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trip report from Galapagos- Deep Blue


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#1 stewsmith

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 10:34 AM

Ive only been back in the Uk for a few hours and have just had the most amazing 10 days on the Deep Blue, Galapagos liveaboard. I booked the trip through Maldives Scuba Tours who are based in the Uk.

I was very keen to find out as much info as possible before we ( my wife and I ) went on a journey of a lifetime. Eric was excellent with all of his advice that he had given me. ( cheers Eric )

We were soon at San Cristobel airport and were met by a guy from the Deep Blue. After a very short bus ride from the airport we were at the little peaceful harbour. One of the women on the trip had had all of her luggage and camera gear go missing, so whilst she was frantically trying to get together what she could, the rest of us took the opportunity to photograph the friendly sea lions and blue footed boobies that were in the little bay. After an hour and a half we were taken by rib (panga) to the Deep Blue.

We were met by Jeff who was to be our tour guide for the next 10 days. After a brief intro we were climbing into our dive gear and taking a giant stride off of the stern of the Deep Blue. This was to be our check out dive to get our weights sorted. I took the opportunity to video a couple of playful sea lions that were enjoying eating my exhausted nitrox bubbles.

The next day we were woken at 6am for a 3 hour land visit to Espanola. What an amazing place this is. We see hundreds of marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, frigate birds, albatross's amusing us with their very unique mating dance. Jeff was full of knowledge and was always keen to inform the group of everything that he knew. After returning to the DB it was 11am and time for our first dive. This wasn't the kind of diving I had travelled to the Galapagos for, instead it was quite an easy dive over a sandy area. A small group of resting white tips saved the dive from being a total waste of time. The 2nd dive was done a bit further along the coast and the highlight of the dive was 4-5 grey reef sharks, the famous red lipped batfish and a few turtles.

The next day we were at Santa Cruz and were taken by rib to a mangrove area where we could see young sharks and eagle rays. Blue footed boobies had gathered in their hundreds and what we were about to witness will live with me for the rest of my life. tThere was a gathering of approxamately 1000 boobies and they were flying around this lagoon and dropping from the sky with such speed and taking out the schooling sardines. I was so glad I had taken my video camera with me. They were chasing the sardines all over the show. They were diving righ in front of our panga. The all of a sudden the sardines would change direction and the boobies would chase them and dive at them again. This is the kind of stuff that Sir David Attenbourgh usually has the fortune of experiencing. Today it was us!!!!!
After all this excitement we dived at 8am at North Seymour. This dive also didnt turn out to be very good, the viz was very bad 5 metres at best. We were supposed to do another dive here but all agreed to move up to Wolf, and forego the bad viz.

It was a very long journey north to the island of Wolf. But boy was it worth it. This was what we had travelled thousands of miles to do, dive with sharks. We donr four dives at Wolf the following day and every dive was amazing. We were literally back rolling off of the panga into sharks fins. This was shark infestation and we loved it. Hundreds of scalloped hammerheads were being escorted around the island by the meaty hard looking Galapagos sharks in their dozens. This was the first time my wife and I had experienced anything like this and was amazed at how close and how fast the sharks would move. Some of the Galapagos sharks were very thick set and they were getting close enough to make eye contact with. Most of the other guys and girls on the trip had dived The Cocos before so they were already primed for this. Well we spent the dasy and another 3 dives at Wolf all producing the same results. Dolphins were present for a lot of the time as well.

The next day the site was to be Darwin Arch. I had read so much and heard so much about this dive site, that I almost felt humble to be there. The diving here was also fast and furious. Get down hold on to the barnacle encrusted volcanic boulders and wait for the show to begin. This place did NOT dissappoint. Hammerheads in there hundreds for the whole of the dive. The grin on my face was getting bigger after every dive. It was quite tricky at times videoing the action and trying to clamp my legs around the boulders. None the less the footage I have is certainly something that I will be showing to my friends for many years to come.
The moon was at the end of its cycle and the swell was getting big on day 2 at Darwin. I would guess that the surf was 20ft high, and this made climbing into the panga a challenge, especially if you had the little silky sharks circling you.
One of the guys went missing for 45 minutes whilst on the surface, which had all of us in a bit of a panic. He had seperaed from the main group and ended up the wrong side of the arch and was being taken north. Not something that I would have liked myself. Especially as he had a school of silkys bumping him. For some reason he didnt activate his EPIRB. He was found by the Agressor though. I think this gave us all a scare and made us realize that you do not mess with nature when you are at Darwin Arch.

Over the 3 days and 11 dives we spent at Darwin, 5 whalesharks were seen, nothing bigger than 12mtrs but all the same very nice to see. Especially if like my wife and I this was our first time we had made an appointment with MR BIG.
Our last dive there was very special in that a whaleshark turned up to say goodbye whilst we were on our safety stop. The fish life, currents, shark life, topography confirmed to me why it is one of the best dives on the planet. The are that is called the platform, that is what it is, a viewing platform. get to it and you can hold on there avoiding the current and witness a mass of life. Again dolphins were present on most dives.

Our trip back to the southern islands come and went and we were now diving at Isobella. The viz here was bad as well so we decided to move to cousins rock where we had great fun with a few sea lions, mantas, and found the biggest scorpionfish I have ever seen. The sea lions would chase the mantas and try to bite their tales. Very funny to watch. We did try to fing the Galapagos seahorse amongst the black coral but had no luck. The scools of striped salima were humungus. 40 mtrs deep x 13 mtrs wide x 70 mtrs long. It was great to get inside of the fish and be no more than 5 ft away from my buddy but have no idea where she was. There was quite a few longnose hawkfish there that obliged for the camera.

The last day was to be at Gordons Rock where we had eagle rays, hammerheads and a manta ray. Not forgetting the 12 or so turtles.

It was very sad to be leaving this unspoilt land that had no human detriment visible. It was so great to go ashore for land visits and not see cigarette ends all over the place. No litter to be seen. We headed back to San Cristobel just in time to join in the celebrations of Ecuador progressing to the next stage of the world cup. The whole of the island were out in there cars, vans, trucks waving the Ecuador flag and beeping their horns. Even the police cars were part of it. It was good to see such a happy community. We just cant wait to return.

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#2 LChan

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 10:43 AM

Congrats.

great report.

I will be in the Galapagos in 3 wks. Can't wait!!!!!!
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#3 jcfig

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Posted 19 June 2006 - 03:47 PM

Thanks for the great report. I'm heading there myself in September.

LChan I'm looking forward to your report as well.

#4 Bucky

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 10:06 AM

Do you have pictures posted anywhere on the net? I'd love to see them.

#5 stewsmith

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 10:00 AM

pictures can be found here....

http://outdoors.webs...548891264ymwqSs

Canon 5D MK2 - Sea and Sea housed - 17-40L 100mm - Sigma 15mm FE - twin YS250 pro's and gadgets galore

 

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#6 bmyates

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 11:47 AM

Great report, and I can see from your photos that there was NO shortage of cool stuff to see and photograph! Congrats on a great trip!!

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