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