March 16, 2010 § Leave a comment
Kicker Rock’s name in Spanish may be the Sleeping Lion, but jumping into the water of the canal is sure to make your adrenaline rise. That fact is not due to the friendly sea lions that come to greet you – it’s due to the Galapagos Sharks lurking just below the surface.
The Galapagos Islands are famous for evolution – it’s where Charles Darwin came up with the idea. It’s the only place in the world with sea going iguanas or hundreds of other endemic plants and animals that have all evolved in order to survive. Yet, with life evolving all around them, sharks have not changed for thousands of years. Sharks have sleek bodies, and skeletons made up of cartilage and connective tissues making them flexible and highly effective swimmers. Shark teeth are connected to their gums rather than jaws allowing them to constantly be replaced, and their jaws not connected to their cranium permits them to absorb powerful impacts all these factors make sharks them the ultimate aquatic predator. The reason why sharks haven’t evolved when other animals have is simple – there was no need – sharks were already perfect.
Diving with Sharks is the #1 reason why people come to SCUBA dive in the Galapagos Islands. I remember, a several years ago, I met a good friend of mine for the first time, the first thing he asked me was “Are you afraid of Sharks” – I told him the truth “of course not!” Thinking back – I guess that’s not a normal response.
The waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are home to a 32 different species of shark from white tip reef sharks, to hammerheads, and bullsharks to whalesharks. With all these sharks in the water it’s hard to stop the theme to JAWS from playing in your head. But unlike the movie Jaws, shark attacks in these waters aren’t really a concern – there is so much marine life that the sharks don’t have any interest in you. If you ask a local dive guide about the dangers of diving with sharks, they tend to laugh and tell you not to worry – sharks in Galapagos are vegetarians.
Almost all visitors are assured some sort of shark encounter during their time in the islands. Whether it’s snorkeling with sharks off the coast of Espanola or viewing sleeping sharks at Tintorares an islet just off the coast of Isabela – Sharks in Galapagos are everywhere.
From July to November, advanced divers from around the world descend on these islands. They make their reservations years in advance purely for the opportunity to dive with Whale Sharks and schools of Hammerheads at the northern most islands. Diving at Wolf and Darwin is easily one of the best dive sites in the world. Galapagos is consistently named one of the best dive sites by Scuba Diving Magazine.
Galapagos is a place where even novice and intermediate divers can enjoy the exhilaration of diving with sharks. There are many fantastic dive sites throughout the Galapagos where diving with sharks is the highlight. At Kicker Rock is an excellent wall dive located a few minutes away from the main port of Santa Cruz. Kicker Rock has good visibility and light currents yet diving here you are able to see Galapagos Sharks, white tipped sharks and hammer heads as well as octopus, rays, huge schools of fish. It’s easy access and ideal conditions may make Kicker Rock the best day dive site in all of Galapagos.
North Seymour located just northeast of the island of Santa Cruz is a local favorite. Together with the neighboring sites of Daphne and Mosquera there is an array of dives with hammerheads, reef sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, golden rays and garden eels all waiting to be seen.
For the more advanced diver Gordon Rocks is probably the most well known day dive site in Galapagos. A submerged, partly eroded crater the site creates it’s own strong unpredictable current which can be tricky for novice divers. Hammerheads are the highlight of Gordon, but there is so much more to see including Galapagos Sharks, mantas, jacks, schools of king angelfish, golden and eagle rays and sea turtles.
Though I don’t think the sharks in Galapagos have evolved into vegetarians – I do know that diving with sharks is an incredible experience not to be missed.
Learn more about Galapagos Diving