Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snorkeling

 We have spent the past 2 days exploring 5 different snorkel sites. The ocean has put on quite the show. There are huge swells, waves, and currents and it has left me praising the name of Scopalamine and whoever invented it. It took about 1.5 hours to get out to the sites and on the way we saw manta rays and turtles on the surface.
On Monday we first visited an area that would be better off for scuba diving, but we still were able to see a lot. There were a few very large volcanic rocks that stuck out of the water. They were exposed to the open ocean so the waves would crash into them. Think that picture of the waves crashing over the lighthouse in Alaska, but less dramatic. This area is so different from what I'm used to looking at that at times I would just float on the surface looking at the patterns of the rocks and the algae attached to them. Everything is so different. At that site we were looking for hammerheads and a dive charter next to us said that they saw some 60-70 ft down, but none of us can free dive that deep. However, we did see several turtles, rays, and fish.
At the second site, the water was a lot calmer and the currents weren't threatening to take us away between two razor sharp rocks. There were a lot more beautiful fish and a very playful sea lion. There was a little cave about 3 feet under the water and the sea lion would hide inside. Every once in a while she would come out and show off for us doing circles, flips, and blowing bubble rings. We thought there was only one sea lion, but at one point we heard this deep growl and a bull stuck his head out of the cave.
The third site was the best of all of them. We stopped in a rocky lagoon where at least 100 sea lions were sunning themselves on the shoreline. At first only 3 of us got in the water because they had just brought out the sandwiches on the boat. We swam in about 5 feet of water and 2 VERY playful sea lions came over to greet us. We floated in the same place and the two of them would circle around and come right up to our cameras and masks before quickly turning away at the last second. I have some awesome pictures, besides a lot of particles in the water, but the internet is too slow to upload them. Hopefully when we get out of the hotel and settle into IOI the connection will be better. I also recorded some video that is super fun to watch.
After we finished snorkeling for the day we began to make the trip back to Puerto Ayora and we saw a school of manta rays. A few people, including me, jumped in with cameras and masks. No wetsuit, no fins, no snorkel. I swam my heart out, but between the speed of the animals, the lack of fins, and the current I ended up seeing nothing. Other people got amazing pictures, but no luck for me :(. Trying to get back on the boat was an issue as the current was pulling us away and we had no fins to  fight it. JR and I clung to each other so we wouldn't get separated. The boat eventually backed up to us, but as soon as we reached for it we had already been pulled away 10 ft. When we finally got in contact with the boat we gripped the side for dear life as the ladder was put down. We were all winded and felt like we had just run a marathon.
Yesterday we traveled around Santa Cruz in the other direction. I saw my first booby which was absolutely awesome along with a lot of petrels. The water was especially blue today and although I forgot my wetsuit, I wasn't that cold. We snorkeled around some very tiny islands and the current between them all was very strong. Often times I would be swimming as hard as I could and I would be staring down at the same rock without moving. The sitings included sea stars, sea cucumbers, many fish, an eel, neon green sea urchins, and others. The highlight was the white tip shark. Once again there was a lot of debris in the water so the visibility wasn't great, but its clear in the pictures that it is a shark.
At the next site the current was once again impossible to swim against. Only about half of us actually got in the water and those of us who did got super tired. We saw another shark and lots of schools of fish, but I swam back to the boat early because my legs were tired from 2 full days of snorkeling. There was a school of white tips that the people left in the water saw and people started jumping in off the boat with any random mask they could pick up, but I had learned my lesson from the manta rays and it turns out I made the right choice.
We then traveled the rest of the way around the island to the point exactly opposite of Puerto Ayora and took taxis back. We stopped and watched the sun set over a huge volcanic crater that is now filled in with vegetation. So far I am having a ton of fun, we haven't done much work yet. Lots of people are getting sick from either the food or the water, but I am hopefully avoiding it. Right now my only complaint is that I need something soft to sit on. The boat seats were hard, the chairs in the breakfast room that we used for class are hard, the bench that I'm sitting on now is hard, and it is really uncomfortable. But that is my only complaint. I will try to upload pictures as soon as possible, but the connection here is slow and I don't feel like or have the time to wait forever at my computer for them to upload.

5 comments:

  1. Dad and I are enjoying your blogs and glad that you are well and having fun! Love you, Mom

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  2. Do you need me to send you a pillow to sit on?
    Love you!

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  3. That's what rolled-up sweatshirts are for!

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  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Ladenburg

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  5. um...so aren't you supposed to get out of the water when you see sharks? Not jump in?? Just sayin'.... That is cool you've seen so many different types of sea life- including sharks...I take it most sharks aren't scary? Or they are and you are far away? Am loving reading your updates- I'm going to start reading them to the girls as Arianwen is working on ocean life- she drew a diagram of some kind of coral the other day.

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