Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Buceo con Lobos!!!

So as you might imagine, diving with sea lions is a awesome experience. We went for about an hour dive and say close to ten sea lions that thought we were pretty interesting. Our guide Patrick, or Pato as he liked to be called was really nice and very patient. It was both my and Aura´s first dive in the open ocean so things were a little bit nerve racking at times. Pato took it all in stride and helped us when he could.

We were told in our "on boat training" that if the sea lions got curious the would give you a friendly bite, much like a dog will bit you if it wants to play. It wont hurt, it´s not an agressive action, they just want to play. We were told they would bit us on the neoprene hoods or on the arms, but they also like fins and snorkles. Coincidentally, we weren´t given any snorkles because the sea lions had stollen them so may times. So the long story short, if they bit us on the hood we should brush our hand over the hood to stop them and if we stuck out a closed fist they would probably give it a friendly bite.

We were under water for all of 5 minutes be for we saw our first two sea lions. Aura immeadiately stuck out a closed fist an waited for the sea lion to approach. She wasn´t lucky enough to get a little sea lion bit, but the sea lions did circle us for a couple of minutes. They were quick to show us that we had no hopes of keeping up with them as the circled us, swam up to our faces only to dart off again, and generally taunt us. At one point Aura was looking around for one of the sea lions only to have him swim up behind her and come nose to nose right over the top of her head. The were seperated by about 8 inches when Aura quickly stuck out her fist. I think the sea lion thought she was taking a swing at him because they both darted off after that.

It was about this time that it really started to become clear that we were not properly weighted. We were wearing brand new double 7mm wetsuits which had been removed from the packaging that morning. Although they had never been peed in (a major plus if you ask me) it was also clear that our instructors didn´t really know the correct weight to compensate for the bouyancy of the suit. As we got into sallower waters we began to float off of the bottom. I was doing okay, and even though there wasn´t a spot of air in my BC I would still float off of the bottom at anything above 4.5 meters or so. Aura, on the other hand, was not so lucky. She had quite a bit of bouyancy and she was really fighting to stay down pretty much all the time.

But we fought on in hopes of seeing more sea lions. The next two we saw were playing with eachother in the water, but one appeared to be an adult male. As you might imagine, when you see something that weighs 400 pounds or so that looks like a ballerina in the water you are both amazed and a little intimidated. We didn´t get to enjoy the show for too long before they both swam off. We circled around and enjoyed to fauna of the ocean floor as we fought to stay at the bottom and right near the end of our dive we came onto a group of about 4 sea lions. We were in deeper water, so we could stay down a little and the sea lions slowly gained confidence and approached us. I got a nice friendly bit on the head and one on the fins, but Aura was the star of the show as she played with one sea lion with her fins. After she put out her fist she was lucky enough to get love bite this time plus one on the head as well.

We were pretty much out of time at that point, so we had to surface and get on the boat, but on the way back Aura was really happy to have been that close to such a beautiful animal. I was happy enough to have had such an awesome experience, but to see my girlfried that happy is what really put the icing on the cake for me.

Love you all,

Ryan (a.k.a La Tortuga)

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