7am – up early and there it was – Clipperton on the horizon – the edge of the circular atoll a wider expanse than expected between the groups of coconut palms – by 8 am we were there escorted by schools of dolphins and diving Boobies! (It is lucky to get pooped on by a Boobie isn’t it?) We cruised around the southwest of the island – the deserted flagpole, the coconut palm grove where the settlement had been, the wrecked boat – the rocky outcrop who knows if Clipperton’s treasure is still there? But then it was dive time – three beautiful dives on pristine coral reef with reef fish – the unique blue Clipperton Angelfish was spotted straight away, morays came to check us out and White Tip and Galapagos sharks skirted the edge of the reef. On the last dive of the day a Tiger shark was reported – now 6.45pm and just waiting to see the photos.
We caught our first glimpse of the historic Clipperton Atoll this morning around 0700, after a transit south by east from Socorro Island. We had a very comfortable ride down the entire transit, despite a breeze kicking up late last night and overnight. On arrival at Clipperton we were greeted by a big pod of very energetic bottlenose dolphins performing acrobatics on the bow and along both sides of the ship. If the dolphins were impressive with their performance, the booby birds overwhelmed the vessel with their sheer numbers. Huge flocks, or maybe it was just one enormous flock, of brown and masked boobies blanketed the skies, dive bombing the waters around us and following us on our semi-circumnavigation of the atoll. We started our diving this morning at 1030 on the south side of the island, sheltered from the wind and seas for our first taste of Clipperton this year. The results: sharky!
Juvenile silver-tips and young galapagos and silky sharks accompanied the divers in big numbers on all three dives. Anywhere from 10 – 20 could usually be counted at any given time during the dive. A few hammerheads and even a “smallish” 3 meter Tiger shark were spotted as well. If a dozen sharks following you around doesn’t perk your interest, how about free-swimming morays in almost any direction you look, swimming curiously towards
you, displaying none of the natural caution that morays usually display. Often times you could look up and see 3 morays swimming directly towards you from different directions, very unusual and a little disconcerting! Also very fishy, with blue trevally jacks and leather bass here in big numbers, hundreds of rainbow runners, and dozens of other species that I will have to first educate myself about in our fish id books. A really nice start to our Clipperton expedition this year, and very promising and encouraging to see the sharks and fish here in such numbers.
Captain Gordon Kipp
Surface conditions: Air temp 30-32C, partly cloudy with a stiff breeze
Diving conditions: Water temp 28-29C, visibility 60-80ft, current mild to moderate