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Nautilus Explorer ~ Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro), November 26-December 4 2020 Trip Report

Escorted by: Cindi LaRaia

Cindi and Manta in Socorro

What a wonderful relief to have been able to escape and fly to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to board The Nautilus Explorer for Socorro islands!!!

This was a very fun group of people from around the world, USA and some agents and dealers.

Flat seas were prevalent on our crossings, the calmest I have ever experienced to and from Socorro, especially the return. No current except for one dive on Socorro island. Water temps warm from 80-82F, clear blue water and lots of marine life!

The Covid-19 protocols for guests on Nautilus liveaboards include a mandatory 72 hr negative COVID-19 test, a temperature log for 7 days prior to boarding, masks mandatory when not eating, 2 dining times to offer spacing in the dining room. In the Salon, masks need to be worn except when drinking. They take temps of guests when boarding and throughout the trip.

The crew wear always masks, other than Dive Masters and guests as we board zodiac's heading to dive sites.

We had a really fun group, we were all so happy to be FREE on our way to Socorro islands to play with Mantas, sharks and dolphins and boy did we!!

Our first dive day was at San Benedicto island home of all the friendly giant pacific Mantas! We started at the anyon', for a check out dive. Maybe the best checkout dive ever! Huge Galapagos sharks casually swimming by and so close! Several Silver tips, my fav shark, they are so elegant and perfect with the many glowing white tips on all the fins as they proudly parade by. There was a lovely baby silver with her mama, so sweet!

A few Hammerhead sharks close by, all welcoming us to Socorro islands for our first 15 minutes in the water!! Not to be outdone, our first manta arrived, this one had a broken bent left-wing tip aimed down. Did not seem to interrupt her beautiful swim. We stayed here all day in blue, calm water.

I was able to speak to the mantas again and good to know, it still works!!! Luckily I don't breath much air, I can talk and talk and talk and they go slow and stay near me wondering what I am saying to them! it is beyond amazing the connection with our beautiful big babies of the sea, the eye to eye heart and soul connection is so strong.

This trip became very emotional for me, we carry on each day trying hard to stay sane in COVID-19. Especially in the travel biz, no bookings all postponed for over a year now...... then you get in the water with these amazing creatures, feelings all pent up..... by the end of the trip at the Boiler I could not hold it in any longer, I just sobbed and sobbed all the pain and sadness of the last 10 months pouring out!

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"And a big thank you to Anne Clifford for these beautiful videos and underwater images".


Next stop Socorro island, more clear blue water as we jump in, I have been to Socorro now 3 times prior to this visit and I do not remember this gorgeous clear blue water!! Amazing really and the water temps remained 80-82 F, just wonderful. We dived Cabo Pearce, and wow we had about 10 mantas sited, the other boat saw a Tiger shark, I did not see it. We had many chevron Mantas and one Black Beauty; they look like black velvet and are my absolute favs!!

The second dive here offered us our playful dancing dolphins! A full school of pacific bottle nose dolphins with mama and baby coming back to say hey!!! They were not clicking or echolocation which I found unusual! This dive was off the charts! I had my beautiful handsome black beauty come back and as I talked and talked and talked, he would not leave me, I could swim under him around him eyeball to eyeball as he slowed so as not to lose me. Such Beauty, I think we got engaged underwear hahahaha!

Next in line a GIANTA school of Hammer head sharks against the wall, then overhead! Happy some of my boat mates captured these incredible shots and videos! We had a boat full of BIG cameras, with several very pro-photogs and others whom where super great photographers and videographers!

It always amazes me how conditions can change in 1.5 hrs! Our 3rd dive was nothing like the first, wild up and down current, green cold water, huge thermocline, wow! Crazy! Hammers went deep, nothing happening other than battling this cold current. WE headed up and our beauty manta saved the dive!!

Next stop, Roca Partida! Everyone's favorite! It's like a box of chocolate, you never know whatcha gonna get! Even though we had a beautiful full moon here, we had 0 current. I mean 0. Very odd as we had 2 days diving here which is magic and special to say the least.

Roca Partida

All the dives offered blue clear cobalt blue water, lots of amazing life and sharks. But no hot action, it was all pretty Zen and lovely! I wish we had SOME current!! The HUGE Galapagos sharks just swim right under and next to you like old friends! The same with all the many many big gorgeous Silver Tip sharks, reminding me of big Labradors hanging out! Sooo many White tips, all piled up at the 'balcony' with GIANT lobsters next to them! Free swimming HUGE white tip sharks, seems everything is really BIG here, a bit bionic.

However, the most beautiful part of Roca is all the zillions of schooling fish! I love the shiny silver movement in the sunlight nearer to the surface of all the bonitos! They have a unique shape and easy to recognize. Lower in the water column are massive schools of cotton mouth tuna, also fascinating to watch. Then zooming by is a HUGE FAT TORPEDO, a huge yellow fin tuna!!! Ahhhhh so rare to see these days with all the overfishing and long line fishing. The sushi trade has decimated our blue fin and yellow fin tuna. As well as all overfishing all over the world, heart breaking we have not been able to stop or slow this massacre of our special fish in the sea.

It is awe-inspiring to see these fish in the water, also some HUGE dog tooth tuna. Schools of big eye jacks. We even saw Hammerheads here at Roca Partida and more mantas!!! Soooo where is the whaleshark???? Darn, it's the ONLY thing we did not see! WE did hear a male Humpback whale singing underwater in the distance! They have made the migration to Cabo San Lucas but not quite out to the Socorro islands yet, they will start to arrive in January.

Other dives here we had mating jacks which was very cool to see. Our last dive had hunting silkies at the surface, which is always a site to see. Their elegance is beautiful like a dance; they are curious and can be a bit unwavering how close they come to you. Huge schools of fish close to us at the rock. The wall of the rock is beautiful with its geological striations. Such a lovely place in the middle of nowhere!!

Ahhhh love this place!

Now back to San Benedicto where the Captain was hoping we could spend the last full day with 4 dives here at the BOILER!

We were blessed again on this dive site as sometimes there are NO mantas or conditions are not good, or water is green. I have been here enough to have experienced a bit of good and bad. Not this trip, it was all PERFECT!!

We jumped in and instantly had 2 mantas come to play. Then 2 more, by the time all the divers in the water and we had 20 divers and 3 dive masters, the water so clear and blue you could see everyone just hanging and spread out so all the mantas would come to offer love to everyone, they are so kind that way!!!

Roca Partida

Again, more talking from me to my Mantas, me the Manta Whisperer Smiley face it is really such a special feeling to have them acknowledge you, slow down so I can swim easily next to them or under them keeping full eye contact. The loving connection is overwhelming and once again I am in Emotional Overload here!!! These are gifts to me; my mermaid soul is grateful!

Another dive we had mama and baby dolphin with us, so special!!! Along with all the mantas, we had a lot of manta interaction and all the photogs ended up smiling at the end of this magical, emotional trip. Our last dives offered so many beautiful mantas and my favorite Black Velvet male came back to say hey!!! His belly markings the most beautiful I have seen. All the chevron mantas were all female, only the Black Velvet mantas were male, rather interesting to me.

This is the only place in the world where the Mantas LOVE and LOOK for Human interaction! It is strange and wonderful, no one knows why. We all have been with many mantas all over the world, but they do not interact with humans like they do at the Revillagigedo Islands!

Thank you to the amazing, fantastic crew of Nautilus Explorer, owner Mike Lever, all my new friends on this outstanding magical trip! WE all needed this break from reality, our bubble of love was just what many of us needed!

I am so looking forward to bringing my group back this coming April, I cannot wait!!!

Thank you to the mantas and dolphins and sharks for bringing us so much joy!

Heaps of love,

Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro)Revillagigedo Islands (Socorro)