Socorro with Oceanic Mantas and enthusiastic Silky Sharks.....
Updated: Dec 25, 2018
So armed with our new knowledge of diving with sharks (see Guadalupe post), we receive our Socorro dive briefings. We all are somehow anxious to see if we need to put our shark theory lessons into practice. We will find out soon as we are going to make a night dive under boat, hanging off a rope in total darkness with just our dive lights on. As it happens, the lights attract silky sharks. This is a Ferrari style shark. Long pointed nose down, silk, beautifully golden glow on top and super curious…… And the adults grow up to be a good 2m+ in size so yes, we will soon figure out how ‘standing your ground’ really works in the dark with this very curious animal. We are in the water for less then a minute and the same shark swims by Sharon twice and bumps her on her camera. I begin to learn that Sharon’s way of expressing not liking a dive is by looking at me as if screaming ‘HELP’! But all lessons learned she skilfully pushes the pesky Silky aside and slowly starts to get into the groove of push and shove with Silky Sharks. The video shows quite a few moments of ‘bumps’. It is also clear that it is wise to follow through after the bump as the sharks often turns around quickly and if not turning yourself, the shark will now have the surprise coming from your behind. And remember, as the saying goes, the shark the comes closest is the shark you did not see……
But Socorro had a lot more to offer and the main star of the show are oceanic mantas. They grow will over 6m+ in wing span with the largest specimens 7m+ across from the wing tips. Secondly, they are strangely interested and attracted to divers on several dive sites like the Roca Partida and the Boiler. These dive sites are open water ocean dives and the conditions vary widely topside and bottom side. We were lucky that apart from 6 foot swells around the rocks, the currents were kind. Topside however this was tough and getting in and out of the launch boats was a tiring exercise in its own right. But the mantas love the bubbles of the divers and they are curious hanging out making eye contact. I was privileged being sought out numerous times where the manta stops in front of me looking curiously. I wish to think it was my darling personality coming though even under water but was later advised that my video lights we most likely the main attraction for the them. Bruised ego later we were back in the water for more Manta action!
Swimming away from the rock into the blue was super cool as well. We saw a hammerhead or two but other groups had more luck seeing smaller groups of hammerheads. Speaking about luck, other groups on our boat also had good interaction with (large) bottlenose dolphins. That is most spectacular as dolphins have a notoriously short attention span so staying with divers, these slow bubble blowing things flapping about in a group, are usually not very interesting. However, in Socorro dolphins may come up to divers looking for a belly rub! Awesome. Our interaction was limited to a few dolphins swimming by on Cape Pierce while we were hanging on in a raging current for dear life. Sharon took the video clip! Yes Baby! Cape Pierce has the dubious nickname of Cape Fierce. We dove it three times and frankly, all three dives were completely different from really tough to super easy in a night dive!
Photo by Sandra! Thanks for sharing.
So we missed the hammerhead schools and dolphins belly scratch but we had awesome manta and silky action.
Therefore Socorro is definitely on the ‘repeat’ list and I would do this undoubtedly with the Nautilus fleet. What an awesome team and well ran ship. I am a spoiled diver and have been on many lifeaboards but this team ran a great show. Good food, well equipped and lots of space. The Belle Amie was great. But the crew made the difference too. From Captian TJ, mad South Carolina born kid who made his hobby his work it seemed, to the ladies and gents running the catering. With the (five) dive guides, the team struck a great balance between safety and detailed briefings to then be ‘hands off’ when diving and let us all enjoy the dives our way. Not an easy feat with different level of divers’ experience. But the emphasise is on your responsibility as a buddy team. You are on a guided under water tour but you are in charge of your safety and dive as planned. There is no ‘babysitting’ so you make sure you dive within your limits and air consumption. So yes, Socorro is not for beginners and requires a level of proficiency and awareness. Many potential complexities are in play as this is deep blue open water diving with all the perils it throws at you. That said, I never felt this was beyond my capability (as it did when I was in Cocos and Malpelo where I saw my life flash by on several dives).
We have left Mexico for Cuba and I still must say, it is a great place. Love the people. Was most impressed by their willingness to assist and to explain with great pride what the place is all about. All my false prejudices changed! And yes, the food is great and the diving awesome!!! Go for it!!