We landed at the northern little sand patch of Wafer Bay where the main ranger station is. They have small mountains of confiscated fishing gear and have made a beautiful bridge entirely of this gear. The station is very well kept and equipped, the rangers are great people, all Costa Ricans and some volunteers. We all wanted a form to volunteer!
The next day we anchored off Chatham Bay and while people went hiking I went to scout and set-up our snorkel operation off the island of Manuelita. This is the best snorkel setting I’ve ever had; a cliff of boobies and frigate birds overhead and good rocky coral reef with decent reef fish below. Clean water, shallow, warm and sharks! The rangers took me for the dive – the only way to really assess the snorkel situation! From the west side of Manuelita we started at 25m and almost immediately had to ‘hide’ among the boulders against the wall to let the scalloped hammerheads overhead come closer. They just keep coming, huge numbers pass by – ever skittish, stunning views, and you just cannot see them from above! Coming around the south corner of the island we waited a long while to see if a tiger shark would turn up, to no avail. On the east side we saw Galapagos sharks, blacktip reef sharks and the whitetip reef sharks had been resting on the sand all over the show. Schools of snappers, parrotfish, surgeons, wrasse, goatfish – the usual suspects for a great reef and nice topography.
In the afternoon we snorkelled for 3 hours, as the light grew dim with clouds the water turned dark and the reef sharks became more active. Overhead a booby with whizz by, a metre from your face, with 4 frigate birds in tow. The cleptoparasitic antics of the avians was a fabulous distraction. The frigate birds harass the boobies until they give up their fish, or land on the water. The frigate birds cant land on the water and circle above and so it continues. One booby would gather a prized stick, it would be successively stolen by booby after booby after booby, dropped and regained, dropped and stolen and eventually abandoned.
Underneath the water we were visited by a few Galapagos sharks, whizzing by, very much like our blacktip sharks off Aliwal, very sharky, very cool. The hammerheads kept their distance but the odd silhouette was spotted. Then a tiger shark cruised through the entire snorkel area, right against the cliff and just beneath all the snorkelers, much to their intrigue and alarm. Paying us no attention and languid as ever, I expect they would patrol booby fledglings along this wall. Super cool experience!