Diving The Galapagos

a blog for DiveTheGalapagos.com

Floreana Galapagos Dive Sites

playingwithsealionsThis is a combo Floreana dive site descriptions and a mini-report from the first the June 2009 land-based, island-hopping dive tour with an update from July 2010 at the bottom.  We had a fantastic group of only 7 people, including the capitan, marinero and Dive Master.  It truly was a private dive charter in the Galapagos.

Dive 1 – Enderby: This is where you will most likely spot whale sharks in the spring months.  Also, Eagle Rays, Stingrays, White-Tipped Reef Sharks, Galapagos Sharks, sometimes Hammerheads and Pilot Whales, Barracuda, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, Juvenile Grunts, Creolefish, Mexican Hogfish, Sea Cucumbers, Blue and Gold Snappers and more.

Dive 2: Champion: Sea lions galore, Sea Turtles, White-Tipped Reef Sharks, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, Longnosed Hawkfish, Sea Stars, Scorpionfish, Mexican hogfish in various growth stages, King Angelfish,  Spinster Wrasse, Guinearfowl Puffer in its bright yellow phase, Flag Cabrilla,  Red Lipped Batfish,  Barracuda,  Black striped Salemas, Panamic horse conch,  Green Morays, Pacific Seahorse, Blue Lobster, Octopus and more.

Thinking there would be a 3rd dive, I sat out on Champion.  When even Michael came up smiling, I knew I had made a mistake.  The juveniles at this time of the year are so very playful and curious and from inside a cave, they made for great photo ops.  Plus, by now it was getting a bit late, the sun was glaring and reports from another boat of poor visibility ahead motivated the group into deciding they were done for today.

To add insult to injury, there I was just cruising on the current twiddling my thumbs while we waited for the divers to ascend when I spotted a huge school of dolphins down at the point.  Because we were expecting the divers up soon, (turns out they came up about 10 minutes later) I did not insist the boat go drop me into that massive pod of Bottlenosed Dolphins.  Another boat in the area with snorklers ended up doing just that and came back screaming with joy and reporting roughly 200 dolphins.

4:30 PM Floreana

I grabbed a photo of Miriam and Javier lounging on the front of the boat as we approached Corona del Diablo.  It’s now about 4 PM, but that glare makes it look almost dark.  Sun aside, I had this thought, “Who doesn’t want to be where they are right now?”

We cruised through Luz del Dia on the way back to port to see the penguins on the rocks.  Macarron began his penguin imitation and they actually responded to him! He can do the same with sea lions.  It’s a bit uncanny.  You can’t really tell if you’re hearing him or the real thing.

By now, we are a bonded group and the energy is amazing.  We laugh, we share, we learn from each other and we support each other.  It’s as though we were family on a private charter together…only without any of the tension that seems to inevitably accompany a family.  The BBQ dinner at Lelia’s house was spectacular as usual.  Of course, when reviewing photos for the day, Miriam was mentioning a frogfish she saw (it jumped) that Michael quickly recognized as the elusive red-lipped batfish and after his moment of , “And you didn’t share?!?” was over, we all laughed at the fact they were seeing something everyone wanted to see and didn’t even realize it.

All of us had water in our ears and tried two local remedies:  1. Sticking a lit cigarette snugly in your ear to draw out the water.  2.  Rolling a piece of newspaper into a long cone that is then lit on fire to draw the water out.   Cigarettes are easier and, for me, seemed more effective. And then there’s the photo ops of all the above.  Yes, by now, there’s a lot of laughter every time we are having a meal together.

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July 2010:  We decided to enter Enderby at the point and head into the deep side…more currents, more surge and more life!  Out of 11 days of diving on this trip, it was the best visibility in the Galapagos.  Lots of turtles, the huge ‘bait ball’ of black-striped salemas, fish galore: king angelfish, Mexican hogfish, butterfly fish, yellow tailed surgeonfish, enormous schools of barracuda and so much more.  We saw so many turtles, several with barnacles.  We saw eagle rays and stingrays.  Enderby is so incredibly beautiful.  It is one of my favorite dive sites in Galapagos.  It’s a pity so few dive there anymore.

Logistics in terms of getting tanks to Floreana is every operator’s nightmare.  There is no compressor on the island, so you either have to bring tanks (and charter boats hate carrying that much weight) or send them there (which equals very expensive tanks).  The only other option is to go for a day trip from Santa Cruz…which means 2 hours each way so usually limits you to 2 dives due to time constraints thanks to the travel.  And local operators are reluctant due to the added expense of gasoline as well as the weight in the boat.  All of that equals very few opportunities to dive Floreana anymore.

We were short on tanks this day as  the boat that was supposed to deliver tanks forgot to leave them the day before.  So I sat out the Champion dive in order for there to be enough tanks to go around.  But everyone was happy, so I guess it was a good dive.  I seem doomed to always sit out Champion.  Will change that by diving there twice in the next few weeks.

For our 3rd dive, we hit Punto Cormorant while you can still dive there.  A year later, Corona del Diablo (The Devil’s Crown) is now off limits for diving.  What I like most about Punto Cormorant is how easy it is to find red-lipped batfish in relatively shallow water.  You can usually find several in the sandy bottom at about 45 feet making for really easy photo ops.  And cruising the nearby shoals are usually some large hammerheads.  I like that combo very much.

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