Sharks, lions…oh my!


Ok, first day diving in La Paz yesterday and I didn’t quite realize quite what a great experience it would be. I’m lucky enough to be diving with a good friend of mine Luke who has been living here for around 10+ years working in photography, diving conservation and a monton of other things. There was talk of large pelagics, as in many places on the pacific but I have learnt not to get my hopes up to much as with diving, you never know what you’ll see, that is the joy of it. So after over a hour of boat trip I was ready to get in the water. First stop el Bajo. Three beautiful deep pinnacles, lots of life, loads of triggers, few eel, plenty of schools of fish and….Hammerheads! Now hammerhead sharks have been on my wish list to see since I first started diving so to finally see not one, but 4 was for me, fantastic. Everyone else diving had had the joy of already seeing these magnificent creatures on previous occasions so I have to say I think my cheshire cat grin was wider than most : ) But wait…that was not all the day was far from over! After a short boat ride to another location we were greeted with the sound of barking, by sea lions. Again another first for me as my only experience with sea lions as been at Sea World which isn’t quite what I would class as “wild” fun as it was. As we were eating lunch I noticed one of the members of the colony coming near the boat and trying to gnaw his way through rope on one of the nearby buoys. The thing that immediately strikes you is how large the teeth are and quite frankly could if wanted so some serious damage. After a quick chat with Luke we headed into the water with the general plan to head up super shallow and hang so he could grab some could pictures and I could just “play” with the sea lions. On approaching closer to the rocks you can start to hear them barking underwater at which point you are surrounded by silver fish in their hundreds. In front of me the school moved to their right which made me look and then start, as a (in my eyes) HUGE male swam past me. After a moment I continued the swim forward to what I guess in some ways was their underwater play pen. Around 10 or so sea lions where playing together, chasing fish and blowing bubbles. It was an incredible experience just to sit quietly and watch them play. They are so curious, coming up to the camera, one had a particular liking for my fins, swimming past so close. My only hairy moment (literally) was one decided to pull at my hair after which I tried to rapidly tuck it back in under my mask strap. The 50 or so minutes we were hanging out there just flew past and before I knew it we were back on the surface once again for me the cheshire cat grin is just growing!! The ride back seemed to fly by and we were soon close to the dive shop when we encountered some small whale sharks feeding in the surface. The first time I saw these beautiful sharks was when I used to work in Roatan. It involved jumping in the water by a bait ball, swimming rapidly with a snorkel hoping that you would see them which you did quite often. This was a very different experience. There were around 6 in total, swimming very close to the boat, feeding slowly, which allowed a very close up encounter. By the time the boat got back to the shop I really can’t think of how I could have ended the day any better. Next on the wish list…..let me think ; )

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