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Playing with sea lion puppies- the safari in Baja continues

Underwater grace
Underwater grace
Snorkeling with a playful Sea Lion pup, part of an American Safari cruise in Baja's Sea of Cortez
Snorkeling with a playful Sea Lion pup, part of an American Safari cruise in Baja's Sea of Cortez
Lisa TE Sonne
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Lisa’s Log, Safari in the Sea of Cortez, Part two

While others are donning business suits elsewhere in the world, we are pulling on wet suits to get “up close and personal” in the Sea of Cortez. The plan is to skiff over to a renowned wildlife magnet- the arches and rocks of Los Islotes, a small island that hosts a sea lion rookery and informal bird sanctuary for frigates and blue-footed boobies (Make what jokes you want, the webbed feet are a great color!) I must admit though I am more focused on the creatures whose eyes are bigger than mine, the ones with flippers not feathers.
We are warned not to wear anything shiny. The babies are learning to explore--- and bright sparklies (like wedding rings) can be irresistible attractions for curious sea pups. Since they don’t have hands, their mouths are often the best way to investigate, a startling experience for the human mammal. We are also advised to stay fairly close to each other and keep an eye out for the large dominant males who do not welcome mammals without flippers around their innocent young. Someone nicknamed them “ridiculous foreheads “ because of their distinct appearance.
The sea lions were zooming under the boat and a little one even tried to get in the rubber skiff. We were eager to be social and plopped overboard with snorkels, masks and fins in place. The enchanting creatures were comets sometimes and other times slowed down and even seemed to make eye contact. We weren’t in the water long though when a “ridiculous forehead “ became evident. We re-grouped closer back to the skiff. He seemed to determine that we were more harmless, awkward and awestruck than skilled hunters, and moved away. Slowly we started spreading out again, engaged and wary of the frolicking playfulness of the young ones.
One pup even grabbed the end of my fin. Watching them close up twirl and undulate was joyful. Trying to imitate them was also fun, though humbling. They zoomed in and out of our visibility underwater. I borrowed an underwater camera and felt like I was tracking blurs.
Too soon, it was time to go topside, but that also had its pleasures. We circled the whole promontory and saw nursing sea lions, males battling for position, piled up sleeping in the sun, and even an injured sea lion with a raw wound around his neck.
We skiffed back to the American Safari Spirit, our floating home for the week, and margaritas, fruit juices and the Jacuzzi waited for us. Our active group of seven decided on its own water play- jumping off the top deck, rope swinging, and one adventurous doctor even forged through some chop to water ski. I opted to float face down and was rewarded with some very tiny neon hot pink and purple jellyfish like little psychedelic fireflies. All this was before a scrumptious brunch-- Crabs Benedict with a roasted red peppers hollandaise sauce, candied bacon, sticky buns, fresh fruit, orzo pasta salad, wonderful conversation and moving scenery.
Captain Megan took us to the south end of Isla San Jose, so we could spend the afternoon kayaking from salt water through a mangrove lagoon back out to salt water on the other side of the Island. Our naturalist guide Nitakua who had pointed out the boobies and “ridiculous foreheads” earlier, now showed us the pelicans and toward the end, a Manta Ray that seemed to leap vertically out of the water. We alternated between paddling and talking, and staying quiet and letting the currents float us even further from the woes of the world.
Back on the yacht, civilization offered scallops or garlic chicken with cojita cheese – or both. The champagne bottle and bar were open, but the specialty for the night was a “raspberry infused rum spiked with champagne and pineapple.” We named it Hamilton, after our intrepid water skier. There was much to toast, before I went topside and drank in the Milky Way for my after-dinner drink.


More safari days ahead with whales, dolphins, rays, and burros !
For more information on American Safaris:
For water adventures in the Carribean check out Examiner Maggie Dobbins
(c) Photos and text, Lisa TE Sonne,


  • Maggie Stogner 5 years ago

    Love it!

  • Maggie, Islands Examiner 5 years ago

    Hi Lisa!
    Great article! Sounds magical frolicking with the pups. This is a trip I would love to take!

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