Galapagos Diving: Your Ultimate Guide to a Thrilling Journey

Galapagos Diving: Your Ultimate Guide to a Thrilling Journey

Galapagos Diving: Your Ultimate Guide to a Thrilling Journey

Diving in the Galapagos Islands, an experience placed amidst a fantastic assortment of marine life, shark diving and the breathtaking panorama of the underwater world, is a dream for many diving enthusiasts. Before you embark on this unforgettable journey, Josef Litt compiled answers to the most common questions about Galapagos diving to help you plan your adventure meticulously.

Land-Based vs. Liveaboard Galapagos Diving: What’s the Difference?

One of the pivotal decisions to make while planning your Galapagos diving adventure is whether to opt for a land-based or a liveaboard diving experience. Here, we detail the distinctive features of both to help you make an informed choice:

Land-Based Diving

A quick search will deliver several dive centres in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal. Santa Cruz is a more advantageous starting point for diving thanks to its central location in the archipelago. The price for a two-tank dive trip start around $250. Some of the well-established dive centres are Scuba Iguana and Academy Bay Diving in Santa Cruz.

Limitations: Land-based diving allows easy access to nearby dive sites, generally limiting to areas around the central islands where day trips are feasible. Encounters with wildlife are more fleeting and limited than in the remote places accessible by liveaboard. It is possible to see sharks, but proper shark diving encounters happen on sites out of reach of day trips.

Flexibility: Land-based diving allows you to explore other island attractions, combining diving with other land-based activities like hiking, wildlife watching, etc.

Comfort: After a day of diving, you can retreat to the comfort of your hotel, enjoying amenities that might not be available on a boat.

Cost: Generally, it tends to be less expensive than liveaboard options, especially if you plan a few days of diving interspersed with other activities.


Galapagos Sky is the ultimate liveaboard for Galapagos diving and shark diving at Darwin and Wolf

Galapagos Sky LIveaboard in front of the recently collapsed Darwin’s Arch.

Liveaboard Diving

Ten liveaboards operate in the Galapagos, offering ultimate shark diving trips to Darwin and Wolf Islands. The prices start between $4,750 and $7,300 for a week of diving (8D/7N) in the most remote areas of the archipelago. Additional fees are not included in the base price; check the terms and conditions carefully to understand the total cost. Some liveaboards offer 11-day itineraries with extended diving in Darwin and Wolf Islands. Smaller (and cheaper) liveaboards need more time to travel between islands, which might result in fewer dives in attractive locations. Before making a decision, compare the itineraries.

Extended Reach: Liveaboards offer the opportunity to explore remote dive sites that are not accessible on day trips. The most iconic dive sites, Darwin Island, Wolf Island and Cabo Douglas, are only accessible on a liveaboard. Liveaboard diving puts Galapagos at the top of the world-class diving list. This is the ultimate shark diving in an area with the world’s scientifically largest mass of sharks.

Immersive Experience: Being on a liveaboard means diving by day and sailing by night, offering a truly immersive marine and shark diving experience without wasting time on transfers.

Community: Liveaboards foster a sense of community where you can connect with like-minded divers and share experiences.

Convenience: Liveaboards offer the convenience of having everything in one place, simplifying the logistics of multiple dive days.

Cost: While liveaboards might seem costlier, they offer an all-inclusive Galapagos diving experience, covering accommodation, meals, and multiple dives per day, providing value for money for serious divers.

An advice I gave on the We ❤️ Galapagos! Facebook group to a person looking for a honeymoon recommendation:

There are ten liveaboards going to Darwin and Wolf. They differ in price and comfort.

The smallest and cheapest one, Nortada, offers four cabins for 12 people. I will leave it to you to consider if it is the best choice for your honeymoon.

AQUA Galápagos is a bigger boat with eight cabins for 16 guests. I was on Aqua, and it does the job. The level of comfort is not as great as on bigger boats. Smaller dining place, smaller deck and smaller diving deck for getting ready for diving. Very limited space for cameras. Also, the smaller boats are slower, requiring more time in the long transfers. Compare itineraries to see the number of dives in interesting places.

I was also on Galapagos Master and I am going on Ecoventura’s Galapagos Sky. Both are large boats with a great level of comfort.

I was with Aggressor Adventures fleet in other destinations, and I trust they provide the same level of great services on Galapagos Aggressor III too.

I’ve never been on Calipso Dive, just only visited Humboldt Explorer, never been on its sister boat Tiburon Explorer of Explorer Ventures, nor on Galagents Galapagos Cruises’ Galaxy Diver I and Galaxy Diver II.

My experience is that you get the space and comfort you pay for. The crews are generally professional and friendly, and some became friends over time. You can choose between 7 nights/8 days itineraries and 10 nights/11 days itineraries. Ensure that your itinerary includes diving with marine iguanas at Cabo Douglas dive site on Fernandina Island.

Making Your Choice

Choosing between land-based and liveaboard Galapagos diving depends mainly on your preferences, desired marine exploration intensity, and budget. A liveaboard would be ideal if you are keen on delving deep into shark diving and don’t mind spending a bit more. Conversely, if you prefer mixing diving with other island activities and like returning to a comfortable hotel at the end of the day, land-based diving could be your go-to option.

Galapagos diving with a green turtle at Darwin Island

A diver admires a green turtle
This image was taken in 2019 at Darwin Island.

Photograph © 2019 Josef Litt

Before the Galapagos Diving Trip

What is the Best Time of Year to Dive in the Galapagos?

The Galapagos Islands offer a year-round diving experience, but the best time depends on your preferences. You can expect warmer water temperatures and calmer seas from December to May. If you are keen on shark diving, spotting whale sharks around Darwin Island, hammerhead sharks and perhaps whales and manta rays, consider visiting between August and November when the waters are colder and nutrient-rich.

Do I Need a Specific Level of Diving Certification to Dive in the Galapagos?

Yes, due to the strong currents and sometimes challenging conditions, it is recommended that divers have an Advanced Open Water Certification or have logged at least 20 dives for central islands and 50 for Darwin and Wolf.

What Kind of Marine Life Can I Expect to See While Diving in the Galapagos?

The marine life in the Galapagos is amazingly diverse and the shark diving is incredible. You can expect to see hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, sea lions, moray eels, and a vibrant array of fish and coral species. Whale sharks frequent the waters around Darwin Island between August and November.

Are There Any Specific Health or Fitness Requirements for Galapagos Diving?

Given the sometimes challenging diving conditions, divers must be physically healthy. You should be able to manage strong currents and potentially cold water. A medical check-up before the trip is advisable.

What Kind of Diving Equipment Will I Need?

You will need the standard diving gear, including a mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit, buoyancy control device (BCD), regulator, surface marker and a dive computer. The general recommendation is if a diver is bringing one suit, a 7 mm with hood/hooded vest and layering garments. Dry Suits are commonly used in Galapagos, with lighter undergarments in the warmer water and heavier undergarments in the colder water. However, trilaminate wetsuits are prone to damage caused by the rough surface of rocks and are not recommended. Divers must bring and wear gloves to protect their hands. If a diver is experienced and comfortable with reef hook use, they may bring their own along with a small cutting tool to cut themselves free if needed. Divers not highly experienced with reef hook use should not attempt learning during Galapagos diving due to strong currents.

Can I Rent Diving Equipment in the Galapagos, or Should I Bring My Own?

Both options are available. Many diving operators offer rental equipment, but you can bring your gear.

“If you are keen on shark diving, spotting whale sharks around Darwin Island, hammerhead sharks and perhaps whales and manta rays, consider visiting between August and November when the waters are colder and nutrient-rich.”

Marbled stingray at North Seymour dive site in the Galapagos taken by Josef Litt
Marbled stingray at North Seymour dive site, Galapagos

Photograph © 2019 Josef Litt

During the Trip

Are There Guided Diving Tours Available?

Numerous guided diving tours are available, often including knowledgeable guides who can enhance your experience with their expertise about the local marine life and ecosystems.

What Are the Most Popular Galapagos Diving Sites?

Darwin Island and Wolf Island are the world’s top dive sites, only available on a liveaboard. Some other popular sites include Cabo Douglas, Punta Vicente Roca (both also only via liveaboard) and Gordon Rocks, known for hammerhead sharks sightings.

What Safety Measures Are in Place for Divers in the Galapagos?

Diving operators adhere to safety protocols, including briefing divers on local conditions and safety equipment like surface marker buoys and ensuring that divers are equipped with the necessary safety gear, for example, sound horns and emergency beacons for liveaboard diving.

What is the Visibility Like in the Galapagos Waters?

Visibility can vary from 10 to 20 meters, depending on the season and specific dive site conditions.

What is the Water Temperature in the Galapagos at Different Times of the Year?

Water temperatures vary seasonally and between the islands. See the water temperature statistics table below.

Water Temperature for Galapagos diving and shark diving
Statistics of water temperatures in Galapagos per month and area.

Other Miscellaneous Questions

Are There Decompression Facilities Available in the Galapagos?

Yes, decompression facilities are available in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island.

How Can I Ensure I Am Diving Responsibly and Not Harming the Marine Environment?

To dive responsibly, follow the guidelines provided by your dive operator and adhere to the principles of sustainable diving. This includes not touching or disturbing the marine life and being mindful of your buoyancy to avoid damaging the environment.

Are There Any Photography/Videography Guidelines or Restrictions While Diving?

While flash photography is forbidden on land, it is tolerated while diving. Photographers mustn’t disturb marine life. Always maintain a respectful distance and never chase or harass the animals for a photo.

What Kind of Accommodation Are Available for Divers in the Galapagos?

The Galapagos offers a range of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels. Many divers choose liveaboard boats for a comprehensive diving experience.

Is It Possible to Combine Diving with Other Tourist Activities in the Galapagos?

Absolutely! The Galapagos Islands offer many activities, including hiking, wildlife watching, and visiting the historic and scientific sites on the islands. Even the liveaboard cruises usually have a land-based visitor site in their itineraries, for example, North Seymour or Bartolomé.

What is the Cost Range for a Diving Trip in the Galapagos?

The cost can vary widely depending on the type of diving experience you choose. Liveaboard trips can range from about $5,000 to $8,000 or more, while day trips might start at around $250 per person per day.

Can I Undertake a Diving Course in the Galapagos?

Yes, some operators offer a range of courses from beginner to advanced levels, including speciality courses such as underwater photography. Diving courses are generally not available on liveaboards.

Are There Any Specific Regulations or Rules That Divers Need to Follow in the Galapagos?

Divers are expected to adhere to the park regulations, which include:

  • Not removing any natural objects.
  • Not feeding the wildlife.
  • Diving only in designated areas.

How Can I Prepare Myself to Maximize My Diving Experience in the Galapagos?

Before your trip, brush up on your diving skills, perhaps with a refresher course. Also, read up on the specific marine life you might encounter to enhance your understanding and appreciation of this unique environment.

South oceanic sunfish at Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela, Galapagos

Southern Ocean sunfish. It is a challenge to differentiate between the oceanic and the southern sunfish species without an x-ray or a dissection. I believe that it was the Southern Ocean sunfish, Mola alexandrini, we encountered at a small platform at 30 metres (100 feet) depth at Punta Vicente Roca early in the morning.

Photograph © 2016 Josef Litt

Gallery of Galapagos Diving Photographs taken by Josef Litt

Galapagos Diving: Amazing Shark Diving in the Best Season

Galapagos Diving: Amazing Shark Diving in the Best Season

Galapagos Diving: Amazing Shark Diving Trip in the Best Season

Join us at Darwin and Wolf, the ultimate Galapagos diving destination for exciting shark diving!
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Shark Diving Trip in the Galapagos Islands

If you are looking for the perfect Galapagos diving trip, look no more. Welcome to Darwin and Wolf in the Galapagos Islands, the ultimate destination for awe-inspiring shark diving adventures! Dive into waters teeming with hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas and more while exploring stunning underwater landscapes.

Reserve your space on this amazing shark diving trip with a card payment using the button above or contact us for wire transfer details..

High season for whale shark diving

September is the best season to dive with whale sharks around Darwin and Wolf.

Diving with marine iguanas

Galapagos diving offers more than just shark diving. We dive with marine iguanas feeding underwater at Cabo Douglas in Fernandina.

Shark diving with hammerheads

Darwin and Wolf islands are the best place to dive with hammerheads and Galapagos sharks.

Luxurious liveaboard

En-suite twin cabins. Gourmet-style dining. Wine, beer, liquor and spirits included. NITROX included.

22-29 September 2024

Seven nights aboard included. Three days shark diving on Darwin and Wolf islands and a dive with marine iguanas on Fernandina.

Price USD 7,395 in Deluxe Cabin

Based on a single person sharing. Flights excluded. Upgrade to Master Cabin for USD 300. See Payment Terms and Conditions for fees and other cost.

Cover of guidebook GALÁPAGOS by Josef Litt including shark diving and Galapagos diving information

Expert photographer aboard

The trip is led by Josef Litt, underwater photographer and author of GALÁPAGOS, the most comprehensive guide to the islands. Josef will share intriguing stories, interesting facts about Galapagos diving and his photographs on a handful of talks to add something a little special to this shark diving cruise.

Reserve your space on this amazing shark diving trip with a card payment using the button above or contact us for wire transfer details..

Payment Terms and Conditions

Included in the Galapagos diving Cruise Rate:

  • Cabin accommodation
  • all meals and snacks
  • all beverages, including an open bar policy (beer, wine, spirits and liquors)
  • one 80 cu ft/12-litre tank
  • weights, weight belt
  • Galapagos diving and shark diving: up to 4 dives per day on 5.5 days for 7-night cruises
  • Three land excursions
  • service of Dive Guides
  • transfers in the Islands between the airport and dock (on cruise departure dates only)
  • all other Galapagos Sky services and amenities.

Galapagos Sky is a dedicated scuba liveaboard, there is no discount for non-divers. 

Not Included in Galapagos diving Cruise Rate, payable in addition to the cruise rate:

  • A hyperbaric chamber fee of USD 35 – must be collected in advance 
  • Nitrox (Enriched Air) USD 200 
  • Booking Fee USD 300
  • Fuel Surcharge USD 150 

Not included in Galapagos diving cruise rate, payable by you to other providers:

  • Trip Interruption or Cancellation Insurance 
  • Dive Accident Insurance (DAN or DiveAssure) 
  • International Airfare to Ecuador (Quito UIO or Guayaquil GYE) 
  • Hotel stay in Ecuador (Quito UIO or Guayaquil GYE) 
  • Domestic Airfare to the Galapagos Islands (Quito UIO or Guayaquil GYE to San Cristobal SCY) 
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee is USD 100 
  • Transit card (TCT) USD 20 
  • Rental gear 
  • Gratuities to guides and crew to show gratuity for the fantastic Galapagos diving and shark diving and crew’s dedication. 

Payment Schedule and Cancellation policy

      1. Initial non-refundable deposit of USD 1,000 at the time of booking. Pay by card using a link provided or contact us for wire transfer details.
      2. An interim payment of 50% of the overall cost must reach our bank account by the 30th of November, 2023. this payment is non-refundable.
      3. To enjoy the shark diving, the final payment must reach our bank account by the 31st of May, 2024. This payment is non-refundable.

Please see our full Terms and Conditions and cancellation policy here.

Hyperbaric Chamber Fee

The Hyperbaric Facility is located in Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz. The larger Galapagos diving operators collect a mandatory USD 35 fee from each guest to keep the facility operating, staffed and with updated equipment. The $35 fee does not cover treatment at the facility. Divers must have dive accident insurance. Galapagos Sky collects this fee in advance of each Galapagos diving cruise. The fee cannot be paid on board.

Gratuities for Guides & Crew

Tipping in Ecuador and tipping Galapagos diving boat crew is standard practice. We recommend 10% of the charter or cruise rate as a tip/gratuity. The crew will provide an envelope and a Guest Comment Card at the end of the shark diving cruise. Envelopes and cards are placed in a locked box in the lounge area. Tips are divided and distributed equally amongst the Captain/Dive Guides and crew. Cash USD is preferred. Though larger bills of USD 50-100 are not accepted at shops and restaurants in town, they are still accepted as one form of payment for gratuities and for onboard accounts. Gratuity can also be placed on a Visa/MasterCard credit card. Please note that 2-4% is deducted from gratuities placed on credit cards for processing fees.

We believe our crew members provide world-class service, and we hope you agree.

Credit Card Payments Made On Board

Rental gear fees, boutique purchases, etc., are paid on the last day of the Galapagos diving cruise. We accept cash (US Dollars in small and large denominations), MasterCard or VISA credit cards only. Personal bank checks and American Express are not accepted on board.

Dive Accident Insurance

Each diver on Galapagos diving cruise is required to have Dive Accident insurance. Divers must note the company and policy number on the Application. The Hyperbaric Chamber donation fee does not cover any medical expenses if needed. Shark diving in the Galapagos Islands is covered by standard Dive Accident insurance.

Travel Interruption/Cancelation Insurance

Josef Litt, DivEncounters, Inc. & Galapagos Sky will NOT provide a refund or cruise credit in the event you miss your cruise or circumstances beyond our control (such as weather) which may require us not to fulfil our full cruise itinerary. Therefore, we strongly recommend that all passengers travelling on Galapagos Sky invest in COMPREHENSIVE medical, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, including a Cancel for Any Reason Coverage Add-On at the time of your reservation. Many Travel Insurance policies must be purchased within ten days of making a deposit on a reservation. This investment will protect you and your financial commitment in the event of unforeseen travel delays/ airline cancellations, personal or family illness or injury that may not allow you to make your scheduled cruise.

In the event of any departure cancellation and interruption or postponement of any cruise due to reasons including force majeure, Acts of God, war, civil disturbances, terrorist acts, insurgent acts, extremist acts, government interference, labour disputes and strikes, and when no substitute Vessel can be arranged for, the Company will issue a credit for the unused portion of the cruise to be utilized by the Passenger on a future cruise departure, subject to availability.

COVID-19 Specific Guarantee

We will provide guests with a Full Cruise Credit (FCC) to reschedule their cruise up to 24 months from their cruise departure if either of the following conditions is met:

        • Ecuador closes its borders or prevents travellers from entering due to governmental guidelines. 
        • And restrictions on your country of residence. 
        • Your country of residence prevents you from departing due to their governmental guidelines and restrictions on entry to Ecuador. 
        • Your country of residence, Ecuador or Galapagos, has a mandated quarantine. 
        • We recommend that all travellers purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy, preferably CFAR, should you need to cancel for any other reason.
        • Please check that your Travel Insurance policy covers medical illnesses, including COVID-19.

Galapagos Diving and Shark Diving Safety

Please note that Galapagos diving is advanced due to strong currents, varying visibility and cold water. Temperatures range from as low as 55°F (13°C) to as high as 77°F (25°C) in different areas of the itinerary and seasons. Depths can be 20-30 meters (65-100 feet). Divers must be comfortable in these conditions, have very good buoyancy skills and ability to do negative (sometimes rapid) back-roll entries/descents from small boats to enjoy their shark diving. Recommended requirements include 50-100 open water dives, experience in currents, ability to remove gear in water and ability to get into small boats in choppy seas. We require recent dive experience and Nitrox certification before the cruise. PADI and DAN recommend a refresher course for divers who have been out of the water for six months or longer. All Galapagos diving and shark diving off Galapagos Sky is non-decompression diving without exceptions.

Diver to Dive Guide Ratio

With a full boat of 16 guests, divers will be placed in two groups of 8. Each group of eight divers will have one Galapagos National Park certified Dive Guide to make the most of the shark diving.

Private Dive Guide Services

For divers who wish to have a Private Dive Guide, we can provide an additional guide for $1750 per week. Private Dive Guide services must be made well in advance and are contingent on Dive Guide availability. The fee is added to the reservation invoice, and payment is made in advance. Divers with a Private Dive Guide dive with the group cannot be given a separate drop for safety reasons.

Certification Cards

Certification cards must be shown to Dive Guides when checking in at the beginning of the Galapagos diving cruise. Highest level of training and Enriched Air Nitrox card, please. E-cards are accepted on board. If a diver has recently completed their Enriched Air Nitrox certification, temporary cards are accepted on board.

Minimum Age

As the Galapagos diving itinerary does not offer dives under 40ft/12m, divers must be at least 15 years old with proper training and experience.

Solo Diving, Side Mount, Rebreather, Doubles

Solo Diving, Side Mount diving and diving with Doubles or Rebreathers is not permitted now during Galapagos diving or shark diving. In addition, stage or pony bottles are not available for rent.

Night Diving

Night dives are optional and conducted weather and conditions permitting on Day 3 at Wolf. However, divers must be experienced at night diving, carry a primary and backup light/torch (as all Certification Agencies recommend), and have a tank light. Underwater lights/torches are not available for rent or loan.

How We Dive Off Galapagos Sky

Dive Briefings will be given on board before every dive.

All Galapagos diving and shark diving is done from a panga (also known as an inflatable, rib or tender). The crew will place fins and cameras in the panga before each dive. Divers will gear up on the dive deck of Galapagos Sky. Divers will walk to the gangway and lower themselves into the panga with the crew’s assistance. Once seated in the panga, divers will be handed their fins to don. At the dive site, the Dive Guide will ask for a final self and buddy check, then give the signal to dive. All divers must simultaneously do a bankroll entry. Cameras will be handed to divers by the panga driver. At specific dive sites, divers will be asked to do a negative entry (no air in BCD) to ensure a quicker descent in stronger currents.

Divers are expected to follow and stay with the Dive Guide and follow signals and instructions. Divers who must end their dive before the planned dive time must be able to do a proper ascent with their dive buddy, complete a safety stop and signal the panga driver once safely buoyant at the surface. Divers who surface with the Dive Guide will be under the Dive Guide’s DSMB. Divers who surface before or away from the Dive Guide should deploy a DSMB if the diver has that skill before surfacing, or they should inflate their DSMB once safely buoyant at the surface. Dives are typically 50 minutes each. Most Galapagos diving and shark diving is between 60ft/18m and 100ft/30m.

Once the panga approaches a diver and the panga driver gives the OK, divers must hand up cameras and remove and hand up weight belts. Next, divers must remove their inflated BCD in the water and present the tank side to the panga driver, who will lift the gear on board. Divers will then remove, hand up fins, and climb the ladder back onto the panga.

Nitrox/Enriched Air vs Air

Nitrox/Enriched Air Certification by a recognized certification/training agency is required to dive with Nitrox onboard Galapagos Sky. Nitrox Certification Cards must be presented to Dive Guides at check-in on board. Our membrane system generally produces 32%. Certified Nitrox divers must analyze and log Nitrox mixes and MODs before each dive. Nitrox Analyzers are provided on board. Without proof of Nitrox certification, divers will be provided with air fills. Without Nitrox certification, all dives cannot be completed on Days 3, 4 & 5 at Wolf & Darwin due to recreational Non-Decompression Limits. Nitrox classes are not offered during Galapagos diving cruises. Divers without Nitrox Certification will be required to hire a Private Dive Guide.


The Galapagos National Park regulates all activities in Galapagos including Galapagos diving. Our permit does not allow for snorkelling at most of our dive sites. Many of our dive sites are in areas where surface conditions are unsafe for snorkelling. There is no discount for non-divers.

Shark diving

Our diving guests must always follow the guidance provided by the dive guides to ensure the divers’ and the sharks’ safety. It is forbidden to feed the sharks in Galapagos. Encounters with sharks when shark diving are not guaranteed.

Diving Gear

It is highly recommended that divers bring their own gear. Advanced Galapagos diving and shark diving conditions common in Galápagos call for divers to be in their own known and properly fitting gear.

Wetsuit Recommendations

The general recommendation is if a diver is bringing one suit, a 7 mm with hood/hooded vest and layering garments. As water temperatures vary in different areas of Galápagos, we highly recommend divers bring their own hooded vest and layering garments for added thermal protection. Dry Suits are commonly used in Galápagos, with lighter undergarments in the warmer water and heavier undergarments in the colder water. However, trilaminate wetsuits are prone to damage caused by rough surface of rocks and are not recommended. Divers must bring and wear gloves (1-2 mm) to protect their hands.

Dive Computers

Divers must use a dive computer or be able to show dive planning with a dive table to the Dive Guide to keep track of their non-decompression time. Rental dive computers are very limited, so it is strongly suggested that each diver bring their own dive computer with a backup dive computer, ideally with the same algorithm. If your dive computer is violated, you will not be allowed to dive until the computer has cleared.

Weights & Weights Belts

Weights and weight belts are available and included in your Galapagos diving cruise rate. Most lead-weight pieces on board are 4 to 5 pounds. Small 1 to 2-pound or trim weights are not available. Also, soft weights are not available.

Tanks and Valves

Standard tanks are Aluminum 80 Cubic Foot/12 Liter tanks with an INT/yoke valve. Each tank has a removable insert to make the DIN first stage compatible. A limited number of Aluminum 100 Cubic Foot/15 Liter (DIN/INT compatible) tanks are available for an additional weekly rental fee of USD 60, paid directly on board. Steel tanks are not available. Please note on the Application the desire to rent 100 cu ft/15 ltr tanks when making rental requests before the cruise.

Reef Hooks

Galapagos Sky does not provide reef hooks to divers. If a diver is experienced and comfortable with reef hook use, they may bring their own along with a small cutting tool to cut themselves free if needed. Divers not highly experienced with reef hook use should not attempt learning during Galapagos diving and shark diving due to strong currents. All divers must bring their own gloves to hold onto rocks in the current.

Diver Safety Equipment

The following pieces of surface safety devices are required for each diver entering the water:

  • Safety Sausage/SMB/Surface Marker
  • Dive Alert or similar audible surface signalling device
  • Nautilus Lifeline electronic surface tracking device.

If you have your own Nautilus Lifeline, the MMSI number is 735057585. These items are available for loan to divers while on board.

Rental Gear

If a diver must rent equipment, please understand that sizes, selection and quantities are extremely limited on Galapagos diving cruises. Guests should note items to be rented and specific size(s) on the Application.

All fees for rental gear are paid directly on Galápagos Sky on the last day of the cruise.

USD Cash and Visa/MasterCard are accepted on board for payment. 

Not available for rent or purchase: Cameras, Gloves, Hoods, Thermal Vests, Torches/Underwater Lights, Knives, Steel Tanks, Pony Bottles 

Full Gear Rental Package $250 per week

  • BCD
  • Regulator/Gauge Set 
  • 7 mm Wetsuit
  • Mask
  • Snorkel 
  • Fins
  • Booties
  • (Computer not included)

Ala Carte Rental Items Cost per Week

  • BCD $80
  • Computer $75
  • Regulator/Gauge $80
  • 7 mm Wetsuit $45
  • Mask/Snorkel $25
  • Fins/Booties – $25 per charter
  • 100 cu ft/15 ltr tank upgrade $60

Rental wetsuits are all standard, full-length 7 mm. We only carry very limited quantities of SCUBAPRO/ Auqalung Mens and Ladies Small, Medium, Large and X-Large and Men’s XXL.

Divers must bring their own gloves, hood/hooded vest, and layering garments for added thermal protection. 

Rental BCDs are not weight integrated. Therefore, weight belts must be used with rental BCDs.

Fins are open-heel, adjustable SCUBAPRO Seawing Nova fins. Size Small through XL only. 

Rental regulator set-ups come with First stage (yoke), a Primary second-stage regulator, a Secondary second-stage regulator (octopus or an alternate air source), a Low-pressure inflator hose (standard connector), a submersible pressure gauge (SPG) and depth gauge (analogue).

Water Temperature

Water temperatures fluctuate throughout the year and are typically warmer in the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin and cooler in the western, southern and central islands of Galapagos. Thermoclines are common during Galapagos diving. Divers should be prepared for the water temps listed for all water temps: Western, Southern & Central AND Wolf & Darwin.

December – May: The water is warmer, clearer 65-80°F, 18-27°C.
June – November: The water is cooler, 60-77°F, 15-25°C, better for whale shark diving.

Water Temperature Galapagos

Travel in Ecuador and to Galapagos


A valid passport, with at least six months and one day remaining before expiration, is required to enter Ecuador. In addition, the passenger must check with local immigration offices or the Ecuadorian Consulate before travelling to determine if a visa is necessary.


At the time of publication, no inoculations were required for visitors to Ecuador and Galapagos (excluding jungle areas). Please check with your local health office at least two months before your departure. Effective October 20, 2022, visitors to Ecuador and the Galapagos are no longer required to present a vaccination certification for COVID-19 or a negative Antigen or RT-PCR test result.

Time Zone

Ecuador is in the Eastern Time zone (GMT-5 on the mainland). Daylight savings time is not observed in Ecuador. Galapagos is one hour behind mainland Ecuador. On board, we observe mainland Ecuador time.

Local Currency

The country of Ecuador uses the US Dollar. Starting June 1, 2021, large denominations of USD currency, including $50 and $100 bills, are not accepted for payment at shops and restaurants in the Galapagos, including the airports. For incidental purchases, we recommend guests bring $1, $5 and $10 bills, as change is not always readily available. There is usually a surcharge if credit cards are accepted in shops and restaurants. Large bills are accepted on board Galapagos Sky during Galapagos diving cruises.

Language Spoken

English and Spanish are spoken aboard Galapagos Sky by Dive Guides and Captains. All guests must speak English or Spanish for safety reasons.

Shipping and Storage of Luggage

We have been unable to find a reliable service for shipping items in or out of Galapagos or mainland Ecuador. For that reason, we are unable to make a recommendation for shipping services. Best to keep your luggage with you during your travels.

Getting to Ecuador

All guests must make their own international air travel arrangements into either:
Quito, Ecuador: Mariscal Sucre International – Airport Code UIO,
Guayaquil, Ecuador: Jose Joaquin De Olmedo – Airport Code GYE.

Arrive in either UIO or GYE by Friday or Saturday morning before Sunday’s scheduled departure date. Please be in mainland Ecuador for at least full 24 hours before the flight to Galapagos. Allow for contingency plans if flights are delayed, cancelled or if baggage is delayed.

Do not arrive at UIO or GYE Saturday evening, night or on Sunday morning flights. Please allow for contingency plans if flights are cancelled/delayed. Do not plan to take the last flight of the day on Saturday into Ecuador, which will not give you options if that flight is cancelled.

Divers should be rested, alert and adjusted to time-zone changes when boarding Galapagos Sky.

Hotels in Quito (UIO)
Wyndham Airport Quito
Hotel Location: Closest to Airport
Transfer: Provided by Hotel Shuttle every 30 minutes
Rates*: SGL: $130 DBL: $135 TRP: $175
Reservations Office or Guest/Travel Agent

Patio Andaluz
Hotel Location: In the Historic Center
Transfer: Taxi
Rates*: SGL: $145-$195 DBL: $162-$210
Reservations Office or Guest/Travel Agent

Illa Hotel
Hotel Location: San Marcos neighbourhood
Transfer: Taxi
Rates*: $445-$545
Reservations Office or Guest/Travel Agent

Casa Gangotena
Hotel Location: Historic area
Transfer: Taxi
Rates*: $550-$696
Reservations Office or Guest/Travel Agent

* Rates are subject to change
Arrangements can be made by the Galapagos Sky Reservations Office or by the Guest/Travel Agent directly

Hotels in Guayaquil (GYE)
Oro Verde
Hotel Location: Near Airport
Transfer: Provided by Hotel
Rates*: SGL: $125-$165 DBL: $145-$226
Reservations Office or Guest/Travel Agent

Hotel del Parque
Hotel Location: Near Airport
Transfer: Taxi or Private Transfer
Rates*: SGL: $340 DBL: $355 TRP: $423
Reservations Office or Guest/Travel Agent

* Rates are subject to change
Arrangements can be made by the Galapagos Sky Reservations Office or by the Guest/Travel Agent directly

We require that hotel accommodation information for the night before departure is noted on each guest’s Application.

Getting to Galapagos

There are two airports in the Galapagos Islands:
San Cristóbal: San Cristóbal Airport – Airport Code SCY
Baltra: Seymour Airport – Airport Code GPS

Galapagos Sky departs from Tiburon Martillo Muelle Ecoturistico (Ecotouristic Dock Hammerhead Shark) in San Cristóbal making SCY the airport to fly into.

All guests must be on board Galapagos Sky and checked in by 11:00 am Galapagos Time on departure day.

Prearranged, Group Booked Flight With Airport Assistance

As a very convenient service, through our Reservation Office, guests may prearrange flights to/from Galapagos through our pre-booked seats with Avianca Airlines Flight 1630 and Flight 1631 from/to Quito UIO or Guayaquil GYE to San Cristobal SCY. Passengers who purchase their tickets through Galapagos Sky for the Avianca Flight 1630 on their cruise departure day will receive assistance with the check-in procedure and the option to prepay the TCT transit card and Park entrance fee. A representative from our sister company, Ecoventura, has your Boarding Pass and TCT card ready. In addition, they will tag your luggage with your name and cabin number and accompany our passengers on this flight.
On the day of departure, please be at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil one and a half hours (90 minutes) before departure for check-in. Specific Travel Day Instructions, guests’ vouchers, and pre-departure information will be sent.
Upon arrival in Galapagos, passengers form a line to process passenger Passports and Park entrance fees. Please inform the Park representative that you are travelling with Ecoventura/ Galapagos Sky if you have prepaid the Park fee. They will have a list of prepaid passengers and hand you your receipt. You will then claim your luggage. With your luggage, exit the airport. Our Guides will be waiting for you outside the doors with a Galapagos Sky sign. They will take you and your luggage a short 5-7 minute drive to the dock area where all will be loaded into pangas for transport to Galapagos Sky.

Baggage Allowance with Avianca
One checked bag 23 kg (50 lb) max, and one carry-on bag 10 kg (22 lb) max + personal article (laptop case, backpack, purse). An additional checked 23 kg (50 lb) bag costs USD 25. Additional bag rates at the check-in counter fluctuate. Please see Avianca’s website for details.

Travel Delays

If a travel delay should arise before your departure to Ecuador, please contact our USA office at +1 (305) 262-3483 o
For our passengers travelling on Saturday to Quito or Guayaquil who are experiencing travel delays, cancelled flights or difficulties that will impact their Saturday arrivals and Sunday departures, please get in touch with us via cell phone or via WhatsApp at these numbers or via e-mail at

Travel Emergency E-mail


Ecoventura Travel Emergency Contacts

Elena Cordova – Phone/WhatsApp: +593-98-502-5615

Maria Fernanda Benites – Phone/WhatsApp: +593 96-977-2721


Ecoventura Airport Representative Contact Information

Sundays Only

Quito (UIO): Sebastian Bravo – Phone/WhatsApp: +593-98-502-5818

Guayaquil (GYE): Jorge Lombeida – Phone/Whatsapp +593-99-102-7100

Independent & Earlier Arrival to Galapagos

If you arrive in Galapagos (SCY or GPS) before the cruise departure date (Sunday), please make your way to the dock area Tiburon Martillo Muelle Ecoturistico (Ecotouristic Dock Hammerhead Shark) on San Cristóbal Island on departure day (Sunday).

You will pay the migration control transit card TCT USD 20 (cash only USD) in Quito UIO or Guayaquil GYE airports and the Galapagos National Park entrance fee USD 100 (cash only USD in $10 or $20 bills) upon arrival in San Cristóbal (SCY).

All guests must be on board Galapagos Sky and checked in by 11:00 am Galapagos Time on departure day.

Please call our Captain to arrange a meeting at the Tiburon Martillo Muelle Ecoturistico /Ecotouristic Dock Hammerhead Shark.
The cellular phone number to reach our Captain via Whatsapp or call is: +593-99-016-7139

Taxi Service in San Cristóbal

Taxi service in San Cristóbal is inexpensive. The charge will be just a few dollars (USD cash, $1 and $5 bills only) from the airport or hotels to the dock. Unfortunately, taxis do not take credit cards.

Ferry Service in Galapagos

Ask your hotel to arrange a Ferry service between islands upon arriving in Galapagos. Please note there are two docks in the area. Galapagos Sky meets at the Tiburon Martillo Muelle Ecoturistico (Ecotouristic Dock Hammerhead Shark).

No Fly Time

For time out of the water before flying, Divers Alert Network (DAN) and the Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) offer the following guidelines:
• A single dive within the no-decompression limits: 12 hours
• Repetitive dives of multiple days of diving: 18 hours
Our last dive on the Galapagos diving itinerary is Saturday morning, allowing 24 hours out of the water before flights back to Ecuador on Sunday.

Early Disembarkation Option (Saturday) in Baltra/Santa Cruz

Guests who have continuing travel plans on Santa Cruz or departing from Baltra (GPS) airport may wish to disembark on Saturday before (approximately noon Local time) or after the Galapagos Tortoises land tour visit (approximately 2:00 pm (14:00) Local time). Please note that Galapagos Sky typically arrives at about noon Galapagos Time / 1 pm (13:00) Mainland Time at Santa Cruz on Saturdays, which does not allow for flights out of Baltra GPS on Saturdays. Please let the Sales & Reservations Office know if you wish to disembark on Saturday so we can advise the Captain in advance. In addition, guests may want to arrange for their luggage to be sent to their hotel in Santa Cruz, then continue on the Land Tour with their Galapagos Sky yacht-mates before saying goodbye on Saturday from Puerto Ayora. Guests will make these specific arrangements with our Captain once on board.

Disembarkation (Sunday) in San Cristobal

On the day of disembarkation in San Cristobal, Galapagos Sky is in the harbour at Shipwreck Bay before the sun rises. After breakfast on board, we typically disembark around 9:00 am to visit the Gianni Arismendy Interpretation Center in Cerro Tijeretas. While guests discover more about the Galapagos Islands’ human history, the crew will take their luggage to the airport. After visiting the Interpretation Center, the staff will transfer guests to the SCY San Cristobal Airport for flights back to mainland Ecuador. If guests stay in San Cristobal, our crew can assist them with getting a taxi to their hotel, although most hotels are within walking distance of the dock area. If a guest needs to be on shore earlier that morning, our crew can arrange that too.

Galapagos National Park Fee and TCT Tax

Galapagos National Park entrance fee (national park tax) is USD 100 (cash only USD in $10 or $20 bills only) per person. The fee is divided among various entities including the GNPS, Marine Reserve, agriculture, municipalities, INEFAN and INGALA. The fee for nationals of one of the Andean Community of Nations or Mercosur is USD 50 (cash only USD in $10 or $20 bills) per person. Rates are subject to change at any time until the day of departure.
All visitors must procure the TCT card (Tarjeta de Control de Transito) to Galapagos for USD 20 (cash only). This card allows INGALA, the institution that controls migration to the islands, to better regulate the flow of all arrivals and departures to and from the Galapagos islands.
Rates are subject to change at any time until the day of departure.

Galapagos Sky Application

All guests of Galapagos Sky must complete our Application and sign/date and have a witness sign/date our Waiver form before boarding. You will receive this form from the Trip Leader, and you must return the form with all information 75 days before departure.
Dietary restrictions, rental gear needs, emergency contact information, passport information, how you arrive in San Cristóbal and hotel information for the night before departure are some of our application questions.

Boat Details

Galapagos Sky is a 100ft (33m), 16-passenger luxury liveaboard yacht custom designed and built for the purpose of scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands. Launched in 2001 by the builder and owner Santiago Dunn, “Sky” has cruised the islands of the Galapagos Archipelago for nearly a decade. Providing thousands of divers with high-octane, extraordinary Galapagos diving and shark diving experiences.

Our Galapagos liveaboard cruises also offer a full line-up of luxury accommodations, excellent food, “extra touch” amenities, and the best and most qualified crew in the Galapagos. Galapagos Sky has carefully selected only the most knowledgeable, competent and hospitable Captains, Guides, and crew in the region. Our crew go out of their way to ensure our guests have an impeccable experience on board and underwater when shark diving.

Find out more about the yacht’s cabins, layout, equipment, services and dining here.

Cellular Phone Connection

Cell Phones with International plans will work on San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz. Wifi is not available onboard Galápagos Sky.

Satellite Phone

To make outgoing calls to anywhere in the world, minutes can be purchased on the Galápagos Sky Satellite Phone located in the Bridge at USD 3.33 per minute. Guests may also bring their own personal or rented Satellite Phones, which will work from the upstairs sundeck outside.


All meals and snacks while aboard Galápagos Sky are included in your cruise rate. Gourmet-style menus using locally sourced ingredients from providers who act sustainably are creatively prepared by our culinary school-trained chefs. Depending on the Galapagos diving and shark diving schedule, either a full breakfast will be served first thing in the morning or a light continental breakfast followed by a dive, and then a full breakfast will be served. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Dinner is fine plated. Your dinner order will be taken in the morning. Snacks are provided throughout the day. Chips, crackers and cookies are available on the bar. Ecuadorian and International cuisine is served.

Special Requests
Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, No Seafood, Kosher, Dairy Free, etc, dietary preferences can be accommodated; please note when completing your Application.
Please note that Kosher requests must be received 60 days prior to departure.

Sustainable Foods
25% of our food comes from Galapagos, and almost 52% is organic. We mainly source fruits and vegetables from San Cristobal and meats and dairy from Santa Cruz Island.

All meals are casual, comfortable attire. Shoes may be worn on board. Please note that the temperature in the dining room and main salon is kept cool.

Beverages/Open Bar
Wine, beer, liquor, spirits, coffee, tea, water, juice, and sodas are included in your cruise rate. Galapagos Sky does have a full bar. Premium wines and liquors are available for purchase. Your first alcoholic drink of the day marks your last dive of the day. Your bar tab for premium wines and liquors will be kept, and payment is made on the final day of the cruise. Filtered water is available to fill reusable water bottles; we encourage guests to bring their favourite reusable bottle.

Emergency Contact

For friends and family of travelling guests who wish to get a message to a passenger on board the Galápagos Sky, please call our Miami Sales office Monday thru Friday, 9 am – 5 pm EST, during regular business hours at +1 (305) 262-3483. If after hours Monday – Friday or on weekends, please email or and your message will be forwarded to the boat and guest as soon as possible.


110/AC 60 Hz Type B (same as in North and Central America) with some 220 outlets on the dive deck. The main lounge area and all cabins have Type B outlets.

Laundry Services

Because we operate in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, we do not offer laundry services on board. Laundry services are available in town in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Puerto Ayora.

Dive Deck

Galápagos Sky’s dive deck was designed with the diver’s needs and shark diving in mind. Camera table, charging station for camera batteries, hot showers, bathroom, separate rinse bins for wetsuits and separate rinse bins for cameras. Each dive station has individual bin storage under the seat. Dive deck towels are labelled with numbers to coordinate with the diver’s seat location. Towels are heated. Our crew is very experienced and helpful with gear donning, mask rinsing, hanging wetsuits, etc.


There are four Master Cabins on the upper deck and four Deluxe cabins on the lower deck at Galapagos Sky.

The Master cabin can feature one king bed or two twin beds. The king bed is 77″ (196 cm) long and 78″ (198 cm) wide. The twin beds are 77″ (196 cm) long and 38″ (97 cm) wide. The Master cabins have a large picture window.

The Deluxe cabins have two twin beds, 77″ (196 cm) long and 32″ (81 cm) wide. The cabins have a porthole window.

All cabins have the following amenities:

  • Private ensuite bathroom, supplied with all linens, robes and towels
  • A safe available in the closet
  • Hairdryer, environmentally friendly soap & conditioner
  • 110V AC 60 Hz Type B (North and Central America) sockets
  • Evening turndown service.

Conservation and Responsible Shark Diving Tourism

Ecoventura and Galapagos Sky have created a partnership with the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park GNPD to support research and conservation projects directly related to biodiversity conservation – including research and monitoring trips, community outreach, scientific equipment, boat maintenance, and education through scholarships for Galapaguenos to study at a local university. 100% of proceeds from select charters on Galapagos Sky and our sister yacht, the ORIGIN, are donated to support the fund.

Single-use plastic water bottles have been phased out in Galapagos. Please bring your own reusable water bottle. We provide filtered water in the lounge area and on the dive deck. Our crew will gladly wash your personal bottle upon request.

Please help us on board by separating out your garbage, recyclables and organics/ food waste. In our lounge area and on the sun deck, you will find separate bins for each. Please know that our crew also separates out recyclables, batteries, oils and food waste in our very best efforts to protect the Galapagos Islands.

Please consider the environment when packing for Galapagos. Please, use environmentally friendly lotions and sunscreens. Avoid plastic wrappers, bags, straws, or styrofoam.

The Minister of the Governing Council of Galapagos has resolutions in place that restrict the use of certain plastics in Galapagos. In early 2017, Ecoventura decided to restrict the use of plastics on board all the vessels and successfully banned the use of plastic straws and single-use plastic bottles. We are conscious of the damage plastics can cause, which is why we started this initiative and are continuously working on making more changes for the future.

Our Shark Diving Itinerary

Find the up-to-date shark diving itinerary of Galapagos Sky here.

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Five Amazing Secrets of the Galapagos Whale Shark

Five Amazing Secrets of the Galapagos Whale Shark

Five Amazing Secrets of the Galapagos Whale Shark

Pregnant whale shark female at Darwin Island in the Galapagos. In 2014, members of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project reported sightings of 27 whale sharks, all females, all but one pregnant around Darwin Island in the Galapagos archipelago.

Photograph © 2011 Josef Litt

We know very little about the biggest bony fish in the oceans, the whale shark.

Whale sharks are the world’s most giant fish, growing up to twenty metres in length – more than a bowling lane and almost as long as a passenger train coach. We don’t know how fast they grow and what is their maximum age. The best estimates are that the big ones may be more than one hundred years old.

Whale Sharks and the Atomic Bomb Method

Scientists determine the age of sharks by counting growth rings in their vertebrae. This method seems to provide reliable results for younger animals. However, one needs an atomic bomb to make the reading more precise in case of the older sharks. The nuclear tests performed in the 1950s and 1960s increased the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere. The radioactive material entered the oceans and imprinted a timestamp in the whale sharks vertebrae. Today, this timestamp helps to establish the age of older individuals.

Juvenile whale shark, Darwin Island, Galapagos

Juvenile whale shark. We encountered this juvenile on top of the shallow platform underneath the Darwin Island in the Galapagos.

Photograph © 2011 Josef Litt

Whale Sharks and the Hubble Space Telescope Method

To paraphrase Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: ‘Whale sharks are big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big they are.’

From that slightly facetious perspective, it is no surprise that the scientists use the Hubble Space Telescope to identify individual whale sharks. The spots behind their gills form an ornament as unique as a fingerprint. Jason Holmberg, the co-founder of, adapted an algorithm used by NASA with the telescope to recognise and compare the patterns. Thanks to that anybody who photographed a whale shark anywhere in the world can upload their images to the Wildbook for Whale Sharks. Almost 8,000 people identified more than 10,000 whale sharks during close to 60,000 sightings. The data give scientists information about the distribution and movement of the gentle giants, hopefully leading to their adequate protection.

‘Whale sharks are big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big they are.’

The boats anchored in the San Cristobal marina.
An evening at San Cristóbal marina, Galapagos The crews are preparing for their journeys to Darwin and Wolf islands.

Photograph © 2011 Josef Litt

million US$ a year

The Value of a Whale Shark

Since 2016, IUCN describes the whale sharks on its Red List as Endangered. The reason is the demand for shark fins in Asia and the nature of whale shark meat, often referred to as ‘tofu shark’. Infuriatingly, despite their size, they also end up as bycatch. Since early 2017, whale sharks enjoy protection as migratory species in more than 125 countries. A number originating from research in 2004 estimates their value to tourism at over USD 47.5 million a year – an amount that is indisputably higher today. Hopefully, governments will realise the species’ importance and enforce the protection they committed to.

Darwin's Arch, Galapagos
Darwin’s Arch a mile away from the Darwin Island. The deep sea surrounding Darwin Island may serve as a breeding ground for whale sharks.

Photograph © 2016 Josef Litt

Magic sunset in the Galapagos
Magic sunset in the Galapagos

Photograph © 2011 Josef Litt

The Whale Sharks’ Birthplace

Members of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project in 2014 reported sightings of 27 whale sharks, all females, all but one pregnant around Darwin Island in the Galapagos archipelago – this seems to be a typical situation confirmed by tourists’ observations. Jonathan R. Green, the leader of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project, explores a hypothesis that the deep sea surrounding Darwin Island serves as a breeding ground for whale sharks. However, nobody has ever seen a whale shark to give birth or breed. Recent discoveries lead to a hypothesis that Galapagos are on whale sharks’ migratory routes but do not play a larger role otherwise.

I heard a fisherman speculate about the reason why the whale shark males avoid the Galápagos. Their little cousins, the silky sharks, frequent the islands waters in search of food. Remoras belong to their favourite staple. An attacked remora would hide among the whale sharks’ claspers to protect itself. The ferocious silky shark will hardly differentiate between a remora and a clasper. The poor male whale sharks are afraid that they may get hurt in such a sensitive place, so they avoid Galápagos at all cost. I wonder whether there is a scientific base to this speculation.

Claspers of an adult male whale shark are formed from the rear end of their pelvic fin. They channel semen into the female’s cloaca during mating.

Photograph Simon Pierce

Ending with a Hairy Story

Whale sharks were never seen feeding at Galapagos, which gives the following story* a whiff of a fairy tale.

‘As with any other animal on the Galápagos, and it should be a good practice anywhere in the world, touching whale sharks is strictly forbidden. This was not a well-observed custom some time ago, perhaps ten or twenty years back when, according to a local legend, one of the naturalist guides nicknamed Zorro Plateado, or Silver Fox, used to ride the whale sharks holding on to their dorsal fin. As if this was not enough, he supposedly dragged himself from the dorsal fin and then plunged headfirst over the animal’s upper lip into its gaping mouth. Disappearing into the poor whale shark’s maw, he was gushed out after a moment in a shroud of his bubbles, in slight disarray, but unharmed. The animal seemed to be unperturbed, it turned slowly and swam away. The diver’s equipment could have easily injured the whale shark, and I indeed believe that such acts would not be tolerated today.’

I was pleased to be contacted by the family of Zorro Plateado in reaction to this story. I welcome first-hand information rather than an unconfirmed narration by somebody else. Zorro declines the story featuring him and a whale shark as untrue. The truth is that he was honoured with a plaque from the Charles Darwin Foundation for his constant efforts in teaching the children the importance of conservation. He also plays an important part in CDF’s Shark Ambassador Program.

I hope I will have a chance to meet Zorro in person soon.

*A spoiler citation from Litt, Josef. GALÁPAGOS. Mostly Underwater Books. The United Kingdom, 2018.
A similar story was also mentioned in Bantin, John. Amazing Diving Stories. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2012.

Whale shark in the Galapagos
A diver, small camera and a whale shark. Touching whale sharks is strictly forbidden.

Photograph © 2017 Ivan Jiskra

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