Ghosts of hammerheads

Shadows

Scalloped hammerheads off Kicker Rock, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands.

With low light, poor visibility and nothing but blue sea beyond, they were little more than ghosts as they slipped by us on a dive site. I’ve reproduced in black and white to maintain image quality.

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Happy napping sea lion

Sloth defined

Sea lions will nap just about anywhere. This one chose a ledge just above the surf on Kicker Rock off San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands.

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An underwater rocket of blubber and teeth

Fire!

A sea lion off Kicker Rock shoots past me on a dive near San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands.

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Kickin’ rocks

Kicker rock

The Kicker Rock dive site, also known as Leon Dormido, off San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands.

Probably the single best site of my Galapagos adventures. We dropped into the channel between the two pinnacles and — after a bit of trouble with another diver’s weight — we swam beneath a school of about 40 juvenile Galapagos sharks.

We circled the smaller pinnacle for a bit; I ended up finishing the dive “alone” as I was the only tourist left with air. For the record, diving alone is incredibly unsafe. I wasn’t really; I was only down about six meters, with the divemaster on the surface above me, keeping an eye on both the spent divers and me.

(That’s still not the best way to go, but everyone else had burned their tanks just 30 minutes in. I’m a bit better on air and wanted to enjoy. Plus, six meters is a depth from which I could easily ascend on a single breath if need be.)

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Green Turtle diaries

Hola tortuga verde
One beautiful Green Turtle, on a dive off Frigate Bird Hill, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands.

Chilled

Happy little turtle

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Have yourself a merry little turtle

Happy little turtle

OK, don’t actually have one. Fishing sea turtle is bad. Fishing is often bad for sea turtles. Eating sea turtle is really. BAD.

But here’s to wishing a Merry Christmas to all from me and this Green Turtle from Frigate Bird Hill on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands.

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When sea lions attack!?!

Bum rushed by a sea lion

OK. So they don’t actually attack. They’re actually just playing around. Maybe they’ll nip a fin in what amounts to an underwater game of tug-of-war.

But the first time a playful bugger rushes you, it’s a bit jarring. Below is a series of photos that dramatically captures a vicious (ha!) sea lion “attack.” off the coast of San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands.

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Non-human dive buddy?

Dive buddy

A Galapagos sea lion popped into view to check me out on a dive off Frigate Bird Hill on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands.

He must have known I was super cold, as the water temp on that dive dipped to about 57 Fahrenheit (14 Celsius). Brrrrrr…

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Hola marble raya

A perturbed ray

Here floats a Marble Ray in the open. Most of the time, divers find these guys resting or otherwise immobile on the bottom. He apparently didn’t appreciate me taking lots of photos and decided to scram.

Which provided the great opportunity for this series of photos of the ray in flight. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

The above and below photos come from a very cold dive on the rocks fringing Frigate Bird Hill on San Cristobal, Galapagos.

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Eventually the sea will reclaim it

Hey little buddy

Here a little fish hides in a rusting pipe, part of an unnamed wreck splayed beneath the bay of San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands. I did a very cold, shallow wreck dive there, mostly looking for a sea horse but also marveling at what remained of a giant freighter. (Note: This is not the remains of the oil tanker Jessica, which wrecked here in 2001.)

I’ve done a handful of wreck dives in my scuba career and I’m always fascinated by just how much nature will make itself at home once more on manmade environments. Not that our trash and debris should have been there in the first place, but sea life, grasses, fans and fish will generally find a way.

See below for more photos.

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