Planet Hiker

2004-10-29 Black heart, Galapagos, Ecuador

"Gordon Rocks" is probably one of the most talked about diving sites in Galapagos. Schools of Hammer Head Sharks, White Tip Sharks, Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Golden Rays, Sea Turtles, etc., etc. are often seen there. The day that I was diving was no exception, they were all there. On the way back, however, the captain noticed something floating in the water. He veered off course a little bit, picked it up and placed the object on the deck. From the first glance, I could tell that it's a black plastic buoy that was almost completely covered with various sea shells. But the more I stared at it, the more I saw.

The pale red and white shells had hard, spiky surfaces that deterred all ideas of coming close to them. There was a small crab, scrambling to hide himself in this forest, but it was too dense even for him. Only sea plants and algae had just enough footing in between the shells.

Soon I noticed that the shells were moving. As they opened like little mouths, small hook like tentacles came out, trying to grab something and then quickly drawing back. Reaching in all directions, they pulsated at random rhythms, but there was unity to this creation. It was inconceivable to think that it is anything but somebody's nightmare that found a way to materialize here in front of me. These creatures, attached to a black heart, were in a life and death struggle, desperately needing water. The little hooks stretched for it time and again, but in vain.

I was too mesmerized by this scene to notice that we have reach the harbor. The captain placed the buoy on the dock and using a hammer started smashing the shells off. Each strike crushed most of the shells in contact, but one or two would brake off whole, bouncing back into the sea. Soon, the buoy was bald and lifeless. It's smooth surface had no story to tell.

alt :