This October, the Solmar V finishes a very
successful season in the Sea of Cortez, and late this month we'll
be setting our compass
south and west to visit the Socorro Islands, also referred to as
the "Mexican Galapagos". Above and below, the Socorro Islands
are pristine and untouched…
The Socorro Islands are actually called
the "Archipelago de
Revillagigedos" on maps and charts (see trivia below), but since
most people have a bit of difficulty saying Revillagigedos (Ray-Vee-ah-hee-HAY-dose),
they are generally known as the Socorro Islands, after the largest
island in the group of four. The others are San Benedicto, Roca Partida,
and Clarion. All of the islands are visited on most cruises except
for Clarion, which is too far to the west.
The islands are approximately 250 miles
south and west of Cabo San Lucas, well offshore, and are also a
protected "biosphere" by
the Mexican government (a designation a bit stricter than the U.S.
National Park designation). Except for a small naval/weather station,
the islands are completely uninhabited.
Not so below the waterline! Giant Mantas,
Whale Sharks, seven other varieties of sharks, Humpback Whales
(seasonal), and graceful dolphins
are but some of the "big animals" that call Socorro home.
This is adventure diving, on a par with Galapagos, Malpelo, and Cocos… While
some dives are serene and quiet, others simply scream with adventure!
A whale shark came up to investigate the inflatable tender as we
did our safety stop! Wild dolphins will interact with you, a rarity
anywhere in the world (where they usually just ignore you!).
Water temperature varies during the Socorro "Season",
starting out in the low 80's in October thru December, dropping nearly
ten degrees due to oceanic currents in February and March (Humpback
Whale season), and returning to the 80's in April and May… Visibility
is usually good to excellent. The crossing to Socorro is an overnight
trip, and that's why we schedule our Socorro trips as "9 day" trips
to make sure you get as much diving as possible.
The Giant Mantas alone are worth the visit.
The larger ones have wingspans up to 18 feet, and they are among
the most graceful of
all underwater animals. In Socorro, they are cleaned by Clarion Angels
at specific "Cleaning Stations", and show no fear of divers.
In fact, they will actually come very, very close to you (close enough
to touch) and seem to repeat this behavior throughout the dive. Simply
Revillagigedos Trivia: First discovered
in 1533, the islands were formally named by Captain James Colnett
in 1793. Explorer and fur
trader Colnett was jailed by colonial Spanish authorities and ultimately
found his freedom through the intercession of one Juan Vicente de
Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, also known as the Count
de Revillagigedo (and Viceroy of Mexico). Hence the Archipelago de
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