March 28, 2017

It’s day four of my six-day diving trip and we still haven’t seen a single shark. My new Italian acquaintance, Davide, has been on the boat eight days now and is starting to believe that sharks in the Galapagos don’t exist. For him, this trip is a bucket list opportunity to see the schooling hammerheads. Davide and I start to worry that we traveled to the land of Darwin to see nothing but blue water.

Schooling Hammerheads.

We pull up to Gordon Rocks, which is infamous for large schools of hammerhead sharks. Davide has been to the site multiple times already with no results, neither of us is optimistic. We roll off the boat and descend into the cloudy, fast-moving Galapagos currents. We stop our descent at 100 feet, latch onto the rocks, and wait. I’m composing my shot just in case something appears. I hear a loud garbled shriek come out of a regulator and turn to see two large hammerheads coming our way. Simultaneously, the light from the surface starts to fade. I look up to what I define as one of the most surreal moments of my life, more than 50 hammerheads densely schooled together moving above us. I pointed my fisheye lens up and captured my bucket list image.

I spent two weeks in the Galapagos Islands as well as a week and a half touring Ecuador via motorcycle. Galapagos Penguin.During that time, I came across some of the most spectacular variations in diversity and morphology. I came across more endemic species than I thought imaginable, from penguins, hummingbirds, sea iguanas, to the rare and highly illusive Galapagos Rail. Of all the animals I photographed, the hammerheads were the only ones I truly wanted to shoot.

When I started to fear that we wouldn’t see them, I began to imagine all the possible reasons why they weren’t showing up. One, it was the off-season for the larger marine life in the Galapagos. Two, I started hypothesizing that the full moon might have created some upwelling and lured them, along with the other megafauna, elsewhere. To make sense of everything, I attempted to use the website, a marine conservation site where you can track the migration of sharks. Marine Iguana.The wifi in the Galapagos was pretty spotty, so it was not something I could utilize with regularity, but I did manage to track down one hammerhead that had made it to Cocos Island - a mere 523 miles northeast.

At that point, I had chalked the diving portion of my trip up as a loss; no schooling hammerhead sharks on this trip. I was warned that I had to dive the Galapagos during the right time of the year and that it helped to be on a liveaboard, able to move around with ease, but I was there and I had to try. That morning we got on the boat, my Italian friend and I joked that the Galapagos’ government pays people to say that there are plenty of sharks in the Galapagos.

Thankfully, that day turned into a truly astounding experience.

You May Also Like

coral, bleaching, marine science

Mother Nature is Trying to Wake Us Up

Dr. Caine Delacy, Ocean First Education

It was a typical Monday, the start of a new week. It happened to be Monday, March 28. I had a typical day ahead—breakfast, coffee, and then feed my seven-month-old daughter, share a few giggles.

And think about her future.

marine science, biodiversity, conservation

The Most Important Organism in the Ocean

Catherine E. Christopher, Ocean First Education

So, what is the most important living thing in the ocean? Perhaps it is the magnificent blue whale? Blue whales are the largest living animals on Earth. The average blue whale reaches lengths of almost 100 feet, or 30 meters, and can weight up to 170 tons.

travel, Caribbean Sea, marine science, diving, snorkeling

Caribbean Dreamin’

Klara Fejer, Ocean First Education

“Dinnertime!” My mother’s voice rings in my ears as she relentlessly tries to get me out of the water. I was ten years old on a family vacation, my first encounter with the Caribbean Sea.