SEA OF CORTEZ DIVING
Our 2015 Sea of Cortez Adventure in
a nutshell: Great diving, Terrible boat.
But don't let that put you off because we have chartered the
beautifully designed Rocio del Mar for next year's trip.
That means we're expecting the same great diving with some
serious luxury too :)
The Reef Diving
focused our diving around the lush reefs of the Midriff
Islands. Like all reefs in the eastern Pacific, the Midriff
reefs a made of volcanic rock. A few of the shallower sites
that we dove were relatively barren but the majority were
peppered with hard corals.
The more current swept sites were encrusted with enormous,
beautiful pink sponges.
Below the 20m/60ft mark, the reef structure completely
changed. The smaller corals gave way to lush forests of
black coral. Black coral is actually bright green when its
alive. The skeletal core of the coral trees are the black
part that artisans polish and carve into jewelry and
discovered these deep water coral gardens on virtually every
dive site that we visited. Normally reefs of this quality
would appear much deeper but the plankton rich surface
layers of the northern Sea of Cortez create the perfect
environment for black coral to flourish.
The Little Stuff
every dive there was no shortage of eye candy. It was tough
to concentrate on the macro life because there was always
big animals to look at too but on a few dives I did strap on
a macro lens to snap a few of the many colorful nudibranchs.
also stumbled upon quite a few Pacific seahorses. Most were
scruffy and brown to blend with the reef but a few (probably
the males) were bright yellow and more than happy to pose
for the camera.
you like rays, you would love this trip. There were rays on
every dive including haller's round stingrays, cortez round
stingrays, bullseye round stingrays, diamond stingrays,
longtail stingrays, giant electric rays, bullseye electric
rays and at least two types of mobula rays!
The Gulf of California is a breeding and calving ground for
many species of whales. We spotted a large but illusive pod
of sperm whales and a few fin whales that we got relatively
close to. We also saw lots of pilot whales and managed to
swim with a few but I didn't take any underwater images this
Lobos del Mar (Sea Wolves)
During the week we visited three different sea lion
colonies. The encounters were excellent!
The most common pinnipeds that you are likely to run into in
the Sea of Cortez are California sea lions. Fortunately,
they happen to be one of the most playful species too.
great place to interact with them is at an island called
Isla del Animas which translates as the Island of
you approach the island you can hear their forlorn howling
from a mile away. Once the pangas approach closely, the sea
lions leap from surrounding rocks and swim back and forth
impatiently, waiting to play.
The young and sub-adult sea lions came incredibly close. One
in particular delighted in trying to bite its reflection in
my dome port :)
Perhaps the most exciting encounters were with the whale
sharks at Bahia de los Angeles. I have swum or dove with
whale sharks all over the world but seeing them in such
shallow water with a mountainous desert backdrop made this
quite a unique encounter.
So, the wildlife encounters were great. The ship that we
chartered was a different matter. I knew when I chartered
the Narval that it was a bit run down but I was
assured that it would be spruced up for our two back-to-back
week long charters. Initially the conditions on the ship
were fine. Good food, friendly helpful crew and the ship got
us where we wanted to go - albeit a bit more slowly than we
would have liked. I chose the Narval because it was the only
ship in the region that agreed to let us dive with humboldt
squid if we found some. Eventually we did see a few but they
were tiny juveniles so we didnt end up getting in with them.
The problems started on the second week when a tropical
storm swept over the area we were diving in. The captain
clearly should have run for shelter before he did because we
found ourselves getting thrown around in enormous seas.
During the night, one of our pangas (chase boats) sank below
the waves and we were forced to cut the rope and let drift
into the depths.
Next, the heavens opened and torrential rains hammered down
on us as we limped towards the mainland in search of cover.
This is when we found out that the new lick of paint that
Narval had received was apparently not storm proof. The
water pooling on the decks quickly made its way down to the
cabins and soaked almost every bed.
The guests dried their personal effects off as best they
could and curled up wherever they could find a dry spot in
the salon. Fortunately, everyone on the trip was incredibly
good understanding about the whole ordeal.
The next day we dried out the cabins, rented another panga
from a fishing village and continued the 'adventure'. The
rest of the trip went swimmingly :)
Needless to say, we will never step foot on that rust bucket
again. For next year's Sea of Cortez Adventure we have
chartered the Rocio del Mar - a beautfully designed luxury
liveaboard dive vessel that sleeps 20 divers in comfortable
WATERPROOF cabins! They won't let us jump in humboldt squid
but they use powerful lights to bring them up to the surface
at night so that we can see them and the braver divers can
try hand-camming to get some shots of them off the swim
you are looking for an easily accessible diving adventure
(guests fly into Phoenix, Arizona) in a fascinating body of
water, join us in August 2017 for our next
Cortez Big Animal Safari.