Monthly Archives

October 2006

Skip Stubbs in the Sea of Cortez (2006)

Skip's Trips

This just in from my good friend and diving partner Skip Stubbs, who has just returned from another of his excellent dive expeditions, this time in Mexico’s wonderful Sea of Cortez and Cabo Pulmo.

For the past 7 years I have organized October diving trips to the Sea of Cortez departing from La Paz. It is a spectacular area to see and diving is still great despite the impact of destructive fishing practices. Seawatch’s website has a wealth of information about the fishing and its impacts in the Sea of Cortez.

One can still occasionally see whale sharks, mantas, mobulas, dolphins, and schools of cownose rays, and even killer whales are seen there. Our trip was highlighted by >2.5 hours of tolerant pilot whales near Las Animas. The sunsets are among the most beautiful anywhere I have been, even without a marguerita in hand.

Click the image above to see some of the stills that Skip captured in the Sea of Cortez this year!

Skip Stubbs at Cabo Pulmo (2006)

Skip's Trips

This just in from my good friend and diving partner Skip Stubbs, who has just returned from another of his excellent dive expeditions, this time visiting Mexico’s wonderful Sea of Cortez and Cabo Pulmo

Since 2001 we have also visited Cabo Pulmo national marine park, on the east cape of Baja at Cabo Pulmo, and stayed at Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort for land-based diving.

The park has been well protected since 1999 and it shows. Large schools of leopard grouper, huge gulf grouper, and large schools of beautifully colored reef fish, including porkfish, burrito grunts, and yellow snappers as seen in the photos. The diving is quite different from further north in the gulf, with many species not seen elsewhere. I highly recommend a visit for a few days or a week to enjoy the great place.

Click the image above to see some of the stills that Skip captured in Cabo Pulmo this year!

Ponto, South Carlsbad, October 23

Surf

Another nice day on the water. Click here for the shots I decided to keep from this morning. And below are a couple of larger ones.

Tony Gatti, Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Tony Gatti, Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17777
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Tony Gatti, Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Tony Gatti, Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17780
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17783
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17779
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Ponto, South Carlsbad, October 22

Surf

Fun day! I got out for an hour or so this morning. Beautiful light, offshores, size and on the weekend to boot. Click here for the shots I decided to keep from this morning .

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17717
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17718
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17720
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf

Ponto, South Carlsbad, morning surf.
Image ID: 17725
Location: Ponto, Carlsbad, California, USA

Wedge October 21

Surf

Made a morning run up to the Wedge and got in the water. I probably should have stayed on the sand this morning. I would have got better shots, stayed dry, and would not have come home with a load of sand in my shorts. The waves were green and ugly, the light was in the wrong direction and I was pretty lame in the water, but it was lots of fun nonetheless. The bodyboarder in this shot is Ron Ziebell, owner AlternativeSurf shops in Seal Beach and Dana Point, a nice guy and great bodyboarder. Here are a few more from this morning, nothing really great.

Ron Ziebell, the Wedge, The Wedge, Newport Beach, California

Ron Ziebell, the Wedge.
Image ID: 17706
Location: The Wedge, Newport Beach, California, USA

Photo of Darwin’s Arch, Galapagos

Galapagos Diaries

Darwin’s Arch is a spectacular natural rock arch that rises above the ocean offshore of Darwin Island in the Galapagos Archipelago. (Typical of most islands in the Galapagos, Darwin Island has a second name that often appears on nautical charts: Culpepper Island.)

Darwins Arch, a dramatic 50-foot tall natural lava arch, rises above the ocean a short distance offshore of Darwin Island

Darwins Arch, a dramatic 50-foot tall natural lava arch, rises above the ocean a short distance offshore of Darwin Island.
Image ID: 16621
Location: Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Darwin’s Arch is a natural lighthouse of sorts, marking the end of a reef, the point where the reef’s foul shallow area drops off into deeper water. Darwin’s Arch also marks what many believe is the finest scuba dive in the world, a wild underwater place where anything can happen. There are other dives one can make at Darwin Island but “diving the arch” is what visitors to the island want to do, over and over. The reef slope here is a mix of lava and coral that drops to a sand bottom which itself grows deeper as it slopes away from the island and the arch. Strong currents sweep over the reef; at times these currents are strong enough to carry divers away, and the diving here can be uncomfortable or intimidating to a novice diver. It is not uncommon to see enormous schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks here, lined up in the current and numbering in the hundreds or thousands. Schools of Barberfish and small groups of king angelfish congregate above the reef, drawing individual hammerheads down from their schools to hover over the reef to be cleaned of parasite and bits old skin. Other species of sharks are seen here as well, the most notable of which is the enormous whale shark, the largest fish in the sea.

Darwin Island, with the Arch on the right.  Darwin Island is the northernmost of the Galapagos Islands and is home to enormous numbers of seabirds

Darwin Island, with the Arch on the right. Darwin Island is the northernmost of the Galapagos Islands and is home to enormous numbers of seabirds.
Image ID: 16622
Location: Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

In 1994 we dove Darwin’s Arch repeatedly over a four-day stretch and had encounters with whale sharks on every single dive. In 1997, during the second year of a particularly strong El Nino cycle, we arrived at Darwin Island to find its underwater haunts almost dead, with no large animals of any kind and very few schools of fish. The water was simply too warm. It was a stark and disappointing contrast to what we had seen just a few years prior. Our 2006 trip offered five days of unbelievable hammerhead schools with literally thousands on each dive. Every time we hopped in the water, we had hammerheads around us for a solid hour, continuously from the moment we entered the water until we were picked up by the panga. We would end our dives at the arch surrounded by huge schools of Pacific creolefish, large enough to block out the sun, which hover in walls 40-50 yards out from the reef. As we reached the surface and began to drift away from the island on the current, hoping our panga drivers would come find us quickly, we were usually visited by large, inquisitive bottlenose dolphins.

A whale shark swims through the open ocean in the Galapagos Islands.  The whale shark is the largest shark on Earth, but is harmless eating plankton and small fish, Rhincodon typus, Darwin Island

A whale shark swims through the open ocean in the Galapagos Islands. The whale shark is the largest shark on Earth, but is harmless eating plankton and small fish.
Image ID: 01520
Species: Whale shark, Rhincodon typus
Location: Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Bigeye trevally jacks, schooling, Caranx sexfasciatus, Darwin Island

Bigeye trevally jacks, schooling.
Image ID: 16346
Species: Bigeye jack, Caranx sexfasciatus
Location: Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Hammerhead sharks, schooling, black and white / grainy, Sphyrna lewini, Darwin Island

Hammerhead sharks, schooling, black and white / grainy.
Image ID: 16254
Species: Scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini
Location: Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

See also: Darwin’s Arch photo