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Dive Review of Solmar V in
Mexico (Western)

Solmar V, Jan, 2004,

by Brad Bowen, UT, USA . Report 1204.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving All over the world.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 15 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales >2
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 1 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Solmar V visits Las Islas Revillagigedos, about 250 miles off the coast of Cabo San Lucas in the Pacific Ocean. It is a 24 hour trip, both ways with 6 days of diving, for total trip time of 8 days. We visited two islands and Roca Partida, which means Split Rock. It is literally just a rock about 40 feet high in the middle of nowhere, but has many white tip reef sharks that are resident, and other pelagics allegedly visit from time to time. (We were told there were six whale sharks the week before, but I dont know if Id believe it.) We have been many places-- Fiji, Indonesia, Palau and Hawaii--in hopes of seeing manta rays. We had a few sightings in all of those locations, but never for any period of time. We had read about this trip being guaranteed manta interaction, which is why we went.

Initially we were a little disappointed because only one manta showed up at the Boiler on our first visit. It stayed for only 15 minutes, but I was able to pet its belly three times, as it kept swimming directly to me. No mantas on the second dive, but when the panga drivers became aware of that fact, they started driving in circles above us to attract the dolphins. It worked and we had our first ocean encounters with dolphins, which was very thrilling. Got some great photos, with my first photo of dolphins being an excellent shot that is now framed and on the wall in my office. No mantas at Roca Partida. Three of us were the last out of the water on one of the dives at Socorro and got a brief visit from a manta at the very end of the dive.

The last couple of days were spent back at San Benedicto Island at two dive site, the Boiler and the Canyon. The Boiler was disappointing, but with patience the Canyon turned out to be a fabulous site. We had multiple, extended encounters with half a dozen manta rays, which hung around and let us pet their bellies for the entire dive. Hammerheads were spotted a few times, a Tiger Shark once. A dozen or so yellowfin tuna just below the surface of the ocean. Three small Silky sharks, the largest only four feet long, follow the boat and are seen on most dives.

You need to keep an eye on the silkys as they can be aggressive and a little unpredictable. I always keep my camera housing between me and them. After one dive we had fifty or so dolphins playing 100 years off the starboard side of the boat. I snorkeled out to them and the silkys followed, circling closer and closer, which is just a little unnerving to me in open water. I was glad the captain had one of the pangas come out to keep me company, and the driver reassured me the Silkys werent a threat, and to just bang them on the head with the camera housing if they got too close. On the last dive one silky got a little too close and tried to bite my camera housing, so I had to thump it on the head. (Ive seen literally thousands of sharks and this was the first that ever exhibited any aggressive behavior toward me, and it was partially my fault as I tried to get a close up picture of its eye when it got close.)

We had swordfish for dinner the last night, and the left overs were tied to a string and everyone had a chance to play with the silkys from the boat while feeding them the left overs. I believe that all of the action, plus the fish oils in the water, did a lot to attract other sharks because the best dives of the trip were the two the next morning. On the first dive we spotted half a dozen hammerheads as we swam toward the canyon. Two returning divers motioned to us that there were a lot of hammerheads in the canyon, so we fought against the current and after a bit of a swim were pleased to find a school of at least 200 hammerheads. The only problem was depth, as they were between 90 and 140 feet. In all of the excitement, you really must pay close attention to your depth and buoyancy control. We couldnt get any closer than about 12 feet as the scuba bubbles scare the hammerheads. No hammerheads on the last dive of the trip, but we played with two manta rays the entire dive. Spotted several Humpback whales during the week, and saw tails and spray of a mother and calf. Hardly any coral or nudibranchs. Topography is completely volcanic. Visibility is often only good for 20 feet or so, but there were times you could see over 150 feet, but it was hazy. Photographers need to know some of the tricks of the trade. I learned to zoom in on something white to about 18 inches, get the focus clear, and them lock it in with the focus button. This made it so that the camera did not go in and out of focus due to the haze underwater. Food was o.k. Accommodations a bit cramped, but not terrible. Everyone enjoyed watching the televisions in the salon. Finding Nemo was a big hit, and everyone enjoyed watching video of the dives. This is open water diving and not for beginners. Be advised you will lose 1 or 2 dives the day they do the mandatory inspection at Socorro Island--plain stupidity in my view. Boat owner was on our trip and claims it is the governments fault as the Navy wont do the inspection at any other time. Overall a good trip, but we wont do it again until they get Nitrox.
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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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