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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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September 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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MV Ferox, Malpelo Island, Colombia

where the big fish are

from the September, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

One way to demonstrate how well divers like a trip is whether they return. I've made 10 liveaboard trips to destinations such as the Red Sea, Cocos Island, the Galapagos, and the Revillagigedos, and a July 2021 trip to Malpelo Island, over 300 miles off the coast of Colombia. The day after I got home from that trip, I began planning a return for late July 2023. That's how much I like it.

MV Ferox - former Swedish Navy MinelayerI chose an 11-day charter with seven days of diving rather than the usual six. I had high expectations, but you can never expect to see the same animals or have the same visibility at a dive site the next day, let alone two years later. Yet, my first day of diving got off to a great start.

Much of the underwater topography resembles Malpelo Island, with huge expanses of volcanic rock, cracks and crevices of all sizes, large boulders, and smaller rocks. Off Malpelo, there are some steep walls. Our first dive at El Arrecife was easy, and I swam with fine spotted morays, leather bass off on a hunt, a large school of pelican barracuda, and several sizeable Galapagos sharks. Surprisingly, I came across an expanse of dense coral coverage (coral appears at a few other sites). The next dive at D'Artagnan had more Galapagos sharks, barberfish, a rainbow chub cleaning station, and such a massive school of bigeye trevally that I could get lost in it. At La Gringa, I kicked through a beautiful swim-thru filled with whipper snapper and came across several Galapagos sharks, a couple of hammerheads, two eagle rays, and lots of bluefin trevally. Really, that's quite an array. At the end of the day, I had high hopes for sure.

My trip leader and guide was Sten Johansson (he's called the "Viking," and for good reason), with whom I had dived on my 2021 visit (three others also had dived with Sten before). An experienced Eastern Pacific guide, he worked for Nautilus for many years in the Revillagigedos and Guadalupe Island. He's been a guide at Malpelo for more than a decade. For this trip, he chartered half the boat, taking only divers with 200 or more dives. In fact, to dive Malpelo on the Ferox, one must have an Advanced Open Water certification and 50 dives, proof of which is submitted to the Colombian National Park Service before the trip....

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