Tuna festival in Malpelo and manta rays in Coiba

Malpelo and Coiba Trip Report

It was one big tuna festival. Schools of tuna everywhere, Malpelo was surrounded by thousands of them. Big schools of hammerheads, groups of Galapagos sharks, a few silkies accompanying the tunas, three whale sharks, bonitos, leatherbasses, jacks, mobula rays and eagle rays, snappers and chubs made this trip a memorable one.

On this occasion Ultima Frontera visited us from Spain, bringing on board a very nice group and fun time.

The crossing was hard; however, once we arrived in Malpelo we encountered a good shelter on the north side of the island. The weather was nice with sunny days, little rain, warm water and good visibility most of the time. Strong wind and big waves were hitting the south the first two days. The water temperature was 27ºC (81ºF) in the first 30 meters (98 feet), but during some dives the thermoclines rose up to 15 meters (49 feet) with a temperature that went up to 22ºC (72ºF).

During the first 4 days we couldn’t visit the south due to bad weather and big waves; instead we visited La Cara del Fantasma, Bajo del Monstruo, Los Mosqueteros, Acuario, Naufrago, La Nevera and Ferretería.

La Nevera was amazing. We found big schools of hammerheads (on some occasions coming close), three whale sharks, one of them pretty small playing with the divers for a few minutes, Galapagos sharks all the time, a school of big-eye jacks, leatherbasses and blue-fin trevally hunting. On many occasions thousands of tunas, small ones and big ones, were passing by.

At D’Artagnan there were many Galapagos sharks in deep water and a huge school of big-eye jacks forming like a tornado in the mornings and in couples in the afternoons. A big school of mullet snappers and bonitos moving together between here and Acuario, where we also found thousands of tunas, rainbow chubs, oceanic triggerfish and some silkies being cleaned by rainbow runners.

The eagle rays were seen most of the time in the north, sometimes schooling in up to 10 individuals in places like Altar de Virginia, La Cara de Fantasma, Naufrago and Bajo del Monstruo; these are places where we also saw hammerhead schools, tunas and one mobula.

The last three days, with the weather little bit better in the south, we constantly visited La Gringa, Scuba, El Bajon and David, finding as was expected the biggest schools of hammerheads. Wonderful dives!

After Malpelo, we went to Coiba for two days, having the big pleasure to dive with one big whale shark and at least 4 different manta rays, plus the amazing opportunity to snorkel with humpback whales.

An unforgettable trip…

Juan Solano
Dive Guide on MV Yemaya
Malpelo and Coiba Trip Report
August 11-23, 2017