How do you describe the indescribable? – Jan. 01, 2012-Jan. 03, 2012 – Socorro Island, Baja California, Mexico.

copyright 2012 - Robert Wilperning

Dive 3 Jan 1.2012
How do you describe the indescribable?
As I type this I can still hear the soundtrack that was playing in my mind during our last dive at the Boiler. It was like a peaceful slow moving dream.  Floating weightless in clear rich blue water with 100 foot visibility.
The pinnacle known as the boiler has horizontal layers like a thousand discs piled on top of each other. The approach to the pinnacle found us in a swell of about 15 feet and we gently rocked up and down in the water column as we moved along the edge. Passing white tip sharks asleep on a ledge, we followed a procession of fluorescent blue jacks followed by trumpet fish that heralded are way to the back side of the pinnacle. We arrived at the back side and I looked at my buddy.  We shrugged, not sure if we came to the right place.  So there we were floating at 60 feet, with perfect buoyancy control just looking around. The other divers were starting to join us in a line. Looking out past them you could see them coming. First one, flying like a stealth bomber, it was a black giant manta, rare and stunning.  It flew past and seemed to get spooked, turned out to sea and was gone in a flash.
We sat there waiting for about a minute, thinking that might have been all as it was on the first dive.  Then it happened, They started coming in one after the other, performing a ballet for us all.  Weaving in between all the divers, swooping up and down. 1, 2 and 3 they came, the first one heading straight for me.  It looked like she was going to hit me and then at the last second swooped up an stared right in my eye.  Experiments have shown that these fish have the intelligence nearing mammals and are able to recognize divers by their eyes.  I kicked to follow and we drifted together for a few moments, the she did a loop over me and went back the way she came.  I looked around and now there were 4.  All the divers were having close encounters of their own with these mantas, then came 5 and 6 all at once.  Buzzing and bombing, hovering and looping.  I did not know which way to look.  Another one coming straight at me from the left, I turn to watch this one come in and did not notice one coming inches from me on the other side.  Each way I look there are mantas and divers interacting. When my air was low and it was time to leave I did so reluctantly seeing all the manta’s still playing with the other divers who arrived later and still had air. As I arrived on the boat, the hoots and hollers were overwhelming, the boat was a buzz with excitement.  There is no photo in the world that can describe the experience we just had. I have seen hundreds of images of Mantas, seen mantas at a distance in other parts of the world. These are truly the friendliest mantas in the world. You really have to be here to understand this.  I wish this was an experience everyone could have.
Dive 4 Jan 1 2012
Back on the boiler to more mantas but the swell was quite large.  We would be swept up and down 15 feet at a time so it was a challenge in the beginning.  edging up against the spire of the boiler rock we decided to circumnavigate the underwater islet to see what else was around.  We passed the first divers playing the some Mantas and having a good time getting very very close.  Sliding on by passed the white tip sharks still having a daytime nap, dreaming of the night time action ahead when they wake up to feed.  Then above us in the blue a second small group of divers had a manta hovering over them so she could feel to bubbles under her belly.  They appear to like this sensation and keep coming back for more.  Their ride along companions the remora fish, or sucker fish release their grip and move to the top side. The Remora are simply along for a free meal as they are also filter feeders eating the same meal as the Mantas.
Once we got around the corner with the towering cliff of the boiler on our left and the open blue on our right that drops off to 10,000 feet we drifted along and entered into a school of jacks.  Like a parting wave in from of us the split on either side and come for a curious look at us.  Beautiful silver bodies some with blue highlights and some with green highlights.
Jason -Vancouver
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copyright 2012 - Sten Johansson

Day 2 Jan 2 2012
An overnight journey found us waking up outside the Socorro Island Mexican Military Base.  This base is well positioned to help prevent illegal fishing activities in the area to help protect the beautiful ecosystems that are found here. We are now at Cabo Pierce, A lava point that extends into the blue.  With a strong current coming around the point we anchored inside the bay and used the inflatables to reach the dive site.  As soon as I rolled into the water I saw a Manta.  Swimming down the anchor line I was able to glide right over top of the big Chevron and it rolled to look me right in the eye, then flashed the white speckled belly to glide off into the blue.  Visibility was around 50 feet so it was not as good as yesterday but still not too bad.  As we hit the bottom of the ledge at 45 feet other mantas had joined the play and we had 3 to 4 mantas swimming past us at all different levels, every time I was having a close encounter with one, as she peeled away I would have another coming in from the other side for more eye contact.  I would say that the mantas were even friendlier than at the boiler but it was the reduced visibility that made it harder to keep track of them. Dropping down to the bottom to give fair chance to all the other amazing animals here I managed to see 3 octopus, Schools of the amazing clarion Angelfish (the only fish that cleans the mantas) big eye jacks, and many other amazing and colourful fish and invertebrates.  A few minutes later I was done my dive and heading up the dive line, the mantas followed us up all the way including while we were hanging out for our 3 minute stop. It was very hard to get out of the water on this one.
Dive 2 Jan 2. 2012
Back at Cabo Pierce for another dive.  Similar action to the first dive, lots of great mantas and interactions but the vis had decreased a bit and the current picked up, we settled close to the rocks to stay out of the current and enjoyed the show.  As a consequence got to really enjoy hanging with a large green moray eel, a friendly octopus that came out of his den and a clarion angelfish tried to clean me.  The current let up and we rose up and joined the mantas at play again. When we got back to the boat we had a couple of mantas come to the surface and show off for a while longer for everyone to enjoy splashing their fins in the air and cruising beside the boat.
Dive 3 Jan 2. 2012
Cabo Pierce for the last dive of the day we wanted to try something a little different.  Dropping down on the point we headed out along the ridge into the deep blue. We are on our way to the hammerhead feeding station. Levelling off at 80 feet we head out along the edge of the ridge for a few minutes ending up at a cliff’s edge opening up into the blue beyond.  There we settle down to wait.  The anticipation is high, this is a known cleaning station and divers on the previous dive saw a huge hammerhead here. We waited only a minute and a shark came up from below, looking down it was quickly realized not to be a hammerhead but still a classic beauty known as a galapagos shark.  We sit waiting for another 15 minutes and get buzzed by many very interesting fish, as we sit we become part of the reef itself and the fish crowd us as if we were not even there.  Great close interaction with large big eye jacks and schools of reef fish.  However, we had our focus all around us into the dark.  As it was evening the sun was setting high above us and the water getting darker and darker.  Finally our bottom time had expired and it was time to leave.  We did not find our quarry but still had an epic adventure.
Day 3 Jan 3.2012
A wall of Hammerheads and the dolphin would just not go away!  Roca Partida Jan 3.2012
After an overnight sail we woke up to the anchor chain being set out.  We have arrived at Roca Partida.  A seamount that just breaks the surface and goes down on all sides to the bottom way below. Deep, clear and blue. As we jump in a school of white tip reef sharks scatters and reforms beside us.  Visibility is 100 feet plus, and in every direction there is life.  Schools of jacks, glinting their silvery bodies glinting in the sun, possibly trying to communicate as they did with Dory in Nemo.  Out of the haze toward the open ocean we see a single hammerhead.  Everyone is very excited looking at each other with OK signs. Then we saw another, amazing there is 2, then all of a sudden it was an entire wall of hammerheads, drifting in closer and closer.  The lead hammerhead came very close to check us out and then they all just dissolved into the open ocean from where they came.
The divers that went to the South side of the island were greeted with playful dolphins, they even had some come up to them and stay upright in the water column and have a stare down with the divers. They would not leave and the divers alone the entire dive, they could not move on from there.  There was certainly a lot of excitement on the boat after this dive.
Jason -Vancouver
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copyright 2012 - Michael + Petra

Cabo Pierce was amazing today. The first morning dive was especially impressive. We saw dolphins. We saw nudibranchs. We saw octopi and white tip reef sharks. And then there were the Mantas: giant, graceful, bizarrely interactive. They swim straight up to you, look you in the eye, slowly twist to show-off their distinctive markings, and swoop away to the next diver. With a half-dozen enormous creatures putting on this display, the effect is electrifying. Every person returned to the boat with a huge smile that lasted all day.
– Robin Rothfeder, SLC UT, USA
Amazing day in Cabo Pierce, with a plenty of huge, friendly and curious Mantas (I swear I did not touch a manta, but I was snapped on my mask by one), beautiful environment underwater and a lot of life, including large creatures and tiny ones. Turtles, octopus, hammerhead sharks (could have come a little closer, but lets wait till tomorrow), rays, many different fishes, lobsters, Galapagos shark. Nice kayaking in one of the surface intervals, with the beautiful view of the Socorro Island. Delicious talking in the bath tub with great friends until the delightful dinner just before the night snorkeling with many Silky sharks.  A little afraid in the beginning but didn’t want to get out!
DIA MARAVILHOSO! Que seja o preludio de um ano repleto de realizacoes!
– Clarissa Oliveira, Sao Paulo, Brazil

1 Comment

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Sandrareply
January 06, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Regarding the whaleshark pic with all the remoras on the underbelly……..are those long things that go all the way up the belly its’ claspers???

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