April 2012 - Underwater Photography Magazine - UWPmag.com
Alex Tyrrell is the Photo Pro at Atlantis Dive Resorts in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Philippines
Isla Del Coco by Alex Tyrell
The Hammerhead Shark has been high up on my ‘hit-list’ since I started diving, but has been one subject that had eluded me for quite some time. So with a portrait of a Hammerhead in mind I set off on the extensive journey from the Philippines to Costa Rica (via L.A. & Dallas) to dive the world famous Isla del Coco aboard the luxurious live-aboard, MV Argo, which is part of the Undersea Hunter Group. Cocos Island is very remote, requiring a crossing of over 300 miles taking between 32-36 hours from the port of Puntarenas. You will be navigating the open ocean of the Pacific, which can be a very rough ride when heading into swells that potentially originate near Antarctica! I timed my trip for the start of the dry season, so we only had to endure a mild swell on the outward journey making for a comfortable crossing. The thought of travelling for this duration to simply get to the dive site seems a little daunting, but it gives you plenty of time to sort out your dive gear, set up your camera system, and if travelling over numerous time zones on your journey to Costa Rica, sleep off the jet lag so you’re fresh and ready to dive upon arrival at the island.
Seasons for Marine Life Encounters
Isla del Coco is by no means a new dive destination and many articles have been written and documentaries made about this stunning UNESCO World Heritage site. The dramatic island landscape, with waterfalls pouring off of the mountainous cliffs was even featured in the opening scene of Hollywood blockbuster Jurassic Park! So the aim of this article is not so much as to give you a report on the diving, but to explain how I approached and photographed the different subjects I encountered during my trip in January 2012. To begin with, however, it is worth noting that there are two seasons at Cocos that will influence some of the marine life that is to be encountered. From May through to November is the wet season with a higher probability of rough seas making for a more arduous crossing, and more challenging diving conditions when you arrive at the island, especially surface conditions. You will be rewarded with a greater number of sharks during this period though, with large schools of Scalloped Hammerheads. So if you have the iconic ‘Hammerhead Wallpaper’ shot in mind, then think about planning your trip between June and October.