Archive for the ‘dolphin’ Category

Roca Partida is for me a temple in the heart of mother ocean that I hope will bring joy and excitement to many more ocean lovers. 18 April 2011. Roca Partida. Socorro Island. Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

We had the most calmest crossing leaving Clipperton for Socorro Island, Yesterday the sea was like glass. When the sun set blood red in the horizon in the west  the full moon raised in silver at the same time in the south east. I think we all where there out side taking fotos. The flying fish where flying on the mirror like sea long long way until it landed chased by boobies that accompanied the Nautilus Explorer. A few turtles and some small dolphins was all what we saw of other life.
Arriving Roca Partida we where welcomed by breaching humpback whales and some of us also had the opportunity to get in the water with them.
The dives carried a lively water, as well in fairly strong current as lot of animals. We’ve been diving here a long time, knowing where to stay and find the hot spots we had big schools of big Tuna, Lots of big Galapagos sharks and also a good number of scalloped hammerhead sharks all at one place! All accompanied by humpback whale song. Wahoos where in hunting mood and flashes by in between the panicking creole fish.
After the dive we where still looking after the humpback whales and just for 10 min ago just going up to write this first the calf humpback made a full breach just followed by the huge mother whale all out of the water and landed with a big thunder!! I hear the guest as well the crew going WHHHAAAOOO!!!
We still have some day light left and are ready to get in if they come back by the Nautilus Explorer again.
Roca Partida is for me a temple in the middle of heart  of mother ocean and I hope that it will bring joy and excitement to many more ocean lovers in many more generations after me. Tomorrow is our last dive day!

Surface conditions : Sunny , no wind , a deep but very long swell 30 C
Underwater conditions .It is warmer now! 24-25 C 75 F Viz from 18 -30m.  60 -110 ft.

Dive guide Sten Johansson

Images From Socorro

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Yesterday was the start of our annual trip to Clipperton Atoll (click for some info on the Island’s fascinating history), a coral Atoll that lies about 500 nautical miles southeast of Socorro Island. While the explorer makes it way down, to this unique and fascinating Island, we thought we would share some images from recent Socorro trips.

Enjoy!

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Whale Shark at the Sea of Cortez – photo by Anja Tenbergen

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Dolphins at the Revillagigedos – photo by Sten

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Playful sea lions at the Sea of Cortez – photo by Anja Tenbergen

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Dolphins following the boat – photo by Gordon

We’ll  be back with current updates from the boat shortly!

Captain and Guest Blog – I’m pretty sure a dolphin tried to talk to me using his blowhole – Socorro March 29th

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

I’m pretty sure a bottlenose dolphin tried to talk to me today, using his blowhole.  I was in one of our tenders tied up at the divesite, waiting for the divers to come back. There were dolphins all around the divesite, coming up for a breath and then diving down to play with the divers. One time a dolphin came up right next to me in the boat, but when he expelled the gas through his blowhole he turned sideways a little so that his blowhole was partly submerged in the water, pointing it in my direction, and blowing out hard three times in succession, each time making a loud trumpet-like sound at me.  I’ve never seen a dolphin display this behaviour before and I’m quite sure it was some attempt at communication. The way he tilted his body sideways so that the blowhole was submerged just enough to create the trumpet-like noise was quite deliberate. Anyway, I did my best trumpet imitation back at him and he immediately descended back into the divers bubbles. I guess he didn’t like what I had to say.
Captain Gordon

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Photo by Jeroen Elout

What a beautiful day, I do not know what to name first, started off with giant Mantas again, you start to look up and go oh, o.k. Manta again where are the dolphins and the whales ? Guess we are getting spoiled … Had a couple of big hammerheads but really shy. Some silver tips a little bit more curios a lot of small stuff again if you watch out for it like a big group of spotted puffer fish eating up the rest of a giant lobster head.

But definitely to personal highlights of our “diving life” was a group of six dolphins playing with us through out the whole dive. I realized  there are some a little bit shy always sticking to a more curious one, some were imitating our bubbles and some needed a little bit entertainment to stick to us otherwise they went of thinking probably boring divers-we play somewhere else…but maybe we are just interpreting a lot of human feelings into this always smiling face. I definitely felt touched by looking in their eyes.

Christine-Hagen

Photo by Christine Hagen

Finally we went whale watching with the zodiac and while snorkelling we had twice a mother and calf in the water with us although we had to be a little bit sportive to get to them it was a moment we will never forget and on video or camera the best picture is in our head of a comparably small calf swimming besides its huge mother moving silently beside us and then with a wave of their fluke disappearing into the depth of the ocean again-leaving us behind-startled-full of emotions and overwhelmingly happy…
Annette and Birte from Germany:

Was fuer ein Tag!!! – San Benedicto – The Canyon – 24 March 2011

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Das Meer zeigte sich von allen Seiten und erinnerte uns daran, dass wir hier nicht im Zoo sind und auf Bestellung uns die Fische vorgefuehrt werden.
Doch ich will und kann nicht klagen, erlebte ich doch heute den bisher schoensten Tauggang meines Lebens. Aber der Reihe nach. Der erste Tauchgang startete mit 3 Mantas, die immer wieder kamen. Ich habe mich den ganzen Tauchgang nur an einer Stelle aufgehalten und gewartet und wurde nicht enttaeuscht. Zum Schluss des Tauchgangs waren wir nur noch zu zweit im Wasser und die Mantas kammen immer naeher. Es war ein Traum und die Erwartungen fuer die naechsten Tauchgaenge entsprechend gross.
Dann kam der zweite Tauchgang und das krasse Gegenteil zum 1. Tauchgang. Absolut schlechte Sicht und nichts zu sehen. Aber von dem Nichts ganz viel. Nach 30 Minutenwar der Tauchgang beendet und war nicht einmal sauer deswegen. Es war mehr eine Erloesung.
Und dann kam die Ueberlegung, ob sich bei dieser Sicht und den Erfahrungen vom 2. Tauchgang noch ein 3. Mal ins Wasser begeben sollte. Doch schliesslich bin ich nicht um die halbe Welt gereist um jetzt auf dem Boot zu bleiben.
Also wieder angeroedelt und wieder rein in das nasse Element. Und es sollte mein bisher schoenster Tauchghang meines Lebens werden. Die ersten 20 Minuten habe ich vergeblich nach Mantas und Haien oder anderen grossen Lebewesen, abgesehen von Tauchern, Ausschau gehalten. Aber dann began eine unglaubliche Vorstellung. Es naeherte sich unserer Gruppe ein einzelner Manta, der sich zuerst kreuz und quer durch uns hindurch bewegte, sodas jeder zu seinen Aufnahmen kam. Dann naeherte er sich mir und ich versuchte mit ihm in “Kontakt” zu treten. Er liess mich neben sich her schwimmen und ich konnte ihm in die Augen schauen. Ab diesem Moment war es um uns zwei geschen! Der Manta kam immer wieder zu mir zurueck, “parkte” ueber mir und wartete auf meine Luftblasen. Der Rest der Gruppe taucht auf, aber ich hatte noch eine Verabredung mit MEINEM Manta. 20 Minuten hatte ich das unglaubliche Vergnuegen einen Manta 10 cm ueber meinem Kopf zu haben und mit ihm zu kommunizieren. Der Manta “untersuchte
” mit seinen Hoernchen meine Maske usw. Es war einfach unbeschreiblich. Als mir dann doch irgendwann die Luft etwas knbapp wurde, musste ich meinem Begleiter klar machen, dass ich an ihm vorbei die Boje hochschiessen muss. Das war nicht so einfach und er “inspizierte” meine Boje und die Leine auch eingehend. Dann hatte er wohl verstanden, dass ich nicht laenger mit ihm spielen konnte und er schien mich nur schweren Herzens ziehen zu lassen.  Das beruhte aber auf Gegenseitigkeit. Ich wuenschte, dieser Moment haette nie enden muessen.
Andreas

Captain’s Blog and Video – schooling hammerheads and friendly giant pacific Mantas – Socorro

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

 

Enroute to Socorro from the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico
After a few days exploring the Sea of Cortez we are now back in the open Pacific ocean and again in search of more big animals. We emerged from the Sea of Cortez near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and gradually began feeling the change in motion of the Nautilus as we passed from the more sheltered waters into the gently rolling swell of the Pacific. With a fairly large swell forecast we first headed westward, and not in the direction of the Socorro Islands, in order to gain a better angle on the expected swell. We are now back on course with the big rolling swells passing under us from the stern making for a very comfortable ride. Our first stop tomorrow morning will be the island of San Benedicto, well known for its schooling hammerheads and friendly giant pacific Mantas. With 10 days of diving still left in this expedition we will have lots of time to explore all 4 of the Socorro Islands, including the rarely visited Clarion Island. Updates from Isla San Benedicto to come tomorrow, so stay tuned!
Captain Gordon Kipp
Weather: Swell WNW 10ft at 15seconds, wind N 10-15kts, skies mostly clear, air temp 22C

We recently received this video from a guest who came on board the Nautilus, and we just  HAD to share it with everyone – Free diving with the Mantas, take a look:

Guest Blog – Lots of mantas, lobsters, sting rays… – Socorro island – 06 mar 2011

Friday, March 11th, 2011

 

What a great  day, Punta Tosca (Socorro) Lot`s of mantas, lobsters, sting rays, whales jumping all around at the end of the day… and a lesson learned… "Don`t go for the mantas, wait and they will came for you". Tired but tomorrow, Roca Partida will be the cherry of the cake… 2 more days diving…

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Um grande dia, Punta  Tosca (Socorro), muitas mantas, lagostas, raias manteiga, baleias pulando em volta do barco no final do dia… e algo aprendido… "nao va ate as mantas, espere que elas venham ate voce". Cancados mas amanha, Roca Partida serah a cereja do bolo… mais 2 dias mergulhando… muito melhor que o Carnaval…. heheh….      Guilherme Ribeiro – Pr Brazil – Equipe ACQUANAUTA

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Last night was a blast – although not many silkys, did manage to see some dolphins and the rare, yet very dangerous, Pedro-Shark – very scary! Today was incredible! I played with two enormous Mantas that stayed with us throughout the dive and spotted the largest Stingray that I ever saw…had to be 8-10 ft long. This place is the best and so is the crew!!
    Gina Stewart – NJ, USA

Friendly mantas today. Lots of interaction. Great day!
Don New Jersey-

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Melhor mergulho da viagem e da minha vida, ate agora. Ficamos brincando com duas mantas dos 5 aos 20 metros por aproximadamente 15 minutos, muito amigaveis, uma delas chegar a parar como que em extase por alguns segundos, despencou rumo ao fundo……. e retomou a brincadeira, Decio, Luciano e Joao foram os parceiros deste fabuloso mergulho, alem das nossas duplas…..as mantas…….fantastico
    Rodrigo Remer Silva – Curitiba – PR – Brasil – Acquanauta

Special guest –  Dr. Ingrid Visser – world renowned whale expert  –  Captain and crew blog – FEB 18, 2011

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

I recieved a huge Welcome Back to the Nautilus  Explorer upon my return from holidays!  It was great to hug the crew and meet new friends.  Even our departure from the beautiful beaches of Cabo showed us something new.  An anchoring cruiseship, a massive yacht with a helicopter on its back deck and about 5 miles out a very active Sperm whale strutting its stuff.  Dolphins shows escorting us into San Benedicto and then breaching baby humpbacks as we settled into our special spot ‘The Canyon’. Diving at the Canyon was superb with a school of Hammerhead sharks, giant mantas and the songs of the humpbacks echoing in our ears.  Large shadows silently cruising over our heads, a few of the divers even seeing the whales through the greenish water.  All on the first 2 dives!!!  Our scuba diving karma is pretty good today!!

Off to Roca Partida we sailed.  The wave action at Roca was bigger than Captain Mike had forecast using his weather models shoreside and threatened to shut down our operations.  But there were more breaching whales and the sun was shining and turning into such a great day that we just didn’t want to throw in the towel and give up.  Being ever so patient, and devising an unorthodox system of getting into the dive boats, we managed to get the divers over to the Roca Partida site where they were rewarded with Galapagos sharks, Silky Sharks, Whitetips, and the ever enchanting sounds of the magnificent Humpbacks swimming by.  Those who chose to wait for smoother times were rewarded with breaching whales, and a special presentation from our special guest Dr. Ingrid Visser, a whale expert with extensive experience in Orca Whale behaviour.

Its only day 2 of diving folks and I assure you it has been nothing short of exhilerating!  Looking forward to the next dive, tomorrow and the great days lying ahead.

Captain Kevin

After joining the Nautilus Explorer in Cabo San Lucas for the first time I can honestly say that I have yet to work with such a excellently put together crew. The weather has been awesome with a warm sun and favorable seas.  The diving so far has been amazing and I am sure that it will continue throughout the trip. The ship is in excellent shape and makes for an awesome work environment. The humpback whales seem to have been following us from the start and I am looking forward to our upcoming special “whaling day”..

Chief Engineer Cody

Day three finds us at Roca Partida, a beautiful yet inhospitable rock island rising out of the sea. This little rock is devoid of plants or trees however it is home to hundreds of sea birds and as a result the rock is stained covered with guano. We will spend two days diving and exploring the waters around Roca Partida searching for whales, giant mantas and sharks, tuna, wahoo and all the other animals we have come to almost expect at this magical place. Upon first approaching the island, the crew and guests were excited to see a pair of humpback whales breaching off the starboard bow– how such large mammals can throw their bodies out of the water with such grace and ease marveled us and we rushed for our cameras in hope to capture the moment.

By dive three on day one, the guests were out and milling around on the boat deck talking animatedly about the white tip reef sharks and the large gallapagos shark they saw and how a giant manta chose to come in to the divers for some very closeup interaction. Good visibility, clear water, sun and blue skies have followed us ever since we left the pelicans in Cabo San Lucas and so far it`s been a great trip.

Tonight we are blessed with a beautiful sunset, a tangerine ball melting into the sea and as one curtain falls, another opens. As we finish securing the inflatable boats to the top deck, a full moon rises over the twisted rock crevices of Roca Partida, it`s a magic sight and one that stays with me long after.

Great food, awesome teamwork, beautiful sights, exciting dives, challenging waves– things are looking great so far. I look forward to more great experiences and adventures aboard the Nautilus Explorer.

– You only live once, but if you live right, once is enough. – Unknown

Deckhand, Chris

As we depart from Cabo San Lucas on a 12 days trip we headed to the first destination San benedicto on our way there we were welcome by a school of dolphin as they proform a jumping show and giude us to the canyon which was our first stop as we position ourself to anchor on the horizion we saw whale just doing there early morning yoga as the mother and calf teaching her young to breach that just drawed every one attention to get up and leave there breakfast and get a belly full of whales jumping as they came our way as we did the first dive at the canyon everyone came back with a smile and could not believe that on the check out dive they would get to see 6 to a dozen hamerhead and the manta that just put the iceing on the piece of cake we stayed there for the day as everyone just gathered at the bar for cocktail hour and odered drinks just celebrateand cheers  the wonderfull dives that they had we continue our journey to the Boiler the weather was cool in the morning but as the sun rised and peak  over the dead swells and san benedicto island we were ready for the first dive we all go in as the water temp was 23 c it seem cold for the first not knowing that we were invited by 3 giant mantas we all had fun just watching they play and swim in between the divers at that time the coolness of the water was not even remembered or and issue as the divers fucus on the marvallous mantas  another unforgetable day we headed to Roca partida the crossing was calm as we approach the bbobies were on there early hunt as the friget birds just wait for the boobies to get back with there catch we had encounter with hamerhead ,silver tips,and golopago shark,as the white tips slept as it appears that they had a long night we stayed for two days visibility was 80-100 ft we cotinue to the island call Clarion  island we check in with the navy we headed to the south side where there was this amazing struture call the castle and beside it there is a next stuture look like a mayan temple we dive around the point there was some nice spures that go from the about 2 meters to 35 meters  we saw 3 turtles but the visibility was not as great so we were on a exploration we came across this pinacle that was like3\4 of a mile from shore so we anchor and went diving just to be greated by a swarming jack that seem like they have never seen divers before lots of ocotupus ,leather bass ,nice swim through that was invadide by lobsters stayed for the day the next day we head to the other tip of the island  were all the divers got in to explore were some divers got to intarack with dolphin were the others just got to find one of the best pinacle that start for about 2meters from the surface  with huge school of goatfish ,grunts ,jacks ,southern stingray just laying on the bottom just enjoying the sand as comouflage as the diver pass , a school or hamerhead we stay for the day it was to good to leave on the last dive there was a swarming of silkys ,silver tips the water temp was 23 c visibility was 30 to 40 feet     Divemaster Juan

Back on board the Nautilus Explorer and loving it! Socorro Island. First mate and guest blog. 05 FEB 2011

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Having taken extended leave from the Nautilus Explorer, it’s a great feeling to be back on board and working in the beautiful Revillagigedo archipelago. There’s nothing like some honest work, old (and new) faces and the sea air to blow off the cobwebs – not to mention the old familiar aches and pains as muscles atrophied from laziness are forced back to work!

Of course, the biggest highlight for anyone onboard the Nautilus Explorer, crew or guest, is the opportunity to see and interact with some of the most beautiful and awesome marine life in the world. It had been some months since I’d seen my old friends, the giant Pacific manta rays, and they welcomed me back in style. Deckhand Gabe and I went for a swim this afternoon, he with nothing more than a mask and fins, and I with scuba gear and a camera. The conditions were great, and no less than three giant manta rays were there at the Boiler to greet us. Swimming in the big blue and trying to capture that magic moment when Gabe and the mantas seemed to dance together (bravo on your freediving skills, Gabe!) was a fitting welcome to the Socorro islands. Spending 40 minutes with three 20-foot giant mantas at arm’s length isn’t such a bad way to spend your first dive back!

Fortunately, all our guests are buzzing with similar stories of interaction, and not just with giant manta rays – dolphins, hammerhead sharks, and other favorites are making strong appearances as well. With 7 dive days to go on this trip, we can only imagine what other encounters await us. We’re looking forward to finding out together!

Sandy Curtis

First Mate

Nautilus Explorer

Feb 05 2011

Slovenian underwater team very satisfied in San Benedicto. Been waiting for a breathe of ocean air for too long. Two dives today. One manta, hard skin, one fast heart rate. Two kayaks. One quiet volcano. One humpback whale in the distance…too far. No problem, they ll be around in the next days. Getting dark now. One beer…. today was a good day.

Cao mami, vse u redu, vse super pod in nad vodo, se vidmo… Jure & co.

Heute haben wir unsere ersten Tauchgaenge bei San Benedicto Island gemacht. Leider war die Sicht nicht ganz so gut wie wir es und erhofft hatten, aber dafuer kamen die Mantas ganz nah zu uns! Ausserdem haben wir Hammerhaie, Silberspitzenhaie und zwischendurch noch ein paar Lobster, gruene Muraenen, usw. gesehen, fuer den ersten Tauchtag nicht schlecht!!!

Juergen und Ute

wir sind nun den zweiten tag auf see. wunderschoene tauchgaenge mit mantas. die waren wirklich zahm, kamen von sich aus zum spielen zu uns, schwammen mit uns, liessen sich sogar beruehren. toll ! zum abschluss des tages ein bier im whirlpool, perfekt.

martin

die mantas lassen sich nicht lange bitten. sie paradieren wie diven auf dem roten teppich. fotografieren oder geniessen … das ist eine schwierige entscheidung.

christian

Es ist einfach unbeschreiblich! Ich tauchte lange dicht unter einem Manta, den wir den schwarzen Baron genannt haben, und war ihm so nah, dass ich sogar seine Parasiten sehen und beobachten konnte. Dabei tut es mir um die vielen anderen tollen Meeresbewohner leid, die sich bei Sonne auch reichlich gezeigt, aber wenig Beachtung gefunden haben.

Detlef

Socorro Islands With Nautilus Explorer Slideshow: Affordable’s trip from Dallas, Texas, United States to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico was created by TripAdvisor. See another Cabo San Lucas slideshow. Take your travel photos and make a slideshow for free.

Best big animal encounters of the trip with a huge school of hammerheads circling in very close to our divers – Captain’s Log – 21 JAN 2011

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

We have just wrapped our last day of diving for this trip to the incomparable Socorro Islands. I think the hardest part of this trip for me will be in about 10 minutes when I attempt to move our guests from the hottub, where I can currently hear a beautiful symphony of untrained voices with a beer buzz singing along to ‘Sweet home Alabama’ and the clinking of glasses, down to the dining room where Chef Enrique is waiting with his mouth-watering steak, baked potatoes and other fixins’. We have spent the last two days diving at the island of Socorro, the largest of the three islands commonly and collectively known as the Socorro Islands. Yesterday offered some of the best big animal encounters of the trip with a huge school of hammerheads circling in very close to our group of divers, some great bottlenose dolphin interaction as well as the Giant Manta Ray dance that divers have come to expect from these islands. Several of the Giant Mantas were present on all the dives gliding effortlessly amongst our awed guests.

We spent today at another great site that we started diving years ago and is best known for dolphin and manta ray interaction.  Today was no exception, and despite the poor visibility we enjoyed some great encounters with both animals. For around 45 minutes during breakfast time most of us hopped in to spend our surface interval snorkeling with a pod of about 12 dolphins, who danced all around us, diving deep before leaping out of the water in their typical playful manner. A great end to a great trip, beautiful weather, beautiful diving and beautiful guests!

Captain Gordon Kipp

Surface conditions: light winds, seas mostly calm, skies mostly clear, air temp 25C (77F)

Diving conditions: visibility at Cabo Pearce 60-70ft(18-21m) Punta Tosca 30-40ft (10-13m)  Water temp 24C (75F), current mild

Our Dutch divemaster serenades us on guitar with songs of his own making as we chime in for good measure while dessert is brought out to us on the foredeck in a flat calm ocean at anchor Roca Partida. Guest blog. January 21, 2011.

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Hello cybernetically-connected landlubbers!

And greetings from Roca Partida. The parted rock is interesting from the moment you hear of it. It’s 65 miles from Socorro and San Benedicto and 265 from ‘civilization’ in Cabo San Lucas. And there’s apparently nothing near it. Well, nothing cartographers would speak of, but unless they dive they’re barely scratching the surface. Other than it being the only visible landmass above water, it’s form – whilst interesting – speaks little to me. It’s function on the other hand…

It may well be a 300 ft magnet. It has after all attracted us – and so much more. Its towering gauno-covered tips become pleated walls, harboring moray eels in every available fold as it plunges 10,000 ft into an ever-darkening indigo. And all around it, in heaving current and swell, there’s a sub-aquatic symphony. We plunge in right next to it, immediately informed of the incredible life beneath the surface. White tip reef sharks are so numerous (and innocuous) they’re part of the landscape. Being Nautilus Explorers we’re looking for the big guns and they’re there, often ‘hiding’ behind the schools of inumerable snappers, trumpet fish and wrasse, punctuated by shiny jacks by the dozen and darker, larger trevally with ominous yellow eyes. The schools tower away from the walls and barely shift formation when intrepid divers position themselves among them. Beyond that the shapes move. Sharks – Silvertip and Galapagos – move beneath and beyond the schools, in and out of the blue. They’re not shy exactly, but needn’t bother with we lesser-evolved bubble-blowers. When they become curious, or are hunting they glide through sheets of sardines becoming easily visible and all the more fascinating. We’re fickle, we humans – white tips are virtually ignored, silvertips and the larger Galapagos variety are judged by their varying size and almost immediately forgotten when the most characteristic shape in the underwater world swims into view. Hammerhead! Moving with a seemingly greater intent and energy, its serpentine sway approaches the schools but seldom reveals its detail to the divers. We look for more. We see so much but we don’t forget that particular creature. We negotiate the swell on safety stops, looking up at the white rock above, surfacing to be picked up by our zealous zodiac crew.

And we do this several times a day, in between the on-board banter with now-familiar friends, the relentless pampering by the hardest working crew I have ever seen and watching the humpback whales that have been following a respectful circuit around the rock and our floating home. Spouts are regular and raised backs glisten in the sun; fins slap the water as if to re-iterate their presence and we’re teased by tails that are only shown on occasion.

I do not do the 4th dive on day one at Roca Partida, instead I choose to exhale the process and start afresh the next morning. A coupla cold cervezas consigned to obscurity later and Enrique’s sunset BBQ’d Pollo Diablo with roasted bell peppers bringing spicy smiles to all, we’re informed the Navy are to make a night inspection of our vessel. I have no qualms with this as they are keeping this pristine area protected. Bigger forces are at play.

It means we were moved from our dinner table to the foredeck as the uniformed gents board. Refusing to let the mere presence of armed men detract from proceedings, our dessert is brought out to us. Bowls of pastry and cream are handed down the lines of gathered guests whilst Jeroen, our Dutch Divemaster serenades us on guitar with songs of his own making. We chime in for good-natured measure with ‘Yo no soy marinero Yo no soy mariner- soy capitan, soy capi-tan!’ as the military make their way into the night.

Sleep is dark and silent and  gives way to sunrise over Partida as a luminous pastel masterpiece. It feels like it is going to be a good day, and is.

Falling from the day’s first boat, I’m still inverting myself for a pre-planned descent to 110 ft when my buddy David grunts into his regulator to get my attention. I turn to see him pointing downwards, expecting to see one of the previous day’s delights but, without any warning or pre-arranged program, below us is a whaleshark. Perfect timing for a descent, I hold my nose and kick myself down, not actually expecting to keep up but wanting a closer look at its intricate markings and sublime shape. I get pretty close at 100 ft, but then it moves to 80 and rounds the south corner of the rock and is gone. I turn to see David’s regulator being held in by a huge grin. It’s his first whaleshark. We shake hands as I offer my congratulations and thanks for being so alert. We resign ourselves to our original plan of hunting for hammerheads, all the while hearing the whales calling in the distance. We see a couple of hammerheads, just out of detailed range but unmistakably shaped in the lesser blue. We see silvertips, white tips and above us, once more, apparently doing the rounds of Roca, our juvenile whaleshark. Christine, one of the Explorer’s infatigueable crew, has a morning break  and is gladly descending toward it, her sun-bleached blonde hair unmistakeable with surface light behind her. I fin backwards and exhale as the shark casts a shadow over me. It slows, turns and I am able to gaze at the length of its 18 ft body as it moves above me. Perhaps bubbles are irresistably ticklish? This is afterall a young and playful creature. Christine and I perform an inverted High 5 like circus acrobats. The whaleshark circles Partida the entire length of the 3 phase dive, each of us enjoying a handful of encounters,  exuberant and exhultant exhalations and plentiful photo opportunities. Heavenly. The tide comes in. Partida’s swell above and below makes the rock’s corners impassable but the action that occurs is spectacular when seen from a safely-ensconced crevice. A wall of sardines lifts off just the other side of a rock we’re tucked behind. They’re penetrated by a silvertip of obvious intent a few feet in front of us. A barely determinable hammerhead moves in to a school near the wall at such speed it’s within feet of delighted divers before it realizes it is not alone. It snakes its way upwards, just off the wall’s face, its perpendicularly-positioned eye staring back at us. Whoops!      As we surface from a later dive on day 2 we see the tails of the whales slapping the water we we’re floating in not terribly far away. As masks are removed, the swell liftes us up and we’re blessed by a humpback breaching, the lines on its belly clearly visible as it lifts up in slow motion and crashes back down. As we sit sucking on cold beers in a hot tub at sunset, the full moon rises in between Partida’s towers. Stories tussle for telling and images are recollected by  an over-stimulated but tranquil consciousness as we gently set sail for Socorro – the culmination of our our already amazing adventure. ….

Socorro is…

We interrupt this blog to move to the bow, straddle the prow and watch dolphins frolic in the water just below dangling feet. They show off for 15 minutes, turning over so their white undersides reflect the morning’s glow, looking up. Our hostess Silvia brings me a hot tea so I miss nothing of this incredible communication that is such a privilege to experience. The dolphins leave seconds before sunrise. A glowing golden orb rises directly in front of our slowing boat. Another day beckons.