Galapagos Scuba Diving

As I prepared to enter the water for our first dive of my 1997 Galapagos scuba diving adventure, I knew that what my dive buddies were about to experience would probably be the best dive any of them had ever made. You see, I had been to the Galapagos each year for the past four years and each time I have come, I have been overwhelmed by the shear abundance of life both in and out of the water.

Last year, at this very site, a playful sea lion had come up behind one of my buddies and had stolen the snorkel off of his mask. Carrying the snorkel in his mouth like a dog with a bone, he swam in circles around us until he was noticed. Then he took off to lead us on a playful chase. Eventually the snorkel was recovered unharmed other than the tooth impressions which were left behind on the tube. My buddy later said that his snorkel had become his favorite souvenir of the Galapagos scuba diving trip. This was also the site where I had seen numerous hammerhead sharks on several occasions and once had seen a school of eagle rays number well over 20.

Our dive guide signaled to the boatman to approach the rock a little closer and on his signal we all back rolled into the water. As soon as we hit the water, I turned and started down.

Visibility was excellent, especially for the Galapagos. Within seconds of entering the water, I spotted a group of 10 to 15 fairly large hammerhead sharks swimming approximately 20 feet (6m) below me. I looked to see if my fellow divers had also seen these magnificent creatures. The excitement was contagious. Some of them had never seen a shark before and no one in the group with the exceptions of myself and the dive guide had ever seen a hammerhead! But this was just the beginning of this Galapagos scuba dive. As we continued to make our way along the lava rock ledges, we encountered the abundance of life which can only be found in the Galapagos.

In the next 45 minutes we saw literally hundreds of sharks. Aggregates of hammerheads ranging between 6 and 20 individuals seemed to always be in our field of vision. We also saw numerous whitetip reef sharks and several Galapagos sharks. Sea lions, being the most playful and curious creatures in the Galapagos, swam right up to us on several occasions to see what we were doing. When my attention was not focused on the sharks, there were also turtles and eagle rays to look at. Suddenly my dive guide pointed to a school of at least 200 golden rays (no exaggeration !!!) swimming 30 feet (10m) above us. It looked like a huge flock of birds.

Later on this same dive we saw another school of rays. This time they were eagle rays and there was at least 50 of them. As I exited the water, I realized that what we had just experienced was right out of a “Discovery Channel” video. We were all exhilarated. Not just because of the awesome dive we had just completed but because this was the first day of a week long diving vacation.

During the course of the next week, we snorkeled with penguins, hiked through lava tunnels, walked right up to giant tortoises, saw manta rays on several dives, and even had a whale shark encounter. One morning as our yacht navigated to our next destination we came across several hundred whitesided dolphins feeding. They were literally jumping 10 feet (3m) out of the water. After following the dolphin for 20 minutes our attention was shifted to the 40 foot (12m) sperm whale which appeared along side of our yacht. Is it any wonder why this is my favorite dive destination in the world ?

My Galapagos scuba diving trip passed all too quickly and before I knew it, it was time to leave. I said goodbye to all of the friends that I have made in the Galapagos over the years as I prepared to board my flight.