Location: Coral atoll of Clipperton Island, Republic of France
Comments: Our last day at Clipperton Island. We are all very sad to leave Clipperton but Roca Partida in the Revillagigedos (Socorro Island) is beckoning to us for a couple more scuba dives with giant manta rays and sharks before we wrap up our 06/07 Mexico season and head north to Canada. Hmmm, I wonder if we are going to cross paths with the Canada geese that we saw relaxing on the inner lagoon at Clipperton!
I just wrote a note to a friend describing my last dive at Clipperton. It was one of those splashes that is burned into my memory banks. I literally laid on the white sand bottom at 175 feet watching 12 leather bass (yes, I counted them!) and a school of big eye jacks swarming around me, the bizarre free swimming fine spotted moray eels of Clipperton Island swimming around like fish everywhere I looked, beautiful brilliant blue juvenile endemic Clipperton angelfish darting around and the coral wall sloping up above me with the Nautilus Explorer outlined up above in the beautiful blue water. I was narc’d for sure but it was so beautiful. It was just sooooo nice and memorable, and a sight that I knew I would remember for a long time. I almost had to force myself to start my way up… Some of our guests also did some deep dives today and lucked across 7 large hammerhead sharks swimming just off the sand bottom at 165 feet as well as some silvertip sharks at 140 feet on the coral covered slope. Maybe the sharks are here after all and but stay deep??
I spent some time talking with another one of our guests who has done 6 trips to Clipperton Island with long range San Diego sportfishing boats. He told me that there have been times when they couldn’t land any of their fish because the sharks would take them first. And then lots of times when they wouldn’t see any sharks at all. At this point, I’m not sure what to make of the shark situation at Clipperton other than to say that while there has obviously been intense longline fishing pressure on the sharks, the hardiest sharks still seem to be around but are quite wary. The atoll is very much alive with more fish than I have seen anywhere else and the coral is gorgeous. Given half a chance and some enforcement/protection – just say no to longline fishing! – Clipperton Island has the potential to be among the coolest places in the world to dive.
Weather: Puffy white cumulous clouds, mostly sunny, calm winds, northwest swell 6′ with a 14 second wavelength, 92°F.
Water: Water temperature 82°F, visibility 150ft plus.