Monday, June 20, 2016

Photo: Erick Higuera

Today we are on our way back to Cabo San Lucas after spending an outstanding day of diving in San Benedicto Island, sharing time and space with mantas that seemed to know that was the end of the season and wanted to blend in with the divers as much as they could, such an experience to remember!

The day started early morning with cloudy skies and dolphins surfacing here and there at Cañon, we thought it was gonna be a dolphin day but our surprise was big as the day passed by. The conditions were good with mild swell, no current at all but a little murky for the dives at Cañon so we tried to get the best of the site. Water temperature of 75 F / 23 C, very low visibility of 30 ft / 10 mts.

The first dive at Cañon was remarkable thanks to the friendliest manta ever, a black one kept us entertained for 50 minutes coming and going along the rock swimming between the divers and hovering feeling the bubbles next to its body, so the divers got the time to master the bubble technique so later they could apply it on Boiler. The dive went good at the end too with the silkies swimming under the boat getting teased by the jacks and the creole fishes.

The second dive was a regular dive with some hammerheads showing themselves close to the cleaning station but far away to have a good look at them. A black tip came by as well as the silkies swimming under the boat, so we decided to move to Boiler, wise decision!!

Once we got to the Boiler, the action was already going on, so we just ducked down and started to become part of the manta party, 7 of them swimming, twirling and hovering all over the place. Black mantas, chevron mantas, all mixed and quite chaotic from their side but such a fun dive and manta interaction just incredible. We needed more air to stay longer at the end, they kept coming towards us in a clear sign of sympathy. Hard to describe what was going on, but I have to say that this day maybe one of the best of the season, specially the last dive when the mantas where getting in line to get bubbles, they were so playful that at one point one of them even got so close to one of our divers that she decided to flash a hug, such an incredible view from our perspective it looks like the manta came and decided to embrace the diver even though he didn´t even realize what was going on!! In total more than 6 mantas all together, just magical.

This is the end of the trip, end of the season, but time to remember and keep a smile on our face. Mission accomplished.

Until next season Socorro...

Rodrigo Marroquin, dive instructor, SOLMAR V.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Last dive of the season

Photo: Brandon Cole

Today we are at Roca Partida on the last part of our last trip of the season, full of surprises and with a lot of enthusiasm to get in the water.

The conditions were good, with some swells coming from the north, the wind blowing from time to time but underwater the conditions were just perfect, 80 ft / 25 mts of visibility, water temperature of 78 F / 25 C, some surge on the corners of the rock and the current facing the south all day made the perfect scenario to encounter the good stuff of this magical place.

Starting early, with sunlight trying to make its way through we unload the zodiacs and prepared all the equipment to start the day. Once the divers got in the pangas we headed towards the rock full of wonders and ready to have an spectacular day diving.

The first dive was the best of this trip so far, we started on the southeast point going down to 90 ft trying to see the hammers. After 15 minutes we spotted some silvertips, Galapagos and further away we could see the first white dots in the blue... hammerheads!! A big school of 40 to 50 individuals started swimming right in front of us about 90 to 100 ft down. We got back to the rock and we got together with the other 2 groups to do our safety stop when all of the sudden a big shadow attracted our attention, a WHALESHARK was coming right at us out of the blue, a juvenile individual of 18 ft of length but it just passed us by and kept its way crossing the west side of Roca, great surprise for all!!

For the second we focused more on what to see what´s in the rock and we could spot many white tips all over the site, going and coming from side to side, great to see all the yellowtail trigger fishes along the place, the jacks making their particular formations and the creole fishes that never stop eating. Here the best stuff is the big stuff but if you look into the small details you will be thrilled with all that is going on, tiny hawkfishes claiming their places next to the coral, shy eels hiding on the cracks, trumpet fishes hovering next to puffer fishes and we cannot overlook the beauty of the butterfly fishes on the shallows. Here we saw many juvenile tunas surfing the swells and the big guys deep in the blue chasing everything that in between, at the same time that we saw the silkys patrolling the area and being brushed by the jacks and creole fishes.

For the last dive of the season we wanted to see more hammers and we were in luck.  We spotted two different schools of them, about 80 individuals in total mixed with silver tips and Galapagos sharks that remained most of the time at 150 ft, we could only see their big size and the contrast against the sand at the bottom, such a great experience was this dive specially when we had to say good bye to "roquita" but we will be back next season!!

So many memories and we have such great knowledge of the environment; we wish the rock a good rest and always have something new to show to us.

Until next time, Roca Partida, we will miss you!!

Rodrigo Marroquin, Dive Instructor, SOLMAR V.   

Never disappointed, one of the remarkable things of Roca Partida is known for it’s great visibility.

We are starting with stormy weather, however our reward was to play with about 15 dolphins at the beginning of our first dive. 

Throughout the day the beautiful blue visibility, lets us see more than 30m/100ft from surface all the way down to the bottom. Great wall dive with lots of hard coral, lobsters, green moray eels, lots of small fish making several cleaning stations for Pacific creole fish, trumpet fish and more, of course we can’t go without seeing one white tip reef shark because they are all over, including pregnant females almost ready to burst! Some other areas with only baby whitetip sharks literally speaking so cute that you want to take one home! HA HA

Galapagos sharks kept coming back towards us and not afraid at all so it gave the divers great photo opps.

Current was on during the entire dive and all day with it water temperature got warmer up 26.6℃/80℉ according to dive computers. In the south, it was nice to find a bit of shelter enough to stay there long enough to see the parade of yellow fin tunas who stayed out of the current.  Lots of Black Jack fish did the same thing by retracting against the wall. Some silver tip sharks showed up, some hammerheads also in very deep water.

On the surface we had bit of rain! Wind was blowing a little more than 27km/h, 15kn/h, nice to have some sunny moments as well. At night we enjoyed watching more than 15 silky sharks going crazy hunting flying fish, great show seeing those dorsal fins breaking the surface, splashing water competing to get the fish!
Dive Inst, Daniel Zapata, Solmar V.

Today was an excellent day of diving at the Boiler!!

For our first dive we went down the northern wall of the reef exploring the pinnacle which is in front of the Boiler. The top of the pinnacle is at the 70 ft /21m and was filled with plenty of tropical fish like moorish idols and clarion angel fish plus we found lots of lobsters. From the pinnacle we came back to the Boiler to check the cleaning stations at 50 ft /15 m. And at 30 ft / 9 m, we expected to find mantas but instead a solitary bottlenose dolphin was there and came up from the depth to interact with the divers. We moved to the western corner of the reef when a manta chevron showed up at the 50 ft /15m. The manta was swimming around when a group of 9 bottlenose dolphins appeared in front of us. One of them was very curios and another 3 were going down and swimming up to the surface. What a wonderful way to begin our diving day.

On the second dive we encountered a manta chevron at the 20 ft/6m and then it disappeared in the blue. We found a big school of amberjacks at  50 ft / 15 m, wahoos, lots of pacific creole fish, and within the reef moray eels, and whitetip sharks. At the northern side we saw the manta again, but this time it was very playful and curious with the divers, circling close to the reef, going up and down, and enjoying the divers bubbles on its belly. Every diver had the chance to interact with this gentle creature of the pacific.

During the 3rd dive, the water was a little bit colder 77 fº/24 cº and was possible to watch the thermocline.  With a little bit more current we had lot of action on the western corner, schools of amberjacks, cotton mouth jacks, bigeye jacks, trevalley jacks, pacific creole fish. A big hammerhead shark was patrolling in the blue and curious enough to circle a couple of times in front of the anxious divers taking photos and videos.The last dive of the day was very relaxed and a great chance to explore the reef in detail. We found a stingray resting at the reef and we could appreciate the beauty of the reef, which drops off and forms a wall with stripes with hard coral in some areas. If you pay attention to the small stuff like lobster, moray eels, tropical fish, whitetip shark resting in the reef at the ledges, you’ll find that is a great opportunity to do good photos. When we were close to the bottom of the Solmar V, at the belly of the ship was a huge school of amberjacks right below the ship and a curious silky shark was around, and passing in front of us many times and close to the finish of the safety stop. Wonderful day of diving at the Boiler today.

Ignacio H. Leyro, Dive Instructor, Solmar V

Sunday, June 12, 2016

We are on the last trip of the 2015-2016 season and we are enjoying our last moments on these beautiful islands full of magic and positive vibrations.

We started our diving day in Cañon with great conditions at the surface -flat sea, no wind. Once we got in the water, the visibility was a bit murky 30 feet / 10 mts for the first dive however as the dives progressed the visibility got better 50 ft / 15 mts. The water was chilly at 75 F / 23 C with some hot spots at the surface. Because of the mild current, we enjoyed perfect and safe dives during the day.

For the first dive we swam along the north edge of the platform of Cañon trying to see the hammers but none of them showed up this time, only until the last dive could we spot one of them close to the cleaning station but it took off as soon as we got there. We spotted some white tips during the day, some juvenile silvertips but unfortunately we didn´t get to see any mantas and only a few sharks. Most of the time we spent the dives under the boat with 6 silkys all mixed in with the jacks and creole fish.

On the second dive, we could see some dolphins passing by with three babies. The adult dolphins weren’t interested in us this time because they were protecting their young. So we focused on the little stuff like the rock mover wrasses, the zebra snake eel, the clarion fish eating in the sand and the always beautiful trumpet fish hovering and teasing other fish like the puffers!

Rodrigo Marroquin, dive instructor, SOLMAR V.

Check out dive with 50 Red Tailed Trigger Fish

It is 12:30 pm and another 75km/40 NM miles to go, San Benedicto Island in sight, we are being escorted by bottlenose and white sided dolphins.
Our crossing has been fantastic! Flat surface, barely wind blowing, no swells and of course a sunny day!

Las Cuevas dive site was the end of our long journey, from the surface we are able to see the big boulders at 18m/60ft of water. Immediately jack fish started to congregate under the boat, we are standing on the swim step ready to do our giant stride entry when a silky shark swims by at 2m/6ft below surface, finally we jumped into, nice surface water temp 25℃/77℉, using the aid of a descent line we got to 15m/ 50ft, rapidly water temp changed decreasing a few degrees 23℃/73℉, we did some swim along the boulders area to stretch legs, Giant Electric Rays, Lobster, Diamond Head sting rays, a few white tip sharks were there for us, it was time to come back up shallower where the water felt a lot warmer right away! The caves were packed with Burrito Grunts, lobsters walking along the bottom rocks, other areas were nice to see with lots of very healthy hard coral. A friendly green turtle swims by and a sting ray chased it away!
50 Red Tail Trigger Fish just swimming in circles in such a small area! So it was a nice relaxed check out dive getting ready for tomorrow’s dive.

We are spending the night in the south area of the Island called El Cañon, it is 20:30 we already have 6 to 8 silky sharks around the Solmar V, not visible yet but dolphins are near by we can hear the slapping of the surface with their tails.

Dive Inst, Daniel Zapata, Solmar V.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Hi everybody!!

Today we are on our way back to San Benedicto island but we had a stop on Socorro island to see whats going on at Cabo Pearce this time, almost getting at the end of the trip but the surprises keep coming every day.

We had a sunny day with great dive conditions, no current, good visibility (60 ft / 20 mts), the wind blowing from the north, the water temperature of 79 F / 25 C.

For the first dive we got ready early morning to try to see dolphins but this time they weren´t there, so we focus on the shallow part of the reef trying to see all the little details because the mantas didn´t show up until the last moment so we saw a lot of different fishes, the sea bass, puffer fish, parrot fish, morrish idols, creole fish, the endemic clarion angel fish and the beautiful barber fish gathering on the little corners of the rock. We could spot little critters like the pipe fish, blennies, small crabs, flounders, octopuses and zebra eels. At the end of the dive we saw the first manta but she took off quite fast and didn´t show interest in us this time (only this time).

The second dive got better with the white tips gathering in the current, some baby silver tips and Galapagos sharks, but the best this time were the hammerheads, so we drifted for a while trying to see them in the blue and we got to a point where the jacks precede the hammerheads mixed with the bonitas, so we went down to 90 ft / 30 mts and fortunately we could see 6 of them quite close. We got to see more mantas at this dive and they showed up specially for the third and the fourth, but we are still waiting for more dolphins for tomorrow at Boiler.

Almost getting at the end of the trip, just wishing that our divers are having the best diving of their lives.

Rodrigo Marroquin, dive instructor.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Photo: Brandon Cole

Writing from San Benedicto Island on our way to Roca Partida overnight, but we have to say that it has been such an amazing day full of mantas and sharks at El Cañon, hope the expectations stay high and we can offer the best diving at Roca.

The day started with cloudy weather, big and long clouds cover the sky and everything seemed to be a bit gray but things are different underwater so we didn´t loose any time to unload the pangas, set the anchor and prepare the groups to get in the water. The conditions this time were good, with long swells coming from the south east, no current for the first 3 dives and a little bit of it coming from the south for the last dive, the visibility was ok for the first 2 dives (50 ft / 15 mts) and really murky on the third but thanks to the strong current on the last we got good visibility because it cleaned the water, the temperature about 26 C / 78 F with thermoclines all over the place.

For the first dive we got down to 30 mts / 90 ft right on the edge of Cañon, trying to see some hammerheads but our surprise was big when a black manta made its appearance right away, so we got distracted for a while with this beautiful manta, blowing bubbles, taking photos and sharing a great moment with this amazing being. As the dive continued we found more mantas, white tip sharks, moray eels and many jacks swimming around the site. The divers had a great time trying to get themselves under the mantas and some of them really got the technique, so the mantas just loved it and kept coming towards us.

For the second dive, we found some hammerheads and the big school was moving away from us but we got to have a clear view of them, some shadows showed that the place was full of sharks when the silkys appeared next to some big black tips that show themselves most of the time. But the best of the day was the mantas indeed, when more than 8 kept swimming between us getting closer each time to the divers and even coming to the safety stop with us looking straight into the eyes and even sharing some special feeling with some of the divers.

For the last dives we got to see more sharks, silkys, white tips and even a baby tiger shark came close to the divers, we cannot overlook the mantas that kept coming during the whole dive.

Lets see what Roca will bring to us tomorrow, hope we have another epic day at this unique site.

Rodrigo Marroquin, dive instructor, SOLMAR V.   

Photo: Erick Higuera

Today we dove at Roca Partida it was a bit overcast but underwater was amazing. The water temperature was 73f/24c and the visibility ranged from 60ft/18m to 100ft/30m. 

On the first dive as soon as we dropped in the water there were 4 dolphins around. They stayed with us for a bit but soon left into the blue. We started to head to the south point because it seemed that the action was there this time and suddenly the dolphins came back but this time there were 15 of them with one specific one being extremely friendly and getting very close to the divers. After the dolphins left we kept going to the south point which was a bit hard because there was some current but when we got there we were in an area protected from the current and we got to see a huge school of bonitas with a couple of silvertips under it and some silkies around it we enjoyed this view for the last 20 minutes of the dive.

On the second dive as soon as we got in the water we realized that the school of bonitas was still there and we had dropped right on top of it and we got to follow them for almost 20 minutes again. After that they went away and we got back to the rock and there were 4 mantas in shallow waters being very friendly, when we were about to finish the dive we realized that a group of 10 big galapagos sharks were right there on the rock almost on the surface so we extended the dive a bit so we could check them out.
The last dive of the day started a bit quiet, the current had gone away and there were not that many fish on the rock any more but we spotted a manta so we followed it as it went away from the rock into the blue water and the manta took us right where a big school of hammerheads was, probably close to 100 of them and the best thing was that this time the hammerheads were swimming quite slow and lots of them actually came up shallow to check us out.

Thiago Mendonca
Dive Instructor
Solmar V