Socorro Dive Report: March 2019 Photo Workshop

Socorro Dive Report: March 2019 Photo Workshop

Socorro Islands PHOTO WORKSHOP

Diving Socorro on the Rocio del Mar

Bluewater Travel's March 2019 Underwater Photography Workshop on the Rocio Del Mar

Words by Helen Brierley

Pictures by Jim Agronick, Larry Stafford, Oren Bernstein, John Morgan, Rodrigo Perez Alonso, Romona Robbins, Sean Constine, and Helen Brierley  

 

Blue sky and a calm sea greeted us for our morning departure from San Jose del Cabo aboard the Rocio del Mar, with a few stragglers from the humpback migration still hanging around close to shore.  The journey to San Benedicto left us plenty of time to ready our gear and get to know each other before our check-out dive the following morning.

One advantage of the Rocio del Mar is that it features stabilizers for an even smoother ride if the sea picks up, which can be a huge plus for any passengers who might get queasy on those crossings. These stabilizers were deployed during the night to ensure a better night’s sleep for all. 

 

 The Rocio Del Mar is one of the best liveaboards in Socorro--knowledgeable and friendly dive staff, AMAZING food. It's got everything you need for an awesome dive vacation!

San Benedicto is a stunning, barren volcanic island that looked as though it was erupting as the wind swirled the volcanic dust around above the crater.  This was the site for our check out dive, to make sure everyone was ready for the undersea adventures to come.  Even though today, there are more liveaboards in the Socorro Islands than ever before, the crews work well together to plan the diving so that groups do not overlap in the water.

The famous El Cañon dive site is here, an underwater canyon with cleaning stations where many different shark species, as well as manta rays, come to take advantage of the cleaning services of the smaller fish.  On our visit, guests saw giant Pacific mantas, large moray eels hunting in the crevices of the volcanic rocks, as well as white tip reef sharks, silver tips, and Galapagos sharks. 

  

A school of at least thirty hammerheads at Cabo Pearce remained camera shy and kept their distance. The safety stop saw more action, with several divers used as human shields by a school of rainbow runners, desperately trying to hide from huge, hunting yellowfin tuna. 

 


diving with False killer whales in Socorro

With water temperatures of between 23 and 25 Celsius, some chose to dive in skins and others in 7mm suits, but when the crew shouted “False killer whales!  Get in the pangas!”  No one had time to think about more than grabbing a mask, snorkel and their camera for this once in a lifetime chance.  Our rapid response paid off, with three drops into the water for some really close encounters with these rarely seen animals.  They made some slower passes and played with us a little before heading out into the open ocean, leaving us all in awe of what we had just experienced. 

    

Our next stop was Roca Partida, a dramatic split rock well out of sight of the other islands where the currents can be legendary.  The first group experienced the strongest currents as they back-rolled from the panga, very happy to reach the shelter of the dramatic rock formation below the surface.  The site is home to massive schools of fish and attracts sea life from far and wide, both looking for shelter and hunting for prey.  Groups of white tips rest in hollows in the steep rock sides and others such as Galapagos, silky sharks and silver tips hang out in the current.  The visibility was great (as usual here) and we even spotted an attractive juvenile Leather Bass sheltering among the urchins. 

  

The current subsided somewhat for the second and third dives here with hunting schools of hammerheads, Galapagos sharks and giant tuna on the prowl. Massive schools of Jacks were hanging out in the current and white tips were making forays out of their depressions in the rock. 

  

Our next stop was “El Boiler”, a large, striated rock formation that serves as a cleaning station for giant mantas.  The early dives had thrilling interactions with playful dolphins, visiting each diver and posing for photos.  They took turns to stay static right next to us and played with each of us in turn. The giant mantas also came to play, swooping slowly over and around us enjoying our bubbles on their undersides and then coming back around for more.  All the guests were able to shoot great video and stills and as always a few sharks made it into the fray. 

     

For bird lovers, there are friendly boobies that visit the boat and beautiful tropic birds flying overhead.  We also saw a couple of humpback whales breaching, but only from the surface on this occasion.  Silky sharks congregated under the boat and could also be seen in the shallows above the Boiler.

Guests raved about the food on board daily, especially on party night when a huge Mexican feast was served in the open air on the top deck.  The food was always varied and plentiful with every effort made to accommodate special requests.  With four meals a day (plus snacks) and often four dives a day as well as daily workshop presentations and photo reviews, we were all busy, but there was still time for individual sessions on shooting and editing photos and video. 

  

A spectacular final day back at the Canyon dive site allowed us to complete 20 dives on the trip.  The cleaning station was action packed; mantas circled us, hammerheads came in close, and the sheer number of sharks made it difficult to decide where to point the camera.  A huge school of jacks underneath one of the other boats made for an awesome safety stop and no one wanted to get out of the water. 

  

Another smooth trip back to shore left us plenty of time to clean and dry our gear, pack our bags, compare photographs and relax after another epic photo workshop week with Bluewater. 

   

It is hard to imagine a better crew on any dive boat and the trip report would not be complete without a huge thank you to all of them.  They worked hard to make the trip the best it could possibly be in every way, awesome dive guides, diligent panga drivers and everyone always helpful, happy and smiling.  We will be back! 

  

Our group photo

 

 

join us on our next Socorro trips

Bluewater Travel conducts multiple big animal wide angle photography workshops and group trips in Socorro every year. Join us on one of the following trips! 

2019 Trips: Dec 8 - 16, 2019 

2020 Trips: Mar 19-27, 2020

Email us at info@bluewaterdivetravel.com or leave us a message in the live chat box for the latest availability and pricing! 

 

HOW TO BOOK A TRIP TO Socorro, MEXICO

Bluewater Travel has many years of experience booking and leading group and individual trips to Socorro. We can book you on any liveaboard in Socorro for the same cost or less than booking any other way.

We know diving, accommodation, cabins and when to go better than anyone else!

Email us at info@bluewaterdivetravel.com and tell us that you read this article to get a special price for your next dive trip!

 

Further REading

Learn more everything you need to know on this amazing destination:

Scuba Diving in Socorro: Dive Travel Guide

Check out these useful resources from our two sister websites the Underwater Photography Guide and Bluewater Photo:

Best Underwater Cameras 2019

Olympus TG-5 Review

Guide to Marine Life Photography

All You Need to Know on the Fisheye Lens

 

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