Isla San Cristóbal, Galapagos – Swimming with Sharks
Isla San Cristóbal, Galapagos – Swimming with Sharks.
On never enough sleep because I like to party as much as I like to tour, I dragged my ass out of bed at 7am to get to the boat on time. It was $80 for a day adventure to Kicker Rock/León Dormido to snorkel with sharks, rays and turtles. All companies are about the same calibre when buying the trip, but the price varies from place to place and I negotiated a $5 savings on top! We had an awesome catamaran boat that was smooth on the seas to travel the 40 minutes from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to Kicker Rock/León Dormido. That rock is an amazing formation in the middle of the ocean. It sticks out like a sore thumb and aquatic life seems to like it even more than the camera snapping gringos as we approached it.
Snorkelled up, about 10 of us followed our guide and jumped into the ocean next to the rock mountain in the sea where the water was cold in it’s shadow. We made two snorkel adventures while the more fancy scuba-divers headed to deep waters to see what lurked and exposed beauty below. Snorkelling on the surface, our jealous eyes followed the divers down. I should throw $500 at a Padi Diving Scuba course on one of these trips. Every time I am in this position I always regret that I have not done that thus far in life.
Not long after our group began, three massive eagle-rays passed below us that they were at least 1.5 meters wide. Those creatures are so graceful when they move that they are mesmerizing to watch. Moments later there were Galapagos sharks below us, and at one point I could see as many as six of them. Swimming with Sharks! They have such an aura of mystery and grey steel about them that they are intimidating just to watch. I was never afraid of them eating me, but it is hard to not feel anxiety when they are in waters only meters from where you are swimming. If I had an open wound, it would be a very different story… Maybe no Swimming with Sharks then. Soon after, we saw two different hammerhead sharks. Those things… I need to talk to someone about evolution to find of what has caused such an amazing shark face shape. Their eyes are in the end of the hammers. What a fantastic looking creature that is….
Many crazy painted-by-a-6-year-old fish designs came past to meet us ‘weird surface floating fish things’ and quickly raced off again. Fish in schools of hundreds of thousands come past nearly as an entire wall. A sea lion came along with a rock in his mouth that he would drop in front of us and would chase down the water to catch again. Once the sea lion was bored of showing off for us, he took off chasing a small white-tipped shark. A sea lion is my favourite animal at this moment. They are really sweet aquatic dogs. A couple of sea turtles waved hello and balloon fish that look like they are from prehistoric times were numerous in an area close to the rock where beautiful colored coral clings and starfish hang out. The colors down there are not even imaginable and a camera never does such wonders justice.
Kicker Rock is a monster above the sea line, but beyond the psychology of the iceberg and its 2/3 below the surface, Kicker Rock is this massive formation that goes to the floor of the sea. And in places as we were snorkelling past, huge bubbles of air would raise from the floor of the sea to the surface. As they would burst at the surface millions of other bubbles would form from them and rise to the surface as well. Kicker Rock is smooth above water and nests many species of bird, but below the surface it is full of double-fist sized holes that are full of sea urchins of red, purple, yellow, and blues. Every hole in the rock is habited by a different color. It is amazing.
We stopped with our boat with an empty beach on the way back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. There are massive flies here that bite so hard they make you yelp. I found out that when they bite, they are removing a chunk of your skin so that they will have a place to lay their eggs. That is a terrorizing fact to have in your head when they are around now. As well, I met an American on the boat who told me that he is a poultry veterinarian. He travels around to the chicken farms in the US to check for disease and to make sure that the chickens are being handled humanely. He said that when farmers are dealing with mass quantities of potential they tend to forget that the food is an animal that has needs. The vet told me that a company he works for supplies 45 million chickens a week to the American market. A week! I told him I would have been impressed if he had said ‘a year.’ Just one of the companies is supplying 45 million chickens a week! It is 52 times more crazy than I could have even guessed. That is quite a thought… He said that the biggest single farm he deals with has 8 million chickens on it alone. Some things to think about…
(*A very special thanks goes out to Heather Macintosh and Amy Carlson of Kansas City, Missouri, USA, for sharing their photos with me today. I really appreciate that girls.)