Yellow-fin tuna hunting underwater and then becoming prey when false killer whales moved in on us – Captain, hostess and guest blog – May 22, 2010

More great diving at the one of a kind Roca Partida today, despite the wind and choppy sea state. For those of you not familiar with Roca Partida, from the surface it is nothing more than a rock, roughly 200 ft long by 100 ft high, jutting up in mid-pacific, hundreds of miles from any mainland and 65 miles from the closest island, Isla Socorro. It is covered in booby-bird guano and of course the boobies themselves, giving it a whitish hue. Because of it’s small size and location it does not offer any protection for us from the weather, so when we anchor out here we are literally anchored in open ocean. Luckily in these days of communications we receive daily updates on weather from Captain Mike who studies and watches the computer weather models very closely.  that basically decide when we can come dive out here. It has made diving at Roca Partida a lot more comfortable than in times past. Today unfortunately we did have to deal with some less than ideal weather conditions, inevitable from time to time. A fresh breeze from the North West made the seas quite choppy and made getting into the dive tenders a little more of an adventure! But, as always, we prevailed and managed to get in 4 great dives. Again today not as sharky as Roca Partida can be, but instead our guests enjoyed a huge school of yellow-fin tuna, hundreds (or maybe thousands??) of them hunting the food-rich waters surrounding the rock. To see a yellow-fin tuna hunt underwater is quite impressive. Usually the first thing you see is a huge school of fish suddenly scattering, followed by a sound like thunder as the tuna rocket out of the blue into the school of panicked fish. As fast as these tuna can swim, they can also be food for some bigger animals like the false killer whales, which appear similar to pilot whales. With so many tuna around right now we were not surprised to see a big pod of these impressive animals as we made our way back in the tenders after one of our dives today. They seem to be attracted to the noise of the outboard engines, so as the pod of 30-50 converged on us, all onboard donned their snorkel gear and backrolled into the blue to be surrounded by the curious animals. To keep their attention I had all the snorkelers in a tight group and drove the zodiac in circles around them, exciting the false killer whales as they danced and whirled around us for around 10 minutes. A great show!
Tonight we depart for Isla Socorro, where we will spend the next two days diving in search of more Giant Pacific Manta Rays and…who know what else??
Talk soon,
Captain Gordon Kipp
Surface conditions: Wind 15-20 kts, seas 6-7′ chop, mostly clear skies, air temp 78-80F
Water conditions: Visibility good to excellent 20-30m (65-100ft), water temp 76F, current moderate to strong
I dove “The Boiler” yesterday. If you know Socorro Island, you know that “The Boiler” is famous for its intimate interaction with the giant mantas. Sadly, there were no “Friendly Giants” around for my dive. (Although the divers before me saw 3 mantas!) Everything else was perfect for diving today – the sun was bright and warm, so much so that I could feel its warmth at 80ft down!, there was virtually no current to speak of, visibility was over 120ft… – the site was brimming with lively activity. Since I did not have any mantas to play with, I took the opportunity to examine the small things on the rock that are always overshadowed by the giant mantas. I saw a flounder for the first time! I saw a type and color of starfish I’d never seen before! I saw white-tip sharks, moray eels, lobster, box fish, yellowfin tuna, moorish idols and butterfly fish! I saw my favourite fish, the porcupine fish! Being a girl from the Canadian Prairies, places like “The Boiler” are a far-cry from home – no wheat fields! So I always try to seize every underwater moment I can. Although I did not see mantas today, I did develop a renewed appreciation for all things under the sea, big AND small.  I’d say that’s a good dive! ‘Till next time…  Hostess Ashley
wir haben heute einen Schnellkurs in “maentisch” bekommen und hatten tolle Interaktionen mit Mantas – unglaublich aber wahr. Es hat geblasen ohne Ende, die Sicht war maessig – aber trotzdem sehr, sehr geile Tauchgaenge ! Am Morgen hatten wir noch als Zugabe eine Hammerhaischule mit mind. 30 Tieren und der “Maennertauchgang” am Nachmittag war einer Feldstudie der pazifischen Leopardenflunder (Bothus Leopardinus) vorbehalten. Wir brechen jetzt auf in die unendlichen Weiten des Pazifics nach San Benedicto und harren der Dinge, die dort auf uns warten. LG Wir (Daniela und Martin aus Mannheim, Michael aus Idar-Oberstein, Joerg und Steffi aus Ludwigshafen)From Germany
Today we had three dives with Mantas (black and chevron) eye in eye at Cabo Pearce (Socorro Island) interacting with us, swimming up to us, hovering directly over us and enjoying the bubbles, crossing from diver to diver. At the end of the dive they were following us to the surface and seeming sad, that we were leaving them alone, but greeting us happily when we were returning for the next dive. All we had to do was waiting calmly in the water and sooner or later a manta would come up to us and trying to look in our eyes or taking a bubble bath. We saw some dolphins but they weren’t interested in us and the hammerhead we saw was circling in the blue. In the afternoon the current was getting stronger and we felt like a flag hanging on the rope of the anchor. With greetings from a wonderful trip (and it’s going on!) Bettina & Roland from Egelsbach, Germany


By Nautilus Staff

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