Snorkelling with Sea Lions on Santa Cruz Island

Feb 13, 2012

My second day in the Galapagos I had the extrodinary experience to snorkel with the Sea Lions. We took a 20-30 minute boat ride and then got off to go snorkeling. Before hoping in, they advised us that the sea lions would be very curious and would want to play with us. They may swim right for us and then turn at the last minute, or they may swim so close they are touching us. They warned of the importance of not trying to touch them. If the sea lion touches us, it was ok, but if we were to try to touch them, they may bite.

I was swimming around with my lifejacket and snorkel gear looking at all of the fish when all of a sudden I can see a large shadow only a few feet away. I immediately came up for air. Ha ha when you get scared when you are snorkeling, isn’t your first reaction to get your head out of the water? Kind of like if you can’t see what’s down there you’ll be ok! Then the sea lion brought his head out of the water and barked and back down he goes.

I put my head back in and watched several of them play, swim, glide through the water within feet of me. I was in complete amazement.

Next thing I knew there was a tap on my shoulder. The captain of our boat, Armando was asking if he could take my underwater camera and take photos of me with the sea lions. I let him go to it because I wasn’t taking many pictures anyway. He captured some really great shots showing just how close the seals were to me.

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Most of the time I was snorkeling, he spent time taking photos of me and the seals. It was really great because I wouldn’t have captured this otherwise. I also asked him to take a couple of photos of my new friends Tanya and Victor. They weren’t on the same boat as me for this tour, but we were snorkeling in the same place.

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

So, below the water there were probably 10 or so sea lions to play with and many fish, including parrot fish. Above the water, on the rocks you could see marine iguanas, pelicans, sea lions and crabs.

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

Sea lions Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos

After about an hour of snorkeling, we climbed back on the boat. I was on a complete high. It is almost like the animals of the Galapagos are people. They get so close to you, you can play with them and communicate without words. These were wild sea lions, not in captivity, not trained.

I’ve been swimming with dolphins in Cuba, but that didn’t even compare. When ‘swimming’ with the dolphins it consisted of standing on a platform where dolphins were trained to do tricks. You’d bend over at the appropriate time and then the dolphin would give you a kiss on the cheek and pose for a photo. Very ‘touristy’, very contrived and just simply not the same as swimming with wild animals who are just simply curious about you even though you don’t have food to bribe them with.

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2 thoughts on “Snorkelling with Sea Lions on Santa Cruz Island

  1. Pingback: Galapagos Islands Photo Essay | I Picture The World

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