LOS CABOS Wildlife – A plunge with the Sea Lions
by Philipp Moser – Naturalist and guide at Cabo Trek
There are many ways, in Baja California Sur, on how you can interact with sea lions: you can dive with them in Cabo San Lucas or you can visit them on a snorkel excursion in Espiritu Santo island, Cabo Pulmo or Loreto just to name a few hot spots.
When we talk about this animal we usually refer to the Californian Sea Lion, a species that populates the North Pacific region all the way from South East Alaska till Central Mexico.
These mammals are very curious and playful and although they look like very lazy when they are sunbathing on the rocks these are very intelligent animals that can be trained to perform various tasks as they are used in: zoos, circuses, oceanariums as well as they are trained by the U.S. Navy for military operations.
In Baja California Sur we are lucky enough to have the privilege to observe them in the wild, as it should be: Sea Lions can be aggressive but if used to humans they display no fear and actually enjoy our company.
Everybody in the marina knows Pancho, an alpha macho that made himself famous by “chasing” fishing boats returning from a trip in order to get fed by delighted tourists with bait leftovers.
In the water they are very agile and fast, it is impressive to observe a full grown male that can reach 2,4 m (7,9 ft) and 350 Kg (770 lb) underwater while hunting for squids, sardines or other fish.
They belong to the family of the Otariidae also known as eared seals and one of their distinctive signs are the external ear flaps and larger fore flippers and pectoral muscles, you can tell the difference between a male and a female by the size, females are usually much smaller.
They reproduce between May and August ,so that you know now when you need to be in the region if you want to see the little newborns, also they don’t migrate, so there is the chance to see them year round.
Last curiosity: Sea Lions are a favorite meal for Orcas (Killer Whales), recent studies show that they have an ally, in fact this is a terrific news in the animal kingdom, since help comes from a different species: the Humpback Whales. Why this happens is still a big question mark: could it be just altruism? In fact scientist tend to believe more in an aggressive behaviour of the whales in order to protect themselves and other family members.
We started talking about sea lions and ended up with the whales, no matter what, get out there and enjoy the incredible wildlife of Baja California Sur, possibly with a reputable company that respects nature and the animals. *