Salas y Gómez Expedition: Last Day in the Marine Park

Today was our last day at Salas y Gómez before returning to Easter Island. We have spent only six days at this little island but already it feels like home. We first dived here wondering what its underwater world was like; now we leave feeling part of it.
A rainbow greets the dive team at dawn as we begin our last day’s work at Salas y Gómez.
By Enric Sala, National Geographic Fellow
Expedition life is so intense and focused that we internalize the rhythms of nature. We wake up at 7 a.m., before sunrise. At first light, we see the shearwaters leaving the island in all directions, flying to fish many miles away.
Enric Sala surveys Salas y Gómez before a dive.
As we jump in the water at 9 a.m., the sharks are quite active, swimming below our boat and then around us, until they lose interest. The big swell that scared us the first day now feels like the breathing of the sea, and we use it to get closer to the schools of rudderfish that graze the shallow rocks between sets of waves. The breaking waves appear like large white clouds above us, and because the water is so clear, the fish seem to be flying.
Sharks swarm the waters around the Zodiac
Our last dive of the day, at dusk, is the most magical. When the sun’s rays enter the sea obliquely the light is softer, the water bluer, and the colors more vivid. Sharks and large fish such as amberjacks and trevally become active again, and welcome us below our boat as we jump in. After another hour of bliss observing and studying wild nature, we return to our mothership, the Comandante Toro.
The Zodiac speeds past tiny Salas y Gómez, the only land for hundreds of miles in all directions.
At 9 p.m., the shearwaters return to the island, flying from all directions, as we enjoy the last hues of sunset from deck. Bliss.
Sunset paints the sky as we return to the ship at dusk.
Photos by Ford Cochran
The science team will share frequent updates and media from the expedition, including photographs, videos and links to Google maps, here on the National Geographic News Watch blog. You can also follow the expedition on Google Earth by clicking on the blue ship icon located where the expedition begins near Easter Island, roughly 2,000 miles (3,300 km) northwest of Santiago, Chile. (Make sure the “Places” layer is turned on).
National Geographic and Oceana are members of Mission Blue
View all dispatches from the Salas y Gómez expedition here

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