PADI’s TecRec revolution is continuing and yet another PADI TecRec course has been released – the PADI Tec Basics Distinctive Specialty. The PADI Tec Basics course is a bridge from recreational to technical diving, providing divers with an opportunity to gain exposure to tec diving and learn and practice entry level tec diving skills. It introduces recreational divers to tec diving without them initially having to make the larger commitment (in terms of equipment, time and cost) necessary for the core PADI Tec courses.
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In Febuary we were contacted by Jero Prieto https://www.facebook.com/jero.prieto?fref=ts from www.pelagiclife.com saying they were interested in going to Banco Chinchorro to try to film/photograph the Atoll´s resident Moreletii crocodile population in the crystal-clear shallows near Cayo Centro; around the fishermen´s houses on stilts, or palafitos. He wanted to know if we could put together an expedition for that purpose.
Despite the fact that such a request fell outside our usual comercial offerings, we felt we would be able to pull it off. We decided to head out to the atoll on a relatively windy Maundy (or holy) thursday, spend the night at a fisherman´s house on stilts and look for crocs first thing the next morning. We were lucky to be in Chinchorro during a beautiful clear night with a full moon.
The next morning at first light we went looking for crocs inside the lagoons within Cayo Centro, the largest of the three islands within Banco Chinchorro (Banco Chinchorro has an area of aproximately 800 km2, of which less than 1% is above water), with little luck. We decided to go on a dive to the wreck of the Ginger Sku, on the windward side of Chinchorro while we waited for the sun to be on top of us, hoping for more croc action at midday. She was a cargo ship carrying iron ore amongst other cargo that sank in the mid 20th century. The Ginger is remarkably well preserved and is usually teeming with marine life, as it was that day. Here is photo of our friend Julien Borde https://www.facebook.com/julien.borde.18?fref=ts by the propeller
After a great dive at the Ginger we headed back to Cayo Centro, where, after speaking to some park rangers, we headed back to the houses on stilts to try to draw the crocs out with some fish entrails, which we had procured from fishermen that were arriving back from a day out at sea. It turns out that the daily routine of fishermen cleaning their catch by their houses on stilts made the crocodiles associate the splashing sound of fish insides hitting the water with mealtime. Sure enough, a few minutes later a 1.8 meter croc swam out to us and hung around almost an hour, during which we were able to film and photograph it at will, as you can see from this video, shot and edited by the guys from Pelagic Life:
After our successful encounter we packed up and headed towards one last dive on the wayward side of the Atoll, at a dive site called Punta Irlanda. It is a shallow drift dive on a very colorful reef, with a long, sloping sand bar teeming with garden eels, classic Chinchorro. After the dive we headed back to Xcalak for a few more days diving in Xcalak.
This experience was definitely new and exciting and has opened the door for an entirely new activity in Chinchorro, stay tuned for croc-encounter opportunities at Banco Chinchorro from XTC Dive Center,
The team @ XTC Dive Center
Welcome to the XTC Dive Center Blog, here you will find information about what is happening at the shop, in Xcalak and Chinchorro giving you first hand access from the trenches to a pioneering sustainable-tourism enterprise at the end of the road and the people that make it happen.
XTC Dive Center is the longest-running dive operation south of Sian Ka´an. It has been open in one way or another for over twenty years. It has been part of several major changes in the area, including the implementation of a National Park in Xcalak and a Biosphere Reserve in Chinchorro despite strong oposition from local, regional and international interest groups.
In keeping with that legacy and facing new and ever changing challenges the team at XTC works with other stakeholders day in and day out to preserve this last unspoiled frontier for people the world over who want to enjoy a pristine, vibrant coastal reef eco-system and want their children to do the same while at the same time running a viable sustainable tourism operation encompassing diving, fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, bird-watching, lodging and food service, always at the forefront in international best-practices to positively impact our enviroment and comunity with our involvement.