Socorro in July
We made an expedition to the Socorro Islands in the month of July to find out what is out there when all the other liveaboards are not around. It felt like the old times—we were by ourselves! No other boats! On this trip there were only 5 divers plus me as a guide, not 20 or 25 divers like when I was working here before. This is the way to approach nature! And with divers who know how to dive! I can focus on being a guide as opposed to what is happening more and more nowadays on the bigger liveaboards—dive guides are trying to keep divers alive because of bad dive instructors giving away licenses and letting people believe they are divers, or because divers were told that these islands were just like the Caribbean or Thailand… The boat was smaller though—60 feet but still quite roomy.
If I counted right this was my 79th trip to the Revillagigedos, which is the other name for the Socorros. The sea was calm, very calm. The surge was much less than I had ever seen before because we didn’t get the heavy winter storms that moved down from the north. We could make dives in areas where the conditions were normally too tough during the normal season.
The water was warm! I did almost all the dives in my Speedos and t-shirt. On most dives the temperature ranged between 28 and 30 C, but Roca Partida was slightly colder at 25 C.
The mantas and the dolphins were the same as any other time. We had mantas, one whale shark, silver-tips, and Galapagos sharks at Roca Partida, while in many other dive sites we had a lot of smaller juvenile Galapagos and silver-tip sharks swimming around. At night at Roca Partida around one hundred silky sharks were swimming and hunting around our boat. White-tip sharks seemed bolder—swimming out in blue water—which I had never seen in the regular season. We didn’t see any hammerheads at Roca Partida though, and only a few at San Benedicto and Socorro. We did have one tiger shark at Socorro! I missed it but our divers Annette and Birte spotted it.
We had plenty of visits from the friendly and curious mantas. We were not left alone, and oftentimes when one came a few others followed. Each one had a different personality. One was swimming slowly while another came fast, and yet another even stopped and started sinking. One manta liked to stop and flip underneath us, falling down on her back and looking up at us for such a long time that we almost wanted to call out to her: “Hey, watch your back with the rocks under you!” A lot of the giant Pacific mantas followed us until we had no more air in our tanks.
We often did up to 90-minute dives. We could always eat later!
Feeling the heartbeat of a dear old friend…
This trip gave me something special emotionally. It started about 8 years ago when I met this very special dolphin that initiated a completely different behavior among the dolphins at Socorro. I had been meeting her at Socorro every now and then for around five years. Together with her group, she would stop to play for a bit with me and the other divers. She liked to be petted. Sometimes she drew you down to the deep while other times she spy hopped on the surface, making funny sounds to surprised skiff drivers. In my last years I had been diving less here so I asked the other guides if they had seen her. They said no, which made me sad. Perhaps she got cot curious and got taken in the process or she might even have gotten killed.
This morning we were at her spot and I saw three dolphins swimming in what I considered an inviting way. I saw a mark that I recognized—it was the dolphin! We got in the water and after a while the dolphins reached us. I could identify her. She came over to me but she did not linger like before. She still spy hopped and made sounds though. Meanwhile, one of the other two dolphins whom I wasn’t sure if I’d met before—I wanted to believe I did—stayed to be petted. For a time I was able to keep my hands flat on both her sides just two inches away from her mysterious moonlike landscape of an eye. She was totally still and neutrally buoyant as I held her, feeling her heartbeat. Words were not enough to describe the myriad feelings that were going through me. It had been 8 years since we met the first time. Time stood still.