Cozumel critter diving was fantastic last month! I have always loved the diving in Cozumel, but never more than now! Shore diving has become my favorite diving, but I still love the boat and drift dives, too. It has been so much fun to dive the shallow shore line and discover the little critters who live there, and that no one ever sees! Check out these fabulous finds! Diving with Mario Ceh of Scuba with Mario is always an adventure. He has sharp eyes and sees what others miss…lucky for me!
What Diving the Revillagigedos Archipelago Really Looks Like!!!!
While I love diving the entire archipelago of Revillagigedos, I confess to a slight bias toward the island of San Benedicto. I have several reasons for this, and the first is the appearance of the island itself. I absolutely love the lava streamed rock of the island, which last erupted in 1952. It also has amazing dive sites, namely El Boiler and the 3 Sisters. Each of these sites was boiling with wildlife action! Enjoy!
I am fascinated with the clearly intelligent eyes of the manta.
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My last post, What Diving the Revillagigedos Archipelago is Really Like, Part One, focused on the island Roca Partida. On this post we will head to the island of Socorro, the largest island in the group. The dive sites on this island include Cabo Pearce, Punta Tosca, and the Aquarium. The Aquarium was the most happening site! Most of all, I want to show you the topography and lighting down below, and though it isn’t soft waving coral, it has its own kind of beauty, as do the animals. I went on this trip with Dr Andrea Marshall’s Ray of Hope Expeditions!
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I love doing citizen science!
North American Travel Journalist Association Travel Writer’s Awards 2018 honored this post with an Honorable Mention in the Featured Photo, Illustration, Online Category!
Diving the Revillagigedos Archipelago looks quite different from the tropical waters of the Caribbean or Indonesia. The archipelago is so remote, 250 miles south and east of Cabo San Lucas, and the islands are basically just rocks sticking up out of the ocean. I thought I would give you a look at not only the animals, but the awesome structures that exist underwater. These islands are known as Mexico’s “Galapagos” because of the large pelagic encounters which are due to the open ocean surrounding the islands, which often includes strong currents and choppy conditions. Underwater are rocky outcroppings, boulders and walls. There is not much coral as this is a cooler water destination, ranging from 71 degrees Farenheit to 80 degrees F. This destination can only be dived from a live aboard dive boat. This was my third visit, and I know I’ll go back!
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There are places on the planet where you can be totally remote. Alone. Removed. Well, radio waves are pretty much everywhere, but cell and internet signals are not. I just took my third trip to the Revillagigedos Archipelago, to dive and photograph Giant Manta Rays, Whale Sharks, Sharks, Dolphins…and all of the cool smaller stuff. What is it like to be so remote? And where the heck is this place??? And be sure to have Travel Insurance, always!
When you travel to a place this remote, you have to understand that there are no hospitals, no doctors, no chambers if you get decompression sickness. Or a heart attack. Or a stroke. Or anything, really. This is the risk you take in some parts of the world. There is no signal, and it would take at least 24 hours to get back to civilization. I’m not sure if a helicopter would go there, obviously there is no place to land. I always take antibiotics with me, a Z pak for possible strep or sinus infection, Cipro in case my tummy acts up. Oh, and dramamine, which I needed on this last trip. And I always buy travel insurance!
On one hand, I find not having a signal relaxing. Unlike the millennials and younger generations, I do not do everything on my phone. I have had phones stolen and I have lost phones, my kids chide me when I don’t answer but I just do not carry it on me every second of the day. I lose the damn thing in my house! My husband has to call it so I can locate it. It is a relief when I don’t have to worry about missing a text or a call.
Being without internet is sometimes a pain, but as long as I can edit photos I’m happy, and you don’t need the internet for that. Imagine sleeping with no interruptions from your phone. Eating with no texts or calls. And, on the other hand, being very careful. On these trips I am very careful with my depth, my air supply, my limits. The only time I went outside my limits on this trip was when the dolphins came to check us out. Has anyone ever explained to you that dolphins are bastards? They really are. They mesmerize you with their eye contact and take you down deep. I looked at my depth while photographing them and I was way too deep for the gas mix I was using in my tank. 110 feet. For some people that is not very deep, but I try not to go below 100, and I prefer staying above 90 feet. The other thing that dolphins do to merit name calling is hanging out around your zodiac, or panga (a rubber boat used to go to dive sites). They jump, you coo, they come close, and you want to swim with them. So you put on your snorkel and fins, jump in, and the only dolphin you see is one going deep and out of sight. See what I mean? The little bastards. Sigh. But I still love them.
Having a dive buddy is helpful when diving this remotely, with this much current, and the bottomless depths. The big blue is not too far away, and unless your dive master takes you there, you don’t want to go and be separated from your group. The big blue can be really disorienting with no bottom and nothing but blue, blue, blue. I had a fellow photographer for a buddy, and we kept an eye on each other, but photographers never dive right next to their buddy. Sometimes we were close, especially if conditions warranted it, but mostly we kept each other in sight while looking for cool animals to take pictures of. It worked out well.
Going so remote and to locations with endless big blue is not for beginners. There are no beginner dive sites in this Archipelago. I am not a professional, but I have 30 plus years of experience in the water. Sometimes I might be just a little bit too comfortable in the water, but not at these dive sites. You must keep in mind that sites like this can be cold, can have down currents, up currents, strong currents, and surge. Several people got lost this trip, meaning losing their dive group. At that point, you must surface. Not being able to see any other divers is not good. The Revillagigedos is not the place for solo diving.
But I digress! Going remote can be a great experience. I love the privacy and silence from my phone and the internet, but I remind myself often that it is not a place for any kind of accident. I try to be very careful when I go remote!
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Another fantastic Solo Trip with Ray of Hope Expeditions and Dr Andrea Marshall, Queen of Mantas!
I love to travel solo, but traveling solo doesn’t have to mean traveling alone! When I travel solo I never feel “lonely” because there are so many new people to watch, to meet, and to talk to. My volunteer/citizen science adventures have introduced me to people who share my passion. As a result, I have friends all over the world! I was the oldest volunteer on my All Out Africa volunteer trip to Mozambique in 2012, but I remain in touch with, and have seen, my fellow volunteers because we bonded during our shared experience. I have friends I met on other trips who are older than I am. Meeting and working with people who share your passions is exhilarating no matter what your age, nationality, or religion. Doing citizen science with Ray of Hope Expeditions makes me feel good about myself, knowing I am trying to make a difference.
I am always careful when I travel, whether solo or not! It’s important to take good care of yourself financially as well! This guide will give you some good tips on how to travel safely with your finances!
Earlier this month I was off on another adventure with Andrea, this time to the Revillagigedos Archipelago. Where on earth is that, you may ask. It is very remote and takes at least a day to get there from Los Cabos. One is completely unplugged as there are no signals. This location is very special. It is 540 miles off the Baja peninsula, and is often called Mexico’s Galapagos. These uninhabited rocks, so far from the Mexican mainland, are among the most unbelievable dive spots in the world. It has one of the largest populations of sharks, manta rays, and includes groups of tuna, humpback whales, all kinds of cool fish, and turtles. This is the third time I have visited these islands, and though I have taken identification photos in this location for scientists, this is the first time I was on an actual scientific expedition.
Strangely enough, I became sea sick on the crossing, which is very unusual for me. I always take a couple of Dramamine and never have a problem. This time was quite different! I have to say, I have a lot of sympathy now for people who get seasick! What a horrible feeling. I spent the first 20 hours of the trip in bed, sleeping and eating saltines.
Once at the dive sites the water was calmer, and my sickness went away (until the next time we traveled which was every day or night!). Diving with mantas is always a magical experience no matter where you are, but the giant mantas at these islands are different. They want to interact with divers, and they want to feel the bubbles from our regulators on their bellies! There are plenty of sharks, dolphins, fish and even tuna in these waters. I was excited to get under the waves and take photos!
And this was just the beginning of the trip! Stay tuned for more fish, shark, dolphin and manta action!
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