Monday, November 24, 2014

Friendly dolphins, giant mantas, whale shark and more at Roca Partida

Hi all! 
By 8:00 am we were heading to Roca Partida in the pangas, dolphins were doing high jumps near the rock so we quickly geared up and did a back entry and found 15-20 dolphins that enjoyed playing with our bubbles!  They were chirping the entire dive, the communication among them was absolutely gorgeous for the hour long dive, and very loud!  They came back to us several times in different groups from different directions, some of them rolled over showing us their bellies, others adopted a vertical position in front of everyone before doing a slow free fall into the depth, inviting us to go deeper!  Other dolphins were swimming so slowly letting us make eye contact with them, at times you could almost touch them, but they're good at estimating distance between your hand and their bodies.  To top it off, 2 chevron mantas showed up and then we had mantas and dolphins in a small area, and they get along pretty well.  All our divers were happy!  Water temp also made the time underwater slow down a bit where we enjoyed the 26.6˚C/80˚F water with visibiility in the 20m/65'+ range with no current.  We had fantastic underwater conditions, with an extended safety stop due to 10 dolphins that made our dive a bit longer, showing off their affections to each other.
A second dive with the same conditions made it count!  Just 10 minutes into the dive a maximum 20' long whale shark came into the area at 18m/60ft depth, swimming among the divers, it wasn't in a rush to go anywhere, it stayed with us for a long time, swimming so close you could almost touch it! (But we didn't of course)  For our safety stop, it came and checked us out again, in addition we foudn a black manta on the north eastern side of the rock, once we were on the zodiacs, we had an opportunity to get in the water and snorkel with it!  
A thirds dive was relaxing, swimming around the rock with lots of white tip reef sharks, fish everywhere, 4 hammerheads, 1 galapagos, and 1 silver tip shark, some divers opted to skip the dive, and instead chose to snorkel with the whale shark swimmig around the Solmar V!  So they jumped in the water and a black manta stopped by, probably felt secure swimming along side the whale shark!  A big thanks to Luis Godinez and Manolo our panga drivers, for their efficiency picking up our snorkelers with slightly windy conditions.
The night brought lots of sharks swimming around the Solmar V, and some flying fish found dinner time!
Dive Inst.
Daniel Zapata

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mantas on every dive at el Boiler!

Dive day 1, Isla San Benedicto, all four dives done at el boiler.
Water temperature steady throughout the day at 26 degrees celcius / 79 fahrenheight. Ambient temperature was comfortably warm starting the day off with 24 degrees celcius / 75 F and warming up to 29/84F degrees around midday.  Clouds were sporadic throughout the day with mostly sunshine, a slight southerly breeze moderately blowing at around ten knots constantly.
At the boiler, the current was mild at about half a knot, south to north was experienced throughout the day, with the exception of the second dive which had about a one knot current in the same direction.  Visibility was excellent throughout the day with a 25 plus meters (80'+) visibility.  Mantas represented in heavy numbers today on each and every dive! We counted at least six different mantas on each dive and at times seeing them all together, you could say there were swarms of mantas!  The dolphins were present strongly on the first and second dives of the day, exercising their signature behavior here at the boiler which is hanging neutrally in mid-water exposing their bellies. They were also seen underwater near the surface and from the boat they were seen jumping into the air in an acrobatic style.  The sharks seen throughout the day were the ever-present white tip reef sharks, as well as some silver tip sharks in the blue and deeper waters adjacent to the boiler. There was also an occasional hammerhead spotted by some of our guests.  The dozens upon dozens of lobsters were spotted in their usual cracks and crevices, along with many large moray eels.  Large schools of jackfish (jack crevalle) were swimming gently against the mild current on the surface and large schools were seen from above at depths exceeding 30 meters!  The surface throughout the day was a moderate to mild chop which was a bit contrasting to our navigation out here to the Revillagigedos, which was mostly flat and calm.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A lot of little critters, a few sharks, and a giant manta on our checkout dive at San Benedicto!

Hello friends!
Here we are on our third trip of our Socorro season!
It all started yesterday at about 4pm when we left Cabo San Lucas, the crossing was awesome, as the seas was really really calm, weather was warm enough to wear our shorts and sandals but not too hot, the atmosphere on the boat was perfect, crew and costumers joking around all day long, so after 24 hours, today we got to San Benedicto island!
After setting the anchor and a quick dive briefing, we went into the water for our checkout dive at “Las Cuevas”. Quick buoyancy checks for everybody and down we went, water was very nice, water temperature was 27C/80F, visibility about 20m/65ft, and no current, just a little bit of surge! So we went to explore the dive site a little and we found lots of life, big lobsters walking around everywhere, green moray eels, little schools of surgeon fish, burrito grunts and moorish idols, also stingrays, the surprise of the dive was to find a guitar fish, as they usually hang around in cooler waters, the 2 swimthrough's were full of lobsters up on the ceiling, schools of grunts, bunch of white tip reef sharks were laying there and also a big stingray was swimming around as we got in!
The highlights of the dive were a sea turtle, a manta ray that showed up for a few minutes, and a couple of juvenile silver tip sharks that were hanging under the boat at our safety stop, so all to all a very enjoyable checkout dive that got everybody excited to start the real dives tomorrow morning.
After the dive we had a delicious mexican BBQ prepared by chef Tony and now we are going to spend the night next to “El Boiler” and the plan is to dive it tomorrow morning at 7am so we are all crossing our fingers for the bottle nosed dolphins and mantas to come and play with us!
Stayed tuned and we'll let you know how that went!
Dive Instructor

Sunday, November 16, 2014

El Boiler at San Benedicto Island!

El Boiler at San Benedicto Island!
The first dive we had the pleasure of enjoying 35 minutes of our hour long dive with dolphins!  Our plan was simple, we wanted to go down into the blue to find hammerheads, but the visibility was restricting this mission. On our way into the blue we were intercepted by 11 dolphins, and their constant chirping grabbed and held our attention!  Their constant posing, swimming, and looping around us made our morning an exceptional one, some of them swam off towards the cleaning station and when we arrived there, we found two mantas waiting for us!  These two graceful giants cooperated with us, allowing for many photos, their slow swimming back and forth between our divers set the pace, and we slowed down to match these friendly animals! They swam from one dive to another to another, giving everyone the ability to get some great belly shots, close up of eyes, and in the background a lonely hammerhead shark came into the area for a quick pass!  After the hammerheads we ran into a school of cotton mouth jacks, before the dolphins showed up again!  This time there were 11 of them, they swam right into our circle of divers, leveling off then posing for our cameras!  They are very social animals and have a very strong link that keeps them together, the males were rubbing fins, snouts on females, swimming belly to belly together, they always seem to be smiling and happy!  Altogether on this dive, we had dolphins, schools of fish, mantas, hammerheads, 80F water temp, and 70'+ visibility! 
On our second dive, we had similar water conditions, everything was happening on the north west side of the rock, we were hanging out with 4 mantas, slowly cruising around our divers.  They almost stop on top of our heads, making you slowly sink with them.  The mantas love our bubbles, and if you blow bubbles along their belly, they don't go away!  4 mantas in a small area means that when you are looking at one, there's another one right behind you!  It was a wonderful dive where no one had to move at all, the mantas came right to us, and there was no current!  In addition, the rock was covered with lots of juvenile pacific creolefish, lobsters, green morays, jacks, and white tip sharks!
 On our 3rd and fourth dives, the mantas moved to the south eastern side of the rock, and were just as playful as our morning dives!  They were gracefully swimming with all of us, gliding in the water where you don't see them move a wing but they're still in motion!  Making everyone of us happy, one group swam out into the blue where they found 4 hammerheads just below their fins!  It turned into a slow drift dive on the west side of El Boiler, with an extended safety stop with 5 juvenile silver tip sharks! We enjoyed of sunny surface intervals in air temp of 27˚C/81˚F, with panga rides, birds observation and identification courtesy of our on board naturalist Geronimo!
Dive Inst
Daniel Zapata

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tons of Octopi, mantas, and dolphins at Socorro Island!

Four dives at Cabo Pearce with great visibility of over 80’/25m and a water temperature of 80F/26C!
The first morning dive was quiet, no mantas nor dolphins made their appearance, however, the reef was covered of tons of Octopi and many peacock flounders that entertained our divers with dozens of photographs. By the second dive 3 Mantas hung out by the reef and passed by back and forth to get clean by the endemic Clarion Angelfishes that removed the parasites off of the Mantas; the dolphins hadn’t arrived yet.
Between the second and third dive while we gas off, we spotted 2 dolphins that arrive to the dive site, basically right by the anchor line, so in a hurry we geared up and jumped in to the water hoping to encounter the dolphins up and yes, we got lucky! Both dolphins stayed around giving quite close passes to the divers for about 20 min before taking off. While we hung and waited if they return, 2 Mantas delivered another great show while again getting clean by a dozen of Clarions! However the current brought a cloud of murky water and the visibility dropped towards the end of the dive. 
The current changed direction by the time of the fourth dive and cleaned the water out pretty well to leave a visibility of 100’/30 m at least. Well we wanted to keep having mantas sightings and waited hovering over one of the cleaning stations of Cabo Pearce when we heard the whistling of the Dolphins, we tried to figured out where the whooshing sound came from and all of a sudden 12 of them showed up! Immediately all of us jumped out the hanging point and begun swimming dolphin style just to keep the playful porpoises around, yes indeed, they all stayed around for the rest of the dive, while some swam with acrobatic moves, other dolphins fell vertically into the deep! What a way to finish the dive day at Socorro Island! We’re heading towards the Navy Base to check in and after we’ll leave to go back to San Benedicto looking forward to having more dolphins and mantas action.
Stay tuned for the next adventures with the amigos of Solmar V!
C’ ya!
Erick Higuera

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hello again from Roca Partida!

Hello again from Roca Partida!
We started our second day at Roca Partida with very nice calm seas and a beautiful sunrise, Dive master Erick even took some of our divers on a mini sunrise cruise around the rock and right after that, diving time!
First dive of the morning, 8am everybody ready to go, so we got on the pangas and off we went to the rock. It looked very calm without not much current so we decided to go into the water on the north end of the rock. Once in the warm water, 81F/27C, we confirmed that there was pretty much no current, only the usual surge typical of Roca Partida. We started descending and what a way to start the day, at about 100ft./30m one of the groups saw this huge female pregnant whale shark! It went right under the group and then swam into the blue, the same whale shark came back 3 times more just cruising right in front of the divers!!!
The west side of the rock was full of fish, cotton mouth jacks, big eye jacks, creole fish and swimming among them, SHARKS!!! We had some silver tips, white tips and a little deeper a few Galapagos. After swimming off the wall into the blue we found a few hammer heads, one of them started swimming under our divers and then started heading right at us and about 2 meters away from us before turning around and disappeared into the blue.
By the end of the dive we were just hovering on the southern end of the rock waiting for a surprise and there it was! The same whale shark came by at about 15m/50ft right in front of us to give us another great memory of this dive!
For our second and third dive we had a north west current that was quite strong, so we decided to go into the water on that north west corner but as soon as we hit the water the current will just drag you one way or the other around the rock so we ended up going to the east side of the rock, on both dives. We couldn't find the whale shark again but this strong current brought some cooler water up so all the Galapagos and silver tip sharks were hanging a little shallower this time at about 30m/100ft. I know this is deep but better than at 40m/130ft! Even a silky shark came by very very close to one of our divers getting very interested with his camera strobes. By the end of out second dive we had a chevron manta that came up from the deep all the way to 15m/50ft to give us a good show for a few minutes!
So at the end another great day of diving at Roca Partida on the Solmar V!
Now after a delicious BBQ prepared by chef Tony, we are heading to Socorro Island to dive Cabo Pearce tomorrow morning! =)
Dive Instructor 
Solmar V

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Roca Partida, where anything can happen!

Today we were at Roca Partida and anything can happen here! 
We had great conditions after a stormy day, even if it is a bit cloudy, our air temp was around 30˚C/88˚F.  The water temp was 27˚C/80˚F, just a shorty would do it for today! As the day looks promising from the surface the current hitting the rock from West side does the same thing so here we go Roca! 
Luis Godinez and Geronimo dropped us off at the spot where we know we have good chances start the morning dive, vis is about 20 to 30 m/ 65 to 100ft, with fish all around, silver tip sharks extra friendly coming closer and closer with every pass, so curious.  A small group of stripe bonitos were in a rush, swimming from here to there,  while one massive tuna was chasing them!  They are very coordinated to move at the same time, making for a great video opportunity!  We had a moderate current so we decided to drift along with it, we passed lots of wahoos, steel pompanos, baby white tip sharks, on the ledges, green morays, and yellow and red tail trigger fish!  We had excellent conditions during the surface interval, smooth surface with a mild wind to cool us off on this warm day!  As we made our way to the western side of the rock, for our second dive, we noticed that the rock looks brand new, washed out from rains with lots of frigate birds and boobies!  As we were making our descent the current is doing it's job taking us along the wall to the south point where we could find shelter.  Just minutes after we arrived at the southern point of the Rock, a huge pregnant whale shark approached our area from the south, the current is bringing good things!  She was swimming below our recreational dive limit, but she was swimming nice and slow just below us!  The jacks were doing their normal behavior along the wall, 2 hammerhead sharks showed up followed by 8 BIG yellow fin tunas, and 4 Galapagos sharks!  To stretch our legs a bit, we kicked our way over the east side, but the action was best at the southern point, so we didn't spend too much time on the east side before heading back south!  When we got back there was a lot of fish swimming in mid water, and the whale shark that was just below our dive limit was shallower around 25m/80ft!  We followed her for a bit before enjoying a sweet drift back along the wall filled with jack fish and silver tip sharks!
For our 3rd dive, we had a bit more current, but it brought another pregnant whale shark twice during our dive, that we got to spend more time with than in our previous dive, with lots of fish around! Vis was 20m/65ft+, we had a relaxed safety stop drifting, where our panga drivers Luis and Geronimo were ready to pick us up.  We ended our day with a Panga ride aroudn the rock courtesy of Geronimo, with a sunset in the background and lots of birds in the air!  The dark of night also brought lots of silky sharks around the boat the stayed here until early in the morning, so current is a good thing!
Dive Inst.
Daniel Zapata

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

El Fondeadero. El Cañón, and el Boiler of San Benedicto!

Our first two morning dives were done in the south side of San Benedicto, both were drift dives beginning at El Fondeadero and ending in El Cañón. The visibility was kind of murky and the water temperature was still around 80F/26 C.
We saw one of the black super friendly Manta that escorted us the entire first dive and all the way to the safety stopped drifting in the western cleaning station of El Cañón, we were hoping to find some hammerhead sharks schooling, but we found a couple of Silvertip and several White Tip Reef Sharks patrolled the peak of the cleaning station. By the afternoon the weather conditions had calmed down a lot and we moved to El Boiler to do the last two dives of the day. The water was crystal blue and 6 different Mantas swam around the monticule in a synchronized movement. On both dives all Mantas hung out over all the divers heads just enjoyed their bubbles as always! One of the black Mantas was the same one that we have seen in the first dive at El Cañón, this one had moved up to el Boiler to meet up with the rest of her friends! What a day to finish the first day of the trip!
Tonight after our first traditional Taquisa (barbeque), we’ll move to Roca Partida. The weather so far is good enough for the 10 hr crossing to Roca.
Stay tuned for the next Solmar V adventures!
Hasta la vista,
Erick Higuera

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gianta Mantas, hammerheads, and more at San Benedicto!

Hello friends!

Day 14 on our combo trip Guadalupe-Socorro!

This morning we woke up next to the majestic San Benedicto Island ready to see what “El Cañón” had prepared for us. So 6:45am dive briefing and by 7am everybody was into the water!
The water was splendid, 27C/82F, about 90ft/27m visibility and a very light east current what made our way out to the cleaning station very easy, on the way we spotted a lot of huge lobsters, scorpion fish, schools of jacks, a lot of reef fish a juvenile silver tip shark swimming around the edge of the wall and once we got to the cleaning station waited there for a few minutes and as we saw no action off we went into the blue waters looking for schooling hammer heads! Unfortunately the current was not strong enough to bring them all together but we did see some of them “dancing” in the blue waters, we even saw a little bunch of 4 scalloped hammer heads as we headed back towards the boat and right after that a MANTA!!! A 6m chevron manta came across our divers and played with us all the way back to the boat, we even spent our safety stop looking down watching this great animal swimming so gracefully.
Our second dive at “El Cañón” we did not have any mantas, but everything else was still there! What we did have however was a pod of bottle nosed dolphins that came to play with us for a few minutes! These elegant dolphins played around kind of smiling at the divers, it was fantastic! Everybody had the same smiles we saw on the dolphins once we got back to the was just great!

For our afternoon dives we moved to “El Boiler”, a big pinnacle where we usually spot the giants of the pacific, the Giant Manta Rays, and yes they were there today! On our first dive as soon as we hit the water we had 4 mantas 1 black and 3 chevron that played with us for the entire dive! Also we had a couple of silky sharks and silver tip sharks that came by the boat to entertain everybody on their safety stop. For our second dive at “El Boiler” we had 2 other mantas that played with us again, all and all possibly the best couple of dives of this trip, what do you think?

Dive Instructor

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Back at Socorro Island for the first time this season!

Hi All!
We're back at Socorro Island for the first time this season!  Our day at Cabo Pearce started with a great sunrise full of gorgeous colors in low clouds, a gentle breeze, surface water temp of 81F, with a mild current from the south west, and 50'+ visibility! We descended down the rope, and our first glance noticed that the reef is covered with lots of reef fish, we were so busy looking at it that minutes flew by, the next thing we notice, a Chevron manta is swimming right over our heads.  It was so friendly, like it remembers us, it came to us several times, we did nothing except maintain our depth just taking in the gentle giant gracefully swimming around us, changing from horizontal to vertical positions, showing us his white belly with unique spot patterns, along with lots of Clarion angelfish endemic to the Revillagigedos, cleaning parasites from it's back!

The second dive we called the manta dive, because we had giant mantas from the beginning to the end of the dive! They stayed the entire time, and for the dive masters this brough back nice memories from our past season here at Cabo Pearce!  
Our surface interval was fun, doing a panga ride with Luis, enjoying an exterior surface temp of  34˚C/93˚F, with some Socorro Island bird watching, and 7 dolphins surfing on the small swells created by the pangas!  What a fantastic time we're having here!
The mild current on our 3rd dive took us along the reef, allowing us to stretch our legs a bit, it was not a bad dive at all.  We found lobsters, octos, green morays, white tip sharks, juvenile Galapagos sharks, a cleaning station with lots of barber fish, waiting for a dolphin or shark to be cleaned, and a chevron manta was waiting for us at the end of the reef!  One octopus was reaching over with it's long arm trying to take the camera from our bare hands, for a selfie I guess, it was pulling and insisting on getting the camera, but we didn't let the octo have it!  Dolphins were in the area, we could hear them close by but they didn't want to be seen just yet! There were more dolphins during the surface interval just teasing us!  For the last dive of the day, the current picked up a bit but it was very manageable.  On the north side of the wall we found 9 dolphins that circled us and made us follow them drifting in the current! Once we got back to the surface everyone was excited to get some time underwater with the dolphins we had previously seen during our surface interval!
Big time, big memories!

Dive Inst.
Daniel Zapata

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Welcome back to Revillagigedo’s Islands, game on!

Hi folks,
Second day at Roca Partida and the weather conditions are still good, a bit of north wind but not too bad. The water temperature still remains in the 80F-82F/26C-27C which is pretty warm and very comfortable for diving!
On our first dive of the day, as soon as we descended along the wall, a pod of 10 dolphins awaited us, this time they just wanted to hang out for brief moment, I guess they were working a huge school of Bonitos that later in the day drifted by the north point of Roca, it was a huge shoal of fish escorted by couple of Silky Sharks. At the end of the dive while we swam towards the safety stop, we could see way down deep a 40 feet pregnant Whale Shark that cruised by! We couldn’t catch up with her, it was kind of late in the dive when she showed up.  
On the second dive the Whale Shark kept staying deep, to give you and idea, we were pushing the depth limit of 130’/40 m and she still looked at least 20’/6m down below, and because of the thermocline that is keeping all the sharks into it, we could not see her close enough, what a big momma!
We still had the hope that in our last dive at Roca we could still see a pregnant Whale Shark one more last time and a bit shallower, when we broke the surface, the dive masters spotted the huge shark that cruised at only 100´-30m this time, she gave a close passed by all the divers and when disappeared into the blue a second bigger whale shark swam by too! This one was the same female that has been hanging out beyond to 140’/42 m.
Well, even though the whale sharks kept deep and the sharks were under the deep thermocline, we could still observe them all from above and enjoy these two first days at Roca Partida after 4 months of absence.  Welcome back to Revillagigedo’s Islands, game on! Tonight we’re heading to Socorro Island, planning to start diving in the morning in Cabo Pearce, hopefully we’ll see lots of Mantas getting clean and also playful dolphins. Let’s see how Cabo Pearce welcomes us.
Stay tuned!
Hasta la próxima!
Erick Higuera