Central AmericaScubaSouth America

May 10, 2007: Cocos Island

Someone remarked today that “white tipped sharks are like pigeons”, which sadly has an element of truth. They’re all over the place, and we don’t even blink when a white tipped shark slithers past us on a dive. In fact today I nearly reached out to pet one – just to see what it would do. But like a pigeon it skittered away, bold enough to come close to divers but not that bold.

Dive #1: Alcyon

Alcyon is a dive site 15 minutes from Cocos and enough in “the blue” that sometimes the crossing to it can be too rough for our little dive skiffs. We were hoping to make it today, though, as it is purported to be one of the best places at Cocos to see schooling hammerheads.

We made it, but we can’t testify to the hammerhead boast since we hardly saw any at all, but we DID see a huge manta ray on our descent down the anchor line.

Now I’m happy. Not that I wasn’t happy before but now I’m absolutely thrilled because – aside from seeing a whale shark (which I doubt I’ll ever see) – spotting a manta is exactly what I was hoping for.

The bottom of Alcyon is at about 112 feet, and as much a I love deep dives I was feeling a bit vulnerable without an fully operational dive computer so I stayed for about twenty minutes before beginning my ascent up the line. I’m loving how the dives here produce some interesting safety stops – typically the most boring part of the dive. As I sat at my fifteen feet for three minutes I saw a little turtle and a couple of wahoos in the blue. No pictures, of course, because it’s difficult to get my camera operational while hanging on the safety line in strong current.

Dive #2: Dirty Rock

Dirty Rock

Sometimes our dives feel like a combination rock climbing and diving – we’re underwater, but the current it so strong that we have to hang onto the rock or else get swept away. Occasionally I use the rocks as a way of ascending to shallower depths, “climbing” up the wall rather than wasting my air and kicking against the flow of water. It’s an interesting way to dive.

Marbled Eagle Ray with a White Tip

I’ve discovered that I love swimming among large schools of fishes – especially the big eyed jacks since they travel en masse and seem not to scatter when I swim into the middle of them.

Big Eyed Jacks

Continuing my streak of seeing interesting things at the safety stops, I was hovering at fifteen feet and looking at my fellow divers below me when some of them started pointing in my direction. Out of the blue came a hammerhead swimming right toward me. It buzzed the top of my head, swam through the surf against the rocks, and went back into the blue again. We love getting close and personal with sharks.

Not zoomed!

While I was snapping my pic of the hammer, Eric captured a shot of both of us
Water Reserves

In between dives today, our skipper Christian backed the Sea Hunter close to the island while the crew MacGuyvered a water system to one of the waterfalls. Our water-maker broke somewhere between Malpelo and Cocos, so we might run low on fresh water within the next few days. We’re not in dire straits, Wilson tells us, but we need some sort of emergency reserve in case we do run into dire straights. So they’re siphoning water from one of Coco’s many waterfalls in order to replenish our water supply. Nothing like living off the land!

Warren positions the drum to capture the water

Crew connects the drum to a piping system

Piping the water back to the boat.

Dive #3: Viking Rock

Viking Rock was more of a reef dive. We stayed at 90+ feet to see if we could spot any hammers, but we quickly got bored and moved along the rocks to see some of the reef system. E found a female hawksbill that saw its reflection in his camera lens and moved in to say hello. I tried to get a shot of their interaction but their picture didn’t turn out terribly well, though I did get a pic of the turtle itself.

Hawksbill Turtle

I had a random memory from a few years ago. When Jon and I spent time on Kho Tao, the titan triggerfish there were especially ornery and testy and we quickly learned to avoid them, but – in the event we accidentally meandered into a triggerfish territory – we knew to thrust our fins between our bodies and the triggerfish so that the trigger would advance and bite our fins rather than our persons. After a few days this became an instinctive response: triggerfish, therefore fins out and at the ready. Our fins soon showed battlescars of triggerfish attacks. Strange, though, because everywhere else in the world triggerfish take no notice of divers. I wonder what it was about Thailand’s Titans. I still have the instinctive reaction, though, and have to check myself before I do the triggerfish dance: triggerfish! fins! swim away!

A triggerfish, completely oblivious to me

Night Under the Stars

E and I both decided to ditch the night dive, and instead sat out on the bow of the boat under thousands upon thousands of stars. We bemoaned our own lack of knowledge of constellations, aside from Orion and the Big Dipper (neither of which we were positive to identify), and contented ourselves with trying to find shooting stars and satellites.