Diving with rays and sharks at Gordo Banks

Situated 28 miles from Cabo San Lucas and just 10 miles from San Jose del Cabo, Gordo Banks is a great destination if you want to experience exciting blue water diving. The site is marked by different seamounts and two towering oceanic mountains with one of them peaking at 120 feet from the surface. The summit of the bank is characterized by dark winding canyons and rocky spires enveloped by a thick mass of small gorgonian corals.

Gordo Banks is legendary for its unique black coral bushes, schools of hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, dolphins, and visiting giant manta rays and whale sharks.  It is also a haven for massive pelagics like marlin, sailfish, bluefin tuna, yellowtail snappers, and amberjacks.

Shark and ray encounters

Hammerhead sharks

Hammerhead has a unique headShark diving at Gordo Banks is perfect for adventure seekers who want to encounter unique ocean dwellers beginning with the fascinating hammerhead sharks.  Known for the distinctive shape of their heads, hammerhead sharks use their wide heads to find their favorite prey, the stingrays.  This is why their odd heads are the perfect hunting tools as they use them to capture rays by pinning them to the seafloor. Another unique feature of the hammerheads is their eyes which are positioned apart; one on each end of their elongated heads to allow them to scan their wide surroundings quicker than most sharks. Nature also equipped these magnificent creatures of the deep with special sensors across their heads to pick up electrical signals given off by living creatures that can be potential food.

Unlike most sharks, hammerheads often swim in schools and divers who visit Gordo Banks are treated to a phenomenal sighting of scalloped hammerhead sharks gathering together.

When swimming with these ocean predators, it is advisable to wear dark diving gear and refrain from wearing high-contrast color schemes and shimmering objects like jewelry that can arouse the attention of the hammerhead sharks.  Remember to stay calm the moment you encounter these odd-looking sharks and never swim directly at them to avoid spooking them away. The best thing to do is stay motionless as possible and observe these glorious sharks in their natural habitat; but if you have to swim, do it parallel to the sharks.

Silky sharks

Silky sharks, also known as Carcharhinus Falciformis, belong to the family of requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae). Named after the smooth and silky characteristics of their skin, an adult silky shark can grow up to 3.5 meters (12 feet) in length and weigh around 350 kilograms (770 pounds).

These slender, streamlined-bodied sharks love swimming over deep waters and feasting on tuna which is abundant in Gordo Banks. Silky sharks are fast swimmers and they often dive together to go after large groups of fish with their wide-open mouths.  

Divers are advised to keep a respectable distance from these sharks when you encounter them in the wild.  For additional precautionary measures, it’s best to wear a dark wetsuit and avoid putting on shiny objects like accessories, as not to disturb the sharks or draw attention to yourself.

Manta rays

Swimming with a giant manta ray Manta rays have fleshy massive pectoral fins that appear like wings with an enormous wingspan that can reach between 12 to 23 feet; allowing them to be nimble in the water.  Aside from the gift of speed, they can also jump out of the water and land with a big blow. If you look at the extensions of their pectoral fins, you’ll notice that they resemble horns which is probably why these gliding giants of the blue are also referred to as Devil Rays.

These graceful ocean creatures may appear formidable in the water but they feed only on plankton and krill which they filter using the line of tiny plates in their mouths.  Manta rays are also known to have the largest brain to body ratio among other fish; no wonder they are considered as intelligent marine animals.

Manta rays do not have stingers like those associated with stingrays which make the former safe to swim with. When diving with manta rays, it is recommended not to go closer than 3 meters/10 feet and refrain from making noises and big movements such as splashing to avoid scaring them away.  It’s better to stay still in the presence of these ocean gliders because their natural curiosity will eventually kick in. If the manta ray feels that you are not a threat, there is a chance that it will come to you. When you feel the need to approach the manta rays, do so from their side to avoid blocking their path. Do not waste your encounter opportunity by chasing after them and driving them away in the process.  Another important thing to remember is to avoid touching manta rays for the benefit of both human and creature counterparts. Take note that some places impose fines on divers who disregard this marine regulation.

Scuba diving at Gordo Banks is perfect to whet the appetite of scuba-diving enthusiasts who want to explore exotic locations and encounter a wealth of underwater attractions including diving with amazing ocean dwellers.  However, keep in mind that diving in this site may be a hit or miss due to strong currents and visibility.

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