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COCO'S ISLAND ~ COSTA RICA, March 8 - 18 2008 Trip Report

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Underwater creature at Dirty Rock Cocos IslandDirty Rock dive site is a favorite for many, beautiful u/w topography with lots of pointed arches and channels. Coco's is a magnet to BIG fish, I have never seen Giant Blue Trevally, they come right up to you! They must be over a meter long and nearly ½ as big from top to bottom, and glowing so pretty! Some big yellowfin tuna have found safe haven here as well. Some marble rays are the size of the table befitting the Knights of the Round table, mind blowing they are!

Dos Amigos Grande gave us a sight to behold, parked at the corner with loads of Hammers coming up and over and ooooops behind us, further we went to the sheer wall and lots more Hammers and wow a Mobula Manta following a giant Manta ray! Lots of mobulas here; which are smaller than the Giant Manta Rays but very beautiful with mouths that open below. This dive has the very beautiful huge cavern with white tips swimming in and out and schools of fish hanging around, lots of life an extremely picturesque setting!

Not would you know this, as soon as we came back to the mother ship, the OTHER panga swam with a baby whale shark as well as interacting with the very same Mobula and Manta ray, ho hum…OK I was very happy for THEM ;-(

Hammerhead sharks at Dirty Rock Cocos IslandSomething we learned about the Hammerheads at Coco's Island, they are there to be cleaned! This is the draw for these sharks, they have parasites that they allow the barber fish a type of butterfly fish to come up to them and clean them off! I first they were all mating scars but they are not, only the white scars by their necks and gills are the mating scars the rest are parasites that need to be cleaned off! Amazing again.

Now for my favorite shark the Silver Tip; so majestic and proud, a site to behold to see them come in to be cleaned! . They are here at a cleaning station called Silverado! They arrive with an entourage of bigger fish some are rainbow runners, they found a rock that juts out of the main island and in about 35 ft of water we lay quiet on the sand and watch the parade begin! They come in and circle around and let the barber fish come up and clean them, unreal. These are big sharky sharks, ahhhhhh to be this close and just watching nature at its best! Well get this, soon as we jumped in a couple of us spotted a BIG SHARK patrolling the bottom as we waited for the dive master and remainder of our group ,,,, TIGER SHARK!!!!! Holy Moly and lets find it again! Just as Edwar got us in our circle around the cleaning station for the White Tips, this Giant Tiger shark came back to visit!!! Good grief, it was big!

Cocos Island dive trip report with Dive DiscoveryThe winner so far believe it or not was our dive at Dos Amigos Piceno, we had the biggest schools of Hammerheads so far, we agreed up to 80! Yahooooo. They coming round and round, over head, in front of us, up the rock over head and below us! So thrilling so see so many finally on one dive! Fantastico!!! Pura Vida!

Another thrilling dive at Maueleta which happened to be our last day it was very early am and a bit dark still in the water. We had a thrill again, a Tiger Shark joined this pack of hammer heads he was trying to be a Hammerhead shark we think, ha too funny. He was a smaller Tiger than the one we saw at Silverado! We also swam with 2 very beautiful Eagle rays, ahhhhhh what a lovely way to wake up!

Another beautiful afternoon some of us went ashore for a 1hr hike from Shepherd Bay to the waterfall, this is where the main conservation Station is for the rangers that live on the island. A stunning hike through the rainforest rewarded us with this amazing flat pool and very magnificent waterfall! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh in I went and swam to the ledge in front of the waterfall, how perfect this was. We could stand up a foot in front of the falling water and watch the scups a type of fish hang on for dear life as the water fell on them. Nature at its best! What a wonderful afternoon spent on a tranquil and beautiful island a mere 300 miles off the coast of Punta Arenas Costa Rica!

Waterfall at Cocos IslandOn another afternoon we went ashore to the where the other conservationists stay at Chatam Bay, this is home to the famous rock carvings on the shore of the many Pirates that have visited Coco's in hopes of finding the fames buried treasure! As far as I have been told, it has never been found or it possibly never existed, who really knows? The settling is very idyllic as I remembered some 19 years prior. The conservation housing here is for those who want to volunteer to clean up the island and also for those who are divers to help retrieve the nets that the illegal fisherman have got caught and remain. So sickening to see all the netting and hooks and buoys the volunteers and rangers have retrieved from the waters near Coco's. The states NO fishing at all for 12 miles around the island, however it is very difficult to patrol that much water.

Conservation project at Cocos IslandAn organization from the UN is there trying to collect money from the divers that visit, this money has helped them to purchase a patrol boat in hopes to dissuade the illegal fisherman from fishing there. There are many individuals in the Costa Rican government of the coastal town of Punta Arenas where they allow illegal shark fining. The Taiwanese fishing fleet is paying off the government here to allow them to come in and take sharks. The numbers are astonishing, and soon there will no longer be sharks in our oceans. Cocos Island and the Galapagos Islands are the last vestiges for large populations of sharks, they come to these places to be cleaned. The numbers are dwindling at an astonishing rate. This must be stopped. The movie SHARKWATER by Rob Warner is a staggering account of what this illegal massacre of the most important top of the seas food chain is facing. Extinction. His movie is moving and at the same time sickening to the degree of greed humans will go to for $$$$$.

I urge you to see this movie and take part in our fight to put an end to this destruction of a species that will not recover in time if we do not take action TODAY. The shark has been perfectly created for over 400 million years, the perfect predator that keeps our oceans in an important eco check and balance. Its only enemy is man. It has very slow reproduction; evolution cannot make the changes needed for its survival against man.

My long awaited trip to Cocos Island was more than I hoped for and so happy to know it is still one of the last places on earth where the Hammerhead shark, white tips, Silver tips and Tiger sharks still exist in abundance! Lets work hard to spread the word, SHARKS ARE OUR FRIEND!!!!

See you in the spring of 2010 sign up now before it is full!!! Lets go play with sharks!

Cindi LaRaia

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