Finning slowly against the side of the rockface I have my hand outstretched in front of me, glowing in an underwater borealis. The sun’s rays shafting through the surface of the water are bounding off the rich sediment in the water of Galapogas and I’m entranced – even more so by the dancing light than by the collage of colour on the rockface near me, where a deep purple face coral is home to multitudes of neon coloured fish and brilliant orange starfish bigger than my hand.
We’re about to finish our first snorkelling expedition of our one week adventure in that destination of destinations – the Galapogas Islands.
Off San Cristobel Island – population 8000 and not growing – Kiker rock is a popular destination though today we’re mostly there on our own (tourism in the islands is strictly controlled by the Ecuadorian government).
The rock, created from eons of volcanic ash compressed into rock, is not far from the shore it a quick boat ride before we don fins and mask and snorkel and forward roll into the water. Though the visibility is good, there is sediment that makes the water gloomy and our eyes strain as we scan the deep waters.
Underneath me a shape emerges from the gloom; it’s a shark. It’s our first Galapogas sharks, just one of the animals that we’ve come hoping to see.
I’m swimming close to our safety guide right at the back of the pack when we both see the same thing – a huge ray slowing cruising from our sight. Then suddenly our attention is drawn by a huge shark swimming lazily just underneath us. We don’t move and within seconds, three others have joined it, just metres from the undersides of our wetsuit clad bodies.
I don’t want to stop watching but we have to catch up with the others, so with a wrench we both leave the open water for a crevice that splits Kiker rock in two. Finning slowly I soon loose count of the number of sharks and turtles I have seen.
Then a surprise, rising from the bottom of the ocean up in to the green water is a hammerhead shark. Who would have thought that the same sharks that make us wary of the water at home, are the very reason we are swimming in this vast ocean.
But the giant beast disappeared into the gloom and I went back to looking for sharks and watching the light on my hands.
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