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Dive Review of Undersea Hunter in
Costa Rica/Cocos Island

Undersea Hunter, Nov, 2004,

by Peter Belden, CA, USA . Report 1477.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Maui, Vancouver, Monterey, Moorea, Belize, Maldives, Ixtapa, La Paz, San Diego, Channel Island, Grand Turk, Little Cayman, St. Barts
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, noCurrents
Water Temp 76 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minutes but it never came up. Dives were too deep for 60 min anyway. No deco diving! If anyone needed chamber treatment it would instantly force the boat to make the 36 hour trip back to the mainland cancelling the trip for everyone.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments E6 processing no longer offerred. Each photographer is given there own camera cubby. Large rinse tank shared. Dry air available to blow dry camera gear. Crew experienced with photography and videography

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Cocos is ONLY for experienced divers. The dives are all deep, currents can be ripping, safety stops can become blue water drifts and the swell at the surface can be significant. Everyone on board dove Nitrox the whole trip. It's a must given the depths.

However for those with the necessary skills and experience it is the destination of a lifetime: schools of hammerheads, night dives with feeding frenzied white tips sharks, plus many sightings of black tips, silkies, galapagos sharks, and even silvertips. One day we had a short but magical snorkling encounter with some passing dolphins. Also on dives saw two mobula mantas, some yellowfin tuna, big wahoo, schools of big-eye trevally that literally blocked out the sun, tens of marbled rays together, batfish, lobster, ocotopi, small schools of eagle rays, lots of eels and snake eels, and another diver saw a sailfish. The sheer number of fish is amazing. The national park protection really shows in how plentiful the fish life is compared to many other desinations whose fish have been decimated by nearby fishing.

The schedule was three dives per day and then generally a fourth night dive. The hammerheads are very shy so the dive routine is to descend to 90 feet, grab the bottom, hold completely still and then wait for them to emerge from the blue. Even a small fin flutter can suddenly cause the sharks to vanish. They are very skittish and to get a close shot when the sharks approach you need to hold in the bubbles.

We were unusually lucky that only on 2 dives out of 20 was the current bad. But on those 2 dives the current was an overpowering 5 knots, our exhaled bubbles moving sideways not up, and you were holding on to the rock with a full hand. Therefore gloves are a must in Cocos. Those without gloves cut their hands on the barnacles as they gripped for life fighting the current, and no one wants their hands cut up where there are 6 species of shark constantly in the vacinity. We were also lucky to have calm seas. It's easy to jump into 4 foot swell but climbing out of it into a skiff is much harder. Apparently larger swell and unpredictable currents are the norm.

The Undersea Hunter is the highest quality live-aboard. Excellent crew, good food, and nice rooms each with it's own bathroom. There is even a warm fresh water shower on the dive deck. All divers are given an extra large safety sausage, a small signaling light, a whistle and an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon). Divers have been lost at sea at Cocos, although never by the Undersea Hunter. Our panga driver reported having "picked up" several divers who had drifted beyond sight from the Aggressor... I had also heard that the Aggressor dingies were very hard to climb back into and upon seeing them I now know why. I prefer the much larger pangas with ladders and tank racks that are used by the Undersea Hunter.

Rebreather courses are apparently no longer offerred on board unless there is a group request. Important to figure this out before paying. We were able to to get to the hammerheads despite being on open circuit (not using rebreathers).

Bring a sweater and warm hat for potentially cool evenings. The other 8 divers on the boat were from Germany, France, Israel and one from the U.S. All but 2 were either assistant instructors or commerical divers. Cocos is for experienced divers only. www.underseahunter.com
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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