Losing My (Snorkeling) Virginity In The Galapagos Islands
by Mark Alsip
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 :-)