Sunday, February 8, 2015

Whale shark, mantas, dolphins, sharks, lots of reef fish, humpbacks, and more on our first full day back at San Benedicto!

Hi All! Feb 07, 2015.
The volcano Island, behind a great sunrise as bright as a picture can’t describe!
7:00 am seems a little early for a dive, but you know what they say early birds get the best! or should I say early divers get to see the best?
Setting the back anchor at El Boiler was not bad this morning, an encounter with a 5-6m 15-18' long juvenile whale shark made it a fantastic job!  We spread the world during our dive briefing, and the rush to see it was on! For many divers it would be their first time seeing a whale shark, so as we were descending on the stern line it was already there around 10m/33' of water, it was very curious about the rock, swimming slowly as we made our way to the north western side of the dive site!  Giant mantas were there too, so as the whale shark swims away, the giant mantas stay to play!  In the small area we had a combination of mantas, whale shark, and some hammerheads!  With all the big eye jacks in the area, we know dolphins can't be far behind! We were playing with the mantas when the whale shark showed up again, and without any warning mama dolphin and baby stopped by for a little while to say hello, and here again came the whale shark!  It was all over the area, shallow, mid, deep water with lots of Black Jacks sort of rubbing against it's head.  A big number of striped bonitos were chased by a silky shark near the Solmar V, we had very pleasant water conditions to spend a bit more than an hour with this male whale shark.  Visibility was around 18m/60', with no current at all, and a water temp 24.4˚C/76˚F. A Galapagos shark was also part of the dive on the edge of the rock in 90' of water, the safety stop happened on the rope as we watched mantas and a whale shark swim by!
We had an amazing surface interval! It was so sunny, great for a suntan, in a range of 300m/985ft from Solmar V we spotted 3 hump back whales. One is doing jumps out of the water the other 2 are just swimming along we think, lots of boobies sitting on the surface of the water were interrupted by probably 12 dolphins, a hump back came in close to the dive area so we were all excited at the chance of seeing one or three.
We know how graceful mantas are, they have the tendency to stop swimming right in front of us sort of checking you out then begin swimming again, making eye contact also, and this second dive was all about mantas! To be more specific 8 of them, wing spam ranging from 4 to 5m/12 to 15 ft, there was no place to go around the rock where we didn’t see a manta! The whole rock was so busy with lots of fish, Moorish idols, Pacific creole fish, jacks, blue fin trevally, almaco jacks too! Bi color parrot fish, green morays, white tip reef sharks, and more! To make the dives even more enjoyable, our visibility improved to around 30m/100ft, the North East side of the rock was fantastic with as many as 5 mantas at the same time!
Surface interval more sun so watch out for sunburns!
The interaction between scuba divers and mantas is very strong via bubbles, we could go from East to West side of the rock blowing bubbles on the bellies of mantas, they swam over our heads at the same speed! Everything was great until yellow fin tuna rushed to hunt fish making them retract to the rock seeking protection, mantas and sharks are related we know that, so swimming along with them they took out of rock area literally they left us out there, not to worry considering a school of about 30 hammer heads that kept our attention for minutes, then back to the rock to play with more chevron mantas, going around the rock once more during this third dive the hammer heads showed up!
During our surface interval the whale shark came back to swim around Solmar V, good timing because it was time for our last dive today.
So our last dive happened to have whale shark, a silver tip shark, lots of playful mantas, current from South, the school of stripe bonitos once again, lots of hammer heads on the West side so it was worth the swim.
Dive Inst
Daniel Zapata, Solmar V.

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