Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 11, 2016 - Los Islotes (swimming with Sea Lions)

We stopped at this little island last year, but it was a bit windy and it is very deep and tough to anchor here.  Last year conditions were not favorable for anchoring, so Steve stayed on board so he could hover in place (no anchor, just using the engines) while Kathy went swimming with the sea lions.  She had a great experience last year.  This year, it was much calmer and we were able to successfully drop the anchor in about 60' of water, on a rocky bottom.  Once we were sure the boat was not moving, Kathy, Cindy, and Steve donned snorkel gear and jumped into the water to swim closer to shore where the sea lion rookery is located.  Kevin was not interested in swimming with these creatures.  The sea lions are wild animals, but this is a location that sees dozens of visitors every day jumping in the water to swim with them.  So, they have become very used to humans in the water, and it is reportedly quite safe to swim with them.

The three of us swam over towards shore, feeling both excited and apprehensive at the same time.  As we got closer and the warning barks of the large males/bulls could be clearly heard, even with your head under water, Steve had a startle.  A juvenile sea lion came up from below while Steve was getting the go-pro turned on.  He did not see him coming.  The sea lion brushed Steve's forearm and hand and then swam gracefully away.  Not sure if it was a welcome, or a warning, but Steve reported that it was quite exhilarating.  Shortly afterwards three sea lions did loops at the surface, less than 30' away.  Wow, how cool is this?!

Three sea loins playing just a few feet from us.
A school of fish.  We couldn't identify them, although they are very similar to
the Golden Snapper.
There are several buoys installed here for dinghies and pangas to use.
Many people come here daily from La Paz to swim with the sea lions.
This island shoots up from the depths.  It's a pinnacle that just breaks the surface.
300 feet away the depth is over 200 feet.  Anchoring here is a challenge.
Cindy, Kathy, and Steve snorkel over near all the sea lions.  Photo by Kevin.
Kevin took this photo of Zappa who didn't seem to care that some of the family
was gone, snorkeling with large sea creatures.
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Lots of fish near the sea lion rookery, surprisingly.

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You can see the sea lions on shore moving about.

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This little guy swam just under Kathy.  Fun.

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Unexpected encounter.  We were swimming back to
our boat and Steve was messing around with the 
go-pro and this happened!




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