It has been over two weeks now since we returned from what will probably be our last trip for a very long time. While we have been sheltering in place, my feelings have alternated between gratitude for my safe, comfortable life at home with time to work on projects and freedom from many responsibilities, and deep sadness over the suffering the COVID-19 is causing everywhere. To escape, I returned to the glorious underwater world of the Galapagos, editing the beautiful footage shot by our guide, Paola Sangolqui and putting it to muic. I invite you to escape with Paola and the turtles, rays, sharks and many other wonderful creatures of the sea in the pristine water of the Galapagos Islands.
How I love snorkeling! The snorkeling, sometimes twice a day, has been quite marvelous along rocky ledges and over sandy bottoms. Sturdy ladders on the dinghies have made it fairly easy to climb out of the water.
The water is warm, and sometimes crystal clear. Today was the best, and a dive I had rather feared. We would be swimming with sharks! The destination was Kicker Rock off San Cristobal, a monolith jutting straight out of the water, perhaps 200 feet high. We swam through a crack in the rock, along straight walls. thick with corals and barnacles and other growths, colorful in the sunshine. Parrot fish and others nibbled along the wall. In the center of the channel the water was deep blue, with no visible bottom. There we saw a green Pacific turtle, swimming in a relaxed manner, just like us, and then suddenly far below, we saw the distinctively shaped hammerhead sharks. They paid us no attention, which helped me stay calm.
We saw white-tipped reef sharks and turtles on the darker shady side of the rock, and several other quite large sharks as well. There were also puffer fish and beautiful eagle spotted rays, at one point two swimming in a dance together.
Once Kent and I looked down into the deep and to see perhaps three Galapagos and three Hammerheads circling below us.
Later, just before we got into the dinghy, dozens of sharks circled below us.
I don’t know why I didn’t think about an underwater camera! Paola used a go-pro in a plastic case on a wand, and got some wonderful videos.
Thursday: today we snorkeled in deep water around some rocks off Floreana. The water felt cold. I swam above a shark or two, and then a huge form approached on my left—it was a sea lion! . In shallower and warmer water I was delighted to see many brilliant blue starfish on the bottom as well as some unusual large mounded gray-colored shapes with many sides— perhaps also starfish? (I think chocolate chip sea stars with five sides).
This is where I also saw a long thin fish, like a trumpet fish, but almost transparent—ill look it up.
Friday: Our last snorkel. There were only Kent, me and Margaret, and one of the crew members— the captain of the ship! Again, we snorkeled along a rocky shore. Paola was in the dinghy, but didn’t snorkel with us. We saw nothing new, but as we entered the water, sea lions leaped and dived beside us, almost close enough to touch—i tried, but could not quite reach one that almost swam into me.
I was the last out of the water: I didn’t want to leave.