Discovery Channel dives with

Underworld Scuba

in Manzanillo, Colima

Click on photos to enlarge

At the shipwreck filming above waterFor 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.

An octopus finds protection in a crevice on the shipwreckWorking 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.

Anemones of the Pacific are harmless, but beautifulUnderworld 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. 

A lobeskin puffer is one of 8 different species found in Manzanillo watersOwner 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.

A special findIn 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. 

Beto working with model Underwater photographer Alberto Friscione Carrascosa, hired by the Discovery Channel, was the first one in the water, and always continued filming until he was out of film. His company, Solo Buceo Marina specializes in underwater photography and is based in Cancun. He carried a Sony digital video camcorder and a Nikonis V still camera.

The dalmation of eelsThe 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. 

No more than an inch longNext, 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.

It there a sting ray down there?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.

The first day was spent with more than 5 hours of underwater filming. On the next day, the Discovery crew, consisting of director Miguel Angel Valle, above-water cameraman Fernando Brizeņo, sound man Gabriel Salinas, and  model Katia Llanos, climbed aboard Underworld Scuba's 28 ft. panga fiberglass boat to do some more filming, above and below the water. 

With an 85 hp motor, these fiberglass boats can get to most dive sites in a few minutes.

There aren't any sharks!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 San Luciano will be featured on the Discovery ChannelThe 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.

Plan your dive and dive your planSusan 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.

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On the day that Alberto was doing his filming on the shipwreck, Susan encountered an octopus, sneaking up on a porcupine puffer and attacking it. Alberto continued filming until the puffer had been killed and eaten. According to Susan, owner of Underworld Scuba, this rare display of animal behavior is so unusual, a diver will probably never see it in his entire lifetime, but yet viewers will be able to watch this strange event as part of the film footage taken by the Discovery Channel for "Beaches of Mexico."

Cocos, a refreshing drinkWhen 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."

Slick all the way down!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!"

Fernando Brizeņo, above-water photographer, didn't say a lot, but did a lot of filming. While the Underworld Scuba and Discovery crews were checking out the Los Frailes dive site, they followed a pod of hundreds of spotted dolphins. Dolphins of all sizes were jumping all around the boat, and swimming underneath it. Fernando took more than a half-hour of dolphin video, while the rest of the crew were wishing we were in the water with more film.

SmileAs 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: