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February 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Galapagos Sky, Galapagos Islands

where the wild things are

from the February, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

I now understand why divers say the Galapagos is one of the finest dive destinations in the world. I knew it was not for beautiful coral reefs, as the Galapagos has very few, nor for brightly colored tropical fish. But until I dived this ocean of giants, this underwater Jurassic Park, I just didn’t understand its power. Close encounters with whale sharks, bottlenose dolphins, manta rays and hammerhead sharks were common. Yes indeed, if I may borrow from Maurice Sendak, this is where the wild thing are.

I journeyed aboard the 83-foot Galapagos Sky, launched in 2001 by Santiago Dunn and now managed by Peter Hughes himself. It holds 16 guests in eight double cabins and is well equipped with navigational and safety equipment. Safety must be the hallmark in these waters. The crew provided dive beacons, and we were given instruction on their use. They also fitted a dive horn on each BC because this can be tough diving; hence their rule: Always stay with your dive buddy and your dive-master (I was glad to follow the guide who was instrumental in spotting things I would have missed, as well as creating opportunities to see the large creatures).

A Cabin on the Galapagos SkyWe boarded in the afternoon, and after briefings, motored to our checkout dive in an ugly area with poor visibility and little of interest to see (our only poor dive). That gave me plenty of time to adjust my gear and ensure I was properly weighted.

The next morning, Fabrizio Carbo, who has been a divemaster in these waters for 30 years, guided us on our first real dive. He signaled to our group of five to hug a rock cliff -- the lower our profile, the better chance for a close encounter. Clinging to the rocks, I peered into the deep blue. Slowly a shape materialized from the gloom. A manta ray as large as our Zodiac was swimming right toward us. As it flew over our heads, it looked like a 747 flying by. A second, then a third manta appeared. As if in slow motion, the five-meter ray gracefully soared over my head, so close I could have touched him. I thought to myself, “I’m done.” I could have packed my bags right then and left, and this would have still have been a successful trip....

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