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A Galapagos WOW Moment: Hammerhead Sharks Await!

A Galapagos WOW Moment: Hammerhead Sharks Await!

There’s so much to see in the Enchanted Islands that it doesn’t really matter what time of the year you come to visit, you will always find something that will surprise and amaze you. Our visit to North Seymour aboard the Santa Cruz II was no different! Read on to see the amazing animals we encountered and a little surprise that awaited us at the bottom of the sea!

A Trail Filled With Life

After having worked here for two wonderful years, I have found that one of the most interesting spots in the Galapagos Islands is the beautiful island of North Seymour, seen on our Eastern Galapagos itinerary. This small but packed islet has a lot to offer and usually delivers an amazing experience to all those lucky enough to visit it. The way in which we normally explore this place is by taking an amazing and easy hike along the perimeter, on which you’ll be able to observe various species (many of which belong to our famous BIG15 list!). During the first part of the hike, guests and guides walk along the coastline and the beach where Galapagos sea lions, frigate birds and Galapagos land iguanas are often found  basking together under the sun. The second part of the trail takes you inland where guests get very close to blue-footed boobies, possibly even finding some nests right over the trail itself! You will also see frigate birds perched up on the trees, resting in their nests or flying around looking for a fish to steal. It comes as no surprise that they are called “pirates of the skies.” One thing is true though, it’s easy to lose track of time when walking in such a nice place.

Blue-footed boobies guarding their eggs

Blue-footed boobies guarding their eggs

A Sea of Surprises

On this particular occasion, the Santa Cruz II had an exclusive group of just 48 guests (as opposed to the 90 guests we usually have). This meant that we could spread out a little more aboard the pangas (dinghies) when we went to snorkel at North Seymour. This is always a good thing, as we all become a little clumsy once we put on the masks and the snorkeling fins. Trying to move around in those fins can be a little tricky! We separated our guests into 4 pangas. A group of stronger and more experienced swimmers went a little further out, where the waters are less protected from the currents. The other 3 pangas went to a more secluded location. Of course, safety is of the utmost importance to us, so when the groups are out at sea or hiking, they are always accompanied and supervised by a naturalist guide and panga driver.

Spotted eagle ray. Photo credit: Martin Barreiro

A spotted eagle ray swims below us. Photo credit: Martin Barreiro

There were only 3 guests on the panga that went further away from the coast, so getting in the water was fast and easy. This spot is known to have sharks resting at the bottom of the sea, and this time was no different. But we didn’t expect what came next!

Hammerhead Sharks in Sight!

As soon as we jumped in the water we spotted a big school of rays swimming next to us, but we decided to go a little deeper. We didn’t have to go far to find some friendly white-tip sharks, a beautiful spotted eagle ray and several schools of fish. However, the biggest surprise of the day – the biggest one I have encountered in quite some time – was a big group of 20 or more hammerhead sharks swimming below us! It’s hard to describe how amazing and humbling it is to be so close to that many sharks. In the Galapagos, life has a way of reminding us about our place on planet Earth and how beautiful it is if we take care of it. I cannot think of a better way of saying goodbye to the Galapagos than this!

Martín Barreiro

Martin Barreiro, born and raised in Quito in 1982, began studying photography as soon as he got out of high school. Soon after this, he found himself with the opportunity to live in London, England, which is where he continued his career in photography while experiencing the European culture. Afterwards, he moved to Houston, Texas, where he got a degree as a Professional Commercial Photographer.

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