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Socorro Trip Report, March 2016

Socorro Trip Report, March 2016
Our trip to the Socorro Islands started in San Jose del Cabo, a beautiful beach resort at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. After a great day relaxing at our beach hotel and sampling some wonderful Mexican food and Margaritas it was time to join our liveaboard, the Rocio del Mar, for our voyage to the Socorro Islands. The real name for this island group is the Revillagigedo Islands and the individual islands are called San Benedicto, Socorro, Roca Partida and Clarion. The first and last stop on our trip would be San Benedicto and in between we would dive Roca Partida and Socorro. Joining us on trip was an International mix of divers from the UK, US and Germany.

Not long after leaving port we were treated to our first marine life, a Humpback Whale mother and calf breaching and tail slapping close to our boat. For a few minutes we stopped to enjoy the show and take photographs before continuing our journey to San Benedicto.

San Benedicto is a stunning volcanic island and the most famous dive sites here are the Boiler and the Canyon. During our dives at the Boiler we had amazing close up encounters with numerous Giant Pacific Mantas. These encounters were taking place is great visibility in beautiful blue water making for some great photos and videos. The Mantas at the Boiler are very friendly and love to swim through your bubbles. The Mantas are much sought after by the Remoras and watching these strange sucker fish fighting for space on Mantas is very entertaining! Of course it is not only Mantas you find at the Boiler, there are also lots of schooling fish, including hunting Black Jacks, Mexican Hogfish, friendly Bottlenose Dolphins and lots of Lobsters hiding in the crevices.

On our trip the Canyon proved to be a great place to spot Scalloped Hammerheads. The Hammerheads would follow us as we got shallower right up to our safety stop where they were often joined by Silky Sharks. Schooling fish at the Canyon included colourful Razor Surgeonfish, Crosshatch Triggerfish, Bluefin Trevally, Black Jacks, Bigeye Trevally and Amberjacks. During our time at San Benedicto and the other islands we were constantly seeing Dolphins jumping from the water and in the evenings Silky Sharks could be see hunting in the dive deck lights. We were also fortunate enough to see some Turtles mating on the surface!

Socorro Island is very different to the other islands. It is very fertile, green and hilly. It is also home to a naval base and any boat visiting these islands must check-in at Socorro Island to register. Socorro Island is also home to some great diving and here we encountered more Giant Pacific Mantas, Dolphins, schools of Butterflyfish, sleeping Whitetip Sharks, free swimming Moray Eels and during one of our safety stops we spotted a Great Hammerhead Shark combing the ocean floor!

The strangest of all the islands however is Roca Partida. Roca above the surface is a small rock that resembles a yule tide log where the icing is in fact bird poo. Below the water Roca’s sheer sides drop down to 60+ metres and along its sides are pot marks used by Whitetip Reef Sharks as resting areas. With limited space available on this sheer rock the Whitetips pile up on one another in very comical setups sometimes consisting of 30+ sharks. The main interest however at Roca Partida is the large pelagics that cruise around it and during our two days at this rocky outpost we saw an amazing variety of life often at the same time making it hard to know which way to look! On our first dive we had a pregnant female Whale Shark coming towards us and a Manta sneaking up on us from behind! Just to add to this the Whale Shark was escorted by a Galapagos Shark. The large Galapagos Shark was completely dwarfed by the huge Whale Shark! As our dives continued at Roca Partida we saw more and more pelagics including graceful Silvertip Sharks swimming around in twos or threes, large schools of Galapagos and Scalloped Hammerheads Sharks, Silky Sharks close to the surface and plenty of friendly Dolphins. There were also lots of pelagic fish such as Wahoo, Black Jacks, Bigeye Trevally, Rainbow Runners and Amberjacks. At Roca Partida you certainly get the impression it is possible to see anything and everything the ocean has to offer!

Once our diving was finished we set sail back for the coat of Mexico enjoying a few well deserved drinks and looking back at the wonderful photos and videos we’d captured during our dives. The Socorro islands offer an amazing array of marine life and if you love big fish these islands should be high on your bucket list!

Socorro Whale Shark Video

Filmed by John Farrell on Equator Diving’s March 2016 Socorro Liveaboard Trip.