Sunday, March 16, 2014

A phenomenal day with a whale shark at Roca Partida!

A special surprise at Roca Partida!
It's still humpback season but we started our day by snorkeling with an 8-9m (24-27ft) male whale shark! The gentle giant stayed with us for about 20 minutes swimming in circles around the Solmar V!
The morning was cloudy and a bit windy, air temp was in the mid 70's but we didn't really notice it with all of the excitement revolving around the sharks!  You never know what you are going to run into at Roca Partida!

Water temp was 77F with very blue water, well over 100' visibility! We dropped in on the eastern side of the rock and as we made our descent the sharks were already there, 10 Galapagos, 5 silver tips, a few hammerheads and a chevron manta!  There were lots of creole fish down deep, and a bit of current in the water so we decided to swim south in shallower water against the current hoping to find a whale shark!  A minute after we stopped swimming it showed up!  It cruised right through all of us, we had plenty of time to really look at all of the details of this massive animal, it's eyes, spots, wrinkles, marks, etc.  It went down deep, beyond our recreational limit we hung around at 60' hoping it would make another appearance. It made two more passes before our safety stop which was accompanied by a playful black manta! In the background we could hear the vocalizations of a whale!
The clouds parted and the day was warming up, our second dive we were hoping for more whale sharks!  We dropped in on the southern point and found that we had no current, and when you have 100'+ visibility and no current, it's an invitation to go into open water!  In the distance we could see a school of black jacks, some Galapagos and silver tip sharks.  We swam in this direction hoping to get a closer look, and as we approached it we saw 4 hammerheads, then 10, then a whole school of them!  It was difficult to count all the hammerheads, but there were al least 60 of them, the formation they had was like a funnel, we didn't chase them instead waited for them to come back to us, our reward was they were swimming half circles back and forth in front of us, all until our diver computers told us our bottom time was up!  We started to make our way back to the southern point of Roca, and once again the whale shark came back!  He was swimming among the divers coming up from beneath us showing the entire white belly.  We blew bubbles as we do with mantas, and it seemed to enjoy it because it didn't move, it was staying still while bubbles were running up along the white sides from belly to chin!  What more can I say about this dive? We had Galapagos, silver tips, hammerheads, white tips, a whale shark, and some yellow fin tuna!
During the surface interval while I was writing my report, I looked out of the corner of my right eye to see a dark shadow approaching on the surface, I turned around and the whale shark is back!  We got in the water and snorkeled with it for over 50 minutes, he was very comfortable around our divers!
Our third dive was 50 minutes of scuba diving with the whale shark, coming up on divers so close so we drifted from South to North with it, we also saw a few yellow fin tunas, Galapagos sharks and tons of reef fish, typical of Roca Partida!
Dive Inst
Daniel Zapata.

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