2017 December

Galápagos is an iconic must-do dive location for all divers so when I realised that there was an opportunity to go there with Andy Murch as part of a Big Fish Expeditions dive group, I did not hesitate for a nanosecond. 

And Galápagos did not disappoint. Our home for the week was Galápagos Master, also known as Deep Blue. It’s a stylish new liveaboard, probably the best liveaboard I’ve been on and sleeps 16 divers in 8 comfortable cabins with en-suite bathrooms. No doubt because our trip was close to Christmas, the vessel was far from full and I was given a free upgrade to a large upper deck cabin all to myself. 

For once I was not accompanied by Mick Todd on a Big Fish Expeditions dive trip so Andy, faced with choosing who he should be lumbered me with, fell on his sword, sacrificing himself. 

We did a quick check-out dive at Punta Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Christobal before motoring overnight to Isla San Salvador for two dives at Mosquera Sur. As I did my safety stop at the end of the first dive I carefully shut my camera system down and put the dome port cover on ready to hand it up to the zodiac crew. It was then that I noticed a sunfish (mola mola) behind me, looking straight at me. By the time I got the put the dome port cover off and the camera and strobes back on it had begun drifting away already facing away from me. Not a photogenic angle. Most divers would have been thrilled to have such a close encounter, I felt grumpy.

Still I wasn’t grumpy for long as we again motored overnight, this time to Darwin and Wolf Islands, the two locations I wanted to see more than any others and were to be bound to be a grumpiness antidote. Indeed as we approached Islote Darwin and the famous Darwin Arch grumpiness was replaced by excitement. Two great days and six great dives later, I knew I had been right to be excited! Highlights were Galápagos sharks, Scalloped Hammerhead sharks and a Whale shark. It is occasionally possible to see schools of hundreds of Scalloped Hammerhead sharks at Darwin Arch, we didn’t but Andy and I did see a small school beneath us on a twilight dive and Andy got some great shots. I had decided that given the likelihood of low light, I would not take my usual wide angle lens. Big mistake. But the next days 4 dives at Isla Wolf brought me better fortunes. At Shark Bay there were close Barracuda and Turtle opportunities, at Landslide, Scalloped Hammerhead sharks, at Shark Bay the second time, Sea Lions and Turtles and at Secret Cave, more Sea Lions and Turtles.

The following day we twice dived Punta Vicente Roca, Isla Isabeli photographing Mola Molas, Galápagos Bullhead sharks, Turtles and Sea Lions followed by two dives at Cape Douglas, Isla Fernandina where there were Marine Ignunas everywhere. The crew had asked me what I had most wanted to see and photograph on the trip. I had replied Marine Ignunas and was now thrilled that my wish had come true. 

Our final day and our final dive was at Cousins Rock near Isla San Salvador and somewhere along the way we squeezed in two island visits to photograph Galápagos giant tortoises, land iguanas and nesting frigate birds and boobies. A truly fabulous trip.