The Revillagigedo Archipelago (unfortunately impossible to pronounce by most English speakers) is more commonly known as the Socorro Islands, and has been on our bucket list since we first heard the name mispronounced many moons ago.
Socorro is actually one of four islands in the archipelago, located around 240 nautical miles southwest off Mexico’s Pacific coast. It’s a bloody long way off shore—a full day’s steam for the liveaboard dive boats that work the area. Solmar V was our ship of choice for this expedition. The volcanic islands would be almost impossible to land on even if you were allowed to, but this inaccessibility has helped protect the area’s marine life. The islands’ barren landscapes give no indication that the underwater scenes are absolutely humming.
Conditions were pretty challenging on our trip, with wind and big swells restricting us to lee coasts for the most part. Fortunately (and the main reason for our longer-than-normal charters), poor weather doesn’t last forever, and we were eventually able to dive two of the very exposed but very special areas: Roca Partida and El Boiler.
No matter where we went, the critters didn’t disappoint. The mantas were as huge and as friendly as we had been promised, the water was clear and very sharky, the humpback whales were blowing during the surface intervals, and the dolphins came to play.
Here’s a short video of some of my favourite encounters, and below is a list of what’s what (corrections welcome!).
|0:00||Redtail triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento) eating plankton in the beautiful blue.|
|0:04||Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are unusually friendly in Socorro. Sometimes. They like having their belly rubbed. Sometimes. Not these two though.|
|0:08||Bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus) get excited at the sight of a free-swimming moray. The Panamic Green Moray Eel (Gymnothorax castaneus) leads the frenzy.|
|0:12||Giant Pacific manta (Manta birostris) with usual entourage of Remoras (Remora remora) and Black jacks (Caranx lugubris) passing Liz for a still shot before a close pass in front of my big camera with lights.|
|0:20||Used to hunting under the cover of giant mantas and whale sharks, Black jacks (Caranx lugubris) approach divers without fear.|
|0:24||White-tipped reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) pack into every nook and cranny of Roca Partida for their daytime siesta.|
|0:28||Sometimes they fall out of bed.|
|0:33||White-tipped reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) ride the currents with Cottonmouth (Uraspis secunda) and Black jacks (Caranx lugubris).|
|0:39||Dive guide Dani leads Alka and John on a typically shear wall at El Boiler.|
|0:41||Cottonmouth jacks (Uraspis secunda) casually make way for Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis) on patrol.|
|0:43||They also wisely step aside for rather chunkier Silvertip sharks (Carcharhinus albimarginatus).|
|0:45||Football field-sized ball of Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis).|
|0:49||Silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) cruising over and through the Skipjacks.|
|0:51||Amberjack (Seriola rivoliana) cruising the wall at Roca Partida.|
|0:53||Bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) schooling in the shallow surge zone at Roca Partida.|
|0:59||Barberfish (Johnrandallia nigrirostris) go to town removing tasty parasites off a Blue-bronze Sea Chub (Kyphosus analogus).|
|1:03||Steel pompanos (Trachinotus stilbe) school just below the surface.|
|1:05||Giant Pacific manta (Manta birostris) with a matching pair of hitchhiking Remoras (Remora remora) unusually approach divers in Socorro.|
|1:21||Giant Pacific mantas (Manta birostris) approach the rocky reefs at Socorro to have parasites removed, the beautiful Clarion angelfish (Holacanthus clarionensis) enthusiastically run to work.|
|1:50||Black jacks (Caranx lugubris) use the huge mantas for cover allowing them to get close to prey fish in the open sea.|
You may also be interested in:
- Join us on one of our next dive expeditions