Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The day started off great, and only got better!

Our morning started very good, it was 6:30, 15 to 20 silky sharks swimming around the boat chasing flying fish, mama humpback with calf and 7 dolphins just resting that kept coming closer to the point we had them only a few feet away from the stern with a beautiful sunrise frame! We made 3 dives here, we all had the opportunity to enjoy the same family of dolphins at different times and in different areas of the dive site! The dolphins seemed to be resting on the surface, but when they saw us underwater their behavior changed, they became much more active just like sea lions! They were chasing their tails, doing flips, biting each other, when they needed to get some air, they would head to the surface and come right back to our depth and continue to play their dolphin games with us! A black giant manta came into the same area and did not like all the action and soon headed in another direction. The water temp was very warm, some of our clients were diving in a short wet suit! 81˚F/26˚C during the whole day, we enjoyed the company of 6 friendly mantas throughout the day, and they were very friendly! The 100'+ visibility played a very important role here in order to see clearly those mantas and way beyond them into the blue, the current also was not strong, at times we went to the end of the reef to play with mantas and come back to the cleaning stations, where we found more dolphins and mantas hanging out at the same time! There was something to see in every direction, we didn't know where to look! The safety stops were incredible, mildly drifting with mantas, other times we did our safety stop over the cleaning station, watching the mantas get cleaned by the Clarion angelfish, our guests got lots of photos today, some of which have a shot at winning our infamous Solmar V photo contest! The reef itself was packed with octos, flounders, some zebra eels, scorpion fish, balloon fish, and more! Out of the water we still had a little bit of wind, but it was sunny and we enjoyed the panga rides along the wall of the island where you can take pictures of frozen bubbles of lava, arches and do a bit of bird identification! Dive Inst Daniel Zapata.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A bit of wind on our first day at San Benedicto!

The conditions in our first day at San Benedicto weren’t perfect. A north wind had begun blowing 2nd to last day of our previous trip, and it's still blowing!  This is causing the sandy beaches of San Benedicto to be washed out and thethe day before last from our last trip, it’s still blowing, therefore the sandy beaches of San Benedicto have been washed out and all that murky water is drifting offshore passing by the dive sites making a limited visibility pretty much in all the south side of the island. In the first dive wesaw 3 Silvertip Sharks that chased some baitfish, and of course the resident school of Bigeye Jacks; the water temperature is warming up, at 77 F/25 C.  We went up to 3 Hermanos for our second dive, luckily 2 friendly Mantas awaited for us keen to get a bubble massage!  Then we decided to  move to El Boiler to dive there at least off the pangas. It was definitely windy and a bit choppy, however we had 2 good dives at El Boiler. The water conditions were similar to that of El Cañón and the visibility was much better there than at the southern end of the island. On the first dive at El Boiler we saw lots of Cottonmouth Jacks that gathered together close to the pinnacle, we also spotted several white tip reef Sharks that patrolled the base of the rock, we didn’t see any Mantas on our first dive at El Boiler, but by the second dive, a Chevron Manta that was been cleaned by the Clarion Angelfishes, as soon as she felt us in the water, approached to us to get tickle by our bubbles over and over without stopping. The weather is still pretty rough and windy, so, we’re going to wait another day, we're hoping that Mother Nature settles down and provides us with the conditions for a safe passage to Roca Partida. Tonight we’re moving to Socorro Island. Stayed tuned and don’t miss the next Solmar V adventures! 
Erick Higuera

Monday, April 28, 2014

We arrived just in time for our checkout dive at San Benedicto!

We arrived to San Benedicto around four pm. We did the check out dive at "El Fondeadero", where the dive conditions were not the best. Visibility was around 40' with water temperature in the upper 70's, along with some surge that was causing the lower than average visibility.  We saw a couple of white tip sharks, a big sea turtles, and several nice schools of fish!  Everyone had an opportunity to check their dive equipment and cameras so everything will be ready for five full days of diving!  After the diving we had some margaritas on the bow and a Mexican BBQ to recharge the batteries for tomorrow!
Pablo DM onboard
Solmar V

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The smooth crossing from Roca Partida to Socorro let us re-charge our batteries and get ready for an exciting day of diving!

The smooth crossing from Roca Partida to the biggest island of the archipelago let us re-charge our batteries. That along with the delicious breakfast our chef prepares every morning of course! At 7.30am the dive deck was ready to rock, especially because we had some old Chuck Berry record playing on the speakers for the divers to stretch out and get ready. Conditions underwater were good, water was warm, about 77F, and the current was very easy to deal with. Visibility could have been better, but some spots were over 60' visibility, depending on the side of the area. The first site was Punta Tosca, we were expecting to find some early dolphins, and lately the mantas have been seen over the cleaning stations in the area. Unfortunately they were not there this time, nor were the dolphins, although the reef looked ready to welcome them, all the cleaning clarion angelfish had no job to do this morning. For the second dive split into two groups, upon request of those who wanted to try their luck with the humpback whales that are still in the islands, a snorkeling group for some and the rest of our guests decided to continue diving! For the divers, they found some galapagos sharks, and on this dive one of the local mantas showed up, the diving group was excited to see a manta they were hoping for in the morning.  The snorkelers were even happier, thanks in part to our experienced panga driver Luis, we had 3 opportunities to swim with these amazing animals, each time it was a pair of humpbacks, a mother and her calf! Although the encounters were brief, everybody agreed they were very satisfied. We also swam with a big green turtle and some small silky and silvertip sharks! After checking in with the Mexican Navy at their base in the island, we dove at Cabo Pierce, were the water was warm, up to 80F, and the visibility was still lower than usual. None the less, we enjoyed the colorful reef, full of octopuses, flounders, stonefishes, eels, a couple of turtles and 3 BIG hammerhead sharks. Now we are headed to San Benedicto for our last day of diving, sea is flat, and the wind in the tail, so we're expecting a smooth crossing! good night everybody.
Divemaster on board SOLMAR V

Monday, April 21, 2014

A beautiful 2nd day of diving at Roca Partida!

We did three dives with top notch conditions for Day 2 at Roca! The water temperature was 77F with visibility over 50' along with a very mild current from the north. This gave everyone the opportunity to stay near the rock and get close to Galapagos, silkies, and silver tip sharks! The rock was full of colorful fishes and also schools of smaller tunas, wahoo, and some big yellow fin tunas chasing the smaller fish! Because the dive conditions were so good, we had a chance to stay over 50 minutes next to the rock waiting for the sharks to show up! On the southern side of the rock, a school of hammerheads were swimming at 70' of water, one of our guests can counter really fast, and he counted 68 hammerheads! Thanks to the conditions, we had the option to stay close to the rock for those who don't like to kick when they are swimming, or for those who like to take pictures of the fishes, there was the option to swim out into the blue and look for sharks! As always Roca gave us a beautiful day of diving with the plus that we didn't have to deal with the stronger current we had yesterday! Now we are celebrating a birthday, we're going to have a mexican style party with tequila and a nice dinner!

Pablo DM On board SolmarV

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A perfect day to be at Roca Partida!

We had a calm surface, no wind, and plenty of sun at Roca Partida, it was a perfect day to be here!  The first dive of the morning was spread out due to a mild current, we had a water temp in the mid 70's with over 80' visibility. The east side of the rock was packed with lots of white tips, a wall of black cotton mouth jacks gave our guests a chance to take some great photos, and 5 Galapagos sharks were cruising over our heads while we were taking photos of the jacks! We headed to the northern point of the rock, and more Galapagos sharks were waiting for us! A school of about 20 adult sized Galapagos were in shallow water between 30 and 50', the same mild current that brought us south west also put us above a school of more than 70 hammerheads, but they were a bit deep, some of the hammerheads were around 110' with the majority of the school another 30' below that! It was cool watching them swimming together on their flank, not being shy at all which gave us a lot of time to enjoy them. Silver tips were also a part of the show, a few even came in for some close up shots! In the area was what is left of a bait ball of striped bonito which some silky sharks were finishing off when we had to do our safety stop. For our second dive, the current picked up a lot. A little current can go a long way at Roca, and with the current we found Galapagos, silver tip, hammerheads, and white tip sharks along with lots of jacks on the south eastern corner of the Rock, we just had to do a little bit of extra swimming, an excellent workout! We drifted for our safety stop, and BINGO! 20 dolphins came in to play as we finished our dive, one of them was exceptionally playful, but the rest of them still came close for our cameras.
The third dive was as exciting as the first, but the current diminished and once again the south eastern point was the place to be. We found the same school of Galapagos we had seen since the morning, more silver tips, white tips, we did not move from the corner! A big plus was when the hammerheads came up to shallower water, without any current! Did we enjoy it?! You bet we all did! It was a great dive day at Roca!
Dive Instructor
Daniel Zapata

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Another fantastic day at "El Boiler"!

On our checkout dive the visibility was moderate, but we were hoping for better so we decided to start our first full day of diving on the western side of San Benedicto, at “El Boiler” a place known for awesome manta encounters! The conditions looked promising, we had a flat surface, mild current, warm blue water. As we went down the line, the mantas were already waiting for us! A couple of chevron mantas seemed to be very happy to see us and play with our bubbles! Before we knew it the mantas were gliding very close to our divers, swimming above and below them! There were also dolphins here too, they were shy at first but quickly warmed up and came out from the blue to get close up with our divers! As we explored the pinnacle, we came across an unusual visitor using the cleaning services of the Clarion Angelfish at the cleaning station, a BIG leatherback sea turtle! She swam right up to our divers, totally confident, fearless, and a bit curious! She made a few passes until all of the groups had enjoyed the phenomenal view of her graceful cruising. During the second dive, dolphins and mantas competed for our attention the entire time! Some of the dolphins were actively hunting including one obviously pregnant female, making us turn around and around watching her swim all over!
After lunch, we had more mantas! Up to 5 different black and chevron mantas cruising over our bubbles, they seemed to be having a fantastic time, both enjoying our bubbles and feeding on a huge cloud of krill the current brought to “El Boiler” The last dive there was no current, perfect for taking photos of our lovely giant manta friends!

Adrian Divemaster on board Solmar V

Friday, April 18, 2014

Silky, Galapagos, and baby white tips on our checkout dive at San Benedicto!

We arrived after a 24 hour crossing at San Benedicto just in time to do our checkout dive! The checkout dive gives our divers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the environment, check their weight and buoyancy, and fine tune their gear so the rest of the trip can be spent focused on the variety of life that the Revillagigedos has to offer! We did our dive at “El Fondeadero” where the water was a warm 77F with 40' visibility in the late afternoon. On our checkout dive we spotted some white tip sharks swimming around along with three baby white tips hidding amongst the reef, tucked inside a little cave. Close to the surface we spotted seven silky sharks along with a smaller Galapagos shark that came close to welcome us to the Archipelago de Revillagigedo! Tomorrow morning we start the adventure at 8 o'clock with a goal of doing four dives!

Pablo DM on board Solmar V

Saturday, April 12, 2014

We could not have had a better end to this trip!

We could not have had a better end to this trip! The crossing from Socorro Island to San Benedicto was smooth so everyone had a pleasant rest over night. As soon as the sun emerged over the northern corner of the island, the light showed us a joyful pod of dolphins heading our way! The stern line was soon ready for our divers to drop in right at the middle step of the pinnacle that is "El Boiler." The water was nice and warm, 77F, 25C the water was blue and withotu current. We hurried down the descent line, to make sure to get the dolphins could enjoy swimming with us, thats why they came after all! Over on the western side of the pinnacle they seemed shy at first, coming in and out of the blue. The dolphins might have been a bit shy, but the mantas weren't! Soon we had a chevron manta hovering over our bubbles. We had just started checking out the beautiful coral, the lobsters, octopus, and eelse swimming everywhere, a silhouette that was too big for a manta started to clear off within the blue, a 15' long whaleshark cruised right between our astonished divers! The dolphins then came in to stay, and we could not really decide where to swim, 8 dolphins o the right, a big black manta to the left, and above all the gentle giant closing the picture! At times, the dolphins escorted the shark like a presidential limousine with secret service, truly amazing! We didn't want this hour long dive to end, but eventually we had to make a slow safe ascent along our ascent line. The second dive didn't disappoint anyone, more mantas came to enjoy our bubbles, up to 4 black and chevron mantas decided to stick around for the rest of the day, making pass after pass, coming closer and closer, posing for countless pictures and videos. On our 3rd and 4th dives we ventured out into the blue in search of some sharks, and just a few minutes of swimming took us to a school of about 15 hammerheads shark and a few big galapagos sharks! Oh, and don't forget the tunas cruising at top speed with some random wahoos here and there. Everybody celebrated the 5 star final day of the trip on the sun deck with a bucket full of ice-cold beer and some delicious snacks courtesy of our awesome chef tony! See you next week at the Revillagigedos Islands! Adrian Divemaster Board SOLMAR V.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The underwater conditions in Socorro Island has not changed yet, still a stationary murky water full of plankton that keeps a visibility lower than usual around 30’/10m at most of the dive sites, however, in the first dive at Punt Tosca while 2 groups of divers found a friendly Manta that spent the last 15 min of the dive showing off with them, another group had a brief encounter with a Tiger Shark that came out of the blue to check and did a fast pass right in front of the divers. We also found the hundreds of Parrot Fish that are normally grazing on sea algae that covers the reef.  We all expected to find the typical large pod of Dolphins and maybe some Whales cruising by that we’ve had the last 3 weeks, however, the wilderness luck was not in our side this time, anyway, nothing is guarantee with mother nature.
We moved to the Navy base after the first dive to check in and after lunch we did the last 2 dives of the day at Cabo Pearce. We pretty much spent both dives checking the Flounders, Morays and Octopi that inhabit the crest of the cleaning station in Cabo Pearce.  Although the diving conditions were not ideal, the whale watching panga tours were amazing, several close encounters from the pangas and some of our guests had good successful attempts snorkeling with this leviathans.
Tonight we’ll head back to San Benedicto for our last dive day of the trip, looking forward to bubble massaging friendly Mantas at El Boiler.
Don’t miss the next adventures with the folks of the Solmar V, stayed tuned!
Erick Higuera

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 2 at Roca, improved conditions, whale shark, humpbacks, and more!

Today was our second day at Roca Partida, and the dive conditions improved considerably!  The visibility was over 80', and the water temperature was 77F with no current!  We jumped in on the north side of the rock where a whale shark was waiting for us in shallow water!  We spent some time swimming with him before he descended beyond our recreational dive limit.  Some of the divers stayed at the northern point of the rock hoping to see more of the whale shark, while another group headed south looking for big schools of fish!  When we got back to the northern point of the rock, six Galapagos sharks were waiting for us! 
For the second dive we saw five or six good sized tuna fishes and one big one on the west side of the wall, right by where the white tip sharks were all piled up together.  The Galapagos sharks were on the south corner along with a school of anchovies where the tunas were hunting.  On our last dive of the day after lunch, we jumped in the north west side of the rock, but the current had picked up so we had to kick a bit to stay where all the action was.  After we drifted with the current to the southern point where our panga driver picked us up!  On the way back to the Solmar V, our panga driver saw a humpback whale and our guests had the opportunity to snorkel with the humpback and her calf!  For some people it was the first time they have ever seen a whale shark, for others it was their first time snorkeling with a way, all and all it was a good day filled with firsts for many aboard the Solmar V!

Pablo DM


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A little current and a lot of action on our first day at Roca!

The crossing from San Benedicto to Roca Partida went nice and easy over night, so we started the new day as planned and began by checking conditions. We did not take too long to realize the current was pretty strong as the sunlight came upon the rock. The surface, although not too rough did not look the most inviting either, we knew it was going to be a demanding dive for our divers and we briefed them of the conditions so they would be prepare for anything. As soon as we dove down we could already feel the surge, even though we kept our distance from the wall. The current was fairly strong but that was no surprise and we dealt with it as good as we could, surrounded by lots of jacks, green moray eels, and huge lobsters in the cracks of the wall that seemed to be as curious as any of us. A few galapagos sharks could be seen at times within the current and after a while fighting against it, we just let go over the west, more sheltered side of Roca. Water temperature at 25C, 77F, blue and clear, sometimes as much as 40m, 130f.
For the second dive we decided to try something different, and drifted from the out in the blue towards the dive site, so we would save some air and make for a longer dive. It worked perfectly, not only airwise, but also in terms of fish to be spotted! We found more galapagos and lots of massive tunas parading approximately 300' from the rock. At the end of the dive, our very experienced panga drivers took us for a spontaneous tour following a big pod of dolphins, to see how friendly this pod might be! Very friendly they were, both pangas dropped their cargo of enthusiastic divers armed with fins, mask, and snorkel, and soon everyone was surrounded by about 20 bottlenose dolphins. The friendly dolphins swam back and forth checking this bunch of humans out as they had their chattering, it is unintelligible to us, but meaningful no doubt! After lunch as we were almost ready for the last dive, a whale and her calf suddensly started braeching again and again less than 100m from the stern of the Solmar V! They came closer and closer, so we decided to get in the pangas and try to snorkel with them, after a few attempts, the captain called on the radio to inform that we might have a bait ball off the starboard side of the Solmar V! He was right! We headed in the direction of the bait ball, when we got there we jumped in carefully, trying not to scare the fish involved in the show, and soon we were filming and taking photos of over 30 sharks frantically feeding on the bait ball, and soon some individual sharks came around to inspect our divers! Keeping our distance we enjoyed this marvelous act of nature. As the bait ball seemed to wind down, one panga went to the rock for the dive, and the other stayed behind to see if the show was going to continue. They then decided to do their dive out in the blue, watching the action surrounding the bait ball, and got over half an hour full of feeding sharks and tuna, this action packed event put a smile on all of our divers faces! We're hoping tomorrow the current dies down, for day 2 at Roca!
Adrian Belinchon
Divemaster on board
Solmar V

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hammerheads, silkys, mantas, and humpback whale song underwater, with active humpbacks at the surface!

Today was our first full dive day of this trip with a bunch of new friends was great at El Cañón! We started the day very active Humpback Whales that gave us good topside show, pec slapping and a few breaches. Getting down into the liquid realm and the dolphins were already chasing some big eye jacks at the cleaning station! A few hammerheads were also here, and out of the blue a chevron manta welcomed us right before we finished the dive!
On the second and third dive, two mantas waited patiently for a long session of bubble massages! These two friendly mantas spent pretty much the entirety of both dives with us. While some divers were pleased with these majestic animals, others looked for hammerheads schooling in the blue, and found a few good sized sharks.
By the fourth dive the conditions had changed a bit, and an eastern current had picked up, bringing some murky water, but along with it more hammerheads came out of the shadows to check us out! The mantas didn't show up this time, but 3 silky sharks hung out underneath the boat doing constant close passes by our divers!
All dives were accompanied by the repetitive sequences of the humpback whale song that is used only by the males for attracting mates! The wind has calmed down and the weather is ideal to sail, so after winner we'll pull anchor and depart to Roca Partida! Stayed tuned for the next adventure with the Solmar V folks! Hasta la próxima! Erick Higuera

Monday, April 7, 2014

We arrived just in time for our checkout dive!

We arrived at San Benedicto just in time to do a checkout dive! We did a short dive because it was late, and we were racing to finish before sunset, but the good thing was because the sun was going down, we saw more activity from the nocturnal animals! Lobsters were walking around the reef, two green moray eels swimming and a group of five white tip sharks! The divers had the time to review their scuba equipment, get their weight adjusted and make sure all the gear is working fine, tomorrow after breakfast we start a full day of diving here at San Benedicto!! Water temp was in the mid 70's with 40' visibility!

Pablo DM On Board

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What a day at San Benedicto!

We awoke to a beautiful morning with a clear sky and unique sunrise.  The water temperature was in the mid 70's with 50' visibility, and dolphins were close by waiting for us to finish our dive briefing and join them in the water!  As we made our descent down our descent line, the first thing that showed up right in front of us was a chevron manta, but since there was an eastern current in the water, we wanted to focus our efforts on finding hammerheads.  We went over the ridge, and a bit deeper, less than 5 minutes into the dive, and they were already there, this time 15 hammerheads, while we waited there was saw two schools of hammerheads coming from opposite directions were merging into one larger school right in front of our eyes!  It was a very unique thing to see, because we were watching two groups of hammerheads merge into one big school of 40+ sharks while being surrounded by lobsters, eels, jacks, trigger fish, creole fish, octos, long nose butterfly fish, and more!  Although most people's favorite animals are usually the big critters, the reef really has such a variety of life and of things to see.  Our safety stop was underneath the boat taking pictures of two very curious silky sharks!
We enjoyed a very relaxing surface interval, still very clear sky and warm 78°F, mild breeze,flat ocean and whales around!
Our second dive was fun and unpredictable.  As we made our descent the silky sharks were still there, as we got closer to the rocks we spotted an octo, then a manta, and as we made our way over the ridge once again, a wall of 70+ hammerheads from a depth of 50-110 feet appeared, right in front of our eyes! Swimming all in one direction and back several times, the vis was great in order for us to see them from mid water.  In the mean time, two black mantas and one chevron were behind us demanding some attention, so it was manta time!  We had no current on this dive making it perfect.  Everyone got to pick which kind of dive they wanted, some were hanging out with sharks, other were playing with mantas, some with the reef fish, and to finish our dive a 21' male whale shark showed up, we spotted it at around 40', but it made its way to the surface, right through our divers!  We had the opportunity to swim along side it for 10 minutes before it disappeared, after all the excitement, we spent our safety stop with silky sharks.
The third and fourth dive the temp was a little bit cooler, with current from the east.  The whale shark showed up one more time for more photos, along with mantas, and a small school of 11 hammerheads,
he safety stop was made with silky sharks. And we had silky sharks beneath the boat all day long!  What a day!
Dive Inst
Daniel Zapata.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Underwater surprises at El Cañón!

We're back at San Benedicto and our first dive site was El Cañón!  The water conditions were optimal for schooling hammerhead sharks, early in the morning the current was coming from the east, bringing in clean and blue water, however the water was cooler in the low 70's compared with a temp of 75f at the surface!  We jumped in hoping to see some hammerheads, and they were there!  As soon as we descended to the anchor, there they were, right in front of us, a school of 50+ hammerheads swam by right in front of us.  We stayed near the anchor and the hammerhead sharks kept coming back and forth the entire dive!
Our second dive of the day and 4 mantas had welcomed us, and while we were excited to see them, they might have been even more excited to get their bubble massage!  Everyone in the water had the incredible chance to please these majestic giantas!  On the way back to the boat two silky sharks circled around us during the safety stop.  
The mantas were still there on the third dive, some folks hung with them, while others went to the corner to see if there were still Hammerheads around, they found a solitary hammerhead cruising around.  
The last dive of the day was spent right under the boat.  There were 5 curious silky sharks that made some very close passes, and while some divers stayed to interact with these beautiful sharks, other guests were entertained by one of the many super friendly Mantas that love to squeeze people against the sandy bottom!
This is how El Cañón surprised us on our 2nd to last day of the trip.  I can't forget to mention that the humpbacks were very active on the surface during every surfacce interval, wait until you see Adil's video trip report, this is going to be a must-watch one! 
Tonight we had another delicious BBQ on the bow of the Solmar V accompanied with a couple hours of Luis' world famous Margaritas!  Our plans for tomorrow are to spend more time at El Cañón with the hammerheads before we go back to the El Boiler one last time before heading back to Cabo! 

Stay tuned for the next Solmar V adventures!

Erick Higuera

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tiger sharks, humpbacks, mantas, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, and more at Socorro Island!

Our second and last day in Socorro Island, the dive site selected was “Punta Tosca” and we did four dives. The visibility was around 40ft/12m and the water temperature 75ºF/23ºC. On the first dive we saw one Pacific Giant Manta, dolphins and octopuses, lobsters, one juvenile silver tip shark and some white tip sharks. For the second dive we saw three white tip sharks, three big diamond stingrays and one black manta followed us the last part of the dive. Another group saw hammerhead and Galapagos sharks. The third dive we followed all the way out the reef wall so the divers had the chance to take some nice pictures of the fishes and other marine life, two divers saw three mantas, one black and two chevrons. Two divers on their way to do the safety stop swimming away from the reef saw a humped back whale with the calf. The last dive we jumped in to the blue where we saw two big Galapagos sharks and two tiger sharks; on the way back to the reef one black manta. Another of the dive groups swam into the blue also where they found hammerheads, silky and Galapagos sharks.
So now we are heading back to San Benedicto, after a nice diner, for the last two days of diving.
Pablo DM onboard