Monday, April 20, 2015

Mantas, hammerheads, and paper nautilus!

Hi All!
Paper Nautilus in Cabo Pearce, unique event!
As early as 7:30 am our first group jumped into the water, dolphins got us very interested while doing dive briefing, so we rushed to get going!
The descent line was very helpful to make a controlled descend due to current affecting the reef from South side, other conditions made the dive very enjoyable, water temp from 24˚C/75˚F to even 26.6˚C/80˚F, Vis was changing throughout the day from 10m/30ft to 30m/100ft, the funny thing is to see half of the reef in just gorgeous blue water while the other half sort of green color and colder, any way the current wasn’t bad, it brought other unexpected visitors! Fish were active on the reef, mantas a bit shy and at the distance taking time to come into the area, in a short parade we had 4 Chevron Mantas flying by trying to get to the cleaning station, but it seems that this morning the amount of clarion fish endemic to the island were not enough Mantas felt lonely this morning and slow interaction with divers, the shallowest area was really nice, hard coral on brown and green color, blue water made the reef look perfect and colorful!
A no current dive made the second one easy to explore half way to the end of the reef, we are still in search for some hammer heads, an area with lots of barber fish was awaiting for some other visitors to be cleaned out like sharks and dolphins, the usual guys were there too, leather bass, long nose butter fly fish, lobsters, jacks, trumpet fish, Pacific Creolefish, etc. the return to anchor line was easy easy, 3 chevron mantas intercepted us but there was something still not making them friendly, we got to a second cleaning station awaited there, sting rays , parrot fish, crown of thorns sea stars, sea cucumbers, flounders, white tip reef sharks etc sort entertained us for not too long, 5 to 6 mantas showed up at the cleaning station, one of them really stayed for at least 20 minutes, we counted up to 30 clarion fish following manta while it was getting in position, it was like a little gang boys chasing the ice cream cart, we observed the cleaning so close that we even noticed when clarion are actually eating those parasites, aside from that the manta had the time to pose over our heads to enjoy the bubble massage too! The trail of fish following that manta made it look like when we say"don’t leave! Don’t leave!", it was really nice contrast watching cleaning behavior in only 7m/21ft of water having plenty of light to see real colors,  the manta with 5 rounded spots on its extremely white color belly, the black color of its back with white color shoulders, a dolphin showed up just to say Hi and left the area!
Wind just picked up and with it a bit of current from North! So the third dive took place over the reef only, no swimming, max depth 24m/80ft, we can tell colder water is there in deeper water, it looks green! But the amazing thing is what current can bring, empty shells here and there, not clams or oysters, empty shells of Paper Nautilus! We followed the trail and found clusters of them, so unique in this area! There were 3 clusters each one with about 40 Nautilus, on the rocks, we got to see them so close without touching them at all, the little tentacles, sucker cups, eyes, but in a small version we had a bit of pray and predator action, a leather bass was there kind of just watching until finally one Nautilus left the protection of shell, the next second it was history, it got swallowed whole by the fish! A green moray also got in the area, she looked so hungry, sticking its snout was pushing and pushing them trying to separate the cluster, she finally did it! Next thing was to see Nautilus in its mouth, green moray closing jaws squeezing strong, black ink coming out of it mouth! A different cluster rolled off from the protection of a ledge, obviously other predators were there and ready, leather bass, flag cabrillas, jacks and even clarion fish had a feast on them! The same moray swam over the third cluster just guarding it, we can tell how she was smelling the cluster by the way moray was acting! Out of 50 to 60 Nautilus we counted only 11 were still alive before we got out the water, on the other side if the reef other divers after had fun enjoying the company of a chevron manta.
On the surface interval hoping to see dolphins approaching to the dive area we saw more clusters of Paper Nautilus adrift, it could be from 40 to 50 each cluster.
Our final dive today was very slow on mantas so the reef once again saved our dive, guest what! More clusters of Paper Nautilus, obviously more predators guarding it! We counted about 300 to 400 hundred Paper Nautilus in the area of Cabo Pearce.
    Dive Inst
Daniel Zapata, Solmar V.

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