Thursday, February 12, 2015

What a trip! We closed with lots of hammerheads, friendly mantas, and more at San Benedicto!

Hello again!
Last night we left Socorro island after going through the navy inspection and headed towards San Benedicto island to have our last day of diving of this great trip.
After a very smooth crossing with very calm seas, we woke up next to the great volcano of San Benedicto, a nice breakfast, suit on and off we went on the pangas for our first dive at “El Cañón”. We had a mild current coming from the south-east, water temperature of 75F/24C and a visibility of about 60ft/18m, because of that south-east current we decided to go check out the south east cleaning station, so we dropped on the sand and swam out to the rocks on the edge of the site at 80ft/24m, where we positioned ourselves and waited paitently, after not even 5 minutes sharks showed up! A school of about 25 hammerheads came swimming down the wall at about 110ft/33m and slowly made their way up circling right in front of us, we did not move and kept waiting as they slowly got closer and closer, once at 90ft/27m they swam with their bellys almost touching the rocks and headed up the wall straight at us! It was so cool! We just sat there and almost stop breathing so they came closer ha! Some of them turned right on our face and swam out again, but a group of about 6 hammerheads did not care and kept going in between the groups and on to the sandy area, to find the other groups that just dropped in the water. This kept going on and off as they swam away from us and then back again, they passed about 3 or 4 times in front of us, there could not been a better way to start the day!
For our second dive current stopped, as we had some big swell and waves were breaking on the point the visibility dropped down, this time it was about 30ft/10m, on that dive we decided to go check out the other side of the site looking for mantas, at first we did not see much, until we got to the east cleaning station where some white tip reef sharks were swimming around, then a huge solo hammer head came by on top of the rocks, when we got to the end of the site a huge chevron manta came from the deep and started swimming right on top of the group wanting to play, so we started swimming bellow the manta and blowing bubbles on it belly, it seem to enjoy it and kept going from one diver to the next one, while this was going on 2 hammer heads came to check us out, at first they swam very close but then they turned around and swam straight at me...then about a meter/few feet away they turned again, so kept playing with the manta and tried to make her to follow us to the sandy area to see if she would push us down on to the sand as some playful mantas do, and it came with us, once on the sandy area our videographer Adil got underneath it and crawled on the sand as the manta swam about a meter/3ft off the sand, it look so neat, everybody was taking pictures and video of that, then the manta left and we started drifting with the current into the blue when the manta showed up again but it was time for us to start coming up. As we ascended we found a couple of hammer heads swimming around and right at our safety stop 3 silky sharks came by, chasing a little school of fish!
For our third and fourth dive we moved to “El Boiler” due to the low visibility at “El Cañón” and it was a great decision! The water there was a lot better, visibility was about 70ft/21m! So we set the stern anchor and went down looking for the mantas, first we had 2 chevron mantas right off the back of the boat, but we wanted to see if dolphins showed up, so we swam to the west side of the site where we hovered and mantas came to play there, we had 5 different mantas, 4 chevron and 1 black, they kept coming and coming for their bubble bath, after a while of playing with them we went to check out the south and there we found a huge school of big eye trevallies and right underneath them at 80ft/24m there was a big curious hammer head swimming around in circles, we got close to it and it didn't care so we stayed, then another 4 hammer heads came swimming from the deep close to the sand and started circling the same area but closer to the bottom, this show kept on going for minutes, after a while the 4 closer to the bottom left and the curious one stayed, but then it was time for us to get closer to the boat to go up to our safety stop.
On our last dive we had more hammer heads! This time about 12 of them swimming close to a school of jacks on the west side not too far from the rock, so in between them and 2 chevron mantas kept us very entertained for the whole last dive of the trip.
What a trip! We were very very lucky, our guests got to see everything they wanted to see, hammer heads, galapagos sharks, silver tip sharks, mantas,and even whale shark AND humpback whales! And all this of course on board of the Solmar V.
See you next trip!
Hasta la vista!
Antonio Romero
Dive Instructor

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