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Socorro Island revisited on the Nautilus Explorer
29 February - 9 March 2012 Trip Report

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Socorro Island - February 29-March 9 2012 Trip Report

We had many great encounters daily with Galapagos sharks aka Dusky sharks. Now there was a lot of query and debate if we were seeing Dusky or Galapagos sharks… hmmm. The difference is very minute; one of them had the pectoral fin just aft of the front edge of the dorsal fin. No one was ever able to tell us for sure which shark we were seeing. I think some were Dusky sharks as I got very close and some great video of them! Some of them are VERY big!

Now while we are still stuck at the Canyon,,,,, I went my own way from the anchor line, I went right instead of left, thinking I was going to plan, nope. I waited for my Hammerheads to do their thing in my same spot as the first day. They were nowhere to be seen here. So instead I found 2 big Dusky sharks, I swam down to a small rock below the ridge, and I now hear whales. We have been surrounded in Humpback whale mommies and babies! Every day we see different groups near us, breaching, pec fluke slapping, blowing, all the time!!!!!!!!!! This is why I book my group trips in Feb/March for the full effect of the whales as an added bonus! Here I am alone, planted behind this small rock, with the 2 big Dusky sharks making really perfect circles around me and the rock, how interesting and very kind of them to swim so close and in perfect symmetry of me for pictures! The whales mama and baby coming closer and closer as the singing and sound of them so loud and clear, they had to be just out of site of my vision the song was sooooo loud and the vibration that sounded off my chest was strong and forceful! I have never been that close to the eerie gorgeous song of whales, this was mama and baby communicating. The mommy sound is lower with longer vocals, the baby responding in a much higher pitched reply and shorter. It was truly awe-inspiring to be all alone behind this very small rock with 2 big Dusky Sharks circling me and the awesome loud sound of the whales as mommy is teaching her child the ways of the sea,,, so close and yet so far. Vis too poor, I could not see past 20ft.

I began my love of the sea, as a 9 yr old girl from Michigan with parents that had not even been to the ocean at that point in their lives. My love for the whales of the sea is the siren that created the monster I am today .

We had amazing whales on this trip; there was a special cove near the Boiler where a mommy and calf hung out the entire time. We were able to go out in the zodiacs when they were close enough in-between dives. One of the boats with snorkelers got into the water 2 times with the whales before they swam off! Not my zodiac . I did get in with the bottlenose dolphins and had a lot of fun with them. 2 of them stopped and turned to look at ma, ahhhhh. Just as I noticed I had 3 silkier sharks surrounding me at the surface in bare skin! As I turned to look around at them, I lost a fin, had just lubed up and forgot my socks as we ran into the boats, it was fun though!

Socorro Island - February 29-March 9 2012 Trip ReportWe finally made it to the Boiler and I remembered why it is called the Boiler, it is a tiny small rock that sits just under the surface and when the waves break it looks like it is boiling! All the players where there, however vis not good, we did have 4 & 5 Mantas at a time, this is where the Clarion Angel fish endemic to this area all come off the rocks and clean the mantas as they hover over to be cleaned! It is very cool to observe. At times they would bank in taking turns and allowing all the divers opportunism to photograph and spend quality time with each of them. Ahhhh here comes my amigo, the giant Manta with the silver markings on his wing tips and top of his massive body. He and I spent amazing time alone in the channel, the boats left for the Boiler when the wind sat, I am sure he wondered where did all the divers go? This place was great as it is near the island and a bit of a cove area, where mommy whale and baby stayed as she loving taught her baby calve lob tailing, pec slapping and communication! Most of the time we had 3 sets of families in this area, all blowing breaching and singing away!!! Ahhhhhhh this is why I come to Socorro in February and March, it is a special treat to add the whales to the mix.

We have many opportunities to get in zodiacs in between the dives to follow the whales, snorkel gear and camera's at the ready! What fun that is, more fun for the boat that actually got divers in the water 2 times with the whales! I had an interesting drift, I lost my buddies in my Zen moments swimming and talking with my manta friends. All alone listening to the whales song.. a true siren for me. I thought well here we go, so I drifted slowly into the green murk, hoping I would casually bump into the whales, ha! Boy was I close, again the mommy sooooooo loud with her chatting to her baby and the calve responding in a shorter much higher pitch. It was absolutely mesmerizing, a true siren of the sea for me. Alas I look and there I am at an anchor chain,,, hmmmm not ours.

The Boiler is an interesting rock, on the shallow ledge where the Mantas go to get cleaned. It is an ongoing procession of busy-ness as on cue, all the clarion angels lift off as the manta hovers and tirelessly pick and clean the bits of who knows what off each Manta. Then the next one comes in, at one time we witnessed 4 then 5 coming in and saw that most magic of all spectacles, when 2 mantas meet up close and both circle up and twirl in circles as if in the most elegant ballet. These massive creatures are truly a blessed sight to behold in numbers and in action.

The rest of the Boiler has a lot to offer also, we were told on the other side there are schools of hammerheads, so off I go to circle this small rock, well as I am at the far side looking for Hammers, hundreds and hundreds of tuna go creaming by! Holy smokes! Just as I think this wild train ride whizzing past me would end, an entire army of more tuna go screaming by at lightning speed! Were they being chased or is that how they operate? I wonder. Well that was exciting, however I did not see any hammerheads here. What a place this is!!

Socorro Island - February 29-March 9 2012 Trip ReportNow off to the famous Roca Partida. This is a very small rock with a unique shape in the middle of nowhere all out there in the deep blue sea all alone and home to AMAZING life!!! SHARKS to name a few! We had excellent conditions here which are needed as surge can play a big role in entries and exits. This dive site is the cherry on top of the hot fudge Sunday made with Sanders Hot Fudge! Finally we have clean water! Yahoooooo…

8:00am, first dive, I drop in to a school of about 20 Galapagos sharks, a silver tip shark (my fav) and a huge school of creole fish, and about 10 or more big white tips! Well blow me down. Welcome to Roca Partida! As I am swimming with a giant smile on my face, I see this BIG fast fish, looks like a big Tuna, OH my Gosh it is a big Tuna, A big Blue Fin tuna! Cannot miss it since we had seen a lot of yellow fin tunas already, no mistaking this big boy, he was trimmed out in Blue! I could not believe this dive!!

We spent 2 glorious days diving here, I only wish we had a bit of current to help ball up all the amazing amount of marine life here. The beauty of spending 2 full days at this place is you get to learn all the nooks and crannies. Fun holes with up to 20 or more resting white tip sharks, with Lobsters sharing this cubby with them. I swam up to them from below holding my breath to try to get a fun head shot of them all and to my amazement were 2 giant lobsters standing on the head of a white tip! That was so funny I started to giggle, filled my mask with water and blew the shot. I got one lobster standing like he walking a tight rope but the other had walked off. Too funny!

There is always so much action here at the famous Roca Partida, silver tips cruising by, then several Galapagos or Dusky Sharks, we ended up calling them Galapaduskies since we were not certain of which they were (Galapagos or Dusky) sharks. Lots of gorgeous red-tailed surgeon fish, filling the space between the sharks along with the schools of hundreds of Creole fish. OH and we also saw Hammerheads here as well, and the same big fat pregnant White Tip shark, she looked like a Sherman tank ready to go off! Toward the end of our time here we had a wee bit of current but not much.

For my last 5 star dive at 200pm at Roca, as if a grand finale were announced, I jumped into a school of Jacks, a large school of surgeon fish, 2 big Galapaduskie's, white tip sharks, a big school of yellow fin tuna. I am in shark, fish soup heaven, then out a bit away from the rock into the blue I went as I saw movement were the river of Galapagos or Dusky sharks, there had to be about 20 or 30 of them, a few of us were out there in total amazement as well as 4 or 5 Silvertip sharks jut to make the scene complete! These are the moments that you just watch and try to implant into your memory bank, the sheer beauty of being out in the blue with the underwater kings of the sea! Nearing the end of the dive as I am slowing off gassing, more rocketing yellowfin tuna swim very close and around me as well as bonito and wahoo closer to the surface……..How on earth can all this happen on one dive? It was a fantastic farewell to this magic tiny island in the middle of the deep blue sea.

Oh and also we went for another Bottlenose dolphin snorkel with hundreds of these playful dolphins, ahhhh life in the seas of Socorro.

Thank you the wonderful crew of Nautilus Explorer for making our trip so fun and helping us enjoy every moment of it!!! I was thrilled.

Cindi LaRaia

Socorro Island - February 29-March 9 2012 Trip ReportSocorro Island - February 29-March 9 2012 Trip Report

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