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Nautilus Liveaboards meet Humpback Whales in Socorro

American DTA Team

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Sometime every November or December, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) from the Alaska show up in the Socorro Archipelago to mate, breed and teach their new calves the skills they need to make the long migration back north in late spring. Whether hearing the dulcet tunes of these gentle giants during a dive, or, if you’re very lucky, witnessing them in the flesh while blowing bubbles, these are some of the most beautiful, inquisitive creatures to inhabit the ocean. Read on to discover some of the incredible experiences they’ve had with Mexico humpback whales over the years, with some interesting intel on these gentle giants to boot…

Humpback Whale Behavior in Socorro

For the past several decades, Nautilus Liveaboards has been fortunate enough to see some really spectacular behaviour; 40-ton male humpbacks will compete for dominance and sometimes literally smash into each other or rake their competitors with their barnacle-encrusted pectoral fins, leaving a trail of blood in the water. It’s spectacular behaviour to observe although somewhat rare. While you cannot intentionally dive with them, if the stars align, you might be lucky enough to be approached by a mama and calf while you are in the water, as shown in this video taken by our dive master ‘Vikingo’ on one of our trips.

A Leap Out of Water: Breaching Humpback Whales

From listening to their haunting melodies while diving with friendly mantas and dolphins, to witnessing these gentle giants breach during surface intervals, it’s a great privilege to be witness to the terminus of this great migration every year. While on the subject of breaching, we don’t really know why these whales breach out of the water, but we do know that we have seen the losing male in these encounters repeatedly jump and breach out of the water while the successful male swims off on his mission.  Is the loser letting off steam and venting his frustration by leaping out of the water?  We think so…

The Rich Repertoire of Humpbacks

Humpback whales are undoubtedly the opera singers of the ocean.  Well, ok, some of the whales are the rorqual equivalent of the three tenors, while other humpbacks are somewhat, ummm, deficient in the crooning department.  Either way, one super cool thing about diving Socorro during peak humpback whale season is that it’s very likely you will hear the haunting and melodic singing around you during your dives.  It’s absolutely spectacular to be diving with a super friendly and empathetic manta ray while listening to a whale singing nearby.  Interestingly, only male humpback whales sing…  do they do that to impress the females? People used to think so, but recent research points more to singing as being a form of communication and locating other whales. A little-known fact is that humpback whales all over the world, and in every ocean, sing the same song – and that the song slowly evolves and changes over time…

Best Time to See Mexico Humpback Whales

Mid-January to mid-April is the absolute peak season for humpback whales at Socorro. The government of Mexico no longer allows boats to put snorkelers in the water with whales. But it’s no problem and a great gift if a humpback whale swims by during a dive. You will hear them singing during your dives. If you are in a lower deck stateroom on one of the ships, you might hear them singing as you lay in bed at night. You are sure to see whales on the surface. And with Nautilus Liveaboard’s decades of experience in these islands, they have a couple of secret spots to anchor to maximize the chances of the whales swimming right past the back of your boat.

Don’t miss out on experiencing these charismatic megafauna beautiful animals…

Nautilus Liveaboards still have a few spaces available on their 2021 trips to see the Humpback Whales of Socorro. To book your space get in touch with them by clicking here.

Image credit: Craig Dietrich, David Serradell, Adil Schindler

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Blogs

Top 5 Party Guests: The Magic of Night Diving in Cozumel

American DTA Team

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A blog by Pro Dive International

*Header image: On the day of our planned night dive at the Allegro Cozumel, we had to reschedule, as any water activity during thunderstorms and lightning is considered dangerous. We still thought it was worth sharing this breathtaking spectacle with you.*


Have you ever gazed out at the open ocean at night wondering what happens down there as the sun disappears over the horizon and darkness sets in? If all marine life will be sleeping, or if there’s anything creeping along the reefs?

Here’s what really happens, including a list of our Top 5 Party Guests that make you want to add night diving in Cozumel to your bucket list.

Brief Overview

While the Caribbean Sea is not calming down at night due to the effectively constant trade-winds in the tropics that drive ocean wave trains and cause waves to break throughout day and night, a vibrant party under the sea is just about to begin, as huge basket stars unfurl their arms into the night, parrotfish create their mucus bubble beds, giant lobsters, king crabs and octopus prepare for hunt, and bioluminescence sparkles up the scene.

TOP 5 Party Guests

1. Basket Stars

These sea stars can only be observed in their true glory at night when they unfurl their many branched arms into the darkness to filter food from the water. Some reach nearly a meter in size! Shine your torch on them and watch them curl their huge arms back towards their mouths as they eat the small creatures attracted by your light.

The perfect party costume, do you agree?

Basket Star by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

2. Cephalopods – Octopus & Squid

These fascinating creatures are rarely spotted during day dives, but at night you can see them out and about hunting the reef for their next meal. Watch as they move about changing colors and patterns in the blink of an eye! Below is a picture of an octopus spreading its body wide over the reef like a net to encircle its prey.

Did you know that octopuses were that colorful?

Octopus by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

3. Crustaceans

Safely tucked away in the back of a crevice during the day, these creatures venture out under the cover of darkness to hunt. A fantastic opportunity to finally get a close-up look at all those king crabs and plenty of lobsters you have only seen as small eyes peering out from the back of a cave.

Up for a dance?

Crab by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

4. Parrotfish

Many fish only half sleep, needing to be alert to the dangers 24/7, but parrot fish have evolved an ingenious warning system so they can get their eyes shut. As night draws in, they find a nook to rest in and start to create a mucus like a bubble encircling their whole bodies. They can rest safely in this for the entire night, but if anything disturbs this veil, they are off like a shot into the dark!

How did this sleepy guy make it into our Top 5?

Parrotfish in Cozumel by Guillermo Reta @Pro Dive International

5. Bioluminescence

For those not familiar with this natural phenomenon, bioluminescence is a chemical process which allows living creatures like plankton, tiny crustaceans, some fish, squid and algae to produce light in their body to either attract prey, confuse predators, or lure potential mates.

As the bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a breaking wave or a splash in the water at night, for most of our divers the best part is covering up the torches and waving our arms about disturbing the bioluminescence into sparkling blue points of light.

This makes the perfect party glitter!

Bioluminescence @Dreamstime


Already in a party mood? Pack your dive gear!

How to join the underwater party in Cozumel?

  1. Join Pro Dive International’s Cozumel Night Dives as a certified diver.
  2. Boost your skills and make your night dive one of the 5 Adventure Dives of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course.
  3. Contact us for guidance.


Contact:

reservations@prodiveinternational.com

www.prodiveinternational.com/contact-us

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Blogs

Turtles of the Riviera Maya & Cozumel

American DTA Team

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A blog by Pro Dive International

Plenty of empty shells of recently hatched turtle eggs were spotted by our divers at Sabalos. They had been washed off shore onto the reef after the baby turtles had dug out of their nest at night and swam off into the sea.

The turtle nesting season on the Riviera Maya and in Cozumel happens between May and October, which means that you may be lucky to see some nests or even hatchlings during your stay with us.

Six out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide visit Mexico every year. We are lucky enough to get to see Green Turtles and Loggerhead Turtles regularly during our dives, as they are in search of food and a good clean.

The reefs and ecosystems here provide a great number of tasty snacks for a turtle, for example seagrass, sponges, crustaceans and many more. And while the turtles pass through the reef, they receive a top-notch cleaning service from many of the local fishes who feed on their parasites and algae growth.

6 Turtle Fun Facts

  1. Green turtles are so named because of their green colored fat caused by their rich diet of seagrass.
  2. Green Turtles are the largest hard-shell turtles in the world. The largest known green turtle weighed 395 kg/ 871 lbs, with a shell that measured more than 152 cm/ 5 ft.
  3. Loggerhead Turtles are so named for their massive broad muscular heads.
  4. Adult males are normally easy to distinguish from females because of their long tails visible extending past their shell.
  5. Female turtles normally return to the exact same location where they were born to lay their eggs.
  6. The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature at which the egg is kept.

Turtles are regular visitors to many of our dive sites, but they are most commonly found at Tortuga – this dive site is even named turtle in Spanish! It’s located just off shore from our dive center at the Occidental Xcaret and easily accessible by boat from any of our Playa Del Carmen locations.

Moreover, for those of you who are not divers, we are lucky enough to have some extensive seagrass beds where green turtles love to hang out and eat, which is an easy snorkel off shore during one of our tours with a guide who is licensed to enter those protected areas.

Turtle Locations

Besides observing them underwater, you may be lucky to find some turtle nests in front of your resort on the Riviera Maya or in Cozumel. Hotel employees usually rope them off to ensure their protection.

Turtle conservation projects are a great alternative to learn more about their behaviors, importance for the marine environment, how you can help protect them, and to observe nests or turtles first hand:

Turtle Protection

Every sea turtle species on earth nests on Mexico’s beaches (save one that is only found in Australia). Consequently, Mexico is known as the sea turtle capital of the world and its turtle protection laws are so important on a global scale.

Current Mexican law classifies all sea turtle species as endangered.

Regulations

  • Turtles can’t be killed for their meat, skin, shell or eggs.
  • Native vegetation can’t be removed in nesting habitats, to stop erosion.
  • New regulations call for moving, changing or eliminating any light sources that illuminate a nesting beach, as baby turtles can become disoriented from finding their way to the ocean.
  • Vehicles can have a maximum weight of 300 kg on nesting beaches and only be used for patrolling and management of the nesting site.
  • Recently outlawed were turtle release events, as many places kept the hatchlings in confinement for several days until a sufficient number of participants had signed up for this activity. Upon release, they were too weak to handle the surf and avoid predators.

All of these and many more regulations help protect beaches, nests, female sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings to make it a safer place for them.

How to start your Turtle Adventure

Let’s discover some turtles together during our dives! If you are not a diver, why not sign up for a PADI course; or join our Mexican Snorkeling Adventure at 15% OFF starting from Playa del Carmen or Tulum, if booked online until 16/09/21 & redeemed until Dec 22, 2021 with reference to this blog!

Contact:

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