From Socorro to the Sea of Cortez we saw it all :: from seahorses to mantas, sharks, sea lions and even nudibranchs — dive guide and first mate blog – June 9, 2010

From South to North, Big and Small, We saw it all: Sea Horses, Mantas, Sharks, Sea Lions and Nudibranchs.
Let us remember back a few days to those spectacular dives at Socorro where we left you off with our last Dive-Master Log. Our cruise North into the Sea of Cortez, was very smooth until we got close to the southern Baja peninsula where different currents and winds meet. There, for a few hours, the going got rough but once we made it into the Gulf of California it smoothed back down, allowing us a good nights rest before our first dive in our new enviroment. Being only a couple of hundred miles north you would expect similar conditions, but that is absolutely not the case. The Sea of Cortez is colder and this time of year there is a lot of algae and plankton in the water making the visibility somewhat limited. But, with so much food in the water you also have a lot of life.
Our first dive in this area was on the southern tip of Cerralvo island, a site I don’t have the luxury of visiting very often due to it being a little to far to visit from La Paz where I have lived for the past ten years. This site is Spectacular!! It is a long shallow ridge that is covered in very healthy coral that makes a labyrinthine maze ideal habitat for all kinds of animals including a small colony of California Sea Lions and plenty of grunts, goatfish and barber-fish.  In the afternoon we did a couple of dives at La Reina reef, which like always, lived up to its name of Queen of reefs. There were Sea Lions on the Rock and all kinds of beautiful life in the water. Jessie (DM) had told everybody in the briefing that this was a good site to search for sea horses and true enough, a yellow and an orange sea horse were spotted.
The following day we did an early dive at the Salvatierra, an old ferry boat wreck that sunk in 1975 and is now nearly totally destroyed but still makes for an interesting dive. Midday we went on a quest to El Mogote to see if we could find a Whale Shark to snorkel with. Unfortunately after two hours of careful searching we came out empty handed, they just didn’t want to be found!  We Spent the afternoon at Suwani Reef diving with huge schools of spot tail grunts, barracudas, goat fish and scads, but my highlight of the day was a pair of Cortez stingrays that one of the guests spotted. The male stingray held on to the female so hard that when she swam away he just stayed stuck. We did a night dive here too which was calm and beautiful.
Yesterday we began the day diving at Fang Ming Wreck and then spent the rest of the day at Los Islotes, probably the most famous dive site in the area due to the permanent colony of California Sea Lions that lives there. Everybody spent most of the day enjoying the magnificent show that these animals always provide.  This Morning we did our two last dives of this magnificent trip again in La Reina with the Se Lions and the Sea Horses, before motoring back towards Cabo, where tomorrow morning this chapter of the adventures of the Nautilus Explorer will come to a happy end. I believe everybody will leave with a smile on their face and a warm heart because of the beauty and greatness of these waters!
Surface Conditions: Windy and cool in the morning developing into a very hot calm mid-day and cool breezy afternoon. A few small swells less than a foot in the morning with calm waters the rest of the time.
Underwater Conditions: The visibility was somewhat limited at between 60ft in the best dive site, and 25ft in the worst case. Temperature was quite cool between 71F and 73F. There was no current most of the time and when we did encounter one, it was very mild and totally negotiable.
DM Peter
Greetings,  Well here we are, at the end of another successful season of diving at the Revillagigedo (Socorro) islands and the Sea of Cortez. And what a season it has been! I’ve been on board since the middle of February, and it was intriguing to witness the dynamism of the environment evinced in my 10 trips this season.
During the winter months, we were graced with the presence of the seasonal visitors to the islands, the humpback whales. These beautiful animals provided a constant source of fascination from the surface, and an unending hope that maybe we might be one of the lucky ones to see them under water! Ah, but huge and majestic as they may be, they can be frustratingly coy. Still, although the chances may be hit and miss, we were blessed with a few magical encounters.
As the months rolled on, temperature and humidity rose, bringing with it more energy to the above water conditions, characterized by more rapidly changing wind and sea states. It also brought an end to the humpback whale season, but as we bade farewell to the whales, so we gave welcome to the sea lions and fish-filled reefs of the Sea of Cortez!
It’s always nice to shake up the routine a bit, and I very much enjoyed the chance to be onboard for our “combo” trips between Socorro and the calm, beautiful scenery of the waters surrounding La Paz, Mexico.  But amongst all that diversity, all the different experiences that touch our trips in one way or another, there was always one constant to look forward to: the eerie, strangely intelligent, curious, and stunningly beautiful giant manta rays.
Leaving the Socorro islands at the end of a season (and our more seasoned clients may attest to this as well) can feel like saying adieu to old friends, and although I may have been working in these islands for the better part of 4 years, I never fail to be touched by the chance to see the mantas.  I could go on – the scalloped hammerhead, silky, Galapagos, silvertip, white tip, and even whale sharks; the bottle nose dolphins, the false killer whales, and pilot whales; the turtles and moray eels; the schooling yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and jacks; and the abundant populations of reef fish. But to do it all justice would require more space than I have here. Suffice it to say I’ve found there’s something for everyone who is enamoured with the natural world.
Time to go now – there’s always work to be done!  Even on my birthday, which was celebrated in fine style by being serenaded by our recent group of German guests! Our chef Juan Carlos even fattened me up with a delicious birthday cake.  Until next season Socorro, vaya con Dios. Next up, Guadalupe and the great white sharks!
Sandy Curtis,   First Mate,   Nautilus Explorer

By Nautilus Staff

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