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© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli - Undersea Hunter Group

© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli - Undersea Hunter Group
© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli
© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli
The first night of the crossing, those of us who stayed up late stargazing by the bow were rewarded with a bioluminescent dolphin show around 10pm. The pod jumped and danced along with the ship, and glowing bioluminescent creatures trailed behind them like contrails from a jet plane.

At the initial briefing, two of the guests aboard – legendary filmmaker Manuel Lazcano and renowned underwater photographer Paul Hudy – thought they recognized one another. After a few seconds they realized they had been dive buddies 26 years ago on a Cocos Island trip in 1991. Talk about a small world!

From start to finish this week, the hammerheads were not at all shy about coming in super close to us! There were moments when we almost felt the need to back up because they were coming right for us. They were coming in so close it often felt almost as if we were invisible –that’s how indifferent they seemed to our presence.

Alcyone and Dirty Rock were by far the favorite dive sites this trip, thanks to the active cleaning stations and the mesmerizing schools of thousands of bigeye jacks. At Punta Maria we saw a manta ray and a Galapagos shark that flashed us its belly by the pinnacle – maybe trying to be cleaned or maybe just doing a strange dance. At Pajara a marble ray came right up to us out of the depths and took a long pause, studying us carefully. Then it carried along its merry way. The rhodolith fields there were filled with whitetips, octopuses and color-morphing flounder. We saw more humongous lobsters hiding in the rocks than we could possibly count.

© copyright by Sean Davis

© copyright by Sean Davis
© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli
© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli
Because of the extremely calm weather, on Day 3 Captain Mosquera took us to the very south side of the island to Yglesias Bay – which for most of the year is usually too choppy to visit. The south side is the least explored part of the island, overflowing with waterfalls and pristine vegetation. We dove Shark Fin Rock and Manta Corner, which are so little-explored that it really felt like we were discovering them for the first time. Near Manta Corner’s picture-perfect swimthrough we saw at least two tiger sharks, both of which made a couple of passes.

The night diving was incredible at Manuelita Coral Garden and Ulloa. We saw eels hunting beside the whitetips and the black jacks, and at one point a gargantuan Galapagos came by to check us out. It’s confusing to see the biggest Galapagos shark of your life and in equal measure finding yourself wanting to flee the scene and have it come closer at the same time.

One afternoon some of us disembarked on the island to see the wild pigs and deer. In Wafer Bay, we glimpsed a baby blacktip reef shark. Blacktip reef sharks are similar to blacktip sharks, but they have a beautiful white band below the black tip. Later, At Lobster Rock, our dive guide Jaume left a shark tagging receiver that allows researchers to track tagged sharks in the area.

We were pleased to see many very young hammerheads this voyage, which is a relatively new phenomenon – historically Cocos has not been known as a hammerhead birthing ground, as it’s typically more populated by juveniles and adults. However, experts think mothers must be giving birth somewhere on or near the island to see such young specimens in the water.


© copyright by Paul Hudy

© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli
© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli
© copyright by Genna Marie Robustelli
On our last day at the island, once again Cocos saved the best for last. We descended the line at Alcyone, one by one into a ball of thousands of bigeye jacks. Each of us had the magical school to ourselves for a few moments. When we got to the bottom, Alycone was quiet save for one curious tuna that darted around us. There was absolutely no current, and all was still. We checked out some of the macro life, looking at octopuses, butterfly fish and eels. A few hammerheads came by. Just when we thought the dive was a bit of a dud, we drifted out into the blue to see what we could find. That’s when it happened.

A school of hammerheads just barely drifted into view. We followed their faint, ghostlike images just at the edge of our visibility. We swam closer and closer towards them, and the closer we got the more accepting of us they became. Suddenly there was a group of 12 hammers directly in front of us, as clear as day! And another dozen below us. Then some to our right and the left. We found ourselves in the middle of several groups of swirling hammerheads, slowly coming in and out of visibility range, swimming in a completely relaxed way all around us. They were not in their normal “wall” shape – no, these schools were twisted into tornados that spiraled around and around from all angles. Paul Huddy called it a “Sharknado.” They welcomed us into their school, and we completely lost track of time. Then, as suddenly as they appeared they slowly drifted away. It was one of those otherworldly Cocos moments that words simply can’t do justice.

Then on the crossing back, we saw a pod of spinner dolphins. We couldn’t help but think, “this is the life.”


Dive Conditions
Currents  
mild
strong
Visibility   54 ft / 16 m
Water Temp.   80°F / 27°C
Weather
Climate  
sunny
rainy
Sea  
calm
choppy
Crossings
to Cocos Island  
calm
choppy
to Puntarenas  
calm
choppy

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