Monday, February 25, 2008

Kicker Rock

(San Cristobol, Galapagos)- For Monday´s activities, we had hired a naturalist and a boat for the day, and were to see many of the worthy sights along and near the westerly coast of San Cristobol. Kicker Rock was easily the highlight.
Ame and Isabel at the dock, at Puerto Baqueirizo Moreno. In the window above them, you can a few sea lions lying on the staircase. You have to step over them to get to the boats, at times.

Kicker Rock is a formation of volcanic ash. The proper name of it is Leon Dormido, or, Sleeping Lion. Over time, the fragile rock has split, with the result being this incredible formation. It´s about 200´high, and 700´wide, with the channel about 30-40´in width. The hammerhead sharks especially love to pass through this channel. We especially like snorkelling. Perfect!
As we approached Kicker Rock, we began to see all sorts of birds: frigate birds, the rare Nazca boobies, and the blue-footed boobies. We took lots of pictures in the quest for the perfect shot of the blue-footed booby. (These will be on another post.)

Ame prepares for the snorkeling at Kicker Rock. Jellyfish ahead, but hammerheads and white tipped sharks below, along with eagle rays. The coloration of the barnacles, sea urchins, and plants attached to the rocks below water level cannot be described.

When they tell you that you´re about to dive into one of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the world, you nod knowingly, because you paid for the trip, and those you hire always try to make you feel like you´ve gotten the bargain of the century.

Well, they weren´t kidding.

Mike fumbles with his mask. Ame isn´t waiting around!

The water is so clear you barely need to jump in. Of course, with a good mask, you can really see things clearly underwater. Immediately, you notice the angel fish and that you are being stung all over your body. There were millions of tiny jellyfish in the waters surrounding the rock. Once inside the channel, there were very few.

The next thing you notice once inside the channel are the brilliant colors attached to the walls below sea level. There are barnacles, sea urchins, and a variety of sea plants creating a mosaic of color, kind of like a stained glass window. The fish hide beneath the plants, so if you swim near the walls, suddenly several will dart out into view.
The sharks were the big draw. It´s hard not to feel a little worry when hovering above six hammerheads, but the naturalist, Fernando, assured us that they feed very well with so many fish about, and besides, they feed in the evening. Hammerheads are pretty small- about 2-3´in length.

The white tipped shark is a bit more fearsome: about 7´long. One came up to get a look at me, so I decided to start to get into motion just a bit. To where? To safety? Anyhow, just as I was putting that guy out of my mind, I turned to face two large stingrays- eagle rays! At that point, I just worked to get the attention of Ame and Fernando so that they could enjoy the view.
We enjoyed the site so much that we went at it a second time on the return trip. It´s so good, I´m entertaining the thought of hiring a boat again for another look. If we do, we´ll definitely bring the underwater camera. Sigh.

Ame looks back at Kicker Rock. Isabel is more hungry for lunch than sad to leave.

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