Have you ever been
curious to see what the inside of a Scalloped Hammerhead Shark's
(Sphyrna lewini) mouth looks like? Ever had a desire
to swim alongside Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and
have Spotted Eagle Rays (Aetobatus narinari) pass you,
in the opposite direction? Ever thought it would be cool to
be encircled by a school of hundreds of 50+ lb. Yellowfin
Tuna (Thunnus albacares), only to have a 6 ft. Silky
Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), who had been following
the school, swim right up to you? If you anwered yes to any
of these questions, then Cocos Island is the place for you!
| Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Cocos is one
of the few spots in the world that absolutely promises to
raise your pulse to the point it surpasses your tank's p.s.i.!
Located approximately 300 miles southwest of Costa Rica,
Cocos is probably the best place in the world for guaranteed
encounters with big pelagics.
why you go, but you can also count on seeing Pacific Manta
Rays (Manta birostris), Mobula Rays (Mobula Hypostoma),
Marbled Stingrays (Taeniura Meyeri),
(Tursiops truncatus), and all the aforementioned creatures.
You'll also encounter so many Whitetip Reef Sharks (Triaenodon
obesus), literally hundreds on every dive, that
you'll reach the point of almost totally ignoring them. Don't
get me wrong. Cocos isn't just about big creatures. There
are plenty of small ones to keep your interest. Pacific Razorfish
(Xyrichthys pavo), and Pacific Seahorses (Hippocampus
ingens), to name but a few.
With this much
guaranteed high-voltage, adrenaline-pumping action, there's
got to be a down-side, right?!? Well, remember that comment
about Cocos being 300 miles from the rest of Costa Rica...
The only way to get there is via a 30-36 hour boat ride.
And once you get out into the open ocean, you are just that
-- in the open ocean. For the next 28 hours, there
is no protection whatsover from any type of weather the
Pacific Ocean decides to throw your way!
I'm told that
the vast majority of crossings are rather calm, and indeed,
our trip to
Cocos was quite
fair, while our trip home was totally flat. However, if you
are unlucky enough to be on a trip that is the exception to
the "calm seas" rule, you will truly understand the meaning
of the phrase "hating life". A couple hours of seasickness
is one thing, but a day and a half straight, with no possibility
of reprieve, that is another thing entirely!
I got before having actually gone to Cocos was "You've gotta
go really deep to see anything." While on occasion, you
will encouter hammerheads virtually at the surface, and
you're more likely to encounter the rest of the creatures
in less than 60ft., the general rule of thumb for seeing
large numbers of hammerheads is "The deeper you go, the
more you see". If there were 15 or 20 hammerheads hanging
out at 60ft., chances are there were 40 or 50 at 100ft.,
and at 130 ft... well, you get the picture. You certainly
don't have to go beyond 100ft. to have a great time at Cocos,
but the largest schools of hammerhead tended to be found
at 120 ft. and beyond.
thing about diving at Cocos Island, in my opinion, is that
unlike many places where if you are "lucky", you might see
a few big creatures, you are absolutely guaranteed to see
tons of the "big boys" here. This is a place where "might"
connotates Short-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus),
which we saw a school of on the way back to the mainland,
Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), or the biggest
fish of them all, the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus).
As for seeing hammerheads, silkys, mantas, turtles, eagle
rays, and all the rest, there's no "might" about it, you will,
and not just one or two...
As P.J., our
Captain and Divemaster, loved to say just before we were
to embark on yet another underwater Cocos adventure, "This
is gonna be GREAT!!!" P.J., you couldn't have been