Big adult silkies, by their nature very curious and often approaching us very closely. Clipperton April 15 2011

Clipperton Atoll, 750 nautical miles south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
This has been our third dive expedition to Clipperton Atoll and my second personally. I have to admit I was a little concerned this year that I would be disappointed after such an amazing experience here last year. I just figured it would be hard to top the diving we had in 2010. However, after now having just finished our last day of diving here at Clipperton I can honestly say that this place in the middle of nowhere just keeps getting better and better.
There aren’t many places left in the world that are so untouched by divers as Clipperton and it is apparent in our experience here. Definitely the word of the week on the dive deck and in any dive related conversations has been “sharks!”. The south side of the island, which is the lee side and protected from the prevailing winds, offers a beautiful healthy reef full of giant hard corals and is teeming with juvenile sharks. Young silver-tips, silkies and galapagos sharks were present on virtually every dive we did on the south side. Without the cautious nature that comes with experience, these juvenile sharks circle very closely and are obviously quite curious of the divers. Quite often we also had lone hammerheads checking us out on this side of the island. The most intense shark encounters though came on the north side of the atoll, exposed to the wind and seas and only dive-able when mother nature allowed us to. On numerous dives we encountered big schools of hammerheads.
One diver counted over 100 in one school, while on other dives several schools of 30+ were encountered. Not only were the number of hammerheads impressive, but also the quality of the interaction, on several occasions circling the divers within a couple meters. Several guests and our divemaster Joel commented that these encounters were the best hammerhead experiences they have ever had. Another guest said he hadn’t seen so many hammerheads since the Galapagos Islands in 2002.
Tired of hammerheads? No problem, wait 5 minutes and enjoy the schooling silkies. Big adult silkies, by their nature very curious and often approaching us very closely. While a school of hammerheads is beautiful in its uniformity, a school of silkies is often a random jumble of sharks all moving in different directions and keeping the divers spinning on their axis’ to keep an eye on all of them! Swimming along the reef top in shallower waters encounters with big galapagos sharks or individual silky and hammerhead sharks were pretty much the norm.
The fish life here is also quite incredible, especially the sheer numbers. The endemic Clipperton angelfish, schools of black durgon, big schools of leather bass, trevally jacks, big eyed jacks and bonito, also several species of filefish, surgeonfish, damsels and triggerfish to name a few. Bottlenose dolphins were also regulars around the boat at any given divesite, with numerous encounters while diving and several great snorkeling experiences near the stern of the Nautilus. Myself and a few other crew enjoyed a great 20 minute free-diving session with around 15 dolpins while the guests, who had just come up from a phenomenal dive and needed a rest, cheered us on.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that my concern about being disappointed this year was hugely unfounded. I am in love with the diving here at Clipperton, as are all of our guests this year, and I can’t wait for my next chance to come back.
Captain Gordon Kipp
Wx conditions: Air temp 30-35C, sunny with cloudy periods and some rain showers, winds generally 10-15 knots or less.
Diving conditions: Water temp 29C, visibility 60-100ft, current mild to moderate.

By Nautilus Staff

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