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Diving at Socorro Island never gets old

December 15, 2009 Written by

Location: The Canyon and the Boiler, San Benedicto Island, Socorro, Baja California

The intense blue sky ardour of yesterday gave way to a selection of brindled pinks and a lurid orange afterglow. The memory of this builds expectation as I
find myself in the solitude of another pre-dawn bridgewatch at sea.  Again, a fair crossing from Cabo San Lucas to San Benedicto finds us plowing a furrow across a sea the true colour of ‘steel wool’ under a dome of leaden sky. This is the time before dawn where all is in monochrome.  The greyscale World becomes suffused minute by minute with those delicate shell colours. The sky acts like a Polaroid, and I’m waiting for it to develop. Gone the clear skies of yesterday, we are ringed at all points of the compass by a terrific cloudscape of altos and feathery tailed cirrus. And now as the greys warm to yellow, the first tinge of fire is painting the peripheral.   Forget pink candyfloss spindrift of a moment before, think Ironmongers forge: incandescent red glimpsed through darkened cinder.  From the dullest Eastern grey becomes the gaudiest of reds, tones that don t rightly belong on an artist pallet. Only nature could get away with such caprice.  Captain Marco.

Scuba diving never gets old.  It seems there is always something new to discover and learn about in the sub-aquatic world.  The most important prerequisite needed to learn these things: an open mind.  I was reminded of this lesson today.

On the Nautilus Explorer this week, we started our diving at “The Canyon”, a dive site at San Benedicto Island, in the Revillagigedo Archipelago off Baja California.  Eager guests sat through the divemaster’s briefings with smiles growing larger as they were told about some of the marine life they might encounter on this dive: Hammerhead Sharks, Giant Mantas and Silvertip Sharks.  The anchor was dropped and soon after 23 guests also dropped, down through pleasant 79 degree waters with impressive 60 to 80 foot visibility.  Next stop: A cleaning station; a popular hang out for the local Hammerhead population.  Upon arrival at the station, I settled down behind some boulders with only my head visible so as not to scare off the shy sharks.  The guests followed my example and we began to wait.  Unfortunately this time the Hammerhead Sharks did not appear.  We stayed as long as we could before our air supply and deco time demanded we start back to the Nautilus.  As I led the group away from the station I was grateful that we could not audibly converse underwater.  If we could have I was sure the guests would be saying how disappointed they were and what a terrible dive this was.  I felt like I had let them down.  Still I kept an eye out for any late appearing marine company on the way back and spotted a large Green Moray out for a foray, a few clandestine Stonefish and a rare Nudibranch which I was personally thrilled to find but didn’t expect would go far in making up for the lack of action at the cleaning station.  Finally we arrived back at the Nautilus Explorer.

Last out of the water, I braced for the impact of sullen faces on the dive deck.

I was happily disappointed.  “That was the largest Moray Eel I ever saw” said the first guest to greet me, glowing.  “I’ve never seen a Stonefish before – that was great” said the second.  And finally, my favorite: “A Nudibranch is as good as a Hammerhead Shark anyday!”

Lesson learned!  No more preconceptions of what a dive should be for me!  As we move up to Socorro Island over the next few days I am going to dive “to see what I can see.“

On the second and third dives of the day, the guests did get to see both Hammerhead Sharks, Giant Manta Rays, Silvertip Sharks and one guest even saw a Tiger Shark.  The second sighting in four days in the Socorro Islands.

I still think the Nudibranch was the best!

Happy Diving!

Divemaster Dan

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