ISLAND 2014 TRIP REPORT
Looking through my images from our 2014
Socorro Expedition, the problem is obvious. It would be
impossible for me to show you all of the amazing encounters
that we had in one short trip report!
We spent our first day at The Canyon on San
Benedicto Island. This tends to be the place where everyone
does their checkout dives on expeditions to the
Revillagigedo Archipelago. We saw a few hammerheads
cruising around the cleaning station, plus some octopuses, a
couple of electric rays, a frogfish and one giant manta, so
it was kinda slow by Socorro standards :)
The Canyon was a good place for me to drop
the Deep Cam because there is deep water fairly close shore.
It ended up a bit shallower than intended but it was at the
perfect depth for all sorts of interesting fishes that live
in the 200-400ft range. Here is a frame-grab from the video
of a Spotback Scorpionfish Pontinus vaughani; a
species that generally inhabits water far too deep for
divers to reach:
On day two we planned to visit the famous
'Boiler' where giant mantas actively seek out divers but the
weather was so good that we decide to steam overnight to
world famous Roca Partida (Split Rock).
In my humble opinion, Roca Partida is the
best dive site for large pelagic marine life in all of North
America. A sweeping statement for sure but probably an
We spent two days circling that guano covered
islet and each dive was better than the last. We started by
shooting the colonies of reef whitetip sharks that crowd
onto the tiny ledges cut into the monolith.
Then, we kicked frantically into the current
to reach an aggregation of Galapagos Sharks, Silvertips and
Scalloped Hammerheads while they finned casually past us (as
if mocking our efforts).
While floating around the rock we were
visited by a jet black manta and then a more common black
and white one. This was a nice treat because manta sightings
more often occur at Socorro Island and San Benedicto.
On each dive we were accompanied by huge
schools of silvery bigeye jacks and many colourful fish
species that clung to the relative safety of the rock.
Enormous yellowfin tuna hunted among the schools just out of
photographic range and every now and then the Galapagos
sharks would slip by looking for weaklings to weed out of
the gene pool.
The icing on the cake was a whale shark that
spent an entire afternoon lapping the pinnacle. Whale sharks
are not uncommon at Roca Partida but they normally arrive
later in the summer. Seeing one during humpback and manta
season was a rare treat! The whale shark was accompanied by
an entourage of skittish Galapagos sharks that repeatedly
rubbed themselves on the whale shark's flanks. They may have
been using their school bus sized cousin as a scratching pad
to remove parasites but I have heard stories from the
Galapagos Islands of whale sharks approaching Galapagos
sharks in order to get their remoras removed. Perhaps both
of these things were taking place.
After two glorious days at Roca Partida we
awoke at Socorro Island itself and prepared to dive a
hammerhead/dolphin/manta site named Cabo Pierce. As if by
appointment, we were greeted by the resident pod of
bottlenose dolphins that like to play with divers early each
morning before heading off to hunt.
There were schools of hammerheads off in the
blue but we spent our dives hovering at the cleaning
stations and enjoyed wonderful interactions with giant
mantas. Some of the mantas swam right onto the reef where
they would be met by Clarion Angelfish that picked off their
parasites and cleaned out their clogged gills.
After just one tantalizingly short day at
Socorro we pulled anchor and headed back to San Benedicto to
dive the site that really defines the whole Revillagigedo
Archipelago. 'The Boiler' is a cleaning station at the end
of a long volcanic pinnacle on the south side of the island.
The manta interactions one is likely to experience at The
Boiler are unparalleled because the mantas like to swim
right up to divers so that the diver's bubbles roll over
their bellies. This may be part if their process of removing
parasites but I'm inclined to believe that they simply like
the way it feels.
In very choppy conditions we jumped from the
zodiacs into water with great visibility. We were met by
more dolphins but we soon made our way to the cleaning
station itself and enjoyed dive after dive with 3-4m wide
mantas. True to form, the mantas finned from one diver to
the next reveling in tickling bubbles. I counted five huge
mantas at once but there were many individuals that showed
up just for one dive or another.
Every now and then a manta would approach the
cleaning station itself as if remembering briefly that they
were actually there to get rid of parasites but then they
would quickly turn back and rejoin the divers. It was a
dreamy scene that I doubt any of our guests will forget.
Late in the day we hopped on the zodiacs for
a spot of humpback watching. The encounters were brief as
they often are here but some of our divers were rewarded
with great views of the moms and calves as they swam
The next morning (our sixth and final day at
the islands) we snuck in another dive at The Canyon where we
saw more hammerheads and quite a few silky sharks. Then (in
order to avoid a mutiny) we returned to The Boiler for a
final farewell dive before heading back to Cabo San Lucas.
of our very happy guests from this year's Socorro trip.
Great interactions, great weather, a great
crew, great food and a great group of guests. This year's
Socorro Expedition will be very hard to top but I'm more
than happy to try :)
SOME OF THE COMMENTS FROM THIS YEAR'S
In today's day and age words like awesome
and amazing are thrown around to all too often to describe
normal everyday events. Big Fish Expeditions' Manta Trip to
Socorro was anything but normal. This trip was quite simply
EPIC to the truest definition of the word. You could sense
the careful planning in every detail of the trip from the
boat, crew, and timing of the trip. The team at Big Fish
delivered an unforgettable, world class diving trip!
Everything we hoped to see made an appearance including the
white tips and hammerheads at Roca Pardita, the infamous
playful Socorro dolphins and scuba-loving mantas at the
Boiler. The breaching humpbacks and an unexpected whale
shark were amazing additional bonuses. There was nothing
more we could have asked for from either the marine life or
the boat and crew. We'll definitely be looking to book with
Big Fish Expeditions again in the future.
Alex & Andrea Covelli, Ontario, Canada.
(Only) my second trip with Andy, but what
Unlike a number of the divers on these
trips, I'm more a diver than a photographer, so my approach
might be slightly different. I have been diving on all
continents (except the cold one..:-))
but this trip completely changed my references. On the
diving side it was just better than anything I've done in
French Polynesia, Madagascar, New Zealand et cetera.
But Andy's way of being a guide you exchange with makes such
a difference to the 'stars' that organize equivalent trips
and this makes the atmosphere on board just great. I feel I
have 16 new friends that I know I'll cross paths with again
Thanks Laura and Andy and see you soon!
Kjeld Ibsen, Marseille, France.
Thank you for a fantastic,
wonderful adventure! The Socorro trip was absolutely the
best dive trip for me yet! Diving and interacting with the
Mantas, dolphins, hammerheads and multiple different kinds
of sharks, whale sharks and whales was magical! Thanks
again! I will sign up soon for my next dive with you!
Gary McClain, USA
Join us next March for our
2015 Socorro Expedition
See you there!
OF THE PROCEEDS FROM BIG FISH EXPEDITIONS FUNDS
THE PREDATORS IN