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Dive Review of Sea Hunter in
Costa Rica/Cocos Island

Sea Hunter, Jul, 2003,

by Patrick Wikstrom, NC, USA . Report 771.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Socorro Islands, Roatan, South Africa, Costa Rica, Channel Islands, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Bonaire, Cozumel, Florida, Yucatan Caves, Bahamas, Little Cayman & Brac, Belize, Turks & Caicos, Indonesia, Thailand, Cocos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, rainy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 75 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 90 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions experienced divers were given great freedom. No Po2 greater than 1.6, 90 min max dive time
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 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 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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 2 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Crouching in a semi circle in the sand, or clutching the boulder ridges along the side walls of Alcyone, we watched in awe as literally hundreds of Hammerheads poured down upon us. Wave after wave of Hammers swam out of the distance over our group and then passed on, only to be repeated five or ten minutes later by another squadron. The site popped and flashed with the gleam of strobe lights as divers bagged close ups and silhouettes obtainable at just a few dive sites on the globe.
Led by Bret Gilliam, of Fathoms Magazine, our group of Drager Dolphin divers was either previously certified or completed the training on the 36 hour crossing from Puntarenas to Cocos. Both the training and rebreather equipment on board the Sea Hunter was first rate. Although the trip price was slightly more than the base price if booked directly from Sea Hunter it included the training costs, rebreather rental, nitrox, and rebreather supplies for the seven days of diving. This all-inclusive format beat the ala-carte pricing and turned out to be a bargain from my standpoint. The 120ft long Sea Hunter, which was recently completely re-fitted, is a stable, well designed dive boat with a large salon, separate dining area, computer and video workroom, large sundeck (both covered and open), and a huge dive deck. Facilities for photographers were the best Ive found on ten live-aboard trips. Cabins were clean, had private en-suite baths, ample storage space, but no individual air-conditioning controls. I shared a triple cabin and had sufficient personal space. Food was generally excellent, with copious quantities served with decorative flare. Decent Chilean wines were available at $12 per bottle and beer was $1.50 a can. No other booze was available.
With the exception of the Captain who was a little bit aloof and didnt socialize much, the ships crew was absolutely spectacular. The divemasters, Miguel and Mario, were friendly, helpful and adept at finding neat stuff and doubled as videographers, producing a first class trip documentary. Cooks and kitchen staff were attentive and friendly, panga drivers were professional and proficient at tracking us down when we popped up all over the ocean, and the engineers and other crew were all sociable and helpful as they went about their business. The boat itself is equipped with redundant generators, compressors, a huge nitrous bank, and all manner of modern electronics and diver safety equipment.
Except for the first checkout dive all diving was done from two hard bottomed pangas which broke the passengers up into two groups and went to the sites in an alternating pattern. We never had more than ten divers on any site. Entry was by backward roll and re-entry was via sturdy metal ladders. Audible and visual surface signaling devices were mandatory, and supplied if necessary, along with personal radio locators whos antenna had a maddening propensity for falling off. Most dives were free-swimming gentle drifts but big current sites like Alcyone were hooked first with divers descending and ascending the anchor line. Two morning, one afternoon, and night dives every other day were offered. Solo diving and moderate decompression diving was tacitly allowed although most divers stayed with their groups. Dive times lasted as long as 83 minutes with rebreathers, depths were governed by site configuration, oxygen issues, and decompression obligations. This is advanced diving and divers were treated like the experienced adults we mostly were. Water temps averaged 80-82 degrees with colder thermoclines and currents in the mid 70s visibility varied from 30 to 90ft. The weather topside varied throughout each day from torrential downpours to beaming sunshine. The island itself is a beautiful pre-historic looking mountain rising from the sea with numerous waterfalls pouring out of the islands flanks and lush jungle growing down to the waters edge.
The underwater bio-diversity at Cocos was truly unbelievable. Huge schools of Jacks and sardines whirled and swirled in and out of baitball configurations. Giant Marble Rays cruised the rocky outcrops, Eagle Rays skimmed the sandy bottoms, Green Turtles chomped on sponges, Yellowfin Tuna zoomed by, Manta Rays and Dolphins joined our safety stops, and I logged seven species of sharks during my adventure. (Whitetip reef, Blacktip Reef, Silkys, Galapagos, Silvertips, Hammers, and a Whale Shark). Sharks were truly everywhere with multiple species noted on every dive. Dont expect much colorful coral or spectacular macro but the big animal action of the rocky pinnacles like Dirty Rock, Alcyone, or the three different approaches of Manuelita Island offer up truly spectacular adventure diving. Best trip of my life!!
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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