Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wolf (2nd time)

The boat starts sailing at 3am from Darwin to Wolf. The sea is rough and we jump up and down. I wake up and start wondering where did I leave my cameras and how secure they are. I go up to the living room and find both of them after a search. I put them in a secure location. I find it hard to sleep again, and read a bit before I fall asleep.

I wake up at 5:45am just as we stop next to Wolf. Outside the sky is totally gray and there light rain. At 6am the bell rings and we start getting ready.

Dive #1: Shark bay

We return to the same site we were in two days ago. This time the dive feels much more comfortable. Just as we go down William spots an eagle ray, but it swims away before I manage to photograph it. 

There is some current and we spend time watching the flow. The visibility is worse than last time, but the sharks do close flybys. 

There are amazing amounts of moray eels between the rocks. We also see some lobsters peeking from their hiding places.

William shooting a large morey eel

When we get out to the blue we do not see much, but let the current take us. As we return to the slope we encounter a large eagle ray. All the photographers jump on it, and I decide to let it be.

We get closer to the rocks. Here the swell is pronounced, taking us and the fish back and forth few meters in each direction. Few sharks pass by. 

We return to the ship and eat breakfast. While we eat we see the panga driver going over toward few fishing boats that anchor in our cove. After some transactions he returns with two fish from the tuna family.

Dive #2: Landslide

We return to the water. Here the current is not as strong, and we gently drift with it over the rocks. 

William points to a large sea horse hiding between the rocks. 

Again we get close up with some hammerheads. 

I am a bit up from the group toward the rocks, and finally get a chance to photograph an eagle ray without fighting for position.

It is almost the end of the dive, and we encounter a pair of Galapagos Sharks patrolling along the rocks.

A turtle goes by signaling the end of a nice dive. During the ascent we meet more fish.

We finish the dive in a jovial mood. The panga ride is rocky and long, as the boat moved to anchor on the other side of the island. We encourage the driver to go faster over the waves, and I lean back to taste wave as though this was a sailboat.

Usually after the dive there is some fresh fruit waiting for us. This time, however, we are greeted by a plate of fresh tuna sashimi. Yum! The crowd calls for more, and the chef sends out another plate.

Dive #3: The Caves

This is our last dive at Wolf. In the original briefing, when we arrived here three days ago, William described it as less exciting. 

The dive starts with floating along a steep wall of rock. The wall is decorated with colorful algae and corals.

We reach a small “two story” cave. William takes us through the lower opening and upward to the upper opening. The cave provide setting for silhouettes.

We reach another cave. This one provide a passage through. 

We continue along the wall with schools of fish above us. We are in a large concave region of the wall. Given few years (thousands?) it will become a large cave. 

A sea lion passes among us. As with previous encounters, this one surprises us. 

I am floating a bit further out from the rock while everyone is searching for the sea lion. Suddenly I see a large hammerhead passing almost above me. The camera settings are off, but I manage to capture few reasonable shots.

William leads us to another cave, more of a large cavern with sandy bottom. At one of the corner a white-tipped reef shark is resting. On our approach it steers up and escape to search for an undisturbed spot.

By now my air is low, and I am not the only one. We descend to safety stop level and move away from the rock wall. I conclude it was a cute dive all in all, and a great conclusion to our Wolf/Darwin dives.

Back on the boat, this is a great time to go for a hot Jacuzzi as the boat starts the long journey back toward the main islands. 

We have a long afternoon ahead of us. At one point dolphins join us, surfing ahead of us. I try closeup from the stern, with limited success.

The clear sky from earlier in the day turned into a mass of gray clouds. We couldn't see the sunset, but we did see a "bar code' pattern it left in the sky.

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