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Galapagos National Park Dive Permit Impacts

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This breaks my heart. I predicted this as soon as I heard about the limits on dive boats. And so it goes....:)

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i've been following this fairly closely and o'hearn was allowed to stay in ecuador, he has residency rights which the president didn't realize when he ordered him out of the country. he also has a wife and child (ecuadorean) and so was allowed to stay. he is allowed to 'report' any incident to the police which he feels is in contradiction to current law, but is not allowed to get involved in any raids himself.

 

i would take everything with a pinch of salt at this moment in time. an article in the guardian claimed that shark fins were piling up on piers (jettys) in ecuador since correa lifted this ban, and manta saw a daily landing of 400 sharks. for a start there are no piers in ecuador, the pangas land right on the sand, and 400 sharks in manta was normal one, two, three, and four years ago.

 

i was filming there back in january and the amount of sharks beached daily really did bring tears to my eyes. what has happened in recent weeks is shocking, and probably has made things a lot worse, but lets not put grave stones on the shores just yet, and if i hear one more person say shark vacant waters in ecuador are inevitable i will shit myself.

 

we need to up the ante, not sit down and weep. get writing, protesting, campaigning, whatever you need to do, put pressure on your MP's or senators or whatever they are called in the US and make something happen. write to your restaurants, tv chefs, talk to everyone about it. make a change happen.

 

rant over. whingeing and moaning is not an option.

 

mark

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Mark,

 

Right on! Way to stay the course. How do folks in this forum get accurate information on what is going on. Is there anyone (not on the mafia payrol) actually monitoring Wolf and Darwin right now? I know they sent planes to ensure that no 'illegal' dive operators were staying there. Are they doing the same for fishing boats?

 

Thanks for the hard work on this.

Shawn

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Forgive me if I missed something, as I've away in the Solomons, but just heard that one of the charters without an "official permit" did operate as a dive charter and did dive Wolf and Darwin last week. I had close friends on board. Most that booked had cancelled, but as they did not have insurance, they went anyway, and it worked out at the last minute.

 

Cheers,

Marli

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...we need to up the ante, not sit down and weep. get writing, protesting, campaigning, whatever you need to do, put pressure on your MP's or senators or whatever they are called in the US and make something happen. write to your restaurants, tv chefs, talk to everyone about it. make a change happen...

 

Since this seems to be all about fishing it seems that that industry would be the most useful to target.

I'm assuming that we can do little WRT the finning issue but des antone have any info on which markets and restraunt chains purchase significant amounts of fish form these fishermen?

 

Maybe a financial boycott? Also perhaps some PR campaign showing the Cruise ship passengers the stacke of fins or such could work as well?

 

It may be a futile attempt but....

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I had a guy in today - checking out his new video camera and housing for his pending galapagos expedition on the peter hughes boat - seems like a tough environment for the operators to maintain commercially viablity.

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So by the way.. which boats are allowed to do daily-diving-trips (not-liveaboard)... or better said...are doing daily-diving-trips? All the yachts that had several days itinerary are still doing it but without the diving option or not going out anymore ... supposably... right?

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I just got a mail from exploradiving which I was supposed to go diving with on August 26:th, that they are definitely canceling my trip, and it might take up to 4 months before they can resume operations with new regulations. Major bummer, since I originally chosen Galapagos for the diving. Well, I'm going anyway, but without the diving, and a week to kill on Galapagos with no place to stay.

 

On the same note, is it worth it do to land based diving, how much does it cost, and does that kind of diving still going on at Galapagos? I was supposed to haul my gear over, but I really don't want to do this unless I know that I will be diving, and if I only do a few dives, its most likely not worth the hassle. This is not photo gear I'm talking about, but BCD, reg, fins, mask etc.

 

Last one, just to check, it doesnt happend to be any opening on any of the 3 boats that are going out to Darwin/Wolfs around the 26:th of August? If so, I'm *very* interested.

 

/Björn

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Hi Björn:

 

It is definitely worth while to dive via land based operators. A lot of people think it is preferable since you can see some of the amazing land based flora and fauna the islands have to offer. We spent a week diving and a week on a small ship island hopping.

 

In July we dove with Scuba Iguana, and they were great. Their URL is: http://www.scubaiguana.com/. There is also a great new hotel in Puerto Ayoro called the Solymar. It is fantastic.

 

We dove in the Floreana, Gordon Rocks, Beagle Rocks, North Seymour arears, and swam after mola mola, whales, and dolphins off of Isabela and Espanola. The down side is we missed Wolf and Darwin, but the up-side was we were able to spend a lot of time exploring and photographing flora and fauna on the islands.

 

Because of weight restriction I took regulator, mask, computer, hood, and gloves, and rented the remaining gear. It was Scuba Pro and fine. It was about $50 US per day for a two tank dive. Night dives are in Academy Bay.

 

There seem to be a lot of people on Wetpixel who recommend not bringing strobes: I brought one and would highly recommend taking one. We saw everything from hammerheads to Galapagos sharks, to three different species of rays, to sea lions, tropicals, mola mola, Galapagos penguins, several different eels, tuna, turtles, and on and on. There are strong currents and surge, but it is quite managable.

 

As spectacular as the diving and underwater photography are, the above water geology and animal photography is even better. It is really a unique part of the world.

 

Go and have a great trip!

 

Dan

Edited by danclem

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Thanks for the reply Dan. I am doing non-diving cruising for a week before my supposedly diving trip, so I'm getting lots of nature/animal opportunities.

 

What you describes sounds great, no doubt better then nothing. I'm still curious if you can do this kind of diving now, or if it has been banned too. Also wonder if you can just stroll in and book your stuff, day to day, or if you need to do these things in advance. I don't have much time left, and esp since I'm sitting in a hotel in Germany with no real access to a descent phone I don't know if it will be worth the hassle to try to do some booking or just try to work something out when in Galapagos.

 

I'm bringing my 1d3 and 30d, but not any housing, so I will only do topside photography.

 

I have been switching back and forth between hope and despair, and on what to bring, but I think I will go with my mask + snorkel, fins, booties, reg + dive computer. Fins + socks because I really easy get sores from normal non-booties fins, and I'm hoping we are going to do some snorkeling on our non-scuba boat.

 

/Björn

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Hi Björn:

 

Scuba Iguana is running dive trips, and I think if you chech earlier threads there are some additional operators who also have the proper permits.

 

Here is the e-mail address for Mari Lou Poisson, who schedules for Scuba Iguana: marilu@scubaiguana.com. She should be able to get you current information. We had open slots on all our dives, so I would anticipate that you could show up and dive. I just don't know how many other folks on cancelled dive trips are doing the same thing.

 

You might want to rethink the underwater housing. The photography is great, even in the snorkeling areas. You won't believe the sea lions, especially when they chase white tipped reef sharks.

 

You will have a great time!

 

Dan

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New poster here. My name is Victor, hello to all!

 

It is definitely worth while to dive via land based operators. A lot of people think it is preferable since you can see some of the amazing land based flora and fauna the islands have to offer.

I've been to Galapagos a number of times over the years and in my experience liveaboards offer the best way to dive the islands. And I have never been on one that didn't include numerous land tours, where they are allowed. Of course if you spend time at Wolf, Darwin, Marchena or Roca Redonda there won't be a land tour, but on the other hand those islands offer the best of big animal Galapagos diving when conditions are permitting.

 

But it is a real shame that the liveaboard option is being limited so severely because it was liveaboards, by and large, who policed the north. On two of my trips we came across long-liners and chased them off. And even though we knew they would return as soon as our boat cleared the horizon we also knew there would be another liveaboard that evening or the next day. Now it seems to be open season and since it takes some time for crews to get boats supplied, for the trip from neighboring countries it is likely that we haven't seen the grand carnage yet. But I think we will as soon as more boats get on location, now that the word is out on the language change to the shark fishing regulations and laws.

 

The other thing about trips being cancelled is that it used to be that entry into Galapagos was predicated upon your trip being booked by one of the approved "tour companies". This rule may have changed recently (I haven't been there since 2005), but it might be worth the effort to ensure that having the boat cancel the trip doesn't also mean your tour is cancelled. In the past you couldn't just buy a ticket to fly to the islands, you also had to be associated with one of the authorized diving/touring entities operating there. If that rule remains in effect I wonder what these canceled charters mean to the customer in this regard.

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I was going to do two tours, and stay for 2 weeks, so I'm still going to do the first weeks of touring (above water). So I should be OK:d to come to the island.

 

Regarding housing ... well I don't have any housing for my cameras, which is why I dont bring it. I had an UW house for my first compact, but flooded that one, and told myself not to get a new one until I could afford another flooded house. After that my cameras just got more and more expensive =) I mostly shoot concerts as a freelancer, which is why I have a decent setup right now, but for diving, I'm just going to stay with enjoying the dive, not try to get good pictures. This might change in the future, who knows.

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I just received some new information from my Dutch Tour Operator. We are booked on the Lammerlaw for October 3rd (including Darwin/Wolf). This information is from Qausar Nautica, a big operator in the Galapagos.

 

Unfortunately we do not have any official response about this situation, so far we know that Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa is going to Galapagos this coming Tuesday (August 21st) in order to discuss diving issues. We expect and official position after that and of course I will keep you updated.

 

We do not think we are going to Darwin and Wolf, but we still keep our fingers crossed...

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Reproduced from the front page:

Ken Weemhoff of Galapagos Aventures has written up an informative update concerning the situation in the Galapagos that resulted in all dive trips being canceled last month. A meeting in Ecuador yesterday resulted in a decision "to accept a moratorium on the ban on diving until December 31." Ken writes, "beginning next Monday (August 27) all previously booked dive trips to Galapagos which are scheduled for 2007 will operate as planned. The authorities were instructed that they are to issue new tourist (diving) patentes to begin in January 2008 and that the local fishermen are to be given priority in acquiring these new patentes."

 

Despite the good news for tour operators and divers with plans to travel to the Galapagos, it may take Ecuador a long time to recover from the incredible stupidity of its actions. After all of this, what diver is going to believe that a trip planned to the Galapagos won't have a high likelihood of being disrupted by local corruption and bureaucracy? It's a good thing its waters are still productive enough for people to take the risk.

Ken's update is here: http://www.galapagosadventures.com/dive_issue/

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Btw, Im still in Galapagos, my trip was supposed to start today, so I guess its not leaving tomorrow. Hence Im still interested in any left over places on any cruises in Galapagos. That is if anyone is looking at this thread =)

 

/Bjorn

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Today, I recieved the official statement from our operator that we are going to Darwin and Wolf. Yihaaaaaaaaa!!! I'm a lucky man. See below...

 

Dear Joost,

 

Yesterday, Diving to Wolf & Darwin Islands was re-opened and all Lammer Law and Mistral cruises that we have sold until December 31, 2007 will be able to visit both islands. Your October 6th cruise to Wolf and Darwin will continue!

 

We are still discussing with the National Park as to what will happen to

diving cruises in 2008 and we will keep you informed.

 

Best regards,

 

Fernando Diez

Marketing Manager

Quasar Expeditions

Worldwide: (593-2) 225-7822

Toll Free USA: 1-866-241-3754

Toll Free UK: 0-800-883-0827

fernando@quasarex.com

www.quasarex.com

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For those who are interested, below are two links to the Galapagos Conservancy about the status of shark finning and diving in Ecuador and the Galapagos.

 

There is not much new in the diving article, but the finning article helps explain why President Correa took the action he did, and what steps are currently underway to protect sharks. While this is a complicated issue, it may not be quite the fisherman/corruption conspiracy that has been discussed.

 

Shark Finning link: http://www.galapagos.org/news/08_2007_Shark-fishing.html

 

Galapagos diving link: http://www.galapagos.org/news/09_2007_Diving.html

 

Cheers,

Edited by danclem

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Hello,

 

I also had nice news from my Travel Agency. We´re going to Wolf and Darwin in the end of October 2007. It's Nemo II Catamaran.

 

It'll be my first dives in the Pacific Ocean :)

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Just got back from Ecuador, was on the 8/31-9/6 Aggressor II charter (followed it up with a trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon, highly recommended), and things changed even while we were there. On our first morning at Darwin, we were told by the DM that the PNG had just approved a new itinerary that allowed only one boat (or operator, since Agg I was up there at the same time) at Darwin on a particular day. If true, this would allay concerns that Wolf/Darwin would be deserted and open season for fisherman for days at a time. Not sure if true or not, but Deep Blue did not show up until we were leaving Darwin.

 

Also, changes in dive sites. No more diving at Seymour, so diving is at the sand spit called Mosquera between Baltra and Seymour. Also, were told that a snorkeler was bitten by a sea lion at Plaza, so no diving allowed there either.

 

Other things we heard from the DM (Solon Intiago, originally from Deep Blue) confirmed that as of 2008, there will be no dive/land tours. Dive only, or land only, not both (as an aside, both trips I've been on we did Wolf /Darwin and 4 land tours incl. Darwin Res. Stn). Also, this wasn't clear to me but it sounded like there's discussion that all diving has to be done by noon, to accomodate snorkelers. This didn't make sense (who snorkels Gordon Rocks... or Cousins? or Seymour? maybe someone does) but it would wreak havoc if you had to finish diving by noon and couldn't land tour.

 

At any rate, looks like things will change somewhat over the next few months. It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out. Although there are many places to go in the meantime, looking forward to going back someday.

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