Punta Maria – An Underwater Football Field

Photo courtesy from Undersea Hunter

If there is one description that perfectly fits and sets Punta Maria unique from other dive sites is the football-sized seamount that is divided centrally by a sand channel where you can literally sit back, relax and enjoy the non-stop underwater action. Located in the western corner of Cocos Island, Punta Maria is one of the few dive sites that is filled with several cleaning stations where hammerhead sharks indulge in nature’s cleaning process.

Dive Profile

Type of Diving: Liveaboard and Deep Diving
Maximum Depth:  30 meters (100 feet)
Average Depth: 23 meters (75 feet)
Visibility: 20 – 30 meters (60 – 100 feet)
Water Temperature: 75 – 86°F (24 – 30°C)

The Usual Dive Plan

Photo courtesy from Scuba Diver Life

Once your skiff boat arrives in Punta Maria, you will plunge down doing an anchor line descent up to 23 meters (75 feet) where you reach the summit of this seamount. Once at the bottom, you will let go of the anchor line and start a drift dive cruising along 1 to 2 knots of water current going to the sandy channel where you can have a nice view of the cleaning station and see hammerhead sharks being cleaned by barberfish (Johnrandallia nigrirostris).

But sometimes this underwater football field can be very busy and your view to the cleaning station will be obstructed with whitetip sharks and schools of jacks, snappers, big-eyed soldierfish, blue-striped snapper, burrito grunts and Cortez rainbow wrasse. On your way back during ascent, you will also notice that the cracks and crevices of this seamount are also teeming with life where it is filled with octopus, eels, lobsters and other marine critters. Depending on the direction of the current, your dive will usually end in one of the two pinnacles where marble rays and sea turtles reside on this vertical environment. If you are lucky enough, the presence of a whaleshark just a few meters off the reef or perhaps a gliding manta ray will be the icing of the cake for this particular underwater experience.

As for the bottom time, since the deepest portion of Punta Maria that can be safely explored is 30 meters (100 feet), then diving using nitrox can be a great way where you can have an extended bottom time without suffering the effects of nitrogen narcosis.

Haven for Galapagos Sharks

Just a quick fact: Did you know that Cocos island is just located 500 miles northeast of Galapagos Island where both of these offshore islands houses a good population of Galapagos sharks?

Photo courtesy from Undersea Hunter

Punta Maria is one of the few places on earth where Galapagos sharks are often seen. The ones that you will see in Punta Maria can grow as big as 3.5 meters (11 feet) long where they are often found in small groups in the plateau of this seamount.

Make sure you know the difference between a Galapagos shark and a Silky shark as these 2 species abound in Punta Maria and almost look identical. Please be guided that the most obvious distinction of the two are the positioning of their first dorsal fin where Galapagos sharks are located just above the inner margin of the pectoral fin while the silky sharks are located further back near the rear marginal tip of the pectoral fin.

Allow us to end this article by way of a cartoon animation: If there was really a football match held in Punta Maria, then it would be the Galapagos Pirates up against the Hammerhead Cowboys.

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Undersea Hunter Group: www.underseahunter.com

Dive Site Directory: www.divesitedirectory.co.uk

Divescover: www.divescover.com

video courtesy from Undersea Hunter

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