Hunting sea lions swim through astonished divers 50 feet deep
Sea lions are incredibly skilled hunters, able to hold their breath and dive for long periods while on the hunt for fish, octopus, and eels. They are seen frequently on the beaches, around the rocks near shore, and even in the shallows. But it is rare to encounter them 50 feet below the waves. Imagine the surprise of these divers as they explore the walls off Kicker Rock in the Galapagos Islands when a colony of large sea lions rocketed past and through them. The first group of females actually passed beneath the divers, incredibly fast as they chased after fish. Hunting in a pack, you can easily see how these sea lions are accomplished at catching prey. They are far more agile in the water than they are on land.
A large male followed close behind. Being much bolder and more confident, he swam in between the divers, having a close inspection of these curious creatures. This is an isolated area where humans are not common. It is likely that this sea lion has not seen scuba divers up close very often. Possibly recognizing them as human, he might have been equally surprised to see them at this depth. The divers were delighted with this encounter and they exchanged looks of astonishment at seeing them so far from the surface. The sea lions all continued on their way and they could be seen looking closely at the crevices along the rock wall as they swam, hoping for a chance at a meal.
As the scuba divers continued along their route, they encountered a large group of Black Striped Salemas, small bait fish that congregate in giant schools. One of the sea lions had returned and was taking advantage of the distraction that the scuba divers created. She could be seen swimming around and through the bait ball, gobbling up as many as she could catch. Sea lions are delightful creatures, playful and cute, but to see them hunting with such skill was a reminder that they are also very capable predators. Nature has many sides and the opportunity to see this up close is unforgettable.