Drama on the High Seas!

Isla de la Plata, Ecuador, known as "the poor man's Galapagos".

Isla de la Plata, Ecuador, known as “the poor man’s Galapagos”.

Here I am, in Ecuador, on a volunteer dive trip, and it is drama after drama around here!  Isla de la Plata, Educador is one happening place!

I have already blogged about the Humpback Whale we found entangled and could not save, so I won’t go into that.  (Not All Entanglements End Happily).  So let’s check out the drama!

Hanging out in the swells, waiting!

Hanging out in the swells, waiting!

Last week, the Divemaster, Peg (another diver) and I ascended from our dive and …. no boat!  There was a substitute captain on board, and a substitute crew member.  We floated in the cold waves for an hour and 15 minutes before we were picked up by another dive boat, SHARK.  I didn’t realize how tired and cold I was until I tried to climb the ladder into the boat!  It isn’t that I thought we would die, we would have gotten to the island (most likely) before that, but it was uncomfortable being in the cold ocean swells with no boat in sight!  Peg and Jose put up their “sausages” (inflatable orange or yellow flags that are shaped like sausages), and we took turns holding it.  The next thing you know, Blue Footed Boobies are landing next to us!  Do you have any idea how long their beaks are?  LONG AND SHARP!  I took some photos as one of them tried to attack my camera.  They are quite aggressive! While we were floating and holding off crazy Boobies, the dive boat was searching for us frantically.  There was a search called out, but all is well that ends well, and we were rescued in plenty of time, and no harm done.

 

Blue Footed Booby coming after my camera!  Or me.

Blue Footed Booby coming after my camera! Or me!

Peg taking up the fishing line.

Peg taking up the fishing line.

Then, on a dive a day or two ago, one of the other divers got involved cutting fishing line, and went into decompression mode on her dive computer.  This puts one at risk for Decompression Sickness, or “the bends”.  She was headed for the surface when she was tangled in her sausage’s line, and she shot to the surface.  They quickly gave her another tank and she went back to 15 ft to decompress for 16 minutes.  Fortunately, she did not become ill.  Whew!  She gave us a scare!

Getting the Entangled Turtle onto the boat. Turtles can bite, so you have to be cautious!

Getting the Entangled Turtle onto the boat. Turtles can bite, so you have to be cautious! Photo courtesy of Larry Chow.

Today, more rescue drama.  We came upon a fishing net which had a turtle ensnared in it.  The turtle was struggling, still alive, so the boat headed out to help.  The Captain lifted the turtle into the boat while divers Ralph and Peg cut net away from it.  The turtle was saved and swam off, hopefully avoiding nets in the future.  It was a fairly young one.  Sadly, the net had a dead baby Hammerhead in it, and several reef fish.  We were sad about the Hammerhead, but so happy that the young turtle survived.  It is incredible that the “no fishing” in the national park is not enforced regularly.  They even leave nets and long lines (long fishing lines with multiple baited hooks).  The fishing boats are out there every single day.  But, here’s a shout out to our rescuers, Cappy (Captain Luis), Ralph, Peg and Larry!

Ralph and Peg work to free the turtle.  Photo courtesy of Larry (I don't know his last name! LOL)

Ralph and Peg work to free the turtle. Photo courtesy of Larry Chow.

A dead baby hammerhead, entangled in fishing net, WITHIN the Machallila National Park. Photo by Larry.

A dead baby hammerhead, entangled in fishing net, WITHIN the Machallila National Park. Photo by Larry Chow.

It is amazing how quickly the weather and currents change here. You can be on a nice, calm dive, and end up in ripping current. Every dive has had mantas, though!  At the full moon they swarmed.  It is a privilege to be here, and to be a small part of this research project.  Marine Megafauna scientist Andrea Marshall is a fierce advocate for sharks and rays, and her efforts helped put many species on the endangered list, and “no fishing” list.  Check out their efforts at www.marinemegafauna.org, and donate if you feel the urge!  Marine Megafauna Foundation also studies and works toward saving sea turtles.

***after this first published, we found a large dead Green Sea Turtle, choked to death by fishing line.  On a brighter side, Andrea and Janneman took a large fishing hook out of the head of a Giant Manta.  That manta is very lucky….it was very close to entering the brain.

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About the Author ()

I am an avid scuba diver, underwater photographer, amateur historian; interested in all people and cultures. For me, the unexpected is usually the norm! My motto? I am an Empty Nester who likes to Renew, Revamp, and Reinvent Life!
Contact me at travelswithtam@gmail.com

Comments (32)

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  1. I love following your adventures! Wow you are so inspiring! Be safe!
    Suzanne Stavert recently posted…Fantastic Friday! Celebrate with Craig’s Cosmopolitan CocktailMy Profile

  2. Tammy,

    I’m so glad to hear that you and everyone survived the waters for over an hour. Why did the boat leave divers down? This is a very uncomfortable feeling from afar and can’t even grasp how you and Peg felt. I’m so sorry, but I’m so happy that you are here alive and still sending such beautiful pictures for all of us to enjoy.

    Be safe!

    • Tam Warner says:

      It was a different captain than usual….I was cold and tired, but not concerned about survival. Peg sang ocean songs the entire time! But it is a serious matter to be left in the water for that period of time. Like you, I’m glad it turned out not to be a big deal!
      Tam Warner recently posted…Drama on the High Seas!My Profile

      • Tam Warner says:

        Sadly, we found a dead turtle today….hooked and choked to death by fishing line. BUT, Andrea, the director of the foundation, and her husband Janneman freed a manta from fishing line and a hook in it’s head. The fishermen need to stay out of the national park!!!
        Tam Warner recently posted…Drama on the High Seas!My Profile

  3. Ok, you have to tell: how on earth did that boat lose you??? Thank GOD you were ok and also that you are so calm. I would’ve, well, panicked.
    Carol Cassara recently posted…A new study showsMy Profile

    • Tam Warner says:

      The currents can change in a second here….and the substitute boat captain was confused about what to do. The swells were pretty high that day as well….it was cold but we were close enough to the island that I was pretty sure we could get to it. We were finning toward the bay, which is better protected. I confess: I was glad I had company! I would not have enjoyed being alone out there.
      Tam Warner recently posted…Drama on the High Seas!My Profile

  4. Poaching is so widespread throughout protected areas on our beautiful earth. 🙁 I find your adventures inspiring and admire your part in rescuing the hapless creatures ensnared in the nets and line. It is heartbreaking to see the effects of man on marine life throughout the Pacific. Living in Hawaii, we became all too aware of man-made issues with disastrous environmental results. I would’ve totally panicked in your place during the “missing boat fiasco,” though! ::::inward scream:::: So happy to hear all turned out well.
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted…House sitting in Fiji: Baptism by Bush FireMy Profile

  5. Wow, great job saving the turtle. Love the picture of the boobie poking his head underwater.
    The GypsyNesters recently posted…Kayaking the Australian Everglades like a Champ, well… with a ChampMy Profile

  6. What a privilege being part of such a marine research project –
    But it’s so distressing seeing animals being harmed by us humans 🙁
    Wonderful to read your tales 🙂
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted…What a Gem! The Fun of FossickingMy Profile

  7. I’m glad you are back safe and sound on terra firma! Too much excitement for my blood~:-)
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…Crystal Cruises caters to late risersMy Profile

  8. I always love looking at you pictures. Being underwater like that is my biggest fear, but the beauty of it just amazes me! Thank you so much for sharing them with all of us!
    Rena McDaniel recently posted…TOP 10 TIPS I LEARNED ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S CAREGIVINGMy Profile

  9. Bodynsoil says:

    I would have freaked out if I’d found I was left in the middle of the ocean alone.. Great work saving all those sad animals caught in those traps.
    Bodynsoil recently posted…Fighting Age, GracefullyMy Profile

  10. Here we are in Manta, Ecuador with plans to make a journey to the “Poor Mans’ Galapagos”, Isla de la Plata, in the near future so reading your post was both informative and fun! Your photos are very clear and I can see why you were alarmed about the sharp beak attached to the blue-footed boobie (don’t you love saying that name?).
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…A Tale of Three Cities: Panama CityMy Profile

  11. noel says:

    Things seem to change on a regular basis out on the ocean especially when you are very acute to conditions and environment. Good that your captain is always aware and pro-active.
    noel recently posted…Vienna highlights: a fall visit to SchonbrunnMy Profile

  12. Diane says:

    So happy to hear about the one that got away! LOVE THIS!
    Diane recently posted…The Ugly TouristMy Profile

  13. Michelle says:

    This truly is a cutting edge adventure! I’m glad your fellow diver and the manta are OK. I love the photo of the blue footed booby. Stay safe and thank you for your hard work.
    Michelle recently posted…Under the Bridges Tour in Stockholm, SwedenMy Profile

  14. Sue Reddel says:

    Wow! I’m full of admiration and respect for all you are doing. It must have been so scary to be left behind. I don’t think I would have been as calm as you and your friend. Keep up the good works you do. I’ll be following your adventures.

  15. What an adventure! Thank you for sharing.
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat) recently posted…365 Project 2014 – week 37My Profile

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