Posted by: ktzefr | January 26, 2012

Loving the Sea Lions…

This morning I stumbled across a You Tube video of a baby sea lion (end of this post) that tugged at my heart.   So, I’ve spent the better part of the day searching through old files and photo albums for sea lion pictures and notes of my own close encounters with these wonderful creatures in the Galapagos Islands.   They greeted us everywhere, and I marveled at how they and the other animals had been able to survive such a stark and often unforgiving environment.  In 1535 Tomas de Berlanga, a Bishop of Panama, was blown off course and landed in the Galapagos.  On first sighting these islands he recorded this in his diary: “It looked as though God had caused it to rain stones.”

Sea lions, however, don’t seem to mind the rocky terrain.  They drape their bodies over the stones and each other on the beaches, and the little ones follow their mothers head-first into the sea, an artist’s palette of blues and greens and indigo that changes with the waves and the straight-up, unrelenting sun.  The islands lie smack on the equator, a “god-forsaken place” in some ways, but it’s also quite beautiful.

Have you seen any better camouflage? 

Sea lions at La Loberia, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands; Photo:KFawcett

 

San Cristobal is the easternmost island in the chain and one of the oldest.  The principal town, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, is the provincial capital of the Galapagos Islands.  One morning we took a 10-minute bus ride from town to the beach at La Loberia and were greeted by a colony of sea lions that barked and flapped their way along the beach and lined up as if to pose with big, watery eyes and dripping whiskers. 

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno was a penal colony more than 100 years ago, but today it’s a sleepy town that overlooks a pretty harbor and is known for its “relaxed” way of life.  (I like that!)  A favorite past time is sitting in one of the outdoor cafes along the harbor and watching the sea lions vie for the right to sit in the boats anchored just off shore.

 

Sea lions in the harbor, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands; Photo:MFawcett

For eons these sea lions had no fear of humans and have had few predators.  But life has changed some since our visit to the colony.  Many sea lions have been killed and mutilated, their body parts sold on the Asian market.  Sometimes their mangled bodies have been dumped and left to wash ashore.  Every time I read about this sort of thing happening I grieve for our old friends. 

 

 

 

 

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