DIVING IN GALAPAGOS

If we could define Galapagos diving with just two words, we would say fabulous and unpredictable – fabulous because of the abundant marine life and unpredictable because of the variable oceanic conditions.

Marine Life: The Galapagos marine life is so varied, tame, abundant and amazing that the islands are considered one of the Seven Underwater Wonders and the best diving destination  of the World. Galapagos divers encounter thousands of fish (both big and small), sea lion s, rays, turtles, morays and garden eels. It is almost a guarantee that divers will meet harmless white tip and hammerhead sharks. In some places, divers can see dozens of hammerheads, snorkel with dolphins and  - during the right  season - meet a whale shark.

Finally, the islands are the only place in the world where people can dive with a marine iguana or watch sea lions teasing white tip sharks by biting their tails.

The richness of our sea life is mainly due to cold water that comes up from the deep and brings nutrients to the light zone, producing large amounts of phytoplankton that start the food chain. The diversity of species is mainly due to the position of the Galapagos at the crossroads of the main East Pacific equatorial currents. Here, tropical and semi-tempered waters meet, bringing animals from all over the Pacific and some parts of the Indo-Pacific. The variety of marine habitats (sandy, rocky, coralline, muddy) and the large area of the archipelago’s waters also contribute to biodiversity.

Diving Conditions

The Seasons: We have 2 seasons: the warm and sunny season from December to May and the cool and cloudy one  from July to September. June and October are transitional months. During the warm season, there is almost no wind, so the sea is usually very calm and the visibility tends to be better. In the cool season, there is more wind, the sea can be choppy and the visibility is lower.

Water Temperature: Although the islands are very close to the Equator, water temperatures range from 16° to 24° Celsius in normal years; we use full 5 to 7 mm (¼ inch) wetsuits all year and hoods in the cold season.

Visibility: In general, visibility ranges from 5 to 25 meters, but most of the time it is restricted to between 12 and 18m. A large submarine current (the Equatorial Undercurrent) from the West Pacific hits the largest island of the archipelago (Isabela Island) and is deflected upward until it reaches the surface, bringing up cold and nutrient-rich water; this movement can change the water temperature by as much as 6° Celsius and change the visibility in a matter of one or two days.

Experience

Beginners: Newly certified divers or divers with few dives logged (3 to 15 dives)
Intermediate: 15 to 50 dives logged with experience in cold water and with drift and wall diving
Advanced: 50 + dives  logged, with experience in cold water and with drift and wall diving

Detailed description of dive experience is always necessary to confirm a dive program (please check Liability Release / Experience Assessment Forms in this manual, p. 32/33) . A diver with 10 dives in cold water and currents may feel a lot more comfortable than a diver with 40 logged dives in warm water and little current. Or a newly certified diver may feel more comfortable than a diver with 50 logged dives who has not been diving for 6 years.

Our Diving: We have great dive sites for beginner, intermediate and experienced divers, although the best dive sites are usually the most difficult ones and have significant to strong currents near vertical walls. Most of our diving is drift diving, so the dive masters’ skills play an important role. Beginners can start in the easier places and proceed to the more difficult ones under the guidance of our dive masters or instructors. On all our dives, our dive masters actually dive in the water with the customers.

There is no insurance included in the programs and we highly recommend that all divers have their DAN insurance before coming to the Galapagos (costs per year for Standard Insurance US$ 69 and for Master Insurance US$ 79 including the annual membership). We can provide you with the necessary information to acquire this insurance or you can visit  www.diversalertnetwork.org

There is a recompression chamber that started operations in July 2001 at Puerto Ayora, our port of call. Please refer to page  more 35 of this Manual for more details, PROTECCION SUBMARINA DEL ECUADOR has the operating recompression chamber in Galapagos. For their direct services as well as for the handling of all the administrative part between them and DAN or PADI, they charge for each dived tank US$ 2 on daily dive tours, and US$ 35 for live-aboards up to 10 days.  This costs have to be paid through Galapagos Sub-Aqua.

The Dives: Each dive requires one tank. We use aluminum tanks with 3000psi / 207bar. All tanks have the international connection system. If passengers want to use their own regulator with DIN system, they have to bring their own adapter. The bottom time depends on each passenger’s air consumption.  All dives are between 15 and 25 meters because this is where you encounter most of the marine life in the Galapagos. Maximum depth for our dives is 30 meters (100 feet).

Equipment: Our daily diving trip rates  always include complete scuba gear. Divers can decide whether they want to use our equipment or bring their own.
Our live-aboard cruises do not include personal gear - only tanks and weight belts with weights. But with advance reservation, we can offer equipment rental at convenient prices onboard all our cruises.

Boats: Our dive boats were custom-designed and built to high-quality standards based on years of pioneering daily diving tour operations in the Galapagos Islands. The boats are comfortable, with ample room for gearing up, safe equipment storage, marine heads and lunch/beverage compartments. The boats are completely equipped according to Coast Guard safety requirements and fully stocked with electronic navigation safety equipment such as GPS, depth finder and mini EPIRB.

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Sales and Reservations: Guayaquil. Ecuador. divecenter@galapagos-sub-aqua.com - phone:593-99-919-8798