Visited a sanctuary for the giant tortoises, basically just a large arid forest with tortoises lurking all over the place, grazing and hanging out in the swamps. They also had a nursery for raising tortoises from eggs to be released as they grow large enough to be protected from natural predators. Photo ops were great, these 100-150 year old giants don't move all that fast!! In fact they don't move much at all, except for a slow, steady breathing, very loudly exhaling, and sounding a lot like Darth Vader. Ya gotta love these guys!!!
All in all, it was a terrific first day of exploring in the Galapagos.
|First dive was near the point at the left end of this photo. Second was through the channel between the 2 rocks.|
Through Bolivar, we arranged to hire divemaster Patricio to take us diving the next day at a nearby offshore rock, Lionida Dormida, sleeping lion. The rock is known for great assortment of fish, both colorful reef fish and larger pelagics, including lots of sharks. We were assured that the sharks, including hammerheads, NEVER attack people here in the Galapagos, as they have so much better tasting food swimming around. OK, we're good with that!!
On arrival at Lionida Dormida, we eagerly got geared up and jumped in the water. Quickly we dropped down to 100', and Patricio was great at spotting schools of fish all around. We saw a large school of scalloped hammerheads, then barracudas, and several sea turtles came by to check us out. Very cool indeed. A terrific dive, until we were surfacing. I (Adam) got too close to the rock and got caught in a very strong surge current that swept me against it. Rolling and tumbling on the rock, things were actually looking pretty grim. The waves pulled off a fin, the regulator was pulled from my mouth, and my camera also was pulled from my grip, and broke it's tether. After quite a struggle to get out of the surge, I was able to swim a bit shakily away, and the mate on the boat helped me back aboard. Very scary business, this was the most challenging dive situation I've been in, and was lucky to escape as well as I did. The boat driver, also a dive master, told me later that he was afraid when he saw me trapped in the surf that the barnacles would turn me to hamburger! Not good at all. Speaking of this guy, the boat driver/dive master.....when he heard I'd lost my camera, he instantly strapped on a tank and jumped in to look for it! Even when he said he often dives this rock 3-5 times per week, I had absolutely no hope he'd be able to find it, given the surge along the rocks. But amazingly, after about 20 minutes he surfaced, camera in hand!!! Said he saw it from about 90 feet down, on the bottom at 150 feet, and was able to get it, no problema!!! What a stud! Needless to say, he earned a nice tip!!!
The only lasting bummer about the incident is that my left shoulder got wrenched hard. It's still, 3 days later, very painful to move. I've been keeping it in a sling day and night, and I guess will wait for a few more days before deciding if I need to fly back to the mainland Ecuador for further evaluation of the damage with an MRI. It doesn't sound as though the hospital here is worth the visit, unfortunately. Especially a bummer to be here in the Galapagos, unable to dive, or even snorkel, after all of this planning for this visit. Ah well, es la vida. Our fingers are crossed that it heals soon, so that I can regain use of the arm. In the meantime, there is plenty to see on shore.
After that dive, Cindi, Emily, and Kevin did another great dive at the rock, again with lots of wildlife. The next day, 2 days ago, we had a good sail to our next "Galapago", Isla Santa Cruz, about 40 miles away. Now anchored in Puerto Ayora, the largest city in the Galapagos. More adventures to follow!!!