San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Dive Sites Crowded With Marine Life in Pacific

SOUTHERNhemisphere action ischurning the watersof the Pacific withmarine life so thickthat divers mightdisappear from viewinto the denseclouds of beasts.Many animalsfrom the southernhemisphere of theplanet head north forthe winter, just liketourists and birdshead south in the northern hemisphere’swinter.Antarctica and the southern ocean, aswell as South America, are all in the throesof deep winter right now. With all the visitorsescaping the cold, Costa Rica’s divesights can get kind of crowded with fish andmarine mammals.As the northern hemisphere is mostlyland, the southern hemisphere is mostlyocean. The massive migrations of marinelife in the southern oceans beautifully contrastwith the famous land migrations of thenorthern continents.Many of these ocean animal travels arestill poorly understood and quite mysterious.Others have only recently begun to come tolight.HUMPBACK whales being born nowin Costa Rica’s Pacific are taking advantageof calm, protected bays and lees to get big onmother’s milk.Mothers apparently choose thesebirthing areas after arriving from as far southas the Antarctica Peninsula – tradingimmense, foaming seas for balmy, tropical,protected bays.The whales are being spotted on mostdive trips to Caño Island.The animals’ song hasplayed throughout entiredives to floating underwaterlisteners at the BiologicalReserve, 22 kilometers westof Drake Bay.Sometimes these hugemammals approach diversand snorkelers at Caño’sdive sites. Most of the timethrough, the whales are nursingor courting as they swimaround the island. Bothering this endangeredspecies is a bad idea.Reportedly, one local dive guide, whogot a little overzealous filming a baby whaleand its mother, was pushed away by the longpectoral fin of an adult male humpback thatappeared from behind.Amazingly, the gently giant managed tobe intimidating without hurting the disrespectfuldiver.MIND-boggling numbers of fish fromsouthern currents, including vast schools oftuna, are thrilling divers in the SouthernZone as well. Plenty of sightings of sailfish,marlin and a Mako, a hammerhead and aDusky shark have kept things extra spicy.The thousands of dolphins swimmingaround the area do not spoil anybody’sadventure either.Valeria from the Edge Adventures inGuanacaste reports water slightly cool andmurky, but full of life.Divers have seen turtles, dolphins,sharks, giant manta rays and schools ofmanta at the Catalinas Islands, an unprotectedgroup of islets and rocks between 5-10 kilometers west of the old Flamingomarina on the Pacificcoast. Divers have reportedcloudy water full of fishat other Guanacaste divesites.DIVERS at CocosIsland raved about bluewater full of classic Cocosmarine life, includingschools of hundreds of scallopedhammerhead sharks.Lobster scattered like riceand Pacific whitetip sharks everywhere.Sperm whales and silky sharks complementedthe productive waters of the legendaryisland about 500 kilometers southwest ofDrake Bay.No reports from the Caribbean probablymean that there is not much diving goingon.New regulations for dive guides andinstructors including additional certificationsbeyond the internationally acceptedtraining agencies like PADI, NAUI, CMASor TDI, have started implementation in thesouth Caribbean. No word yet on when thePacific coast enforcement will begin.As usual, now is the time to go diving inCosta Rica. Contact 835-6041, check or for info or withcontributions to the report. E-mail replieswill take a week or more.

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