August 20, 2003 - Wolf Island (Dive 8)
Max Depth: 74'
Dive Time: 53 min, 08:37
Nitrox PO2: 32%
Camera: D60, 15/2.8 full-frame fisheye, 2 x Ikelite DS-125
Wolf Island shoots straight up out of the water with sheer cliffs all around. A separate, somewhat rounder formation sits just offshore, with sky visible through a small archway off to one side. The seas are rougher around here because the island is so exposed.
We dropped in and descended immediately to around 70', where the gentle slope drops off into the darkness below. Immediately, we were greeted by a small school of scalloped hammerheads and galapagos reef sharks (which look a bit more aggressive than the Caribbean reef shark, in my opinion). Hammerheads and galapagos reef sharks swam around us for the entire duration of the dive, occasionally accompanied by a lone eagle ray. Large moray eels were almost literally everywhere among the boulders. Near the end of the dive, I spotted some of our group kicking vigorously out into the blue, which could only mean that they had spotted a whale shark. Not everyone in our group was able to see it, but Darren got some great video footage of it; it seemed quite amazing that the large animal was hanging out by the rocks instead of out in the blue!
I think that I will shed my strobes for the remainder of the trip, and rely on magenta/warming filters plus white balance. The scalloped hammerhead sharks and galapagos sharks will not come close enough for a 15mm full-frame fisheye, but I have to keep that lens on the camera in case I get close to a whale shark. :)
Whale Shark Count: 1
August 20, 2003 - Wolf Island (Dive 9)
Max Depth: 83'
Dive Time: 41 min, 10:58
Nitrox PO2: 32%
Camera: D60, 15/2.8 full-frame fisheye, Tiffen CC50M and 81C (?) gelatin filters
I decided to shed my two strobes to maximize the chance of a whale shark encounter (you really have to swim to keep up with one, and the current was running, a bit). I dropped down as part of the first group, but moved off into the rocks alone, eventually wandering off into the blue with Darren. We saw the usual scalloped hammerheads and galapagos reef sharks, and large schools of gringo fish. After ten or fifteen minutes, Darren made a muffled yell through his regulator and pointed behind me. I spun around, and looming not too far away was a huge whale shark! (maybe 40-50' in length). My first whale shark encounter! It nearly bowled me over (it did move to avoid me), and its tiny eye looked me over as it swam lazily by. I snapped off a few photos, kicking hard to keep up with it; the light wasn't so good at 90', but the photos make me happy anyway. :)
We have decided to forego the rest of the dives at Wolf and to head directly to Darwin for two afternoon dives there.
Whale Shark Count: 2 (+1)