Swimming with sea lions feeding on a school of black-striped salemas. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.
“There was an opportunity to go snorkel in the afternoon just off the beach. I’ve learned to never pass up an opportunity in the water, you just never know what might show up. This was one of those surprises. Initially we were thrilled with the sea turtles and occasional sea lion that would whisk by. On our last loop to head back to the beach, we saw a few sea lions and fur seals and upon closer investigation saw that they in fact we hunting— dancing in and out of a bait ball. Below, two huge Galápagos sharks cruised back and forth. Blue-footed boobies dove deep to catch fish themselves, bombing into the water to our left and right. I had two teenage guests with me, awestruck as I was. After 30 minutes the show ended, and we headed ashore. The sun was setting and we were abuzz with excitement….one of my top five moments ever in the ocean observing wildlife.” —Kristin Hettermann
We had two chances to swim with sea lions. First at Buccaneer Cove, where pirates and privateers once landed to resupply and fix their vessels, and also where Charles Darwin landed for his longest stint in Galápagos. He spent five weeks in the islands total and 19 days here on Santiago. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.
After a short sail along the coast of Santiago we arrived at Puerto Egas. Among the marine iguanas and Galápagos sea lions we also found fur seals, which live in waterline caves. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.
You can tell the fur seals from sea lions because fur seals have big eyes and a bigger nose and lack external ear flaps. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.
The sea lions swim circles around us, literally, twisting and turning upside down taking us in from every angle. Assured that we pose no threat, they instead play with us, sometimes swimming straight at us only to spin away at the last moment or blow bubbles into our masks. Photo by Kristin Hettermann.