BIG hammerhead schools, BIG eagle ray groups, BIG dolphin pods!

Malpelo Trip Report

It is a new year and our first trip to Malpelo Island. This year comes with many expectations and after a pleasant crossing, we arrived at Malpelo Island on a sunny morning.

Our first dive was at the Altar de Virginia and, as we had imagined, we find an entire ecosystem waiting for us under those calm waters. The groups of hammerhead sharks entering the cleaning stations on the reef were the harbingers of a great trip…

The first months of the year in Malpelo are characterized by very strong winds and currents accompanied by very cold waters and reduced visibility. Nothing was farther from reality on this occasion; the temperature was a pleasant 25-26 C (77-79 F) up to 25 meters (82 feet) on the first days of the trip, then we had thermoclines of 16 C (61 F) up to 30 meters (98 feet). But, thanks to this phenomenon, we were reacquainted with the great hammerhead schools from less than 2 meters (7 feet) away in dive sites like El Bajo del Monstruo and La Pared del Naufrago; sometimes we could see the teeth and details of their heads and eyes as they passed by. It was great to be able to appreciate the hammerhead schools of more than 200 individuals in some occasions and throughout the entire dive, which sometimes lasted for more than an hour because we did not want to stop marveling at the spectacle before us.

Another site that surprised us was La Cara de la Fantasma, where we encountered big schools of spotted eagle rays, sometimes of more than 25 individuals each. We also had groups of dolphins jumping around the boat when we were coming back from our dives, at which point we did not hesitate for a moment to put our basic equipment and jump into the water to swim with large groups of dolphins that approached us fearlessly and played with us for more than 15 minutes.

I am looking forward to what the future trips would bring us.

Jaime Orlando López Montoya
Dive Guide on MV Yemaya
Malpelo Trip Report
January 18-27, 2017