Aqua-Firma's Shark Research Insights and Photography Dive Liveaboard expedition, to the far northern islands of the Galapagos, will be led by shark scientist, researcher, marine biologist and photographer Dr Simon Pierce. Simon is one of the world's foremost Whale Shark researchers who conducts his work throughout the world, including the Galapagos which is the best place to see huge pregnant and post-pregnant females which can reach up to 18 metres or more in length. Joining this liveaboard will provide you with a unique opportunity to find out the very latest in whale shark research, as well as insights into other species of sharks and rays, plus local endemic species such as marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins and more. Onboard workshops will also provide you with the opportunity to learn how to get the best out of your underwater camera gear and how to use software to edit your prized images.
Liveaboard trips are the only way to reach two of the Galapagos' most important diving highlights: Wolf Rock and Darwin. These are some 16 hours across the water from the rest of the islands and it is here where you will find some of the largest schools of Hammerhead Sharks you are likely to see anywhere in the world. This is also one of the best places in the world to dive with Whale Sharks.
There is a huge amount more to see at these dive sites and others, including manta rays, blue spotted rays, sealions, white tip sharks and Galapagos penguins. Our clients have even seen schools of dolphins underwater so large that they have been impossible to count in amongst the hammerhead sharks.
Why August & September?
Hammerhead sharks aggregate in schools at Wolf Rock and Darwin throughout the year. Whale shark sightings are more seasonal. You are very likely to see whale sharks between June and October, so August and September are right in the middle of this seasonal peak. Your chances to see whale sharks falls to about 50/50 between November and May. Peak sightings coincide with a period when cooler plankton rich waters flow into the Galapagos, bringing with them large numbers of pelagic fish and whales too. It is this influx of fish that is essential to the survival of Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, fur seals and sealions.
Galapagos sea temperatures are always cooler than you would usually expect on the Equator. They are at their warmest around the New Year with sea surface temperatures reaching about 23oC (73oF). They reach their coolest in August when sea surface temperatures drop to about 18oC (64oF). In both seasons, thermoclines can take temperatures down by as much as 5oC (9oF). Typical underwater wear would be a 7mm wetsuit with hood, but the ability to layer is useful since temperatures can vary considerably between the warmer north and colder south of the island group.
Our liveaboard will be a purpose built 16 passenger motor yacht with twin cabins and en suite bathrooms. Divers will head out in two separate Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs).
Prior Experience Required
Diving conditions in the Galapagos are not the easiest. You will need to be PADI Advanced or equivalent to join this trip, with about 30 dives or more experience and some dives conducted in the months leading up to the trip so that you are fully prepared. Preparation is something we can discuss and assist with in advance.
All of our liveaboard trips follow an itinerary agreed with the Galapagos National Park and are accompanied by a natural history guide trained by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The precise itinerary is subject to change without notice according to National Park requirements, prevailing weather conditions and the decision of the captain.
(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Day 1: Arrive Galapagos & afternoon check out dive (L,D)
You will be met upon arrival in the Galapagos and be taken to the liveaboard yacht.
Lunch and briefing
Afternoon check out dive at Isla Lobos off the coast of San Cristobal island.
Day 2: Punta Carrion & North Seymour (B,LD)
AM: 2 dives at Punta Carrion
Afternoon North Seymour land visit. Walk the path around North Seymour Island to see the large colonies of Blue Footed Boobies and Frigate Birds. Sighting of Sea Lions and Marine Iguanas are also common.
PM: Head north to Wolf Rock and Darwin.
Day 3: Wolf Island (B,L,D)
Up to 4 dives at Wolf Island.
Possible additional night dive.
Day 4: Wolf & Darwin (B,L,D)
AM: 2 dives at Wolf Island
Transit to Darwin Island.
PM: 2 dives at Darwin Island.
Up to 4 dives at Darwin Island.
Day 6: Wolf Island (B,L,D)
Up to 3 dives at Wolf Island.
Overnight steam back to main Galapagos island group.
Day 7: Cousin Rock & Santa Cruz (B,L,D)
AM: 2 dives at Cousin Rock.
PM: Land trip to see the giant tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz and possible visit to the town of Puerto Ayora. Dinner ashore.
Day 8: Galapagos Interpretation Centre (B)
AM: Beach visit to a location where sealions and marine iguanas are usually seen.
Visit to the Galapagos Interpretation Centre.
You will leave the boat and then be transferred to San Cristobal airport.
19 - 26 Aug 2019
led by Whale Shark Researcher & Photographer, Dr Simon Pierce
06 - 13 Sep 2021
led by Whale Shark Researcher & Photographer, Dr Simon Pierce
Trip starts and end Galapagos: San Cristobal airport or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno dock, San Cristobal Island.
Please contact us for flights and hotel package & ideas for additional travel in the Galapagos, Ecuador and Peru.
Local charges payable onboard:
Fuel surcharge (currently $150)
Hyperbaric chamber fee: $35 pp
NITROX $150 for the week
If you are willing to share a cabin onboard then there is no single supplement for the liveaboard.
For a cabin to yourself add 85%.
Our prices include
Galapagos diving liveaboard as indicated
Shore excursions and zodiac activities
All meals onboard vessels
Coffee, tea and water
An English speaking naturalist guide will be onboard, trained by the Charles Darwin Station and licensed by the National Park.
Donations towards furthering the research & conservation aims of the Marine Megafauna Foundation, of which Dr Simon Pierce is Principal Scientist
A year's membership of the Galapagos Conservation Trust
Our prices exclude
Diving equipment rental
Arrangements in Quito or Guayaquil (please contact us for flights and hotel package)
Galapagos National Park entrance fee - $100** per person to be paid in cash at the airport in Galápagos
INGALA Galapagos Immigration fee (US$20**)
Hyperbaric chamber fee of $35
Fuel surcharge ($150**)
(**correct at time of writing)