After several attempts to protect the surrounding waters, in March 13, 1996, the Galapagos Marine Reserve was declared with 70.000 square Km. and 1.400 Km of coast.
1990 shark fishing was prohibited
In 1992 the Galapagos was declared a "Whale's Sanctuary".
In 1985 United Nations declared the Galapagos a "Reserve of the Biosphere"
In 1989 CEDAM Intl. Declared the Galapagos islands "One of the seven underwater wonders of the world"
DIVING CONDITIONS AT THE GALAPAGOS
Galapagos Islands scuba diving isn´t necessarily for real beginner divers. We recommend it for mid-level to advanced divers, especially for certain areas. Dive shops will advise you on the conditions at that time and can suggest less strenuous itineraries for beginners. Diving conditions at the Galapagos are considered medium to hard due to the currents, depth and shape of the dive sites, temperatures and fauna. However, for those of you who want to get your PADI certificate, there's no better place than the Galapagos. Even in the waters near the islands, will give you the chance to swim with sea lions, watch mantas, look out for flounders, colorful fish, and perhaps even dodge the hungry nibbles of a Blue Footed Booby, diving for its mid-morning snack.
GALAPAGOS TEMPERATURES The range of surface temperature of the sea is from 18ºC to 30ºC. September to November are the coldest months, and February to April the warmest. Thermoclines are present, between 10 to 30 meters depth ( 30 to 100 feet) and the temperature can drop from one to five degrees Celsius. Galapagos Islands scuba diving shops will supply divers with wet suits and appropriate gear for the temperatures.
You will probably dive in the Galápagos
in medium to strong currents. We understand medium currents to be between
one and three knots (between 1 and 4 miles/hour or between 2 and 6 Km./hour),
and strong currents are more than three knots (more than 4 miles/hour
or 6 Km./hour).
Galapagos diving can be tricky if you are caught in an unexpected current on the surface. Just relax, get positive bouyancy and call the boat. If you are in a group, get close together. In the garúa season (from July to December) the Humboldt current coming from the southeast is present. In the warm season ( from January to June) the Panamá current from the northeast arrives in the Galápagos.
couldn't be better! 100 feet or 30 meters often
is present in the Galápagos waters. You shall expect a visibility
from 50 to 80 feet or 15 to 25 meters in most of the places. In some
areas and in some seasons due to the richness of phytoplankton, green
waters are present. This planktonic algae is the first step in the trophic
chain and is necessary to sustain all marine life at the islands.
DRIFT DIVINGMany of the Galapagos islands dives are drift dives. The group will enter and will be drifted down current. With medium currents, you should not wait more than a few seconds at the surface before descending, so you don´t drift from the group. During your dive the boat will follow the bubbles and will pick you up in the place you appear at the surface.
Safety stops are often made in blue waters, away from a wall or bottom.
DEEP DIVING More than 20 meters or 60 feet is considered a deep dive. We make the deep dive first in the morning. Consider the possible thermocline and expect temperatures to be cold, use sufficient thermal protection. Often dives in the Galápagos are deep and wall dives, making Galapagos diving more complicated.
NIGHT DIVING: You can enjoy a shallow night dive with no drift. Your guide will select a safe place for the night dive with no current. Nocturnal crabs, starfish, sea cucumbers, fish, and other different species are visible at night, and it is common to find fluorescence in the first six meters. When you do, it's like diving in the stars! One of the best dives can be a fluorescent night dive with turtles, fur seals and other animals which cam be seen with the lamp turned off.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS MARINE LIFE
ALGAE 333 species of algae are reported at the Galápagos, (35 % are endemics). During "El Niño" many of the algae are replaced by others which can grow better in warm waters, changing the food chain.
INVERTEBRATES24 species of sea urchins, 28 of sea stars, 30 of sea cucumbers, approximately
600 of mollusca, and more than 100 of crabs exist in the Galapagos.
The colors of the Blue Sea Star Phataria Unifascialis, the shape of
the Black Spiny Brittle Star Ophiocoma aethiops, the red phosphorescent
skin of the Horse conch Fasciolaria Princeps and the quantity of Slate
Pencil Urchins Eucidaris thouarsii will fascinate you during the dives.
We strongly recommend the book "A Field Guide to Sea Stars and
other Equinoderms of Galápagos. By Cleveland P.Hickman, Jr. of
Sugar Spring Press, 1998.
CORALS 31 non-reef building corals (30% of them are endemic) and 13 reef builders are reported. The Galápago have the same quantity and diversity of corals as other parts of the east Pacific. They are congregated in some areas, especially in Darwin and Wolf where more warm waters are present. Out of those congregations, you should not expect to find large quantities of corals.
FISH There are more than 300 species of fish (17% are endemic to the Galapagos).
Big schools of Creole Fish (Gringo or Paranthias colonus), Black Striped
Salema (Ojón or Xenocys jessiae), groups of Almaco Jacks (Palometa
or Seriola rivoliana), Barracudas (Sphyraena idiastes), Moorish Idol
(Zanclus cornutus), and dancing Rainbow Wrass (Vieja Arco Iris or Thalassoma
lucasanum) are common.
You may see a Pacific Seahorse (Caballito de Mar or Hippocamous ingens) hanging in a Black Coral, a Fantail Pipefish ( Pez pipa or Doryrhamphus excisus) inside a small crevice and several Red-lipped Batfish (Pez Murciélago or Ogcocephalus darwini) lying in the sand, the Sanguine Frogfish (Pez Sapo or Antennatus sanguineus) changing colors due to the surroundings sponges are more of a challenge to see because of their size and camouflage.
Galapagos Barnacle Blennies ( Acanthemblemaria castroi) living inside old barnacles, Yellow-tail Damselfish (Damisela Cola Amarilla or Stegastes arcifrons) protecting their algae garden, Wrasses cleaning other fish, Stone Scorpionfish (Brujo or Scorpaena plumieri mystes) with the same shape and color of the rocks, fascinating juvenile Giant Damselfish (Damisela Gigante or Microspathodon dorsalis) with their iridescent blue spots and the poisonous Bulleye Puffer (Tambulero or Sphoeroides annulatus) are easy to see.
Many Fine Spotted Morays ( Morena Puntofino or Gymnothorax dovii) opening their mouth to breathe, congregations of Galapagos Garden Eels (Anguilas de Jardín or Taenioconger klausewitzi), and several species of rays including the huge Manta Ray ( Manta or Manta hamiltoni) which reach 7 meters or 22 feet also are common.
MAMMALS Two species of sea lions inhabit the Galápagos; the sea lion (Lobo marino or Zalophus californianus wollebaeki) and the Fur seal ( Lobo de dos pelos or Arctocephalus galapagoensis). Total estimated population 80.000 individuals . When snorkeling with them, don´t forget your camera. Don´t try to touch them, they can bite you.
most sighted whale is the Bride´s Whale (Balaenoptera Edeni).
Also you can see Sperm Whales (Physeter Macrocephalus), Killer Whales
Orcinus Orca), (Megaptera Novaeangliae),and others. If you are looking
for whales, try the upwelling areas.
Close contacts with whales can be done snorkeling between the islands. Approach the whales by they rear. Do not make noises or splashes. Be silent.
When cruising in the day the Bottlenosed dolphins (Delfín nariz de botella or Tursiups truncatus) swim in front of the boats giving you an opportunity to take their picture, and the small Common dolphins ( Delfín común or Delphinus delphis) likes to jump off the waves made by the boats. You can snorkel with Bottlenosed dolphins jumping in the water right in front of you and can wait as they pass under you. You can hear their sounds and distinguish the mothers and babies.
TO APROACH TO ANIMALS
have some recommendations and norms to follow during your Galapagos
islands diving adventure. If you want to go close to the Galapagos islands
animals, the best way is to make slow movements, or none at all, when
in front of them and don´t make bubbles. You will scare a resting
turtle or a passing shark, or even a huge whale, if you head fast towards
it. The only animals underwater that will not be frightened by your
presence (if you find them), are killer whales and adult male sea lions.
Be careful with the male sea lions, they may bite (and their teeth are
a lot bigger than yours!).
One way to get close to the animals is to stay hidden underwater in the same place during the entire dive. The marine turtles, sharks, rays, and other animals are swimming around and are very curious. They can even pass less than one meter from you.
THE DIVING RULES
your guide´s instructions.
Never do decompression dives.
The maximum depth of any dive is 100 feet or 30 meters.
Make a safety stop after every dive. Three minutes at 5 meters or 15 feet.
Make the deepest dive first and don't make repetitive deep dives.
You should finish your dive whith 500 p.s.i. or 40 bars of air in your tank.
If you lose the group, search for them for a minute and if it is not possible to locate them, resurface.
Never leave an unattended tank on the deck.
Always dive with your buddy.
Don't touch or disturb the animals or plants, you can be bitten or stung.
Don't collect anything from the oceans, only remove the rubbish.
Don't go outside of the diving or snorkeling area specified by your guide.
Keep yourself safe of nitrogen; don't go to the limits of the diving tables or computer.
Never attempt to snorkel or dive if you are not sure that you can manage the situation.
Be sure that your guide, the boat driver, or another person is supervising you at all times.
If a problem arises on the surface, be calm and maintain positive buoyancy.
If you are caught in a current, don't fight against it. It is better to relax, float, and make signals to the boat.
CHAMBER In Galapagos Puerto Ayora is an Hyperbaric Chamber, operated by PROTESUB DIVING, part of the SSS Recompression Chamber Network.
You should take all of the safety indications that your guide will explain
very seriously in the briefings. Conditions in the Galapagos islands
are so variable that the guides can only make an accurate assessment
of the actual conditions upon arriving at the diving site. Additionally,
conditions may very well change during the dive.
For you safety, we strongly recommend that you have a valid D.A.N. membership card.
For more information and reservations
Telephone: +57 1 7456019
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