Discovery Channel dives with
in Manzanillo, Colima
Click on photos to enlarge
For the first time ever, the World Discovery Channel visited Manzanillo to do a special broadcast for the People and Arts division, called "Beaches of Mexico," or "Playas de Mexico," in Spanish. Produced by Mastercomm, the BBC, and the Discovery Channel, the crew stayed at Las Hadas for their four days in Manzanillo.
Working in conjunction with the Colima Department of Tourism and Underworld Scuba of Manzanillo, the Discovery Channel found Manzanillo's underwater life fascinating and unusual. It was the first time that the Discovery Channel explored the Pacific Ocean, and the film crew was very impressed with the varieties of sea life.
Underworld Scuba, the only dive shop officially endorsed by the Colima department of tourism, was asked to do the exploration with the Discovery Channel because of the staff's detailed knowledge of the many dive locations along Manzanillo's coast.
Owner Susan Dearing and general manager Carlos Cuellar, having logged more than 6,000 combined hours of diving in the 11 years they've operated in Manzanillo, were quick to find some very rare and exotic sea creatures for the film crew.
In one of the deep-cut coves north of Manzanillo, a Pacific seahorse (which comes in many colors and sizes) was located attached to a small soft coral. Seahorses are very rare in nature (although Manzanillo divers see them frequently). This one was a male, and it is the male of the species who carries the seahorse babies. This one was not in a "family way" at the time he was on camera.
The animals kept appearing in front of the dive team as if they couldn't wait to get on TV. They filmed a spotted snake eel, totally harmless, but fascinating to observe, digging in the sand for crustaceans. When alarmed, the snake eel uses its tail to dig downward in the sand and bury itself, safe from predators.
Next, Susan Dearing, PADI, YMCA and CMAS instructor and owner of Underworld Scuba, pointed out two nudibranchs, one large and brilliant orange, and the other white and lacy with orange spots. These strange, colorful little snails without a shell are only about an inch long, so you have to know where to look. Fortunately, Beto, the Discovery Channel's photographer, was into macro photography.
When Susan located two species of rays, it was time to change film again. Rays are totally harmless, but easy to miss. Sometimes they will bury themselves under the sand, and it takes a trained eye to spot them.
Carlos Cuellar instructed Katia how to do a backward roll entry. Though a professional model, Katia had never been diving before, and during the production she was expected to look and act like an experienced scuba diver. Quite a challenge!
The Discovery staff was fascinated by Manzanillo's 82-year-old shipwreck that went down in the hurricane of 1959. The "San Luciano," a metal cargo steamship, is covered with numerous species of soft corals, encrusting stony corals and sponges, eels, octopus and many species of large and small fish, that hide in every nook and cranny.
Susan conducts a pre-dive briefing with the Discovery film crew. The 300-foot-long shipwreck has various compartments, all with direct access to the surface. It is important, however, even though the ship is in only 25 ft. of water, to explain the entry and exit routes and where the most interesting animals are. Much of the ship is intact, and all areas are safely accessible by divers. Susan has done more than 500 dives on the San Luciano.
When the Discovery Channel was interviewed for this article, they had many good things to say about Manzanillo. Alberto, the underwater photographer, commented, "I feel safe here. It's very nice and the local people have been extremely kind and accommodating."
Director Miguel Angel Valle offered these words. "The climate is great! I thought it would be hot, but it isn't. Everyone has been so thoughtful and helpful. The food is awesome! And the fresh oysters at La Boquita are fantastic! I'll have another one!"
As a finale, the Discovery Channel was treated to a special beach party, where the University of Colima's Ballet Folklorico performed. The event and promotion of Manzanillo's beaches was coordinated by Director General of the Department of Tourism for the state of Colima, Miguel de la Madrid. Local tourism specialists Ana Medina Maldonado (promotion executive), and Yolanda Cisneros Villaseņor (administrative director) in Manzanillo were in charge of the local department of tourism branch, and coordinated with Underworld Scuba for the scuba diving segments.
The web page for the department of tourism is:
The web page for Underworld Scuba is:
The 150-page tourist guidebook about Manzanillo and the state of Colima can be found on this web page: