First time snorkeling this summer! Had the most amazing experience with some sea lions. First of all, I always forget how cold the water here in California is, I always expect it to be warmer. A coarser man might call it “bitch-ass-cold”. I am not that man.
Whatever. So I hop in, swim about and over near the sea caves I see this blur shoot past me and, being a year since I was last in the water, got a bit startled. Turned around to find two sea lions frolicking nearby. So I swim on over to let them know that kind of cheek won’t stand. I swim up to one and she darts off, so I follow her a little ways, and she dives down to the bottom, about thirty feet below. So I follow her down and she does this little twirl, so I twirl around too. I think this caught her by surprise because she stopped swimming away and gave me this wide-eyed “the hell did you just do?” sort of look. I needed air by that point, so I swam back up and she followed me this time, about eight feet away.
I went back under and did another twirl and a spin, and she did the same, swimming alongside. She kept getting closer, until she was only an arm’s length away, darting in close and back out again. She liked to follow me swimming upside down, so I flipped around and swam upside down next to her. It felt like we were taking turns, she’d do a spin and swim back and look at me as if to say, “alright, now you go!”
We were swimming near some rocks and this sort of underwater cliff, so I took a big breath and dove down, and hid underneath it. I waited as long as I could, and when I didn’t see her come down I slowly crept out, and as I came out from under the ledge and peeked over the top there she was, just a foot away! I think she was looking for me and when I popped up next to her she jumped back like she was startled and darted off a pace like, “oy, you got me!” My lungs were bursting at this point so I went back up to catch my breath.
We kept this up for a good half hour, swimming in and away, until finally we were close enough to touch, when suddenly a wave pushed us together. I think she got scared because as I rushed in she took a big bite at me, snapping her jaws right in front of my face. That was enough for me. Sea lions have mouths like doberman’s, if you’ve ever been close enough, and I figured it was about time to call it a day after that.
To be honest it was exhausting, trying to keep up with the sea lions was like a turtle trying to match a racehorse. It was actually really disorienting as well, and by the end I was really dizzy and a little nauseous. Trying to follow their movements underwater while you’re spinning around and getting tossed about by the waves is super confusing, you’re upside down one moment then sideways the next, while your head is spinning in a different direction as you watch the sea lions…
At any rate, it was a great first trip for the summer, and I can’t wait for more. Just need to get a better camera!