I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to La Paz, Mexico in the Sea of Cortez, twice in the past 12 months, to have some fun in the sun with one of my favourite marine creatures the Californian Sea Lion.
They are plentiful around these parts and if you haven’t had the pleasure of diving with them yet my advice is to put it in your dive calendar!
These guys live and play on the island of Los Islotes at the north of Espiritu Santo Island, also home to over four thousand other marine species. You can get there easily on a daily dive boat trip from La Paz with The Cortez Club, who provide a wonderful, fun filled day with the Sea Lions.
A word of warning though, you won’t want to leave and one day is never enough, when you experience the close friendly interactions you can have with these beautiful animals.
The experienced Dive Masters at the Cortez Club were excellent, never failing to provide plenty of friendly experiences with the Sea Lions.
The first time a Sea Lion shoots past you at close range, literally flying gracefully underwater, is an exhilarating and joyful experience, you will never forget. These interactions can last entire dives and with their inquisitive nature, I found myself in underwater heaven, loudly laughing through my regulator on numerous occasions.
The pups antics include, turning upside down while holding on to your fins with their teeth, in an effort to pull them off. Coming up behind you and pulling at your regulator hose (or in my case my pony tail) and if you’re lucky, playing a game of underwater paper, rock, scissors.
The population ranges from one hundred and fifty in winter to three hundred in summer and can have up to 70 pups per year. Most pups being born from May till July. While the pups and adult females are happy to come visit and play, the role of the dominant male is to protect his family, acting much like a bouncer, patroling his territory by blowing bubbles and barking underwater. Adult males are darker than the females and are much bigger, weighing in at up to 315kgs, so I thought it prudent to respect his wishes and give him the space he politely asks for.
They live from twenty to thirty years and feed on squid, anchovies, mackerel, rockfish and sardines. Watching them chasing fish around the sandy bottom of the island was also a delight. Accommodation and dive packages are available through the Cortez Club who get you back to your hotel in plenty of time to indulge in one of the best Margarita’s you are likely to taste.