Galápagos Underwater

I am not David Doubilet.

We are Facebook friends though, which is how I messaged him from my cabin aboard the National Geographic Endeavour begging for some tips on taking photos underwater.

Taking a (good) camera underwater is a first for me and I was eager to experiment in this watery nature reserve. Many of you asked what I was using to shoot the turtles, sharks and sea lions that I was tweeting. Well, I used my same camera (the Nikon D600) with an Ikellite underwater housing.

Jumping into the sometimes-cold, sometimes-warm tropical currents of Galápagos was simply astounding. The minute I stuck my mask into the water, the ocean came alive with so many beautiful creatures, like the playful sea lions that zipped back and forth, as if they wanted you to join in their game of tag. The sea turtles were just as abundant, as were the sharks, from innocent white-tip reef sharks to amazing hammerheads and the eponymous Galápagos sharks (which I love).

Travelers to Galápagos should understand that what’s underwater is just as important as the wildlife up on land, and as destinations go, Galápagos demands you spend at least some time swimming and having a look below.

Honestly, the week I was there, water conditions were not ideal. Given that it’s the rainy season, the visibility was often poor, the water clouded, and the big surge complicated my attempts at photography. Still, I enjoyed my time in the water, and if asked what I loved best about the Galápagos (Besides the Giant Tortoises), I’d have to say it was swimming with the sea lions. That was amazing.

Thus I present you this small smattering of my favorite underwater shots from the trip. I think the same principles of wildlife photography apply under the sea, and as you can see, I did my best to get close. It’s a bit harder in the ocean, as most animals with real fins swim much faster than I do with fake fins–but I tried.

Now that I’ve experimented, I am eager to get back down there again–with tanks. You all know how much I love scuba diving and after my week of snorkeling, I am convinced that Galápagos offers extraordinary diving.