Central AmericaScubaSouth America

May 11, 2007: Cocos Island

Dive #1: Dirty Rock

We’re big fans of Dirty Rock because – of all the sites here at Cocos – we know we’ll always see something worth talking about. At the very least the huge marble rays are on the pinnacle; but that’s assuming we can fight through the current to get there.

There was a little pass-through that I decided to swim through and I turned my video on to record my little swim. I wasn’t expecting the surprise on the other side:

Lucien, further down at depth, waved to me to join him because there was hammerhead action below so I descended to 111′ to see loads of big sharks swimming about and through the cleaning stations. I took a few shots but it’s a little difficult when they move so quickly away.

Shortly thereafter, Fabio and Christian motioned to us that we should try the migration to the pinnacle since the current seemed relatively kind. We kicked and kicked but didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Strange, since the current didn’t seem that terribly strong but this just proves that you can’t always tell. While we kicked our little hearts out we did it in the company of a school of snapper that hovered nearby. Suddenly the school broke and fled, so our attention immediately went out to the blue. We could hear the clicking of the dolphins seconds before they shot down from the surface, swam briefly around, and then disappeared in unison. Eric would tell me later that they were tracking a school of tuna in the distance.

Dive #2: Alcyon

We took another pass at Alcyon since we had so little luck there the other day. On the way out we passed a skiff from another boat that claimed to have seen a wale shark so we had high hopes. Down at 90 feet we attempted to position ourselves in spots with quality view of the feeding stations but protected from the heavy current, which wasn’t an easy task since the current was outrageously strong. Again this dive was a cross between a scuba dive and a rock-climbing outing.

I lay on one rock, gripping tightly so I wasn’t whisked away, but I was also seeing next to nothing. Looking to my left I saw Fabio about 20 feet away and he beckoned me, signaling “hammers over here… great action” so I kicked like a champ to get there. He was right – great hammer action. A few of them passed right over us.

I like this next one, because it shows the barberfish cleaning the back of the hammerhead:

In order to keep a handhold on the rocks, most of the time we grip onto some barnacles that have grown there. While we stare into the blue for minutes on end, we forget that our hands stay in that one place for quite some time. The little guys who live in the barnacles, however, remind us to move by peeking out of their holes and poking at our fingertips as if to say, “Hey! You’re blocking my front door!” Each time I get poked I apologize in my mind, “Oh! Sorry little barnacle.”

Land, ho!

Between dives we took a short excursion to Cocos Island – the first time we’ve been on land for the last ten days. There are a number of rocks on the shore by the ranger station that have names and dates carved into them, signaling the people who’ve come before – including people from the 1800s as well as Jacques Cousteau.

We hiked up a path to the top of a hill / mountain for pictures – – our little cove is so lovely and pristine, and the view from the top shows the reef system that surrounds Cocos. A stunning day for a hike and for pictures.

Pic from E’s camera of us at the top of the hike — Sea Hunter is the boat to the right

Strangely enough, there are thousands of deer and pigs on the island; brought by pirates and explorers long before us. There’s also fresh water fish, which is a bit of a mystery how they got here. Unless they’ve evolved and adapted from the sea which fits with the Darwinism of the area.

Dive #3: Lobster Rock

Our third dive was a quiet one at a shallow depth, as they try to keep all third dives here. Christian pointed out a little fish to me on the sandy bottom, so of course I moved in for a shot even though I had no idea what it was. I lay on the ocean floor and looked down to adjust my camera to macro settings, but when I looked up the tiny fish was gone. I blinked in surprise. Christian laughed and indicated that it had buried itself in the sand. Then he found another one for me to photo.

Richard would later find this in our fish book: a Juvenile Peacock Razorfish

I also tried to get a shot of the garden eels that emerged from their sandy homes, but they’re terribly skittish and zip back into their holes as soon as they detect the slightest movement. No matter how quietly I lay and how carefully I stayed still, they wouldn’t emerge for my camera so I gave up and continued with the dive. Eric would tell me later that his garden eel pictures took him an hour of waiting time.

During our safety stop a baby manta ray zipped quickly from the shallows into the blue.

Chivalry on the High Seas

Yesterday a sailboat arrived in our cove and today we discovered that they are two attractive young women from California. They rode by the Sea Hunter on a paddle boat, and all the men who were out on deck began to circle – like sharks. Claudia and I were infinitely amused by our shipmates and had a funny exchange about it with Thomas.

Claudia: “Christian was very gentlemanly and kindly took the girls back to the their sailboat.”
Me: “Ah, so chivalry isn’t dead. At least where girls in bikinis are concerned.”
Claudia: “Is he still there?”
Thomas: (looking over the rail) “No, the boat is back.”
Claudia: “Already? That was fast.”
Thomas: “Well, he is Italian.”

Dive #4: Shark Feeding Frenzy

We had another shark feeding dive, guiding the white tips through the coral gardens with our lights. I was Eric’s “camera assistant” and held his video camera while he took stills and then vice versa while he filmed. I had to laugh when, before the dive, he asked if would help him, “Are you shooting tonight?”, as if what I do with my little point-and-click camera qualifies as “shooting”.

There were hundreds of white tips out carousing and they did manage to find some fish, which turned the hunt into a frenzy of sharks and tails and a mad dash to the feast. The frenzy wasn’t limited to the sharks alone, though. When the sharks swarmed and started a feeding frenzy, our photographers would also swarm and cause a frenzy of photos and jockying for prime picture position. One frenzy begets another. At one point a frenzy started along a rock wall – just below a passing turtle. Normally the turtle would have caused a commotion among the photographers, but this time the turtle was directly over the feeding frenzy and in the way of all the photographers. Poor little turtle. It quickly swam away with barely any notice.

Late Night Fashion Show

After dinner Wilson gave an hilarious presentation to us of Sea Hunter paraphernalia that we could buy. T-shirts, polo shirts, sun visors… all the goodies came out. “But I’m not a salesman” he said, “I’m only showing you in case you have a desire to take part of the Sea Hunter home with you. And if you’d like to take advantage of this two for one deal… “