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Clipperton Expedition Day 8

We started today with a morning dive at 7am. How beautiful it all was. What a contrast to what we saw on the island. The reefs are clear and colorful. We dove on the south side of the island on a drift dive. The divers yesterday reported high currents, but this morning it was a very comfortable glide through the corals. 

The majority of corals are rock shaped and sit on a slope, about a 45 degree angle. It’s beautiful to watch the elevated shapes rising towards the surface and disappearing below into the blue. The depths around the island are about 400-500meters. The expedition leaders plan to launch the ROV down to 200metres to see if there are more shark activity down there. 

We’ve been seeing a lot of silver tips and galapagos juveniles, no adults yet. 

We were planning on doing our dives mostly focused on identifying the different species of fish and spotting sharks. Of course once under things dont always go just per plan. We’ve been finding 100s of metres of long lines with hooks on them and clearing them from around the reefs. On one occasion, on the second dive, when I’s forgotten the defogger for my mask prior to the dive, I was following a line I found, blindly. I felt the tug on my fins as a signal from the divemaster warning me about the eel that was just waiting ahead. 🙂 Yep, had to leave the rest of that line, Mr Eel really didnt want it to be removed. 

We spotted a couple of silver tips and galapagos on our first dive. Second dive had dolphins! They are shy dolphins, i hope they remain that way forever. They come around the boat but not too close, they follow the zodiac and avoid coming too close to us while we’re diving. Underwater the sound is just pure bliss, dolphins calling and clicking, no engine sound or anything. 

I was too dehydrated still from yesterday and sat out dives 3 and 4. Instead I ended up drinking over 3liters of iced water and sleeping for 2 hours, that’s how taxing the island was to me. I needed it so badly that knowing my love of dolphins the captain and crew announced their presence next to the boat on the PA system and I heard nothing! Turns out I can sleep. 

Tomorrow the dolphins will be around again and I’ll have 3 more chances to get their photos. 

And in the evening we had another delicious dinner – beet and mushroom risotto for vegeterians and rotiserrie chicken for the others. That tiny little kitchen is like the lab of our on board magician Chef Felipe. 

After dinner it was time for shark tagging again! Having the opportunity to measure these beautiful creatures I participated fully to help Mauricio and Sandra. A full film crew and 3 cameras on the small platform, I was pretty sure somebody was going to be the lucky one to be filmed falling into the baited sharks below, and got nervous for a bit. Then with support from Michel and Meghan thankfully went ahead with it. Being down on the platform with the little sharks and calling out their 3 measures to the team was another experience of a lifetime! Everybody was involved in making this happen. Juan, one of the divemasters and a Belizean fisherman – delicately caught the shark from in between a million Rainbow Runners who wanted the bait just as badly as the sharks. Michel, one of our expediton leaders gracefully directed and supported each person to their role and goal keeping everybody focused, James filmed the ‘behind the scenes’ in stealth mode, not sure how many were holding lights for the shark team and the filming crew. Once Juan gently got the shark on the platform without hurting her and Sean holding her tail and Greg covering the eyes to calm her down,  I had the distinct chance to touch the mouth and the tail with the measure and their dorsal fins. 💙I asked each to never go near a hook again, I have a feeling they understood. We had 4 females and 1 male, all juveniles just two females Galapagos and the others silver tips. Largest one at 4 feet, they were just cute little babies. 👶🏼 Other team members helped with covering the eyes and keeping the shark watered, taking a biopsy (helps to have scientists on board), weighing, noting any markings – one had a broken jaw – likely from trying to get off a hook, and another had part of the tail missing. The tagging and surgery was Mauricio. Never seen a more loving doctor towards his patients. Tagging then stitching a live shark on the back of a rocking boat without issues in less than 2 mins takes a different type of skill. The love, passion and emotion on the boat had never been higher, not even on our first sighting of land or the dolphin greeting. 

So tomorrow we might be able to go to the island one last time. Get to the flag pole to put up the French flag and see the airstrip. The captain will check the conditions at 530am and if we can we’ll be going early in the morning and back before 11. We dont want to be there for low tide nor the full sun. 

Our plan now is to head out of Clipperton at noon on the 8th. So that means we only have 5 dives left. Then we’ll stop in Socorro for 2 days and see the mantas, sharks and dolphins of Socorro. 

Whatever it may be Im sure there will be plenty of other explorations and discoveries. 21st century and the ‘secrets’ of mother nature and her marine creatures still mostly mysterious to us. 

Looking forward to every single minute! 

Thank you for reading my experiences and please leave a comment if there is anything else you’d like to know that I havent covered. Stay with love with nature and our big blue wonder. 💙🐬💙

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