Hi everyone. In two hours, we board our boat, the “Lammer Law”, for an 8 day Galapagos cruise. We’ve been in the islands for a few days now. Yesterday I decided to go diving. It was absolutely SPECTACULAR! The Great Barrier Reef was more colorful, the Galapagos wins for shear mass of wildlife. As soon as we hit the water we were surrounded by sea lions. They LOVE to get right up next to you. They’re so goofy- just like under-water golden retrievers. They love to play with the anchor or chew on the rope, too. The sea lions accompanied us for most of the dive.
As we moved to deeper water, I was amazed by the clarity of the water. We could see 20-25 meters into the deepest blue you could imagine (15 meters was the best vis we had in Australia or Indonesia). We were making our way along a steep, blue sea cliff, and I was just amazed how many fish there were hovering off along the abyss. There were also huge turtles and sting rays, and smaller manta rays gracefully flying along. Of course, there were the ever present sea lions, too. You simply couldn’t look anywhere without seeing tons of wildlife.
The second dive was along a steep volcano sticking up out of the ocean. Here, we saw lots of white-tip reef sharks, and HUGE schools of these little 6″ fish. There were tens of thousands, and they just moved around you in a totally organic and smooth way. There were so many fish it began to get dark!
I got some amazing photos and video of all of this, too, but you may have noticed that I haven’t included a single photo in the post yet. Here is why. Everyone has to dive with a “dive buddy” for safety reasons. I was paired up with this Canadian Girl, Ashley. While we were holding onto the reef looking out into the blue, her weight belt came off. We were at 20m down. We were wearing thick, buoyant wet suits. The part of the reef she was holding onto broke, and she broke several other pieces off as she started ascending. She was kicking like mad, but really wasn’t managing to stay on the bottom. If we could not keep her on the bottom she could get decompression sickness. We managed to struggle back down and reach the belt and, with a great deal of effort, I wedged it between her back and her tank to weight her down and so she could get it back on. The flurry of effort and activity led to several scratches and bruises, and tons of bubbles in the water, obscuring our vision. As soon as everything was safe I reached for my camera, which I always keep strapped to my right wrist. In all of the chaos, the strap either broke or came off, and with all of the stirred debris and bubbles in the water I could only see a meter or two straight up. I found the dive master so my dive buddy could pair up with him. Then, since the camera has a slight positive buoyancy, I swam away and started ascending to look for it. The current was strong, so I had to guess how far away it would be. Also, I had to ascend slowly or I would be the one with the bends. By the time I did my safety stop and made it to the surface and got in the dive boat, the camera was nowhere to be seen. I convinced the pilot to go back and forth in a search pattern while we waited for the other divers. We looked for 15-20 minutes, and I spent the rest of the afternoon on the bow looking for it to no avail.
What terrible timing- before I got a single underwater picture here! I’m doing another dive in a few days, but the dive companies around here don’t even rent out underwater cameras. We found a disposable underwater camera that we can take snorkeling, but I’ve been underwhelmed with their results in the past. Hopefully someone on the boat will have a decent camera we could borrow. I sent a letter to World Nomads, our travel insurance company (actually, what you just read was more or less cut & pasted from the letter I sent them). Hopefully they’ll reimburse me, although the main disappointment to us is the loss of the photos rather than the loss of the camera. We still have our SLR, so you should see some spectacular pics when we get back from our cruise, but don’t count on seeing many from underwater 😦 How frustrating.