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Cocos Island Costa Rica

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Centuries ago Cocos Island was the hidey-hole for pirates, the hub of explorers and sailors and the much publicized inspiration for literary classics such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. There are tales aplenty of the elusive buried treasures of Edward Davis in 1685, Benito Bonito, and William Thompson in the early 19th century, which even if they left have not been traced yet.

Cocos Island National Park is located at the tip of an ancient volcanic mountain secluded by the surrounding Pacific. It has been colonized over several centuries and is enclosed by a blanket of dense rainforest. Several species found here have evolved after they came here, transforming into unique indigenous forms that cannot be seen anywhere on earth. These species are known as endemics.220px-South_America_laea_relief_location_map

The Coco’s Island National Park is isolated in the vast expanse of the ocean. The nearest land is Costa Rica 360 miles to the east. The Galápagos Islands are the closest neighbors, some hundred miles down the southwest side. The island was actually created during a volcanic turmoil about a couple of million years ago and comprises primarily of basaltic rock, turmoil and andesite lava flows. Its landmass is interspersed by four mountain peaks, the highest of which is the Cerro Iglesias, at about 2,000 feet above the sea.

Ccoso features only two bays with safe anchorages and balmy sandy beaches. The Chatham is located on the northeast side while Wafer Bay is to its northwest region. Owing to the  almost surreal marine life hosted in azure waters, Cocos Island has earned the title of one of the ten best scuba diving spots on the earth by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and is on the bucket list of most diving experts.

Known for its spectacular biodiversity, Cocos Island is also home to at least 27 endemic fish species including the much sought after batfish. The terrestrial life at Cocos also displays a high number of endemic species. There are some 70 of the 235 identified vascular plant species in the world, about 25 species of moss, 27 species of liverwort and approximately 85 species of fungus. The island houses about 90 bird species, including the Island cuckoo and flycatcher. There are about 350 species of insects, of which 64 are indigenous. The island has two native reptiles inhabiting it.

This Island’s world famous cerilean waters are filled with diverse specimens of marine life, including several white tip reef sharks, schooling hammerhead sharks, dolphins, mantas and marbled rays, giant moray eels, sailfish, and the one off whale shark. Other regularly spotted species here include large schools of jacks and tuna, silky sharks, silver tip sharks, marlin, Creole fish, green turtles and octopus.

The foremost visitors to the island left pigs on the island as a self- fulfilling source of meat. Until the current day pigs and deer inhabit the island, much to the destruction of the island’s native nesting birds. These terrestrial creatures are also responsible for facilitating soil erosion by constant digging.

Diving off Cocos Island is suitable for the more experienced diver. There are thermoclines and swellings that cause a significant variation in temperature, while erratic currents and surface chops are also frequently present in this region. Visibility varies 25 metres up to 40 metres and dive depths usually range from 15-35 metres, though there are some deeper dives. Because the average dive depth is deeper than usual, liveaboards normally feature four dives per day at Cocos (including a night dive). The main attractions here for divers are the large pelagic species, which are spotted abundantly in this unusual center point between the deep and not so deep waters. The largest schools of hammerhead sharks on the planet are regularly reported here. Smaller and more vibrant species are also spotted in one of the most extensive and verdant reefs of the south eastern Pacific.

 Manuelita Coral Garden is one of the most popular dive sites on the island. This is the favorite spot for most divers here and faces the composed waters of Chatham Bay. The well-preserved site witnesses minimal current or swells and supports a lovely garden at depths ranging from 20 to 70 feet, which is a delight for underwater photography buffs. Innumerable fish, eels, lobsters and other critters are inhabitants of the hard coral reef and the adjoining sand slope. Big fish frequently visit this site, including hammerheads, black tip sharks, white tip sharks and marble rays. Large schools of white tip sharks can also be spotted feeding at dark. This one’s super for night dives.

In contrast, Bajo Dos Amigos is a challenging diver’s bastion. It is seamount site shaped like a crown and is the only place here where black coral colonies can be watched at secure depths, from 100 and 130 feet. Due to the strong currents normally found here, this isn’t an easy diving site. The Submerged Rock site offers vibrant scenery creating along with exceptional photo opportunities at depths between 50 to 70 feet. This high point serves as a hotbed for white tip sharks, where one can unfailingly spot the baby sharks and their mothers.

Dirty Rock (not so dirty and by no means a rock is an island), also known as Pietra Socia or Boat Rock, is situates in the northern region of Cocos and about a kilometre from the main island. Rich currents flow through the area and form the foundation of a food chain that attracts several sharks and fish populations. This spot acts as the tiara on the Cocos Island crown of the Cocos as it houses one of the highest populations of Scalloped Hammerheads. Divers here go down through a virtually infinite cloud of Pacific Creolefish, though the sharks can be witnessed rotating beneath. Below 25 metres large loose schools of Scalloped Hammerheads move around, prancing off in all sides and then coming together again lose to the diver.

More Information

Visit Cocos Island – Everything about Cocos Island that you’d probably ever want to know.
http://www.costarica-scuba.com/about-cocos-island/
Cocos Island – on Costaricajourneys.com

 

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