Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Doldrums

After yesterday's excitement, today we had a pretty nondescript day of diving. We're still diving at Darwin's Arch, but the currents have been either in unusual directions or entirely absent. As a result, we've seen almost no interesting animals at all: a few hammerheads, a couple of Galapagos sharks, some turtles. But nothing like the last few days.

Patricio, the dive leader, says he's never seen it like this here. Darwin's water is "always" clear, with predictable currents, he says. We're hoping for better tomorrow, before we head back down to Wolf Island in the afternoon.

It's amazing how the currents and conditions affect the life around the islands. The smaller bits of life on the reef go on. Poking around, we still see all the usual little fish going about their business, crabs, lobsters, morays, and so on. And there are still schools of fish in the water, especially creole fish. But the big critters are just not in evidence at all.

One of the striking things about diving here has been the abundance in the ocean. Big schools of fish, big schools of sharks, big creatures like the whale shark taking advantage of the rich plankton brought in by the currents. Indeed, one of the reasons we're here is to document that abundance. A group I work with, the Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE) is here shooting video to help educate people about what a healthy ocean should look like. We can then contrast it with overfished, overused areas elsewhere.

But with the currents calm, much of that life seems to have gone elsewhere. We speculate about the effects of global warming on currents. Maybe it's just the change of seasons. Only time will tell.

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