Monday, December 11, 2006

Darwin

Darwin island. Sunrise. Thousands of boobies and frigates are in the air, circling above their volcanic layer-cake island, rejoycing in a new day. The imposing steep cliffs prohibit any landings. I can hardly wait to get going and jump in.

 Darwin island & arch
Dive 1: The arch, 7:06, calm sea, 26°C water, visibility a good 15m, mild current. For some reason we're almost always diving in one big group of 17, despite being divided in three teams... creating a -for sharks- unpenetrable wall of bubbles when all of us are hanging onto the rocks. Only when my team finally heads off and ends up on top of a sand patch do we get to see some action: hammerheads coming in for some servicing by eager cleaner fish.

 Hammerhead shark
Dive 2: The arch, 10:55, strong current & surge. Same scenario. Nothing to be seen until we split into smaller groups. Only then do they appear out of the blue, in small packs. And this time I get my -it's now or never- chance: one of them turns and slowly swims straight towards me, I take a deep breath, it comes closer still, I hold my breath to avoid freaking it with bubbles and point my camera, when it fills my frame I shoot, it veers away, I shoot again, it's gone. Later on we also glimpse a dolphin diving down and some jacks streaming by.

 Hammerhead shark

 Hammerhead shark

Dive 3: The arch, visibility has dropped to 10m. Again, the best action is above the cleaning-station sand patch. Spread out over several meters we get to see hammerheads all around us and near enough to be real exciting. And I even get to see my first Galapagos shark.

 Hammerhead sharks

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