Report on a Classic Destination:

The Magic of Mantas at Socorro

How often can one have the experience of returning to a long-time favorite—and actually have it be better than the first time?

Some years ago, I traveled to Socorro and San Benedicto in the Revillagigedos Islands 240 miles South of Baja. Like Cocos and Malpelo, this is one of those special places which only aficionados of big animals ever visit.

The advent of the modern, 20-passenger Solmar V finally brought this elite audience the wonders of Socorro without discomfort. Large, stable, lavishly equipped, Solmar V enables divers to mount an all-out photo attack on one of the sea’s singular spectaculars. While enjoying this blessing of Nature, they could also lounge in air-conditioned salons, eat superb food and have a smooth, stabilized ride.
For an intrepid few, the rewards of diving San Benedicto are powerful indeed. Around the island, the long-famed "Boiler" formation has now been joined by the Submarine Canyon in any manta lover’s Hall of Fame. The two sites are on opposite sides of the island, assuring good conditions for diving in a variety of wind and current conditions.

Click on Button Pictures for Larger Format!

Sheephead Wrasse

Manta's Tummy!

San Benedicto Island

Clarion Anglefish and . . .


Sheephead Wrasse

Stroking the tummy of a curious Manta!

San Benedicto Island with 1953 Lava Flow.

A Clarion Angelfish and a Sheephead Wrasse.

Schooling Hammerheads near the Cleaning Station.

On this latest cruise, we visited remote Roca Partida with its cornucopia of open-water wildlife, and we visited varied shallow sites around Socorro Island. We all agreed, though, that the Submarine Canyon dives simply stole the show with an amazing one-two punch.
First, at the end of a series of underwater pinnacles crowning the western wall of the canyon there is a hammerhead shark cleaning station, lube and oil service supplied by a swarm of barber butterflyfish. The sharks were at the cleaning site on most dives, reluctantly dispersing only when subjected to a Royal-Wedding-scale barrage of photoflashes.

Ah, but then…
It seems that each time we made our way to film the sharks, jealous eyes were watching. Invariably, we would gaze longingly as the last shark drifted away, then suddenly discover that one or more huge mantas had joined us.

There are now several places in the world which offer diving with mantas. I confess that I have loved them all for their moments of serenity and grace. They have generously conferred peace on troubled souls. Having said that, the mantas of San Benedicto are totally in a class by themselves. They are behemoths, often fifteen feet or more across the wingspan. They sweep toward you like jet-black 747s with white markings, and your heart rat-tat-tats no matter how many times you’ve seen them before. In all of the world’s diving, this is the ultimate manta encounter.

Click on Button Pictures for Larger Format!


Scrawled Filefish

School of Tuna.

Black Manta.

The Mantas Study Us Very Closely!

A Scrawled Filefish!

A Huge School of Small Tuna Fish

Each Manta has a Unique "Fingerprint" Color Pattern.

For those of you who have never experienced the thrill of interacting with these giants, I urge you to seize the opportunity. They come right to you, presenting themselves to be stroked, watching you carefully, often slowing to a dead stop and hovering a few feet away.

I spent countless hours trying to capture that perfect composition, some photo that would capture even a hint of what it is really like to swim with them. In the end, of course, I was reminded that no picture, no matter how artful, can substitute for being there. A mere hint is all I can offer you, with my promise that you will always remember the moments you spent soaring with these great, graceful spirits…

A Few More Fabulous Photos!!!

Return to home page E-mail Carl Roessler Photos

All material in this Web Site is Copyright © Carl Roessler 2016 - All rights reserved.
Maintenance by Patricia of Visual Ad Worx
Modified 04.08.16