Explosive start of the final hammerhead season in Malpelo

Malpelo Trip Report

The last Malpelo trip in 2016 was also the last of five TaucherTraum charters of the year. We greeted 12 guests for the 14-day Christmas / New Year diving expedition aboard Yemaya, 5 of them were already on board several times with us.

This is also the beginning of hammerhead season in Malpelo.

The tour did not have a good start, because a luggage full of diving equipment of a couple of our guests was lost on the flight to Panama. In addition, we had engine problems shortly after our departure, which cost us a few hours. Thanks to our engineer Sergio (El Tio), who was able to fix the damage in the shortest time, we were able to easily continue our way to Malpelo.

With a delay of about 6 hours, we were happy to have arrived in Malpelo and were excited to explore the underwater life. Just after the first dives, we immediately felt December’s wild conditions: water temperature ranging between 18 – 27 C (64 – 81 F) and visibility changing daily between 15 – 30 meters (49 – 98 feet), depending on the thermocline.

The very large hammerhead schools were concentrated on the northern part of the island. One of the dive groups was very lucky and saw giant mantas several times. We had everyday encounters with large hammershead and other big-fish schools like bonitos (skipjack tunas), big-eye trevallys, mullet snappers around the island.

Currents brought a lot of food, from Altar de Virginia to Castaway, and from Three Musketeers to La Nevera. This gave us the opportunity, despite not having the best visibility, to see hammerhead sharks face-to-face—sometimes no more than a few centimeters between our divers and the hammerheads.

Galapagos and silky sharks were not as abundant on this trip, but the animals were spotted repeatedly. Every day we saw eagle rays in small groups; there were also turtles, whether green or hawksbill, to admire in abundance. On the last diving day, we were also joined a large dolphin school around our skiffs, with whom we spent a few minutes on the surface.

In our 10 days of diving around Malpelo, we had mostly cloudy weather and almost daily short tropical rainfalls, which did affect the underwater visibility at all.

The top spot on this trip was clearly the dive site Bajo del Monstruo, where we counted hundreds of hammerheads passing close by almost everyday.

Everyone returned happy and satisfied; and our guests traveled back with the best memories of this Christmas / New Year expedition

Reto Müller
Dive Guide on MV Yemaya
Malpelo Trip Report
December 25, 2016-January 7, 2017