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Dive Review of Aggressor in
Galapagos Islands

May, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Bill & Jeanne Downey, PA, US (11 reports)
Report Number 1081

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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Truk, Palau, Fiji, Tahiti, Indonesia, Malaysia
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
windy, cloudy  
Seas
choppy  
Water Temp
65   to 75    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
7
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
130 feet, 55 minutes  
Liveaboard?
yes 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
1 or 2 
Dolphins
Schools 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 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
[None]
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
3 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
The Galapagos Islands have been on our A-list for several years; we finally
dove there for two weeks, and it was awesome!

An overnight in either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador is required; we stayed
at the Hilton in Guayaquil, arriving about 9:30pm. The next morning our
9:15am flight to San Cristobol,left on time. There’s a 44-pound weight
limit for check-in baggage, but the cost for being overweight was
reasonable, and carry-on was not a problem. It’s a large plane that was
pretty empty, so we were able to spread out. Aggressor personnel and an
air-conditioned bus met us; since they were still prepping the boat, we
made a tour of the local nature center and then boarded the Galapagos
Aggressor I at 1:00pm. After a brief tour and some procedural explanations,
we were fed a buffet lunch, unpacked, geared up, and hit the water for our
buoyancy check out dive at 3:00pm. The dive site is shallow and mostly
barren, except for the sea lions that came to play with us. We also had a
short land tour to view the sea lions on shore. Everyone pretty much
crashed early, and while we slept the boat traveled to North Seymour.

The next morning we did a pre-breakfast dive, then ate breakfast while the
boat moved to Baltra for fueling, where we disembarked for safety reasons.
We did another dive at North Channel and then did a land tour where we
encountered up close and personal: mating blue-footed boobies, booby
babies, land and marine iguanas, sea lions, and frigates with their red
chest pouches puffed up to attract mates. Then began the sixteen-hour trip
to Wolf Island, where we arrived shortly before breakfast.

We spent one day, four dives, at Wolf Island. The visibility was not the
best and the current could have been stronger to attract larger animals,
but we saw hammerheads, turtles, stingrays, schooling barracudas, Galapagos
sharks, dozens if not hundreds of eels, eagle rays, and dolphins—not bad!
Water temperature was 72 degrees

Then it was on to the high point of diving in the Galapagos—Darwin Island,
which is only 2-3 hours from Wolf. Darwin looks very prehistoric, with
steep terrain, and birds flying and nesting everywhere. Dolphins are a
common sight. There is no land touring, because it would be impossible to
land or hike around. We were able to do six dives at Darwin by doing fewer
dives at Wolf the next day—not a problem. Huge schools of fish blocked the
light. Out in the blue were schooling hammerheads and numerous Galapagos
sharks. While drifting with the current away from the wall, hoping Ms. Big
(most whale sharks here are female) would swim by, there were so many fish
busily swimming it felt like we were standing in the median strip of a
super highway! We tried snorkeling with dolphins between dives, but they
didn’t want to play, and moved off. All dives except the first and possibly
the last are done from zodiacs, with a simple back roll-in. Getting back in
requires handing up tanks and weights, and then either kicking into the
zodiac or using a ladder at the back. Most of us got quite proficient,
looking less like flopping fish as the week progressed.

We did one more dive at Wolf the next day, then the sixteen hour trek back
toward civilization dives at Cousin’s Rock and Gordon’s Rock, where we saw
seahorse, frogfish, long-nose hawkfish, eagle rays,  and some exuberant sea
lions. Another land tour ensued, then a snorkel with the small (very small)
resident penguin population.

The last afternoon was spent at the Darwin Science center on Santa Cruz,
communing with the land tortoises and learning about the havoc introduced
species are causing throughout the islands. We walked into town, a bustling
tourist area, and did our t-shirt shopping. Dinner was off the boat, then
overnight on the boat back to San Cristobol. All but three of us were
transfered to the airport, overnighted in Guayaquil, and flew home.

The routine the second week was much the same as the first, although some
of the dives were better. At North Seymour we found pipefish and the
general fish and sea lion action was better. At Wolf topside conditions
were not as favorable and underwater action was down a bit. At Darwin the
water was murkier than the first week, with cold upwellings and more
current. At the end of the second dive at Darwin, we spotted what looked
like another huge school blocking out the sun. As we approached to take
photos, it seemed to be in the shape of a—WHALE SHARK!!—with a Galapagos
shark swimming below it. We couldn’t get very close, but it certainly was a
thrill. The next dive we saw at least one whale shark three times. The
third time it came out of the murk headed straight for us. Eventually you
have to decide whether to go over or under it.

We did seven dives at Darwin’s Arch, skipping the return trip to Wolf
completely. Whale sharks were seen on five dives, most up close and
personal. The last pass we traveled next to it using our now-powerful
“whale shark” leg muscles for at least ten minutes before tiring and
running low on air. What an incredible experience!

The second week at Cousin’s Rock had better visibility and no current. A
school of at least thirty eagle rays, including several golden cow rays
flew past us. At Gordon’s Rock the current was ripping and the water was
crystal clear—even the fish and turtles were have second thoughts about
swimming upstream; it was a fun dive.

Galapagos I & II are almost identical boats, with similar itineraries
and menus; each week had its pluses and minuses. Without whale shark
sighting the diving is great and the land tours are unique. With whale
sharks the diving is exceptional; we’ll be going back!


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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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