Emerald Sea Photography
When we charted the boat for ten days rather than the usual seven, our plan was to spend all of our extra time up at Darwin Island. Park service rules prevented use from spending as much time up there as I would have liked. We moved the boat from the east side of Isabella Island to a site on the West Coast called Punte Vicente Roca. Walter, our guide and divemaster, assured me that this was his favorite site and that we would not be disappointed. I was dubious, but awoke to an amazing landscape and was itching to get in the water.
Walter was right. Punte Vicente Roca is rarely visited by divers due to the distance from the civilization, and has more critters per square inch of incredible underwater seascapes than any place I have ever seen. Penguins and Marine Iguanas swam by and peered at us in curiosity. Hundreds of turtles cruised around wherever we looked. Mobulla rays swam overhead with a rare visit from Mola Mola (sunfish).
The sheer walls of the dive site were covered with lush green and red algae, bright sponges and colorful schools of cardinal fish that parted as sea lions darted by. From time to time we were amazed to see flightless cormorants swimming by, even well below 100 feet of depth.
For our last of four dives, we enjoyed the comical red-lipped batfish that hang out at the base of the very impressive walls at Pointe Vicente. I could have easily spent days and days diving this site. It offers the most abundant variety of underwater animals that I have ever seen. Wow!
We left Isabella and made the long trek up to Wolf Island, arriving early in the morning. After another of many excellent breakfasts, we were briefed on the two sites we'd be diving and piled into the pangas in search of rays and sharks.
As soon as we descended, we spotted schools of hammerheads, Galapagos sharks and friendly spotted eagle rays that would cruise by mere inches away. The current was strong, so we would often grab onto rocks on the bottom and marvel at the parade of sharks, rays and fish that would glide by.
We enjoyed five incredible dives at Wolf Island over a day and a half. The other divers on the boat were simply blown away by what they were seeing. I just smiled, knowing that I could just see Darwin on the horizon and that the best was yet to come. Everyone was getting used to the difficult diving conditions and I could tell we were going to have a wild ride ahead of us.
The Aggressor II showed up at Wolf Island late in the day with a boat full of Russians. This turned out to be a blessing, as our gang was running low on Red Wine (vino tinto). We made a pirate raid on the other boat, and scored well with a booty of Red Wine that the Russian's were not interested in drinking.
Just before noon on our second day at Wolf, we waved good bye to the Russians, and headed for Darwin. I couldn't wipe the silly grin off of my face as the excitement began to build.