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Dive Review of Aggressor II in
Galapagos Islands

Aggressor II, Dec, 2003,

by John Sommerer, md, USA . Report 886.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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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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