North AmericaScubaSouth America

May 8, 2007: Cocos

We arrived in Cocos early this morning and immediately suited up for a day of diving. Cocos is a larger island than Malpelo and very, very green with an abundance of trees, flowers, and lovely waterfalls. In a few days we’ll actually have an outing on the island which will be a treat – I wonder if I remember what solid ground feels like.

Dive #1: Manuelita – Out

Our first site was a fairly tame dive with some hammerheads and loads of white tipped sharks. The memory card on my camera filled up so I spent some of the time kneeling against the rocks to delete excess pictures – a ridiculous waste of dive time but I’m not sure which is worse: missing fish or missing pictures. See how quickly I adopt the photographer obsession?

In an other unfortunate technological twist, my dive computer reset itself to regular “air” settings rather than the Nitrox settings I’ve been using for the last week. (Darn Suunto factory settings). So my computer thought I’d exceeded my no decompression limit and went all sorts of wacky and raised alarms. And though I did nothing wrong, I can’t update the computer after the fact and I certainly can’t delete the dive. But since I theoretically exceeded my NDL, Suunto thinks I’m not supposed to dive again for 48 hours and will therefore not calculate any further dives until those 48 hours have passed. Dammit. I’ll still wear it just to capture my depth and dive times, but it won’t be any help in calculating my oxygen levels or true NDL.

Further proof that I need a new, less conservative, more flexible dive computer. The Suunto Stingers were fine when Jon and I bought them in 2001, but my diving needs have obvsiously changed. Time for an upgrade!

Dive #2: Manuelita – In

More exciting than the previous dive, and proof that the hammerheads here at Cocos are much friendlier (read: bolder) than those at Malpelo. So we had some close encounters with the hammers which is a vast improvement from Malpelo, where we only saw the hint of their shadows in the distance. Here they have no problems venturing nearby. Similarly, the white tipped sharks don’t even bat an eye when you come close to them. I like the white tips. They’re sleek and smooth and for some reason remind me of cats.

My battery died the moment I got to depth, so no pics for this dive.

Dive #3: Silverado – In the company of giants

Silverado is the “Silver Tipped Shark” site. We stayed relatively shallow – only to 35 feet or so – and congregated on the sandy bottom around a long peninsula of rocks. Then we waited. And waited. And wai…. two massive figures appeared from the blue and slowly swam our way. I’ve never seen a silver tipped shark in the ocean, and they’re absolutely huge. Heart-stoppingly, scary huge. They buzzed the top of the peninsula rocks… then buzzed the top of us… then buzzed the rock… then us… then went into the blue… then came back and repeated it all over again. Enthralled, we stayed for forty five minutes.

For perspective…. this is Greg in front of the peninsula and beneath one of the sharks

The best way to describe them is “regal”, and the rocks were their thrones and we were their awe-inspired subjects. But no matter how you look at it, I have this instinctive urge to keep them in my sights at all times. If one disappeared from view I kept my head turned in either direction to see where it would come from. I don’t get frightened of sharks anymore but each time they swam over me I definitely realized how very small and inconsequential I am. You may now call me “Shark Bait”.

Um… not zoomed. Not zoomed at all.

Still not zoomed… still huge.

Dive #4: Manuelita Coral Gardens – shark feeding

Our first night dive at Cocos was a shark feeding at Manuelita. Wilson told us ahead of time that the white tips would quickly “learn” to use our lights as a hunting strategy, and more sharks would appear to join in the hunt. Soon we had upwards of 150-200 white tipped sharks carousing the coral beneath us, searching for their dinner. Like a herd of cats sneaking through dark alleyways, these sharks slither and twist and cruise quickly around corners and obstacles – it was amazing to watch from a few meters above.

No pictures because I’d accidentally left my camera on the boat, though I doubt I could have captured the scene adequately on my point-and-shoot anyway. But of course E had one to post.