After hearing about the Revillagigedo Archipelago (best known as Socorro) a couple of years ago, I knew I had to go. So when I found myself in Mexico this June I jumped at the chance, which I quickly discovered was worth any sea sickness from the 24-hour voyage after I entered the water for the first dive…
After arriving at San Benedicto, the archipelago's northernmost volcanic island, we descended to the The Boiler site where we were greeted by huge schools of fish, a giant manta and dolphins teaching their calves how to hunt. Then, five minutes into the dive, the divemaster started frantically pointing towards the surface where we saw the huge white belly of a whale shark, which didn't seem to have any concerns about being surrounded by divers and swam right over my head as she descended into the depths. It was amazing to dive with one of these huge animals having only struggled to keep up with them while snorkelling in the past.
The Dolphin Dance
We did three more dives on the same site that day with each being uniquely special. The divemasters had told us that if we impersonated the dolphins (which are well known for hanging around at this site), they would race over to investigate us. This led to a hilarious contrast in the grace shown by the divers compared with the dolphins, but it did work! During the final dive of the day, we had the first of several dives being circled by giant mantas. Like the dolphins, they were very curious, hovering directly above to feel our bubbles on their bellies. Needless to say, we were a very happy bunch of divers at the end of that day!
The Migration Corridor
We had been joined by a group of scientists who were researching the movement of sharks and mantas around the Pacific. While crossing to Socorro that evening, they explained that the animals fitted with location transmitting tags had been seen to migrate from Socorro all the way down to the Galapagos islands, via Malpelo off the coast of Colombia. This only highlighted the need for marine reserves to protect this 'migration corridor' so that places like Socorro remain as special as they are through minimal human impact.
Socorro and Roca Partida
At Socorro island itself we had three dives: two at Cabo Pearce and one at Roca O'Neill, where we encountered dramatic underwater arches leading into a large cavern carpeted with huge lobsters. That evening we left Socorro and headed into the sunset towards Roca Partida, a small v-shaped islet inhabited only by birds. Below the water, however, there was life everywhere. Huge schools of fish surrounded us while we watched silky, Galapagos, whitetip and silvertip sharks swim by. Shelves on the rock itself were home to piles of whitetip reef sharks and large lobsters, while schools of tuna circled close to the surface of the water. When we swam away from the rock out into the blue we saw schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks from a distance (they are notoriously shy). We spent two days diving around Roca Partida, being constantly amazed by the amount of life before heading back to San Benedicto.
Our first dive of the day was at The Canyon, which is known for being a shark cleaning station, although we sadly weren't in luck. However, when we came back onto the boat, we were quickly ushered into the pangas (small boats) as the crew had spotted false killer whales not too far away. Following the movement of fins gliding through the water we all jumped in just in time to see a huge pod pass by, squeaking to each other and curiously turning to inspect us. We repeated this for the next two hours, spotting the baby whales, dolphins and sharks that followed the group until the boat was no longer in sight and it was time to head back for breakfast.
A Final Farewell
The rest of the day was spent doing two final dives back at The Boiler. During both of these dives we were joined by up to three mantas for the entirety of the dive, often coming so close that I had to duck to avoid being slapped. We reluctantly surfaced after the last dive, low on air as we'd spent so long with the mantas, having had an amazing week in the archipelago, and started the long trip back to Cabo.