As the Captain of the Nautilus Explorer it is common that we make many night passages from one island to the next, so that we may arrive in the early morning light, for a full day of diving at a new and exciting location. This particular story occured during our transit from Isla San Benedicto to Roca Partida.
Sometimes we have to look at irritants through the lens of the larger picture. Now for some history, illegal fishing has been the scourge of many locations around the world and divers with their cameras and videos have been at the forefront of collecting and distributing images of the this activity, online through various means. We also need to know that we can have an effect, especially if the effect helps to protect the environment of the places we love.
In order to deter illegal fishing activities, there must be some possibility of being caught. In the near past in Mexican Waters the chances were almost nil of being caught. A naval garrison was kept on Isla Socorro but they did not have the equipment to patrol any but the closest waters to their base. In recent years the Mexican Navy has stepped up its patrols of its remote islands to catch and deter illegal fishing activities. That has meant that we sometimes get stopped at sea and inspected by their frigates. This however is a small irritant in a bigger benefit. We are seeing less fishing activity around the islands we love. Which brings me to the point of this story, on this particular crossing we experienced the newest form of surveilance and interception by the Mexican Navy.
Imagine being on watch, having a target appear on radar seemingly out of nowhere and then start to close at a very fast rate of speed, it was soon apparent that it was a helicopter inbound with the distinctive sound of the rotors filling the air surrounding the Nautilus Explorer. They circled us, filled us with light from their spotlight and when we hailed them, it was not the helicopter who responded it was Socorro TOWER! They queried us, all the usual questions and knew who we were. This is a first, using an aircraft for aerial patrols, so hope to see it again, just maybe not at one in the morning.