INTERVIEW WITH MATHIAS ESPINOSA KNOCHE
27°54'44 " N 34°19'47 " E
LAND GUIDE AND DIVE GUIDE
“A journalist, land guide and dive guide, Mathias Espinosa Knoche was one of the pioneers of dive tourism in the Galapagos way back in 1989. He loves the unique wildlife of the place. ”
— RICK GREHAN
- What makes the Galapagos
a great place to dive?
The Galapagos is the only place where you can see penguins on the equinoctial line in the tropics. The Galapagos is the only place with a land iguana that’s evolved into a marine iguana that dives 60 feet down to eat the seaweed. Only in the Galapagos can you see a cormorant that has lost its ability to fly but become an excellent free diver, able to hunt octopus and moray eels under water. The Galapagos is also an incredible place for large schools of sharks. Any dive site here can give you the surprise of your life. Several years ago, I was lapped three times by a seven-metre-long killer whale while giving an introductory diving lesson to an Argentinian woman!
- How did you end up living
and working here?
I first visited the Galapagos in 1981. I loved the unique wildlife both in and out of the water. I sailed around the archipelago in a small wooden fishing boat. It was wonderful and I knew I had to come back. I graduated in 1987, worked as a journalist, then returned in 1988 to take the Galapagos National Park terrestrial guide course. There were no diving schools then. I started diving with diving clubs from Europe in 1989, despite not having a dive licence! With these pioneers, I began to discover the Galapagos dive sites. I was one of the first guides to go up north to the Wolf and Darwin islands, which are now considered two of the world’s best dive sites.
- What do you particularly
enjoy when diving?
For me, diving is like underwater yoga, since the only thing you hear is your breathing.
The more slowly and calmly you dive, the longer you can stay under water. I enjoy these moments of aquatic self-analysis. I also really enjoy looking for interactions of underwater life. Discovering a cleaning station is always a goal for me. I feel like the happiest man on earth if I can see how a certain cleaner fish cleans the parasites off a hammerhead shark from a distance of a few metres. One loses track of time under water, especially when observing the magical underwater life of the Galapagos. It’s always good to have a diving watch, since the air in your diving tank won’t last forever!
- When did you get interested in
I first got interested in conservation several years ago when I started seeing plastic rings around the necks of Galapagos sea lions. The currents bring a lot of plastic garbage here from many parts of the world. Illegal fishing has been another theme throughout my time in the Galapagos. The creation of the Galapagos Marine Reserve in 1998 helped minimise illegal fishing, but Ecuador is not a superpower.
Tourism in the Galapagos has been managed quite well and has always been associated with conservation. In fact, tourist activities around the islands help detect illegal fishing activities. Thirty-two years here have changed my philosophy of life. This wonderful and unique place has taught me to respect nature.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR / FILM MAKER
“The Galapagos has been a dream destination of mine since childhood, when I read about the adventures of Charles Darwin and Captain Robert Fitzroy on the HMS Beagle. The islands are a living laboratory with biodiversity beyond the imagination. Most of the conservation work here seems to be done by big global NGOs, but when I came across Mathias and his dive company Scuba Iguana, I knew he was the person to talk to. He’s a pioneer explorer of the area who helped find the incredible, world-famous dive sites around the islands. His unrivalled knowledge of the area is gained through direct experience; more importantly, his life mission is to protect these natural treasures from the overfishing that’s devastating our oceans.”
THE STORIES OF
THAILAND, INTERVIEW WITH BEN REYMENANTS
GREAT BARRIER REEF
AUSTRALIA, INTERVIEW WITH DEAN MILLER
ECUADOR, INTERVIEW WITH MATHIAS ESPINOSA KNOCHE
FERNANDO DE NORONHA
SATELLITE WAVE GPS
- PRODUCT INFO
Save the BEYOND OTHER STORIES
THIS ISN’T A MOVIE.
THIS IS REAL.3
SYMBOL OF THE SEAS
INTERVIEWS WITH THREE ECO-HEROES TO
DISCUSS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF
WHALE SHARKS AND EFFORTS TO PROTECT THEM.
WE ARE RUNNING
OUT OF TIME
Gonzalo Araujo, Ph.D. /
A SHARK PARADISE
AHMED NASHEED “LONU” /
DIRECTOR SHARK ISLAND DIVE,
A LIFE’S WORK OF
SAVING THE SEA
DR. MARK ERDMANN /
VICE PRESIDENT, MARINE, ASIA-PACIFIC FIELD DIVISION
VOICE OF THE DEEP
THE STORY OF A DEEP OCEAN DIVER.
AND A SCIENTIST WHO TAKES
A DEEP-SEA PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE.
BEN REYMENANTS / TECHNICAL DIVING INSTRUCTOR
SCHANNEL “SAGELE” VAN DIJKEN /
ASIA PACIFIC MARINE DIRECTOR, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL
THIS ISN’T A MOVIE.
THIS IS REAL.
THE OCEANS ARE DYING
MARINE SCIENTISTS FIGHT BACK
REEF RESTORER / NATHAN COOK
GODFATHER OF CORAL / CHARLIE VERON
MANTA WHISPERER / ABAM SIANIPAR
POLAR ADVENTURER / ERIC LARSEN
SAVING THE EARTH
FROM THE SKY
POLAR ADVENTURER / ERIC LARSEN