Monday, June 04, 2007
Hammerheads Here, Hammerheads There, Hammerheads Everywhere!
Go to our Coco's Island photo album at our photo site to see more photos (sorry the pictures need a little cleaning up but that wont happen until we are back).
Troy and I just finished an absolutely, incredibly, adrenaline filled week of diving Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Most people have never heard of Cocos Islands including a lot of Costa Ricans. It is located about 350 miles in the Pacific off the west coast of Costa Rica. You might ask yourself "How long does it take to cover 350 miles by boat?" Well, I'll tell ya... 32 hours. Most people didn't have their sea legs going out so there were some sick people, but most were better on the way back. Which was good because the water was much worse. The swells were so bad at times that during lunch drinks, food and people were flying all over the dining room!
The second question you might ask yourself is "What made the diving at Cocos Island so great?" Well, I'll tell ya... hammerheads, hammerheads, hammerheads!!!!!!!!!!!! You ever watch one of those Discovery Channel shows about sharks and in one sequence they show hundreds of hammerhead sharks swimming above being silhouetted by the sun? Been there, done that! (Troy has pictures to prove it and no, they are not stock photos from the internet!)
After conquering the delightful boat ride over, our first dive in the water started out great right away. Cocos Island is known as a "truck stop" in the Pacific for all type of large pelagics so there were sharks on every dive. Our first encounter with sharks were with White Tip Reef Sharks. These are nothing compared to Hammerheads. They actually got to be quite annoying, because they were everywhere. They sleep during the day so it is easy to approach them to get photos but at night is a different story. We did a night dive with them and at night they are awake and huuunnnggggrrrry! They swarmed around en masse, bumping into you, your camera, pushing you out of their way. Think about what a packed fish tank looks like, put about 100 sharks in there along with a few divers, give it a good shake and there you have our night dive. It was actually quite freaky not knowing if at any minute they might get impatient trying to find a fish to eat and choose to see what you tasted like instead. Talk about adrenaline!
We came across several other species of sharks including Galapagos, Silky, Silver Tip, and Black Tip. The Galapagos, Silky and Silver Tip were monsters! They individually measured 9-10' long. They were not afraid of you either (which is a good thing???). They would get quite close to you trying to figure out what you were. We heard stories about divers having to use their camera to push these giants away from them. It was very exhilarating to hang out and watch them slowly circle around.
Ok... the hammerheads! They were everywhere! These guys got spooked a little more easily then the other sharks, so you had to really control your movement and breathing when they got close. We're controlling these movements not to hide but to get them closer. And yes, believe it or not, we wanted them close. The closer the better! They were amazing. They averaged about 6-8' in length and at times their schools numbered in the 100's. We were always looking around us full circle because they would be above, below, behind and in front of us. Talk about getting dizzy. The most spectacular thing was looking up and seeing these massive schools slowly swim by. I can't imagine what else on our future dive travels will compare to this encounter. But by no means are we calling it quits to our travels just because we just experienced thee dive of all dives!
Of course, sharks is not all we saw. We saw a ton of rays - marble rays, sting rays, spotted eagle rays. In past dive trips, we were excited to see 1 ray out of 15 dives. In Cocos, we were seeing anywhere from 1-8 rays on each dive. Eels, turtles, huge schools of fish and lobsters. On one dive there were more lobsters then at Red Lobster during Lobsterfest. (That was Troy's quote of the day!)
We were able to do a short land excursion to the island one day. The island is a mere 24 square km and the only people who live on it are park rangers. Not many people have visited the island, but Captain Morgan did make a landing here in 1843. There is a rock with carvings of past visitors and his name is among the carvings. The island gets about 24' (that's feet not inches) of rain a year so you can imagine how green and lush it is. Because of it's remote location there are hundreds of species of birds, insects and mammals that are indigenous to the islandWe are back on land in Costa Rica planning our next few days. We have found we only have the ability to do a few days of planning at a time. More then that and we go into information overload. I know I have yet to say anything about CR, but let me just say it is stunningly gorgeous here. I will post another blog in a week or two before we head to Spain!!
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You're just posting these blogs because you're jealous of me, sitting here in a little 8x8 cell .. er, um, office .. happily typing away, not wishing I was traveling again, diving with my good friends, drinking some fruity drinks by the ocean. Yeah, you're jealous.