Monday’s aren’t normally known for their brilliance but this Monday was probably the best ever as I got to do something amazing – swim with wild sealions.
The sea is a bracing 11 degrees at the moment, so at the unholy hour of 7am we walked into town to the office and tried to get into an 11mm wet suit that had to be at least one size too small for warmth. There is something fairly undignified about being a middle-aged woman being hauled into a teeny wetsuit by a 20 something surf dude – including for good measure said surf dude blowing up the sleeves of the suit to get it on… (best not think about it… shudder).
Suitably squished, just about able to move, and with the blood now not getting anywhere near my fingers, further horrors ensued with us standing in the street in front of the office and practising a no arm turn (looked like a Jackson dance move). All in front of the Puerto Madryn morning commute.. shoot me now, I thought, this better be good.
We then had to waddle through town to the beach (yes, we looked like penguins) and get further kitted out on the boat en route to the dive site. At the site we could see (and smell) the huge colony of sea lions and a few sleek heads popping out of the water to see who these over stuffed neoprene waddlers were and what they were going to do.
We all jumped in, and formed what is apparently the most enticing shape for a sealion – a raft of people, all linked by the arms, kicking furiously towards them. Apparently they love this and true to the surf dudes word about 20 sealions came chasing after us for a proper look. You float in a line with your arms linked and the little critters come up for a closer look – and I mean close! They like to investigate with their mouths and whiskers, so when they are in the right mood, they can come right up and have an enquiring nuzzle. They particularly liked the guides and the cameras, and liked to clamber up onto the guys for a closer look.
It was an amazing experience – they are like cute, inquisitive puppies – and we were really lucky with the number that came to play and scoot around us. The experience is all around you with some splashing behind, some coming right up for a kiss and others under the water having a good look at your flippers.
Amazing – something I will never forget!
Between our camera and the guides we took over 400 photos, but they are so fast that only a couple really show how close they come – hope these give you an idea!