Losing My (Snorkeling) Virginity In The Galapagos Islands

by Mark Alsip
(Louisville, KY)

My first underwater photography attempt

My first underwater photography attempt

I came close to drowning when I was a kid and since then I'd get panicky any time I was in the water. This obviously had me sitting at the poolside bar on cruises, rather than going off with the snorkeling crowd.

In April 2005 I was part of a solar eclipse expedition to the South Pacific by way of the Galapagos Islands. The photos the snorkelers were bringing back to the ship day after day were incredible. I'm a semi-pro landscape/nature photographer and realized I was missing out on a totally different world.

So I bought a half dozen disposable underwater cameras in the next port and, forgive the pun, took the plunge. I overcame the fear of water by wearing one of the life vests from the ship and found that at the same time it gave me a nice, somewhat stable platform for photography. It was thrilling to be swimming with all the wildlife -- penguins (!), seals, cormorants, turtles, and, OMG... sharks!

Snorkeling lesson #1: when shouting "sharks!!!" to alert your snorkeling companions, make sure to take your head out of the water before you pull the mouthpiece aside and scream.

My trip ended, leaving me with regret I hadn't snorkeled in earlier. My first photos were so-so (example attached) but I've learned a lot about how it's done, thanks to tropicalsnorkeling.com.

I wanted to say what a great resource this web site has been in helping me get ready for my first big snorkeling vacation. I'll be in French Polynesia for 2 weeks and had no idea how to go about buying gear until I found this site.

6 days to go before I hit 3 islands and one coral atoll in French Polynesia, and I can't wait to put all this newfound knowledge to work in the lagoons :-)

Comments for Losing My (Snorkeling) Virginity In The Galapagos Islands

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Jul 02, 2010
Great Story & Picture
by: Galen & Nicole

Mark, that is a fun story. It makes me a little sick though that your first snorkeling experience was in the Galapagos Islands, and your next will be at Moorea (and a few other amazing south pacific islands). That is just not fair!

By the way, I really like that picture, it is like a painting. Although that looks like a little turtle, it was actually a huge turtle, yes?

Have a great time on your trip. I can't wait to hear your stories and see your pictures when you get back.

Jul 02, 2010
I can relate!
by: Anonymous

I can relate to Mark! I, too, experienced a near drowning at 5 years old. The fear of deep water is not something you can easily shake off. My PFD makes a HUGE difference in my enjoyment of this voyeuristic sport. Apparently I need an underwater camera for my next snorkeling outing in Maui & Kauai in January!

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