by Todd Steiner
Cocos Expeditions with Turtle Island Are Back!
We are excited to announce that Turtle Island will resume our scuba research expeditions at Cocos in 2023!
Please join Turtle Island for a 10-day liveaboard adventure to experience, view, and photograph the incredible marine biodiversity of Cocos Island National Park, as well as support and participate in crucial shark and sea turtle migration research.
As a “citizen scientist” assistant crew member, you can help monitor shark populations and photo-document our shark research operations. Your participation fee helps support this critical research to help protect endangered sharks and sea turtles of the region.
These trips rank as part of my most memorable lifetime experiences, and offer some of the most spectacular opportunities to view and study the incredible marine biodiversity of the East Pacific. My reverence for Cocos Island is not unique: the famed explorer Jacques Cousteau called it the most beautiful island in the world.
My first trip was in 2007, and with my very first dive I felt like I was traveling backwards in time.
As I dove below the surface of the water at Cocos Island, two giant and curious sea turtles gracefully greeted me. By the time I reached 30 meters below the surface, I found myself surrounded by hundreds of hammerhead sharks, another ancient species whose ancestors outlived the dinosaurs. While I adjusted my mask, scores of marbled and eagle rays flew by me.
In my 40 years of diving, I have never seen such an abundance of underwater life! I imagined I was looking back into a prehistoric era—a time before commercial fishing operations began strip-mining vast areas of the sea.
With the help of citizen divers who continue to accompany us on Cocos Island Research Expeditions, we have now confirmed that at least five endangered species are swimming back and forth between Cocos and Galapagos Islands.
Cocos is one of the best diving spots in the world, perhaps holding the richest biodiversity in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
On our expeditions, you can expect to see schools of scalloped hammerheads, sometimes numbering more than 100 individuals on a single dive. Other regularly observed species include tiger sharks, white tip reef sharks, silver tip sharks, Galapagos sharks, black tip sharks, silky sharks, marbled rays, eagle rays and bottlenose dolphins. The special pleasure of diving with a whale shark is another occasional treat. Endless schools of jacks also swarm the island, making for a wonderful visual treat.
In addition to seven full days of diving (21 dives), there will be presentations and informal discussions on the natural history of Cocos Island marine life, and updates on the conservation research we have been conducting for over a decade, and our efforts to create the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway.
The 2023 dates are May 23rd-June 2nd and November 18th-28th. We will be partnering with two other organizations for these expeditions—Sea Change Agency and Asociación CREMA, so we recommend booking quickly before all spaces are filled.
For more information contact Todd Steiner, firstname.lastname@example.org.