Some of the sea lion photos in this gallery are in color, and some in black & white...based solely on which I liked better one way or the other! One thing you'll notice is that the water was quite murky, so there is lots of backscatter (particles illuminated by my strobes). Note how murky the fellow on the left (doing the mambo?) is.
Just a few quick topside photos. We flew into Phoenix and caught vans that transported us the 4+ hours across the border to Puerto Penasco,Mexico, where the boat was docked. Other than the cacti, it reminded me of parts of SE Idaho where I lived as a child.
The dive deck was very crowded - among the worst I've seen, and was consistantly hotter than the outside air (which was in the 90's to well over 100), likely due to the engine-room underneath and totally inadequate ventilation. I spent the entire time sweating.
The crew were among the hardest working and most accomodating of any liveaboard I've been on. Naturally, Luke became friends with them, joking with them in Spanish (one of the 7 or 8 languages he speaks) the whole time.
Note that right-hand column...one advantage of it being August was that water temps were bathtub warm in most places - especially at Isla San Pedro Martir, where we got our two wonderful dives (at the dive site Arroyo) with the sea lions. I ended up ditching my wetsuit and just diving in swim trunks and a rash-guard shirt.
The group of sea lions we dove with numbered around 20, and most of them stayed near us the entire dives we did there. This is a remote island where they seldom see divers, so they were curious and actually seemed excited to see us!
Don't mess with El Jeffe! Every group of sea lions has one dominant bull, easily identifiable by both his girth and bump-forehead. He could usually be seen patrolling the group, or more accurately, warning us where the "Do Not Trespass!" line was. As I learned on my Sea of Cortez trip 20 years ago (to Los Islotes, farther south than we went), if you start getting too close to his turf/harem, Warning #1 is this type of fly-by (with him barking and blowing bubbles); Warning #2 is him blowing bubbles directly in your face. There is no Warning #3; if you keep coming closer after the first two, he will attack. On my other trip, some idiot on an earlier trip kept getting closer, and the bull tore off his entire scalp (down to the bone).
Grace in motion! Sea lions are not only VERY fast, but beautifully acrobatic and seem to love to do twists and loops, rather than swimming in straight lines. You'll see that in many of the photos in this gallery. The water may have been murky, but there's no mistaking their amazing gracefulness.
Like dolphins, sea lions are quickly bored by divers who just stay in one place. If you want them to stay, you need to "play" with them by doing somersaults, rolling over and over, etc. Larry was the best in our group at that. It was amazing to see them mimic whatever he did - they LOVED his antics!
The most intense sunset I've ever seen. This unretouched photo (NO saturation increase - I promise) was nearly over when someone yelled to come and see it. Luke said it was even more amazing a few minutes earlier.