Getting up close and personal with the sharks of Kicker Rock…
When we wake, the first thing Chet says, before an obligatory good morning, is, “Mommy, I told you already. No sharks!” Sleep has not lessened his fear of getting in the water with these animals. When I try to assuage his fears, he finally throws up his hands and says, “Fine! You can swim with sharks. But if you get eaten, I’m going to be really, really mad.”
We take off on a small powerboat. For the first hour, the guides simply go along the coast of San Cristobal, pointing out local wildlife like Frigate Birds, pelicans and my personal favorite, the Blue-footed Booby.
Our final destination will be Kicker Rock, a small island about 45 minutes from San Cristobal. But our first stop is to Sea Lion Island, a place where the SCUBA divers in our group can get in a test dive and we can snorkel.
Unfortunately, Chet refuses to go in the water. Even when we tell him that there are no sharks in this area, he sticks out his chin, plants his feet and tells me he’s staying on the boat. I’m tempted to just throw him overboard for sass but the boat captain tells me that he’ll keep an eye on him. I’m guessing that he isn’t the first kid to refuse to share the water with the local wildlife. I sigh and tell him I’ll be back in a few minutes.
It’s an amazing snorkel. Sea lions blow bubbles in my face, dancing around me as I kick forward. I see all manner of fish and rays. I’m sorry that Chet is missing out. But I’m not sorry that I’m not.
Soon, we are on our way to Kicker Rock. The guides, Gustavo and Sambo, explain that the channel between the two jutting rock towers is a bit like a car wash. Sharks and turtles make their way through this passage way to be spruced up the currents and cleaning fish. If we’re lucky, they say, we’ll see some hammerhead sharks. The adults are gleeful. The kids in the group, well, not so much.
Chet is visibly nervous. I ask him if it’s all right if I snorkel through the channel–knowing that he won’t go in the water. He rolls his eyes at me and says, “Fine. But if the shark is hungry let him eat someone else and come right back.” I promise, throwing an apologetic glance at my smirking guide, and jump in the water.
Immediately, we see a giant hammerhead shark–one that Gustavo estimates is at least 3.5 meters in length. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to catch him. But as we make our way through the channel, I see dozens and dozens and dozens of hammerheads, white tip sharks, black tip sharks and Galapagos sharks. There are plenty of spotted Eagle rays and sea turtles swimming about, too. They are all around us. Some getting a little too close for comfort. Luckily, it’s hard to feel intimidated when you’re overcome with so much awe.
Not to mention frustration for not having more practice taking good underwater photos in choppy water.
When I return to the boat, Chet is happily playing with his iPhone, oblivious to my absence. One would never know he was convinced of my impending demise only 30 minutes earlier. Within moments, the boat has whisked us away to a small, deserted beach nearby. Here, Chet happily enters the water. But as I snap a few photos, he calls to me, “You better tell me if you see any sharks, Mom. Or I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”
Read about the rest of Kayt and Chet’s Galapagos journey with Gap Adventures:
Part 1: An Introduction
Part 2: Getting to the Galapagos
Part 3: Isla Isabela – A Volcano and a Beach
Part 4: Isla Isabela – Tortoises, Penguins and Sharks
Part 5: Isla Santa Cruz – A Virus and a Missed Opportunity
Part 6: Isla Santa Cruz – Lonesome George
Part 7: Isla San Cristobal – Frigate Bird Hill and the Loberia
Part 8: Isla San Cristobal – Kicker Rock
Part 9: Journey back to Quito
Photos taken with the Olympus Tough TG-810.