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Dive Review of Aggressor II in
Galapagos Islands

December, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by John Sommerer, md, USA (1 report)
Report Number 886

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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Micronesia, Palau, PNG, Tonga
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, rainy, dry  
Seas
choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
63   to 82    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
5
Water Visibility
30   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
60 minutes (give or take)  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
Squadrons 
Dolphins
Schools 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
Good rinse tanks, camera table. Lots of room, compressed air. Very careful
and helpful handling of equipment by crew.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
5 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
1 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
After reading many poor to fair reports on the Galapagos Aggressor II here,
I was apprehensive about our 10-day charter over Christmas, specially
arranged for our group. Not to worry. FANTASTIC! The boat had been totally
refit in the previous year so AC, plumbing, everything worked fine.
Beautiful fit-out. The crew had few English-speakers, but all were very
nice and helpful. Captain Jorge was very kind, and provided special treats
like champaigne for those in the hot tub at the end of a long day of
diving. Food was excellent, including roast turkey for Christmas dinner,
and some great Ecuadorian specialties, like ceviche. Super snacks between
dives. Room kept spotless, new towels every day. Lots of beverages to keep
hydrated, including water, soda, and many interesting and delicious fruit
juices. Also free beer and wine.

Diving fantastic, with huge numbers of hammerhead and galapagos sharks at
Wolf; whitetips, green turtles, sealions most everywhere. One dive at
Gordon rocks produced a school of eagle rays, a school of  golden cow-nosed
rays, several mobulas, and one enormous manta (on top of 3 kinds of sharks
and fur sealions). Darwin did not have good conditions when we were there,
so we went back to Wolf. Wrong time of year for whalesharks. At Punta
Vicente Roca, we saw two mola molas on each of two dives, along with many
large seahorses. Other sites provided the red-lipped batfish, frogfish,
mating whitetips, HUGE schools of grunts and barracuda, large yellowfin
tuna, and underwater video of cormorants and penguins. Conditions were, as
expected, challenging. Strong currents, surge, high waves, coldish water
(especially the W. coast of Isabella), limited visibility and downwashes in
some places. The panga drivers and crew are very helpful with boarding the
pangas or the main boat, as well as helping you out of the water. They
usually pick you up quickly, but sometimes you need to wait in heavy seas
while they recover other divers or search for your flag. This is no place
for beginners. Seriously. Dive totals for the guests on our trip ranged
from about 300 to 1200.

In general, divemaster (and best English speaker) Jaime consulted with us
and adjusted the itinerary to maximize the excellent diving. We decided to
skip some of the shore visits to maximize our time at Wolf. (Unfortunately,
National Park management insists shore visits must be done according to the
approved itinerary, or not at all, to avoid too many visitors in any one
place.) However, my wife and I did a shore-oriented tour the week before
meeting our group (all dive fanatics who didn't care much about the
wildlife ashore). Frankly, I would strongly recommend doing the two-cruise
approach if you are at all interested in topside wildlife, because the dive
trips don't spend much time ashore, and don't go to the best land sites.
Also, the divemasters double as (mandatory) naturalist guides ashore, and
may not be as good as the guides used by the land-oriented boats. (For
example, our other divemaster told one of the guests that a lava heron was
a galapagos dove.) For the record, Patricia Stuki is probably the best
wildlife guide we have ever had anywhere in the world. She works for Quasar
Nautica; she does both topside tours (Parranda), AND serves as divemaster
on Lammer Law. The Aggressor II was excellent, but it will be a tough call
next time because of Patricia.

Fortuitous timing had us in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz for New Year's Eve.
It was quite a party! Not getting to bed until 2:00 am didn't make our
departure for the airport next moring particularly pleasant, but it was
certainly a New Year we won't forget. Burning effigies of the old year's
troubles at midnight, preceded by a parade of transvestite
bandits/beggars!

We had no trouble with either Ecuadorian airline (AeroGal to San
Christobal, and TAME from Baltra), though we did have to pay overweight
(and how!) luggage charges leaving the Galapagos. The tiny 8-seater we used
to travel between San Christobal and Baltra was less reassuring, and it was
a good thing we managed to send our dive and photo gear ahead by boat,
thanks to Patricia and Quasar Nautica. We traveled through Quito, rather
than Guayaquil as recommended, and were glad we did. It's a beautiful city,
with fantastic restaurants. Just don't try to take the stairs too fast...
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Other dive reports on Aggressor Fleet

All Galapagos Islands Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Galapagos Islands
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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