Posted 19 July 2018
DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
A manta ray called Mathilde was just one big reason why SIMON MORLEY will never forget his recent trip to Socorro, San Benedicto and Roca Partida – the main Revillagigedo islands
Posted 19 July 2018
A manta ray called Mathilde was just one big reason why SIMON MORLEY will never forget his recent trip to Socorro, San Benedicto and Roca Partida – the main Revillagigedo islands
DIVING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS

“WHAT BEER DO YOU WANT TO DRINK?” is not a question you commonly get asked when you get back on a RIB after finishing your diving for the day, but in this instance it was a welcome one. It’s little things like having a cold beer or a hot chocolate waiting for you that makes diving from a liveaboard such a pleasure.

Also making this trip a pleasure were the encounters to be had with the local wildlife, in this instance some of the most spectacular I’ve had anywhere in the world.

The Revillagigedo Archipelago is a group of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, known for their unique eco-system and sometimes referred to as Mexico’s “little Galapagos”– and with very good reason.

We were visiting the remote area aboard Belle Amie, the largest boat in the Nautilus fleet, with spacious cabins, large dive-decks, dedicated camera-tables and several excellent, freshly prepared meals each day to make up for the calories that are bound to be burnt off during multiple daily dives.

Our big-animal encounters had commenced before reaching the Revillagigedos, however, with a short boat-ride out of the departure point of San Jose del Cabo for several dives with the sea-lion colony at Los Islotes.

As you prepare to roll off the RIB, the sound of the sea-lions barking to one another is deafening, and you go on hearing it quite clearly once under the water. It wasn’t long before we were joined by our pinniped friends, speeding past us in a blur like torpedoes, getting a feel for us and what we were up to.

Stay shallow, wait patiently and they will come to you. Once they were comfortable with our presence, they were more than happy to play with us, performing barrel rolls and loops around us and chasing each other.

A game of hide and seek was consistently their favourite, sneaking up behind us to tug on a fin or a camera strobe. It’s always an amazing experience to dive with these curious critters, but this was just a warm-up for the main event.

Travelling 235 nautical miles south, we arrived at San Benedicto and our first stop, the Boiler. This site comprises two undersea pinnacles, one large and one small, some 50m apart and with multiple strong currents seemingly coming in from all angles.

As soon as we rolled into the water we could hear the dolphins chatting and laughing around us, but unfortunately they chose to stay in the blue, just out of camera range.

At around 18m there are a few balconies on which you can see whitetip sharks piled on top of each other, observing you as you pass, with the occasional giant moray undulating up the rock face, looking for its next meal. The tension was palpable. Would we see mantas? How many? Where were they?

As we made the passage between the pinnacles, being pushed every which way as we went, it wasn't long before the big boys turned up to join the party. I was so busy keeping an eye out in the distance that it took a few seconds to register the massive shadow soaring directly and just a few inches overhead. Mantas ahoy!

The first one was quickly joined by another, and soon they were taking it in turns to glide around us and play in our stream of exhaled bubbles in an exquisitely choreographed ballet.

It was a magical sight and we delighted in watching the swoops, turns and rolls as they displayed more grace and poise than we clumsy divers could ever hope to have.



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