Conditions were truly tranquil for the dive party and once again the divers were treated to encountering a pod of Dolphins on their passage out from Downings.
Water temperature is a very comfortable 13 degrees Celsius and the extended settled period has allowed for a very decent 10 metres of horizontal visibility.
Sunday morning saw the Sheephaven divers back in Portnablagh for a snorkel in the beautiful waters between the harbour and Killyhoey beach, another great morning in the water in a wonderful setting.
However for one group of Sheephaven divers it was an exchange from one idyllic setting for another, when they returned from diving in the Galapagos.
The 12 day trip started from Dublin airport, then an overnight in Amsterdam, followed by the long haul to Guayaquil in Ecuador, another overnight before a domestic flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos, where they eventually boarded their live-aboard the MV Humboldt Explorer – total travelling time two days.
The MV Humboldt is a purpose built dive live-aboard, designed with a lower centre of gravity and a bulb bow to reduce roll in the Pacific Sea conditions and she has nitrox compressors on-board producing 32% Nitrox, essential for a week of diving.
The vessel caters for 16 passengers in air-condition rooms – vital for the 30 degrees heat of the equatorial conditions.
The divers conducted 4 dives a day for the first 4 days and three dives a day after that, tough enough going even for the most seasoned divers.
Water temperature was 27 degrees Celsius and horizontal visibility was crystal clear.
But all the travelling and the demanding diving were worth it when the big iconic marine species came ghosting out of the blue.
The Galapagos are famous for Fur Seals, Whale Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Manta Rays and Turtles – and this trip produced them all.
It is another feature of these islands that by and large the animals have never learned to instinctively fear humans and the Iguanas, Seals and Turtles will approach humans without caution.
The reason given for this lack of instinctive fear is the remoteness of the islands from the South American mainland. This was also a key part of Charles Darwin’s’ research as he began to pull together his Theory of Evolution, after he observed species on these islands were different to those observed elsewhere.
Darwin also left his mark on the geography of the islands with a spectacular sea arch named after him – Darwin’s Arch – which is constantly battered by the Pacific storms and can only have a limited time until nature turns it into two sea stacks.
The Sheephaven divers brought back an extensive collection of photos and video, which they have shared on Facebook, Sheephaven SAC.
Undoubtedly a trip of a lifetime and the encounter with a Whale Shark – the biggest fish in the sea – or a shoal of Manta Rays will live in their memories for ever.