Galapagos...Darwin's Arch...Hammerheads dreamland!


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February 24th 2008
Published: February 25th 2008
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1: no cage...and great fun! 41 secs
Another stop, another dream destination. Welcome to the first stop of my little "Dive the world 2008". I won't
tell you yet what is coming next, as the best is to enjoy today, but this is going to be a fun diving year!

My last diving was nearly 5 months ago, it looks like an eternity, but at the same time, the 5 last months have
been full of great travelling. Galapagos is a crazy place to dive...as I've read, supposed to be one of the world
best to see the big stuffs underwater, and amazing wildlife above water.

So first what you won't see on pictures....whale sharks! This is the wet and warm season, so too hot for them...
even if warm means water temperatures of everything between 15 and 26c! But all the other big guys are down there.

I board the Sky Dancer on the 17th lunch time with 15 other very-well travelled divers. The mix is the expected
one here, 12 americans, 1 canadian, 2 italians and myself. 3 couples and 10 guys, with an average age close to 55...
So you can guess the nice time we already spent exchanging informations on other places to dive in the world...you
don't get this kind of info on forums, this is not...what I've read...type of discussion, but rather what I've done
lately...

First dive is a short one, and very important as not all of us are used to colder water diving...except my cabin-mate
and buddy diver, a canadian former dive-instructor used to dive under the ice! The opportunity for me to check that
with my new semi-dry suit of 6.5mm...you need a lot more weights to get down.

So finally down, in less than one minute spotting my first ray...and what a surprise, 2 seconds later, a sea lion
appearing from nohere full speed on the ray...and on us. I guess this is the first surprise of many to come.

Short and shallow dive...and a lot of play time with the seals. You don't go to them, they come to you...and
really pretty close...they like to check your face from only few centimeters away. These guys are so fast that
it's really difficult to have a good picture of them. As you can see, I'm finally equiped with a basic case
for my digital camera, so as of now, you will also enjoy some underwater pictures. So that was for the first dive,
and at least 10 seals to enjoy!

Yesterday, on the program, 2 dives in the morning and Bartholome Island in the afternoon. When do you get the
idea that a dive spot will be amazing...when you start to see all around you rays jumping between 1 and 2 meters
high above the water. I never saw this, it's like if the rays were hunting for birds in the sky, really amazing.
Two dives in the morning, on the program, more seals, first hammer shark, white tip sharks, and I lost the
count on sting rays, mendulas rays and eagle rays. All this with hundred of other great fishes all around. You also
add to this starfishes all over the place. Water was not that cold though! And for the coral, well this is
not a great place, but who cares, when you see thousand of garden eels around you for a full dive.

In the afternoon, first was snorkeling on Bartholome island to see the Galapagos Penguins...well, as I just
arrived from Antartica, these guys look a little lonely. Than up for a hike on top of Batholome Island and our
first hyguanas...After diner, we headed for Wolf and Darwin Island.

There are only three full liveaboard licenced in the Galapagos at the moment, the Sky Dancer from Peter Hughues,
and the two Aggressors. We will stay around 3 nights at Wolf and Darwin Islands...this is were we should encounter
all the big stuffs...just for us. Normally the ride is 12 to 14 hours...well, Wolf is in front of us, and we've
been sailing for 19 hours now, in pretty rough seas...tuffer than Drake Passage, but full of experience divers at
sea, so another nice experience. Today only three dives, including one night dive...this is the schedule for 19th
Feb...let's see what's coming next. Till there, have fun!

Yesterday was the 19th, and we did 2 dives on Wolf Island at Land Slide. I skiped the night dive...16 degrees and
110 feet/35 meters...not for me on a night dive...and third dive of the day...only one guy went.

But Wow, this is diving...hammer heads sharks everywhere...rays, tutles, all these all together at the same time.
To make it more fun, the moray eels are everywhere...really everywhere hunting, plus you add few scorpion fish. So
technically it's...be very careful where you put your hands. This is not easy diving, but Wow, it's amazing.

This morning, 20th Feb, we are 3 hours north of Wolf Island. This place is called Darwin Island. And we will
be doing 6 dives at Darwin's Arch. Did the first one this morning already. We are "only" 48 hours by boat from
Cocos Islands...but for that...just wait few months, it's already on the program of my little "Dive the world
2008"!

So my first dive this morning is done...and I'm writting this fresh out of the water...pictures are amazing!
The dive is Hammer Head's Wonderland! I did Blue Corner in Palau...this is better! Visibility is not as good...but
that's also explain why the big guys are coming to eat here. You speak of Hammer Head's...they are everywhere...
and these big, fat guys are hunting...you add to this few galapagos sharks, turtles...and the mix is paradise.
All this with a lot of surge pushing you all over the place...not the place for a beginners....but Wow, so much fun!

I've stopped to count the number of Hammer Head's...but they are clearly in hundreds down there, with sighting
of up to easily 50 at the same time. Visibility is lower than 100 feet, so not easy with my small equipement to
get the right on...but hey...you get the pictures, I've got my life as a souvenir of these moments...when you
think that 10 days ago I was in Antartica...I'll never forget all this...and make sure tomorrow is even better...

Back from the second dive, and the fun continue...this place is amazing...these sharks are nervous and a lot of fun.
And I grasp the chance I've got to be here...this is not Phi Phi, this is world class diving. And the best, is that
only 50 of us enjoy this every week, yes, only 50 people are diving every week at Darwin's Arch!!

You see sharks everywhere, all the time...and for the second dive, it was even just out of the dingy...just went
we when in the water...no kidding, you do look behind you before going in the water to make sure you don't roll
on one...because these guys are there...by the hundreds...and the best, the sun is back,the visibility even better!
Enjoy, because I do...and it's better than a dream!

Darwin Island and Darwin's Arch are behind us. We've done six dives at Darwin's Arch, each better than the last one...
and the last one I was right in the Hammer Head's sharks, more than 50 of them, close enough to check their teeth properly.
We also saw two dolphins chasing bonitos this morning...what can you ask for more. The 20th and 21st of Feb 2008
will be my best dive ever...something I will remember for a long while...let's see in 8 months if Cocos Ilsands
can be as good as this.

During lunch and nap time (on the deck under the sun), we're heading back to Wolf Island for two more dives. After
this, we'll be back on our way to the middle of the Galapagos. Darwin's Arch is only dived by 50 divers a week, we
didn't see a single boat when we were there. Make the math, this is less than 2500 divers per year! I'm one of the
lucky few...but it seems there is even more coming in front of us. We have 48 hours of diving ahead of us...48
hours of pure pleasure! One day I'll get down from my dream...but not today...not on this 21st of Feb! Have fun,
I do!

Feb 23rd after lunch...our last dive is behind us. The last 2 days have seen 3 dives yesterday and two dives this
morning. More sharks, but also, a lot of fun with the sea lions and a lot of rays...mobulas, golden cows, sting
rays, eagle rays! Yesterday afternoon was the opportunity of our second landing, this time on Santiago Island. It was
the opportunity to get our first closed encounter with the famous iguanas of Galapagos...hundreds of them, surrounded
by more seal lions. What a week! We are now heading for Santa Cruz to visit the turtle center...another great
visit expected. Tonight, it's diner in town, and tomorrow, ready to head back to San Cristobal airport for my
flight to Guayaquil, than Miami, than my next stop, Reno. And no, I'm not going for the casinos...but for this entry,
you'll just have to wait few days.

This part of the trip has been amazing. Really world class diving. And yes, I understand how lucky I am. For some,
this is a lifetime trip, for me, it's just a chapter in a fun year...in a fun life...and for this I can only enjoy,
knowing that not that many people get the chance to see and experience what I do all the time! All this was shared
with the best guests I ever met on a liveaboard. Easy when you see that I share few past experiences with some of
them, you want to speak great liveaboards, and the names of Ocean Hunter I, Palau as well as Four Seasons Explorer,
Maldives come back all the time...and I did both of them.

My next liveabord is only in 5 months...so far away and already tomorrow...another great diving spot in the world...
but that also I realize, it's good to be part of the happy few who can do it often, so for this I've got to thanks
life, and a little bit of work...

Since next time, enjoy, because I do!


Additional photos below
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28th February 2008

Nice recap
Pierre, Nice recap of our trip. The highlight for me was desecding through the squadron of 30-40 hammerheads at aDarwin Island dive site. With all the photos and videos taken, I'll bet that Steve's composite will be spectacular. Thanks for sharing yours. JIM
31st May 2009

Amazing video of the sharks and got to love the iguana photo as well!

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