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About DiveTheGalapagos

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    Brine Shrimp

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  1. PNG issued 14 permits for dive liveaboards and used a (fairly dubious) baseline study to determine maximum traffic possible in regards to site sustainability. A PDF of their baseline is online if you read Spanish. http://www.galapagospark.org/documentos/DP...ea_base_rmg.pdf Darwin is the biggest issue as it's such a relatively small site area. They are allowing 2 boats per day max. All permits were awarded to local fishermen. Seems the Park never really expected all 14 to become operational given the challenges of starting such an operation. What the rules may be in 2012 is now anyone's guess. I'd argue all day that dive boats are the only thing that keep finning at bay in the Galapagos. No one patrols those northern sites, well, very, very rarely. Marine Reserve is too big and resources too limited. Even at Wolf where there is the permanent floating ranger station, they no longer have a speedboat to use for patrolling, just a tender. Perhaps some divers will (photograph and) report illegal fishing (they are not allowed to fish within 1000 meters of the dive site), but no crew members on the liveaboards will as they all know each other. Having said that, I'm always appalled at divers kneeling on, holding onto or ramming fins into coral. Perhaps because there is so little coral in Galapagos, divers end up forgetting to pay attention in the northern sites. Nowhere else are advanced divers so very careless about touching coral. It's great that Pta Vicente Roca is on at least 2 new itineraries (Aggressor and Sky) half the year. Amazing site with life covering every inch. Very little to grab hold of in the often strong surge/current. Always cold...locally known as The Freezer. Mola mola cleaning station (cannot approach them or they fly away but will approach a diver if stationary at the wall), Galapagos Bullhead Shark, flightless cormorants, penguins, seahorses, salemas, sea lions, tons of turtles, peruvian grunts and coral everywhere. And Orcas often in the area. Plus, you can see several live volcanoes from there. And Roca Redonda is perhaps the most challenging dive site in Galapagos though now, again, a presence might help keep the finners away. Eastern Isabela in general and Cabo Marshall in particular are great for mantas. As for a land visit, Isla Isabela is the best place to still get a taste of BBC Galapagos from land if you can't do back to back cruises. Puerto Villamil is still a sleepy fishing village with sandy streets. Nice breeding center, flamingos ponds and lots of wetlands equals lots of shore birds. Sierra Negra has the 2nd largest caldera in the world on an active volcano and Los Tuneles is perhaps the most magical spot in the Galapagos, though you can't always enter between June and October due to high waves. It's a labrynth of lava arches that are the remains of a lava field. Backdrop is 2 active volcanoes. Amazing snorkeling with penguins, white tipped reef sharks, eagle rays, tropicals, sea lions and man sized turtles often in swimming pool clear water. Just north of there is a mangrove lined bay where you can find seahorses in 2 feet of water wrapped around mangrove roots. I don't think I've ever been to Los Tuneles when we didn't encounter Mantas just before the entrance. Once got 9 males chasing 1 female. We snorkeled with them for 30 minutes, so close, you were clipped. Joked that we had to suck in our stomachs to keep them from grazing us. Good shore snorkeling from Isabela, too, especially for the huge turtles and marine iguanas. And ps...all naturalist cruises have either moved to or will have to move to 15 day itineraries by 2012. They cannot visit the same site twice in 15 days.
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