver tips, we continued our search for the galapagos shark! We got into an area between 70' and 80' of water and ran into dolphins chasing jacks and singing instead!  Not far from us and a little bit deeper one group was on the floor watching that large school of hammerheads that we were looking for!
On our second dive we decided to swim across the dive area and into a mild current from south. At 90´of water and only 5 minutes into the dive the dolphins showed up again but now about 10 of them and as usual always singing and telling you --we are coming, we are coming--, as we reached the far side we had to stop and take it all in.  A manta glided above our heads into a world of fish that was in front of us, as I looked behind the group to check on things we had two VERY big galapagos sharks cruise by!  They were 8 to 10' at least! At this point it was time to start making our way back to shallower water, and we were escorted by a giant manta all the way to our ascent rope, and during the safety stop two dolphins came by just to say adios!
The third dive we went along the ridge heading south, 70 to 80' of water, we were once again escorted by this manta all the way to the corner, once there we saw a few hammer heads and the manta kept making circles around us.  As we went to the far side of the dive site we found the school of hammerheads!  It was so cool to see them swimming all together in rhythm.  It was time to come up to the surface after a 45 minute dive, and refill for our next great dive! The other two groups went to another area and had lots of fun with 5 mantas, hammerheads, and a galapagos shark too! 
The last dive of the day was so peaceful with fish as if you were in
an aquarium!!! 
    Being underwater seeing all this life is so fun, think about joining
us soon for a trip!!!
    Inst. Daniel Zapata

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just to let you know... our 2nd day at Roca Partida was Amazing!

Hola Everbody! 
Just to let you know that our second day at Roca Partida was amazing! We had 100+ visibility all day long, water temp in the low 70's with a bit of current from the WNW.  The normal surge near the rock was there as usual, riding it is fun!
Most of the first dive took place on the northern point.  As we were making  our descent along the wall, another wall of pacific creole fish welcomed us!  We got down to 90' and not long after a school of 20+ galapagos sharks came in so close our guests couldn't stop taking stills and video.  We spent about 20 minutes surrounded by creole fish and galapagos sharks, with some silver tip sharks.  We just rode the current along the wall, making for an easy dive.  We made sure to stop by the white tip shark stations, the ledges had a lot of baby white tips about 6" long, and on other ledges we found juveniles and pregnant females!
For our second dive we started from the northwest heading south, spending a little bit more time out in the blue.  We found some hammerheads, but they were mixed in a school of over 30 galapagos sharks!  After following the sharks for a little bit we spent some time against the wall.  We found a lot of green morey eels, octopus, and curious redtail triggerfish!  It was 54 minutes of great diving!
What can I say about our 3rd dive?  We started at the north point where there were a lot of galapagos sharks coming from all directions.  So we played the "shark game" 4 to 5 silver tips joined the party swimming a bit aggressively.  There were lots of bigeye trevali the water temp dropped a little on our afternoon dive, but the west side of the rock is still beautiful.  The green and brown coloration of the hard coral on the rock, lobsters, steel pompanos, everything is here.   
It was such a fantastic day at roca, we're staying here for a third day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

We woke up at Roca Partida to a pair of humpback whales 100’ away from the Solmar V

Hi folks!

Today we woke up at Roca Partida and 2 Humpback Whales were doing some flukes only 100’ away of the Solmar V that was a good sign. At 8:00 am we started going down in the realm of Roca having a 70‘visibility, water temperature of 73 ºF, and a mild current, as soon as we rolled backwards from our zodiacs, a pod of about 30 dolphins welcomed us and had fun with our “dolphin kick style” for 30 min, it was incredible! The dolphins came so close a couple of divers almost touched one; later on we moved to the north point of Roca to encounter a group of 20 Galapagos and a few Silver Tip Sharks, all the sharks were gathering together and coming in and out,  while we hanged on the rocks observing the majestic shark “parade”. The sharks were gone and we headed for the east side of Roca to photograph and film the White Tip Sharks that were resting in the ledges, after 50 min we were doing our safety stop in the middle of the Pacific Creolefish column.

For our second dive, we had already a previous sharky encounter and well, we decided to stay only at the north point and again hang out on the corner to observe the shark parade one more time, this time the current had picked up so took us a little while to get the north corner, but worth the effort because this time there were like 30 to 40 sharks together, it was awesome!!

After the dive while we did our surface interval we realized that the whales we had seen in the morning were hanging out again by the boat, so few people gat in the water right away and could see them briefly.

Third dive of the day and the visibility had decreased to 50’ and only 5 galapagos and 3 silvertip sharks were still in the corner with tons of Whitemouth Jacks and a lots of Leather Jacks, after all this sealife action we came up to 30’ to see about 30 Yellow Fin Tunas that were cruising by.

Right now we are chilling out enjoying our famous Luis’s all flavors Margaritas, delicious!

Tomorrow we’ll do another Roca Partida dive day, stand by for more news! 

That’s all for today folks!

Erick H.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hammerheads, Drift diving, friendly mantas, and more!

Greetings from Isla San Benedicto,

Today was our first full day of diving. Our first two dives were at the legendary El Canon. The visibility was nice at 50 ft., a solid current from the southwest, and a surface temperature of 73 degrees (F). The dive deck was buzzing with anticipation this morning and all were enjoying our new sound system on the dive deck. Once underwater, we saw three hammerheads straight away. We spotted a few more over the sand on our way to the corner facing into the current. The current was quite strong and took us awhile to locate the hammerheads. In the end we did find a group  of 20 or so going around and around in the sand. They stuck around long enough for us to observe that there are some interesting behaviors they repeat while in a school. We often see them swim with their sides facing towards the surface. This looks quite akward them swimming on their sides and it also makes them easier to spot from a long distance. We also noticed that sometimes we see them do a head shake. This looks like it could be a display towards us divers or maybe asserting dominance in the school. Either way very interesting observations on this first dive of the morning.

The current switched on dive two coming from the opposite direction. So we headed towards the usual corner looking for a school. On the corner, we watched a silvertip shark shadowed by many big eye jacks going around and around on the cleaning station. We didn't see the school so we moved further east and had a nice interaction with 3 hammerheads. They came vary close and one looked close to 11ft long, a huge shark.

Dive Three was a drift dive at Cabo Fear. This is a sandy bottom bordered by large boulders then drops off into a dramatic looking canyon. Visibility was 40 ft., and a ripping current to the west. So we went with it. We watched the many fish, green morays and octopus stream by us for many minutes before we spotted a manta. This manta must of had other business to attend to and did not spend much time with us. Dani and Eric's group, however, did get some good manta action and even some whitetip sharks. My group finished the dive into the blue wacthing the numerous kinds of plankton, especially comb jellies and venus's girdle. 
Between dives a pod of 7 bottlenose dolphins swam curiously close to the Solmar V. So a few people jumped in with masks and fins. The dolphins swam circles around them for more than 10 minutes. This made some a little jealous so they grabbed their masks and fins and joined the fun. 
Dive 4 was at El Boiler. The visibility w as 30 ft. and a stiff current going west. We were able to hide behind the rock to gain some respite from the current. The Boiler was filled with lobsters and green morays. Tons of creolefish also peppered the water around us. Our first manta was a black manta which made a few passes out of curiosity. But the majority of our dive was taken up by two chevron mantas. They played with the divers for more than 40 minutes. They were stalling above divers waiting for them to exhale and letting the bubbles tickle their bellies. Over and over this happened. The smaller of the two was especially friendly and was allowing divers to swim directly under her for long periods of time. As we left the boiler and waved so long to the mantas, it seemed as if they didn't want us to go and followed us far from the rock and circled us as we did our safety stop. That's the way we like to end our day on the Solmar V!

Until next time.....

Dave Valencia

A variety of life at San Benedicto

Hola Everybody from San Benedicto!
We had a beautiful view of the volcano from the Solmar V and for a checkout dive we used a site called el Fondeadero.  Vis was around 30' with water temp in the mid 70's.  We had a little bit of current from the west but it wasn't bad.  We found lots of long nose butterfly fish, the always beautiful and endemic clarion fish of the Revillagigedos, we also found some octopi and one group of divers was very interested in a crown of thorns star fish!!  The trumpet fish with long body and changing colors are amazing.  Exploring the rest of the dive area we spotted flounders that were almost invisible, giant electric rays, plenty of white tip sharks!  Lobsters and green morey eel don't have any trouble living right next to each other in the rocks and they make for a great photo!  As we made our safety stop, a couple of mantas came by!  A little late as we were at the end of our dive, but we had fun jumping in and snorkeling with them!
More from San Benedicto Later!
Inst Daniel Zapata

Saturday, February 4, 2012

We decided to stay another day at roca, and it was the right decision!

We were contemplating leaving Roca Partida for Isla Socorro, but everyone is happy we stayed. This morning was calm, quiet, and no clouds to be seen. At 7:30 am, we all excitedly arranged our gear and headed to Roca in the pangas. As we approached masked and brown boobies dove in the water around us. We watched as the Frigates soared high above us. In the water, it was glorious. More than 100 foot visibility, no current, and a brisk 71 degree (F) surface temp. welcomed us to the blue. We took our time getting our bearings slowly making our way down. At 50 ft. we stopped to watch the countless whitetip reef sharks resting piled on top of one another. There had to be more than 80 in just the few ledges we briefly observed. Our mission this morning was to experience again the big schools of sharks we witnessed yesterday. Watching the baitfish and venturing into the blue we went. A few Galapagos sharks gently moved by, but didn't seem very interested in us.  But within a few minutes, we found the school. It was 30 or more Galapagos sharks strong with two hammerheads oddly following from behind. They gave our group a nice pass, slowly moved away and came back again. It was impressive to see 30 or more sharks of that size (~10 ft each) school together.

Between dives we spotted a large pod of bottlenose dolphins playing near the rock. It wasn't dive time yet, so we took everyone over for a little snorkel. The dolphins were very playful and approached us willingly. They were swimming circles clicking and chirping away. As I dove down to take a closer look, the dolphins seemed to be curious and came closer as if to ask why I was down so deep. They swam next to me trying to bring me along with their group, but I could only hold my breath for so long. They swam away as I surfaced, seemingly disappointed with my inadequacy. The pangas circled us and dolphins took their cue, bowriding circles around us. Zipping to fro. How did they have so much energy? This went on for 45 minutes before we had to head back and get ready for the next dive. The 
dolphins continued to bowride and jump high above the panga as we made our way back to the Solmar V. 

On dive two my group agreed to stay in the north point and wait for our chance to see the big school of Galapagos sharks again. We serached for about 5 minutes and they appeared. They approached us head on and we split the school. Some between us and Roca, the others out in the blue. We were surrounded and loving it. The school of sharks left and came back, but this time they had a school of ~20 hammerheads  below them. At this moment everything seemed to go quiet. We were in the blue, no baitfish around, and more than 50 sharks schooling in front of us. We tried not to impose on their space, which proved a good decision because they approached very close. In the silence you could concentrate on all their details such as how they moved together, we observed some had tags, and others had jacks shadowing them. The hammerheads circled like a cyclone before us and swam under us and away. The 30 Galapagos were with 3 silvertips this time and made an unforgettable dive. During our safety stop we watched 20 or more wahoo and 30 yellowfin tuna buzz by us. A nice way to end any dive. 
Dive three was more great diving. The panga dropped us right on the north point and right on top of the school of Galapagos. There were still 30 galapagos, with 3 silvertips and two hammerheads. We sat in the same spot the entire dive watching them move away and approach again. At one point, the school was between Dani's group and my group. Adil, our videographer, got some great footage of all the action. We were all so glad we stayed another day at Roca Partida.
Something worth noting here was I observed some evidence of fishing today on Roca Partida. I noticed one yellowfin tuna and one galapagos shark had a hook and line trailing many feet behind. In addition, I saw some fishing monofilament attached to the north side of Roca at about 40ft. It saddens me to know that when we are not here, others are here taking illegally what we cherish so much.

We're off to Isla San Benedicto! Until next time...

Dave Valencia

Friday, February 3, 2012

Walls of fish and schooling galapagos sharks at Roca!

Hola from Roca Partida!
It was a great day to be at Roca for 3 dives.  The weather here was very sunny perfect if you wanted to work on your sun tan!  We had a mild win out of the North, a nice atmosphere onboard with our guests of different nationalities, 21 of them breaking into 3 comfortable groups, taking advantage of the over 100' visibility.  
We went down on the east side of the rock to 50' of water to visit the friendly white tips!  They were all over the rock, little ones, juveniles, males, pregnant females, and they weren't at all afraid of our divers!  It was SO cool!  Although the water temperature was a bit cooler, it didn't feel like it.  Our first dive lasted 50 minutes, and the entire time we were escorted by a variety of fish like red and yellow tail trigger fish, very big black jacks, creole fish, ah!  The endemic clarion angelfish is so beautiful, we had walls of big eye trevally, island jacks, and more. On the west side of the rock we ran into a school of 50 galapagos sharks with a few hammerheads and silvertips amongst them, it was unbelievable!  I almost forgot about the singing and chirping dolphins that escorted us to the rock! 
We had a fabulous third dive! On the west side in about 100' of water yupi yupi!  Massive Yellow fin tunas! And the wall of fish from that we saw on the first dive never went away.  We were headed towards the south end from the rock when, Surprise! The schooling galapagos sharks from the previous dive showed up out of the blue, they were so impressive! We stopped swimming to let them pass just beneath our fins, they made one more pass before our time was up. We made our safety stop the way we started our dive, with white tips. What more can I say?  It was a magnificent day and I can't explain it to you the way I feel it... you're just going to have to see  for yourself!  Come here and join us at Socorro!
Instructor Daniel

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An incredible day at Socorro Island!!

Isla Socorro ‘Cabo Pearce’

1st dive 09:00
Visibility 20 Meters Temperature 23 Degrees (C)
Calm conditions with a mild current & the water temperature at 23 degrees (C). We dropped to 20 Meters not far from the Solmar V & while descending were investigated by some dolphins which quickly swam away. Once at the bottom of the descent line we were greeted almost at once by a large Manta sailing over our heads. On the dive we saw many Octopus, Porcupine fish & Flat fish but the highlight was no doubt seeing the Manta’s.  We stayed at the tip of a rocky outcrop between 15 – 18 Meters & watched as up to 4 Manta treated us to a display by sailing in & out amongst us almost within touching distance. All the divers were given amazing photography opportunities & you could see their excitement as they spun in circles with Manta all around.  The Manta’s continued to glide over our heads or next to us with beautiful cleaning fish swimming alongside throughout the entire dive. They seemed to enjoy our bubbles striking their underbellies & were very receptive to our presence.

2nd dive 12:00
Visibility 20 Meters Temperature 23 Degrees (C)

The surface was a little choppier than earlier yet the current remained the same for our second dive at the same dive site. During the surface interval the guests watched humpback whales gently swim past our boat waving their tails as they descended which only raised the excitement & got everyone ready to jump back in.
The Manta were again the highlight of the dive as they swam out from the blue toward or over us. This time however they seemed even friendlier than before, approaching right up to within arms reach before calmly banking of back into a large lazy circle. At one point I myself was brushed on top of the head by a passing Manta fin while others tolerated divers swimming along beneath them blowing bubbles against their skin.  Also on the dive we saw large lobsters hidden in small crevices, Moorish idol’s & the support boat spotted a Tiger Shark close to the surface not 10 Meters from the divers below.

3rd dive 15:00
Visibility 10 Meters Temperature 23 Degrees (C)

Conditions remained unchanged though now Manta were breaching the surface & dolphins were swimming passed as we entered the water. We descended to 29 Meters & after a few minutes we heard the clicking of dolphins & before we knew it a pod of dolphins swam right up to us to investigate. There were about 8 of them & were very friendly, swimming with us for about 5 minutes & coming so close that you could have touched them.  Again we saw Manta but only 2 this time as the visibility had reduced with particles in the water. They vanished suddenly but looking up we saw a large Whale Shark circling overhead maybe 8 Meters away. It circled 3 times before we had to regrettably end a fantastic dive; however we did
see Octopus on the way back to the anchor line & everyone was all smiles & laughs once back on board Solmar V.