If you Google Socorro or Revillagigedo, you will undoubtedly see hundreds of blogs, photos, and videos of the incredibly diverse scuba diving opportunities uniquely available at the four islands that make up this Archipelago. You will read about the underwater experiences of being at a handshaking distance with a variety of marine life. But what you may not hear about is what you see after you surface from your dives – they are no less exciting and amazing.
In this post, I will tell you about our adventure at Socorro Islands which is focused on what we saw after we finished our dives, hit the surface of the ocean, and prepared to come back to the boat and at times when on the boat. These are moments that make a diving adventure at these islands such a spectacular part of life.
Snorkeling with False Killer Whales and Sharks
On day one, on our checkout dive, the water was a bit murky and we were all getting used to our equipment and convincing our brains and bodies that it was okay to take a breath underwater. Throughout the dive, we heard the clicks and whistles of what we assumed were dolphins. As we came to our safety stop, they got louder and more layered. We were all searching the blue for what we presumed were dolphins, but saw nothing as our dive computers counted us down.
Finally, we surfaced and immediately saw the captain of our skiff pointing just ahead of the bow. A fin emerged, and we knew we had found the source of the sounds. Highly excited, we ducked our heads under, and were greeted not by a pod of dolphins, but by false killer whales!
With dive gear still on, we switched to our snorkels as the whales swam all around us. In the pod, there were a couple of young ones swimming close to their mothers’ sides. Soon, we were joined by several silky sharks.
Everywhere we turned there were some sea creatures to see. A shark here, a whale there, and back to a shark at the next turn. Eventually, the pod of false killer whales swam off and the sharks too became disinterested. We made it to the skiff, smiles and laughter and disbelief all around at what we had seen just below the surface of the water at Socorro Islands.
Encircled by a Juvenile Whale Shark
On day two, we finished our second dive and made it back to the Nautilus Belle Amie. We had barely removed our wetsuits when a juvenile whale shark was spotted right next to the boat! She had waved the last skiff off an hour before, so we knew she was simply hanging out. With the captain’s permission, a few of us were allowed to jump back in the water with our snorkels, forgoing our wetsuits.
We waited while she finished her lap around the boat. As she made her way to the back, we slipped into the water. She was inquisitive but was not going to allow us to distract her from her activity of repeatedly encircling the boat. As she continued lapping the Belle Amie, we kept going back and forth between the sides and along the back, playing a game of peekaboo as she came back around.
Finally, we left her to her day and had lunch on the top deck of the boat. We were all feeling blessed by the experience of such an intimate encounter.
A Giant Oceanic Manta for Company
Throughout the trip, we had kept our eyes peeled for giant mantas but so far, they had eluded us. However, we hit gold on the third dive of day 3. This time too, it was not when we were diving but after we had finished our dive and had bobbed to the surface.
On the final dive for the day, the visibility was not great, and we were not able to find a manta during the dive, though we saw plenty of vibrant fish, interesting coral, a couple of whitecap reef sharks, and green sea turtles in the area. Just as wrapped up our safety stop, and came to the surface, an oceanic manta suddenly appeared right below us! It did not stay for long, but it was enough to have a glimpse of it as a final send-off for our afternoon.
To our delight, there was more in store for us as night fell on the Pacific Ocean. We were admiring the stars and the perfect crescent moon from the top deck of our boat when my roommate noticed something in the water below. We grabbed our dive lights and headed downstairs, where we got to see silky shark after silky shark caught in the beams and disappear back into the surrounding darkness. Occasionally, we would hear a splash, and suddenly the sharks would swarm the area. Watching them beneath the stars was the icing on the cake as we capped off another remarkable day.
The abundance of life at Socorro Islands is truly breathtaking, whether you are at 80 ft, at the surface, or already back on the boat. There is always something spectacular to see and no two experiences are the same. Just keep your eyes open and enjoy the experience.