03 May, 2011 – A Giant Manta Ray with 14 ft wingspan had decided to perch itself on my head… – Isla Socorro, Mexico

After a relatively slow day the previous day at Cabo Pearce on the east side of Socorro Island, yesterday we moved to one of our favorite divesites on the west side called Punta Tosca.

We arrived the night before last and after dinner we had our weekly snorkel with the silky sharks. With all of our deck lights shining brightly and attracting the smaller fish that the sharks and dolphins feed on, the big animals were not far behind. First we spotted one, then two, three, four and more 5-6 ft silky sharks circling the boat congregating near the stern where the light was the brightest. At this point we slipped into the water in snorkel gear and enjoyed the adrenaline inducing thrill of coming face to face with these sharks, as they swam directly to us trying to decide whether we were food or not. Luckily they decided on the latter, but not before lots of extremely close-up encounters! "It is a great feeling!", commented Martin from Switzerland.

The following day we did 4 dives on the lava flow that extends out from Punta Tosca and into the rich waters surrounding Socorro. The amazing encounters continued today, but this time with the Giant Pacific Mantas that make Socorro famous. We had many individuals in the area today, maybe up to 10 could be seen on the surface at times feeding.

Beneath the surface we enjoyed up to 4  giant mantas at a time following us and interacting with us as only these animals do. Approaching us at eye level, and holding eye contact for several seconds. Or swimming directly above us and stopping, so that they would start sinking towards our head.

There is no need to swim after the animals here or try to chase them, simply carry on with your dive and they will follow you, directly behind or above you.  At one point during my dive I had turned my attention away from the mantas, and was enjoying a juvenile galapagos shark circling below me. I felt something brushing my neck, and thinking it was a hose from my equipment I tried to push it away with my hand. Then I felt it again and proceeded to wrap my hand around it before realizing it was the tail of a Giant Manta Ray with a 14 ft wingspan which had decided to basically perch itself on my head! In addition to the Mantas, we had one dive with some great bottlenose dolphin interaction, as well as a big Tiger shark circling one group of divers several times, who managed to get a picture to prove their encounter with this infamous but elusive shark.

A really great day of diving at Socorro Island, and with more great interaction expected tomorrow at San Benedicto.
Captain Gordon Kipp
Surface conditions: Mostly sunny, air temp 22-26C, wind 10 kts, seas calm in anchorage Diving conditions: Visibility 10-20m, water temp 23-24C, current mild to strong

By Nautilus Staff

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