Originally Written October 2012
Day 2: Cabo Marshall, Isla Isabela
The island of Isabela lies east of San Cristobal. We journeyed overnight to the northern point, which would provide an ideal point of departure the following day for the islands of Wolf and Darwin.
After a dive briefing, we prepared for the first dive with a range of gear. Some wore 5 mil wetsuits while others donned semi-dry or even dry-suits. Nearly every diver made a final safety check on camera and video equipment, hoping the o-rings would hold. The mere review of signals for different animals we would see throughout the week left us full of excitement and eagerness to jump into the clear, blue waters.
We boarded the zodiacs, small vessels that permitted the group of divers to explore the reef in two smaller groups; each led by a local guide and Divemaster.
Hard corals and benthic animals dominated the coral reef, providing a strong base of nutrients and habitats for a wide array of creatures. Parrotfish grazed on the corals as scorpion fish, as still as stones, sought to blend into the rocky surroundings. Schools of king angelfish (Holacanthus passer) and Yellowtail surgeonfish (Prionurus laticlavius) filled my vision.
As I floated weightlessly away from the coral, I found myself in a school of barracuda. Usually curious of shiny objects, such as diving gear, these barracuda seemed unperturbed by my presence.
Manta Rays glided overhead, following the ocean current in search of plankton and other microscopic food items.
A careful eye could spot an octopus hiding in the small holes of the reef, awaiting nightfall. Occasionally, we would come across a white tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) resting amidst the rocks and corals. Non-threatening, the shark would quickly swim away in search of a new resting spot if disturbed by the oncoming group of divers.
Sharks are an important part of the marine ecosystem in the Galapagos, and the main draw for tourists and snorkelers. As we soon discovered and Islands Wolf and Darwin, the Galapagos is abundant with schooling hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, and even whale sharks. Although it is illegal to fish them, the abundance of sharks and competitive nature of the economy has prompted illegal shark finning.
This was one of the few underlying conservation issues I discovered at nature’s paradise in the Galapagos.
Max Depth: 20 m / 66′
Dive Time: 60 min
Visibility: 6 – 12 m
Temperature: 19 – 21 C