Water Clear in Some Waters, Despite Rain

June 18, 2004

VISIBILITY isa big factor whendivers decide whereto drop into thewater, because theclearer the water themore a diver willsee. Even thebiggest whale isinvisible in waterthat is too murky.The heavy rainsthat have fallencountry-wide haveclouded many ofCosta Rica’s dive sites with brown riverrunoff.Luckily, the Cocos Island, 365 mileswest of Puntarenas on the Pacific coast, andCaño Island, in the Osa Peninsula in southernCosta Rica, are far enough offshore toescape the vast area of dirty water off thecontinent. The rain actually contributed togreat diving there.The islands were not completely spared –the downpoursrendered the island’s dive sitesmurky for a few hours, but since ocean currentsare far stronger than any paltry islandriver, the tides washed away all the rainwater.The mixing of nutrients from the riversinto the ocean never fails to bring massivequantities of marine life. The food chainstarts small and gets big, from anchovies towhales. But divers don’t just want to knowit’s there, they want to see it.THE blue water throughout CocosIsland has dominated any rain, even thecold, green water below has been holding tobelow 100 feet. Ironically, the super clearwater makes it slightly moredifficult to see the big groupsof hammerhead sharks thatdivers come to Cocos to see.But the sharks are still there,along with every famousbeast of the eastern tropicalPacific.Blue water mixing withcooler thermoclines at Caño Island has createdadvanced diving conditions on many dayswith heavy current and surge. Fish thrive incurrents and can be found where the currentis strong. The trick for divers is to not loseyour buddies while being blown about bycurrents in thick dark clouds of fish. Awhitish layer of rain water on the surface createdsome strange and beautiful lighting onthe bottom of the sea.The Pacific’s offshore blue water hasbeen transparent as usual, because the wateris defined by its lack of land sediments. Theblue water has hovered only a few milesbeyond Caño Island but it is accessible fromthe entire Pacific coast.Off Caño Island and the Osa Peninsula,multiple species of thousands of dolphinstogether with tens of thousands of tuna,some sailfish and marlin, and a few sharksand assorted other creatures, have beenfeasting on bait balls of littlefish and crustaceans thatmay cover hectares.Hundreds of olive ridleyturtles, often mating, havebeen dotting the surface ofthis deep water. The clearestwater in Costa Rica remainsunaffected by rain, the questionis, how far out is it today?THE Caribbean and Guanacaste, withdive sites close to rivers, have had somerather dirty days, but both are showing signsthat this spell of heavy rain has passed. Onething is for sure and that is that all conditionswill have changed by the time you read this,but rest assured somewhere in Costa Rica,there is always excellent diving to be found.Let’s hear about your water experiencesin Costa Rica – even if the dive occurred 50years ago, I would like to put together someof the amazing true dive stories in the historyof Costa Rica.We will try to publish stories or parts ofthem in future, giving preference to the oldeststories. We’ll even do the work for you,if you do not want to write it up, just call meand I’ll write it for you.Contact 835-6011, check outwww.CostaCetacea.com or e-mailshawn@CostaCetacea.com for informationor with contributions to the report.

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