Jump to content
Kevster

Cocos Trip Report Feb 09

Recommended Posts

Trip Report Cocos Feb 09

 

Flights Baku-Dubai-Houston-San Jose

Hotels- Best Western Iruz was ok. Nice pool and free Wi-fi.

2 Nights at Arenal Paradise Hotel. Nice hotel set in huge gardens with natural springs and great view of the volcano. I did not see volcano upper half due to clouds.

I did the canopy tour that was great fun, zip-lining through the trees.

1 night in Puntarena. Checked into hotel only to find a carnival passing my balcony below. Was great fun.

 

Trip

22/02/09 to 04/03/09 on board the Undersea hunter

We had an extremely calm crossing to Cocos, spotting a few Humpbacks and lots of dolphins. Most other guest were European. 14 Guests on board.

The boat is nice in a functional way. . On the crossing there was not much space on the decks as the skiffs were on the upper & lower deck. There was also less common areas/lounges compared to other live boards I have been on. The skiffs were excellent. Very easy to get into after dive. Crossing on way back was bumpy/unpleasant.

 

Crew/Service was excellent. The food was very good throughout the trip. Lots of nice snacks after the dives. Some of the guides were new but all done a great job. Manuel and the others were very funny.

 

The Diving…

I targeted a summer trip as I knew the crossing would be better and took a chance on the diving. I must say that the diving was a slight disappointment. I think everyone who travels so far on such an expensive trip always have high expectations.

At Cocos the topside conditions were great. Sunny & calm seas. The water temp varied from 31 C at the surface to 24 C at 30 m with the thermocline. I would say the average temperature was 27-28 C. Most dived in a 5/7mm combo wetsuit. The viss varied a lot over the week and on each dive. Unfortunately it was not great at 30 m when we were looking for the hammerheads. Not much current at any of the sites. A little current at Alycone at 30 m. Lots of surge at most sites. Sometimes a little uncomfortable.

 

The highlights were definitely the amount of White tips on every dive. It was amazing to see them so often and get so close. Also saw some amazing groups of Jacks, largest I have ever seen.

 

My favourite dive was Manuelita Out. Just for the variety. White tips, rays and the underwater landscape were excellent. Perhaps the best dive of the week was Dirty rock for the quantity of fish. Thousands of Jacks.

 

The 1st half of the week was disappointing. There was no action at any of the cleaning stations at the sites we dived. We dived Alycone and did not seen any Hammers. Later in the week we had more success and saw a few individuals, 5 to 10, reasonably close, perhaps more further away. On the very last dive we saw a big group of maybe 40-50 but deep and out in blue water.

 

For me the disappointment was not seeing many other shark species. I saw White tips, Hammers and 1 Silky, (& Perhaps 1 black tip in the distance). After visiting the Galapagos I was expecting to see more at Cocos.

The major talking point was the night dives. The Undersea Hunter did not offer any Night dives at Manuelita garden the very famous night dive to see the masses of whitetips hunting at night. Over the last few months both the Aggressor and Hunter boats have reported that the now resident Tiger sharks (did not see any but was told they are now at Cocos) have become aggressive towards divers at night. There was an incident with one of our guides who said a tiger had bitten a white tip then displayed some aggression towards a diver several weeks ago. Since then the night dives have been at sites with little shark hunting action (as not to attract the Tigers). I did not see any of the white sharks hunting at night after 5 night dives. .

 

Summary

The Undersea Hunter was a first class operation. I would highly recommend them to anyone considering a trip to Cocos. The diving was great but I was a little disappointed, especially as my last trip was to the Galapagos in Oct which was amazing. I think the main reason was the water temps. I have read about La Nina conditions that have increased the water temps. The best dives were always the colder ones. Perhaps I will return to Cocos one day but would probably return closer to the winter season for the cooler water. I have seen just a small sample of the potential that Cocos can offer. I have no doubt that if you get lucky at Cocos you will probably see some of the worlds best diving.

Edited by Kevster

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

now thats not a good trip. seems rising water temperatures drive the hammerheads deeper, and not being able to do the night dive with the hunting white tips would be a real pi$$ off. i absolutely loved that dive when i was there. mind you i dont hink i would like to be in the water with an aggressive tiger shark.

 

better luck on your next adventure,

 

stew

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Kevster,

 

I was in Cocos also in february (3rd-13th) and had more or less the same feeling with the hammers, no school in seven days of diving. We saw a whale shark at Alcyone and a couple of silvertips at Silverado but not the shark action we were expecting (my girlfriend Luisa had been there four years ago and could tell how worse was now). The park rangers gave us a talk about shark finning and during a walk we were shown the lines, hooks etc caught from illegal fishermen... seeing the amount of stuff they had there, is just a miracle we were able to see even only one shark...

 

But we did Manuelita night dive twice, had the visit of a tiger over our heads only one pass and then it left.

 

I think I will repeat Galapagos before Cocos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting; reading the Undersea Hunter trip reports, they do not seem to mention the lack of hammer action. I wonder how reliable their reports are. I'm planning my first Cocos trip in August...so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

August should be better. The weather/visibility/crossing in august should be worse but for life-action is supposed to be the best time. In our case we even timed the trip to have full moon (for more current ergo more life) but it did not work as planned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kevster,

 

I read your report with interest as I am booked to go back to Cocos again in 2010. I had heard about the Tiger shark 'problem' before but was hoping that it was only a temporary situation. It's a great shame as the white tip night dive was a bit of a signature dive at Cocos!

 

I was interested in your opinion that Galapagos was the better of the two destinations. Having been to both I thought it was not that clear cut, but could be seasonally related as we know that certain times are more reliable than others. On my experience (both trips in Sept / Oct) it was just to close to call but maybe more variety in Galapagos.

 

Long lining can have a dramatic impact on the diving and what was great last year can be disappointing the next time, so I'm not taking anything for granted.

 

Hamish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kevster,

 

 

I was interested in your opinion that Galapagos was the better of the two destinations. Having been to both I thought it was not that clear cut, but could be seasonally related as we know that certain times are more reliable than others. On my experience (both trips in Sept / Oct) it was just to close to call but maybe more variety in Galapagos.

 

Hamish.

 

i loved Galapagos and Cocos but out of the 2 i would return to Cocos first. Cocos has many more dive sites in closer range of each other. Darwin and Wolf were excellent but a long way from all the others. most of our dives at Cocos were amazing with hundreds of hammers. but like you say it is a hardone to call. Galapagos is the place to go if you want whalesharks for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stew,

 

I think you may have nailed it. The northern Galapagos islands are great but the rest was only so so, and cold! If you could have the whole week there I might change my mind. But without the schooling hammers at Alcyone I would have be disappointed too. Agreed on the whale sharks, much more reliable at Darwin!

 

Hamish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I visited Galapagos in Oct 08 and El nino was in effect (according to the guides anyway. The water was warmer than usual) However i enjoyed so many of the dives. So many of the dives had the woaw factor. I did not miss any of the dives. The 6 dives we had at Darwin were amazing. I think the massive whale sharks made a big impact on my enjoyment. I also saw lots of hammers,galalapgos sharks. Sitting on the ledge at Darwins arch looking out into the blue was so exciting. Just waiting to hear the guide banging his tank indicating a big WS was a fantastic experience.

 

From my experience Cocos did not nearly hit the highs i experienced in galapagos . I actually skipped 3 of the dives at Cococs. I think the water temp was the main factor in the lack of activity rather than long lining . Although having said that we were told during a presentation that the numbers of hammers had been reduced by 70% over the last several years due to fishing.

 

However i may have seen the best Galapagos has to offer but i sure did not see the best of Cocos.

 

Bottom line for me if i was to consider such a big trip agian it would prob be back to the Galapagos.

Edited by Kevster

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately it is all still luck of the draw. On my trip to Galapagos, 18 months ago, with 3 days at Darwin and I believe 14 or 15 dives, we saw a few hammerheads, but no large schools. This was most likely due to the poor viz. With regard to whalesharks, the group saw 2 or 3 on the last day, I saw none. The week before on the other hand, viz was great and Darwin presented in all it's glory to a friend of mine on the Aggressor with schooling hammers, whalesharks etc.

From the reports though it appears that Cocos is being decimated to a larger degree than Galapagos, though fishing interests in Galapagos would love to change that. Access for divers to Galapagos is now more restricted than when I was there.

So overall both these locations are probably not what they used to be, though the future for Cocos looks more bleak. I guess I'm going to have to at least do my first trip as planned, as the diving is likely to deteriorate even further as the years go by. :aggressive:

Edited by loftus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Umm I wonder if Malpelo is suffering the same thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm... I was in Cocos last year and the hammers were even more prolific than 2 years previous. Water temp has so much to do w/this. The last El Nino/La Nina cycle caused all the hammers to disappear from Cocos (at least from the diving depths we can experience). In the making of the "Island of the Sharks" this is what caused the film crew to come back almost a year later - because the sharks finally returned. If the water is warming up (which the Underseahunter is reporting it is not, but...) then the hammers won't be there.

 

What's interesting is that when we were there the hammers were starting to spend the late afternoon (in numbers) at Manuelita "inside" (not just "outside", but literally in the coral garden). We even saw one or two on the night dives (along with a couple of the larger Galapagos sharks). This was a trend that had started several months previous, and was continuing to see more and more hammers on the sand and in the coral garden at Manuelita in the afternoons.

 

I would not want to have a close up encounter w/a Tiger shark on that night dive (if they are hunting the white tips...).

 

Long lining is a serious problem (everyone should see the movie "Sharkwater" - it shows what was going on in Puntarenas up until just recently - it actually still goes on, but not as much as before).

 

W/my limited experience at Cocos (but quite a bit of discussion w/several marine ecologists that have studies the surrounding waters) this is much more likely to be temperature related. The hammer population was estimated to be on the rebound even 2 years ago (although there is still constant pressure from the long liners - every night they sneak into the park waters to lay their lines).

 

Again - I'm guessing this is temp related. I was hoping to find a discounted spot open towards the Aug/Sept - I'll start looking at the water temps and make a decision a little later this spring.

 

FYI: Galapagos' water temp is dominated by the Humboldt current, which is a colder current coming up from S. America. Water temp is usually a bit cooler in places like Darwin and Wolf because of this. Malpelo is also more influenced by the Humboldt current than Cocos so it tends to be cooler as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One question I did not ask - at what depth was the thermocline? The hammers are rarely above this (like almost never) - if the thermocline was deep (110ft+) then it would have been a hard week...

 

I've seen it (felt it) move from as shallow as 35ft to as deep as 120ft - you need to be just under the thermocline to have any chance of the hammers being present (even at Alcyone - where the thermocline tends to come "up" to the site because of the current... although w/no current that might be a problem)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One question I did not ask - at what depth was the thermocline? The hammers are rarely above this (like almost never) - if the thermocline was deep (110ft+) then it would have been a hard week...

 

I've seen it (felt it) move from as shallow as 35ft to as deep as 120ft - you need to be just under the thermocline to have any chance of the hammers being present (even at Alcyone - where the thermocline tends to come "up" to the site because of the current... although w/no current that might be a problem)

 

when we were there, december 07 the thermocline was between 25- 30 metres and we had excellent hammerhead action to about 18 metres. we experienced schools in the hundreds although the viz was very poor due to the heavy rain that we had. we had 72 hours of non stop rain and the run off from the island turned the water around the island into a brown murky mass, very hard for any decent photographs. The worst affected was silverado. we had big silertips there, but the colour of the water was not too clever. for those that do not know the location of silverado, it is just off of the island where a massive waterfall enters the sea. even with the bad viz i would not hesitate to return. the hammerheads at cocos seemed to be larger than the ones we were surrounded by at galapagos a, with most of them being females. i dont know if this is common. we also had great whitetip action on most of the dives, even during the day.

 

stew

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were at Coco's first at the end of August , beggining of September 2006 , and hasd a great trip with many giant marble rays , sharks everywhere , great ( by hundreds ) scholl of Hammerheads , and so on ..

We did a second trip at the beggining of August 2008 , but were very disapointed also, we've nether seen the school of hammerheads , the marble rays seems have to vanished , we saw even less of white tips , except during night dives at Manuelite which were fantastic !! We saw also enormous scholl of jack !

The dive conditions were nearby the same than in 2006

I think simply that many sharks have been killed for finning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was in cocos may 2007, and june/july 2008. both trips were good for hammers, but june/july of 2008 was better. the hammers weren't at all the sites, but at dirty rock and manuelita outside especially, they were everywhere. the last day at alcyone was fantastic as well. we also saw a whale shark, and good silver tip and silky action. the thing i noticed was the lack of marbled rays which the crew attributed to the presence of tiger sharks.

 

I'm going back in August 2009. I hope that this is a temperature problem ( I believe that it is) and not long lining. I know that the fishing pressure has had an effect, but water temp can make or break cocos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bad luck for us ..that's life ..but from France it's a vey , very expensive trip ..I will never go there again ..that's life also !!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear about your trip. On our last trip we spoke with Jay Ireland (sp?) who has over 1000 dives at Cocos. He said without a doubt if he could only make one trip a yr it would be during the rainy season. Yes it can be tough for photography but they are just there in more numbers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was at Cocos in Jan of this year. We had lots of Hammerheads. Much more than I saw on a trip about 10 years ago. Also saw silvertips up close. No other sharks species of note though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have led 11 or 12 trips to the Cocos since 1992. All but one were on the Okeanos Aggressor and last summer I did one on the Hunter where they left me on the island for a couple of days until my group arrived on the Aggressor to pick me up. While I have dove all over the world's best sites and locations, the Cocos are my all time favorite for large pelagic life. However, whenever you go somewhere you need to do your research first. Without question, the rainy season between late May and early Sept is the time to go. It is the rains that drain off the islands bringing nutrients into the waters that attract the shrimp, fish and sharks. The schools of hammers at the Cocos are magnificent and last summer, on our check out dive off the Hunter, on the lee side of Manuelita, in 25ft of water we had 5 large tiger sharks. This was the first siting ever of tigers according to my own experiences there, the divemasters and the island rangers. We spent the first 2 days doing all 2 hour tiger shark dives until they moved on.

 

I would never go to the Cocos except during the months I mentioned. If you go at the wrong time of year, you can expect to be disappointed no matter what country you go to. Always do your research first before booking anything. As far as the Cocos are concerned, I have had only one semi rough crossing. All the other times, it was beautifully flat.

 

The Aggressor is a slower boat, but not by much, and they have made incredible improvements to it. The crew have been there forever. Love em.

My first and only trip on the Hunter was also marked by excellent food and service though the camera table was absolutely horribly small as divers had to leave their cams/housings on the deck floor. However, aside from the lousy cam table, I loved it.

 

One terrible thing I did notice last year during the course of the two back to back Cocos trips was that despite being declared an International Heritage Site, the Costa Rican government does absolutely nothing effective to support their own laws against shark finning and long lining. There was only one small boat, the Marviva, that would go out and try to pull up lines. However, they are one boat against over 20 long lining boats that were there. I aborted several dives just to wrap up the new lines and hooks we came across. A terrible shame.

Steve

post-124-1246402535.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm headed to Cocos in August aboard the Sea Hunter and was hoping to do the night dives. Does anyone know if these are still on? Or are aggressive tigers preventing them?

 

Also, any tips on wetsuits? Are most in 5s? 7s? hoods? I realize it varies from diver to diver but any 'rules of thumb' appreciated. cheers, Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my cousin was on the Argo for the christmas/new years trip and come back pretty disappointed. Hardly any hammerheads, no silvertips, no silkes, no large numbers of rays.He was getting 28c on most of the dives. When I was there for christmas 08 we were getting 23 - 24c. They did do the night dive at Manuelita inside and had a good time there watching the stupid whitetips chase their tails. But things are certainly not looking too clever up there.

 

Stew

Edited by stewsmith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Trip Report Cocos Feb 09

 

Flights Baku-Dubai-Houston-San Jose

Hotels- Best Western Iruz was ok. Nice pool and free Wi-fi.

2 Nights at Arenal Paradise Hotel. Nice hotel set in huge gardens with natural springs and great view of the volcano. I did not see volcano upper half due to clouds.

I did the canopy tour that was great fun, zip-lining through the trees.

1 night in Puntarena. Checked into hotel only to find a carnival passing my balcony below. Was great fun.

 

Trip

22/02/09 to 04/03/09 on board the Undersea hunter

We had an extremely calm crossing to Cocos, spotting a few Humpbacks and lots of dolphins. Most other guest were European. 14 Guests on board.

The boat is nice in a functional way. . On the crossing there was not much space on the decks as the skiffs were on the upper & lower deck. There was also less common areas/lounges compared to other live boards I have been on. The skiffs were excellent. Very easy to get into after dive. Crossing on way back was bumpy/unpleasant.

 

Crew/Service was excellent. The food was very good throughout the trip. Lots of nice snacks after the dives. Some of the guides were new but all done a great job. Manuel and the others were very funny.

 

The Diving…

I targeted a summer trip as I knew the crossing would be better and took a chance on the diving. I must say that the diving was a slight disappointment. I think everyone who travels so far on such an expensive trip always have high expectations.

At Cocos the topside conditions were great. Sunny & calm seas. The water temp varied from 31 C at the surface to 24 C at 30 m with the thermocline. I would say the average temperature was 27-28 C. Most dived in a 5/7mm combo wetsuit. The viss varied a lot over the week and on each dive. Unfortunately it was not great at 30 m when we were looking for the hammerheads. Not much current at any of the sites. A little current at Alycone at 30 m. Lots of surge at most sites. Sometimes a little uncomfortable.

 

The highlights were definitely the amount of White tips on every dive. It was amazing to see them so often and get so close. Also saw some amazing groups of Jacks, largest I have ever seen.

 

My favourite dive was Manuelita Out. Just for the variety. White tips, rays and the underwater landscape were excellent. Perhaps the best dive of the week was Dirty rock for the quantity of fish. Thousands of Jacks.

 

The 1st half of the week was disappointing. There was no action at any of the cleaning stations at the sites we dived. We dived Alycone and did not seen any Hammers. Later in the week we had more success and saw a few individuals, 5 to 10, reasonably close, perhaps more further away. On the very last dive we saw a big group of maybe 40-50 but deep and out in blue water.

 

For me the disappointment was not seeing many other shark species. I saw White tips, Hammers and 1 Silky, (& Perhaps 1 black tip in the distance). After visiting the Galapagos I was expecting to see more at Cocos.

The major talking point was the night dives. The Undersea Hunter did not offer any Night dives at Manuelita garden the very famous night dive to see the masses of whitetips hunting at night. Over the last few months both the Aggressor and Hunter boats have reported that the now resident Tiger sharks (did not see any but was told they are now at Cocos) have become aggressive towards divers at night. There was an incident with one of our guides who said a tiger had bitten a white tip then displayed some aggression towards a diver several weeks ago. Since then the night dives have been at sites with little shark hunting action (as not to attract the Tigers). I did not see any of the white sharks hunting at night after 5 night dives. .

 

Summary

The Undersea Hunter was a first class operation. I would highly recommend them to anyone considering a trip to Cocos. The diving was great but I was a little disappointed, especially as my last trip was to the Galapagos in Oct which was amazing. I think the main reason was the water temps. I have read about La Nina conditions that have increased the water temps. The best dives were always the colder ones. Perhaps I will return to Cocos one day but would probably return closer to the winter season for the cooler water. I have seen just a small sample of the potential that Cocos can offer. I have no doubt that if you get lucky at Cocos you will probably see some of the worlds best diving.

 

I was there in Nov, and we had 3 night dives on Manuelita with Undersea Hunter, a lot of action and I've been amazed by the place. IT is weird how the ocean can chance from a week to the other.

 

Photos are here, including night dive photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigeyebubblef...57622702127621/

 

I loved this trip, my best trip ever...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In July and August a 3 mm suit will be just fine. The water temp is usually between 80-82º however, there can be thermoclines once in a while. If you decide on a 5mm suit that is ok as well, you won't be too hot.

 

I am going back to the Cocos for the 12th time July 30-Aug.9th, 2011. Like I said in my previous posts, if I can't get the good dates for the Cocos, I don't go but these dates are optimal so you can expect several large schools of hammers and some whale sharks to boot. If anyone is interested in joining me, just let me know as I booked the entire boat.

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

Is it possible to make goood quality pictures in the rainy season from the school of hammerheads?? or should you try your luck in the wintertime with better viz??

 

 

 

Rob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...