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
Diving with… Pablo Calderon Cadiz, Takata Experience, Mahaual, Mexico
In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…
Pablo Calderon Cadiz
What is the name of your business?
What is your role within the business?
Owner / General Manager
How long has the business operated for?
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
I have been diving for 16 years; I am a PADI IDC Staff Instructor
What is your favorite type of diving?
I really enjoy all types of dive but deep dives and dives with crazy topography are by far my favourites.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
We are a dive center and also a research center, so we merge both into one big idea. When you dive with us you also benefit the reef, as we put part of that money into our restoration program. We are also one of the only dive centers in the world that has a full research center working together with us. That’s why our official hashtag is #Divewithpurpose
What is your favorite dive in your location and why?
My favorite dive in Mahahual is Piratas, because of the beautiful topography and the amount of big animals you can see, such as turtles, manatees and sharks.
What types of diving are available in your location?
One of the best things about Mahahual is that there are dive sites for all levels, from shallow reefs with beautiful life to walls that can go down to 150 meters within 5 minutes from the shore. You can always choose what you want, if you are looking for biodiversity, topography, shallow sand patches or very deep walls, we have them all.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
The diving industry is an industry that is constantly evolving and from my role I am able to always bring that to Takata. I am always looking for ways to create a solid business culture, to make sure the people that work for us can always develop themselves from a professional perspective, but also from a personal one. We have created many different programs that are unique to us, where we merge the dive and research center. All that is possible because I can take those decisions. To see how your dream becomes true is the biggest reward ever.
What is your favorite underwater creature?
Sharks are my number 1, and if I can be more specific, Hammerheads!!!
As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?
I feel that many dive centers in the world don’t know yet what makes them unique, so the way for them to attract people is to charge very low prices, sometimes that is very difficult, because the one that is next to you can charge 30% less than you for the ¨same service¨. I believe we should always find what is unique to us and to create a value on it. We should all focus on the professionalization of our industry.
Is your center involved in any environmental work?
As I mentioned before, we have a full research center, our director has 2 master degrees and our 2 biologist both have PhDs. Actually our research center was name as Actor for the UN Decade On Ecosystems Restoration for the next 10 years.
Our research center works together with the Mexican government to ensure a sustainable development in the area and to implement big scale conservation and restoration projects in Mahahual.
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
As we are a new company, there are always exciting thing coming our way, in these years we became an IDC center, UN partners, we did a small hotel and we are looking forward to develop our research center even more. We would like to become the biggest research center in Mexico which is very ambitious and to become leaders in diving, restoration and everything that involve costal ecosystems. We dream big because we love what we do.
How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?
I think the industry is doing ok but not great. For sure freediving has grown a lot in the last 10-15 years. There are several organisations around the world who do great work, but we need more people and businesses looking to do the exceptional. Sometimes talking with diving friends around the world, we all agree that this is probably one of the few industries where the prices we charge are the same or even cheaper than 5 or 10 years ago. We urgently need to proprofessionalize the industry and put the correct value on our product and services.
Finally, what would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
If you guys are looking for a unique immersive experience where you can mix your passion for diving with deep understanding of marine and costal ecosystem, then we are your choice.
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
You guys can follow us on IG: Takata.experience
Our website is: www.takataexperience.com
Discover the Best of Belize with Dive Worldwide
This June marks the 25th anniversary of the Belize Barrier Reef becoming a World Heritage Site! To celebrate, Dive Worldwide have rounded up their top trips to Belize which includes a resort-based stay, a liveaboard special and a twin-centre with neighbouring Guatemala – perfect for soaking up some culture.
Reefs, Atolls & Mayan Ruins
The only English speaking country in Central America, Belize is warm, welcoming and offers unbelievable adventures. This gem has plenty for divers from incredible nature and topside activities to magical diving opportunities. Belize has the second longest barrier reef in the world and three of the four atolls in the western hemisphere making it a popular choice for divers.
If you missed the Dive Worldwide Belize talk in January you can catch up here.
Spend a week diving the remarkable barrier reef from Ambergris Caye before enjoying a few nights exploring the jungle with its Mayan ruins and caves.
Underwater there’s plenty on offer, with canyons, drop offs and swim throughs in addition to a unique topography and relatively easy conditions. You’ll be accompanied by a kaleidoscope of reef fish as you marvel at the array of sea fans and sponges adorning the seabed. Highlights include nurse shark, stingray, grouper, angelfish, turtle and dolphin.
You then head off-the-beaten-track in land where you stay at an eco lodge in the heart of the Belizean jungle. Here there are a multitude of activities on offer including hiking and cave tours or you can immerse yourself in Mayan culture and visit a number of nearby ruins for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Duration: 13 days
Price from: £2,945 per person
Dive the Lighthouse and Turneffe Atolls from a liveaboard and experience the very best diving Belize has to offer. Located in the Lighthouse Reef there will be the opportunity to dive the Great Blue Hole. This atoll is full of marine life with angelfish, Creole wrasse, butterflyfish, barracuda and sponges found here.
Turneffe is the largest of the three atolls and offers a mixture of shallow reefs and sheer walls with a variety of reef fish and beautiful underwater scenery. Turtle, eagle ray, reef shark, snapper and jacks live on the healthy reefs. Dive sites of note include Half Moon Caye – another UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Painted Wall where you can find macro subjects such as ghostfish, crabs, blennies and invertebrates.
Duration: 10 days
Price from: £3,475 per person
Begin your holiday with some topside cultural discovery in Guatemala. This country packs a punch with its colonial architecture, Mayan ruins nestled in the verdant green jungle and stunning vistas. Don’t miss a visit to Lake Atilan, widely renowned for being one of the most beautiful lakes in the world with its volcanoes, thermal springs and incredible sunrises.
After a few days in Guatemala it’s time to go diving in Belize! Explore the barrier reef and spend time diving the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Blue Hole – the largest of its kind in the world and one of the top reasons to visit Belize. Here the waters are crystal clear, the topography is impressive with large coral and rock formations and the marine life is prolific with reef and black-tip shark in addition to large grouper.
Duration: 14 days
Price from: £3,495 per person
If you want to experience the world class diving and topside highlights of spectacular Belize, contact the Dive Worldwide Team.
All prices are per person and include flights from the UK, liveaboard or accommodation, diving, most meals and airport transfers.