Not much to look at – covered in booby bird guano which we often get a whiff of – Captain and guest blog – 11 Sept 2011

Today was the last day of this 8 day diving expedition to the one-of-a-kind Socorro Islands. We finished this trip with two days of diving at Roca Partida which is nothing more than the top 100 ft of a 11,000 ft underwater volcanic mountain. Not much to look at from the surface, an exposed rock not much bigger than the Nautilus Explorer, covered as Roca Partida is in booby-bird guano, which we often get a whiff from as we cruise by downwind in our dive tenders. As the rock is surrounded on all sides by 240 ft of water, many vessels have to anchor a considerable distance away where there is a small shallower ledge.
Because of the ship-like design of the Nautilus however and the ship-sized anchor and anchor chain, we are able to anchor safely and comfortably very close to the rock in the deeper water, making it a very short ride in our tenders to the divesite. I think a lot of people who have not been here before aren’t really sure what all the fuss is about when we first arrive at Roca Partida. It’s always fun to see their reactions though after their first dive, because as soon as you enter the water here the vista is transformed from a guano-covered rock into a sheer wall dropping down as far as the eye can see, covered with life, surrounded by huge schools of fish, sharks big and small, and all of this surrounded by beautiful clear blue water. In the last two days we enjoyed 6 different species of sharks, including scalloped hammereheads, silkies, silver-tips, galapagos, dusky and white-tipped reef sharks. It is not unusual to see all of these sharks on a single dive!
A school of giant yellow-fin tuna, 300-400 pounders, plus schools of thousands of creole fish, various species of jacks, steel pompanos, bonito, wahoo, and many many more. The cracks along these walls are filled with green morays and octopi. There are small cavern-like ledges piled with white-tipped reef sharks, all squeezed in together like sardines resting. A really great two days of diving at Roca Partida, with very nice conditions.
Current was mostly very mild except for a couple dives where it was strong, visibility was a deep blue 80′ plus most of the time.
Captain Gordon Kipp
Surface conditions: Wind 10-15 kts, seas 5-7′, air temp around 22-26C (72-79F) skies mostly cloudy with some sunny periods
Diving conditions: Visibility avg 80ft (24m), current mild with some periods of strong, water temp 23C (73F)
Aloha from Socorro Island. The trip has been incredible so far with many highlight moments. A hammerhead shark, a silvertip and some white tip reef sharks at the Canyon and at the Boiler we had a visit from some playful bottlenose dolphins, a mother and baby making several passes while another harassed the jacks. The reefs here team with huge morays, crawling octopuses, and large schools of fish. Of course the most incredible creatures are the giant mantas. We have had “player” mantas at every site. It is impossible to describe the feeling you get as one of these graceful giants turns and comes right to you to check you out.
The crew and companions are all fantastic. It is great to make new friend. People in the salon are currently buzzing over Fumiko’s photograph of a striped marlin from our second dive! She rocks.
To my lady on that other island, I miss you. I have photos to show you!
-Chuck

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