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Whale Shark Encounters in Mexico
Tiger Beach tiger shark diving
Great hammerhead shark diving
Great white shark diving
giant manta dive at Isla Socorro
oceanic whitetip shark diving
killer whale orca encounter
Dive with Great Whites, Sevengill Sharks, Makos, Blue Sharks, 5 species of Catsharks and Spotted Gully Sharks in False Bay, South Africa.
Whale shark and manta encounter
Basking shark diving
sardine run diving
Beluga Whale Diving
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sailfish diving
Salmon shark diving in Alaska
 
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Socorro Manta & Humpback Expedition March 2012

A BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS TRIP REPORT

 

giant manta ray encounter

 

Socorro was an adventure that I'll never forget. This was the first time that I had taken a group to the Revillagigedo Archipelago and I was concerned that being so close mainland Mexico, the islands would have been picked clean by fishermen. However, I couldn't have been more wrong. The mysterious volcanic islands have a military presence and strict park enforcement with heavy penalties for illegal fishing. While we were there enjoying fantastic diving we didn't see a single fishing boat and rarely encountered lines or other tackle on the critter infested reefs.

The humpbacks were there in force. Moms and calves were visible on the surface almost everywhere we went but underwater whale encounters were not as easy as I had hoped. Two of our guests did get a quick visit from a mom and calf underwater but most of our whale encounters were topside. Fortunately the topside action was great. Lots of close activity including breaches and tail slapping. Underwater we could hear the haunting whale song nearby which really added the mysterious feel of these exotic islands.

 

breaching humpback whale isla socorro

 

Of course the stars of the show were the giant mantas. Unlike most places around the world, the mantas at Socorro (and its sister Island San Benedicto) crave contact with divers. All we had to do was fall in at the right spot and the mantas found us. If you haven't been in the presence of these enormous creatures its hard to understand the emotion it conjures up when a 14ft wide manta swims over to you and you can see its eye flickering in your direction.

Everyone in the group had fantastic giant manta encounters. For me, the highlight was when my dive buddy Rasmus and I swum off into the blue, lured by the beautiful whale song. When we made our way back to the rocky reef a massive jet black manta came into view and spent the better part of an hour circling us both. We had seen groups of big mantas on other dives that some might find more impressive but this solitary giant was there just to hang out with us. It was a very special time:

 

diving with manta rays

 

One evening just as the sun was setting we jumped in to snorkel with feeding mantas at the surface in a bay where the plankton was ramping up against the shore. Surface feeding is something that doesn't occur that often at the islands so it was another very special experience that we were all able to enjoy. The mantas look very different in feeding mode as their cephalic lobes form a scoop to funnel more water over their gills and their chests deepen to accommodate the incoming plankton rich liquid. By the time I got out of the water it was more or less completely dark but the mantas (maybe 30-40 in total) continued to scrape the surface and we had to be careful that the pangas did not bump into any as we wove our way back to the mother ship.

 

manta ray feeding

 

We split into two small groups each morning so that when we went in search of hammerheads they would not be as spooked by our presence. As always, they were still very hard to approach but we saw some impressive schools (probably 100 or more strong) which I didn't think existed north of Cocos Island and Malpelo anymore.

Other sharks included silvertips on the deeper dives, small groups of whitetips resting under ledges and aggregations of silkies and Galapagos sharks out in the blue. There were rays too including large longtail stingrays, guitarfish and giant electric rays down on the sea floor.

 

silvertip shark diving

 

Of the fishes (aka shark food) that we saw, the most interesting encounter was a pair of bloody  or sanguine frogfish. I would never have been able to see them if the octopus I had been following hadn't frightened them into repositioning themselves.

 

bloody frogfish

 

Speaking of octos, the reefs around Socorro are like octopus condos! On one dive I counted 14 twin spotted octos; all of them out and about during the day. I'm sure I would have seen even more if I had not spent most of my time looking out into the blue.

 

Diving with a two spotted octopus Isla Socorro

 

On our early morning dives we were visited by friendly pods of bottlenose dolphins. They would swim up to our group as though to say good morning and then after a few minutes they would disappear back to hunting and we wouldn't see much of them again until the next day.

Being visited by friendly marine life is a concept I am not used. Most animals swim away unless you have bait in the water but the mantas and dolphins of Socorro showed us a side of the natural world where humans are not feared by everything that moves. Witnessing the genuine curiosity of friendly wild animals was a fantastic and humbling experience.

 

dolphin encounter socorro

 

All in all it was a great first trip to Socorro. Unquestionably, the islands are more than worthy of a second trip so I have loaded dates for Socorro 2013. Join me if you can!

 

Clarion angelfish isla socorro diving

 

 

 

A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS FROM BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS FUNDS

THE PREDATORS IN PERIL PROJECT

predatorsinperil.org

 

 

 

 

Snorkel with Japanese Giant Salamanders

American crocodile diving

 

 

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2017 CAT ISLAND OCEANIC WHITETIP SHARK DIVING REPORT

 

Andy Murch Trip Leader

Andy Murch

EXPEDITION LEADER

Andy Murch is a fanatical big animal diver.

He has photographed and dived with more sharks than most people on this planet and he's very good at it.

Andy's images and shark stories have appeared in hundreds of books and magazines around the world from titles as varied as Canadian Geographic, Scuba Diving, FHM, Digital Photography,  and the Journal of Zoology.

Andy is the Creator of the ever expanding Shark and Ray Field Guide on Elasmodiver.com 

 

When not running big animal expeditions or on photographic assignments, Andy lives and dives on Vancouver Island, Canada

 

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Predators in Peril

Andy is also the driving force behind the PREDATORS IN PERIL PROJECT which shines a spotlight on many endangered species of sharks and rays that are largely overlooked by mainstream conservation groups. Predators In Peril is entirely funded by Big Fish Expeditions.

 

Find out more here:

PredatorsInPeril.org

 

Predators in Peril Project