During our cruise we typically had 2 opportunities each day to plunge into the water and glimse the world beneath the waves. Despite the wetsuits we would quickly find ourselves blue-lipped and shivering, yet always reluctant to emerge at the end of each session. Unfortunatley we did not bring an underwater camera, but 2 shipmates were friendly enough to give us their photos to share with you. Thanks Matt and Mia!
We had a magnificent time in general, multitudes of fish of all shapes, sizes and colors, and lots of sea turtles and sea lions. There were 4 snorkel expeditions in particular that stand out:
1) This was the best snorkel trip of our lives!
It started with 15 minutes of watching 3 adorable Galapagos penguins zip and turn in the water 3 feet below us as they fished. It was a real documentary moment to just float in the water as these little birds showed off their underwater dexterity and even caught a few fish. As we moved on we were treated to the sight of a flightless cormorant swimming around below us, also sharing in the success and devouring a fish. As we followed him around we came upon a turtle having a meal of algae, but we were quickly distracted by a couple of playful sea lions who swam up to check us out. Apparently we were not particularly interesting because they quickly left us to go harass a small Galapagos bullhead shark on the sea floor nearby! It sounds more like a childrens story than real life!!
2) Another memorable trip was snorkeling in the water with over 20 sea turtles and some 30-odd marine iguanas. We came to understand that this was not such a common sight, based on the reaction of our guide (a galapagos native), who got super-excited and grabbed someones underwater camera to snap some shots. The iguanas were amazing to watch in the water and were surprisingly bouyant. Dale had a particularly close encounter as one iguana literally swam right into his face-mask. Not sure how to interpret this possibly amorous act...
3) Sea Lions!!! On nearly every snorkel trip we were greeted and inspected by friendly sea lions. They would swim right towards us until uncomfortably close, then make a sudden and graceful turn just as we would be bracing for impact. If we dove down into the water they would swim over and check us out, while showing off with twists and spins. But one snorkel in particular stood out for Bek as she encountered 2 young sea lion pups. These two got closer than any of the other sea lions, mere inches from her face, thus inspiring a bit of fear in addition to awe. But it did not stop there. These little guys needed to investigate this strange human creature and began to chase her flippers and grab them in their mouths to tug at them. It was a good five minutes of play time as these sea lions took turns chewing on the fins and trying to detach them from her feet. Had big, scary momma sea lion not come along to put an end to the play, Bek may not have returned to the boat preferring instead to live and play with these little pups.
4) And to top things off we decided to spend one day deep underwater on a scuba dive. For this we were rewarded with a view of 30 galapagos sharks lazily swimming above and at times next to and below us. It was an exceptional experience