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Snorkeling in the Galapagos

This morning we set off on a boat for a full day of snorkeling. What a fun day! I was glad that we had the day before to get used to snorkeling, because we had a lot of snorkeling to do today. Our first stop, we snorkeled off the back of the boat, and stayed pretty near the line of lava rocks. We saw so many different fish right away! A few minutes into the water, my mom and I ended up away from the group, and had two sea lions start playing in the water with each other right in front of us. We watched them for several minutes, dancing in the water. It was one of the coolest things I had ever seen! We felt the need to move on from them – and am I glad that we did. We had a great time snorkeling with Fabricio. He pointed out so many fish to us, (none of which I can remember now) and then we eventually ended up on the edge of this little pool full of baby sea lions. We sat with them for nearly half an hour, watching them play and check us out. One even was nibbling on my mom’s flipper while she sat on the edge of a rock! Occasionally one of the moms would come by and yell at the babies, who would run away from us for a few minutes. But a few minutes later, and their curiosity got the best of them and they were back playing with us. Then, to make things that much more exciting, the alpha male came right up behind us, and barked at us! I turned around (I was on the edge of the circle) and he was just feet behind me! Luckily all he did was back, and then swam back to his perch 50 yards away from us. For as slow and awkward as they look on shore, they are graceful and fast in the water! I did not want to be on that guy’s bad side! The boat picked us up a few minutes later and we were off to our next destination – Kicker Rock, where we would be snorkeling with sharks, if we were lucky. We were. We saw several sharks quite a way below us. It was really fascinating how quickly I felt it was ok to snorkel with sharks, to the point of swimming towards them when I saw them! Instinct would tell you to swim away, but I was very trusting of our guide. We also swam over a school of spotted eagle manta rays. They are enormous, about the size of a car. I never in a million years thought I would be snorkeling with eagle manta rays or sharks, let alone both at the same time! Our third destination would be after lunch and a hike. We were now at the other end of San Cristobal Island, and hiked over the hills to the very end of the island. It looked like we were hiking on Mars. Crazy red rocks, real dry, desert-like, but beautiful. We snorkeled near a small collection of volcanic rocks pretty much out in the open. The water current was a little stronger here, so I was more nervous. I quickly relaxed when I started playing a small sea lion. She had the most beautiful, cartoon-like eyes. She would swim slowly below me and stare up into my eyes. I could get enough of playing with her. We swam circles around each other. She would swim full speed at my face, and dive below me. I wasn’t comfortable diving down with her, but Fabricio dove down to play with her. After 15 minutes of this, we were summoned back to the boat to start our long journey back to town and our hotel. I just can’t get over the look in that sea lion’s eyes. She was so sweet. My mom thought her eyes made her look like a Disney character. They did look big and fake!

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