Sunday, August 28, 2011

Galapagos from Downunder

In the Wetsuits
A normal day in the Galapagos included hiking in the morning, and snorkeling in the afternoon, although one day we swam twice!  The water was about 64 degrees Fahrenheit, so these full-body wetsuits (provided by the Queen Beatriz) felt really good once we got wet. Getting into them was a real challenge though! After making sure the thing was right-side-out to begin with, you wiggled into it - one leg at a time, then pull it up far enough for the hips, and then the arms. Only by tugging each spot an inch or so at a time could you get it up far enough for someone else to zip up the back.  I think we used an many calories getting them on as we did swimming!  Dick and I both brought our own masks, with enough magnification to see things - like getting reading glasses at the drugstore. If we go snorkeling again someplace cool like Key West, I might get a better pair, and I'll definitely get an underwater digital camera! Notice our guide Hanzel, in this photo. He had been a member of the Navy Seals, and when someone dropped a mask, he thought nothing of diving 30 feet down to retrieve it. 
Black Striped Salema Fish - Kevin
Our tour leader, Kevin Loughlin, a professional photographer, posted some of his photos, which I borrowed for this post. Sometimes we saw individual fish, and other times just the mass of a school of fish trying to remain anonymous.

Blue-chinned Parrotfish - Kevin

Heiroglyphic Hawkfish - Kevin
Golly, no matter I couldn't find this heiroglyphic fish on my own. It really blends in with the backgound.
Chocolate Chip Star
This is one of my favorites - the chocolate chip star!  I thought it looked like a giant cookie covered with chocolate chips!
Galapagos Black Turtle - Kevin
The bigger sea creatures were easier to see, of course, and you always hoped you could swim with sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, or penguins. Some days they came to play, and other days they didn't.

Pelican Feet from the Fish's Perspective - Kevin

White-tipped Reef Shark - Kevin

Curious Sea Lion - Kevin
Spotted Eagle Rays
Rays included sting rays, manta rays, and this eagle spotted ray. They looked like they were flying underwater. When we snorkeled from the beach, we always had to be careful not to step on any of them in the shallows.

Devil's Crown
I confess to wimping out on one trip. Devil's Crown is all that's left of a volcanic caldera sunken into the waves. That day the currents were fierce as we rode the panga out. Just slide over the side, and let the current carry you around, they said.

Rescue by Panga
The pangas always floated nearby when we snorkeled, thank goodness, and if you got tired, they would come when you waved. Of course, getting the fins off, and climbing up that small metal ladder could be a problem when you were tired to begin with. At Devil's Crown I stayed in the panga, and it didn't take long for others to wave us over for a pickup. I didn't feel so bad about being a wimp when they described the power of the current. At Gardner Bay I wasn't sure I could swim all the way out to the rock, but every time I came up, it was a little closer, and I actually made it!

Humpback Whale Breaching - Gardner Bay - Kevin
After a while at the Gardner Bay rock, the pangas came to collect us all.  "Get in! They saw a whale!" A whale - a much desired animal which had eluded us so far. The driver revved the engine to full, and we, along with every other panga from all the tour boats in the harbor, sped off. Once in a while someone would say they saw it blow, but it didn't take long to realize this whale had easily outdistanced us. For a while though we felt some of the excitement of the old whalers, only our weapons were digital cameras instead of harpoons!

1 comment:

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I Love the whale image, just marvelous~