Trip Report Galapagos Sep 16-23, 2021 Dive Report

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Aubie

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I realize this is about a month late, but perhaps someone in the future that is researching or considering a Galapagos trip in September will appreciate the detailed dive report. I will have a separate thread on my review of the Calipso liveaboard. This is mostly dedicated to the diving.

Dates: Sep 16 – Sep 23, 2021
Location: Galapagos
Liveaboard: Calipso (Baltra itinerary)
Dives: 22 offered, including 1 night dive

Marine Life - Whale Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Penguins, Mola Mola, Eagle Rays, Turtles, Moray Eels, Seahorse, Octopus, Sealions, Iguanas, Batfish, Galapagos Shark, White Tip Reef Sharks, schools of fish and barracuda. I'm sure I left out some marine life, but those were the notable highlights to me.

I don’t know if it makes a difference or not, but I will note that this trip had a full moon the last night we were at Darwin. I have read / heard different opinions on the full moon impact.

No huge schools of hammers, but it also was not the time of year for such conditions to be likely. Only a few whale shark sightings.

Temperature / Protection - I wore a 2mm hooded vest below a 7mm wetsuit. A couple divers felt they didn’t have enough protection at 7mm and others (including myself) felt fine with 7mm. First five days were in the low 70s (with thermoclines / surges in the low 60s), one day in the 50s, final day in the upper 60s.

Current – I was told by some that relatively speaking the current was not very rough (compared to how it could have been). There definitely was a current at Wolf & Darwin and without question one needed to hold on to the rocks to stay in place. I did bring a reef hook, but learned quickly that it was easier to just hold on to the rocks in most situations. That said, most of the current was at depth, and not much of any at the surface (we did not have issues getting on the panga). We never had to reach for a line on the surface like I have had to do in other locations.

Visibility - I think was pretty good, especially for time of year. I was told the week before visibility was poor, but this week was good. I would speculate most dives at Wolf & Darwin (and other sites) were about 60 feet? I will add some photos (mostly Darwin), not the best photos from the dives, but an attempt to show conditions.

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At Darwin, when away from the platform and rocks

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The hammers often did not get too close to us, but on one or two dives they got a bit closer.

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We got much closer, but focusing on the visibility and not my subpar photography skills. Props to our dive guide for seeing a couple of whale sharks that seemed a bit hard to see from the platform we were watching from. Some were easier to spot than others.

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Cabo Douglas (Fernandina) – conditions here had the least visibility of all the dive sites, but still was not bad.

Dive Log:

Thursday, September 16th
– Dive #1 - Punta Carrion (Baltra). This is the check-in dive after getting on the boat. Dive was around 4pm. Temp = 71F at surface and 69F at bottom (42 ft). Dive was about 44 mins. Lots of very large starfish; white tip reef shark and blue nudi branch. I was not cold at all. Dive guide had all the divers check their weight at the surface and when at the bottom we each had to clear our mask and release the regulator out of our mouth and recover it.

Read rest of the thread for remaining dive report.
 
OP
Aubie

Aubie

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Friday, September 17th – Dive #2 - Canals off North Seymore (Baltra). 7am, 72F surface, 69F bottom. 96 ft deep. Only a 22 min dive because a diver went to the surface without informing the group. 6 eagle rays. A couple of hammer heads, but they were too deep to see well. Also saw a turtle.

Dive #3 – Mosquera. 9:45am. 71F/70F, 92ft deep, 54 mins. Turtle, small school of eagle rays (at least six, perhaps more due to visibility issues), moray eels, garden eels, white tip reef shark. This is the island that has plenty of sealions, so you could get lucky to see them, and I forget if some on our boat may have, but I did not.

Dive #4 – Bartolome. 2:45pm, 77ft deep. This was first dive with a little bit of a current. 6 hammer heads that were pretty close to us and a big turtle. Because of the light current, this offered some practice for Wolf & Darwin to just kneel and watch the marine life for a few minutes.


Saturday, September 18th – Dive #5 WolfSharkbay. 6:50am. 73F surface and bottom. 99 ft deep. 38 mins. Quite a few turtles (6-10 throughout the dive), hammerheads, and Galapagos sharks. I didn’t always use my GoPro, but I was pleased that I got one nice shot of a hammerhead and a turtle looking above towards the surface. Relatively speaking, for me I thought the current was strong. The group would hold on to rocks to watch the marine life.

Dive #6 – Wolf – Sharkbay. 9:50am. 73F. 87 ft max. 44 mins. Not as much action, but some a couple of Galapagos, Hammers, and a turtle.

Dive #7 – Wolf – Sharkbay – 3:00pm. 73F with thermocline in the 60s. 79 ft max. 52mins. Galapagos, hammers and a turtle. At one point we saw 10-12 hammerheads together. We did have a surge of cold water come in at 35 ft deep near the end of the dive that felt cold. It was brief (a minute or two) and my dive computer measured 69F, but the dive guide said it was 61F.

Dive #8 – Wolf – Secret Cave - night dive – 6:00pm. 71F/66F, 36 mins and 37 ft max. This was the best night dive I have ever dove and it is done in a cave with lava tubes. My night dive history has been mostly disappointing, but this did not. This dive sight is not always offered for the night dive as only guides who are comfortable going into this cave will lead it. Only 4 or 5 divers went on this. There were quite a few turtles, a few moray eels, a HUGE sting ray, and a couple of sealions. The marine life was great, but the experience of diving in the cave was awesome. At times you could come up for air in the cave, but I just can’t say how much I enjoyed this dive. One of my favorite dives ever, period. The cave had deep and shallow sections. I was completely lost going through the cave and lava tubes, but our guide knew where to go.


Sunday, September 19th – Dives #9 and #10 – Darwin. 7:00am and 9:50am. 46 and 51 mins respectively. Max depth 69 and 78 ft respectively. 73F at surface and temp would remain relatively steady regardless of depth with the exception of sudden surge of cold water at times. These surges would last a few minutes and was measured at 62F-65F. Some currents were at times very strong, or perhaps felt quite strong because we were holding on to rocks or sitting in place. Moray eels, sharks, and a turtle. Honestly, these two dives were very disappointing given the hype. Wolf was much better than Darwin. We would just sit at these rocks, or at a view point and sit there and not see much of anything.

Dive #11 – Darwin. 12:25pm. 73F. 102 ft max depth, but dive was cut short and only lasted 33 mins because a diver went to the surface without telling the group. Tough down currents when we were 80-100 ft deep. Heard dolphins in the water, but did not see them. After the dive, we saw the dolphins at the surface when on the panga headed back to the boat.

Dive #12 – Darwin. 3:50pm. 73F with brief surges of cold water in the 62F-65F range. 86 feet max and dove for 49 mins. Whale shark! Finally saw a whale shark, a somewhat smaller one, which was nice to cap off the day given the disappointment of Darwin for the first three dives. Tough down current again.

It was on this evening that we had the welcoming of a bunch of silky sharks near the boat. Guests spent about 15-20 minutes enjoying them being near the boat, as I think some were feeding them.


Monday, September 20th – Dives #13 – Darwin. 6:40am. 75F. 89 ft and 109 ft max depth for 51 and 47 mins respectively. Today is so far better than yesterday. Playful hammers that kept circling back and got very close to us while we say at the rocks and watched. Previous days they would stay away from divers and be further out in the blue.

Dive #14 – Darwin. 9:50am. 75F, 109 ft max depth. 47 mins. This was memorable and enjoyable because this was the first dive where we left the rocks and went out more into the blue (where for all we knew before had whale sharks and more hammers due to visibility limits). I loved it at one point I could see hammers in every direction. While not a huge school at any particular time, at any one time I could see a few below me, a few to my side, a few above me, etc. No whale sharks though.

Dive #15 – Darwin. 12:15pm. 75F. 90 ft max. 42 mins. Dive #100 for me, so I was hoping it would be great and it was! Whale shark! We saw a whale shark, we believe the same one on two occasions (once with the current and once against it). Good hammer head action as well. Surge of cold water with strong current for about a minute. Awesome dive. Note, that on the itinerary we had the option to head to Wolf, but the group decided to stay at Darwin.

Dive #16 – Darwin. Was expecting to go to Wolf, but the group decided to delay lunch and do one last dive at Darwin in hopes of seeing another whale shark given the few sightings we had and today being such a better day than yesterday. We had a brief surface interval and we were back in the water at 2:15pm. Max depth was 79 ft and the dive was for 46 mins. Saw a HUGE (pregnant?) whale shark twice. The current felt much stronger on this dive, which was notable to us given we were just in the water an hour earlier. Perhaps because of the change in the current we saw few hammers, but the huge whale shark was great. Awesome finish for the Darwin dive site that started off so disappointingly the day before.
 
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Aubie

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Tuesday, September 21st – Dive #17 - Cabo Douglas (Fernandina). 8:30am. 62F surface, 58F bottom. 67 ft max depth. 28 mins. This is when and where the cold water diving began. Having 9mm of protection for my core was beneficial (I also doubled up on my gloves). We had a couple of very playful sealions, a batfish, a Galapagos hornshark, a few small sting rays, and a few turtles. Will note that this morning dive started about 2 hours later than previous days because apparently staying at Darwin for extra dives yesterday caused us to be late this morning.

Between dives 17 and 18 we got on a panga and took a brief ride near the island to get a closer look at some of the wildlife. This was enjoyable. I don’t know if this is common or not (didn’t ask). I do know some of the crew got off the panga and went swimming and we left them, as I believe they may have been searching for a computer or something.

Dive #18 – Cabo Douglas (Fernandina). Same general area as Dive #17, but closer to shore. 11:00am. 66F surface, 64F bottom. 20 ft max depth. 48 mins. This is the popular and famous diving with iguanas. Lots of iguanas are out in the shallow end (less than 12 ft deep) eating. In addition to the iguanas, we had quite a few very playful sealions and I finally saw a penguin!! Saw two penguins, but they move extremely quick. They were mostly hanging out right on the shore and on the rock, so they would dive in and out. Also saw a few turtles. This was the only dive of the entire trip where our dive guide essentially let the group dive on their own, I would speculate because of how shallow we were. The visibility was not good. Perhaps because we were so shallow, there was surging / back-and-forth current. Not terribly strong. Due to the variety of marine life, this was one of my more memorable dives of the trip.

Dive #19 – Punta Vicente Roca (Isabella). 2:45pm, 78 ft max depth. 35 mins. This was a very cold dive, but only measured as 58F. It felt much colder than the morning dive that claimed to be 58F, so either my body was playing tricks on me, the morning dive was not as cold as 58F, or this dive was colder. One or two groups ended the dive early because it was so cold. Fortunately this dive had mola mola at the very beginning (two of them). We also had a couple of playful sealions, and a seahorse!! I was really hoping to see a seahorse for the first time in my life, so I enjoyed that. Also had a couple of turtles. No current that I recall. The dive site looked a little dark, so I brought my dive light and glad that I did as most of this dive is done looking at the wall / rock.

Dive #20 – I skipped this dive as it was the exact same dive spot as #19. I was told by the very few who did go on this dive that the visibility was horrible, could barely see, so it was a very brief dive for them.

For those of us who did not do Dive #20, we took a panga near the shore and into the cave. Here we got to see iguanas, sealions, blue footed boobies (the only time the entire trip we got to see them), other type of birds that I don’t know, and a couple of penguins. I am glad with the decision I made with going on the panga instead.


Wednesday, September 22nd – Dives #21 and #22 – Cousins Rock (Santiago). The last two dives of the trip are identical dive sites. 6:44am, 77ft max, 48 mins, 69F/66F for dive 21. 9:30am, 65 ft max, 47 mins for dive 22. Some current at times. Huge school of barracuda, a few turtles, couple of octopus, small string ray, a couple of friendly sealions, and a couple of white tip sharks.
 

drrich2

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Sounds like a great trip, and glad you were blessed with it. Seems like the Calipso has featured in a number of recent Galapagos Islands trip reports, and highly rated at that.
 
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