The Underwater Treasure Island
Cocos island, Costa-Rica
Cocos island is located at 500km to the west coast of Costa-Rica. It’s the largest uninhabited island in the Pacific ocean(8x3 km). This island is mostly known for the legends of pirate’s treasures that are somewhere hidden on the island. Over 300 treasure hunter’s expeditions visited this island, but they found none.

But the real treasures of the Cocos island lies underwater: huge shoals of fish, rays, dolphins, and… sharks, especially hammerhead sharks. Exactly that’s why Cocos island is one of the world top places for divers.

Cocos island is now a marine sanctuary. Rangers are guarding coast zone of the island, protecting it against illegal fishing. In 1997 Cocos island was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
On the next photo there is a resident population of jack-fishes, living on Dirty Rock dive-site. I had a pleasure of watching dolphin's hunting on this jacks twice.
Boobies are looking for fish leftovers - 10 meters below the hunt is on it's peak: 7 dolphins are attacking huge shoal of jack-fishes.
Dolphin hunts fish very efficiently and successfully. Sometimes dolphin is doing it deliberately slow, playing with food. Fish is trying to escape, but it has no chance.
The real problem in Cocos is not to find sharks, but to find a nice negative space.I found this rock with the fish during the dive... and I just had to wait :)
I've found a colony of sea urchins, aligned in geometrical pattern. They look like someone had aligned them :) Beneath their needles small striped fishes are living. Actually it's very hard for them to push through, but as a result they're living in a safe place.
Galapagos sharks are known for their curiosity towards divers: they like to approach divers closely. This shark came to me from behind, when I was shooting hammerheads in front of me. Photo is taken from 1 meter distance from the shark.

This eagle ray has surprising long tail. Usually they are much shorter: often they are bitten by sharks.
Humans, and divers in particular, are not in the shark's diet. Actually, we are rather bad food for them: we are big (so potentially dangerous), we stink neoprene, we produce noisy bubbles (sharks doesn’t like this sound), and we are so ugly - we have TWO tails! Nobody wants to eat this :))
Despite all the environmental measures and 24h ranger’s work in the 30-mile guarded zone,even at the Cocos can be found unfortunate animals with remains of fishing gear. We managed to save one of the turtle with the "decoration" -fishing line wrapped around the forelegs and neck. Holding the turtle was very hard - it certainly did not understand our good intentions. But all ended well.
On the next photo there is a portrait of whitetip reef shark, a female one. Scars on gills are from males coupling.
Cocos island is one of the best places in the world for hammerhead watching. Every year hammerheads are moving in golden triangle: Cocos island - Malpello -Galapagos islands. The best dive-sites are on the cleaning stations, where barber-fishes are removing parasites from the sharks.
Octopus looks like marine gardener with coral’s flowers.
I tried to reproduce in this photo an exciting atmosphere of night diving in Cocos island. To make this photo I was laying on the sand in the middle of the action.
Hammerhead sharks are very shy and very seldom approach divers closely. To make a good picture one must hold breath: if you breathe out, the shark instantly turns around and goes. That’s why part of professional underwater photographers and cameraman are using rebreathers – close circuit breathing apparatus that don’t produce bubbles.

Curious boobies are looking down on divers to see what's happening below. For this shot I developed a special kind of shooting method: boobies are very curious, they react well on diver approaching surface, confusing it with dolphin.
Cocos island is a truly wonderful place, real diver's heaven! I hope to return there someday.
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