While the birds and vegetation were incredible, it was really the the sea life which knocked us out. We would be snorkeling along and then all of a sudden would find ourselves face to face with a turtle, hanging out close to shore waiting for nightfall when she would come up to the beach and lay here eggs. We swam alongside her for a good half an hour as she ate. Although more graceful that their land brothers, they still looked so uncomfortable when a huge wave came crashing over us and would send them careering onto the rocks. At least we weren’t the only ones.
The sea lions on the other hand were born to swim. And knew it. These guys enjoyed showing off. One young sea lion in particular was swimming around us, darting towards us before swimming away and doubling back on himself to try again. Then he started showing off and picking up a sea cucumber from the sea floor began to play with it in front of us, dropping it and then diving down to pick it up with his middle and flicked it up to his flipper only to drop it again and repeat the whole performance. This went on for a good half an hour. So long as we were paying him attention he was happy.
That was probably our number one snorkeling moment. That is until we snorkeled with a penguin. Really.
Aside from our many snorkeling adventures from the side of our boat we did some scuba diving from the shore in Puerto Ayora. We dived for three days with Scuba Iguana who I could not recommend highly enough – a very professional and friendly dive school. Those dives were other worldly all over again. We really were the observers of an underwater world. I hardly knew where to look.
We saw a hammerhead shark. Twice. Once from above and again from below, about 3 metres away. Seeing its silhouette swim above us knocked us for six, fear didn’t get a look in – although I think I did almost forget to breathe. The eagle-rays, turtles, octopus, seahorses, sea lions which on any normal dive trip would warrant a paragraph each. Eagle rays which were a new favourite – they were so graceful gliding along flapping their huge polka dot wings. When they look like they actually fly through water, its easy to see how they got their name.
Both on land and under the ocean, the Galapagos kept surprising us, thrilling us and above all humbling us. It allows you in to glimpse the limitless extent of the worlds natural beauty yet you always feel like the imposter in a world you don’t quite deserve. Its a call to action to preserve our worlds habitats. You owe it to yourself to visit.