Sunday, October 18, 2015

Midriff Islands: September 10-17

With improved visibility and warm temperatures, this week’s trip in the Midriff Islands certainly felt like a luxurious summer vacation!  Our dives at Andrea’s Eagle and San Pedro Martir had visibility of up to 60 feet.  Almost all dives were in warm waters, between 78 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit.  Most passengers were happy diving in swimsuits and lycra; some used their 3mm wetsuits. 
Not only did we have comfortable conditions, but we were able to see abundant wildlife underwater. The orangethroat pikeblenny fish were ecstatic in their quest to find mates—if we watched them for just a few minutes we could see them perform their mating dance. We also saw many blue spotted jaw fish that were engaged in their own mating ritual, darting in and out of their burrows, faces changed to white. 
In Lavadero, Andrea’s Eagle, and Los Cuervos we saw giant jaw fish, one with a mouthful of eggs! In San Pedro Martyr we were joined by playful sea lions that would stay with us for 50 min or more.  One of the highlights of the week was that we found a group of curious pilot whales swimming by that slowed down to meet us. We were able to snorkel with them for about half an hour and all the passengers were able to see them.
Another memorable moment was our time snorkeling with the whale sharks in Bahia de los Angeles- it was incredible! We saw all sizes of whale: from 6 foot long calfs to huge 18-20 foot long adults. These magnificent creatures allowed us to swim with them for hours. On Friday, our last diving day, we dove at Punta San Juan and diver Janette found two stargazer fish in one dive! 
Suffice it to say, we had an incredible trip in the Midriff Islands.  With our Explore Baja trips coming up, it seems as though the Sea of Cortez Season is trying to send us off with a bang!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Trip Report: Revillagigedo April, 2015

What is it with Revillagigedo's mantas?

Manta Rays know by different names depending of the location around the world (gigant mantas, devil mantas, etc)  are sea animals that live in temperate, tropical and sub-tropical waters.
They are pelagic animals and there are two species: Manta Birostris and Manta Alfredi, being Birostris larger than Alfredi.

In the Revillagigedo's archipelago is possible to see Manta Birostris around the islands, being more common to have diving encounters in Socorro and San Benedicto islands, but time to time it is possible also to see them diving around the mythical dive site of "Roca Partida".

Scientific studies on mantas give us an idea that they come near the islands to feed and stop on cleaning stations where the cleaning fishes remove parasites, bacteria from their skin or remove bad tissues from wounds. It is possible too that they get into these areas to mate, but it is unknown if the Mantas calve here

Divers can see mantas in many different areas of the ocean: Caribbean, Hawaii, Maldives, Coco's, Malpelo, Philippines, etc.
Some divers visiting Revillagigedo's islands for their first time come with low expectations about mantas. Most of them have seen mantas before. What could be different from these mantas to those in other parts of the world? 

But then ... the magic begins ....

Roca O'neal in Socorro Island

Afternoon underwater shadows of Roca Partida

Manta Birostris in a cleaning station in Socorro Island

Rocio del Mar liveaboard visits Revillagigedo archipelago from November thru end of May each year. It is a well known dive destination for pelagic life: at least 7 different species of sharks, within whale shark, hammerhead shark, tiger shark, silky shark, galapagos shark, silver tip shark and white tip shark, dolphins, humpback whales, yellow fin tunas, wahoo, different species of jacks and mantas... the giant mantas of Socorro!

Poncho doing his magic too!

Real close encounters with mantas!
This season 2014-2015 has been a consecutive "niño" year which has brought us warmer waters than usual. This factor has contributed to make sharks look for deeper and colder waters, but at the same time there's something on the ocean conditions that have made the mantas bright like the real stars of the islands!

Mantas in the dive menu daily! 
This month of April, Rocio del Mar completed three incredible trips to the islands, having marvelous close encounters with Mantas in almost every single dive in every single site.
Mantas in Revillagigedo's seems to enjoy divers presence and they look for us, they swim with us, they hoover in top of us posing for pictures and video realizing that they are the queens of the islands!

Our divers this month visiting us from USA (different groups from Arizona and other states), Germany, England, Virgin Islands, México and France, have something in common: all of them said that they never expected to have encounters with mantas that close, that frequent, that ... incredible!

A recent diver review from Kansas said: " I could never had expected to have the number and quality of manta encounters-- for me, they were the real stars."

It is true! diving for 50 minutes with the same manta it's unbelievable!
We don't chase the mantas, they come to us, they decide to play with us. They do acrobatic performances like dancing in front of our lenses.

Divers won't let us lie about that strong feeling when we jump to the Boiler's dive site in San Benedicto and for the first 2 or 3 minutes it seems that is empty, quiet ... but then one or two mantas start approaching to us like in slow motion, but it is the gentile way the mantas swim and come to say hello.

They swim around us for some time and suddenly disappear  .... it seems that they go out into the blue to call their friends, because just after couple of minutes those mantas come back to the dive site followed by 4 or 6 more mantas!
Can you believe to dive with 6 to 10 different mantas at the same time for an entire day? That's just a regular day for us in San Benedicto. 

That's the magic of Revillagigedo's mantas and experience any diver should not miss! 

RdM crew always happy!

Not only guests: we are friends and RdM family!

Smiles is the best gratification we can have!

Birthday celebration!
2014-2015 season is near to its end before tropical hurricanes start hitting this area, few weeks ago we still had the chance to see the last few humpback whales breaching near the boat.
We have seen big schools of hammer heads sharks around Roca Partida and swimming between 10 foot long galapagos sharks.
It is always good to see baby silky and silver tip sharks in Punta Tosca at Socorro Island, it means the ecosystem is healthy and it's our concert to help keeping it that way.

Orcas swimming near the boat in the way back to San José

DM art ... :-) The Boiler dive site: best place for mantas

Waking up in Roca Partida


Baby galapagos shark in Socorro

Rocio del Mar company and crew are very happy every time we see familiar faces boarding the vessel again with big smiles, big cameras and big expectations for mantas! But the best part of it is when the goal is accomplish and the dream comes true: perfect pictures or seeing mantas for the first time, Thanks for sharing those important moments with us! We'll be waiting to have you on board again very soon!

By: Juan D Cortés, DM
April, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Trip Report, Revillagigedo. February-March, 2015

One more day in paradise

"How was your day?" we ask to our passengers and quite often we have as an answer: "Excellent, it was just one more day in paradise."

It's true ...
Revillagigedo islands is a paradise. There are not many places on earth where you can truly disconnect from the daily stress: phone, e-mail, social networks, traffic, news, etc. At 280 miles from the coast in the middle of the eastern pacific you can switch a modern and complicated life style for the peaceful dance of the mantas underwater.

More than that, this little paradise always has hidden surprises.

These first 3 months of the year have given us fabulous conditions: warm water with plenty of sea life: mantas in almost every dive site, dolphins, sharks, yellow fin tunas, wahoos, big school of jacks of different species and plenty of reef life.

Whale watching afternoon tour 
During winter humpback whales arrive to the area. We start to see them spouting, raising their tails before dive and every week we see more whales around the boat.
Some days we try to get closer using our pangas but early in the winter they are more sensitive and they swim away of the engine noise. Still, they give us fantastic shots of their huge tails before swimming deep or making unexpected jumps out of the water.

They arrive to the marine reserve to mate and to give birth the new generation.
We patiently wait, slowly get close to them and gently get in the water to have the first encounters with them on snorkel.

Gregory Sherman
Few weeks later there are thousands of whales in the area (more than 1,200). Some of them already have their calfs swimming around. Now the big mamas are more relaxed and confident and we start to see them underwater. From time to time a group of divers have the chance to have a quick look of the family passing by and usually in the afternoon we go out in the pangas to swim close to them and see how the adults teach the babies to hold their breath underwater.

Always is a good time to see whales around the boat breaching

And finally near the spring it seems that they are confident enough with the humans and we start to see them constantly during our dives.

Roca Partida is a very special place to see the whales underwater. Some times we can't see them with our eyes but we see them with the rest of our body: whale songs are so strong that you feel them resonate inside your chest. That experience is something that it's impossible to forget.

Roca Partida
Gregory Sherman

It is possible to see the mother, calf and the escort on scuba swimming around the rock or resting without moving at all. Lately we have seen groups of 4 to 6 adult whales together around Roca Partida. They are friendly and allow us to get close enough to take pictures and videos. The bubbles are not a problem and they seem to like to pose to the lens.

We expect to keep having these very close encounters underwater during the following weeks before they start their migration back to the north. It has been a fantastic whale season.

And there's more...
Mantas have been around every dive site. Not one or two, but 6 to 9 mantas all together at the same time. The Boiler at San Benedicto Island is the best spot to dive with them.
Imagine a dive site were it is possible to see more than 6 mantas, dolphins and hammer heads: all in a single dive!

As we said before, there's always a surprise at Revillagigedo: WHALE SHARKS! 

During winter and part of spring is not common to see whale sharks in the area. Probably the water temperature this year (around 75 to 76 degrees) or plenty of nutrients in the water could be the reasons for having whale sharks encounters during these first months of the year. It's rare, but we have seen at least one whale shark on almost every trip.
It has been fantastic! Divers swimming around Roca O'Neal or Punta Tosca and suddenly a huge shark shows up: tiger? No-- whale shark! . We love to see the surprised and happy faces of our divers when they see these huge and wonderful animals. 

Whale shark in Socorro

Divers swimming in the blue looking for hammerhead sharks

Ricardo (DM) at the Boiler

Surprise of the week: Whale shark!

We have had really good trips during this season. Our friends from many different locations of the world (USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, England, Mexico) have spent with us fabulous days on board not only diving, not only enjoying with big animals underwater, but also feeling at home on board Rocio del Mar.

We feel pleased when we have divers visiting us for their first, second, forth or sixth time.  They experience more than diving and having a fantastic holiday-- they form friendships, family, around our passion: the ocean.

It is just one more day in paradise ...

Everardo looking for whales

San Benedicto

Roca Partida

Henry feeling like home .. fantastic!

Happy faces after a fantastic trip! Thank you!!
Guarani (Juan) got the chicken ja ja ja!! -- chicken team!

By: Juan D Cortés, DM
Pictures: Juan D Cortés and Gregory Sherman

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Socorro Islands through the eyes of our Dive Master Tibo.  
Shot with nothing more than a Go Pro.  Beautiful work Tibo!  

Friday, January 2, 2015