By Sven-Olof Lindblad
Leaving New York on June 9, there was plenty to be distressed about. It was a monumental week in regards to global environmental policy.
We were headed to the Galápagos, I was going for the the 50th time. But for the first time, a third generation of our family was contributing energy to this unique place in the world; my daughter Isabella had started for a summer internship at the school Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic has supported for many years on the island of Santa Cruz.
A special place will never get old, no matter how many times you visit it. And there is a certain inevitable value in periodic escape from the chaos and the noise of today’s constant drumbeat of woe. We had just read an article in June’s issue of National Geographic magazine entitled “Life in the Balance.” A changing climate’s tentacles have reached here as well and the article made it sound quite dire. We shall see.
It’s June 11 and our first full day here in Galápagos. The National Geographic Endeavour II is abuzz with families—33 kids of all ages. It’s fun to watch them begin to find each other and prepare for what might be their greatest adventure yet.
Kristin and I had made plans to go diving. We’re at North Seymour Island (hard decision as this is one of the most spectacular on land) and off we go at 7:30. The water is unusually cold (72 degrees) and we wore two thick wetsuits. Next step up would be dry suit diving.
Someone had seen big aggregations of hammerhead sharks here recently. I hadn’t seen that for over 30 years. The dive yielded only one hammerhead, but plenty of other sharks, big Galápagos sharks and smaller black tips. Every time I see sharks I’m happy—they are really essential for healthy marine systems, yet we kill about 30 million a year globally.
It was a great dive. The second one though was one of the best ever, huge schools of fish, resting black tips, and tremendous visibility. I think I was particularly enchanted with the parrotfish smashing their beaks into encrusted rock time and time again.
Yes there are stresses here and everywhere to be sure, but today all felt good in the waters around North Seymour. As we surfaced boobies were diving in the water around us and frigates flying overhead. I can’t wait to find out how those kids reacted to this island so full of life.