With only three days left to dive on our trip, I was admittedly wishing that we had chosen another dive site for the day. My primary goal of this trip was to spend a great deal of time on my rebreather, but the swell was simply too great, and I was diving open circuit to avoid the inevitable counterlung volume issues that came along with the conditions. I guess I should come out and say that I am a technical diver and thus, the greatest draw to me is deep water and not necessarily the interaction with animals for which Roca Partida is most known. This, combined with the fact that we had seen fairly few large Mantas and Sharks on our first day here had me pining for some walls in more protected water.
John, however had mentioned the night before that we WOULD see more creatures today, and that there was simply no way around it. We joked with him that he had sent out a telepathic signal to them, and that they were surely swimming toward us now, but unlikely to arrive before our departure. We all had a chuckle at the idea of hundreds of confused Pelagics swimming around island several days later, wondering where John had gotten off to. Telepathy or not, whatever he did worked because the number of large animals we saw on day two at Roca Partida made the first day seem like diving in a sterile lake.
Because I was still diving open circuit, and had little to devote my attention to other than just diving, I decided to try my hand again at photography. Unlike the day before, but camera worked perfectly and most of my underwater shots from the trip are from this day. I even took a video of one of the Mantas that came in close and interacted with us.
The first dive of the day was wonderful. I still found myself looking down into the depths, wanting to dive to the peak of the submerged volcano at 250 feet, but the fact that we saw a large black Manta and a group of Hammerhead sharks right way made staying in shallow water a great deal easier. I actually only went to a maximum depth of 85 feet on this dive, but there was so much to keep my interest that I stayed in the water for nearly an hour.
The second dive was much the same, although I descended to 95 feet this time in hopes of finding some more Hmmerheads. I found a great number of Silky Sharks, but the Hammerheads eluded me. I ascended to around 50 feet where I had another wonderful interaction with a black Manta and found a lot of large Tuna. I finished out my 1 hour dive in the 40 to 50 foot range and enjoyed taking in the scenery.
There really is something about doing dives that don’t have a visible bottom that makes you feel like you can fly. Many of the divers described the Mantas as Sirens that call you out into the blue away from the visible topography, and I can attest that they most certainly do. I think of myself as a very disciplined diver who maintains awareness of his surroundings and topography at all times, but when a large Chevron Manta showed up on our third and final dive at Roca Partida, I was amased at how, after only what seemed like a kick or two towards him, I was much further from the island than I expected to be. This is not to say that I could not see the topography, but it made it very clear how one might get into trouble swimming with Mantas. As I was still fairly close to the island, I decided to simply hover at 85 feet in the water column and let the giant Manta make several passes at me. As an added bonus we had some large Silvertip Reef Sharks make passes by us as well. All told, I stayed in the water for an hour, and reached a maximum depth of 90 feet. It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to this amazing dive site.
That night we pulled anchor and headed back to Socorro for another day of diving. I was tired, so I slept well despite the constant rumble of the boat’s engines.